Oregon legislative session begins with the goal of bipartisanship solutions

Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 5:50 PM PST
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SALEM Ore. (KPTV) - It was day one of the regular legislative session at the Oregon State Capitol and lawmakers have a long to-do list.

The gavels in both chambers rang out just before noon Tuesday, a single to elected officials that it was time to get back to work and address issues of homelessness, housing, public safety, the environment, education, and much more. The word bipartisanship was also bouncing off the walls in the state capital as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle promised constructive conversations to tackle Oregon’s biggest issues.

Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis, a Republican from District 15, called on House members to work on bills in committees with her caucus’ input. She understands with so many bills introduced, there was a need to get a head start in committees. But she claims that puts the minority parties and new members of the legislature at a disadvantage.

“In the effort of transparency and accountability in our committee, we ask this nature to be taken into account and the true nature of committee bills be brought back to a real bipartisan approach,” Boshart Davis said.

In a show of bipartisanship, the leadership from both parties in the Oregon House of Representatives held a joint press conference for their priorities this legislative session. House Democrats are calling their agenda, “rebuilding for the future.” This will include fixing the homeless and housing crisis, increasing access to behavioral treatment, improving community safety, passing policies that protect the environment, investing more in public education at all levels, and using federal money to incentivize companies that make semiconductors to move their business to Oregon, and giving people more access to affordable health care.

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“We have committed to having conversations,” House Minority Leader Vikki Bresee Iverson said. “The way that we get to the right answer for Oregonians is to continue to have conversations and look to places where we can come together to find good solutions.

The Senate Democrats have a similar agenda called “Oregon Works.” But in their first media availability, the co-chair of the means and ways committee, Sen. Elizabeth Steiner said the budget will be a challenge in reaching these goals. Especially with a predicted budget shortfall of $3 billion. Sen. Steiner also said her committee is preparing for a possible recession. But she said the state has a large reserve of money that it can fall back on if needed.

“The past three years have included enormous infusions of federal money that is largely one-time and we’ve used that primarily for one-time investments but some of them have gone to programs that people want to see continue,” Steiner said. “We’re going to have to figure out how to pay for that.”

When it comes to notable legislation introduced so far is one that would have the state provide financing to build homes for middle-income Oregonians. Another would allow staff to give students Narcan without parental permission. This legislative session is a long one this year and is expected to go into the first few days of summer.

FOX 12 will bring you all the latest updates from Salem over the next few months.