2015 Policy Recommendations:
Mid-Session Update, May 2015: All of our bills have made it through committee; some have passed. Check the current status of the bills by clicking on the links provided below.
We all want to live in a more prosperous, stable Oregon where everyone can afford the essentials for a healthy, full life. Our legislative priorities this session will give more Oregonians an opportunity to build a brighter future.
Join us in asking our legislators to:
Make work pay:
- Increase job training and education for better–paying jobs and gradually increase the minimum wage so that families can afford food and other essentials. As Part of a minimum wage coalition, we continue to support legislation that will allow Oregonians to make a living wage. Visit fairshotoregon.org to sign their petition.
- Reinvest in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Provide adequate funds for targeted, evidence-based programs and graduated slopes for families using TANF and Employment Related Day Care (ERDC) so that they retain more of their earnings and are more stable, thus less likely to return to assistance in the future. TANF Eligibility rules haven't changed since 1991. The dream of the '90s may or may not still be alive in Portland, but TANF rules shouldn't be stuck the past. (HB 3535) (HB 2015)
- Expand and extend tax credits for families with low incomes, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to help cover basic living expenses. (HB 2068)
- "Ban the Box" to reduce barriers to stable housing and employment. Making a mistake shouldn't mean a life sentence of poverty. Yet many ex-offenders return to our neighborhoods with limited opportunities for employment. This bill would prohibit employers from inquiring about conviction history on a job application form. When Oregonians seeking a second chance have avenues to stable employment, we are all better off. (HB 3025)
- Ensure workers can earn paid sick leave. 71 percent of low-income workers have no paid sick days. When a worker or a family member gets sick, this means making difficult choices between showing up for work sick or sacrificing income for life's necessities like food, housing and utility bills. This bill requires that employers (with six or more employees) adopt policies to ensure workers can earn at least five paid sick days per year. (SB 454)
- Develop pathways to small business ownership by removing barriers for entrepreneurs across Oregon hoping to start bakeries for their communities and diversify the supply of safe, nutritious food. (SB 320)
Strengthen basic supports in the interim:
- Eliminate the reduced-price lunch co-pay so more students have access to the nutrition they need to do well in school. Governor Brown has signed this into law! 30,000 Oregon children will have access to free lunch next fall (this is awaiting final authorization). (HB 2545)
- Provide additional support through the Oregon Hunger Response Fund to extend emergency assistance to more families. (HB 5026)
- Fund incentives for women, children and seniors with low incomes so they can access more fruits and vegetables. (SB 700)
- Expand funding for stable housing, including additions to the Emergency Housing Account (EHA) and State Housing Assistance Program (SHAP). (HB 2198)
- Modify Oregon’s Farm to School and School Gardens Program by giving all districts a fair share of the food funds and increase funding to $5.6 million so that children, families and our local food suppliers achieve greater food and economic securities. (HB 2721)
- Remove barriers for schools so they can serve "Breakfast After the Bell" and more Oregon kids are ready to learn and chase their dreams. (HB 2846)
- Invest in Oregon's children by serving summer meals alongside summer learning at school libraries. (HB 2650)
- Develop stronger measures of poverty to better reflect what it takes for families to afford their basic needs, thus improving outcomes for current state practices and programs. (SB 890)
- Simplify and strengthen support for working families that need child care. These improvements streamline a patchwork of credits in a way that particularly supports families below the poverty line that are seeking a pathway to the middle class. (HB 2115) (HB 2116)
Support those who are unable to work:
- Pilot a General Assistance program (HB 2194) for single adults to help them with a place to live as they await federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.