By State Representative
Greetings from Salem. I am writing this column from my office on the fourth floor of the Capitol overlooking the Capitol Mall as we near the end of the 80th Legislative session. Wow, the short session can be hectic. The running joke in the Capitol is that we manage to fit the stress of a six-month session into five weeks! Even though it is a short session, we are absolutely working on some important bills, including some that will lay the groundwork for better more progressive legislation to come. Allow me to highlight some of the more important bills. (The session will likely be over by the time you read this column, so hopefully all of the bills highlighted in this column will have passed.)
HB 4155 – After last year’s disappointing decision by the Federal Communications Commission to repeal net neutrality protections, it became clear that consumer protections were going to have to come from the states. Most advocates believe the states are federally pre-empted from dealing with this issue. That said, we think we have crafted a narrow approach that will withstand the federal pre-emption and a constitutional challenge in our courts.
SB 1541 – I started paying hard attention to air quality issues after the air pollution from Bullseye Glass came to light in my first term. This bill is the first big payoff of that work. The bill is still going through a lot of negotiations involving many constituents from SE Portland, but should it pass, SB 1541 will put a fee system in place and provide the funding for the governor’s Cleaner Air Oregon program, so we can start reigning in industrial pollution sources that pose serious health risks.
HB 4145 – With the tragedy in Florida still fresh in everybody’s mind, it FINALLY feels like we reached a tipping point on gun violence in this Country. The day after that school shooting, one of many already this year, we passed HB 4145 on the House floor. The bill expands the criteria that places someone under the domestic abuser firearm ban to include intimate partners that don’t live together that have been convicted of stalking. It’s a step in the right direction. I know we will be coming back to gun safety in future sessions. As I said when I ran for office, I will support any sensible gun regulation that can pass – and finally it is starting to feel like more of these bills can indeed pass.
HB 4005 – For me, this bill is a big deal. Last session I introduced an aggressive bill – HB 2387 to lower drug prices. Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical lobby killed that bill. This year I returned with a slimmed-down version of the bill focused on price transparency. HB 4005 will require prescription drug manufacturers to justify price hikes of 10 % or more. While not as comprehensive, I think this is a good first step. After all, at the end of the day the problem is the price. Consumers deserve transparency on why drug prices keep going up. I’m excited to continue to work to bring those costs down.
With all that said, every session there are plenty of good bills that never make it out of committee or die in the Senate. Having a full six months in 2019 instead of five weeks will give us a chance to really work on and polish important legislative concepts that may not have cleared the hurdle this time. Should I get re-elected, I’m looking forward to working on those issues and more.