Have you been engaged in advocacy in your neighborhood but want to take it to the next level? Or are you interested in how state policy and budget impact your life and the lives or your community? The 2017 Oregon Legislative session is a great time to get your feet wet or dive right in!
Oregon Legislative session officially started February 1st and goes through early July. Legislators this session will face many unique challenges and opportunities related to livability for Oregonians and our communities and neighborhoods.
The SE Uplift Coalition area is comprised of one congressional district, two Oregon Senate and two House of Representative districts. Go here to see who represents you at the Oregon Legislature.
At a recent town hall, Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer and Senator Michael Dembrow, shared their priorities and anticipated challenges for the 2017 legislative session. Not surprisingly, the state’s $1.7 billion budget shortfall was identified as a primary concern. The legislature will be responsible for making edits to a proposed state budget released by Governor Kate Brown and ultimately passing a new 2017-2019 state budget. Legislators will have to not only make hard decision about cuts, but also work to get agreement and support for revenue proposals, which always prove to be a challenge.
Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer and Senator Michael Dembrow also shared their priorities for this session, those that relate most closely to livability included:
- Transportation Funding Package
- Housing stock/Housing affordability
- Tenant protections
What can you do?
- Need a refresher on what state government does? This is a great general resource on government 101.
- Find out who represents you, and how to contact them. Go here: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/findyourlegislator/leg-districts.html
- Get the information. Review the proposed bills by searching by bill or text on the Oregon State Legislature site “OLIS” here. Review the potential revenue proposals and advocate your support for those by talking with your representatives, neighbors, friends, and colleagues.
- Data is a great starting place for legislations to build a case, but they also need personal stories from Oregonians to make the case more compelling. If you have a compelling experience or story that relates to the item under consideration, share it to your local legislator(s).
- Identify organizations that are advocating for issues you care about and volunteer, donate, and connect with them to get and stay involved.
- The Statesman Journal recently published an article with tips from local legislators on how to effectively impact policy during the session. Here are a few that caught our eye:
- “Personalized emails catch my attention more than a generic email. It is helpful to hear in the person’s own words what they are concerned about versus clicking on a form email that says contact your Senator or Representative with a prewritten email.” – Sen. Jackie Winters, R-Salem
- “OLIS. OLIS. OLIS. Every constituent that wants to know what is going on should go to OLIS. Sign up for committee and bill notices of bills they are interested in following. Email testimony for bills of interest to the Committee Administrator once OLIS notifies you of a hearing.” – Sen. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas
- “All people, volunteers as well as highly paid professional lobbyists, can make an impact in the legislative process in Oregon… And the more involved, the more consistently involved, a person is – the larger an impact they can and will have upon the process” – Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth
- “Keep email to your legislator short and get right to your point. Starting an email with, ‘You’re all a bunch of idiots’ is not the best way to get someone to listen to you. Make your point and then ask them to clarify or share the facts that they used to make their decision.” – Rep. Sherrie Sprenger, R-Scio
By: Leah Fisher
Neighborhood Planning Program Manager