Makin’ Laws: Update for March 4th, 2013

Bus at the Capitol

The legislature just wrapped up the first month of the 2013 session and we’re happy to say that with your help, Bus policy priorities have been moving along nicely.

Because this is our first update like this, we’re going to take the time to introduce you to the bills we’re driving towards, as well as we’re they’re all at in the process.

Voter Access

About the Policies: Modernizing our voter registration system so that all eligible Oregonians can have secure, hassle-free access to our democracy. The bills we’re currently working on are:

  • HB 2988, 16 Year-Old Pre-Registration: Allows 16-year-olds to pre-register to vote (just like 17-year-olds already do). So when the 20,000 16-year-olds that get their licenses every year go to the DMV they can save their spot on the voter rolls, too. Plus, it makes high school voter registration drives WAY better.
  • HB 2198, Portable Voter Registration: Keeps your voter registration up-to-date when you move, so you get your ballot at your new address without needing to fill out a new voter registration.
  • HB 3175, Improving College Voter Registration: Offers students more opportunities and information to register to vote at all public colleges and universities — on popular university webpages, in the highest traffic places on campus, and requiring voter registration announcements on campus. (Led by our kickass partners at the Oregon Student Association)
  • HB 2017, Online Voter Reg. Update: Allows currently registered Oregon voters without a driver’s license to update their voter registration online using their Social Security number. Convenient, right?

The Latest: We’ve been meeting with legislators all last month to build support for this issue. All of these bills have been referred to the House Rules Committee and we’re waiting on a hearing to be scheduled  UPDATE: The committee has scheduled two hearings for voter access bills in the next two weeks:

  • Wednesday, March 13, 3-5:00 PM: Hearing on National Voter Registration Act compliance (didn’t mention this one above…but it’s a good thing).
  • Monday, March 18, 3-5:30 PM: Hearing on all three of the bills above.

There’s also a smattering of other cool stuff to come (we’ll keep you posted).

Campaign Finance Reform

About the Policies: We’re strong believers that Oregon’s campaign finance system needs some fixes. The legislature is considering a whole range of bills to limit the role of money in elections and make campaign transactions more transparent:

  • HB 2420, Independent Expenditure Transparency: Requires the source of independent expenditures to be identified on the communications pieces they fund, so we know who’s behind every piece of mail, TV spot and radio ad.
  • HB 2018, Independent Expenditure Electronic Reporting: Requires independent expenditures to be reported electronically. That way it’s super easy to see which outside groups are spending money to influence your vote.
  • HB 2419, Rapid Reporting: Requires large contributions in the final two weeks of an election to be reported on OreStar within 48 hours.

The Latest: Like our Voter Access bills, these bills have landed a sweet spot on the House Rules Committee’s docket, though no hearing has been scheduled just yet. Stay tuned.

Stuff that Affects the Next Generation

Tuition Equity (HB 2787)

About the Policy: One of the smartest pieces of economic policy that also happens to be the right moral thing to do: offering in-state tuition to long-time Oregon students who graduated from Oregon high schools, have been accepted to Oregon colleges and are working toward citizenship, but who didn’t receive documentation when their parents brought them to America.

The Latest: Our hard-charging partners over at Oregon Student Association, Causa and others have been doing a ridiculously awesome job for the last several years on this one. Thanks to the brilliant work of the coalition, HB 2787 passed through the House with flying colors a couple weeks back and the Senate will be taking a gander soon.

Earned Sick Days (City of Portland)

About the Policy: Over 80% of Portlanders don’t have the opportunity to earn paid sick leave. So when they get sick, they either have to skip a day of pay or go to work sick. Which means you’re getting more with that latte than you might’ve bargained for.

The Latest:This Thursday, March, 7, the Portland City Council will be holding a public hearing on the policy that would require employers give their employees the ability to earn paid sick days. It goes down at 3 PM, and is, well, obviously open to the public. If you care about this issue you should get yourself down there.

Safety and Savings

About the Policy: It’s no secret that Oregon’s public safety & criminal justice system is in need of a serious facelift. In the search for the public policy equivalent of Botox, Oregon’s crazy-huge Safety and Savings Coalition—of which yours truly is a proud member—is focused on three policy objectives this session:

  • Flatline prison growth
  • Allow more judicial discretion for youth tried as adults
  • Adequately fund victim and rehabilitation services

The legislature is considering an ever-evolving swarm of bills related to these issues. Bounce on over to the Partnership for Safety & Justice’s Legislative Agenda fact sheet for more info.

The Latest: If you’re looking to get involved in this area, we’ve got two big dates for you:

  • March 12th, 7 – 9 PM: PSU is holding a forum—”The Future of Criminal Justice and Public Safety in Oregon”. It’s free and you should go. More info here.
  • April 2nd, 7 – 4 PM: Our friends at Partnership for Safety and Justice are holding a Youth Justice Day at the State Capitol. We’ll be taking our Bus down. Save your seat here.

Whew. That’s it. We’re keeping busy, as you can see. To help make sure this work can keep going, consider making our day by becoming a monthly Bus Driver.

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