Get on top of Oregon policy.
Elections are fun and all, but the real important stuff happens after: using democracy to help regular people. When the Oregon Legislature is in session, the Bus rolls to the Capitol to push issues that make Oregon stronger for the next generation.
We’re workin’ hard to build a democracy that is accessible to every one of its citizens, supports equality among its people and is bold enough to think ahead & build a tomorrow that is better than today.
What’s Up This Year
The Bus’s top priorities are set in part by a democratic vote of our peeps at Rebooting Democracy and in part by the Bus Political Committee (a wicked smart crew of Board members, volunteers & staff). We have two planks for our policy work: 1) Stuff that makes democracy better; 2) Stuff that impacts the next generation of Oregonians. This is what we’re working on along each plank.
Plank 1: Making Democracy Better
Voter Access: We’re working on a suite of policies designed to modernize 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 form.
- 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?
Campaign Finance Reform: 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.
Stuff that Affects the Next Generation
HB 2787, Tuition Equity: 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.
Safety and Savings: 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 and we’re right there working to create a system that helps the next generation more than it hinders it.
Earned Sick Days (City of Portland): 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 asked for.
What You Can Do
Do you have a personal story that you want the legislature to hear as they consider any of these policies? Get in touch.
- Maybe you’re 16 years-old, volunteer with the Bus to help others register to vote, and just want the ability to get signed up in the most convenient way possible.
- Maybe you were registered to vote for 20 years but when you moved right before the election you didn’t realize you had to re-register to update your address and were super sad when your ballot never showed up.
- Maybe you’re a registered voter without a driver’s license who just wants the convenience of being able to update your address or party affiliation online.
Either way, email Leslie Wright and we’ll work with you to get your story ready for primetime.
Victories of Yore
In a bewilderingly divided Legislature (Half GOP/Half Dem House & close to that in the Senate), Bus peeps got Public Assistance Agency Voter Registration passed with huge bipartisan majorities, including unanimous support in the House. It’ll make sure that Oregon citizens get an opportunity to register to vote when they apply for Food Stamps, Oregon Health Plan or a bundle of other programs.
In an epic & awesome coalition, we also went strong-like-bull on Tuition Equity and got it passed through the Senate for the first time in a decade.
Bus volunteers and advocates were part of a coalition that helped pass The Job Applicant Fairness Act, which protects job applicants from being denied work based on their credit history. It especially helps young people, low-income people and people of color in Oregon.
Alongside our Student Vote Coalition partners, the Oregon Student Association and OSPIRG, Bus volunteers and advocates won passage of 2 voter access bills:
- Online voter registration: Creating a way for Oregon citizens with Drivers Licenses, ID cards and Learners Permits to register to vote online
- High school voter registration: Putting voter registration materials in high schools all over Oregon
On both of these bills, high school and college-aged Bus volunteers gave rockstar testimony before powerful committees and played a big role in making them law.
In the Bus’s very first year hangin’ around the Legislature, Bus volunteers and advocates helped pass a bill that let 17-year-olds register to vote (so they can just vote when they turn 18).