TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Heather Stuart
DATE: April 22, 2015
RE: Fair Shot For All – Progress
Over the past month, we’ve made huge strides toward adopting fair shot solutions that will create economic opportunity for Oregon’s working families. Each of the Fair Shot priorities continues to move forward in Salem and gain support among legislative leaders. Below, you’ll find details about where each bill stands and what happens next.
On March 18, Oregonians came together in 7 cities across the state to rally in support of solutions that will create real opportunity and a real fair shot for every Oregonian.
Turnout was great and energy was high – it is clear that Oregonians are excited about the Fair Shot campaign and ready for elected leaders to stand with them on the issues they care about. We produced a 50-second video that captures the growing momentum – check it out here:
At legislative hearings in Salem, Oregonians have gathered by the hundreds to get the attention of lawmakers and make their voices heard. They are sharing their stories of what it’s like to live and work in an economic system where the decks are stacked.
The good news is that lawmakers are listening and responding by moving Fair Shot solutions forward.
Keep reading for updates on each of the Fair Shot legislative priorities and more information about how you can get involved.
On April 13th, the Senate Committee on Workforce and the House Committee on Business and Labor held a joint public hearing on several legislative proposals that would raise the minimum wage in Oregon. Senate Bill 610, co-sponsored by Senator Shields of Portland and Representative Gorsek of Troutdale, and House Bill 2009, sponsored by Representative Nosse of Portland, were among those considered. Both bills would raise the wage to $15 per hour by 2018.
More than 250 people turned out to the hearing with a strong showing among supporters of SB 610 and HB 2009—including workers, business owners, economic analysts, community members, organizations, and more. KEZI in Eugene spoke with workers and members of the community about why increasing the minimum wage would provide a boost for families and the local economy.
Earlier in April, the Oregon Center for Public Policy released a new study showing that raising Oregon’s minimum wage to $15 per hour could boost the bottom line of small businesses, a sector that has enjoyed growth even after substantial wage hikes over the years.
Researchers found that an estimated 589,000 workers would see their wages rise if lawmakers raised the minimum wage to $15 by 2018. Over the three years that the increase would be phased in, lower-income workers as a group would gain about $3.2 billion in added wages.
Paid Sick Days
In late March, the Senate Committee on Workforce approved legislation to extend paid sick leave to working Oregonians. The bill now moves to the Joint Ways and Means Committee before receiving a full vote from the Legislature.
In February, the legislature held three hearings on the two paid sick days bills (SB 454 and HB 2005) and more than 300 people turned out to show their support and make their voices heard!
You can assist in the effort by reaching out to your senator and expressing your support for SB 454. Find out who your senator is and how to contact them here: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/FindYourLegislator/leg-districts.html
In March, researchers from the Northwest Economic Research Center (NERC) at Portland State University released a new report that details the growing retirement savings crisis in Oregon and projects the economic impact of a state-sponsored retirement savings plan.
Researchers estimate that over 400,000 Oregon workers could participate in a new state-sponsored retirement plan. If those new plan enrollees earn returns that are comparable to those received by current retirees, their combined income from these plans would exceed $2 billion dollars per year.
Researchers also found that 63-68% of employees at firms with 500 employees or more are participating in retirement plans while only 11% of employees at firms with 11 or fewer employees participate in a plan.
A state-sponsored plan would make it easy for small business owners to offer retirement plans to their employees – they would only need to add a line item to the monthly pay stub.
The next step for retirement security legislation will be approval by the Joint Committee on Ways and Means and then a vote by the full legislature.
Ban the Box
In March, the Portland City Council and the Oregon House Committee on Business and Labor both held hearings on legislation to “Ban the Box” and give qualified job applicants who’ve paid their debts to society a fair chance at rebuilding their lives.
The legislation would make it illegal for all employers to use job application forms to ask about criminal history or disqualify an applicant from employment because of a prior conviction, unless the conviction is job-related.
Employment is one of the most important influences for decreasing recidivism. Two years after release, twice as many employed people with records had avoided running into trouble with the law, compared to their unemployed counterparts. A steady job provides not just financial resource, but also connections to a new community that can help reduce the risk of recidivism.
Long after people convicted of crime have served their time, they can continue to encounter barriers to employment. KOIN spoke with Theresa Sweeney, a mother of three children with a master’s degree who has struggled to find a job since serving time for four felony convictions in the early 2000s.
Ban the Box legislation continues to move forward in Portland and in the Oregon legislature.
Eighty-five percent of Oregonians believe that law enforcement should not be allowed to profile. Yet every day, people are targeted based on their race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, language, housing status, sexual orientation or gender identity—in the streets, in our schools and in our own neighborhoods.
Oregon is only one of 8 states that haven’t banned profiling. It's about time we change that— so people don’t have to live in fear and entire communities aren’t cast as suspect simply because of what we look like, where we come from or what religion we adhere to.
Last week, Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, came to Oregon to shine a light on the issue of profiling and the dangerous consequences it can have for communities of color. She spoke about how profiling is a concern here in Oregon, saying "It's important I come to places like Portland, which is thousands of miles away from my house, but nevertheless, it's still an important issue here."
Read more about Syrbina Fulton’s visit from KPTV.
The House Committee on Judiciary took action on April 20th to combine the three End Profiling bills (HB 2001, HB 2002 and HB 2003) into a single bill and move the legislation forward with bipartisan support. The committee also approved an amendment that would create the Law Enforcement Profiling Work Group, a new group tasked with evaluating how best to implement the new policies across the state. The amendment requires data collection and sets up a system for people to report complaints and for those complaints to be reported back to local jurisdictions.
End Profiling legislation has also received the endorsement of the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police (OACP). The over 200 members of OACP include not only Chiefs of Police, but also police commanders, supervisors, and support staff from all over Oregon.
“Bias policing is not professional policing and the members of the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police are committed to best practice standards in hiring, policies and training designed to insure that our police officers continue to have the full confidence of the communities they serve,” said Kevin Campbell, OACP Executive Director. “Public confidence in the legitimacy of policing and in the work our police officers perform each and every day is absolutely critical to our effectiveness.”
The End Profiling legislation next moves to the Sub Joint Ways and Means Committee on Public Safety for approval before going to the full Ways and Means Committee and then a vote from the full legislature.
For the Oregonian who has worked for more than twenty-five years to earn a single paid sick day, the worker who has been making minimum wage without a raise in over a decade, for the aging Oregonian who plans to work until she dies, and for the farmworker who is repeatedly cut out of our most important labor laws—change cannot come fast enough.
Folks across Oregon are ready for Fair Shot solutions and they’re putting the pressure on lawmakers to get it done.
Fair Shot for All Campaign Director