Three of the five 2015 Fair Shot for All priorities—paid sick days, ban the box and retirement security— headed for floor votes
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(Salem, Ore.)—The Oregon Legislature took action this week on three policies that create economic opportunity for Oregon’s working families: expanding access to paid sick days, “banning the box” to create opportunities for people with prior convictions and arrests to find work, and making saving for retirement easier. The three bills (HB 3025, SB 454 and HB 296) represent three of the five issues that Fair Shot For All, a coalition of community and labor groups, has prioritized for the Oregon 2015 Legislative Session.
"Fair Shot For All has been working hard all session to create real opportunities for every Oregonian to succeed,” said Heather Conroy, Executive Director for coalition member SEIU Local 503. “This week marks an important step forward as three solutions that help address economic inequality head for important votes. We urge legislators to continue to make working families a priority by supporting these bills."
The bills’ forward progress comes on the heels of a press conference held last month by Fair Shot For All, calling for lawmakers to move on key policy changes that will give hardworking Oregonians a fair shot. Workers, business owners and 10 state legislators joined the coalition in this public show of support.
House Bill 3025, the “ban the box” legislation, passed out of the Senate Workforce Committee on Wednesday by a vote of 3 to 2. The legislation will prohibit employers from including questions about applicants’ criminal history on job applications.
Successful employment is one of the most important factors for decreasing recidivism. A steady job provides not just financial resources, but also connections to a new community that can help reduce the risk of another offense.
“People with prior convictions and arrests are regularly shut out of jobs because of one checked box on their job applications,” said Senator Michael Dembrow. “Removing questions about criminal history from job applications creates opportunities for qualified Oregonians to obtain the work they need to rebuild their lives and support their families.”
The Oregon House passed the “ban the box” legislation in April by a vote of 33 to 27. The bill now awaits further consideration in the Senate.
Senate Bill 454, the paid sick time bill, passed out of the Joint Ways and Means Committee today by a vote of 14 to 9. The bill, co-sponsored by Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward and Representative Jessica Vega Pederson, will create a statewide standard so workers all across Oregon can accrue one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours in a year.
Low-wage workers are less likely to have access to paid sick days than higher-paid workers. In Oregon, only 29 percent of Oregonians earning less than $20,000 annually have access to paid sick time, compared to 82 percent of those earning more than $65,000 annually.
"The truth is, people are more productive when they can stay home to recover and care for their families without losing pay or risking their jobs,” said Representative Jessica Vega Pederson. “Voters overwhelmingly support paid sick time and a growing number of employers do too. I urge the Senate to pass this basic workplace standard."
The paid sick time legislation now awaits further consideration in the Senate.
House Bill 2960, the retirement security bill, passed out of the Joint Ways and Means Committee today by a vote of 14 to 9. The bill, co-sponsored by Senator Lee Beyer and Representative Tobias Read, will provide every Oregonian with a safe, easy and effective way to save for retirement.
Currently, nearly half of all Oregonians do not have a retirement plan at work. As a result, many are at risk of living in poverty when they retire – unable to cover basic living and medical expenses.
"It’s time to put Oregonians back in charge of their financial future,” said Representative Tobias Read. “By giving every working Oregonian an easy way to save for retirement, we can provide security for individuals, families and our communities. I'm calling on my colleagues in the House to support this legislation."
The retirement security bill now awaits further consideration in the House.