Oregon leads the country with a slate of legislation that includes paid sick days, retirement security, ‘banning the box’, and ending profiling
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(Salem, Ore.)—Governor Kate Brown today signed into law four polices that will create economic opportunity for Oregon’s working families: expanding access to paid sick days, making saving for retirement easier, “banning the box” to create job opportunities for people with prior convictions and arrests, and ending profiling based on race, gender and sexual orientation.
“I was thrilled to sign these four pieces of legislation that will strengthen the economic security of working families in our state,” said Governor Brown. “I want to thank the Legislature and the advocates for their tireless work to get these bills to my desk. Yet, our work is not done. There are still people with full time jobs who are unable to make ends meet. We must carry on the fight to ensure all Oregonians have the opportunity to earn a living wage.”
The four bills are part of the Fair Shot For All legislative agenda announced by the coalition in January, just before the start of the Oregon 2015 Legislative Session. Over twenty Oregon labor unions, community groups and racial justice organizations came together to form Fair Shot For All. The coalition focuses on addressing longstanding economic inequality, fixing our broken economy and giving all Oregonians a fair shot at success.
“Fair Shot For All set out this session to win real improvements in the lives of Oregonians, and working families, small business owners, and community leaders from all over the state were behind us every step of the way,” said Andrea Paluso, Fair Shot For All Co-Chair and Family Forward Oregon Executive Director. “Today, we’re pleased to stand with Governor Brown and celebrate four major victories that help mark this legislative session as one of the most significant in recent history for Oregon’s working families. ”
The remaining bill in the Fair Shot For All agenda, raising the minimum wage, will be considered when the legislature reconvenes in January 2016. Below is a listing of the four bills signed into law:
Expanding Access to Sick Time
Senate Bill 454, the paid sick time bill, creates a statewide standard so workers in businesses with 10 or more employees can earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours (about five days) in a year. Workers in smaller businesses with less than 10 employees will receive job protection for up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time a year.
Just under half a million working Oregonians will soon earn sick time that can be used for the diagnosis, care or treatment of the worker or a member of their family or in instances of domestic violence. The bill also protects employees from retaliation or discrimination for the use of sick time.
Banning the Box
House Bill 3025 prohibits 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.
In Oregon, nearly 5,000 people are released from prison every year. By removing the box, people will have a better chance at getting back to work and rebuilding their lives, becoming productive members of society who pay taxes and support other local businesses.
Making Saving For Retirement Easier
House Bill 2960 provides every Oregonian with a safe, easy and effective way to save for retirement. A state-sponsored plan will make it incredibly easy for small business owners to offer retirement plans– they will only need to add a line item to the monthly pay stub.
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. Oregon’s senior population is projected to increase from 502,000 to 950,000 by 2030. By taking action, Oregon has helped avoid a social and state budgetary crisis for the state.
House Bill 2002 bans the practice of profiling as a law enforcement tactic. Oregon will soon shift to community policing, a more effective public safety strategy that fosters trust between law enforcement officers and communities.
People in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color are targeted the most, leading to higher arrest and conviction rates among people of color generally—and African-Americans specifically. Many are already struggling to make ends meet and risk harsher penalties and extra fees when they can’t afford to pay the fines that often result from unfair profiling—putting their jobs on the line and their families at risk.
By ending profiling, Oregon will start to change the culture of policing, making neighborhoods safer and communities stronger.