Digest: Monday, February 21, 2022

Quick updates

SB 1513 — Protects workers from punishment when refusing to work overtime without advance notice

Public committee hearing February 21 at 1:00 p.m. Workers at Nabisco’s Portland plant went on strike last summer over multiple issues, including mandatory overtime with minimal notice. While national members the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union voted in favor of a new contract, members of Portland’s local voted against the proposal. SB 1513 would resolve one unaddressed problem in the new contract — that workers who refuse mandatory overtime with less than five days notice can be disciplined and even fired. Workers report Nabisco plant managers demanding overtime with as little as fifteen minutes notice, including of parents needing to arrange childcare. This bill passed in the State Senate last week and has been referred to the State House’s Committee on Business and Labor for a hearing. The version sent to the State House is known as an ‘engrossed’ or final version, but if state representatives make changes to the bill, it will have to go back to the State Senate so the two versions can be reconciled.

HB 4131 — Rolls back protections on protestors

Public committee hearing February 22 at 8:00 a.m. The House Committee on Judiciary referred the bill to the House Committee on Rules without recommendation. In light of an attack on protestors over the weekend, there’s a a call to reschedule the hearing, though members of the committee have not yet responded.

SB 1566 — Increases state legislators’ salaries to about $57,000 per year

Public committee hearing February 22 at 1:00 p.m. Oregon’s state legislators earn just $32,839 per year for their work, forcing legislators to rely on inherited wealth, campaign finance donations, and day jobs to cover their costs of living. There’s a strong argument that the current state of affairs prevents meaningful reforms around campaign donations and corruption. This bill has pulled together supporters from unlikely corners, including labor unions and business interest groups alike.

HB 4133 — Improves online voter registration system

Public committee hearing February 22 at 1:00 p.m. Oregon’s online voter registration system currently relies on a prospective voter getting either a state driver’s license or identification card. This bill will enable residents to register to vote online with their Social Security number instead, which will likely make voting more accessible. Opposition to the bill has been along party lines, as Republican legislators argue that it will make voter fraud easier, despite the incredibly low incidences of voter fraud even being attempted in Oregon (perhaps 15 incidents in 19 years. This bill passed in the State House last week and has been referred to the State Senate’s Committee on Rules for a hearing.

HB 4087 — Ensures media access to sites of emergencies that are otherwise closed to the public

Public committee hearing February 24 at 3:15 p.m.

Journalists seeking to cover wildfires and other emergencies have found themselves blocked by police officers and emergency responders. HB 4087 would guarantee reporters’ access to public lands and roads, provided first responders deem emergency sites safe enough for journalists to access. The Oregon Society of Professional Journalists testified in support of the bill in a House hearing at the beginning of the month. This bill passed in the State House last week and has been referred to the State Senate’s Committee on Veterans and Emergency Preparedness for a hearing.

By Thursday Bram

Thursday Bram founded PDX.Vote after making numerous zines, newsletters, and other media about politics in Portland, Oregon. Thursday has also written for publications ranging from Autostraddle.com to Entrepreneur Magazine. You can find more of Thursday's work at ThursdayBram.com.