Findings

Communities of color had record levels of constituent engagement with legislators from all 36 counties in Oregon.

Get your copy 3Lawmakers made great strides in 2015 by passing landmark legislation with explicit racial equity impacts including HB 2002 End Profiling, HB 2177 New Motor Voter, and SB 454B Paid Sick Leave.

Rank and file Republican and Democratic legislators are working earlier and more closely with communities of color to identify and develop policy solutions to Oregon’s persistent racial disparities in the face of stagnant legislative leadership.

An increasing number of Republican and Democrat legislators championed racial equity legislation, including bipartisan sponsors for major legislation such as HB 3499 English Language Learner Reform, HB 3025 Fair Chance for All, and HB 3343 12-Month Contraception.

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Recommendations

  1. Communities of color are 20% of Oregon’s population, yet only 4% of legislators identify as people of color. This deep disparity drives a lack of context and expertise in developing public policy, perpetuating systemic racism, and unintended consequences. Elect leaders of color to serve in the legislature, particularly young people, ensures that the concerns and needs of Oregon’s growing diversity are better represented in critical lawmaking.
  2. Elected Leadership. There has been a measurable increase in individual Republican and Democratic legislators sponsoring racial equity legislation. More engagement is needed from Legislative Leadership and the Governor to engage communities of color, develop and vet policy, and champion racial equity measures and budget investments. This includes Committee Chairs, Ways and Means Subcommittee Co-Chairs, and the Governor’s Policy Advisors – alongside the traditional majority and minority party leaders. We encourage leadership to increase communications with communities of color to give timely and constructive feedback, and lay the groundwork for bolder, longer-term racial equity solutions.
  3. Significant systemic change and a culture shift are needed throughout Oregon’s institutions to achieve racial equity. Consistent oversight from the Governor’s office, legislative leadership, and legislative committees is needed to see through the full and timely implementation of racial equity measures. Previous measures in criminal justice (HB 3194) and data equity (HB 2134) are two examples of long-term reform efforts that require ongoing support and accountability.

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