Highlights and Victories
2015 was a record year for racial equity as legislators were more meaningfully engaged with community based organizations early and often. Communities of color continued to have an increased presence in the Capitol, and bipartisan coalitions were more proactive in working with disaggregated data analysis and community organizations. The Governor’s office and legislative leadership increased strategic engagement on budget and policy matters, leading to one of the most productive and successful legislative sessions for communities of color. We saw an increase in comprehensive, bolder legislation and funding investments with explicit racial equity impacts. Oregon built on a strong 2013 session to pass new landmark legislation, several of which earned national recognition:
HB 2002 End Profiling – Creates a common definition of profiling and requires law enforcement agencies to adopt bans on profiling. This states that law enforcement cannot target an individual based solely on their race, ethnicity, age, color, national origin, language, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, political or religious affiliation, homelessness, and mental or physical disability. It also directs the Law Enforcement Policing Data Review Committee (LECC) to receive and monitor profiling complaints from the public, established the Law Enforcement Profiling Work Group, which is chaired by the Attorney General and charged with providing recommendations on how to identify and stop patterns and practices of profiling.
SB 454B Paid Sick Days – Access to paid sick time is an issue that affects all Oregonians, yet 47% of private sector workers and 71% of low wage workers in Oregon lack access to any paid sick time. This disproportionately impacts women and communities of color, who make up a significant portion of low-wage workers. Workers who lack paid sick time face an impossible choice when illness strikes: either they go to work sick or send a sick child to school or daycare; or they stay home, lose pay and risk job loss or workplace discipline. Particularly in this economy, many workers simply can’t afford to jeopardize the economic security of their families by staying home.
HB 2177 Oregon Motor Voter – Streamlines the current process by registering all eligible and consenting Oregonians to vote through the Department of Motor Vehicles. Communities of color and low income communities are more likely to be mobile, move more frequently, and face greater barriers to maintaining current voter registration status. Making voter registration simpler, easier and more convenient removes barriers so that every eligible Oregonian can be registered to vote
HB 3499 ELL State Reform – Addresses the needs of Oregon’s 57,000 English Language Learners (ELL). The legislation increases urgency, focus and support for ELL students, and appropriates $12.5 million to support school district improvements. Though many of our K-12 schools offer high-quality English language development programs, challenges remain including high quality dual language and native language learning curriculum, workforce development, and comprehensive integration of policies in local districts.
HB 3025 Fair Chance for All – Calls for the removal of the box on a job application asking about criminal history and increases access to work for people with criminal justice histories. Oregon’s criminal justice system convicts and incarcerates African Americans and other people of color in numbers that far exceed our percentage in the state. Employment is one of the most important influences for decreasing recidivism. Its passage signifies we are on a path towards increasing economic opportunity for all Oregonians.