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The upcoming Legislative Short Session Will Bring Bew Policy and Yield its Fair Share of Political Theater

Written on Mar. 1st, 2022

Here are the leading policy proposals and political dynamics which Oregonian’s can expect in the upcoming short session.

On the Policy – 

Early expectations for the most politically sensitive policies we expect to see in the upcoming short session stem from agricultural overtime mandates, franchise legislation, and a $200 million workforce development bill being pushed by Governor Brown. Though the two former legislative concepts have not been released to the public as of yet. We anticipate each of these bills to render similarities of past concepts which did not ultimately make their way to the Governor’s desk to sign-off on. We will provide a deeper look into both the agricultural overtime bill and the business franchise bill once it makes its way to the public. 

For now, we do know the general breakdown of the Governor’s $200 million workforce development initiative, known as Future Ready Oregon 2022, and provide a breakdown on where the money would be allocated below:

  • Leveraging Existing Successes ($92.5M) — Expanding investments in programs that are successfully providing career-connected learning opportunities for historically underserved communities, including local workforce boards ($35M), community college career pathways programs ($17M), registered apprenticeship, and pre-apprenticeship programs ($20M), credit for prior learning ($10M), and youth workforce readiness and re-engagement initiatives ($10.5M). 
  • Competitive Workforce Readiness Grants ($95M) — Providing individuals, organizations, and service providers resources and supports to remove barriers and improve access to the workforce system, and connecting key populations to job training, employment, and career advancement opportunities through: 

 Providing individuals, organizations, and service providers resources and supports to remove barriers and improve access to the workforce system, and connecting key populations to job training, employment, and career advancement opportunities through: 

o Direct financial benefits to individuals, including stipends for earn-and-learn models and funds to pay for education, training, and wraparound services (e.g., tuition, fees, supplies, transportation, housing, and childcare); 

o Resources for workforce service providers to develop education and training Pathways, including culturally and linguistically appropriate credential pathways, career-connected learning opportunities, physical infrastructure, supplies, and technology; and 

o Opportunities to build organizational capacity, including investing in staffing, organizational and structural processes, planning, and other administrative expenses. 

  • Benefits Navigators Pilot Program ($10M) —Providing local workforce boards with the opportunity to apply for Benefits Navigators, to be located at one-stop WorkSource Centers or community-based organizations. 
  • Industry Consortia Pilots ($1M) — Investing in consortia for key industry sectors (construction, healthcare, and manufacturing), which will be co-led by a representative from the business community and a relevant community-based organization, and that will make investment recommendations to policymakers. 
  • Assessment, Accountability, and Continuous Improvement ($1.5M) — An investment to ensure that the criteria for funding all activities serve the priority populations identified in the Future Ready Oregon proposal. 

On the Political Theatrics – 

Nearly a month out from the gavel striking and ushering in the 2022 short session in Salem, two of Oregon’s longest-serving leaders, Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) announced his retirement, and House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) announced her resignation from historic tenured position. Kotek’s announcement comes as no surprise as she seeks higher office as Oregon’s 39th Governor. Her announcement coincidentally came mere hours after the Oregon Secretary of State, Shemia Fagan announced that Kotek’s leading Democratic competitor Nick Kristopf failed to meet residency requirements for him to run for Governor. Independent hopeful, Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose), who has been in the capital since 2001, also announced her resignation from her Senate seat last month to focus on her gubernatorial run. 

Along with these major leadership changes, three other members of the House of Representatives have announced their intentions to run for Oregon’s newly formed 6th Congressional District, Representatives, Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego), Teresa Alonso Leon (D-Woodburn), and Ron Noble (R-McMinnville). With the inability to fundraise during session, we can certainly expect opportunistic pontifications when opportunities present themselves and a new lens in the way of potentially critical votes on a specific policy.

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