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City Club of Eugene: What Did the 2023 Oregon Legislature Accomplish?

Oregon State Capitol building with a gilded bronze statue of a man known as the Oregon Pioneer.
Kristyna Wentz-Graff

Program date: July 14, 2023
Air date: July 17, 2023

From the City Club of Eugene:

Despite an amendment to the Oregon Constitution designed to prevent it, 10 Republican senators staged a 6-week walkout. They returned on June 15 after Democrats and Republicans reached a compromise. The parties agreed to the ease provisions in HB 2002, the reproductive health care bill, and dropped a proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to same-sex marriage, abortion, and gender-affirming care. Also dropped were more stringent controls on gun possession. As a result, in the remaining 10 days before sine die, several significant bills were passed as modified, including a state budget for the next two years.

Some bills that failed to pass include:

  • Limits to campaign contributions
  • Easing regulations for approving housing project
  • Expanding urban growth boundaries for housing
  • Renewed funding for Oregon Crime Victim Law Center
  • Requiring data centers to meet clean energy standards

Several bills passed and await Governor Kotek’s signature, include:

  • Giving voters the decision in 2024 to allow impeachment of statewide elected officials
  • Giving voters the option to create an independent salary commission to set salaries for statewide elected officials, legislators, district attorneys, and judges
  • Adding ranked choice voting measure on the 2024 general election ballot
  • Restructuring the public defender system, including additional funding
  • Ending the prohibition on self-serve gasoline, leaving New Jersey as the sole state prohibiting it
  • Stricter rent control measure limiting annual rental rate increases to 10%
  • $1 billion for a new I-5 bridge over the Columbia River
  • $200 million to address the housing and homelessness crisis
  • $700 million additional funding for the state school fund
  • Assigning $210 million to entice computer chip manufacturers to Oregon and gives the governor the authority to designate rural lands for that purpose
  • A ban on Styrofoam restaurant to-go packaging
  • Banning ghost guns and providing funding for gun violence prevention programs
  • Directing the Department of Energy to develop a comprehensive energy strategy
  • Naming the potato as our state vegetable

The devil is in the details, and who better than our legislators to give us the back story of another tumultuous Oregon Legislative session? The City Club of Eugene has recruited two local House members to give us their perspective on what did and what didn’t work in this year’s session. We will hear from a seasoned leader, Representative Julie Fahey (D), as well as a first-termer, Representative Charlie Conrad (R).

Charlie Conrad (R) represents Oregon House District 12 and is serving his first term representing eastern Lane County and Junction City. This term he served on the House Committees on Behavioral Health and Health Care, Judiciary, Emergency Management, General Government and Veterans.

He describes himself as a moderate Republican and generated a bit of press when he voted in favor of HB 2002, which protects access to abortion and expands insurance coverage for gender-affirming care. Rep. Conrad’s interim priorities are working to understand and improve the juvenile behavioral and mental system and to improve emergency response, specifically trying to find ways to increase the number of volunteer firefighters in rural areas.

He is a long-time resident of Dexter and has been a Lane County Corrections Officer, Springfield Police Officer, and researcher for the League of Oregon Cities. He has worked for Lane County Parks and Lane Events Center. He also served as a Lane County Planning Commissioner.

Julie Fahey (D) represents Oregon House District 14. She is serving her fourth term representing West Eugene and Veneta. She is the House Majority Leader, Chair of the House Committee on Rules, and serves on the Joint Committee on Legislative Administration and the House Committee on Housing and Homelessness, which she previously chaired.

Her priorities include protecting Oregon’s environment, investing both in career and technical education as well as higher education, resolving our homelessness and housing affordability crises, and providing health care for all.

Julie has 20 years of experience in the private sector as a business consultant and co-founder of a human resources consulting firm for businesses and non-profits.

About the City Club of Eugene:

The mission of the City Club of Eugene is to build community vision through open inquiry. The Club explores a wide range of significant local, state, and national issues and helps to formulate new approaches and solutions to problems. Membership is open to all, and Club members have a direct influence on public policy by discussing issues of concern with elected officials and other policy makers. The City Club’s mailing address is PO Box 12084, Eugene, OR 97440, and its website is cityclubofeugene.org.

Video and Broadcast

This program will be live streamed, and the videotape will be made available on the City Club of Eugene’s Facebook page and You Tube Channel, in addition to our website. It will be broadcast on Monday, July 17, at 7:00 pm, on KLCC 89.7 FM.

Contact: For more information, visit CityClubOfEugene.org.

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