Legislative Session Review: Oregon

By Lauren Doroghazi | April 13, 2018

Oregon - Adjournment Graphic

*Enacted bills current through April 11, 2018. The bill count is not final because the legislature may send enrolled bills to the governor after the legislature has adjourned, at which time the governor has 30 working days to sign or veto the legislation.

Oregon adjourned its 2018 short legislative session sine die on March 3, eight days ahead of its constitutional deadline. Traditionally, the 35-day short session is used for budget fixes and noncontroversial amendments to existing laws, but Democrats, led by Governor Kate Brown (D) pursued an ambitious agenda this year, leading to partisan squabbling. Efforts to enact a cap-and-trade law failed, as did a proposal to establish a right to health care in the Oregon constitution. Legislators have vowed to take up cap-and-trade again in the 2019 regular session.

Legislative Highlights

Although some bills are still waiting on the governor's signature, notable bill enactments include:

  • Governor Brown's legislation to close the “boyfriend loophole” to expand a ban preventing domestic violence offenders from owning a gun.
  • Reactions to federal tax reform. In the end, lawmakers passed a bill (SB 1528) that disconnects the state from a provision in the new federal law that grants pass-through entities a 20-percent deduction on state income taxes. A related effort (SB 1529) also saw the repeal of penalties for businesses with interests in so-called 'tax havens.' Governor Brown has indicated that she will sign SB 1528, but in exchange will call for a special session to be held sometime after the primary elections on May 15 and the end of June to pass legislation lowering tax rates on sole proprietorships.
  • Legislators passed a bill (HB 4155) that requires government contractors to adhere to the principles of net neutrality.
  • The legislature passed two bills and the governor signed an executive order addressing the opioid crisis. Governor Brown signed an executive order declaring addiction to be a public health crisis. The first bill (HB 4137) strengthens the Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission and requires it to develop a comprehensive addiction, prevention, treatment, and recovery plan for the state by July 1, 2020. The second bill (HB 4143) requires prescribers to register with the state's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, requires a study and report on existing barriers to effective treatment for and recovery from substance use disorders, and establishes a pilot program on evidence-based treatment for persons who suffer opioid overdoses.

Election Preview

Governor Brown (D) is up for reelection in 2018 and will face two primary challengers on May 15. Additionally, 16 out of 30 seats in the Oregon State Senate and all 60 seats in the House of Representatives are up for election on November 6. Oregon has been a Democratic trifecta since 2012, and Republicans would need to flip three seats in the Senate and six seats in the House to take control of the chambers.

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