Success in 2017 Oregon Legislature

Success in 2017 Oregon Legislature!

The YWCA of Greater Portland had two primary priorities during the 2017 legislative session:

  1. Ensuring the continuation of the Family Preservation Project (FPP); and,
  2. Creating of a Bill of Rights for Children of Incarcerated Parents.

Both concepts were prioritized by the legislative Task Force on Re-Entry, Employment & Housing and championed by task force co-chair, Senator Michael Dembrow. With his leadership AND the support of YWCA staff and advocacy by FPP former participants, both concepts were seen to fruition.

Words can’t express our appreciation for the support of Piper Kerman, our Inspire Luncheon Keynote Speaker and author of Orange is the New Black, who joined 17 formerly incarcerated women and their children, Barbara Spencer and Lucy Baker from the Oregon Commission on Women, YWCA volunteers and staff on April 26th as we stormed the Oregon Legislature to inform and educate legislators of the importance of these two measures.

Continued Funding for FPP

The 2017 Oregon Legislature’s budget reconciliation bill included a $400,000 allocation to the YWCA of Greater Portland to administer the Family Preservation Project for the 2017-19 biennium. While this is $350,000 short of the actual costs to run the current program, legislators demonstrated their support of the program by maintaining the previous session’s funding level while cutting other programs anywhere from 50%-100%.

In addition to Sen. Dembrow’s leadership, the support received from Rep. Jennifer Williamson, Sen. Jackie Winters and Sen. Richard Devlin, proved key to our efforts.

Oregon is first state in the US to adopt a Bill of Rights for Children of Incarcerated Parents, which was adopted unanimously by both the Oregon House and Senate

SB 241, signed by the Governor on June 22nd, made Oregon the first state to adopt a Bill of Rights for Children of Incarcerated Parents so that every child whose parent is arrested and/or incarcerated is guaranteed a series of rights, from protection from additional trauma to a life-long relationship with their parent. As an outgrowth of the YWCA’s work with the Family Preservation Project, this bill provides the opportunity to create a system that recognizes the needs of children of incarcerated parents and prioritizes their rights.

With the leadership of Sen. Dembrow, the Governor’s Office and the Department of Corrections, the Governor’s Re-Entry Council will take on the work of translating these rights into policy and funding recommendations through their Family & Community Engagement implementation team. Additional stakeholders, including the YWCA and other stakeholders with expertise in providing services to children of incarcerated parents will be included on that team.

SB 241 received unanimous support from both the House and the Senate.

Cover All Kids – SB 558 modifies the eligibility guidelines for the Health Care for All Oregon Children Program so that all children in Oregon have access to health care regardless of citizenship status (extending Medicaid coverage to an additional 15,000 kids).

Re-Establishes Task Force on Re-Entry, Employment & Housing – SB 689 continues the work of the Task Force and adds additional stakeholders, including persons with criminal records of each gender. This Task Force helped launch our efforts in support of SBs 241 and 242.

Certificates of Good Standing – SB 690 creates Certificates of Good Standing, which are an opportunity to improve pathways to employment and housing for people with criminal records who have demonstrated their readiness for full integration through their adherence to treatment, work (paid and unpaid), probationary obligations and other measures.

Fair Work Week – SB 828 requires large employers to provide new employees with estimated work schedule and to provide current employees two weeks’ notice of work schedule.

Oregon Project Independence – SB 5526 is the DHS agency budget bill and it maintains OPI at its previous funding level within the Aging and People with Disabilities program (no cuts but no increases).

Bill of Rights for Children of Incarcerated Parents:

A BILL OF RIGHTS

  1. TO BE KEPT SAFE AND INFORMED AT THE TIME OF MY PARENT’S ARREST. 
  2. TO BE HEARD WHEN DECISIONS ARE MADE ABOUT ME.
  3. TO BE CONSIDERED WHEN DECISIONS ARE MADE ABOUT MY PARENT.
  4. TO BE WELL CARED FOR IN MY PARENT’S ABSENCE.
  5. TO SPEAK WITH, SEE AND TOUCH MY PARENT.
  6. TO SUPPORT AS I FACE MY PARENT’S INCARCERATION.
  7. NOT TO BE JUDGED, BLAMED OR LABELED.
  8. TO A LIFELONG RELATIONSHIP WITH MY PARENT.

Other YWCA Legislative Priorities that were winners!

Passed/Funded (numerical order)

Pay Equity – HB 2005 prohibits employers from asking applicants about their salary history so that job offers are made based on what the job is worth to the employer rather than an employee’s own wage history.

Ending Racial Profiling – HB 2355 addresses the problem of police profiling of individuals based on perceptions based on their race, ethnicity, and other factors. The AG’s office will maintain a statewide database on police encounters to see where problems may exist. The bill includes funding for enhanced training of police officers on recognizing profiling. The bill also reduces the crime classification for first-offense possession of controlled substances (drugs) from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Ethnic Studies Bill – HB 2845 calls for statewide ethnic studies standards for adoption into existing statewide social studies standards for public K-12.

Safety & Savings Act – HB 3078 realigns addiction-driven property crime laws, broadens local 416 models, expands short-term transitional leave to 120 days, fixes and preserves the Family Sentencing Alternative, maintains Justice Reinvestment with $7 million to community-based Jr programs, and invests in the Oregon Domestic and Sexual Violence Fund (adds $1 million to survivor service funds).

Reproductive Health Equity Act – HB 3391 helps ensure reproductive health services are available for all regardless of income, citizenship status, gender identity, or type of insurance.  Requires health insurance plans to cover a full range of contraceptive and preventative care without cost sharing

Grand Jury Recordings – SB 505 requires that grand jury proceedings will be recorded, improving the quality of the record and increase transparency. Currently, Oregon is one of only two states that does not allow proceedings to be recorded and provided to the defense (which is barred from grand jury proceedings).

4543 has Dembrow (we gave him an award in 4569?) and a couple of other legislators

4524 and Lobby Day with Piper are also good general photos of our lobbying efforts

We also awarded Nova Sweet an award for her tireless leadership.  She is a graduate of the FPP program and leads the alumni association! )