Feb 9, 2024 - Politics

Here's what happened in the Oregon Legislature

Photo illustration of the Oregon State Capitol with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Oregon lawmakers hit the ground running in the first week of the short session, with proposals for adding housing, controlling drug abuse, and fixing cell phones.

The big picture: Three days into the 35-day session, the state revenue forecast eased nerves when it projected a balance of about $1.7 billion in June 2025, slightly more than expected.

What's happening: Gov. Tina Kotek testified on a top priority, her housing bill, at a Senate hearing Thursday.

  • The governor is seeking $500 million to spur housing production and help the state meet her goal of building 36,000 homes annually.
  • Kotek wants another $65 million to keep shelters open and $35 million for rental assistance.
  • It is unclear when the measure may come up for a committee vote.

Also, on Wednesday the Joint Interim Committee on Addiction and Community Safety Response considered Oregon's fentanyl crisis.

  • They weighed the severity of punishment and how to help users into treatment while listening to public testimony from people affected by overdose and addiction.

What we're watching: A measure known as "right to repair" would offer more affordable options to fix devices such as phones and tablets.

  • At hearings on Tuesday and Thursday, sponsor Sen. Janeen Sollman (D-Hillsboro) said that by limiting "parts pairing" by tech companies, local repair shops would be eligible for more of this work, and consumers could fix rather than throw away their devices.

One fun thing: Obadiah "Obie" Rutledge was unanimously elected secretary of the Senate.

  • When he was the reading clerk for the Oregon House of Representatives in 2007, Rutledge was clocked reading 44 words out loud in 10 seconds.

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