By Representative David Gomberg, House District 10
I hope everyone enjoyed a happy Mother’s Day yesterday. For those of you fortunate enough to be fully vaccinated, I trust you made the most of this special day. For those of you who aren’t there yet, or who have family members who aren’t, perhaps you found creative ways to enjoy one another while staying safe. Please plan to get that vaccination soon!
Treasurer Tobias Read recently wrote that there’s an unseen crisis facing moms and working parents in general, across the country.
He reported that last year, 22% of parents were either not working or working less due to disruptions in daycare and school schedules. That means less money for one in five working families, more stress, and a slower economy.
For Hispanic mothers, the number out of work or working less was 30%. For Black mothers it’s even higher, at 36%. An incredible share of the burdens of the pandemic have been borne by working moms, particularly women of color.
To make matters worse, kids out of school and learning remotely lose progress and educational momentum.
Getting our kids safely back to school and our families back to work is critical to making sure our “new normal” is a better normal. We owe it to all of the moms out there to make sure they never have to sacrifice the financial security of their family because schools are closed. We can’t leave our moms behind.
So far this 2021 legislative session, we have passed 251 bills.
Headlines focus on disagreements between Democrats and Republicans. But the numbers are clear that 99% of bills that have passed the House had bipartisan support. 57% of these bills passed unanimously and 94% passed with at least 3 Republican votes.
In the remaining months of the session, I’ll continue prioritizing the needs of struggling Oregonians, on putting COVID behind us, and on wildfire recovery. I have a record of working across the partisan aisle to create meaningful, transformative change.
The month of April flew by quickly. I want to highlight that April was National Child Abuse Prevention Month and report on the following bills I am working this session that protect Oregon’s children:
Mandatory Abuse Reporting: Child abuse takes a heavy toll on children, their families, and our communities. In 2019 alone, there were 13,674 confirmed cases of child abuse in Oregon. The 2020 statistics are not yet available, and I am concerned that during the pandemic a great number of concerns went unreported. Because children rarely report abuse, it is up to adults to provide a critical level of protection.
HB 3071 modifies the definition of “public or private official” with the mandatory duty to report suspected abuse to include all state and local elected officials that are not presently included in current law. The measure closes a gap in our mandatory reporting laws and will further strengthen our ability to protect Oregon’s children. HB 3071 passed the House and is scheduled for a public hearing and possible work session in the Senate Committee On Human Services, Mental Health and Recovery next week.
Child Advocacy Centers: HB 2826 requires the Child Abuse Multidisciplinary Intervention Program within the Oregon Department of Justice to allocate funds to support local and regional child advocacy centers. These centers provide medical assessments, treatment, and safety to prevent and respond to allegations of child abuse. Ensuring access to child advocacy centers keeps kids safe. Because this measure involves a funding component, it is before the Joint Committee On Ways and Means for budgetary consideration.
Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Funding: HB 2738 appropriates moneys to the Court Appointed Special Advocate Fund for the CASA Volunteer Program and for distribution to Oregon CASA Network for court appointed special advocate training programs. CASA volunteers play a critical role to represent a child’s best interest before the court and bring positive change to the lives of Oregon’s most vulnerable children. This bill also has a funding component and is before the Joint Committee On Ways and Means. Interested in becoming a CASA? Learn more here.
Hope Cards: HB 2746 directs the State Court Administer to develop and implement a Hope Card Program for issuance of information cards to persons who are protected by restraining orders. The Hope Card gives survivors of domestic violence tangible information to present to law enforcement when seeking safety from person(s) who are prohibited by the Court from contacting them. This measure is also before the Joint Committee On Ways and Means.
Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA): HB 3182 codifies the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) into Oregon Law regarding adoptions. This bill completes the critical work started with HB 4214 in the 2020 first special session, creating the Oregon Indian Child Welfare Act that promotes the safety of Native children, preserves tribal families and communities, recognizes tribal sovereignty, and supports compliance with federal ICWA standards in courtrooms and DHS offices throughout the state. The bill passed the House this week and is before the Senate Committee On Human Services, Mental Health and Recovery for consideration.
Bailey’s Bill: SB 649 expands the crime of sex abuse in the second degree and closes a loophole in statute to include certain sexual abuses committed against a minor when the defendant is the victim’s teacher. Bailey, for whom this bill is named, was a victim of sexual contact by her teacher. The teacher only spent 2 nights in jail, received 5 years’ probation, and did not have to register as a sex offender. If her teacher had been her volleyball coach, the conviction of sexual abuse in the third degree is elevated to sexual abuse in the second degree, which is a felony. This bill provides consistent sanctions and holds educators who prey upon children in this most violating way accountable. SB 649 passed the Senate unanimously and is now being considered by the House Committee on Judiciary.
Youth Suicide: In this year of indescribable challenges we must do all we can to support and protect our kids. HB 3139 requires a mental health care provider who assesses a minor to be at risk of attempting suicide to disclose relevant information to a parent, guardian or other individuals to engage in safety planning. HB 3139 passed the House and is scheduled for a public hearing and possible work session in the Senate Committee On Human Services, Mental Health and Recovery.
My efforts continue to bring new dollars from the Federal Government’s America Rescue Plan, and also Lottery Bond investments to critical projects across our district. We have too many – far too many – dams, water, and sewer systems that are aging out and in need of repair or replacement. We have opportunities to improve the local economy, build needed infrastructure, solidify our access to new communications technology, and to better prepare our kids for a successful career.
Typically, these big projects cost far more than small communities can fund locally. I am determined to ensure that the voices and needs of our district are heard and addressed.
Last Friday, the Joint Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee On Capital Construction took public testimony on proposals for lottery bond funding. You can watch the hearing here.
The Committee heard about the Oregon Coast Aquarium (24:30), Harbor Village Mobile Home Park (32:30), Toledo Aquatic Center (55:30), Siletz Cultural Center(1:03:30), the proposed Sheridan Career Tech Center (1:05:45), Port of Toledo sewer (1:10:45), Depoe Bay docks (1:23:55), Lincoln City Welcome Center at D River (1:28:50), and the Lincoln City Cultural Center (1:31:15), Newport dams (1:56:23), and East Lincoln Fire and Rescue (2:05:00).
Needless to say, our district was well represented. With about 60 projects presented from across the state, about one-in-five was ours. (Tillamook County projects are being proposed in a different budget.) Please listen to the hearing and times noted above for details.
Thank you to everyone who stepped up or presented written support for the Central Coast!
I’m back in Salem for another busy week.
If you are interested in weekly updates from the Coastal Caucus, tune into KTIL Radio every Tuesday morning at eight a.m. or listen to the Tillamook County Leadership Updates podcast.
A link to my April 29th interview on KTIL Radio can be found here.
Thank you again for reading my newsletters. As always, I’m pleased to provide you with answers to your questions or direct you to the help that you may need. Please consider me and my office to be a resource. We’ll do our best to assist you or steer you in the right direction.