The short legislative session is in the home stretch, and we are continuing to push forward on our 2018 legislative agenda!
Culturally specific early learning programs, including many offered by CCC’s members, have strong records of successful outcomes for children and families of color. Yet these programs are not currently eligible for state funding to invest in these effective programs. The Early Childhood Equity Fund (HB 4066), would establish a fund to invest in culturally specific early learning program.
Latino Network has led a coalition of early childhood advocates to advance this bill. A number of CCC members have also been hard at work on this bill. Lee Po Cha from IRCO, Sadie Feibel from Latino Network, and Ashley Oakley from NAYA all testified at the hearing before the House Early Childhood and Families Supports Committee, along with CCC. At the hearing, committee members were visibly moved by their stories of the impact of culturally specific early learning programs on children and families. The bill passed out of committee unanimously and has seen widespread support and is now before the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education.
Despite the urgent need for this resource, legislators missed an opportunity to provide children and families of color with these critical programs by failing to pass HB 4066. We will be back next session to ensure that we are meeting the early learning needs for all of Oregon's young children.
Families are at the heart of our communities, and ensuring that children are not unnecessarily removed from their homes, and that families have a path to restoration is critical to keeping our families strong. Currently, children of color are removed from their homes by child welfare services at far higher rates. Representative Tawna Sanchez has taken action by introducing a bill that would prevent unlawful removals and give families a path to reunite with rehabilitated parents.
In its initial form, HB 4009 would have required judicial authorization before a child would be removed, meaning that kids would remain in their homes so long as they were safe. The original bill’s provision to create a path for restoring families remains in the bill and has moved forward. Dani Ledezma, CCC’s Interim Executive Director, testified on the need for this bill. It was amended in the House Judiciary Committee so that it only includes an opportunity for families to be restored when parents who no longer have parental rights are prepared to successfully parent their children. While we are very disappointed that the removal provision was eliminated from the bill, CCC is dedicated to continuing this conversation to ensure families have the support and resources to thrive. The amended version of HB 4009 passed. We applaud Representative Tawna Sanchez’s leadership in sponsoring this critical bill.
Maggie Tallmadge, CCC’s Environmental Justice Manager, testified about the need for environmental justice to be centered in Clean Energy Jobs legislation. We continue to advocate for action on climate through policies that meaningfully benefit most impacted communities. The final form of the bill remains under discussion. Representative Diego Hernandez has been a key champion for environmental justice and his leadership has been critical to incorporating climate justice into the policy.
Clean Energy Jobs did not pass this session, although the Legislature took some important steps toward developing a program for legislation during the 2019 session. CCC and its members will continue to push for environmental justice to be even more central to climate policy.
Housing and Health
Other CCC priority items include HB 4134, which would streamline the process for removing racially restrictive covenants. This bill has passed out of both the House and the Senate and will go to the Governor’s desk. A bill to increase the document recording fee to fund affordable housing, emergency rent assistance, and homeownership (HB 4007) passed. A bill establishing a task force to address racial disparities in homeownership (HB 4010, with Representative Mark Meek as a co-chief sponsor) passed unanimously out of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means. Maxine Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of PCRI, testified about the urgency of addressing the homeownership gap and PCRI’s work on Pathway 1000. CCC also testified about the need for a maternal mortality and morbidity review committee (HB 4133). Representative Janelle Bynum, a co-chief sponsor of the bill, gave powerful testimony about the dramatic racial disparities in maternal mortality rates, and CCC testified emphasizing that implicit bias in health care and the impact of chronic stress. HB 4133 passed.
We are heartened to see the leadership of legislators of color addressing the most pressing issues in our communities. The current Legislature is the most diverse ever, and this representation is resulting in bills that address some of the most pressing issues faced by communities of color. We look forward to a more equitable Oregon thanks to their leadership, and the dedicated advocates working for racial equity in our state legislature as we move toward the end of the 2018 legislative session. All of our priorities for housing and health passed this session!
Coalition of Communities of Color Legislative Action Day Recap
The collective power of communities of color was out in full force on February 8 for the Coalition of Communities of Color's 2018 Legislative Action Day! For our 6th annual lobby day, more than 60 attendees met with 40 legislators to talk about CCC's 2018 legislative agenda and solutions for the most pressing issues impacting our communities. The session may be short, but our attendees covered a lot of ground, sharing their stories and advocating for issues from the creation of an Early Childhood Equity Fund to affordable housing to climate justice. We were honored to have Representative Teresa Alonso Leon, Representative Diego Hernandez, and the Governor's Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion join us in the morning to share their vision for racial equity in government and inspire future political leaders.
If you haven't seen photos of CCC advocates in action yet, check them out here. And many of our CCC members also held legislative action days this session—check out photos from the Urban League, NAYA Family Center, and APANO. IRCO will be holding their legislative action day this Friday.
Thank you to everyone who joined us, and if you missed CCC's Legislative Action Day this year, we hope that you'll be able to attend next year. The legislative session ends on March 9, so stay tuned for our recap of the session in our March Equity Lens newsletter.