January 27, 2017

Committee assignments announced for the 2017 Legislative Session.

In late December 2016, the Senate President and the Speaker of House released committee assignments for the 2017 Legislative Session. A full list of committee assignments can be found here.

Many of the bills that the Bar tracks are assigned to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees and the Public Affairs Subcommittee of the Joint Ways and Means Committee. For this session, the House Judiciary Committee will be chaired by Representative Jeff Barker (D – Aloha) and co-chaired by Representative Jennifer Williamson (D – Portland) and Representative Andy Olsen (R – Albany). Returning members are Representative Mitch Greenlick (D – Portland), Representative Ann Lininger (D – Lake Oswego), Representative Bill Post (R – Keizer), and Representative Sherrie Sprenger (R – Scio). In addition, there are a number of new committee members, including Representative Chris Gorsek (D – Troutdale), Representative Tawna Sanchez (D – Portland), Representative Duane Stark (R – Grants Pass), and Representative Richard Vial (R – Scholls). Representatives Williamson, Lininger, and Vial are all legally trained legislators.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will be chaired by Senator Floyd Prozanski (D – Eugene), and vice-chaired by Senator Kim Thatcher (R – Keizer). Senator Michael Dembrow (D – Portland) is returning to the committee after a break and will be joined by the following new members: Senator Dennis Linthicum (R – Klamath Falls) and Senator James Manning (D – Eugene). Senator Prozanski is a legally trained legislator.

The Public Affairs Subcommittee of the Joint Ways and Means Committee reviews agency budgets as well as any proposed legislation affecting the budgets of Oregon’s public-safety system. The House co-chair will be Representative Duane Stark (R – Grants Pass), and the Senate co-chair will be Senator Jackie Winters (R – Salem). The remaining members are Senator Lew Fredrick (D – Portland), Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D – Portland), Representative Jeff Barker (D – Aloha), Representative Jeff Huffman (R – The Dalles), Representative Carla Piluso (D – Gresham), and Representative Tawna Sanchez (D – Portland).

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Bill-tracking system available for sections and committees

The Public Affairs Department is available to assist all Oregon State Bar sections and committees track proposed legislation. If a section or committee has already identified specific bills to follow, please contact Kellie Bagnani in The Public Affairs Department at [email protected], to ensure that legislation is included in the section’s bill-tracking list.

As bills are introduced, the Public Affairs Department will review all proposed legislation and refer specific bills to groups that may be interested in the subject. Throughout the session, a section or committee’s Legislative Contact will likely receive periodic emails from the Public Affairs Department notifying him or her of bills that might interest the group.

Once a section or committee has identified bills to follow, those bills will be input into the group’s bill-tracking page. Each group has its own page on the Public Affairs Department’s webpage. This will enable each group to receive updates and to review changes to any legislation that a group has expressed an interest in following.

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How to take a position as a Bar section or committee

Sections and committees have a number of ways to provide feedback on proposed legislation. Bar members may formally support or oppose proposed legislation and provide technical feedback through a section or committee.

When a section or committee wishes to provide input or feedback on a legislative issue, it should notify the Bar’s Public Affairs Department. This is particularly important if a section or committee wants to take a position for or against a bill, but the rule also applies to taking positions on broader issues. If your group is interested in particular issues, please let the Public Affairs Department know. Click here for a brochure describing the Bar’s Public Affairs Program and Article 12 of the OSB Bylaws (regarding legislation and public policy).

If a section or committee would like to take a position, it will need approval from the Public Affairs Committee before taking any action. The section’s or committee’s executive committee should vote to take a position and submit a written request to the Public Affairs Committee. The request should set forth the section’s or committee’s position and describe how it is appropriate under the legislative policies established by the Board of Governors. Please find the request form on the Oregon State Bar’s Legislative webpage.
Once approved, the section or committee is responsible for presenting its position or testimony on that issue. The Public Affairs Department is a legislative resource for the Bar’s sections and committees. If you have questions about the process, please contact Amy Zubko at (503) 431-6317 or [email protected] or Matt Shields at (503) 431-6358 or [email protected].

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Proposed changes to PERS

Once again, it appears that PERS will be a topic of discussion and debate for the Oregon Legislature. With a substantial funding hole made up of an approximate $22 billion unfunded actuarial liability, and a corresponding increase in employer contributions, a number of legislators are considering ways to modify the current PERS system. For this session, a variety of bills have already been presession filed by legislators from both chambers. Legislative changes to the PERS system range from proposed changes to the use of an individual account program (or “IAP”) (SB 560) and changes to the final average salary calculation (SB 559), to a study on the feasibility of offering PERS benefits to volunteer firefighters (SB 459) and a limitation on postdoctoral scholars receiving PERS benefits (SB 214).

Additional bills may be introduced in the coming weeks. If a section or committee is interested in a particular PERS bill, please let the Public Affairs Department know.

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2017 Public Affairs Committee Members

Kathleen Rastetter, Chair
John Mansfield, Vice Chair
Guy Greco
John Bachofner
Chris Costantino
Rob Gratchner
Eric Foster
Liani Reeves

Public Affairs Department

Susan Grabe, Public Affairs Director
Amy Zubko, Public Affairs Legislative Attorney
Matt Shields, Public Affairs Staff Attorney
Kellie Bagnani, Public Affairs Assistant

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