Oregon lawmakers adjourned the 2022 short legislative session on Friday after passing various legislation. Bills passed include overtime pay for farmworkers, $600 stimulus payments for low-income workers and a $400 million spending package focused on affordable housing and houselessness.
Republicans, who are in the minority in both chambers, had argued that lawmakers should have focused on addressing budget fixes and technical issues from previous years. One of the bills Republicans specifically criticized for being a big issue they said should be saved for long sessions that only occur during odd-numbered years requires farmworkers be paid 1.5 times their normal rate once they work more than 40 hours a week. The bill passed on party lines.
Some of the other notable bills that passed this session include heat relief for vulnerable Oregonians, protections for election workers, setting up rulemaking for the Private Forest Accord and giving nurses access to a program that provides mental health and wellness support.
Lawmakers passed a $300 million investment focused on supporting school staff and students. The funds will go toward summer learning programs and activities for K-12 students, addressing the workforce shortage and supporting school districts impacted by the wildfires. Lawmakers also passed a $100 million investment to expand access to affordable child care.
In addition, this session there was a wave of new leadership. The house elected a new speaker, Dan Rayfield. The democrat from Corvallis replaced longtime House Speaker Tina Kotek, who stepped down to focus on her campaign for governor. Democratic Representative Julie Fahey became the new House Majority Leader, Republican Representative Vikki Breese-Iverson became the new House Minority Leader and Senator Tim Knopp is the new republican leader for the senate.
This was also the last session for Governor Kate Brown who is term-limited, as well as Senator Peter Courtney, a Salem Democrat, who is Oregon's longest-serving state lawmaker with 38 years. Senator Courtney said, “You can fight all over the place and you can get angry, but you’ll get the job done and that’s exactly how I described what happened this session.”