OCCV: advocating for justice in the legislature
We believe scripture is clear God cares about public policies, and desires just laws that protect the poor and marginalized from being exploited by the powerful. OCCV is committed to advocacy because we believe that as Christians we are called to not only proclaim the gospel and do acts of compassion, but also to speak on behalf of those whose voices are often not heard when laws are being made.
OCCV 2016 LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITIES
During the 2016 legislative session, the OCCV board endorsed eight bills, and actively advocated for several of the bills with written testimony and by testifying in person at hearings. We were particularly active in supporting the following bills: raising the minimum wage; reinstating a General Assistance program for disabled adults; moving Oregon away from coal to renewable energy by 2030; wage theft prevention. All the bills we endorsed passed, although some were amended in ways that weakened the provisions.
OCCV 2015 LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITIES
OCCV was well-prepared to be strong voice of faith during the session. As a result of the legislative forum in November, we decided to be involved in a number of issues, organized our resources around those issues, and developed a process for assuring that we could track the progress of related bills to identify opportunities to make our voices heard. As a result, OCCV had a consistent and effective presence during the legislative session, testifying in person at a number of hearings for bills we had selected to support, including: increasing the minimum wage; re-establishing a General Assistance program for unemployable adults; revising tax breaks for corporations; the Toxic free kids act, and wage theft legislation. We provided written testimony on several bills, including supporting legislation to study implementation of a plan to provide health care for all. All our testimonies included a powerful statement about our belief that God’s intended role for government is to assure that poor and marginalized people are cared for so all have opportunity to flourish, and that our faith calls us to speak on their behalf.
OCCV 2013 Legislative Activities
OCCV was active in bringing a voice of faith to the capitol during this last legislative session, joining with others in support of laws that we believe carried out that scriptural mandate. We provided written testimony on several bills, testified in hearings, and encouraged our membership to call their representatives at crucial times to keep a bill moving through the process. We are grateful that most of the legislation we supported passed into law. Here’s a summary of the results from this session:
Preventing wage theft: House bill 2977 – passed
This bill requires that sub-contractors in the construction industry be licensed. Prior to the passage of this bill, workers hired by a dishonest sub-contractors would often not be paid their wages, and had no recourse. Now these workers have legal protection and means to recover wages, and honest subcontractors are not undercut by those who exploit their workers, most of whom are low-income, and struggling to support their families.
Human trafficking: Senate bill 673 and House bill 2334 – passed
These bills added and strengthened penalties against those who are perpetrators of human trafficking, and built in more protection for the victims.
Economic relief for low-income workers: HB 2477 – passed
Many of the working poor struggle to meet basic needs. This bill extends the Earned Income Tax Credit, giving a tax break to those who are paid a low wage, and thereby providing needed additional income to support their families.
Toxic disclosure bill: passed the Oregon House by a 39-21 margin but failed to come to a vote in the Senate.
We were saddened that this bill did not make it to the floor for a vote. It would have required manufacturers to disclose the chemical used in the products, thereby providing parents and families with the information needed to make a good decision about what products to buy.
Bills affecting undocumented persons – passed
OCCV also supported two bills that affect undocumented members of our community, both of which passed. House bill 2787, the Tuition Equity bill, allows students who live in Oregon to pay in-state tuition for a college education. Senate bill 833 grants driver licenses to undocumented persons, allowing them to safely drive to work, to provide for their families.
OCCV 2011 Legislative Activities
Care for the Sick – HB 99 Health Insurance Exchange: Ensures greater measures for transparency and affordability from Health Insurance companies by creating a digital market place for insurance plans.
Care for the Vulnerable – HB 2714 & SB 425: Increases fines for people purchasing minors for sex, eliminated the age defense for pimps and johns, and separated the crime of soliciting a prostitute from those who are victims forced into a commercial sexual exploitation
Care for Creation- Farm to Schools: The Farm to Schools Bill passed this session and will begin to bring Oregon grown produce onto the plates of Oregon’s school children. This bill benefits farmers and families alike and ensures good nutrition for hungry kids! Not all schools will see this happen, though. The bill passed with only one hundredth of the funds originally requested.
Oregon’s Human Trafficking Awareness Day signed into law: On his first day in office, Gov. Kitzhaber officially declared January 11 to be a day of awareness for Human Trafficking in Oregon. OCCV and our partner OATH, had made several requests for this, and we were thrilled that it happened. We had over 150 people from across Oregon at a rally on the Capitol steps to ask for greater penalties for those perpetuating this crime in our state.
OCCV 2009 Legislative Activities
HB 2009 & SB 2118 – secured funds for more Oregon children to be added to the Healthy Kids program. Now all children under age 5 can have access to vital medical care and check-ups!
OCCV 2007 Legislative Activities
OCCV made a successful debut in Oregon’s 2007 Legislative Session. Over 300members participated by meeting with & writing to their legislators, writing letters to the editor, phone banking, and testifying in support of critical, moral issues. Many members took action for the first time.
Care for the Poor HB 2871: OCCV Members helped in ensuring the success of House Bill 2871, a bill which regulated payday lending institutions by imposing a 36% cap. Prior to this legislation, many institutions were charging upwards of 500% interest, spiraling many of Oregon’s poorest even further into debt.
Care for Creation 737: Over 80 community members participated in theological discussions on creation care and effectively lobbied their legislators to support good stewardship. SB 737 guarantees funding for the Department of Environmental Quality, allowing for critical research on practices like toxic mixing zones.
Care for the Sick SB 27: OCCV members signed letters of endorsement, met with and called their legislators on this important bill. While SB 27 did not pass, another similar bill, SB 329, was passed successfully. Oregonians will see health care reform in the next two years, in large part due to active voices within the faith community.
Ballot Measures 49 & 50
OCCV formally endorsed Measure 49 (land-use reform) and signed onto a statement in its support in the Special Election Voter’s Pamphlet.
OCCV formally endorsed Measure 50 (Healthy Kids Initiative) and sponsored a statement in its support in the Voter’s Pamphlet.
OCCV encouraged its members to support Measure 49 & 50 at its 2nd Annual Conference and through email alerts, phone calls and meetings with OCCV members and partner organizations. OCCV also participated in a People of Faith Press Conference and Canvass Day in support of Measure 50.
Building the Movement
OCCV has built a network of over 500 active participants and 1000 e-members who receive our e-newsletters and legislative action reports. OCCV engages and activates its members through local leadership networks, which are currently based in Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Yamhill, Marion and Deschutes Counties. In the past we have had Justice Series events, including monthly community conversational gatherings, concerts and film screenings!