The 17 Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Caucus members in the Oregon Legislature released their agenda Wednesday, 29 March 2023. It covers various issues, from fairness and health care to environmental and justice issues affecting underserved communities.
The caucus has been around for four years and supports 18 bills in this session. These is the most bills they have ever endorsed in one session. Some would make small changes, like House Bill 2996, which would make it illegal for the dental board to make dental assistants take an expensive radiological test.
Some would be more broad, like Senate Bill 610, which would create a state-funded program like the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for about 62,000 undocumented immigrants.
Sen. Wlnsvey Campos, D-Aloha, co-chair of the caucus, said at a news conference that all proposals are meant to break down social and economic barriers that Black, Indigenous, and People of the Color face.
One of the caucus’s top goals is to ensure that minority groups have the same access to health care and other services as other groups.
“Oregonians across the state struggle to access quality, affordable health care, nutritious food, and mental health services on average,” Campos said. “We have so much work to do to advance racial equity in our state and these pieces of legislation are an important step toward meeting that goal.”
The agenda also talks about how climate change affects minority groups and how Indigenous people have trouble communicating because they don’t speak English.
The agenda is given out late in the session when it’s already about half over. Rep. Ricki Ruiz, D-Gresham, co-chair of the caucus, said that the priority list was released now because the caucus wanted to be thorough and ensure everyone was on board.
The list includes a few new legislature members, and it was also done to ensure that all of the bills had been reviewed.
He said that members of the caucus think that both chambers can pass all of the plans.
Oregon’s local updates are just a click away – stay informed and engaged by clicking the link now-
- Oregon Bill Aims to Provide Support for Talented and Gifted Students
- Oregon Democrats Introduce Senate Bill 348 to Tackle Firearms Control
Some Are Controversial. House Bill 2002, which many Republicans oppose, protects abortions and gender-affirming care in Oregon. It does this by making sure that doctors and other healthcare providers can’t lose their licenses or be punished in other ways for helping people. It would make it a crime to mess with medical facilities and set up a grant program for reproductive health clinics in rural areas. It would also require the state’s Medicaid program and private insurers to cover a range of reproductive and gender-related services.
Some People Are Not. House Bill 3016, which has the support of environmentalists, Portland General Electric, and the nursery industry, would set up a fund to protect trees in places where people are vulnerable to high heat.
Ruiz said that fixing equity and other problems will take time and the work of the whole community.
“We are aware that a caucus such as this one won’t fix racism in our state,” Ruiz said. “The fact that this caucus is getting larger with each legislative session tells us that our communities are paying attention and want to roll up their sleeves to do the work that needs to be done.”