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Oregon House and Senate Leaders Resign
Speaker Kotek is running for governor. President Courtney retires.

Longest-serving Speaker in Oregon history led on progressive victories for education funding, health care access, housing, climate and more After nine years of what she calls "progressive accomplishments" as the leader of the Oregon House of Representatives, Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) today announced she will step down from her roles as Speaker of the House and State Representative, effective Friday, January 21. Yesterday, Senate President Peter Courtney announced his retirement, leaving both chambers in search of new leadership after long tenures.

Kotek became the first openly lesbian speaker of any state house in the nation in 2013. During her tenure as the longest-serving House Speaker in Oregon history, she championed solutions to increase funding for public education, guarantee the strongest reproductive health care policy in the country, address the needs of working families, expand access to health insurance, address the state’s housing crisis, and reduce pollution that contributes to climate change.

As Kotek runs for governor, she will have to explain why she is swimming against the tide of common sense, when it comes to policy.

Kotek touted the passage of the Student Success Act in 2019. Her focus has been on increasing spending by increasing public education funding by over $1 billion per year. According to her press release, "The corporate activities tax to pay for these education investments has provided greater stability to the state’s previously unpredictable revenue system, thereby preventing drastic cuts to essential services during economic downturns." She fails to talk about outcomes, as she has presided of a decade long decline in public school effectiveness culminating in what one writer described as "Oregon’s New Graduation Standards Turn Diplomas into Participation Trophies."

In the face of increasing hope at the national level to dismantle unconstitutional abortion decisions, Kotek led the effort in 2017 to pass the strongest reproductive health care access law in the country, the Reproductive Health Equity Act. Thanks to her leadership, access to the full suite of reproductive health care will be protected in Oregon no matter what happens at the U.S. Supreme Court. In a time when many states across the country have rejected the expansion of health care coverage after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Kotek pushed to ensure that all Oregon residents -- including illegal aliens -- have access to coverage regardless of their income or citizenship status. More than one million Oregonians -- about a quarter of the population -- now have health care coverage through the Oregon Health Plan.

Kotek also led the way , including year-over-year increases in the minimum wage, access to paid sick time and retirement security, and the passage in 2019 of a new paid family and medical leave insurance program that will make sure all working Oregonians have access to paid leave to care for a new child, themselves, or a family member with a serious health condition.

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

Though housing has long been among Kotek’s top priorities, affordable housing has become less and less available for Oregonians, highlighted by the passage of two bills in 2019. HB 2001 made Oregon the first state in the nation to force communities to zone for housing like duplexes, triplexes and quads in areas where they were previously not needed. SB 608 removed "no-cause" evictions, further driving up rental prices and exacerbating tensions between tenants and housing providers. Despite her efforts, homelessness rose to record levels under her tenure.

As Oregon and the nation have faced higher and higher prices on energy in general and gasoline in particular, Kotek supported the state’s "Clean Fuels Program" and supported the state’s commitment to 100% clean electricity by 2040, which included a $50 million spending plan to increase community renewable projects in Oregon. She also prioritized the passage of new regulations for the Metro counties to transition to cleaner truck engines to reduce diesel emissions.

As Oregon slides into chaotic lawlessness, "Making Oregon’s criminal justice system fairer and more effective" has been another priority for Kotek. She took up the recommendations of Governor Kitzhaber’s Commission on Public Safety in her first term to pass a package of reforms that many have seen as soft on crime. In 2019 she spearheaded the passage of a partial rollback of Measure 11 in the form of youth justice reforms to hold the worst of young offenders accountable in juvenile court where "their developmental needs are better understood and addressed."

Kotek claims to have "stood firm against extremists" to pass new gun violence prevention laws, and in the wake of these laws, Portland is now awash in gun violence. These laws include expanded background checks for gun purchases, prohibitions on the possession of guns by domestic abusers and stalkers, and allowing family members to obtain an Extreme Risk Protection Order to "prevent suicides and shootings in moments of extreme mental distress" -- by having what some characterize as an unconstitutional taking of citizens' firearms without due process.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2022-01-06 15:15:54Last Update: 2022-01-06 16:20:41



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