legislative session 2

The 2024 legislative session adjourned at 8:16 p.m. on Thursday, March 7, three days before the March 10 deadline set by the state Constitution. While the session ended early, it was far from uneventful.

Voters approved even-year short sessions in 2010 to improve budgeting consistency and allow legislators to respond quickly to emerging crises. In the years since, lawmakers have squeezed bills of all kinds, including complex policy bills, into the five-week window intended only for pressing matters. While this year was no exception, legislators focused by and large on measures addressing emerging – or existing – crises. These include high-profile bills to address the harm done by drug legalization, increase housing affordability and reform campaign finance laws under the looming threat of two extreme ballot measures.

This session also proceeded without debilitating partisan rancor, a sharp contrast to the 2023 session, during which a Republican walkout stalled the Senate for six weeks. Most of this year’s potentially controversial bills failed to advance past the session’s second week, and most bills that ended up on the governor’s desk did so with bipartisan support.

Still, the pace was frenzied. OBI’s policy team testified dozens of times, either in writing or in person, while working with legislators and allied groups to support beneficial legislation and to moderate or kill harmful legislation. OBI also was heavily involved in the development of campaign finance legislation that offers a fair and workable alternative to ballot measures that would have barred businesses from participating in campaigns (see item here).

One of the last events of the 2024 session was the coordinated resignation of Rep. Dan Rayfield as speaker of the House, and the election of Rep. Julie Fahey to that role. Although he is not resigning from the House, Rayfield has resigned the speaker role in order to concentrate on his campaign for state attorney general. Prior to her election as speaker, Fahey had been serving as the House majority leader.

In the end, the Legislature passed several OBI priorities and failed to pass others, which OBI will continue to pursue in 2025. OBI also supported session’s marquee housing and drug-criminalization bills, as they address problems that affect employers and erode the state’s economic competitiveness.

Below is a partial list of key bills. For additional information about these and other bills, please see earlier editions of the Capitol Connect newsletter. Legislative Week in Brief blog posts, which contain the policy sections of Capitol Connect newsletters, are available on the website’s legislative session page.

What happened to key bills:

  • HB 4002: Recriminalizes the use of hard drugs, partly rolling back Measure 110. OBI supported. Passed.
  • HB 4024: Campaign finance reform (see below). OBI supported. Passed.
  • HB 4030: Would have changed rules governing ownership of medical practices and use of noncompetition agreements. OBI opposed. Died.
  • HB 4031: Clarifies state law protecting confidentiality of income tax information. OBI supported. Passed.
  • HB 4042: Would have reauthorized the Regionally Significant Industrial Site program and created a $40 million loan fund for it. OBI supported. Died.
  • HB 4044: Would have created study of risks related to earthquake-induced toxic inhalation, creating a path for unnecessary regulation. OBI opposed. Died.
  • HB 4034: Updates Oregon’s connection to the federal tax code. OBI supported. Passed.
  • HB 4050: Would have made it easier for employers to offer hiring, retention bonuses. OBI supported. Died.
  • HB 4080: Applies onerous labor requirements on offshore wind projects. OBI opposed. Passed.
  • HB 4091: Would have created a health insurance mandate review advisory committee. OBI supported. Died.
  • HB 4112: Complex bill that would have applied costly procurement standards for clean energy companies. OBI opposed. Died.
  • HB 4154: Establishes the Semiconductor Talent Sustaining Fund supported by a $15 million allocation. OBI supported. Passed.
  • HB 4165 (and SB 1519, SB 1543): Address cost-responsibility imbalance affecting trucking industry. OBI supports appropriate cost responsibility. Died.
  • HB 5204: Companion to HB 4002 that provides substantial funding for behavioral health and criminal justice. OBI supported. Passed.
  • SB 1515: Improves leave-law alignment and prevents leave “stacking.” OBI supported. Passed.
  • SB 1526: Omnibus tax bill containing important provisions, including reauthorization of Industrial Site Readiness Program. However, funding for the program was not approved, as HB 4042 died. OBI supported. Passed.
  • SB 1537: Gov. Kotek’s priority housing bill. Allocates funding for infrastructure and, importantly, eases the addition of buildable land within urban growth boundaries. OBI supported. Passed.
  • SB 1559: Would have tightened Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions goals unrealistically. OBI opposed. Died.

Budget information

The March revenue forecast identified an additional $550 million in unanticipated revenue, consisting largely of allocated funds state agencies had failed to spend. This raises the total of unanticipated revenue since the 2023-25 legislatively adopted budget to $1.2 billion. This windfall allowed legislators to support the governor’s housing bill, drug recriminalization and several other funding proposals. Below are this session’s most significant general fund allocations as well as a few smaller allocations OBI believes are important to its members and regional economic development:

$409 million: Dedicated to wide variety of programs in what’s traditionally called the “Christmas Tree” bill, SB 5701. Significant areas include:

  • $86 million for employment-related day care program caseload
  • $76.2 million to Department of Human Services and Oregon Health Authority budgets for changes in forecasted caseloads
  • $42.6 million general fund for fire season costs
  • $39 million to support winter and highway maintenance and health and safety issues along agency rights of way in the Portland area
  • $10 million to higher education institutions for semiconductor workforce development
  • $10 million to Oregon State University to support student scholarships

$376 million: Dedicated to the governor’s housing package, which includes SB 1530SB 1537 and HB 4134.

$211 million: Dedicated to behavioral health and criminal justice programs related to HB 5204.

$30 million: Dedicated to educational summer programs related to HB 4082.

Additionally: $15 million for Hillsboro Hops stadium improvements. This money came from “other funds” rather than the general fund.