Oregon’s Legislature is on a fast track in its 35-day session. Here is what has made it past last week’s deadline to move bills out of committee.

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SALEM, Ore. — Oregon lawmakers have wrapped up week two of this year’s rapid-fire 35-day session, and from here on things get interesting.

Most bills had a Thursday deadline to move out of their initial committees, which means the fate of many big policy changes before the Legislature this year will soon be decided. Here’s a recap of how lawmakers have so far handled some issues on wages, guns, pot, climate and wildlife and what to watch for in the remaining homestretch of the session:

Minimum wage

What began as a lively debate between stakeholders who appeared open to compromise has now spiraled into the most contentious, divisive issue of the session. The Senate on Thursday narrowly approved a proposal to raise Oregon’s $9.25 minimum wage based on three geographical regions — after a six-hour floor debate led mostly by Republicans.

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The partisan battle will almost surely continue as the bill now moves through the House, which is holding its first discussion on the matter Monday. For lawmakers, the stakes remain high as they juggle the interests of many small businesses and rural communities with low-wage workers and labor groups, who still could take more aggressive wage-hike proposals to the November ballot.

Energy and climate

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Two bills proposing changes to Oregon’s energy policies have made it through initial committees, and questions about what the implications are for consumers and the environment are still being debated. But both bills are still in their early stages.

House lawmakers will decide Monday whether to consent to a “coal to clean” package negotiated between environmentalists and utilities that would eliminate coal power by 2030 and double the state’s renewable-energy standard by 2040. The bill is moving swiftly, given there are more aggressive measures proposed for the November ballot.

Things are less certain for a Senate cap-and-trade bill that aims to reduce carbon emissions by setting gradual benchmarks to be met through 2050. It must first undergo further review by the Ways and Means Committee, which will decide whether to send it for vote by the chambers.


Lawmakers are considering changes to Oregon’s marijuana laws that would have sweeping effects on the industry and consumers. On Monday, the House will vote on whether to allow out-of-state investors to enter Oregon’s marijuana industry by removing the two-year residency requirement. The House will also vote that day on eliminating state criminal liability for banks doing business with the marijuana industry, a gesture to the finance industry’s worries over backlash from the federal government. One of the most notable measures — up for vote this week by a House-Senate joint committee — would allow recreational marijuana dispensaries to sell patients medical marijuana, tax-free, a key change to existing laws that govern recreational marijuana and medical marijuana as completely separate enterprises.


Among several gun-related proposals this year, only one significant bill is moving forward. The measure aims to close the so-called “Charleston loophole” — a term coined after the Charleston, S.C., mass shooting where the accused gunman acquired the weapon after his background check took longer than the federal limit of three days. The Oregon bill initially would have prevented gun purchases until background checks cleared, however long it took beyond the required three-day waiting period. But after testimony from gun advocates, the bill was amended to instead extend the three-day waiting period on gun buyers to 10 days. The amended version passed through committee Thursday on a party-line vote and now heads to the House floor.