Oregon Governor Tina Kotek reflects on passed bills

SALEM, Ore. (KGW) — Oregon state lawmakers wrapped up their session with a big flurry to make up for lost time because of the Republican walkout in the senate. And when the session officially adjourned, Gov. Tina Kotek went over some of the wins and losses.

The 2023 legislative walkout was the longest ever in the history of the Oregon legislature. It made for fast, challenging times when Senate Republicans agreed to come back to work. But not everything went according to plan.

For instance, House Bill 3414 would have cut red tape to get housing developments built faster. And it would have allowed cities to quickly expand their urban growth boundaries by up to 150 acres. It was a bill championed by Kotek, part of her big push to add 36,000 housing units a year.

“And on the day, on the floor, I thought we would pass the bill. We didn’t; that happens. That doesn’t mean we aren’t coming back on the topic,” Kotek said on Wednesday.

In fact, when asked, the governor did not rule out a special session to try again, saying the housing and homelessness crisis is priority one.

Kotek also applauded legislators’ $200 million commitment early in the session for more shelters, rent assistance and other initiatives designed to keep people housed and help those who aren’t.

“So this is a full-bore, all-hands-on-deck approach, and now that the session is over we don’t let up,” Kotek said. “We are having conversations every day with communities about how they can address this issue locally and I want to see progress.”

Another key win, according to Kotek, was Oregon’s billion-dollar commitment for replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge. She said the time is right to push forward.

“The focus this session was about making that financial commitment. That commitment has been made,” she said. “We need to replace the bridge. It’s a safety issue. And I’m glad we are lock-step with Washington state, going to our federal partners to ask for the support we need to do the project.”

Speaking of transportation, a pump-your-own-gas option is coming for all Oregonians when the governor signs that bill into law, one of more than 300 bills she has on her desk.

When it comes to future sessions, Kotek said she expects to be more involved leading up to them than her first session as governor.

“I look forward to the next sessions because I will have more time to have my own bills drafted; we didn’t have that going into session,” she said. “I had to rely on legislators in most cases to draft my priority bills. That will be different and I think that will give me more time to actually have the type of legislation from Day 1 that we need.”

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