Oregon State Legislature adjourns, delivers for Portland

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The Oregon State Legislature adjourned the 83rd Legislative Session on March 7th, 2024, marked by several significant policy changes and financial investments that will benefit Portland.

“This short legislative session resulted in many wins for Portland. We asked for partnership and the legislature leaned in and delivered for Portland,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler. “We are incredibly grateful for the support, which is pivotal to continuing the local efforts to build a safe, supportive, and vibrant Portland for everyone.”

Community Safety and Behavioral Health

“Thank you for hearing our plea for help in addressing the proliferation of deadly drugs that are killing far too many Portlanders, overwhelming our emergency responders, and hurting our local economy,” said Commissioner Rene Gonzalez regarding legislative passage of House Bill 4002, which makes significant reforms to Ballot Measure 110. The accompanying funding bill, HB 5204 made significant investments in behavioral health services including allocating a portion of the legislature’s $25 million investment towards a new behavioral health drop off center in Multnomah County that the City of Portland advocated for in partnership with the County.

“The legislature’s efforts will mitigate use of controlled substances on our streets and target drug dealers while providing individuals suffering from addiction with opportunities to get the behavioral health treatment they need and deserve. The City of Portland stands ready to do their part in implementing deflection, and to support the State and Multnomah County to set up a 24/7 drop off center up which is a crucial piece of the puzzle," said Mayor Ted Wheeler who worked with the Multnomah County Commissioners to advocate for state investment in the project.

Housing and Homelessness

Among the City’s priorities during the 2024 session was advocating for state investments in infrastructure needed to support housing production in Portland. “Governor Kotek and the legislative Housing Committee Chairs – Representative Maxine Dexter and Senator Kayse Jama – have shown tremendous leadership at a crucial time in Oregon’s history. They rightly understand that the state’s ambitious housing production goals cannot be achieved without a significant investment in the water, sewer and transportation infrastructure that make housing possible,” said Commissioner Carmen Rubio. The City of Portland successfully advocated for $6 million each for infrastructure associated with the development of Broadway Corridor and the OMSI district within House Bill 1530. 

HB 1530 also included $65 million to be distributed by the state's housing agency – Oregon Housing and Community Service – to support shelter beds that were previously funded with pandemic-era federal resources that will soon expire. The City of Portland successfully advocated for several of its Safe Rest Villages to be included on the list of eligible projects for this funding and will continue to work to secure funding as the state housing agency sets up a process to distribute these new shelter funds.

“The pandemic may be over, but its impacts will be long felt,” said Commissioner Dan Ryan. “It is such a relief to know the state is going to step in to help fund shelter beds that were established during the pandemic but are still so desperately needed in Portland and around the state.”

Economic Recovery and Livability

The Oregon Legislature also supported a number of Portland economic recovery and livability needs including: authorizing a governance update for the local urban flood safety and water quality district so it can leverage $100 million in federal funding to improve the century old levees and other flood safety infrastructure along the Columbia River (SB 1517); funding Portland’s arts organizations and venues as they continue a slow recovery from the pandemic (SB 5701); and allocating $20 million to the Oregon Department of Transportation to conduct additional litter, campsite, and graffiti cleanup along the interstate highways and other state-owned properties in Portland (SB 5701).

“I appreciate the Legislature prioritizing the cleanup of highways and other state-owned properties in Portland,” said Commissioner Mingus Mapps regarding the additional ODOT funds. “We need all levels of government doing their part to solve some of Portland’s most pressing issues, and this is a critical investment in the revitalization of our city.”