Legislative Committee

• If you are part of the world of social work, you know that government policy has a profound impact on you and your clients.
• If you are part of the world of social work, you have a unique perspective, and a unique voice that deserves to be heard.
• If you are part of the world of social work, you can make a difference in Oregon politics.

If this is you, please consider connecting with the NASW Oregon Legislative Committee!

The Legislative Committee is a vehicle for social workers and students to learn about the political process and engage with it in the name of our clients, our profession, and our ethics and values. If you desire to strengthen social work’s power to advance social justice in Oregon, the Legislative Committee is a great way to get involved, to empower yourself and even help your clients to empower themselves!

Policy affects our profession, our practice, our lives and those of our clients. As social workers, we are in a position to directly inform policy through our practice-based experience. NASW provides an opportunity for our 1,500+ social work members to use our collective influence to make Oregon a better place to live, particularly those who struggle with poverty; discrimination on racial, gender, or sexual orientation lines; mental and physical illness; abuse, trauma, and neglect; and other challenges.

NASW Oregon Chapter is very active during the legislative session and interim. Our Legislative Committee works closely with our contract lobbyists to develop legislative proposals, set priorities, track bills relevant to social work practice, prepare testimony on key bills, support citizens to communicate important issues to law-makers, take other creative actions as inspiration allows, and make key connections.

We also work to build a community of empowered and engaged social workers, supporting one another to understand the legislative process and how we can act to influence its direction for the benefit of our clients and our profession.

The NASW Oregon Legislative Committee is exploring ways to become a living community, one which can represent the diverse aspects and interests of both the social work profession and the people that it strives to support. In this way we hope to expand and democratize our profession’s access to the halls of power, to offer opportunities for both NASW membership and our clients to achieve empowerment through political action.

Who We Are
We are social workers and social work students who care about the impact of policy in Oregon. Many of us have a direct service focus and the Legislative Committee provides a structure for us to engage at the macro level of social work without becoming overwhelmed with time and energy commitments. We are guided by our lobbyist and social worker members who have a deep understanding of the legislative process. Because we care deeply about social justice, inclusion, and progressive social work values, we are always looking for new committee members who can bring compassion, creativity, courage, diversity, and therefore practiced expertise. We strive to bring authentic perspective and experience to the work. To avoid the imbalance that perpetuates systemic social injustice we strongly encourage NASW members with personal experience of marginalization or oppression - in particular members of color - to get involved and help lead our progress.

How We Work
During the legislative session each year we meet in Portland every other Saturday at 10am to discuss the legislative process, track progress, and plan our actions. The rest of the year we meet on a monthly basis to work out future ideas and plans for policies and proposals. You are welcome to attend meetings in person or via conference call and we welcome members from anywhere in the state. Meetings usually run 1 to 1.5 hours. We meet at 2929 SW Multnomah, Portland OR 97219, in the ground floor conference room.

Alternatively, if you don’t feel able to commit to ongoing group involvement, but are passionate about a specific area of practice or client population, please contact us and we’ll keep you in mind if and when bills specific to your interests come up. We need experts who can step in to guide us, and even prepare written or oral testimony to be delivered to Oregon lawmakers.

Oregon Social Workers Win on Housing, Minimum Wage, Health Care, and Education

Lawmakers adjourned March 3rd, closing one of the most contentious and tumultuous sessions in recent memory. Democratic leadership pursued perhaps the most aggressive policy agenda since the creation of short sessions; this agenda included an increase in the minimum wage, a complete phase out of coal-derived energy, and a tripling of the cap on non-economic damages awarded in wrongful death lawsuits (among other items). On the other hand, Republicans, used delay tactics and the threat of denying quorum to slow things down. The clash created significant consternation in the building, but that didn’t stop the National Association of Social Workers from having a productive session. On issues including housing, the minimum wage, and health care, Social Workers saw key policies move forward.

For several legislative sessions in a row, NASW-Oregon has supported lifting Oregon’s statewide ban on Inclusionary Zoning. This session SB 1533, which allows for 20% inclusionary zoning in a given locality, was passed. The story gets better on housing, as House Bill 4143 which prohibits landlords from increasing rent during the first year of occupancy and requires landlords to give at least 90 days’ notice before increasing rent passed as well. Although inclusionary zoning will not solve the Oregon housing crisis, the victory promises to trigger a new chapter for Oregon’s struggle with homelessness and housing inequality.

NASW-Oregon has recognized the need for a higher minimum wage for decades. This session, the legislature heeded the call of Social Workers and many others to raise the minimum wage. The state will now have three wage rate regions with wages eventually getting to $12.50 in rural areas, $13.50 in urban areas outside of Portland, and $14.75 in Portland. This historic victory represents an important first step in the journey towards economic equity for all Oregonians.

Legislators took important steps this session to ensure health care access for Oregonians. HB 4017, which creates a blueprint for the basic health plan (meant to help pay health care costs for those between 130%-200% of poverty) passed. HB 4071 also passed, which requires the state to set up a health insurance assistance program for a group of Pacific Islanders who are legal residents of the state but prohibited by federal law from receiving Medicaid.

On education, the Legislature again took positive steps forward by requiring the Department of Education to develop a plan to address chronic absenteeism and dedicating $500,000 for a pilot program to bring trauma-informed specialists into our schools.

Lastly, NASW-Oregon’s legislative effort this year was anchored by our successful “Day of Action.” Every issue NASW members lobbied on passed.

To join NASW, click here: Click here and save the date to attend our Day of Action in 2017, March 9th in Salem!