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Legislator’s Letter: An Update from Rep. Jeff Helfrich

Legislator’s Letter: An Update from Rep. Jeff Helfrich

About a month ago, we wrapped up the 2024 Legislative Short Session. I made clear that I believe the intent of the voters when they created the short session was to make budgetary adjustments, and to address the emergencies facing our state. It was clear going into February the drug epidemic, as well as the housing crisis were two of the biggest issues that required immediate attention. We also had a once in a lifetime opportunity to tackle campaign finance reform, an issue that voters have wanted addressed since the passage of Measure 107 in 2020. We were able to work together and get the ball rolling on these issues. Here is my take on the session.

On the issue of Measure 110 reform, I am happy we could recriminalize drugs but feel like more should have been done. My biggest frustration is we were not able to empower parents to compel treatment for addicted children. I am a firm believer that the responsibility of a parent to provide proper care for their child is a sacred responsibility. To that end, if a parent is witnessing their child struggle with addiction, should they not be able to compel their child into treatment? Our current laws do not give them that option.

On housing investments, I believe we did well by investing so heavily on the infrastructure side of the issue. Anything that the state can do to lower the cost of building, from covering the cost of sewer systems and electrical lines to giving local jurisdictions more flexibility to decide where they can build, will yield results when it comes to creating affordable housing. We have got to get this state building again, and this is just the start.

I wouldn’t normally say campaign finance reform is a short session issue. However, Oregonians trust in their government has been eroding as they have seen our elections get more and more expensive. We have seen big money work its way into politics, and for that reason voters passed Measure 107 in 2020. This gave the Legislature and local jurisdictions more flexibility to adopt more meaningful campaign regulations. I am proud to say we have taken a good step in that direction. Working with my colleague Rep. Julie Fahey (now Speaker Fahey), we were able to come up with a bipartisan package that provides more transparency on campaigns and puts in place contribution limits to try and get big money back out of our politics.

I believe we accomplished what Oregonians expected of us. We made progress on some of the biggest issues facing our state and our country, and we did so together. With a balance of power in Salem, it is incredible what can be accomplished. We found solutions that move the whole state forward, and don’t favor one population set over another. My hope is that Oregonians see value in this bipartisanship and that we can carry this momentum into the next legislative session!

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