These are difficult times for many Oregonians. I will continue to focus my efforts on helping the middle class and creating economic opportunity for all. During the 2010 special session, I worked to extend unemployment benefits to help those struggling to make ends meet. I also sponsored the Job Applicant Fairness Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating against job applicants based on their credit history. I fought successfully to protect Oregonians’ rights in the workplace, like opting out of coercive meetings on matters of personal belief without fear of retaliation, and I have championed child care assistance for working families. My efforts in 2009 earned me the recognition of Legislator of the Year by the Oregon AFL-CIO.
Our state’s economic vitality and the livability of our communities depend on the success of small business. By providing greater access to loans and grants for hiring and capital investments, I helped to boost public resources for small employers to create jobs in an economy where every paycheck counts. Iadvocated for including the manufacturing of electric vehicles and vehicle parts in energy tax credits to help local businesses. And I stood up for funding K-12 and grants for college students because a strong public education system is essential to our economic recovery.
The state’s ability to thrive depends on the health and wellness of all Oregonians. I led the fight to expand health insurance to all children, provide coverage for more adults, and lower the cost of health care. I fought to provide health care to youth aging out of foster care and to control the prescribing of psychotropic drugs to children in foster care.
But promoting health is more than just health care. I also sponsored farm-to-school and school garden legislation to connect children with local agriculture. I passed statewide laws to protect children from unhealthy foods in school vending machines and to require fast food restaurants to post calories on their menus. I continue to promote the connection between health and learning, which is why I created a pilot project to provide vision screenings in schools so all children can succeed.
Keeping Oregon a safe place to live and work is paramount to our state’s long-term prosperity. That’s why my top public safety priority in 2009 was strengthening protections against metal theft, includingthe sale of stolen catalytic converters which had become agrowing problem in North Portland. I also sponsored legislation that would provide the state with more preventive tools to deal with problem bars and taverns.