SALEM — Gov. Kate Brown’s priorities for the 2018 legislative session include efforts to pay down the state’s public pension liability and tighten restrictions on gun ownership.
Brown, a Democrat who is running for re-election in November, released five proposals Wednesday ahead of the short session that begins Feb. 5 and will last up to 35 days.
Here are the governor’s proposals:
• Gun control: This proposal lays out a previously voiced desire of the governor to close the “Boyfriend Loophole” by modifying state law to bar people convicted of misdemeanor stalking or domestic violence from purchasing a firearm.
The bill would also make sure that the authorities are notified when someone who is prohibited by law from buying a firearm tries to buy one, and have the state track information about those cases to learn where the reporting system can be improved.
• Affordable housing: The proposal would allow the state to temporarily waive fees and education requirements (in favor of training experience “on the job”) for construction professionals to obtain supervisory licenses from the state.
It would also create low-cost loans, administered by Business Oregon, to encourage subcontractors to work on affordable housing projects in rural areas.
Finally, it would also hand out grants for new equipment and tools for construction workers through Workforce Investment Boards to bring down business’ costs of hiring more people.
• PERS paydown: The state is facing an unfunded pension liability of about $25 billion, and this proposal would create a fund to encourage public employers to save money to put toward their employees’ retirement costs.
The state would contribute 25 cents for every dollar saved by public agencies, but it’s not yet clear how much the proposal could shave from the unfunded liability, which is the amount of money that the state owes to retirees but can’t currently pay.
• Opioid epidemic: The governor wants to take the first steps toward requiring drug manufacturers to register for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, create a four-county pilot program to test the efficacy of peer mentors for people having a drug overdose, and require the state’s insurance commissioner to study how to improve access to addiction treatment.
• State procurement practices: This proposal would take several steps to bring down state government costs by changing how the state buys goods and services.
The bill would have the state test a “reverse auction” concept that would have sellers of goods or services valued at more than $150,000 compete to win the state’s business, and test an idea that would have the state study whether requiring 30 percent of evaluation criteria to be price.
The Capital Bureau is a collaboration between EO Media Group and Pamplin Media Group.