Serving on committees and providing a wide range of constituent services
Legislative Basics: Committee Work & Constituent Services
Two of Senator Steiner’s core responsibilities as a state legislator are serving on committees and providing a wide range of constituent services to folks who have questions, want to voice concerns or opinions on legislation, or need help navigating state or local government. Senator Steiner and her team prioritize timely, efficient communication with constituents, working to connect people with resources they may need and passing along feedback on bills that come before her.
Serving on a Legislative Committee
Committee work can be extremely time-consuming and in-depth. Legislators attend committee meetings 1-4 times per week, as well as read and perform research on bills coming before the committee on their own time. Legislators also hold meetings with their colleagues and stakeholders to discuss the merits of legislation coming before them, and serve as subject matter experts when fellow legislators have questions. More details about Senator Steiner’s committees can be found below under the “Budget Work” section, as these are unique compared to policy committees. Here is a comprehensive list of the committees Senator Steiner is currently serving on for the 2023 Legislative Session:
Joint Committee on Ways & Means - Co-Chair
Joint Committee on Legislative Audits - Co-Chair
Senate Committee on Rules - Member
Joint Committee On Ways and Means Subcommittee On Capital Construction - Member
Senator Steiner has full-time staff who work with her and constituents in Senate District 17 on a myriad of topics. This may include working with constituents on issues they need help with or who are voicing their opinions on legislation each session. Senator Steiner encourages you to reach out to her and her team, in person, on the phone, via mail or email with questions, thoughts, or concerns.
Senator Steiner enjoys introducing legislation from ideas constituents bring to her in advance of the legislative session. If you have an idea for a bill, please let her office know! Some examples of constituent-led legislation she has passed include:
- SB 638 (nicknamed “The Beagle Bill”) requires research facilities that use dogs or cats for laboratory research to offer dogs or cats no longer used for research for adoption instead of routinely euthanizing them. This bill came to us from a group of elementary school students who did a project about beagles being used at a disproportionate rate for medical and beauty industry testing.
- Memorials and Resolutions for constituents that have passed who made significant contributions to their community. Senator Steiner champions a bill of this nature nearly every long legislative session, and they are usually brought to her attention by friends, family, or colleagues of the individual we’re honoring.
- In the 2021 legislative session, Oregon received a generous influx of federal funds for pandemic recovery under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Each Senator was allotted $4 million of one-time funds to invest in areas/projects of highest need in their district. For her ARPA allocation, Senator Steiner collaborated with organizations in Senate District 17 to fund several projects with her ARPA allocation, including: PCC Rock Creek for their Aviation Mechanics & Avionics Programs, Reach Out & Read (an early literacy program), the Habitat for Humanity Denney Gardens multi-family project in Washington County, and Oregon’s Jewish Museum & Center for Holocaust Education to complete new gallery space.
Health Policy and Public Health Work
Senator Steiner ran for office with the goal of making Oregon the healthiest state in the nation. Using her over 35 years of experience as a family physician, Senator Steiner has championed or provided critical support on numerous policies and investments in public health and health policy in Oregon. During her tenure in the State Senate she has made significant progress towards this goal. Some of her most notable accomplishments in this space include:
Health Policy Legislation
- SJR 12 - HOPE Amendment - This became Ballot Measure 111 (2022) which voters passed, adding health care as a right to Oregon’s Constitution.
- SB 1554 - COVID-19 Pandemic After Action Report
- SB 754 - Tobacco 21
- SB 526 - Universally-Offered Home Visiting
- Joint Task Force on the Fair Pricing of Prescription Drugs (HB 4005, 2018) and related legislation attempting to regulate various entities that play a role in driving costs of prescription medications.
- Primary Care Collaborative work with the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians, including passing SB 934 (2017) that requires 12% of medical spend to be on primary care.
Other Public Health Work
- Helping to establish & strengthen Oregon’s Coordinated Care Organizations (Oregon Health Plan) structure.
- HB 4035 for OHP Redeterminations Post-Pandemic Public Health Emergency & Co-Chair of Oregon’s Joint Task Force On the Bridge Health Care Program.
- Founding member of the Oregon Legislative Clinicians’ Caucus, a group of practicing health care professionals that meets biweekly to support & weigh in on health policy legislation introduced in Oregon.
- Supporting the Oregon Health Authority’s work in Public Health Modernization.
- Protecting access to reproductive health services, as a champion of Oregon’s Reproductive Health Equity Act (or RHEA - HB 3391 in 2017) and recently as a member of the Reproductive Health & Access to Care Work Group, which crafted proposals to protect the full range of reproductive care in Oregon in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson.
- Ballot Measure advocacy, including Ballot Measure 110 - Drug Addiction & Recovery Act and Ballot Measure 109 - Regulated Psilocybin Therapy in the 2020 election.
Senator Steiner’s work on Oregon’s state budget began in her first legislative session in 2012, when she served as a member of the General Government and Human Services budget subcommittees. All budget committees in Oregon are joint, with Co-Chairs & members from both the House and the Senate. In late 2016 she became Co-Chair of the Human Services subcommittee. In late 2018 Senator Steiner was appointed Co-Chair of the Joint Full Committee on Ways & Means, which oversees the entire state budget. This committee votes on state agency budget bills and policy bills that require funding after they are recommended for passage by the relevant budget subcommittee.
What does it mean to be a Full Ways & Means Co-Chair?
Serving as a Senate Ways & Means Co-Chair is a full-time job all on its own. Between actual committee time, meetings with fellow legislators and stakeholders bringing forth funding proposals, evaluating the value of the fiscal impact of thousands of bills, and consulting with agency leadership and Legislative Fiscal Office analysts, serving as Co-Chair is Senator Steiner’s most substantial responsibility.
As Ways & Means Co-Chair, Senator Steiner leads with the following principles:
- preserve funding for critical services like healthcare and public education first;
- prioritize investments in proven evidence-based programming before starting new programs or services;
- utilize one-time funds for investments that are truly one-time so as to prevent unsustainable program costs in future biennia;
- spend by considering core values first, since budget is policy and how we spend our tax dollars should reflect our highest shared priorities.
For more detailed information on how the Legislative Fiscal Office and the Legislative Revenue Office interact with the budget drafting process and the role they play visit their respective websites.
Capital Construction & Legislative Audits Subcommittees
In addition to serving on the Joint Full Ways & Means Committee, Senator Steiner also Co-Chairs the Legislative Audits committee and serves on the Capital Construction Subcommittee. It is standard practice for the Senate Ways & Means Co-Chair to serve in these roles on these two budget-related committees. The Capital Construction subcommittee considers proposals for state-backed bonds for construction projects across the state. Examples of this include upgrades or deferred maintenance for state agency sites or public university buildings, affordable housing construction, and community-led projects like cultural centers, performing arts centers, etc. The Legislative Audits committee works closely with the Oregon Secretary of State’s office, which is responsible for performing outcome and fiscal audits of state agencies and their programs. Each biennium the Audits Division of the Secretary of State provides an Audit Plan, of which the committee can comment on how to strengthen this as well as receiving audit reports and facilitating fiscal and state agency program transparency.
Notable Investments Passed During Senator Steiner’s Tenure as Ways & Means Co-Chair:
- HB 4004 (2022) - Behavioral Health Omnibus & Investments, which contains hundreds of millions in investments including increased capacity at the Oregon State Hospital (opening two 24-bed units) and $20 million to address staffing shortfalls
- Continuously preserving access to the Oregon Health Plan in each biennial state budget, and expanding coverage with legislation such as: SB 558 - Cover All Kids and HB 3352 - Cover All People (2022)
- Hundreds of millions in affordable housing investments and tenant support to address Oregon’s homelessness crisis - including a notable $400M investment in the 2022 session alone
- The Student Success Act, which generates an approximate $2.35 billion for K-12 education and early learning per biennium (2-year budget cycle)
- Creation and core funding for Oregon’s new Department of Early Learning and Care (HB 3073 in 2021)
- HB 2005 (2019) which founded Oregon’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Program
- SB 973 (2019) which started as a behavioral health & criminal justice bill that founded Oregon’s Justice Reinvestment program
- HB 2025 (2019) - expanding Oregon’s publicly-funded Preschool Promise education & childcare program from serving ages 3-4 to all ages 0-5.
- HB 1546 (2022) - establishing the Elliott State Research Forest and decoupling the land from its connection with the Common School Fund, which was an inconsistent and unpredictable method of funding for our public schools and therefore unsustainable fiscal policy.
- $200 million for Future Ready Oregon workforce training across multiple sectors (2022)