2023 Legislative Update

Oregon PSR staff gathers outside of the Oregon State Capital after a lobby day.

Oregon PSR have been working hard this legislative session to push forward bills that prioritize a healthy climate, safe communities and a just Oregon. As we near the end of this legislative session there is a lot of hope for some game changing legislation to be passed. We need your help to keep up this momentum! Read on for a legislative update and ways to take action!


Bills We Support

Medical Incineration Study Bill (Formerly Medical Incineration Regulation Reform)- SB 488

SB 488 is moving through the legislative process! The original bill aimed to have the Covanta Incinerator in Brooks, OR labeled as a medical waste incinerator instead of a municipal waste incinerator. Covanta has been able to take advantage of a loophole in waste incineration regulation that allows it to burn up to 18,000 tons of medical waste per year before being regulated as a medical waste incinerator despite it being the FOURTH LARGEST medical waste incinerator in the country.

The bill has gone through a handful of amendments to get to its current version SB 488-6. The amendments are a compromise but are still very promising and important. With the -6 amendment we lost the ability to label the incinerator as a medical waste incinerator but Covanta will have to dramatically increase the number of pollutants and toxins it monitors and will decrease the amount of medical waste it can incinerate from 18,000 tons down to 10,000 tons per year. The bill requires Covanta to use the best technology available to collect data on the below emissions which are oxides and heavy metals, i.e. some of the most toxic air pollutants: 

Carbon monoxide; “(B) Sulfur dioxide; “(C) Nitrogen oxides; “(D) Opacity; “(E) PCB; “(F) Dioxin/furan; “(G) Cadmium; “(H) Lead; “(I) Mercury; “(J) Arsenic; “(K) Total chromium; “(L) Manganese; “(M) Nickel; “(N) Selenium; and “(O) Zinc.

If the technology is available Covanta will have to do consistent daily monitoring of all of these pollutants and those it is already monitoring for 12 months. After 12 months this data will then be sent to Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) where it will be reviewed. Once reviewed DEQ will send regulatory recommendations to the legislature. The emissions data will also be released to the public. 

Oregon PSR believes that SB 488-6 is essential to protecting the health of the communities impacted by the incinerator. While it is not the bill we started with, it will significantly decrease the amount of medical waste being burned and provide us with important information for future regulation. 

Clean Air Community Right to Know SB 494

Unfortunately, this bill did not make it out of committee and will not be passed this session. We are disappointed and motivated to continue organizing around this issue! 

Early Compassionate Medical Release - SB 520

The Early Compassionate Medical Release bill SB 520 has successfully passed through the senate committee on health care to the joint ways and means committee. One amendment has been added to the bill which adds clarification around who is eligible to apply for early compassionate medical release, the process of reviewing cases and how applicants will be supported post release. 

SB 520 is an incredibly important bill that greatly improves Oregon’s existing early compassionate medical release system. This bill makes the system more effective so that adults in custody can receive the necessary care and relieves the incarceration system of having to provide care for the sickest and oldest adults in the system. 

Moratorium on Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) - SB 85, formerly HB 2667

SB 85 was originally a moratorium on all new CAFO's and the expansion of existing farms into CAFO's. There was massive push back on this bill and some serious compromises were made. The bill went from being a ban on all new or expanding industrial CAFO’s to asking the Oregon Department of Agriculture to study confined animal feeding operations for 2.5 years. The bill is now in the Rules Committee which is not beholden to the same time constraints as other committees. Unfortunately, there is no opportunity for public comment, but we will continue to monitor the bill closely. 

We are very proud of the organizing work we were able to do around this issue including immense support from our membership. The amount of testimony submitted in support of SB 85 was inspiring and empowers us to continue working on this issue! 

Many of the bills we are supporting this session have moved through the legislative process with minimal changes and are now in the Joint Ways and Means Committee. All of the bills below fall into this category:

Racism as a Public Health Issue Pilot Project Funding - HB 2918

Addressing Racism as a Public Health Issue Extension HB 2925

Building Resilience Package SB 868, 869, 870, 871

  • SB 868: Healthy Heating and Cooling for All
  • SB 869: Build Smart from the Start
  • SB 870: Building Performance Standards
  • SB 871: Smart State Buildings

Community Resiliency Hubs - HB 2990 

Toxic Free Cosmetics - SB 546

Toxic Free Schools - SB 426

Green Infrastructure - HB 3016

Universal Health Plan Governance Board - SB 704AHB 2258 


Bills We Oppose

I am excited to share that ALL of the bills we opposed this session failed to make it out of committee and will not be passed this session! 

Nuclear Waste Dump HB 2215 and SB 676

Nuclear Waste Dump Without a Vote of the People. SB 831 

Exempting Small Modular Nuclear Reactors from Regulation SB 832 

Task Force on Free-Market Energy Production SB 251

Taxpayer Funded Thorium Research SB 833 

Prohibiting Local Regulation of Fossil Fuels SB 647


Action Opportunities! 


If you want to support our bills that are in the Joint Ways and Means Committee, please sign up to testify during the Ways and Means Roadshow! There are two more stops left on the roadshow and your testimony can make a difference.

April 28th at 5pm there will be a public hearing in Ontario, OR that is in-person only. If you live near Ontario, you can register to testify here!

Wednesday May 3rd at 5pm in Salem, OR there will be a hybrid hearing. If you are able to show up in-person, please do! Otherwise, you can testify virtually. Register to testify here!

For BOTH of these event's testimony needs to be less than 3 minutes. If you need help writing testimony, please reach out to Anna Kahler at [email protected].

Write your Representative:

At any time, you can call your representative or send them an email, letter or fax. You can make an impact just by contacting your representative and sharing your thoughts and priorities with them. 

Find your representative here: 2023 Find Your Legislator (arcgis.com)

Contact Joint Ways and Means Committee Members:

Similarly, to sending messages to your representative, you can reach out to one, some or all of the joint ways and means committee members to make an impact! 

You can find committee members contact information here: Ways and Means Joint 2023 Regular Session - Oregon Legislative Information System (oregonlegislature.gov)