This was my first term in office as a state legislator and I had big shoes to fill from former State Representative Dennis Richardson. After six months of the 2015 session, which included hundreds of meetings, public hearings, debates and votes on the House Floor, I’ve learned a lot about our citizen legislature.
The majority party system at the State Capitol produced a number a new laws which I believe will have a negative impact on small businesses and families. Several laws that were adopted further inject government into our lives, including automatic voter registration, gun background checks, even retirement planning.
While I’m not happy with the overall performance of the 2015 Legislative Session, I learned there are ways to get things done for the folks you represent back home. I got to know several of my fellow legislators, many from the other political party and from other parts of the state. We were sometimes able to work together on issues in order to move a bill forward such as those you see listed in my newsletter below.
In the months ahead I look forward to hearing your ideas on issues important to House District 4 which covers, Central Point, Eagle Point, Gold Hill, Rogue River, White City and parts of the Grants Pass area.
Rep Stark 2015 Legislative Session Assignments
House Committee on Human Services & Housing, Vice Chair
Joint Committee on Ways & Means Subcommittee on Human Services, Member
House Committee on Consumer Protection & Government Effectiveness, Member
Oregon-China Sister State Committee, Member
House Workgroup Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Co-Chair
Team Effort Helps Grants Pass Sober Facility Succeed
The Grants Pass Sober Center was an important legislative priority for Representative Stark. While a handful of sobering facilities have existing in Portland, Eugene and Medford over the years, they have never been recognized in state law.
These are safe, clean places for acutely intoxicated individuals to stay until it’s safe for them to leave and in many Oregon communities, there is a critical need for sober facilities, like the one organizers are hoping to build in Grants Pass. Rep Stark was able to work with other legislators, and interested groups at the capitol to pass new laws to protect and fund sober centers in Oregon.
House Bill 2936 spearheaded by Rep Stark, defines and establishes sobering facilities in state law. The new law grants limited legal protections for these facilities, restricts the number of new sober centers and requires accountability measures.
Senate Bill 5526 contains a special $6 million appropriation, secured by Rep Stark’s assistance. The funds are carved out in the state budget for the Addictions and Mental Health Program at the Oregon Health Authority for sobering facilities, detoxification and similar services. $500,000 specifically earmarked for the Grants Pass sobering facility. Current sobering providers like the Moore Center in Medford can apply for these grant funds, as well as new start-up sober centers being discussed in Baker, Deschutes, Douglas, and Klamath counties.
(Pictured above left to right, Grants Pass Police Chief Bill Landis, a member of the Grants Pass Sober Center Board, Rep Duane Stark, and Rick Jones, Director of Choices Counseling Center in Grants Pass and Chair of the Grants Pass Sober Center Board)
~~Other Key Legislative Accomplishments for Rep Stark ~~
- Senate Bill 741 focuses on what’s best for the foster child by requiring the Department of Human Services (DHS) to give relatives and current caretakers (usually foster parents who have cared for a child for a year or more) equal status when considering them as prospective adoptive parents. Rep Stark, being a foster parent for many years, was proud to be a leading proponent and carry this measure to a unanimous approval on the house floor.
(Pictured left to right, Levi and Dan Loraditch, Rep Stark, and Denise Loraditch. The Loraditch family from Grants Pass has been trying to adopt their 23 month old foster daughter, Lilly, who they've been caring for since she was 2 days old. The family came to the capitol to testify and their story helped SB 741 become law.)
- Senate Bill 5507 authorizes around $1 million for two pilot programs to assist foster parents caring for high risk foster children who have experienced trauma and had multiple foster home placements. One pilot in rural Oregon, the other in an urban area. The legislature will evaluate results in 2017. This concept was promoted by Rep Stark all session in Senate Bill 632 which died in committee.
- House Bill 2889 allows children over 12-years old in foster care to open a savings account and DHS to monitor use of a child’s money. House Bill 2890 provides youth in foster care the ability to participate in at least one extracurricular activity. Both measures promoted by Rep Stark and several advocacy groups.
- House Bill 3535 reinvests $30 million in savings from fewer low-income families needing state assistance and caseload cost reductions in the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. The measure intends to add more flexibility to some of the programs available to help Oregonians who are really struggling to get back on their feet. Rep Stark Co-Chaired
HB 3535 through the process.
- Senate Bill 616 protects the Fairview Trust, established in 2000 when the institution for people with developmental disabilities (DD) closed. SB 616 requires an audit of expenditures set aside to pay for housing programs to help DD clients and improves the way the funds are invested. In 2011, half of the money in the trust (around $7 million) was swept out to pay for other state programs and never returned. Rep Stark shepherded SB 616 to successful passage in the House.
- Senate Bill 515 is the 2015 legislative update to the Oregon Transparency Website, www.oregon.gov/transparency. Rep Stark joined an elite group of legislators who’ve worked for several sessions to give Oregonians better information on how our tax dollars are spent. SB 515 includes a virtual suggestions box for input from the public and more accountability for economic development tax breaks.
- House Bill 2184, which was Chief sponsored by Rep Stark, calls on DMV to place a link on the agency’s website to information about Oregon State Parks day-use park passes. Parks and Recreation Department brochures will also be available at Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division field offices.
To reach Representative Stark:
Capitol Address: 900 Court Street NE, H-372
Salem, OR 97301
Capitol Phone: 503.986.1404
District Phone: 541.237.9851