Opinion: Legislative Highlights for Tigard

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Mayor Heidi Lueb, U.S. Rep. Andrea Salinas, and State Rep. Ben Bowman (L-R) walking along Hall Boulevard to observe conditions and talk next steps
Mayor Heidi Lueb, U.S. Rep. Andrea Salinas, and State Rep. Ben Bowman (L-R) walking along Hall Boulevard to observe conditions and talk next steps. Holly Goodman/Tigard Life
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On Sunday, June 24, the Oregon Legislature’s six-month rollercoaster ride of a session was finally adjourned. When all was said and done, 697 bills were passed – and nearly 90% were passed with bipartisan support. I wanted to share a few that will be particularly impactful for the Tigard area.

Securing funding for a safer Hall Boulevard was one of my top priorities this session. The state-owned road is in horrible condition, with incomplete sidewalks, insufficient crosswalks, poor lighting, and more. This session, we secured $3 million for pedestrian safety improvements along Hall Blvd–the first legislatively directed allocation for Hall Boulevard ever. I want to thank the hundreds of constituents who shared compelling legislative testimony, especially Dr. Ben Harkin, the widower of Karen Kain, who was struck and killed crossing Hall Blvd last year.

In addition to $3 million for Hall Blvd, we also passed my bill to create a pathway for the state to pay for the costs of jurisdictional transfers of “orphan highways” (state-owned roads in poor condition) to willing cities and counties. I’ll be working with the City and ODOT to ensure Hall Boulevard is given full consideration. 

Housing and homelessness defined our work this session. In just the last five years, home prices in Tigard have gone up 30 percent. At the same time, the homeless population across the metro region has spiked. In response, a bipartisan coalition of legislators worked to pass a historic package of housing investments, including a $2 billion investment in the construction of new homes and $200 million for both homelessness prevention and increasing the production of affordable housing units. In response to the purchase of the Woodspring Apartments in Tigard by an out-of-state investment company, I worked with Rep. Courtney Neron to pass a bill that will protect tenants in affordable housing units from unjust rent increases. Together, these bills will make housing more affordable and provide additional resources to help homeless individuals transition into stable housing.

Washington County is known as the “Silicon Forest” because of our density of tech jobs–and we may be adding even more good-paying jobs soon. We passed the Oregon CHIPS Act, which allocated $260 million to capitalize on federal matching funds and cement Oregon’s status as a global leader in the semiconductor industry. Oregon is now poised to add thousands of new jobs. I also am proud that we lowered the tax burden for working families by passing the Oregon Kids Tax Credit, which will provide parents struggling to make ends meet with a credit of $1,000 per child each year. 

In the long run, our work on public education may have the greatest impact of all. After months of advocacy, we approved an education budget of $10.2 billion–a record number that will help preserve teaching positions and school days in TTSD. Additionally, I was the chief sponsor of a bill designed to address Oregon’s early literacy crisis. Today, nearly 60 percent of third graders in Oregon aren’t reading at grade level. We allocated $144.3 million to support evidence-based literacy programs across Oregon that are aligned with the science of reading – and we passed funding for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library so all Oregon kids will be eligible to receive one free book in the mail monthly from birth to age 5. 

It was an honor to represent Tigard in the legislature. If you have ideas, concerns, or feedback, please contact me at rep.benbowman@oregonlegislature.gov

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