DHS News

2019 Legislative Session is Under Way

DHS Director's Message
Message from DHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht and DHS Deputy Director Liesl Wendt​

January 30, 2019

Our state legislature affects our daily work by setting public policy and our two-year budget. The 2019 Legislative Session is underway, and we have started presenting to the policy and budget committees most involved in our mission.

It is our honor and responsibility to represent you and the people we serve to the Oregon State Legislature. We are partnering with program directors to give legislators who make critical decisions about our work a good understanding of what we do, our accomplishments and the challenges we need their support to overcome. Throughout the session, we will work collaboratively with our legislators to make a better DHS. Now that we’re settling into a session, there are a few things we want to share with you.

First, the session is long and runs to the end of June. Along the way, it’s common for us to hear rumors or debate about budget or policy proposals for DHS. Nothing is final until it is approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. If you hear something that concerns you or raises questions, talk with your supervisor or our Legislative Relations team.

Second, we present to three committees most often: The Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Services; the Senate Committee on Human Services, and the House Committee on Human Services and Housing. Presentations are live-streamed online and then video recordings are posted to the Legislature’s Citizen Engagement Website.

Only staff members approved by our Legislative Relations team, program directors and Director’s Office can represent DHS in committee meetings or individual meetings with legislators. Most requests from the Legislature funnel through our Legislative Relations team but staff who are contacted directly by an elected official need to immediately notify our Legislative Relations team so we can coordinate a timely response.

Third, every Legislative Session involves thousands of bills. Nearly 1,800 bills have been introduced already and more are coming. DHS expects to receive around 900 bills that require our review, careful analysis or tracking. Most of the bill work happens at the Central Office in Salem and sometimes help may be needed from field staff to complete analysis. Bill review, analysis and tracking is a priority for us during the Legislative Session.

You can expect updates from us as we reach milestones in the session. If you’re interested in tracking our progress in real time, here are resources to help:

  • Our budget presentations to the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Services are posted on our website as they are scheduled. We’ll be presenting several times a week to this subcommittee through February. The presentations include program-by-program overviews focusing on accomplishments and priorities for the new biennium. This week we are presenting an agency overview and an overview of the Aging and People with Disabilities program.
  • Presentations to the policy committees, including the House Committee on Human Services and Housing and the Senate Committee on Human Services, will be posted to our Legislative Information website.
  • And, again, video recordings of our presentations to committees are available on the Legislature’s Citizen Engagement Website​.

This is an important time for our agency. When we present to the Legislature, we are asking for the financial and policy support that makes our work possible. Legislators are critical stakeholders. The support they give DHS is a direct reflection of the dedication of our staff and the effectiveness of our programs. We have meaningful outcomes to share and tremendous progress to report thanks to your hard work. We appreciate your efforts and look forward to sharing your successes with legislators.