OSPIRG’s 2023 Legislative Agenda

OSPIRG is prioritizing bills this year to make it easier for Oregonians to fix their stuff, bring down the cost of health care, protect consumers, and more.

Oregon State Capitol
M.O. Stevens | Public Domain

OSPIRG’s mission is to deliver persistent, results-oriented public interest activism that protects consumers, encourages a fair, sustainable economy, protects public health and fosters responsive, democratic government.

For more information about OSPIRG’s Legislative Agenda, to request our support for a bill, or to ask questions about our position on a specific issue, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Right to Repair (SB 542)

Companies use their power in the marketplace to make things harder to repair. Some companies design products to be impossible to repair — such as gluing the battery in a smartphone so it cannot be replaced — or making repair proprietary so that only the manufacturing company can do the repairs. Most companies won’t make the tools, schematics or replacement parts available for sale, so even if repairs can be done by the user or an independent repair business, it’s more challenging and done with suboptimal products.

We support giving Oregonians the Right to Repair by requiring manufacturing companies to make the diagnostic tools, schematics, replacement parts and tools available to the user or a third party available at a fair price.

High Value Health Care

The cost of health care continues to rise in Oregon, consuming more of the resources of consumers, businesses, and the public every year. OSPIRG is pushing for policies that will maintain a competitive marketplace, increase consumer choice, and provide better value for consumers, including:

  • Building on Oregon’s bridge program to offer a low cost, high quality health plan to everyone and bring down health care costs.
  • Transitioning Oregon from the federal healthcare.gov platform to a state-based marketplace that will allow more flexibility in enrollment, data collection, and cost-containment strategies for health insurance.
  • A pilot program to align health care payment models to reward systems for lowering costs and increasing quality care rather than using fee-for-service systems that prioritize the number of services provided to a patient which can lead to higher costs (HB 2878).

Control Prescription Drug Costs

The high cost of prescription drugs is a major driver of rising health care costs and public expenditures. OSPIRG supports policies to rein in the prices of prescription drugs including:

  • Empowering the Prescription Drug Affordability Board to set lower prices for the drugs they review and deem too expensive for Oregonians
  • Requiring patient assistance programs to report the money spent on prescriptions to the Prescription Drug Price Transparency Program (LC 423)
  • Requiring transparency around pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and the rebates handed down through the supply chain (HB 3012, HB 3013)

Beyond Plastics

Every day, people throw away tons of plastic “stuff” — cups, plates, bags, containers, forks, knives, straws, spoons and more. All of this waste not only clogs our landfills, trashes our parks, and litters our streets, but it also washes into our rivers and oceans, where it can harm wildlife. OSPIRG supports policies that move beyond single-use plastic, including:

  • A statewide ban on polystyrene takeout containers and cups to reduce one of the most egregious single-use plastics,, more commonly known as Styrofoam (SB 543)
  • Requiring producers to reduce the amount of plastics and plastic products they produce by 25% (SB 544)
  • Legalizing reusables by updating Oregon health code to establish legal reuse systems and consumer opportunities to bring their own containers to cut down on wasteful packaging (SB 545)
  • Preventing the permitting of new or expanded “chemical recycling” facilities in Oregon, a false solution to our plastics problem, which exacerbates the climate crisis and distracts from real solutions like reducing plastic production and transitioning to a zero waste system.

Stopping Toxic Threats

There are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market in the United States, most of them put directly into use without testing the long-term consequences for our health or their impact on our environment. We should make sure that any chemical in use is safe, eliminate those we know are dangerous, and stop using any that are damaging healthy ecosystems. To that end, OSPIRG supports:

  • Expanding and strengthening the Toxic-Free Kids Act to ensure the health and safety of Oregon’s kids. The Toxic Free Kids Act of 2015 was an important step forward for environmental health and keeping our state’s children safe from dangerous chemicals. But unfortunately, Oregon’s kids can still be exposed to dangerous chemicals in children’s products (HB 3043)
  • Increasing transparency around pesticide use at Oregon schools so we can minimize the spraying of the worst pesticides on school grounds, especially close to where kids play (SB 426)
  • Requiring public disclosure about the worst carcinogens found in cosmetics and personal care products, and ban their sale in Oregon. Every day, Oregonians use soaps, shampoos, makeup and other personal care products without realizing that those products could contain chemicals that present serious health risks (SB 546)

Protecting Consumers

Oregonians deserve fair rules of the road and an even playing field in the marketplace. We work to get dangerous products off store shelves, end exploitative practices and ensure a level playing field in the marketplace. OSPIRG supports:

  • Preventing auto insurance companies from using credit scores to determine rates, a practice that leads to higher insurance rates for low-income Oregonians and those with mistakes on their credit score (HB 2920).
  • Banning the practice of “yo-yo financing.” Sometimes, dealerships will notify consumers that their loan has not been approved many days after they have taken the car home and that they need to return the car or agree to a higher interest rate as well as potentially having to pay fees for the use and wear of the car. (HB 2801).
  • Fixing a loophole in law that limits consumers from challenging debt attributed to the wrong person or for the wrong amount, as well as extending the current one-year statute of limitations for wrongful collection of debt to the same six-year timeframe collectors have to pursue a debt. Oregonians need protections to prohibit excessive wage seizures for those with consumer debt in collections (LC 0960).
  • Requiring data brokers who collect, share, and sell personal information about Oregonians to register with the state (HB 2052)
  • Comprehensive data privacy protections for Oregonians that include a right to opt-out of data collection, sale, or sharing as well as strong enforcement through a private right of action.

Higher Education

Higher education in America continues to be critical for both individual success and the social and economic health of our country. While college attendance has grown over the past two decades, state appropriations and federal aid have failed to keep pace with the rising cost of college, shifting more costs to students and their families. OSPIRG supports:

  • Addressing food insecurity on campus by creating a “Hunger Free Campus” designation that campuses can apply for and making grants available to campuses to fund student hunger programs (LC 2046)
  • Preventing higher education institutions from withholding transcripts from students who owe a debt to the institution (SB 424)

End the Nicotine Trap

The U.S. Surgeon General has declared e-cigarette use, commonly known as vaping, among young people an epidemic due to its popularity and health risks. One in 5 high schoolers reported vaping in 2018, a nearly 80 percent increase in one year. An entire generation is at risk of nicotine addiction, and millions of kids are already hooked on nicotine with serious implications for their health and future. OSPIRG supports:

  • Banning flavored tobacco and vaping products in Oregon (HB 3090)

Democracy for the People

The influence of wealthy special interests in the funding of elections has eroded public trust in our political system and has discouraged civic participation. OSPIRG supports policies that ensure that every citizen, regardless of wealth, has equal opportunity to influence the actions of our government, including:

  • Setting limits on campaign contributions to political campaigns to an amount a regular person would be able to afford.
  • Amplifying the power of small donors at the state and local level by creating a publicly-financed match system.

Transparent and Accountable Government

Oregonians have a right to know how government decisions are made and how taxpayer dollars are spent. Ensuring government transparency enables us to hold elected officials accountable and push back more effectively when powerful interests try to game the system. OSPIRG supports:

  • Holding off on adding to the 500+ public records exemptions until the Oregon Sunshine Committee can finish its work of reviewing current exemptions and making a final recommendation to the legislature