Important New Laws For 2024

The Oregon Legislature has been busy this year passing new laws for 2024.This year marked the long legislative session for Oregon legislatures and with it came 650 new bills signed by Governor Tina Kotek.

“In 2023, we led on the issues that matter most to all Oregonians,” Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber (D – Beaverton & SW Portland) said. “Whether it was cutting red tape to make it easier to build affordable housing or preventing addiction by educating our kids about the dangers of fentanyl, democrats worked to make our state stronger, and we’re going to do it again in 2024.”

“Oregonians send legislators to Salem to get results on the issues facing our communities,” House Majority Leader Julie Fahey (D – West Eugene & Veneta) said. “In the 2023 session, we focused on creating an economy that works for everyone and on enacting real solutions to address housing, homelessness, addiction and community safety. The laws that have already gone into effect and those that will do so in the new year will make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.”

A selection of the new laws going into effect on Jan. 1, 2024 is summarized below.

Several bills were passed in an effort to quell the current drug crisis affecting the state.

Educating Oregon’s Youth About the Dangers of Fentanyl (Senate Bill 238)

SB 238 directs the Oregon Health Authority, State Board of Education, and Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission to develop curricula that teaches students about the dangers of synthetic opioids and laws that provide immunity or other protections related to drug or alcohol use.

Preventing Opioid Overdose Deaths (Senate Bill 1043) 

SB 1043 requires health care and drug treatment facilities to provide two doses of opioid overdose reversal medicine and related medical supplies upon discharge to patients who were there for treatment for opioid abuse. The bill also establishes civil liability protections to people who administer opioid overdose medication to a person experiencing an overdose. This bill was introduced at the request of Gov. Kotek by Senate President Rob Wagner.

Increasing Access to Addiction Treatment While In-Custody (Senate Bill 529)

According to the Department of Corrections, 63% of adults entering custody report having a substance use disorder, and 50% are classified as having a “severe” need for treatment. This bipartisan bill modifies the procedures of accepting participants into the current alternative incarceration program, requires intense addiction programs that address chronic disease, and includes a range of treatment services.

Improving Implementation of Voter-Approved Measure 110 (House Bill 2513)

HB 2513, the bipartisan Hope and Recovery Bill, strengthens and improves voter-approved Measure 110 (The Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act) implementation. This will help connect Oregonians struggling with addiction with the care they need and put them on a path to recovery.

The Hope and Recovery bill works to make sure addiction and treatment services are available to all Oregonians by:

  • Bolstering staffing and streamlining application processes to speed up approval and get funds out the door;
  • Centralizing the support hotline to get people connected to services more efficiently; and
  • Ensuring accountability by improving collection and accuracy of Measure 110 program data.

In regards to health and public safety the following new laws will come into effect:

Preventing Organized Retail Theft (Senate Bill 340)

Under SB 340, individuals convicted of organized retail theft will face harsher penalties. The new law will also amend and strengthen current statutes to allow law enforcement and prosecutors greater flexibility to detect, deter and hold accountable those who commit organized retail theft. Finally, it will create more accountability for people who threaten retail workers while committing theft. SB 340 was developed by the Organized Retail Crime Task Force, which is made up of industry and labor stakeholders negatively impacted by organized retail crime.

Mental Health Support for First Responders (House Bill 3426)

HB 3426 requires 9-8-8 crisis hotline centers to have policies and train staff on serving firefighters and other first responders. First responders face some of the highest rates of suicide in Oregon and across the nation. In fact, more police and firefighters die by suicide than die on the job. To address this disparity, it is vital that first responders have access to trauma-informed services delivered by providers who understand their unique challenges. HB 3426 will ensure that our statewide crisis line has trained and qualified staff ready to assist our emergency response personnel.

Expanding DUII to Include Influence of Any Impairing Drugs (House Bill 2316)

HB 2316 keeps Oregon’s roads safe by expanding our Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII) laws. Currently, laws regarding convictions of DUII are treated differently depending on which statute you are charged under. This bill amends multiple statutes to reconcile felony DUII statutes governing repeated offenders and expands the offense of DUI to include the influence of any impairing drugs.

Housing laws have two new bills taking effect: 

Converting Commercial Buildings to Housing Within the UGB (House Bill 2984)

To continue expanding our housing production, HB 2984 allows local governments to convert commercial buildings within the UGB to residential housing without requiring a zone change or condition use permit.

Improving Financing of Affordable Housing (House Bill 2761)

Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) is responsible for the planning, development and management of affordable housing projects. This bill expands OHCS’s ability to finance certain housing development portions for households earning at or below 120% of median area income.

In affordability and childcare, legislature focused on the following:

Putting Money Back in Families’ Pockets with the Oregon Kids Credit (House Bill 3235)

HB 3235 delivers much-needed relief to Oregon families struggling to make ends meet. This bill creates Oregon’s first-ever state-based child tax credit – a fully refundable $1,000 tax credit per child between the ages of 0 and 5 for families earning $30,000 or less. 55,000 children across Oregon will benefit from this credit, with a higher representation in rural communities and communities of color.

Oregon families can apply for this credit when they file their tax returns in 2024.

In the realm of education, the following new items were passed:

Upgrading School HVAC Systems (House Bill 3031)

HB 3031 works to improve air quality and eliminate airborne pathogens in schools around the state, keeping Oregon students and teachers safe and healthy. The bill will help Oregon schools receive federal funds to upgrade their HVAC systems, assess ventilation systems, place carbon dioxide monitors in each classroom, and submit a report on ventilation and carbon dioxide levels to a mechanical engineer for review. The districts will then implement any improvements recommended by the engineer.

Increasing Students’ Financial Literacy (Senate Bill 3)

In 2022, a study from the Oregon Department of Education studied high school graduation requirements and made a recommendation that future planning credit requirements be added. Senate Bill 3 adds a half-credit for higher education and career path skills and a half-credit for personal financial education to graduation requirements starting in 2027.

Health care also sees some exciting changes:

Training More Nurses (Senate Bill 523)

SB 523 expands the number of institutions that can offer nursing degrees, especially in rural Oregon. It permits community colleges to offer Bachelor of Science, Nursing degrees in addition to applied bachelor’s degrees. Community colleges may apply to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission for approval of the proposed BSN degree program.

Eliminating Costs for Breast Cancer Screenings (Senate Bill 1041)

SB 1041 makes medically necessary breast cancer diagnostic imaging tests and supplemental breast exams free to patients by requiring commercial insurance plans to cover those costs. While the total cost of a mammogram is usually covered by insurance, further diagnostic testing such as an MRI or ultrasound is not. These diagnostic tests can cost up to thousands of dollars to patients, even though they are absolutely essential to identifying breast cancer.

There were also new laws that will address the environment and wildfire protections for Oregonians:

Banning Use of Hazardous Polystyrene Food Containers (Senate Bill 543)

SB 543 would prohibit the use of polystyrene foam containers and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in sales of prepared food. The ban was introduced in response to the significant negative impact that polystyrene has on the environment. Polystyrene manufacturing is the fifth largest source of industrial hazardous waste. Polystyrene takeout containers are non-biodegradable, meaning they can take hundreds of years to decompose. They are also a significant source of litter and can easily break down into small, hazardous pieces that harm wildlife and pollute waterways.

Protecting Homeowners Impacted by Wildfires (Senate Bill 82)

SB 82 makes clear that insurance companies may not cancel policies or increase premiums for homeowners based on the statewide wildfire risk map. It will also improve transparency on policy renewals and premium decisions related to wildfires by requiring insurers to tell homeowners how they can lower their premiums through home hardening or other wildfire mitigation.

Funding Firefighter Apprenticeships (House Bill 2294)

HB 2294 appropriates $20 million to the Bureau of Labor and Industries to establish a grant program for local service districts and local joint committees to administer firefighter apprenticeship training pilot projects. It requires a report to the legislature by Dec. 31, 2026.