The Oregon Legislature recently wrapped up the 2014 legislative session, and I’m proud to report on the progress we made in supporting Oregon’s recovering economy and expanding opportunities for our local community. Legislators from both sides of the aisle joined together to create meaningful policy that will strengthen our schools, support our local businesses, and help get more Oregonians back to work.

This session, I focused on passing legislation that will provide better support for our students. Currently, more than half of school children in Oregon qualify for free lunch services at their local schools. However, those critical services disappear with summer vacation. That’s why I co-sponsored new laws that will increase students’ access to summer lunch programs and create new summer learning programs at high-poverty schools throughout the state.

Like so many Oregonians, the course of my life was changed by education — it’s why I became a professor. It’s also why it is a major priority for me to make higher education more affordable and accessible for students from all backgrounds, and I’m thrilled to report that my “Aspirations to College” bill — House Bill 4116 — passed with unanimous, bipartisan support. Modeled after Portland Community College’s successful Future Connect Program, House Bill 4116 will now provide students from low-income backgrounds, or those who are first in their families to attend college, with access to the scholarships and tools needed to excel in their post-secondary education.

As the economic engine of the state, Washington County’s economy is showing signs of recovery, but it’s not growing fast enough. This session, I was proud to support laws to encourage job creation and support Oregon’s economic vitality. To develop growth in our region’s booming tech industry, we passed House Bill 4005 to help technology companies in creating living wage jobs here in Washington County, as well as Oregon’s Entrepreneurial Development Loan Fund (Senate Bill 1563) which increases access to capital for local businesses.

To respond to the needs I’ve been hearing from unemployed Oregonians and local employers, and to address the skills gap in Oregon’s rapidly developing bioscience industry, I sponsored the Dislocated Worker Training Bill. Passing with bipartisan support, Senate Bill 1527 will establish a pilot program tailored to retraining unemployed and underemployed engineers — getting Oregon talent back to work in the jobs that are available right now.

This session, I focused on meeting the needs of Oregon students, creating opportunities for Oregonians to get back on the job, supporting local businesses and protecting our state’s most vulnerable. My Protected Persons Special Advocate Bill will expand safeguards to some of Oregon’s most vulnerable residents by targeting protections for seniors with cogitative impairments and adults with developmental disabilities. In re-balancing the state budget, we protected critical services and boosted investments in supplemental nutrition assistance meal programs, bonding for affordable housing, and emergency housing and homelessness assistance to give Oregonians the tools needed to climb out of poverty and into the middle class.

My goal as your state representative is to respond to the needs of our community.

Thank you to everyone who called, emailed, or visited me in the capitol this session. I can’t tell you how important it is to hear what you think. My office and our government always works better with your input. Please contact me with any questions, concerns or ideas you have. I’m available at 503-986-1430 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

By working together, we can build a stronger, more prosperous future for Oregon.

State Rep. Joe Gallegos (D-Hillsboro) represents Oregon’s 30th Legislative District.

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