Celebrating Transformative Victories: 2024 Legislative Session Highlights

Mar 19, 2024

The conclusion of the 2024 legislative short session represents a momentous milestone in OCJ’s journey to expand and protect consumer rights in Oregon. Not merely legislative wins, our policy achievements during this session are a testament to the power of partnerships and collaboration, relentless advocacy, and an unwavering commitment to putting the people of Oregon first. Through these trust-based relationships with advocates and legislative champions, Oregon Consumer Justice (OCJ) showed up for consumers and our partners, playing a critical role in advancing significant consumer protection measures that are set to bring about profound changes in the lives of Oregonians.

Policy Wins for Consumers

A monumental leap forward with the Family Financial Protection Act (SB 1595)

The Family Financial Protection Act (FFPA) was passed with bi-partisan support following two years of advocacy on this bill and many more years laying the groundwork for this legislation. The FFPA stands as a beacon of hope for countless families across the state, creating circumstances where they can meet their basic needs while paying off or navigating an unowed or incorrect debt. 

This milestone legislation for the state was brought to fruition through the concerted efforts of OCJ, our partner organizations, including SEIU and the Oregon Law Center, and dedicated lawmakers, particularly Senator Chris Gorsek and Representative Nathan Sosa, who were essential to the bill’s passage. It represents a significant stride to modernizing our consumer protection and debt law to safeguard consumers from predatory financial practices. The FFPA works twofold, protecting families as they recover from debt and protecting consumers from unfair collection practices. Features of the bill include:

  • Phased in by 2027, the amount of wages exempted from court seizure or garnishment will increase and adjust annually to keep up with inflation. 
  • Protects the first $2,500 in a person’s bank account from garnishment/seizure so that debt collectors can no longer wipe out someone’s entire account. 
  • Increases the value of a home protected from seizure to $150,000 for an individual or $300,000 for a couple. Previously, only $40,000 was protected for an individual.
  • Protects Oregonians in cases of unowed/incorrect debt by making it a violation of the law to attempt to collect a debt when a collector knew or should have known that the debt did not exist or was for the wrong amount. 
  • Extends the complaint period for Oregonians to three years instead of one year to file complaints against wrongful debt collection. This is particularly important for medical debt cases when bills can take a long to process.
  • Protects Individuals from unfair legal fees. This means consumers will no longer worry about paying the creditor or debt collectors’ attorney fees. This bill makes contesting incorrect debts financially feasible, leveling the playing field for consumers. These changes will also influence case selection among attorneys supporting consumers facing unfair debt practices.
Chris Coughlin, OCJ's Policy Director, shares details about SB 1595.

This victory is a collective achievement, celebrating the shared dedication to fostering a financial ecosystem that prioritizes the dignity and well-being of every Oregonian.

Right to Repair (SB 1596): A Victory for Consumer Rights and Sustainability

The successful passage of the Right to Repair Act (SB 1596) exemplifies the power of collaboration in championing the rights of consumers and promoting environmental sustainability. OCJ was an important member of a coalition spearheaded by OSPIRG and supported by Senator Janeen Sollman, among other committed legislators, who recognized the critical need to give consumers the ability to choose and control their electronic devices. The Right to Repair Act sets Oregon apart in the nation and means that families will save money by being able to fix phones, computers, and appliances instead of buying new would save the average Oregon household $382 per year. Consumers can now safely and economically make repairs to items they own, either by themselves or by having options about where to take them for repair without arbitrary barriers set up by the item’s manufacturer.

Advancing Healthcare Affordability through Co-pay Assistance (HB 4113)

The enactment of HB 4113, focusing on co-pay assistance, marks a meaningful advancement in healthcare affordability for Oregonians, particularly for those individuals living with chronic conditions like HIV, who rely on high-cost drugs. Oregon now joins 19 other states with similar legislation prohibiting insurers from restricting co-pay assistance for essential medications that do not have generic equivalents or those with demonstrated medical necessity. Oregonians will now have immediate relief and no longer be caught between insurance policies and the influence of Big Pharma.

Corporate Practice of Medicine (HB 4130)

Despite the session’s successes, not all priority bills crossed the finish line. HB 4130 set out to modernize regulations and ensure medical providers own and operate medical practices instead of corporations and private equity firms. However, this session, the bill fell short of passage due to strong opposition from the corporations and private equity firms that benefit from the current structure. Consequently, procedural delays slowed its progress, and timing constraints prevented a floor vote in the Senate before the session ended.

A Unified Front on Response to Tyler v. Hennepin Supreme Court Decision (HB 4056)

The adaptation and eventual support for HB 4056, in response to the Tyler v. Hennepin Supreme Court 2023 decision, illustrates the importance of principled advocacy and collaboration. The US Supreme Court decided it’s not fair or legal for counties to keep all the money from selling someone’s house for unpaid property taxes if they make more money than what was owed. This decision affects Oregon and 19 other states where local governments used to take away people’s home equity, and this bill outlines a process to address this issue. 

While in its original form, OCJ and our fellow consumer advocates had opposed this legislation because the process and proposed amendments centered the counties rather than property owners. Representative Nancy Nathanson worked to craft an amendment recognizing the complexity of the issues and providing a path to work on a solution to bring back to the 2025 legislative session. With this amendment, OCJ shifted to supporting the bill’s passage. This legislative journey showcases the value of listening, adapting, and standing firm in centering consumers in policy.

Chris Coughlin, OCJ's Policy Director, shares details about HB 4056.

A Testament to Collaboration and Shared Values

The successes of the 2024 legislative session are a powerful reminder of the impact that can be achieved through collective action and shared values in a short period of time. The victories achieved are not just for OCJ but for all Oregonians who will benefit from these transformative pro-consumer policies. These legislative wins were made possible by the tireless efforts of advocacy organizations, legislative champions, and the community at large, all united by a commitment to realizing consumer justice in the state. 

The dedication, hard work, and relationships that saw these bills become reality are at the core of our impact and will drive our future efforts. As we reflect on these achievements, we recognize that these victories are not the end but instead are important milestones toward an Oregon where everyone can experience health, joy, and economic opportunity. 

Sign Up For Our Newsletter