Tina Kotek, seen here in a May interview, talked to reporters Wednesday about the legislative session. (Photo by Michael Romanos/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

Sometimes, Oregonians don’t get everything they want from the Legislature, even after a 160-day session. And sometimes, not even a governor can convince enough legislators to pass a bill. 

Now,  Gov. Tina Kotek is mapping out a future strategy after the Senate killed her proposal on changing the land-use law so cities can extend their urban growth boundaries which designate the area where contractors can build. The measure, House Bill 3414, was a key part of her push to expand the state’s long-term housing supply by adding more flexibility for city land use. It’s part of Kotek’s wider push to address the state’s homelessness crisis and housing shortage.

Kotek said she personally worked in the final days of the session to get support for the proposal. It passed the House on Friday on a 33-21 vote but the Senate voted it down on Sunday. 

“I thought we would pass the bill,” Kotek said Wednesday in a news conference. “We didn’t. That happens. That doesn’t mean we aren’t coming back on the topic. So I upheld my side of the bargain, which was to try to get it done. And we need to continue that conversation.”

The bill would have allowed cities to extend their urban growth boundaries by up to 150 acres. Republicans and some Democrats supported the idea but most Democrats, who hold the majority, opposed it. With a 15-10 vote, it fell one vote short of the 16 needed to pass in  the 30-member Senate.

But Kotek, who traded in her House speaker’s gavel for the governor’s office after last year’s election, had wins, including on housing.

“I do believe the Legislature made good progress with the funding and some of the policy work both on homelessness and housing during the session,” Kotek told reporters. “But as many of you know, I’m never satisfied and we have more work to do.”

Kotek said she and her staff will evaluate everything that the Legislature accomplished and look at further work on the issue. It’s unclear whether – or when – lawmakers will take the issue up again. The short session starts in February 2024.

The Legislature passed 600 bills this session. They include:

$155 million for the state’s emergency response to immediately start to reduce homelessness this year.$316 million to house another 750 families, prevent homelessness for 11,700 households that are at risk, help shelters, support 700 more beds for shelters and other housing efforts. $650 million in bonding to build more affordable housing.

Kotek has about 350 bills left to review. She has 30 days after the end of the session to sign or veto them. Without either, a bill becomes law without her signature. 

Kotek said she hasn’t identified any bills she’s planning to veto.

“We are just sitting down with bills,” Kotek said. “A lot happened. My team reads every bill. I read every bill. I don’t have any ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ at this point.”

Oregon Capital Chronicle

Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oregon Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Lynne Terry for questions: info@oregoncapitalchronicle.com. Follow Oregon Capital Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter.

Ben Botkin covers justice, health and social services issues for the Oregon Capital Chronicle. He has been a reporter since 2003, when he drove from his Midwest locale to Idaho for his first journalism job. He has written extensively about politics and state agencies in Idaho, Nevada and Oregon. Most recently, he covered health care and the Oregon Legislature for The Lund Report.