We’re halfway there: Oregon legislative update

The 2023 Oregon legislative session is halfway over. Here's a progress report on the policies that Environment Oregon is supporting.

Beyond plastic


Take Action

The 2023 Oregon legislative session started on January 17th and runs through June 25th, so we’re a little over half way through. We thought this would be a good time to revisit our legislative agenda and share a progress report on the bills we are supporting and share some actions you can take to help get these important bills over the finish line. 

sea turtle chasing plastic bag
Willyam Bradberry | Shutterstock.com

Wildlife over Waste

Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute the environment and harm wildlife for hundreds of years. Plastic pollution is creating an environmental disaster for ocean wildlife: plastic and other marine debris kills millions of sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals every year. Plastic also contributes to climate change at every step of its lifecycle, from production to pollution. It’s time to move beyond single-use plastic by getting rid of the most harmful waste, and stopping the use of things we truly don’t need. We’re supporting:

A statewide ban on polystyrene takeout containers and cups (Senate Bill 543).
One of the most egregious single-use plastics is polystyrene, more commonly known as Styrofoam. Senate Bill 543 would ban polystyrene foam foodware, packing peanuts and coolers and PFAS in food packaging starting on January 1, 2025.

Status: Passed Oregon Senate with bipartisan support, has public hearing in House Committee on Climate, Energy & Environment on 4/12 at 3pm. Read more. 

Products that have a ‘forever’ impact on our planet, like polystyrene, which doesn’t biodegrade, and PFAS forever chemicals that build up in our bodies and environment, should be eliminated. Senate Bill 543 is an important step in getting us closer to the zero waste future we’re working to build. Senator Janeen Sollman
State Senator for SD-15

Legalizing reusables (Senate Bill 545)
Currently, Oregon’s health code does not allow restaurants to offer consumer or store-owned reusable containers to be used. Senate Bill 545 would update Oregon health code to establish legal reuse systems to cut down on wasteful packaging. 

Status: Passed Oregon Senate with bipartisan support, public hearing held in House Committee on Climate, Energy & Environment on April 5th.  

Other bills: Reducing plastic at the source (Senate Bill 544) and preventing the permitting of new or expanded “chemical recycling” facilities in Oregon (House Bill 3597) are not moving forward. Neither bill got a vote in committee before the first deadline.

Senator Janeen Sollman | Used by permission
Sen. Janeen Sollman, Environment Oregon State Director Celeste Meiffren-Swango and OSPIRG State Director Charlie Fisher celebrate Right to Repair passing out of committee on April 4, 2023.

Right to repair

We generate way too much waste, and companies use their power in the marketplace to make things harder to repair. This only adds to the amount of waste going to landfills. We support Senate Bill 542, which would give every Oregonian and every small business access to the parts, tools, and service information they need to repair products.

Status: Voted out of Senate Committee on Energy & Environment on April 4th. Awaiting a Senate floor vote.

Clean energy homes 

We have the ability to harness clean, abundant energy from the sun, the wind and the earth, and to fully repower our society with 100 percent renewable sources. Federal tax credits and rebates passed under the Inflation Reduction Act makes it easier and more affordable than ever to electrify our buildings. Not only are electric technologies like heat pumps and induction stoves more efficient, they can also be powered by renewable energy like solar and wind rather than fossil fuels. We support policies in Oregon that further encourage a shift away from burning fossil fuels in our residential and commercial buildings and power our homes and businesses with clean energy.

  • Healthy Heating and Cooling for All (Senate Bill 868) would accelerate heat pump deployment and support energy efficiency programs focused on weatherization and efficiency retrofits;
  • Build Smart from the Start (Senate Bill 869) would update Oregon’s base building code so all new buildings are built to be more energy efficient from the start;
  • Building Performance Standards (Senate Bill 870) would require large, energy-intensive commercial buildings to adopt a building performance standard to improve efficiency;
  • Smart State Buildings (Senate Bill 871) would make it easier for state owned public buildings to be made more energy efficient. 

Status: All four bills were voted out of the Senate Committee on Energy & Environment on April 4th and were referred to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means. 

Clean Lighting Standards

Fluorescent lights contain mercury, which is a potent and persistent neurotoxin, by design. Today, non-toxic, highly efficient alternatives are broadly available. It’s time for Oregon to phase out fluorescent lighting and eliminate a toxin from the waste stream, reduce energy waste and save consumers money by passing House Bill 2531

Status: Passed the Oregon House with bipartisan support. Public hearing scheduled in Senate Committee on Energy & Environment on April 20th.

kids playing in a park
Evgeniy Kalinovskiy | Shutterstock.com

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. Environment Oregon supports:

Toxic-Free Kids (House Bill 3043)
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. We support a bill that will expand and strengthen the Toxic-Free Kids Act to ensure the health and safety of Oregon’s kids.

Status: Passed Oregon House with bipartisan support. Public hearing in the Senate Committee on Energy & Environment on April 20th. 

Toxic-Free Schools (Senate Bill 426)
Children are especially sensitive and susceptible to the dangers of toxic chemicals. A proposed bill will increase 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. 

Status: Passed the Senate Committee on Education and was referred to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.

Toxic-Free Cosmetics (Senate Bill 546)
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. We support a bill that would require public disclosure about the worst carcinogens found in cosmetics and personal care products, and ban their sale in Oregon.

Status: Passed the Senate Committee on Energy & Environment on April 5th and was referred to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means. 

Harbor seals sunbathe on Oregon's beautiful coastline

Protect Oregon’s Ocean

Home to diverse wildlife from the smallest krill to large gray whales, the ocean off of Oregon’s coast — and the ecosystems they support — are worth preserving for future generations. We support House Bill 2903 and fully funding Oregon’s marine reserves program to ensure its continued success, and finding opportunities to protect even more special places off of our coast.

Status: Passed the House Committee on Agriculture, Land Use, Natural Resources and Water on March 6th and was referred to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means. 

Investing in Oregon’s coastal treasures


Investing in Oregon’s coastal treasures

Our state’s Marine Reserves are incredible, but they can be much better with a little more funding. Sign our petition calling on state legislators to do more for your ocean environments.

Take Action

Destination: Zero Carbon

Transportation is Oregon’s number one source of global warming pollution, with greenhouse emissions from cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles surpassing every other source. We simply can’t solve global warming without changing how Oregonians get around. Environment Oregon supports policies that encourage the shift to zero emission vehicles and reduce the need to drive by making it easier, cheaper and more enjoyable to travel on foot, bike or public transit. Specifically, we are supporting House Bill 2571, which would create an incentive program for e-bikes.  

Status: Passed out of the House Committee on Climate, Energy & Environment on March 31st and was referred to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.

Healthy farms, healthy environment

The term “Oregon farms,” elicits thoughts of our state’s core values: small farms, clean air and water, and healthy local food. Unfortunately, in recent years, mega-dairies and large chicken farms have been moving into rural Oregon and polluting the air with dangerous gases including methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, and contaminating surface and groundwater with nitrates, pharmaceuticals, and pathogens. We support Senate Bill 85 and stopping the expansion of mega-dairies and large chicken farms in Oregon. 

Status: Passed out of Senate Committee on Natural Resources on April 10th and was referred to the Senate Committee on Rules.

Please take action and make your voice heard

Sign up for our email action alerts and we’ll be sure to keep you posted as these bills continue their journey through the legislative process.

Finally, we couldn’t do this work without the support of our members. If you’re a member, thank you. If you’re not yet a member, please consider making a contribution today.

Donate Today

Donate Today

When you give, you can help protect the places that all of us love and promote core environmental values, such as clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and clean energy to power our lives.



Celeste Meiffren-Swango

State Director, Environment Oregon

As director of Environment Oregon, Celeste develops and runs campaigns to win real results for Oregon's environment. She has worked on issues ranging from preventing plastic pollution, stopping global warming, defending clean water, and protecting our beautiful places. Celeste's organizing has helped to reduce kids' exposure to lead in drinking water at childcare facilities in Oregon, encourage transportation electrification, ban single-use plastic grocery bags, defend our bedrock environmental laws and more. She is also the author of the children's book, Myrtle the Turtle, empowering kids to prevent plastic pollution. Celeste lives in Portland, Ore., with her husband and two daughters, where they frequently enjoy the bounty of Oregon's natural beauty.

Find Out More