The Equity Investment Act, which creates an Economic Equity Investment Program to support Oregon’s disproportionately underserved communities, passed in the House yesterday. The Economic Equity Investment Program comes with a $15 million fund from Business Oregon that will go to culturally-responsive, community-based organizations that serve people with two or more economic equity risk factors.
Although the Equity Investment Act Workgroup originally sought $50 million to distribute funding to organizations supporting entrepreneurship, workforce development, and increased access to land and homeownership for the state’s underserved communities, the $15 million is a solid start, especially after previous legislation failed to pass.
The Equity Investment Act’s passage comes after a long process of attempting to remedy Oregon’s lack of social equity provisions. Oregon democrats killed a previous iteration of the equity act, HB 3112, back in the summer of 2021. HB 3112 would have established new equity applicant-specific licenses, fast-tracked applicants’ licensing, leveraged tax dollars to support expungements for cannabis offenses, and invested over $50 million per year into communities most impacted by the War on Drugs.
In this round, the bill passed with all House Democrats and some House Republicans voting yes. The bill was supported by Senators Lawrence Spence, Jama, Frederick, and Manning Jr., along with Representatives Fahey, Bynum, Ruiz, and Meek. The Equity Investment Act Workgroup will continue to work with Business Oregon as they begin rulemaking.