Two years ago, legislation for tenant protections went down to defeat in Oregon's Senate.
But today, after expanding their hold on the state legislature in the November election, Senate Democrats approved a bill that will limit landlords' ability to raise rents and bar no cause evictions after the first year of a tenancy.
Rent increases will be capped at 7 percent plus inflation, under Senate Bill 608, in buildings built more than 15 years ago.
All but one Democrat voted in favor of it, for a vote of 17-to-11. (Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose), the most conservative member of the Democratic caucus, was the lone vote against, as was expected.)
Senate Bill 608 is now expected to sail through the Oregon House of Representatives, the more left-leaning chamber, which passed a similar bill in 2017, and make Oregon the first state in the country to have statewide caps on rent increases. (Governor Kate Brown has also expressed support for the bill's concepts.)
The Senate's quick passage of the legislation is marks a change in Salem that came in part after Sen. Shemia Fagan (D-East Portland) defeated former Sen. Rod Monroe, who opposed the bill in 2017, in rare contested primary last May. With Monroe's opposition, the previous bill never received a vote on the Senate floor.
Fagan ran on housing issues including support for rent control and other tenant protections.
The bill is also testament to the effective legislating of House Speaker Tina Kotek, who championed tenants protections bill both two years ago and this year. Behind-the-scenes efforts before this legislative session won the support of the Senate leadership and the neutrality of key landlord groups, including Oregon Rental Housing Association, in the state.