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Politics & Government

Oregon House Speaker Dan Rayfield reshuffles committee leadership

Oregon State Capitol building, May 18, 2021. The capitol was completed in 1938.
Kristyna Wentz-Graff
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Oregon State Capitol building, May 18, 2021. The capitol was completed in 1938.

The changes include new lawmakers atop some of the Capitol's most consequential committees.

Some of the most influential committees in Oregon’s Legislative Assembly will have new leaders next session.

House Speaker Dan Rayfield on Friday announced a reshuffle of committee chairships as his Democratic caucus prepares for the departure of several members. Among a host of changes, Rayfield named new leaders to the House judiciary and health care committees, two of the most consequential in the Capitol.

Topping the Health Care Committee is Rep. Rob Nosse, a Portland Democrat and nurses’ union employee who has recently served a leading role in steering the state’s health care budget. With Oregon seeing huge influxes in tax revenue in recent years, Nosse has helped push stepped-up spending on mental health and addiction treatment.

Nosse will replace outgoing chair Rep. Rachel Prusak, who opted not to seek reelection this year because of low lawmaker pay and heavy workloads.

Heading up the House Judiciary Committee is Rep. Jason Kropf, a freshman Democrat from Bend and attorney. He’ll take over for Rep. Janelle Bynum, D-Happy Valley, who will herself now preside over a committee dealing with economic development and small business.

Kropf assumes control of the Judiciary Committee at a time the Legislature is increasingly likely to grapple with a public defense crisis. Judiciary also routinely hears contentious bills, such as proposals that would allow felons to vote or address the state’s history of allowing unconstitutional nonunanimous jury verdicts.

Since 2020, Bynum has played a central role as Judiciary chair in developing bipartisan bills aimed at increasing police oversight and accountability — a history she touted as she ran for House speaker this year. But as a business owner, the three-term lawmaker has made no secret that she wanted a leading role in crafting policies aimed at the state’s business environment. She replaces Rep. John Lively, D-Springfield, as chair of the Economic Development and Small Business Committee.

“I am honored to bring my skills as an electrical engineer, local business owner, and proud Ducks football mom to bring Oregon to the forefront of consideration for business growth in our state,” Bynum said in a statement.

Other notable shifts announced by Rayfield:

– State Rep. Maxine Dexter, D-Portland, will chair the House Housing Committee. Dexter succeeds House Majority Leader Julie Fahey, D-Eugene, who is taking over the chairship of the House Rules Committee.

–State Rep. Lisa Reynolds, D-Beaverton, will chair the House Human Services Committee. She replaces Rep. Anna Williams, D-Hood River, who is leaving the Legislature.

–State Rep. Andrea Valderrama, D-Portland, will co-chair the budget subcommittee on human services, helping to steer a massive swath of state spending that includes the budget of the Oregon Health Authority.

–State Rep. Marty Wilde, D-Eugene, has requested to be removed from his remaining assignments. Wilde is not running for another term after being placed in an unfavorable district by fellow lawmakers last year. He is instead seeking a judicial appointment in Lane County.