A bill that would require Oregon landlords to allow child care service providers to operate in rental homes when they meet certain requirements was approved by the Senate on Wednesday.
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Senate Bill 599 garnered bipartisan support, passing on a 27-3 vote. Legislators said the bill will supplement Oregon’s childcare workforce shortage, especially in rural areas and communities of color. It also supports housing providers with liability protections, ensuring child care facilities can operate in rental properties without incurring significant costs.
“This bill is an important step to provide more affordable child care options so working families can stay in their communities,” bill sponsor Sen. Dick Anderson (R-Lincoln City) said. “This security will have a compounding effect on increased workforce performance, longer tenure of employees, and more stable home lives.”
Anderson said he appreciated the work the state’s child care advocates and housing providers did to help create the bill.
“[This bill] has been a multi-year, multi-session project by many dedicated individuals,” Anderson said. “I appreciate their work, consensus, and compromise.”
The bill mandates that providers would have to be registered with the state. They would also need to pay in advance for any remodeling work needed for operations.
Landlords would be prohibited from raising rents or evicting tenants on the basis of their child care operations. But they would have liability protections from lawsuits, could require providers to acquire insurance, and could require them to have their clients sign documents acknowledging that the owner is not liable for damages.
Child care and other businesses are currently not allowed under most landlord insurance policies.
Bill sponsor Sen. Elizabeth Steiner (D-Portland) said she was thrilled the legislature was able to deliver such a strong bipartisan win for working families.
“Too many parents are struggling to afford child care, if they can even find a place in their community that provides it,” Steiner said. “This is one small but important step towards making sure every Oregon kid has a safe place to learn and play while their parents are at work.”
The bill will now head to the House, where legislators are considering additional child care bills. House Bill 2727 would create a workgroup to consider strategies for expanding child care facilities in Oregon. It aims to help providers navigate complex zoning and code requirements that can be detrimental to the opening of new facilities.
HB 3005 aims to help providers who want to expand but cannot get financing. It would create a $100 million fund for providers planning renovations, expansions, and the creation of new buildings. The Housing and Community Services Department would manage the fund.