We are legislators from opposite parties. Here’s why we’re working together.
As two younger legislators from opposite parties, we may not have much in common at first glance. However, we are both part of a national movement of younger state legislators who are committed to addressing the most pressing issues facing the next generation through innovative, bipartisan policy solutions.
This week, Oregon became the 27th state to join Millennial Action Project’s State Future Caucus Network.
Along with our fellow co-chairs, Reps. Diego Hernandez and David Brock Smith, and four other representatives, we are proud to add our voices to the growing number of state lawmakers who are pushing back against partisan gridlock.
Political polarization is at an all-time high in our country, especially in our nation’s capital, and young people are increasingly losing trust that their elected officials are looking out for them and addressing the challenges they care about.
In fact, a poll from The Associated Press and MTV shows only 34 percent of people between the ages of 15 and 34 believe elected officials care about what they think.
As representatives in our state government for all Oregonians – including our millennial constituents – we have a responsibility to focus on long-term solutions to our state’s challenges, not just short-term fixes.
We have a responsibility to show young people that they have a reason to engage in their democracy, and that there are people serving in office who have similar priorities and similar lived experiences.
If we want young people to vote, if we want them to get involved in their government, they have to see that there are elected officials who are representing them and who are working on the issues that are important to them.
We have seen our colleagues in other State Future Caucuses achieve amazing things. In Ohio, Democrats and Republicans came together to put an end to partisan gerrymandering. And in Illinois, the Illinois Future Caucus helped pass a student loan borrower bill of rights, which helps protect students who take out loans for college. It goes into effect this year.
As a group, we have had some thoughtful conversations about the issues that are most critical to Oregon’s future and most relevant to younger Oregonians. And, importantly, which of those issues do we think we can arrive at bipartisan solutions for.
Our top priorities as a caucus will be increasing the supply of housing in Oregon, supporting increased investments in both early childhood education and career and technical education, addressing student loan debt, and reforming our criminal justice system.
We are honored to serve as co-chairs for this caucus, and hopeful about the potential that this group has to make real, lasting changes for generations to come.
Rep. Julie Fahey is a Democrat representing the 14th District; she can be reached at Rep.JulieFahey@oregonlegislature.gov. Sen. Dallas Heard is a Republican representing Oregon’s 1st District; reach him at Sen.DallasHeard@oregonlegislature.gov.