Legislative Report, Interim – Number 25 – October 2017


In This Issue

Governance

Natural Resources

Social Policy

Education Policy


buildingsymbolGovernance

By Rebecca Gladstone, Governance Coordinator

September Interim Governance issues were topics in the news–revenue, federal election integrity and (cyber)security, audits, and (still unofficial) the now likely Referendum #301 January special election.

Special Election

It looks likely that we will have a Special Election on January 23, 2018. Watch for IRR certification. On the October 5th deadline, filers declared submitting 84,000 signatures, exceeding the 57,789 required, now in review for certification. Contact Becky Gladstone to volunteer your help. We will need you with this tight timing.

Read our Referendum #301 report: An Elections Bill, a Health Care Bill, a Referendum, and Possible Special Election, and see notes on HB 2391 below. By LWVOR policy, we usually neither support nor oppose proposed ballot measures until certified, unless we are part of the initial and ongoing coalition. We revised, printed and distributed “Think Before You Ink” to our local Leagues in English and Spanish this summer. We will be watching for announcements before proceeding.

The Interim committee adopted an official ballot title and explanatory statement. They reported many comments calling to spell out the impact of a no vote, asking for clearly described (quantified) resultant funding cuts to health care benefits. The amended ballot title is awaiting Supreme Court opinion. Legislative Counsel describes the relationship between various relevant state and federal health care programs and speaks to the recently proposed Secretary of State initiative circulation administrative rules change during possible ballot title court challenges:

On July 13, 2017, the Secretary of State announced proposed administrative rules that would enable the chief petitioners of an initiative petition to continue to gather signatures during the period of time a ballot title for the petition is challenged in court. As these proposed administrative rules are limited to initiative petitions and do not apply to referendum petitions, they do not affect prospective Referendum Petition 301.

Election Integrity

The recent policy change and sale of Oregon voting information, to the federal Election Integrity Commission complied with current statute.  Senator Prozanski asked how 46 Oregon voters were identified as possibly fraudulent. Elections Director Trout said 11.5 million ballots were tested from five participating states, using “ERIC”, the Electronic Registration Information Center. It found 0.001% potential registration overlaps, consistent with national findings, but it doesn’t update interstate address changes. Those 46 possible were sent to the Oregon Department of Justice, with the SoS saying “Voters in Oregon can be confident that voter fraud is extremely rare in our state and when we do find it, we will prosecute.”

Senator Thatcher called for a comprehensive Oregon elections security review, but Elections Director Steve Trout asked for more funding. Oregon counties use various proprietary elections software, all tested and certified by a federally approved lab. Tallies and tests are run before, during, and after elections.

Tax Reform and Revenue

Chris Vogel, with Rebecca Gladstone, Alice Bartelt, Claudia Keith and Peggy Lynch

The House and Senate Interim Revenue Committees proactively considered the impact of possible federal tax law changes on Oregon’s revenue flows and delved into pass-through entity tax rates. Realities of local school property tax options given compression and potential property tax relief for those on fixed incomes were discussed. See printed materials and session videos below for detailed information. The November and January interim sessions will provide more glimmers of 2018 short-session potential bills; however, complex tax reform is likely to wait until 2019.

House Interim Committee on Revenue reviewed Department of Revenue progress in collecting outstanding debt and filling vacancies; considered the historic and present use of Local School Property Tax Options; looked at state income and expenditures for the 2017 Transportation Plan Revenue Policy; and heard some Implications of the potential federal repeal of State and Local Tax Deduction (SALT). HB 2017 Enrolled, which initiated in this committee, was recapped. Watch the committee hearing on OLIS.

Senate Interim Committee on Finance and Revenue heard Legislative Revenue Office (LRO) technical presentations on Business Income Taxation, Prop Tax Relief for Seniors and Low Income and the potential elimination of the federal State and Local Tax Deduction (SALT). Watch here to better understand the complications of tax and revenue issues.

The quality of our schools, social services, environmental and natural resource programs, public safety and other governmental services depends on a stable and fair tax system. If you have a curiosity about the complexity and history of Oregon’s system, or if your wonky brain likes numbers and statistical scenarios, then YOU are needed for the 2018 and 2019 sessions. Just a few hours from home could be a great asset. Click on the blue links above to see how easy it is to use OLIS. Want to know more? Call 503-586-8314 or email ChrisVogelVolunteerLWVOR@gmail.com to brainstorm your interest and availability.

General Governance & Accountability

The Dept. of Revenue reported to the Joint Interim Committee On Information Management and Technology a “CSR”, core system replacement, underway, set to “go live” November 13th, that is expected to be under the estimated cost of $70M by about $10M.

Bill enactment usually happens January first of the following year. They can take effect sooner, upon signing by the Governor with an “emergency clause”. See 2017 Oregon Bill Enactment Dates from Legislative Counsel. In 2017, several newsworthy bills specified enactment 91 days after Sine Die, on Friday, Oct 6th:  

HB 2391 Health coverage for 350,000 Oregonians: Raises $673 million to continue health care coverage for Oregonians added to the Oregon Health Plan after passage of the Affordable Care Act. This is the bill relating to Referendum #301, “Stop Healthcare Taxes”.

HB 2005 Equal Pay for Equal Work: Closing women’s earning pay gap of 80 cents to a man’s dollar.

HB 2101 Oregon Sunshine Committee: Establishes a 15-member committee to review over 500 current public records disclosure exemptions and possible new ones, until the end of year 2026.

HB 2597 Distracted Driving:  Prohibits use of a mobile electronic device while driving, unless the device is mounted to the car, voice operated, or for emergency or public utility vehicles.

SB 28 Corporate Taxation: Shifts to market-based sourcing, makes Oregon’s corporate tax code easier to administer, more consistent, and fair.

Audits

The Joint Interim Committee on Legislative Audits is prioritizing upcoming audits, audit follow up, and compliance. They want a state property review of building conditions, management and maintenance. The recent Oregon Fuels Tax System audit found 99.5% effectiveness, costing $2.8M to collect $564M. They recommend improved personally identifiable information protection, like social security numbers.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! If any of these areas interest you, please contact: Governance Coordinator: Becky Gladstone, 541.510.9387, rebecca.gladstone@gmail.com.

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dropletNatural Resources

By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator

It is urgent that League members provide comments on Cleaner Air Oregon rulemaking (www.cleanerair.oregon.gov).  See below for details.

After each session, agencies develop rules to implement legislation.  YOU can participate in these efforts.  Check the agency assigned to the legislation for more information.  The end of one session simply means it’s time to work on 2018. Begin by attending Legislative Town Halls in your area.  Share what you learn with your Action Team. 

AIR QUALITY & TOXICS (Marilyn Koenitzer) 

We continue to follow the Cleaner Air Oregon (CAO) process (see www.cleanerair.oregon.gov).  Consider a program in your local area around this important issue.  A community Workshop was held October 7th in Corvallis and in The Dalles.  If you want to schedule one in your area, contact Marilyn for guidance.   DEQ will be hosting five public hearings around the state in November to receive public comment on the draft rules. Here are materials provided to the House Energy and Environment Committee on Sept. 19:  https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017I1/Downloads/CommitteeMeetingDocument/138304

Some of DEQ’s new CAO rulemaking elements deal with new, modified and existing facilities, risk action levels, and area caps. These elements are worth delving into. You can do so by going to the website listed above. The final initiative is scheduled to be ready for public review at the beginning of October in time for the public comment period from Oct 13 – Dec 15.

DEQ is also proposing revisions to 23 standing Ambient Benchmark Concentrations and adding new benchmarks for phosgene, n-proply bromide and styrene. The public comment period has been extended to Oct. 13-Dec. 15. You can view the rulemaking web page at: Air Toxics Benchmarks Review 2017. League voices are needed.  We continue to support a program grounded in science, informed by data and health-based.

CLIMATE CHANGE (Claudia Keith)

Clean Energy Jobs (Cap & Invest): The concepts included in SB 1070 (2017) now have 43 legislative sponsors, including House Speaker Tina Kotek, plus Governor Brown who has asked agencies to review the legislation and provide her with input.  Over 650 Oregon businesses are joining together to support a price on carbon. (Additional info is available at the Renew Oregon campaign.)

On Sept. 21, four work groups met (materials here) to dig into the legislation to consider how best to implement a program that addresses climate change, provides good clean energy jobs and fairly treats Oregonians who might be most affected by such a policy: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017I1/Downloads/CommitteeMeetingDocument/138291, https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017I1/Downloads/CommitteeMeetingDocument/138246.  Senator Michael Dembrow and Rep. Ken Helm are leading this effort.  Feel free to contact them for more information.

The four work groups (named below linked to webpages where agendas and meeting materials are posted) and their meeting dates and times are:

Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries, Rural Communities, and Tribes

  • October 16: 10 AM – noon and November 2: 1 PM – 3 PM

Utilities and Transportation

  • October 17: 10 AM – noon and November 1: 10 AM – noon

Regulated Entities

  • October 17: 1 PM – 3 PM and November 2: 10 AM – noon

Environmental Justice and Just Transition

  • October 16: 1 PM – 3 PM and November 1: 1 PM – 3 PM

Articles of interest: Democrats see path to ‘cap and invest’ in 2018‘Warm summers and stronger storms’: Climatologist on climate change and extreme weatherUpdate on Cap & Invest (SB 1070) Interim Plan

AGENCY BUDGETS (Peggy Lynch) 

Agencies that are charged with protecting our air and water–our environment at all levels–will be struggling to meet their missions. Each agency budget is posted on their individual website, but they are required to find an additional 5% reduction over the biennium.

Requests during the Sept. Interim meetings included $500,000 to treat Sudden Oak Death, $1 million/year to treat invasive Japanese Beetle and more money into the Regional Infrastructure Fund (lottery bonds) OR a fund that would provide General Funds or Lottery Funds for Regional Solutions project planning.  Regional Advisory Committees are being asked to prepare a “wish list” to share with the legislature in 2018.  Legislators were interested in increasing equipment for the Dept. of Forestry:  thermal imaging aircraft and more cameras.  Forestry also needs more mid-level leadership capacity.  The National Guard also needs more fire crew bosses, although the 745 personnel trained this year should be available for the 2018 fire season.

The fire season is estimated to cost Oregon under $40 million in spite of the total cost being well over $340 million because we can bill the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for costs related to saving houses and other structures for those fire costs.  (One study estimates the cost to protect a home costs from over $56,000 to over $200,000.) For the people who lost homes this fire season, there is a fund available to help with immediate costs while awaiting insurance settlements.

ELLIOTT FOREST and FORESTRY (Peggy Lynch)

Besides the $100 million in bonding, about $3.7 million was allocated for work on an updated habitat conservation plan (HCP) and associated planning for the work to retain public ownership and for short-term management of the forest.  Getting a successful HCP will then allow for some logging in the forest while avoiding areas of critical environmental concern.  To keep informed, go to the Dept. of State Lands website: http://www.oregon.gov/dsl/Land/Pages/Elliott.aspx

The new public electronic notification system (FERNS) for forestry activities is up and running. Trainings are being held around the state to learn how to access this important public system, although the fire season has slowed that effort.  Sign up!  https://ferns.odf.oregon.gov/e-notification

Legislators have formed a “Fire Caucus” to consider how they might address fire funding and timber policy.  The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee will focus on this issue, including a report from the Oregon Global Warming Commission and advanced wood products at its November Legislative Meeting.

The Oregon Board of Forestry will meet Wednesday, October 11 for a Board Retreat at the Oregon Gardens at 879 W Main St, Silverton (in the lotus room).  An agenda and pre-meeting materials are available on the Board’s website at www.oregonforestry.gov.  The next regular meeting of the Board will be held in Eugene on Nov 1st.

LAND USE (Peggy Lynch)

Word is that a version of SB 432 (2017) will be introduced in the 2018 session.  The League continues to work with interested parties to find ways to help Eastern Oregon cities address their needs while supporting our statewide land use planning program.  We did NOT support SB 432.

A presentation on Metro Urban and Rural Reserves before the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Sept. 19 included a sharing of facts, such as 89% of newly permitted housing in the UGB has been in the original UGB.  Financing for infrastructure for new UGB lands takes up to 16 years.  Among the challenges has been credit availability.  It may take land trusts or government intervention to provide “starter homes”.  The cost of land and systems development charges often start at $200,000—that’s BEFORE any construction happens!  New lands considered for a UGB expansion now require “concept planning” to provide more certainty that the lands will be developed in a more timely manner.

The Land Conservation and Development Commission has adopted their Policy Agenda for 2017-19:  http://www.oregon.gov/LCD/docs/meetings/lcdc/092117/Item_3_Policy_Agenda.pdf  The League provided testimony into this decision.  They next meet in Florence Nov. 16-17.

There are on-going meetings as permits for the proposed gold mine (Calico outside of Vale) continue to be processed.  The latest meeting revolved around how the company will handle the “tailings” from the mining process. For more information see:  http://oregongeology.org/mlrr/chemicalprocess_Calico-GrassyMtn.htm

Another volunteer opportunity:  A number of Oregon boards and commissions are seeking qualified applicants to fill positions on the newly-formed Oregon Agricultural Heritage Commission. The commission will consist of 12 members who are appointed by the OWEB Board. Interested individuals must apply by October 25, 2017 using this application.  The Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program (OAHP) was established by the Oregon Legislature in 2017 to provide incentives to farmers and ranchers to support voluntary practices that maintain or enhance both agriculture and natural resources, such as fish and wildlife on agricultural lands. The Oregon Agricultural Heritage Commission oversees OAHP and makes funding and policy recommendations to the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB).

There was no money for making grants included in the bill (HB 3249) in 2017, but we expect to see a request in 2018.

Want more information about web-based land use information?  http://www.oregon.gov/LCD/docs/meetings/lcdc/092117/Item_4_IMMI_Final.pdf

TRANSPORTATION (Peggy Lynch)

Now that the 2017 Transportation Plan has been funded, the 2021-2024 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program cycle begins.  Check it out at oregon.gov/ODOT/STIP.  You can take a survey to provide input on funding priorities, sign up for the STIP email list to get regular updates and watch a new video to learn STIP fundamentals.

The second meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Rules Advisory Committee (RAC) will be held at 10:00 am to 12:30 pm – Tuesday, October 17.  A videoconference will be made available for remote participation. The purpose of the RAC is to increase transportation choices, reduce reliance on the automobile and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change.  If you live in one of the seven major metropolitan areas in Oregon, these rules may affect you: http://www.oregon.gov/LCD/Pages/Metro_TPR.aspx. To learn more about MPOs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metropolitan_planning_organization

Take Amtrak: Beginning Monday, Dec. 18, extra morning and evening trains will run between Seattle and Portland, for a total of 12 trains every day. In Oregon, current train schedules will be adjusted so that passengers can ride between Seattle and Eugene on the train. Amtrak Cascades: www.AmtrakCascades.com

Worried about distracted drivers: Beginning September 1st, ODOT and its partners, AAA of Oregon/Idaho and the Oregon State Police, invite those who drive in Oregon to join the movement towards healthy driving at DriveHealthy.org.  Organizations can register at www.DriveHealthy.org to download the free app and the competition begins. Each month is a new opportunity to compete. Will it be effective? A recent similar campaign in Boston reduced distracted driving by 47%.  The campaign also encourages local advocates to help reduce distracted driving in their communities. https://www.drivehealthy.org/resources/ includes links to toolkits where advocates can do their own observational studies of distracted driving in their community and petition local jurisdictions to pass proclamations and policies to encourage healthy driving.

WATER (Peggy Lynch) 

As of Sept. 18, the US Drought Monitor (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?OR) indicated that almost 78 percent of Oregon is now categorized as “abnormally dry”, along with 43 percent of the state that has now been categorized as in “moderate drought”. Although the water year (from Oct. 1, 2016, thru Sept. 30 of 2017) indicates this was one of the wettest in Oregon, it takes a number of wet years to recover from drought.

The Oregon Water Resources Department is inviting public comment on the Technical Review Team (TRT) application ranking and funding recommendation for the 2017 cycle of Water Project Grants and Loans. Written comments on the TRT recommendation will be accepted until 5:00pm, October 27.  Is there a project near you?  See link for further information: http://www.oregon.gov/owrd/docs/WPGL/PublicComment_2017Sep27_FINAL.pdf.

The League is pleased to hear the success of the Septic Loan Program we supported: http://www.oregon.gov/newsroom/Pages/NewsDetail.aspx?newsid=2288.

DEQ is hit with water quality lawsuits:  http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2017/09/environmental_groups_sue_state.html#incart_river_home and

http://www.thestate.com/news/business/national-business/article176344686.html

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $1,711,000 to DEQ to help protect human health and the environment through a Nonpoint Source Program Clean Water Act (Section 319) cooperative agreement. This grant is given to states to implement environmental programs that address nonpoint source pollution in surface and groundwater in order to meet and maintain water quality standards.  Under this program, 23 specific proposals around Oregon were selected.

The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board will hold a two-day meeting on October 24-25. The meeting will be held at the Boulder Falls Inn, Room A, 505 Mullins Drive, Lebanon OR 97355View the full agenda.

The 2017 public review draft of Oregon’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy received over 285 public comments!  To view the current public review draft click here. The Commission will be asked to adopt the 2017 Strategy in November.

OREGON FISH AND WILDLIFE:  ODFW is expected to introduce a version of HB 3270 (2017) in the 2018 session to establish an Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund.  It imposes a tax on certain beverages at the distributor level and is to be spent to protect, maintain or enhance wildlife resources—to help implement the Oregon Conservation Strategy (www.dfw.state.or.us/conservationstrategy) adopted years ago.

ODFW has launched a new online Coyote and Gray Wolf ID Quiz to help people differentiate between wolves and coyotes. Find the online quiz at http://bit.ly/2x56uoU or at the ODFW Wolves website, http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wolves/

ODFW has released a draft Status Review of the Marbled Murrelet for public review and comment in response to a petition submitted to the Fish and Wildlife Commission by several conservation groups. The petitioners recommend that the seabird be reclassified from threatened to endangered, or “uplisted,” under the Oregon Endangered Species Act.  Comments on the draft status review are invited through November 9, 2017. Written comments can be submitted by email to odfw.marbledmurrelet@state.or.us or by mail to ODFW, Marbled Murrelet, 4034 Fairview Industrial Drive SE, Salem, OR 97302.  ODFW will produce a final status report following completion of the public and peer review processes. Check ODFW’s Marbled Murrelet web page for background information.

OREGON PARKS AND RECREATION (Peggy Lynch)

Update on Scenic Waterways Candidates:  Nehalem River starting at Henry Rierson Spruce Run Campground and ends at the boundary of Cougar Valley State Park, near Cook Creek Road seems to be the leading candidate for selection.  Comments are due Oct. 13 to oprd.publiccomment@oregon.gov  A recommendation to the Governor is expected late winter of 2018.  For more information: http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/NATRES/scenicwaterways/Pages/index.aspx

Dept. of Geology & Mineral Industries:  A recently-awarded $354,241 grant from the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program will fund multiple projects aimed at increasing the resilience of coastal communities.  The grant will add signs and route enhancements related to the tsunami-related public safety.  For more information about tsunami preparedness, visit OregonTsunami.org.

REGIONAL SOLUTIONS (Peggy Lynch)

The League encourages members to continue to follow the Regional Solutions (RS) program to assure that there is a public element to any funding decisions and that local citizens know what projects are being “helped” by the RS process.  Please sign up to get the notices of meetings in your region: www.regionalsolutions.oregon.gov

Meetings are continuing around the state.  (See notices below.)  Members can attend or call in to listen to economic activities in each of the 11 regions.  In 2017, the legislature allocated $4 million in lottery bonds (to be sold in the spring of 2019) for the Regional Infrastructure Fund, but only provided spending authority of $1 until the projects have been specifically identified and presented to the 2019 legislature.  To learn more, go to their website.

The Greater Eastern Oregon Regional Solutions Advisory Committee met October 11 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm at Blue Mountain Community College. Agenda is available here.

The Northeast Oregon Regional Solutions Advisory Committee will meet October 17 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm at Eastern Oregon University, Hoke Union Building Room 301, One University Blvd, La Grande.  Call In: 877-411-9748, code 1220301#  Agenda is available here.

The Central Oregon Regional Solutions Advisory Committee will meet October 19 from 10:00 a.m. – Noon at City Hall, 520 E Cascade, Sisters.  Call In: 1-888-557-8511, code: 9470233.  Agenda is available here.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!  Although the 2017 session has ended, our work continues. There are opportunities to participate with agencies and with legislators on rulemaking and task forces.  Already we have a volunteer to follow Hanford Nuclear Cleanup issues.  But we need more of you to take on just one issue.  If any of these areas above interest you, please contact Natural Resources Coordinator Peggy Lynch at peggylynchor@gmail.com or 541-745-1025.

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houseSocial Policy

 By Karen Nibler, Social Policy Coordinator

The first set of hearings after the end of the session included follow-up details and reports from agencies.

The Department of Human Services has a new director, a transfer from the Oregon Youth Authority, and a temporary Child Welfare Director.  The current tasks are to assess service gaps and enter into contracts for new or continued services.  Each community has individual agencies and contracts.  Communication through layers of staff from state, regional and local areas needs improvement.  Collection of data from agencies will be important for future decisions.

Monitoring facilities for developmentally delayed, mentally ill, as well as senior and physically disabled citizens, is an ongoing process with budget constraints.  Abuse prevention in senior and disabled facilities are well established, but the mental health and substance abuse programs need the same oversight.

Oregon Health Authority administrative changes were a focus of interest.  The Director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services was appointed to be the OHA Director, as he has considerable experience with insurance regulations and rate-setting processes.  OHA is currently involved in the rate-setting process, which reflects the per capita cost of service for Coordinated Care Organizations. The federal Center for Medicaid Services will approve or disapprove the rate recommendations this fall for reimbursements in 2018.

Both DHS and OHA are involved in the Medicaid eligibility process and there are still issues about formerly ineligible or unresponsive recipients. 60% of clients crossover both agencies.  The Department of Business and Consumer Services has approved several insurance companies for the subsidized insurance marketplace. Dental options are available for COPA (Pacific Islander) clients.

Behavioral Health options have been a crisis need in communities.  Portland has a new option.  The Unity Center in Legacy Hospital opened in January and offers an inpatient psychiatric unit to stabilize patients.  Length of stay is 15-20 hours for treatment, referrals and follow-up on connections to services.  Metrics were requested. Reductions in medications for foster children is another goal.

Public Safety issues included the Equifax Data breach, which may lead to proposed bills for notification in the short session.  The Attorney General has a Task Force on sexual assaults on campuses, responding to an increase in campus reports.  The Oregon State Bar has work groups on paralegal licensure, professional conduct and self-representation assistance in family law.

The Criminal Justice Commission reported on the Justice Reinvestments in community corrections and anticipates the impact of HB 3078 on the prison population forecasts.  The Governor’s Reentry Council has four work groups considering housing, aging, veterans, sex offenders, juveniles, family and educational factors. Reports will be expected in the Short Session.

WOMEN’S ISSUES (Debbie Runciman)

The Senate Workforce Committee held a hearing on Paid Family and Medical Leave.  Modeled after 2017 HB 3087, the Time for Oregon coalition will be moving forward in 2018 with an insurance program, with equal contributions from employee and employer, to provided paid leave for workers under certain circumstances.  We currently allow UNPAID leave, but because it’s unpaid, many low-income workers are not able to use it.  A guiding principle for FAMLI (Family and Medical Leave Insurance) is that it will provide adequate income so that low-income workers can actually access it. LWVOR has positions to address this legislation and we will be working in 2018 to support paid family and medical leave.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! If any of these areas interest you, please contact Social Policy Coordinator: Karen Nibler 541.752.8567 niblerk@comcast.net

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Education Policygradcap

By Chris Vogel, Education Policy Coordinator

The 2017-2018 interim sessions (September, November and January) before the “short” 2018 legislative session provide some sense of committee priorities for upcoming bills and unfinished/forwarded business from the last session.  LWVOR Action Education follows prenatal-post secondary or P-20 issues; these are addressed in the legislature by multiple committees.  Below is a recap of items discussed in the September Interim with links to watch informational hearings on OLIS and read meeting materials.

House Interim Committee On Early Childhood and Family Supports welcomed the new Early Learning Division Director, Miriam Calderon, Early Learning Division; discussed the of audit of the Office of Child Care and a recent audit update, then reviewed the Office of Child Care Work Group; considered the latest Hubs Monitoring Report and key stakeholder evaluations of local Hubs; looked at the interaction between Early Learning and the DHS administered Employment-Related Day Care (ERDC); and reviewed 2017 Enrolled Legislation from this committee. Listen via OLIS.

House Interim Committee On Education reviewed progress with Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA); considered the Oregon Department of Education Testing Assessment; considered the Impact of Class Size on Student Achievement through Oregon Education Association testimony, a NEA policy brief on Class Size Reduction. Committee staff summarized enrolled 2017 legislation initiated in this committee. OLIS video provides details.

House Interim Committee On Higher Education and Workforce Development focused on data with presentations on Education Data and Data Systems from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission Higher Education Coordinating Commission, the Chief Education Office Longitudinal Data System Longitudinal Data System and Workforce Data and Data Sharing. Listen to the committee hearing via OLIS.

Senate Interim Committee on Education also received an update on Every Student Succeeds Act in Salam Noor’s presentation. The Chief Education Office presentation by Colt Gill and John Starr demonstrated types of longitudinal data that will be available to educators and the public in early 2018, while protecting individual student identity. Higher Education Data Collection has also broadened to more closely link high school, technical training, community college and higher education; thus, providing more data in the feedback loop for student improvement, again with stringent protection for privacy. Finally, an Education Governance Work Group Update offered an insight into ongoing discussions about the pros and cons of electing a Superintendent of Education or having the Governor serve as Superintendent; how the state school board is selected; and how the P-20 education system might best be structured when considering models from other states.  Education structure is very complex, so changes in structure will not be proposed until the 2019 long session, if at all, depending upon the consensus of the work group. OLIS video provides more details.

AGENCY updates on legislative issues:  Statements reaffirming their commitment to ensuring opportunity for every Oregon student, calling on the Federal Government to maintain the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy were released from the Early Learning Division; the Oregon Department of Education & State Board of Education; the Higher Education Coordinating Commission & Higher Education Leaders.  These agencies and the Chief Education Office are facilitating implementation of legislation including: High School Graduation and College and Career Readiness Act (Measure 98); Statewide Plan to Reduce Chronic Absenteeism; Trauma Informed Practices Pilot as directed and funded by the Oregon Legislature under HB 4002 (2016); and, as directed by HB 4057 (2016), the Chief Education Office conducted research and issued a report to the Legislature in February 2017 related to the allocation of State School Fund (SSF) revenue to improve success outcomes for students whose families are navigating poverty.

As we gear up to follow the 2018 short-session and 2019 long-session, LWVOR Action is recruiting more volunteers for broader coverage in following early learning, K-12, higher education, community colleges, and career and technical training. Click on the underlined blue links above to get familiar with OLIS.  You do NOT need to spend a great deal of time in Salem, but can be immensely helpful by just following one of these four committees and providing updates for the Legislative Report working with Education Portfolio Coordinator Chris Vogel.  Call 503-586-8314 or email ChrisVogelVolunteerLWVOR@gmail.com to brainstorm your interest and availability. Calling retired educators and others with an interest in quality education and education funding, YOU are needed.

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