Big revenue reform, education ideas not among early crush of proposed bills
Friday, January 18, 2019
The 80th Legislative Assembly will open Tuesday with hundreds of bills already filed, but the blockbuster bills on revenue reform and education are still to be seen.
Legislators have until March 29 to introduce bills and clear the first legislative hurdle, and special procedures can extend the deadline even later.
The Joint Committee on Student Success, which is expected to handle the key education-related measures, has filed several placeholder bills that can be filled in with policy details later. The committee’s long-awaited report that will lay out a blueprint for Oregon education and its funding is expected next week, according to committee Co-Chair Rep. Barbara Smith Warner.
All revenue bills must originate in the House, and there are already more than a dozen bills dealing with corporate and personal income taxes. It is not clear yet which ones have a real chance of moving forward.
OSBA has committed to pressing the 2019 Legislature for revenue reform and cost containment to provide adequate and stable funding for schools.
Many of the presession bills are “ideas” bills, often requested by organizations or the public, according to OSBA Legislative Services Director Lori Sattenspiel. She has been combing through the bills and has identified more than 250 bills pertinent to school districts that her team will be watching.
Bills touch on issues such as curriculum, statewide assessments, student health and safety, and school employee rights. Among the notable bills for school districts already filed:
- House Bill 2526 and HB 2580 revive a contentious bill from 2018 that would make class sizes a subject of mandatory collective bargaining. OSBA opposed the bill because of the financial and legal implications for school districts.
- Senate Bill 552 would require the state fund to the Quality Education Model, a nonpartisan assessment of Oregon’s needs for a high-quality K-12 school system. Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, is a co-sponsor. As a member of the Joint Interim Committee on Student Success, he promised such a bill in September.
- SB 217 introduces the School Improvement Fund that Gov. Kate Brown sought in her budget proposal. The additional money will likely include earmarks for reducing class sizes in early grades and increasing instructional time.
- SB 351 would fully fund the High School Graduation and College and Career Readiness Fund, also known as Measure 98, another goal in Brown’s budget.
- SB 149, among dozens of bills addressing the Public Employees Retirement System, would allow retired employees to be re-employed while contributing to the system, one of several ideas floated at the Oregon Business Leadership Summit to reduce PERS’ unfunded liability.
- HB 2192 would direct schools to require every student in grades six through 12 to undergo mental health wellness checks once a school year. Student mental health care has been one of the key concerns raised by the Student Success Committee.
- HB 2676 would increase the threshold for districts to receive money for special education students. School board members have been calling for more funding for the special education that districts are required to provide.
Starting today, the legislative schedule’s screws will begin tightening, squeezing about a hundred laws out of likely more than 3,000 bills. Many bills will never get a hearing, and others could be drastically rewritten.
Legislators can file up to five bills each after Jan. 18, and committees can also file bills. The House speaker and the Senate president have additional powers to have bills introduced. Placeholder bills will get filled out as each chamber faces deadlines to move bills to the crucial “third reading” on the chamber floor and a vote.
- Jake Arnold, OSBA