House passes $9 billion State School Fund as it slogs through growing backlog
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Republicans have slowed down House work by requiring all bills to be read in their entirety. House members had more than two hours to kill while the Student Success Act was read before debate May 1. (Photo by Jake Arnold, OSBA)
The Oregon House is adding sessions this week to work through a growing pile of bills.
On Monday, it passed several bills important to school districts, but dozens of bills await a vote, including some with education impacts.
House members overwhelmingly approved House Bill 5016, which allocates $9 billion to the State School Fund for 2019-21. The bill represents a boost from the Legislative Fiscal Office’s estimate of current service level needs and includes $200 million from the Student Success Act.
The House also passed HB 5047, the appropriation mechanism for the Student Success Act. Debate on HB 5047 was contentious, as House Republicans unanimously opposed the Student Success Act, but the appropriation mechanism passed with bipartisan support.
Senate Republicans stalled the Student Success Act last week, but it passed Monday. The law will create a new business tax to generate $1 billion annually dedicated to education.
The House on Monday also approved House Joint Measure 1A, which urges Congress to pass the Forest Management for Rural Stability Act. The act would make permanent the federal school funding to replace local income lost because of reduced logging on U.S. lands. U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is a co-sponsor on the federal bill, and OSBA supports its passage.
House work has bogged down because Republicans have required every bill be read in its entirety, sometimes taking hours. Dozens of bills on this week’s agenda have already passed the Senate and await a House vote, the last step before the governor’s signature to become law.
On Monday, the House passed Senate Bill 216. The bill would allow educators to be employed in a public school for 90 days after applying for a license if they had not been employed during the previous 12 months with a pending application for the same license.
Tuesday featured a long bill, so the House made only a small dent in its pile. For Wednesday and Thursday, the House has moved up its start time from 11 a.m. to 9 a.m., and it has added a Friday session.
Wednesday’s agenda includes Senate Bill 415A, which would add school board members and Department of Education employees to the list of mandatory reporters of child abuse. The bills ahead of it are relatively short, and it should pass easily.
The House will take longer to get to SB 52A. Adi’s Act would require school districts to adopt comprehensive plans for student suicide prevention. The bill has broad support from a variety of education, rights and health organizations, including OSBA.
The Senate has a smaller backlog, and it is picking up speed now. Once a deal was reached on the Student Success Act, Republicans allowed a rules suspension so only a summary of the bill must be read.