The Oregon Legislature returned Jan. 13-15 to the Capitol for the final interim meetings ahead of the 2020 session.
The short session allows a limited number of bills. House members get two bills each, senators get one, and committees each get three. Because of these limits and the short procedural timelines, legislators try to do as much work on their bills ahead of the session as possible. January committee meetings traditionally offer legislators a chance to preview bills that they plan to move once session begins, including committee bills.
The education committees each made committee bill drafts publicly available. The three bills in the Senate Education Committee tackle three different topics. One bill is technical fixes for the Student Success Act, requested by the Oregon Department of Education. It adjusts definitions, including nutrition sections of the bill, and moves up timelines for summer learning funding.
Another measure would update Senate Bill 155 (2019), an OSBA priority last session aimed at stopping school employees who exhibit sexual conduct toward students. OSBA will continue to make sure changes to SB 155 prioritize student safety.
The final committee bill would require the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, along with postsecondary colleges and universities, to create foundational curricula and to make the HECC responsible for the Transfer Student Bill of Rights. Transfer of postsecondary credits has been an issue for more than a decade, and Committee Chair Sen. Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego, has been outspoken in his desire for increased transferability of credits.
The House Education Committee also made three committee bills available, and all are focused on postsecondary education. One bill would have the HECC, after a local petition and review, expand the boundaries of the Klamath Community College district to include portions of Lake County.
Another bill, requested by the Oregon Student Association and the Oregon Council of Presidents, would require a study of the effects of food insecurity on postsecondary students. Testimony from those two groups, which represent postsecondary students and the presidents of Oregon’s seven public universities respectively, recounted the damaging effects of hunger and food insecurity on students.
The Oregon Council of Presidents requested the third bill to prohibit the Oregon State Lottery from offering games based on sporting events organized by, sponsored by or played in connection with postsecondary institutions.
Other member bills, including the creation of a task force for student success among underrepresented postsecondary students, were previewed. None of these bills represents major policy changes. They are generally technical, necessary fixes and updates to existing laws or small bills that aim to set up potential bigger policy changes in future sessions.