Capitol sorting process is beginning to reveal bills of consequence
Monday, March 18, 2019
A flurry of recent Capitol activity is setting up some
important hearings on bills that could have lasting repercussions for school
Cost containment possibilities this week include a Tuesday,
March 19, public hearing on House Bill 3075. This bill is intended to allow
school districts and community colleges to continue to offer health insurance
as they do currently. Of specific concern to school districts, the issue of
opting out of insurance for a negotiated stipend would remain and be done through
the collective bargaining process. A bill passed in 2017, SB 1067, would prohibit districts from negotiating an opt out and disallowing employees to be double
covered, but it hasn't gone into effect and HB 3075 would undo it.
768 was heard March 5. It would allow school district and education service
district retired workers to return to work without the hour limitations
currently in place. The committee convened an informal work group to talk about
how to modify this bill to allow all employers to have the same options.
does offer some cost containment. As retired workers are hired, the district
saves in associated payroll costs. The bill may be amended so that rehiring
would trigger the employer to begin paying a portion of the Public Employees
Retirement System costs to PERS, which would be put toward the unfunded
More concerning, last week the Legislature heard HB 2016
would upset the balance of collective bargaining in school districts and
community colleges with public sector unions. OSBA testified March 11 in opposition
to the bill, which would move some bargaining issues into state law. We
continue to work on amending the bill.
I have to admit it was frustrating to testify on this type
of bill. We have collective bargaining in place and have used that process for
many years to allow districts to effectively manage the operations of their schools,
balancing the needs of our quality teachers with the needs of our students.
I want to take a moment, again, to thank all who have come
to Salem, because the effort has been paying off. Our last lobby day is
Tuesday, March 19, and the lobby days and town halls have shown legislators
education advocates’ local-level accounts of schools’ issues. We have even had
board members and superintendents who couldn’t make it on a scheduled lobby day
choose their own day. Armed with a packet of materials and personal district
stories, they have walked the Capitol building, meeting with their legislators
and others to talk about the school funding challenges their districts face. A
big thank you.
Remember the Ways and Means roadshow will wind down Thursday,
March 21, with a public hearing at Portland Community College – Cascade Campus.
I hope you take an evening to attend, sign up and speak to the committee about
the need for additional school funding.