Legislative deadline helps advocates narrow their focus
Monday, April 8, 2019
Legislative committees were cramming bills into hearings last week, trying to beat the April 9 deadline to move bills out of their originating chamber. The House Education Committee, for example, extended its Wednesday hearing until 6:30 p.m. to vote bills out of committee.
I am certainly looking forward to Tuesday so we can get a better sense of which bills are still alive and have the potential to continue into phase two of the legislative session. Bills can still be lurking in loop holes, though, such as committees that are exempt from the deadline.
Lots of bills continue to be sent to the Joint Committee on Student Success, one of the committees unaffected by the deadline. The committee has around 100 bills in or waiting to be in its safe confines.
Late last week, the committee rolled out its investment framework, which is the result of more than a year of work, including touring the state listening to school board members, teachers, students, parents and business leaders. The framework includes investments for early learning, wraparound services for students and other options, while allowing districts the flexibility to make local choices for what works for them.
The specific revenue proposal to fund the investment framework should be out this week. The framework and revenue concepts will be contained in House Bill 2019, which is expected to be posted for a hearing Thursday, April 11.
I have reported on House Bill 2016, a collective bargaining bill that is extremely problematic and costly for schools. To address our concerns, OSBA presented a floor letter. This is a tool that we use to get a message out to all legislators before they vote on a bill. This floor letter has made a real impact, partially thanks to the comprehensive list of public employers that added their logos to the letter in opposition. We recently got an invitation to meet with the unions to discuss our concerns with this bill, which is a good sign.
The Oregon Educators Benefit Board has put out its expected rate increases. OSBA is continuing to work to control costs like these increases. Currently, we are working to get HB 3075 passed. This bill allows districts to continue with their current bargaining practices for opt-out and will keep the 3.4% cap on premium increases. Without this bill passing, districts can expect up to an additional 1.4% on top of the current proposed increase.
I had the chance to speak to the Dallas Chamber of Commerce about education and our funding needs. They were interested in hearing about the revenue and tax discussions from the education perspective. I will be working with our Oregonians for Student Success campaign to fine tune our talking points for you to consider using when you talk with your local chambers and business leaders.
Revenue reform campaign updates: I hope you take the opportunity to attend your legislator coffees and town halls that we are sending you notices about. If you haven’t seen a notice, the coffees are also posted on our OSBA website and on the Oregonians for Student Success website. The time is now – continue to remind your legislators we cannot deliver educational services, including career and technical education programs, without adequate and stable funding.