The Senate Republican walkout made for a wild week, sort of quiet but very weird.
Senate Republicans have balked at the Student Success Act, a potential $1 billion annual investment in education. Lobbyists are buzzing with gossip about what it will take to unjam the Legislature.
Discussions behind the scenes include the tax mechanism in House Bill 3427 and Public Employees Retirement System cost containment proposals.
The Senate is stopped, and the House is barely moving.
Before a floor vote, a bill must be read. Typically the minority party allows a rules suspension so that only the bill’s summary is read before debate. The House Republicans, however, have not given a rules suspension. Each bill must be read in its entirety, sometimes taking more than an hour. The floor sessions have ground to a crawl with only a few bills a day moving forward.
A glimmer of hope came through Friday, May 10, though, with a PERS cost containment package to consider.
Oregon PERS Director Kevin Olineck presented analysis of several reform ideas before the Joint Ways and Means Capital Construction Subcommittee. Concepts include putting a limit on a member’s final average salary, changing the money match interest rate, reamortizing the Tier 1 and Tier 2 unfunded actuarial liability, and removing the hour requirement for working after retirement.
Another surprising and encouraging development, SB 1049 has been scheduled for a public hearing Tuesday, May 14.I believe this bill will be the vehicle for the PERS cost containment concepts that were presented Friday.
On another positive note, the next revenue forecast will be presented Wednesday, May 15, in a joint session of the House Revenue and the Senate Finance and Revenue committees. Legislative budget writers use this forecast to finalize agency budgets. We should see the subcommittees moving budget bills this week.
The second chamber deadline passed May 10, the last day for a bill to be scheduled for a work session. The work session must take place by May 24 for the bill to remain alive, although these deadlines do not apply to joint committees and rules and revenue committees.