With end looming, legislators are still doing work that is important to schools
Monday, June 17, 2019
The guessing game has begun in the Capitol about when the Legislature will declare sine die, the close of session. Constitutionally, they must finish by June 30, but Legislature watchers are betting it will be sooner. Personally, I am rooting for June 22.
The important work isn’t done, though.
House Bill 2266, one of OSBA’s priority bills, passed the Senate Rules Committee last week after clearing the House. Now it is nearing the last leg of its journey with a Senate vote and likely signing by Gov. Kate Brown.
HB 2266 would maintain the ability of districts to bargain for opt-out incentives for employees who are double covered under the Public Employees’ Benefit Board and the Oregon Educators Benefit Board. The bill has some additional pieces, such as adding a surcharge for double coverage to discourage employees from taking it and keeping the 3.4% cap on insurance premiums.
Talking to districts about their opt-out arrangements, I was amazed to learn the extensive and creative ways this provision was being used, from cash payments to benefit contributions and other incentives. Districts are saving money on their insurance costs while also adding to employees’ compensation.Protecting the opt-out provision is a win-win.
The Legislature’s final big issue remains HB 2020, or the cap-and-trade bill dealing with climate policy.This bill would impact schools’ fuel and natural gas budgets. The long-debated cap-and-trade is highly complex. Legislators have considered more than 100 amendments to a bill that is 100 pages long.
With the session nearly over, we expect to have one or two more Legislative Highlights to help keep you informed. Upon adjournment, OSBA and the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators will put out a joint summary and full report of all tracked bills that passed. We expect the summary to be available around mid-July.
I hope you all have or will reach out to your legislators and thank them for the education support this session. Here at OSBA, we have framed a picture taken when Gov. Kate Brown signed HB 3427 into law.
We are delivering pictures to the governor, House Speaker Tina Kotek, Senate President Peter Courtney and the Joint Committee on Student Success co-chairs, Sen. Arnie Roblan and Rep. Barbara Smith Warner. The pictures honor the months of work that culminated in a momentous education investment.