Bizarre legislative session still manages to be a success for education
Tuesday, July 2, 2019
Walkouts, rallies and protests were significant themes this session, but so was a focus on the needs of students and schools.
After one of the most bizarre sessions in my experience, the official sine die took place at 5:24 p.m. Sunday, June 30. The House and Senate gaveled the adjournment together with chamber doors open while lobbyists and news crews lined the hallway to watch the customary adjournment process.
It was a traditional end to a decidedly nontraditional Legislature.
After Republicans returned from their second walkout, the Senate floor sessions I watched the last two days were the most dysfunctional and disorganized that I have ever experienced. Speaker of the House Tina Kotek asked for a moment of silence and quietly asked for prayers for the Senate during an opening of a House floor session.
Eventually, the Senate pulled it together and completed their work.
I’m happy to report that the education agenda did quite well. Thanks to all of you and your efforts over the past year with the Joint Committee on Student Success work and the advocacy during the session, the Legislature invested in education.
Much of the significant legislation passed in May before things got really wild, including the Student Success Act and new programs for K-12 and early learning. You can read more about this session’s education bills in the OSBA – Confederation of Oregon School Administrators Legislative Report. We expect this summary of education-related bills to be available soon.
We also lost a great senator in Jackie Winters, R-Salem, who passed away from cancer mid-session. Rep. Denyc Boles, R-Salem, was appointed to fill the vacancy. She was sworn in June 28, giving her the opportunity to vote twice on bills that came over from the House.
We are closely watching the expected voter referral of the tax portions in House Bill 3427, the Student Success Act. The Legislature passed Senate Bill 116, which sets a special election for Jan. 21, 2020, if a referral earns a ballot spot.
OSBA did some polling in mid-June to see where voters are on the Student Success Act. About two-thirds said they would vote to keep the tax measure in place for the investment in K-12 and early learning. That poll will help guide any information campaign that is needed to help Oregon voters understand the need for education funding.
As usual, if you have questions or need assistance, please give our office a call at 1-800-578-6722.