Session proceeds at breakneck pace as first deadline looms
The end is already beginning. The session's first deadline hits this week.
Less than a week into the 2022 short session, the first “posting” deadline is Monday, Feb. 7. Any bills that have not been scheduled by the end of Monday for a work session will not receive a vote and, in Capitol parlance, will be “dead.”
The next deadline, the requirement to have held a work session to vote on bills in policy committees, will arrive next Monday, Feb. 14. This is an incredibly fast pace for lawmaking.
OSBA has four priority bills for the session and all are on track to be posted for a hearing. All four bills had public hearings last week, a normal prerequisite for a vote to move the bill forward.
Among the most contentious were two joint OSBA and COSA priorities, House Bill 4029 on school leadership training and Senate Bill 1521 on stability in school district leadership. In multiple hearings last week, both received support from school administrators, school board members and other education stakeholders. At the same time, testimony against both bills from other administrators and school board members highlighted ongoing concerns. OSBA thinks both would benefit public education. Votes are expected on the bills this week, but it is unclear how much legislator opposition they will face.
Meanwhile, the Senate Education Committee “omnibus” bill, SB 1522, is worth keeping an eye on. It has become a tradition for the Senate Education Committee to run one big bill that contains all non-controversial legislative fixes that schools require. This year’s version is already working on a fifth set of amendments for a total of 64 pages of technical updates. Topics contained in the bill include:
- Credit-transfer clarifications for youths in the correctional or juvenile detention schools;
- Clarification of the responsibilities of education service districts under the Menstrual Dignity Act of 2021 requirement to provide free menstrual products in bathrooms, specifically in circumstances wherein the ESD delivers education in a facility but does not control the bathrooms of that facility, such as certain medical facilities;
- ESD teacher eligibility to serve as a member of the higher education committee studying high school credit transfer challenges;
- In-state tuition updates for higher education tuition in compliance with federal law changes;
- Privacy law clarifications for graduate-student employees of the institution at which they study; and
- Interscholastic athletic competition statute changes from “GED” to the more-consistent “high school equivalency.”
With all these topics and more, the bill underscores the breadth of impact that laws have on public schools.
Sometimes bills have unintentional impacts. House Bill 4087 would give an affirmative right to journalists to enter public lands affected by natural disasters. This bill, brought by the Society of Professional Journalists, is aimed at journalist access to wildfire-affected state lands.
The wording of the bill, though, could mean that a presumption for journalist access could extend to school district and ESD campuses and buildings. This could pose a student safety threat, and generally public schools presume against access for anyone who is not credentialed or otherwise allowed access.
Bill proponents often don’t recognize some potential legislation effects, which is why OSBA keeps an eye out for anything that might impact schools. OSBA is working with the journalists and other bill proponents for a friendly amendment to exclude public schools, ESDs, community colleges and public universities.
The new session is introducing new leaders. It helps education advocates to get to know them. To start this session, Rep. Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis, was elected speaker of the House.
His speech upon being voted speaker powerfully details his history, which includes mistakes, challenges, struggles with school, struggles with disability, arrests and transgressions. His story is a demonstration of how despite challenges, any student can achieve great things.
- Richard Donovan
Legislative Services specialist