Legislative Report - Sine Die
By Anne Nesse
It is clear from LWVOR work this session that we all must invest with renewed effort to support our public education system. This is imperative for the equity of all families, income levels, and especially important for working parents. We hope you can see beginnings of positive change in the laws and testimony we made this session to help all young Oregonians and their families thrive. These bills were signed into law this session with LWVOR testimony, relating to education and the well being of children:
HB 3198 Enrolled includes significantly increased expenditures and grants, new curriculum development for teachers and staff, and increased summer programs. It is a significant step toward increasing literacy and by definition learning, within all our diverse Oregon populations. See LWVOR testimony in support, on how literacy is an integral component to a democracy. Rep. Kropf, one of the bill’s principal authors, noted that this is merely the beginning of increased funding towards a major emphasis in consistent quality K-12 education throughout our state. It includes a $90M price tag, in addition to an historic increase in the biennial school budget up to $10.2 Billion dollars, in addition to property tax revenue.
HB 3235 Enrolled is a child tax credit designed to benefit low income workers supporting children. LWVOR testimony reflects the gravity of the problem, that poverty itself can cause harm to childhood development, and its unintended effect on education. This tax credit was greatly reduced from the original proposal.
The League was involved in discussions with legislators and stakeholders for some components of SB 283 Enrolled. It was signed into law, directing the Department of Education to develop and implement a plan to establish and maintain a statewide data system on our educational workforce. This Law includes a long list of items to help recruit teachers and staff, and to help them continue to thrive in this necessary profession. It includes pay raises totaling $9M for teachers and aides who work with special needs students. We suggested that teachers have some bargaining ability for increased planning time during the school day, and this became part of the law.
We testified to these bills but did not have the time to thoroughly study them during this session:
SB 854, stated that each of our 197 school districts could develop a plan for teaching climate change, across all subject areas, in grades K-12 by June 1, 2026. The LWVOR played a part in helping with the steering committee for this bill. Like other bills written to increase oversight of our statewide school system’s quality, this will need adaptation if it is proposed next session. Our testimony submitted on March 9 emphasized the importance of survival on our planet, excessive greenhouse gasses, and that curriculum choices were already available from many sources. At the March 9 public hearing, over 100 youth were heard or represented in the Capitol live or virtually. The Oregon Teachers Association and other organizations supported this bill.
HB 2601 would have required the State Treasurer to exit from certain carbon-intensive investments, subject to fiduciary duties,to develop a plan to protect state investments from risks related to climate change, and to issue periodic public reports on actual and planned progress towards completion of duties imposed under this law. Rep. Pham and Sen. Golden presented a very strong case as to why this was essential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and educating the public on facts of our decreased ability to gain profits in the fossil fuel industry. The League made the case in testimony that this was a nonpartisan issue and that we all have the right to be informed of our investments. It is LWVOR’s position that all of us should be educated concerning limiting greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
HB 2750 attempted to prohibit the statewide charging of fees or requiring participation in fundraising activities as a condition of participating in any interscholastic activities. League testimony was based on equity in education for all family income levels. The bill did not make it through passage, however, because of our work with Rep. Bowman on this bill and another like it, modifying physical education requirements, the League may be helping to design a more positive school day experience in health and learning for the next session.
Here are more extensive lists and descriptions of education-related bills that were passed this session or were heard in public hearings but were not passed. Copy and paste into your browser for best results.
Link 1: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/lpro/Publications/SOL Education & Early Childhood_FINAL.pdf
Link 2: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/lpro/Publications/SOL Human Services_FINAL.pdf
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for any of the areas in this Sine Die Report you would be well appreciated! So just let us know? We could use assistance in early childhood and higher education, as well as human services, research, meeting with legislators, testimony, and newsletter writing. Much of our work is virtual, so transportation is not always an issue.
After School Care and Children’s Services
By Katie Riley
Summer and After School Care, SB 531 would have provided funding for school age kids this summer. Last year a similar bill provided $50 million and served thousands of low-income kids. This year’s bill received a hearing and was referred to W&Ms but without assignment to a subcommittee, it never had a work session or a recommendation for funding. Schools were given extra money for summer school and could spend some of it for extended care, however, depending on the school district.
Children’s Service Districts, SB 858 would have provided the ability to gather signatures for local ballot measures to form children’s service districts. A public hearing was held in Senate Finance and Revenue but a work session was never scheduled so the bill never had a committee or Senate floor vote. The bill was opposed by the League of Oregon Cities (mayors) and the Association of Oregon Counties.