Legislative Report - Week of 1/16/23
By Anne Nesse
If you are represented by any of these Representatives or Senators, feel free to contact them about your hopes for educational progress in the coming Legislative Session.
Editor’s Note: Find Your District and Legislators is posted on OLIS.
Senate Education Committee members this session are: Sen. Dembrow Chair, Sen. Weber Vice-Chair, Sen. Anderson, Sen. Frederick, Sen. Gelser Blouin, Sen. Robinson, Sen. Wagner.
This committee will meet regularly Tues. and Thurs. 3-4:30 pm. (live or recorded on OLIS site)
Sen. Dembrow opened the first meeting Jan. 17, with a positive statement about how education is the foundation of preparing our entire state to meet future needs, security, and success. The Committee voted to accept two possible bills LC3960 and LC2268, and they will be assigned for future discussion.
Informational sessions were held on roughly how we used federal Covid relief funds (accounted in the Billions of dollars), 90% of which went to local authorities. Several success stories were noted by those testifying from ODE and school districts, as well as working towards the goal of improving mental health for all, and meeting the challenges of students with special needs.
An important discussion was had on enrollment declines in Oregon public schools. This was reported to be the highest at kindergarten and younger grade levels, high school enrollment being relatively stable. In the 2020-2021 school year, the home schooling population increased by 13,000 students, although the number could be higher, because not all families registered with their school districts. It was also pointed out that we know nothing of how many families transitioned to private schools during this time. There was also an increase in virtual school offerings within the public school system. Sen. Dembrow commented that we need to have a better way to monitor these changes to best meet student needs all over our state, within the public school system.
There was a public hearing on SB215, composed of technical language fixes involving food programs, child abuse language, speech language programs, and media programs, etc.. Several testified and it was noted that the word “libraries, and librarians” had been omitted. More work on this bill seemed to be indicated.
Early Childhood House Committee members are: Chair Rep. Reynolds, Vice-Chair Rep. Nguyen, Vice-Chair Rep. Scarf, Rep. Anderson, Rep.Cramer, Rep. Elmer, Rep. Hartman, Rep. Hieb, Rep. Nelson, Rep. Neron.
This committee will meet regularly Mon. and Wed. 1-2:30 pm (live or recorded on OLIS site)
Rep. Reynolds, a pediatrician, opened the first meeting by acknowledging that this committee will merge with the former Human Services Committee. A public hearing on HB2479 was held, with mostly positive testimony concerning the need to legally protect Child Abuse Children’s Advocacy Centers, (except for the trial lawyers association, who would prefer the committee change some legal wording in the bill).
House Education Committee members this session are: Chair Rep. Neron, Vice-Chair Rep. Hudson, Vice-Chair Rep. Wright, Rep. Cramer, Rep. McIntire, Rep. Nguyen, Rep. Valderrama
This committee will meet regularly Mon. and Wed. 3-4:30 pm (live or recorded on OLIS site)
Rep. Neron opened the first meeting with an overview report from Director Colt Gill, of the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), who is retiring at the end of this session. The Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) also presented an overview of their agency.
Please write to us if you would like more information on coming education bills for Oregon in the 2023 long Session, as the 2 year budget will be decided. Anne Nesse.