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Legislative Report - Interim Week 6/10

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By Christa Danielson

On May 29th the Senate interim Committee on Health Care met during legislative days. Of

interest is the ongoing concern about the rising cost  of health care. After the meeting, the chair of the committee, Senator Deb Patterson (D-SALEM) said that “We need to empower Oregon employers and consumers to demand more transparency and better results from our health care system.”

During the session the committee heard from Chris Whaley (Associate Professor, Brown

University) whose research found a strong correlation between rising prices and industry


Also Piper Block (Research and Data Manager) from OHA reported on costs of procedures in

different hospitals and the tremendous variation in payments. Increased transparency would

help policymakers to better understand the challenges with rising health care costs.

Expect more of these types of discussions to follow both nationally and in Oregon as we

anticipate there will be bills that examine corporate and equity takeover of the practice of

medicine and bills to strengthen reporting by pharmacy benefit managers along with other bills that follow these themes.


By Nancy Donovan and Debbie Aiona

Senate and House Committees on housing held informational meetings on topics of interest and invited the agency speakers below to present their programs in advance of next year’s Legislative session.

The Senate Interim Committee on Housing and Development met on May 30, 2024. The following topics were presented:

Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS)

  • Affordable Housing Preservation Strategy Framework  

  • Task Force on Homelessness and Racial Disparities Report (SB 893 – 2023)

  • Modular Housing Grant Fund Updates


Oregon Health Authority

  • Air Conditioners and Air Filtration Program


Future Generations Collaborative

  • Land Donation for Affordable Housing

  • The House Interim Committee on Housing and Homelessness met on May 30, and the programs below were discussed.

  • Governor Kotek Policy Updates: Homelessness Response and Housing Production Frameworks

  • Oregon Housing and Community Services

  • Modular Housing

  • Rural Housing Production

  • Housing Stabilization

  • Climate and Health Resilience in Housing, Healthy Homes Program  

  • Manufactured Housing


Oregon Housing Alliance


LWVOR is a member of the Oregon Housing Alliance, a statewide organization that brings together advocates, local governments, housing authorities, community development corporations, environmentalists, service providers, business interests and others concerned about the lack of affordable housing, homelessness, and the devastating impact of the shortage on Oregon families and individuals. The alliance has begun developing its priorities for the 2025 legislative session. The four areas that the alliance plans to prioritize when advocating for Oregon Housing and Community Services agency budgets include: 

  • Prevent homelessness and provide lifesaving shelter and services, including rent assistance and homelessness prevention, shelter operations, and youth and child homeless services and prevention.

  • Preserve affordable homes, including preservation of existing low-income housing with expiring rent restrictions, housing owned by non-profits or housing authorities in need of renovation, and sale of manufactured home parks. This also includes funding for affordable housing operations and stability for developments facing financial challenges.

  • Expand affordable homeownership opportunities, build new homes for affordable homeownership, and support lower-income homeowners and homebuyers through Individual Development Accounts, down payment assistance, foreclosure prevention, and fair housing investigation and enforcement.

  • Develop new affordable housing in all parts of the state, including development of new affordable rental units, permanent supportive housing, and farmworker housing. Funding for a housing development pipeline that includes land acquisition, pre-development loans and lines of credit, and a reserve fund for disaster recovery. 


Fairview Trust


Oregon Housing and Community Services announced the Fairview Trust’s 2024 Integrated Housing Grant Program. Its focus is innovative housing for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Grants will go to projects that give preference to this population and are integrated into the community. 

See also the Land Use and Housing Report in the Natural Resources section of this Legislative Report.

Implementation of Oregon Drug Intervention Plan (HB4002)

By Jean Pierce

The Joint Committee on Addiction and Community Safety heard reports about progress being made in implementing HB 4002 (2024). They learned that 23 counties were considered “early adopters” – because they had plans to roll out deflection programs quickly. 17 counties have received a base minimum of $150,000. This is being used to

  •  Hire coordinators

  •  Define deflection programs, including criteria for entry into treatment and for success

  •  Train law enforcement in addiction and deflection options

  •  Identify community provider partners

  • Plan – almost half of the counties are considering a model resembling the Marion   County Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program, which has been in existence for 8 years.

Some of the challenges encountered already:

  •  FUNDING! How long will the state invest in the programs? More is needed to fully implement a LEAD-like model.

  •  Breaking down silos

  •  Sharing information between law enforcement and treatment agencies  (the Legislature may need to address privacy issues)

  •  Hiring effective peer mentors

  •  Coordination of county treatment providers and coverage of treatment for non-OHP individuals

  •  Assessing services such as housing needs – determining how to support and prioritize needs

  • Translating national best practices to local communities

In 2025, the Legislature will need to consider Year 2 Funding. The Governor has made Behavioral Health/Public Safety a priority.

Higher Education

Jean Pierce

The House Interim Committee on Higher Education heard from institutions of higher education who expressed serious concerns over delays in FAFSA funding following the US Department of Education’s (USDOE) attempt to simplify the application. Problems caused by new regulations (including a major overhaul of eligibility) imposed by the Department:

  •  People are struggling to get support from the USDOE – their guidance is confusing at best or even nonexistent

  • Poor data quality from the USDOE

  •  Students do not know whether they will receive financial support for food, housing, childcare and transportation until the first day of class this summer.

  • Many potential students are stuck at various stages of the process and may not return to school

  • The problems particularly impact low income, first generation students, and people from mixed families (having an undocumented parent)

As a result, 2800 fewer students filed for FAFSA this year in Oregon, and there is a concern that they will walk away from higher education. According to the Oregonian, “Gradual declines since 2017 were supercharged by the pandemic. College-going fell to just 56% for the class of 2021, a nearly 1- percentage point drop over the last decade.” This trend had started to reverse slowly before the FAFSA debacle. 

When legislators asked what the state could do to help, they were told:

  •  Continue allocating additional funds to the Oregon Opportunity Grant

  • Remain flexible and responsive to funding requests

  •  Students need to know state resources are available

  • Colleges lack sufficient staff to answer students’ questions about FAFSA

The committee also heard a request to extend the tuition equity program for refugees seeking asylum. People who have been forcibly displaced from their countries are automatically classified as non-residents in Oregon, so – regardless of how long they have lived in the state - they pay out-of-state tuition for higher education, which can be 3 times as much as in-state tuition. Courts are experiencing a large backlog of asylum cases. In fact, people applying for asylum can wait over 6 years for courts to decide their claims. As of April 1, 2024, Oregon has 5,539 cases filed on behalf of college-aged individuals between the ages of 18 and 24. Currently, California, Florida, Maine, New York, and Washington have legislation that enables asylum seekers to pay instate tuition rates. It is anticipated that granting this request would have little or no cost impact to institutions of higher education because of the small numbers affected.

Summer School

By Katie Riley


The Senate Education Committee met during Legislative Days and heard a report on progress for HB 4082, Summer Learning 2024 and Beyond. ODE Director Charlene Williams and Assistant Manager of Finance and Facilities Michael Elliott reported on progress to date. 

The $30 million allocated by the legislature to ODE for disbursement has been distributed to the highest priority areas of the state in terms of equity and inclusion. Some districts declined to participate due to a variety of reasons (e.g., lack of capacity or planning) and their funds were reallocated to high priority areas. Allocations:

  • 43 districts and 13 ESD's have received grants for this summer with 133 partners (tribes, community based organizations, and ESD's) participating 

  • 51,000 kids, 63% at the elementary level; others at middle and high school levels will participate.

As provided in the bill, a work group has been formed to plan for sustainable funding for afterschool and summer programs in the future. The group will be examining current practices in Oregon and nationally as well as potential sources of support and administrative barriers. They are charged with submitting a report with their recommendations in September. 

Senator Weber remarked that she has received complaints from her district (northern coast) about not being included and hopes there will be improvement. Senator Dembrow hoped that the work group would make recommendations that would lead to having afterschool and summer programs being included in service levels. He also noted that he would like to learn how effective the summer programs would be in preventing summer learning loss. Finally, Senator Frederick emphasized that programs need predictability. 

Pre-K-12 Education

By Anne Nesse

Public school funding issues continue to be in jeopardy. Therefore it is not surprising that an “Oregon school choice group is trying to get 2 measures on the statewide November ballot, with the goal of creating more school choice.” The measure would permit using public tax dollars to support education in private schools. Link to the OPB article about this is here.

Oregon's history of funding issues is best summarized by this quote from Jenny Liu, a Portland State University professor who specializes in economics and public policy: “Some 30 years ago, a series of anti-tax ballot measures fundamentally changed the school funding equation.” This created a unique myriad of problems for the future of public school funding in Oregon.

“Measure 5, passed by voters in 1990, created a new limit on what portion of local property taxes could be spent on schools. And Measure 50, passed seven years later, further limited how quickly local property taxes could increase. A local option levy is probably one of the only ways that [districts are] able to generate that additional amount of money because schools don’t really have any say in [the state funding] formula,” states Jenny Liu in an OPB interview.

Early Childhood Meeting 5/29 2:30

•   Agenda included informational meeting with federal funding of $3M, over 3 years, as pilot project from Doris Duke Foundation to create programs for prevention of child abuse, in lieu of waiting for hotline responses that yield no effort to help.

•   Presentation on combining early learning childcare with retirement facilities as mutually beneficial to both age groups, and increasing our number of facilities.


House Education 5/30 8:30 AM

•   Timeline for increasing literacy in Oregon presented by ODE Director and staff. 70% of districts are functional on this program, 30% still require some assistance, with costs that would be sustainable. No new accreditation for teachers is necessary. Simply better use and selection of the correct materials.

•   Reasons for limiting or banning cell phone use in school were presented by a pediatrician, along with neuroscience evidence by Dr. Dodgen-Magee. Statistics showing prefrontal brain weaknesses of control of actions with use of even over 30 minutes a day. Statistics that were presented showing increased anxiety, depression, and bullying were the results of excessive social use of digital devices on the brain. Chair Rep. Neron and Rep. McIntire were interested in seeing results of bans of cell phone use in Grant HS, and Clackamas school district. It was also noted that increased cell phone use correlated with absenteeism in school.

Senate Finance and Revenue as it relates to School Funding Formulas 5/30 2:30

•   A detailed study of school finance was reported by the state financial advisor, as a result of ballot measures 5 and 50 in our state. The conclusion was that the only way to actually increase school revenue is to increase the state contribution of 2/3, because the remaining 1/3 in local collections is too variable. Essentially changing some of the historical initiative law.

The school funding formula awards additional money to school districts based on the number of students in poverty, students requiring special education, English language learners, etc. Members of the committee questioned:

•   Whether the formula is still appropriate

•   What data justifies use of the current formula

•   Whether districts are being held accountable for using funds to meet needs identified in the formula

Senate Education 5/30 2:30

•   Review of progress on SB 3, financial literacy classes for graduation bill passed in 2023. It was reported by Legislative council Hanna Lai that the present interpretations of how the credits for graduation would be measured was unclear, and some more work needs to be done before it aligns with the intent of the law.

•   Update on SB 819, implementation of improvements for students in programs of abbreviated school days due to Individual education plans, IEP’s. 129 school districts appear to be successfully using this plan out of 197. 52 school districts using this plan for medical adaptations for students. Tenneal Wetherall from ODE reported improvements were being made by documentation of use of new Law. Perhaps not all parents knew how to use this planning method, she stated, and there may be a gap in use with foster care programs not being aware of this alternative service.

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