The legislative session is now half way through and Oregon Students have a lot to show for it. All of our top priority legislative policies are alive and moving, several 2nd chamber hearings are scheduled for the coming weeks and most of our 2nd priority bills are moving as well. All of this is possible because of the amazing work students did last year to register, educate and turn out students to vote AND because students keep showing up in Salem to display authentic advocacy. We have to have this same level of detail and intentionality to move these through to the finish line before we can really celebrate each win. For now, please know the work you have been doing in the field (on-campus) is working in the building (the Capitol). Keep up the phenomenal work!
Below you will find an update on all of those plus an update on bills the association has come out against this session. A thorough update on OSA’s budget priorities will be available in the coming weeks.
Top Priority Bills
New Motor Voter : HB 2177
Requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to provide information of eligible voters to the Secretary of State for purposes of registering to vote and/or updating existing voter registration information of individuals. This law essentially automatically registers people to vote and updates their registration information any time they update with the DMV. This law was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Brown and is expected to add around 300,000 to the voter rolls by the 2016 general election.
Status: Signed by Governor Kate Brown 3/16/15
Cultural Competency: HB 3308
This bill would direct the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to convene a work group to develop recommendations, cost, and efficacy of cultural competency continuing education. The first public hearing went successfully with students from various institutions sharing personal experiences they’ve faced which have negatively impacted their college careers and personal health. Committee members expressed concern the bill didn’t go far enough and wouldn’t address the immediate needs of students. OSA worked with the HECC to draft amendments to include 1st Generation Students in the frame work of the work group’s directives and extended the report back from Sept. 2015 to May of 2016.
Status: Passed House with bipartisan support, Hearing scheduled in Senate Committee on Education for Thursday 5/7/15 at 1pm
Survivor – Advocate Privilege: HB 3476
This is one of two priority bills which address sexual assault and sexual violence that OSA is prioritizing this session. This bill would grant trained advocates privileged communications between victims of sexual and domestic violence. When passed this would create a confidential resource on and off campus for victims of sexual assault. Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum among a large group of bipartisan legislators has spoken out loudly for this bill’s passage. Along with the Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, the Oregon Law Center, and the Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force, OSA has made this issue a priority for legislative leadership within both chambers and both parties and is expected to pass the Senate and be signed by the Governor.
Status: Passed House unanimously, referred to Senate Judiciary, no public hearing scheduled
Campus Sexual Assault Protocols: SB 759
This bill has garnered widespread support of legislators and has been championed by Senator Sara Gelser (D –Corvallis/ Albany). The first public hearing went very well for supporters and has helped user this bill through the Senate. OSA worked with Sen. Gelser to amend the bill completely to include all public and private post-secondary institutions based in Oregon. The bill requires colleges and universities to provide written notification to victims of sexual assault of their legal rights to recourse on and off campus, privacy limitations they face when seeing a counselor or therapist on campus, and resources available to them on and off campus. This bill passed Senate Education with a do pass recommendation and passed the Senate unanimously.
Status: Passed Senate unanimously, Hearing scheduled in House Committee on Higher Education, Innovation, and Workforce Development for Monday 5/4/15
LGBTQ Data Collection and Preferred 1st Name: SB 473
This is the second session OSA has worked on this issue. We were able to pass this through the House in 2013 with then Representative Sara Gelser championing the issue. Senator Gelser introduced this into Senate Education and worked with OSA pre-session to add the language allowing students to use a first name other than what is their legal first name on certain college documents, such as class lists, campus directories and student ID cards, as well as diplomas where not federally prohibited. We had a great first hearing and were forced to amend the bill to ensure its survival in the Capitol. The amendments removed community colleges from the entire introduced version of the bill and created a new section directing them to work with the HECC to identify barriers to implementation and report back to the legislature by May 2016 with most low cost option to implement. The committee adopted the amendments and passed the bill on a party line vote and sent the bill to Ways & Means due to an unforeseen fiscal impact statement of $53,000 by the HECC. We have confirmation from the co-chairs of Ways and Means and leadership that this will be a priority to fund.
Status: Passed Senate Education, Referred to Joint Committee on Ways & Means, the fiscal attached to this will be rolled into the HECC budget and the bill sent to both chambers for a floor vote.
Access to Opportunity: SB 932
Our first hearing was a great example of under-promising and over-producing. The coalition expected 30 people to attend the hearing and over 100 supporters showed up and filled the hearing room and most of the overflow space in the galleria. Institutions and legislative leaders joined students and advocates to voice support for the bill that would expand eligibility of the Oregon Opportunity Grant to Tuition Equity students. Additionally, the bill removes the requirement to enroll in university within 3 years of graduating from high school or receiving a GED and removes the 5 year period a student has to utilize Tuition Equity once enrolled in a university. This bill received little opposition in committee and was passed to the Joint Committee on Ways & Means due to the $40,000 fiscal impact statement attached to the bill by the HECC in order to implement the Oregon Opportunity Grant Expansion.
Status: Passed Senate Education, Referred to Joint Committee on Ways & Means
2nd Priority Bills
This bill would increase Oregon’s minimum wage from the current $9.25 to $15 per hour in graduated steps by September 2018. OSA joined a coalition of dozens of organizations calling on the legislature to increase Oregon’s minimum wages to something closer to a living wage. The first hearings resulted in dozens of proponents and opponents to the change. There are multiple proposals to increase the minimum wage; however this is the vehicle with the most momentum. It’s unclear if legislative leadership will bring this bill to the floor for a vote.
Status: Public hearings and worksessions held in House Committee on Business and Labor, referred to House Committee on Rules.
Employment Related Day Care: HB 2015
OSA has worked with Speaker Kotek’s office to stay regularly updated on the progress of this bill and to lend support wherever is helpful. The Speaker’s office has carried most of the work on the bill so far and the outlook is positive. This bill has maintained the component that “permit[s] students enrolled in coursework and self-employed persons to receive subsidized employment-related child care.” OSA will continue to track this bill and work with the Speaker’s office.
Status: Passed House Human Services and Housing Committee and referred to the Ways and Means Committee.
Debt Collection Regulations: HB 2252
This bill establishes requirements under which debt buyer may bring legal action to collect debt, including notice debt buyer must give to debtor. The bill makes violation unlawful collection practice. Increases time period during which debtor may bring action for unlawful collection practice and increases amount of damages court may award. Permits court to award attorney fees and costs to prevailing plaintiff. Permits award to prevailing defendant only if court finds plaintiff did not have objectively reasonable standard for bringing action. Students support this bill due to the impacts debt collection practices can have on an individual and family immediately and overtime. Students believe this will increase accountability on debt collection agencies in Oregon.
Status: Public hearing and worksession held in House Committee on Consumer Protection and Government Effectiveness, passed out of committee without recommendation as to passage and referred to House Committee on Rules. OSA will continue to support this bill and take direction from the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association.
Banning Conversion Therapy: HB 2307
OSA students testified in support of the bill and as a coalition partner recruited for public hearing days. We will continue to work will Basic Rights Oregon and other coalition partners on the bill as it now moves to the Senate. Significant organizing work has been done on this bill and the work has paid off. The outlook is positive and we will continue to work with coalition partners to pass the bill on the Senate side, including additional testimony.
Status: Passed the House, Passed Senate Committee on Human Services and Early Childhood, Referred to Senate President’s desk and awaiting a Senate Floor Vote.
Open Education Resources: HB 2871
Linked bills: HB 2513, HB 2516, these bill are no longer alive
OSA organized students to testify on Open Education resources for the public hearing on HB 2513 and 2516 on March 11th. After that public hearing members of the House Higher Education Committee formed a workgroup to take the different concepts/solutions around OERs and consolidate them into one approach. From that workgroup an amendment will be drafted to replace the language in HB 2871 with the proposed course of action that the workgroup decided on. From our conversations with workgroup members the bill will include about a $1 million allocation to the HECC to fund grants to institutions with OER programs that focus primarily on the most commonly taken courses and to hire a staff member for the HECC to coordinate and administer the OER program.
Status: Passed House Committee on Higher Education, Innovation, and Workforce Development, referred to Joint Committee on Ways and Means.
University Shared Services: HB 2611
OSA has provided support to this bill and has worked with higher education coalition partners. An amendment will be made to the bill to remove the University of Oregon from the risk management component of the shared services. OSA continues to track this bill closely. We’ve followed the lead of our coalition partners and will continue to provide support as needed.
Status: Passed House Committee on Higher Education, Innovation, and Workforce Development with a do pass recommendation, Passed House Floor
Pay it Forward Pilot Program: HB 2662
OSA testified on this bill and submitted written testimony during the public hearing on March 6th. The organizing work to get the bill out of committee was substantial and the passage of the bill through the entire legislature is unlikely. We met recently with Sami Alloy from WFO to discuss strategy to move the bill forward. We will continue to work with the Working Families Organization (coalition lead) to track the progress of the bill and the organizing work that will be happening.
Status: Passed the House Higher Education Committee and referred to the House Revenue Committee with subsequent referral to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.
Financial Aid Disbursement Contracts: HB 2832
Linked Bills: HB 2254, HB 3184, these are no longer ‘alive’ but contents were stuffed into HB 2832
OSA gave a presentation on campus debit cards and additional students testified on the Higher One bills on March 13th. After that hearing we continued to work with Representatives Holvey and Nathanson to develop amendments that bring all of the components of the three bills into a single bill. House Bill 2832 will become the vehicle for our student financial aid protection efforts. The amendments to the bill will include the requirement that contracts with third party financial aid firms are publicly available, prohibiting revenue sharing, prohibiting the $0.50 debit transaction fee, and prohibiting fees for receiving direct deposit or a paper check. The amendments will also require governing boards at public universities and community colleges to review contracts based on US Department of Education and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Standards and that the Shared Services Enterprise research methods for multiple institutions to collectively contract with a financial aid disbursement service. We are also in conversations with the lobbyist for Higher One about possible agreements. However, OSA will need to actively work to build and maintain support for this bill and focus efforts in the Senate to build the necessary support to pass.
Status: Passed House, referred to Senate President’s desk for referral.
Affordable Baccalaureate Degree Act : HB 2973
OSA testified in support of the bill on March 9th. We have been meeting regularly with Representative Whisnant’s office and HECC staff to stay up to date on the bill and lend support where helpful. We worked with HECC to draft an amendment which changed the bill to create a HECC work group to research a fixed cost bachelor’s degree based on certain criteria and will report back during the 2016 session. OSA is supportive of participating in the work group the bill will create and will continue to track the bill in the Senate.
Status: Passed from the House Committee on Higher Education, Innovation, and Workforce Development with amendments, passed the House, Hearing scheduled in Senate Committee on Education 5/12/15.
Student Loan Interest Tax Subtraction Increase: HB 3342
OSA testified in support of this bill on March 18th and has been working with Representative Rayfield’s office to track the development and progress of the legislation. We’ve seen both vocal supporters and opponents of this bill. There will be an amendment to the bill that raises the income cap to receive tax deduction benefits and to simultaneously lower the home mortgage interest rate deduction cap to maintain the revenue neutral nature of the bill. Moving forward OSA will continue to work with Representative Rayfield’s office on the strategy to maintain the necessary votes in the House to pass the bill and to build the necessary support in the Senate.
Status: Passed House Committee on Higher Education, Innovation, and Workforce Development, referred to House Committee on Revenue.
Student Whistleblower Protection Act: HB 3371
The bill is introduced as the “Student Whistleblower Protection Bill.” Representative Buckley has introduced the bill and Representative Holvey is championing the issue and coordinating as lead on the bill. We spoke to Rep. Holvey’s office on a separate matter and they brought this bill up and asked us to work with them on the issue. The bill has received strong bipartisan support as well as support from various institutions.
Status: Passed House with bipartisan support, Referred to Senate Committee on Judiciary
University and Community College Staffing Ratio Reports: SB 113
OSA provided testimony in support of the bill and we are continuing to work with Senator Dembrow’s office and higher education coalition partners on the bill. We’re taking lead from coalition partners and will continue to be supportive as needed.
Status: Passed Senate Committee on Education and referred to Joint Committee on Ways and Means
Good Samaritan Law: SB 839
Exempts specified persons from arrest and prosecution for certain offenses and for certain violations of terms of release or supervision if evidence of offense was obtained because emergency medical services or law enforcement agency was contacted to obtain necessary medical assistance due to drug-related overdose.
This bill is an expansion of a bill OSA worked with Rep. Doherty to pass in 2014, the Medical Amnesty for Minors Act of 2014 provided criminal exemption for people under the age of 21 seeking medical assistance in an alcohol related emergency. This bill provides similar exemptions for individuals seeking medical assistance for another person experiencing a drug related-overdose. This is picking up strong bipartisan support.
Status: Passed Senate with bipartisan support, referred to House Committee on Judiciary
Campaign Contributions Constitutional Amendment: SJR 5
This bill would place a measure on the 2016 general election ballot asking Oregon voters to amend the state’s constitution to give the legislature and the people of Oregon (through the initiative process) to establish campaign contributions for candidates for elected office. Oregon’s constitution doesn’t allow for the state legislature to set limits so a constitutional amendment is required. OSA submitted testimony in support of the joint resolution along with various organizations, a group of bipartisan legislators and Governor Brown.
Status: Hearing in Senate Committee on Rules held, no work session scheduled as of yet.
Community College Tuition Waiver: SB 81
Folks will remember this as the Free Community College bill. This version of the free community college concept is a last-dollar-in approach, meaning that it would grant certain individuals a tuition waiver for the remaining balance of tuition and fees that weren’t covered by available Pell grants, Oregon Opportunity Grants, and scholarships. Students debated and decided this concept wasn’t the deal students were willing to go to bat for and wouldn’t benefit the financially neediest of Oregon’s students and opposed the bill. While there was considerable amount of opposition to the bill, no organization has backed this legislation and several legislators have spoken out against it. Though it passed committee its apparent the funding for this concept is not a high priority for Ways and Means co-chairs.
Status: Passed Senate Committee on Education, referred to Joint Committee on Ways and Means.
Oregon Education Investment Board Sunset Removal: SB 215
Since this bill was first introduced and hearings held a workgroup was convened at the order of Senate Education Committee Chair Senator Roblan. The work group has met nearly every week since early March to develop amendments and discuss the future of what is the Oregon Education Investment Board agency now. Amendments included dissolve the current board, extends the sunset by 4 years on the agency (which includes 5 staff), freezes the OEIBs budget of $20M and extends the current work group convening through the summer and fall to provide additional recommendations to the legislature by February 2016. Your Legislative Director will continue to participate and monitor the work of this work group through this process.
Status: Public Hearing and Worksession held in Senate Education, Passed Committee and Referred to Senate Committee on Rules.
Missed Opportunities: Failed Bills
These bills didn’t make the 1st chamber deadline for one reason or another, none of which is due to a lack of organizing. However, it is recommended that student leaders consider these for future sessions. OSA staff has already begun discussing the future of these issues with their respective chief sponsors.
- Student Loan Interest Tax Credit: SB 530
- Student Loan Tax Subtraction: HB 2768
- Community College Child Care Needs Assessment: HB 3407
- Graduate Student Seat on Institutional Boards : HB 3237