This legislative session, OSU engagement has been at a record high. Thousands of you wrote letters to your legislators requesting support for OSU student-athletes, who are impacted by conference realignment. Students and stakeholders participated in lobby days to support student-based initiatives. Faculty, students, and stakeholders testified on a multitude of issues and shared their experience with the legislature.

Your engagement validates the work being done across OSU to support students, innovate through research, and engage with communities throughout Oregon. This meaningful work embodies OSU and is why we are Oregon’s team!

While the legislature was only in session for 32 days, in a bipartisan manner, they moved major policy initiatives to reform Measure 110 and address Oregon’s addiction crisis, make investments in and policy changes around housing, and pass compromise legislation creating political campaign contribution limits. The legislature also made some meaningful investments and policy around higher education.


$10M for OSU student scholarships. While this is only a one-time investment and not the continued funding we requested, it is meaningful and will help us continue to support our student-athletes.

$2M to the College of Engineering for investments around semiconductors.

$1.9M to the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Lab housed at OSU College of Veterinary Medicine for work on chronic wasting disease and zoonotic diseases

Policy Bills

Name, Image Likeness (NIL) [HB 4119]

Makes changes to Oregon’s NIL laws that strengthen protections for the university and its student-athletes. Importantly, the measure prevents the NCAA from sanctioning OSU as long as it follows Oregon’s NIL laws, and it allows OSU to directly assist student- athletes in securing NIL deals. Effective on passage.

Sexual Misconduct [HB 4164]

Technical changes to HB 3456 (2023), which included the development and dissemination of a sexual misconduct survey and the development of university policies and programming around sexual misconduct. The measure removes persons who are “seeking to enroll” from definition of “student,” repeals the requirement to offer the sexual misconduct survey to students on a leave of absence, and extends the time to make the survey available, among other fixes.

Posting Board Meetings Online [SB 1502]

Requires OSU to post video or audio recordings of its Board of Trustees meetings on its website or social media within seven days of the meetings. Exempted from this requirement are meetings held in executive session.

Education Omnibus [SB 1552]

Makes changes to several K-12 and higher education statutes. Most notably for OSU, the measure:

  • requires the HECC to establish a direct admissions program for public universities.
  • makes HECC the body to approve distribution changes to the Oregon Opportunity Grant through a public rulemaking process.
  • clarifies that part-time faculty who “work,” not just “teach,” at an institution may be eligible for health care benefits.
  • requires the HECC to conduct a forest workforce study.
  • exempts Transfer Council subcommittees from public meeting requirements. 

AI Task Force [HB 4153]

Creates a 14-member task force to identify terms and definitions related to artificial intelligence that may be used in legislation. Two members will represent public universities.

Board Appointments

In the 2023 legislative session, the legislature passed SB 273, relating to university governing boards. One item in the bill was the creation of two new student positions on universities’ boards of trustees: one graduate student position and one non-voting undergraduate position. This will bring a total of three student positions to board of trustees. While these new positions do not go into effect until July 1, 2024, Governor Kotek started the process of filling these positions and made nominations for appointment during the session. The Senate confirmed the following appointments:

  • Undergraduate Non-Voting Trustee:  MJ Mihro, Biology Major on a pre-veterinary track.
  • Graduate Trustee: Kate Carter-Cram, PhD student in Public Policy.

By: Katie Fast, Executive Director of Government Relations

Today, the Oregon Legislature convenes it’s short 35-day session. Due to the short timeframe, each legislator is limited to introducing two bills and committees restricted to three. That does not mean that legislators won’t be tackling policy issues this year; in fact, reforms to Measure 110 and solutions to Oregon’s housing needs will be proposed.

Oregon State University is also tackling big issues and is looking to the state for partnership. Below are priorities that we are bring to the Oregon legislature:

  • Impact of Conference Realignment: The decisions by some universities to leave the Pac-12 not only eroded our 108-year-old conference and legacy but created a significant budget shortfall for OSU Athletics. We need the legislature’s assistance to:
    • Maintain OSU’s Commitment to Collegiate Athletic Scholarships: OSU commits $10.4 million annually toward athletic scholarships. As an Oregon public university, we have an obligation to continue supporting student-athletes who are bearing the real implications of conference realignment. For many student-athletes, their scholarships make college financially possible, and without that support, they lose their access to education.

The state of Oregon currently allocates 1% of the Administrative Services Economic Development Fund from the State Lottery Fund to the Sports Lottery Program. For the 2023-25 biennium, $18,329,943 was allocated. However, OSU will only receive about $650,000 annually because the university historically received multimillion-dollar media payments. Unfortunately, OSU can no longer expect the same media income after July 31, 2024. An additional 1% of lottery funds dedicated to OSU student-athletes would meet OSU’s athletic scholarship needs.

  • Covering OSU Athletics’ COVID Deficit: COVID-19 health protection regulations placed financial burdens on university athletics departments nationwide. OSU faced more than a year of zero sporting event ticket sales while maintaining our financial commitments to student-athletes and athletics staff. Federal COVID support funds received could not be used to support intercollegiate athletics. The university therefore loaned OSU Athletics $31.8 million to cover its COVID-related deficit. The opportunities for athletics repayment have changed due to conference realignment and a subsequent dramatic drop in media income. OSU has an immediate need from the state to help cover this deficit.
  • Building a Campus to Serve Central Oregon & the State: OSU- Cascades students and supporters are requesting $24 million to expedite the Phase 3 land remediation, which would create 81 contiguous acres for academic buildings and student housing. This is a critical step to meet growth needs of this innovative campus.
  • Supporting Student’s Needs: We will be working with other public universities and students to request:
    • $6 million in renewed funding for Strong Start 2.0: Continued funding for the Strong Start program is critical to ensure students are prepared and supported allowing them to succeed in a university environment. Initially a response to pandemic learning loss, Strong Start allows universities to offer comprehensive services including summer bridge programs, community- building cohorts, academic skill-building, and ongoing wraparound support. This state investment has led to greater retention rates, higher GPAs, and increased credit hour completion for participating students, compared to their peers.
    • $5 million to strengthen student basic needs programs and infrastructure on university campuses, includes basic needs centers. 
    • $1 million in emergency funding to the Open Educational Resources (OERS) program to improve access to low- or no-cost course materials for the remainder of the biennium. Since 2015, Oregon OER grants have saved students $12 on course materials for every program dollar spent.
  • Addressing Zoonotic Diseases: The Oregon and Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (OVDL) plays a vital role in public health, responding to issues of serious concern for people and wildlife, including highly contagious bacterial disease, avian flu, and mosquito born illnesses. Consistent with recommendations from the legislative report directed by HB 4128 (2022), HB 4148 allocates $3.5 million for critical equipment and capacity necessary for the OVDL and the state Wildlife Health Lab to combat threats such as Chronic Wasting Disease and zoonotic diseases.
  • Creating Pathways to Semiconductor Careers: In 2023, the legislature invested $200M in Oregon’s semiconductor sector. However, research and supporting the needed workforce was not addressed. HB 4154 invests $30 million in K-12 pathway programs, community colleges and public research universities to provide the faculty and tools focused on semiconductor related work.

To support OSU’s legislative priorities and easily engage with the legislature, consider joining the Beaver Caucus’s advocacy efforts. You can learn more here.

Welcome New Members of the OSU Government Relations Team

Chance White Eyes joined OSU in December as Director of Tribal Relations. In this position, he will build and maintain collaborative, mutual and trusting relationships with Tribal nations within Oregon and beyond and consult with Oregon State leadership, colleges and programs to advance the university’s teaching, research and engagement missions.

White Eyes holds a doctorate in critical and socio-cultural studies in education from the University of Oregon and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Oregon State. He is an enrolled member of the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin.

In November, Sherry Morgan started as Administrative Assistant. She previously worked in OSU Academics for Student Athletes. In this role, she is managing the office’s administrative needs and assisting tracking bills of interest to OSU and our community.

Katheryn Yetter, OSU University Policy & Standards Specialist, is taking on additional duties and supporting OSU’s advocacy efforts in Salem. We are fortunate for prior the legislative experience Katheryn brings to the team.

Introduction and Funding Package

The 2023 legislative session started with many challenges that multiplied as the year progressed. While political friction and logistics hurdles slowed down the process in Salem, the work of Oregon State University advocates and members of the higher education coalition resulted in record investments in operating funds, student aid, OSU research, OSU Extension, and campus infrastructure.

In recent years, the Oregon legislature has seen a substantial turnover rate. The 2023 session introduced more than half of the House of Representatives’ 60-person membership as new members, while the Senate embraced the arrival of eight fresh faces. The November 2022 election also brought a change in the Governor’s Office and mostly new legislative leadership in both chambers. 

This was the first fully in-person session since the COVID pandemic. However, ongoing construction and seismic improvements at the State Capitol interfered with bringing a true sense of normalcy back. Over half of the Capitol was closed, which limited public gathering space and closed the public café. Continuous construction noise filled the hallways and at times interrupted committee proceedings. The Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, and legislative committee staff offices were temporally moved out of the Capitol. What may seem like logistical inconveniences breaks down the relationship building and communication flow that is critical to a fully functioning legislative session.

Unfortunately, these were all tensions placed on a legislature already plagued with a deep political divide. Differences over policies relating to reproductive and gender affirming care and guns, as well as parliamentary policies, led to an historic partisan walkout in the State Senate. The walkout of Republican and Independent senators threatened to curtail hundreds of policy bills and leave state agencies without sustainable operating budgets.

During the walkout, campus leaders diligently collaborated with the Governor, the Department of Administrative Services, and legislative leadership to devise plans aimed at minimizing the impacts on students and faculty if the state was unable to deliver expected funding throughout the summer.

Thankfully, a compromise was reached after 44 days which led to an operating quorum in the Senate. The final weeks of the session saw the legislature speed through their backlog, passing hundreds of policy bills and agency budgets within a little over a week.

While the 2023 legislative session highlighted the depth and intensity of Oregon’s political divide, the work of our coalition partners and OSU advocates resulted in a positive budget cycle for Oregon State University. We can celebrate the following investments for the 2023-2025 biennium:

Policy Bills

Outside of the budget realm, the legislature passed a variety of bills that feature funding for OSU’s research enterprise and other policies that will impact higher education:

SB 4: Semiconductor Package – Created a $190M grant and loan program to support businesses applying for federal CHIPS Act grants; allocated $10M to the University Innovation & Research Fund to match federal grants related to innovation and economic development (an additional $3M was added to the UIRF in an agency budget bill).

SB 161: Elliott State Research Forest Extension – Extended the deadline for required elements to be completed for the establishment of Elliott State Research Forest from June 30th to December 31, 2023.

SB 273: University Governance – Adds a graduated student and an additional non-voting undergraduate student to university governing boards; establishes processes for the nomination of undergraduate student, graduate student, faculty and nonfaculty staff to be nominated to the Governor for consideration; requires each governing board to formally adopt certain policies regarding university governance.

SB 355: Outside Counsel – Requires that public universities provide annual report on the use of outside counsel for legal matters on their website, rather than provide a report to the Attorney General.

SB 424: Transcript Holds – Prohibits the practice of withholding transcripts of current or former students due to debt to the institution.

SB 955: Agristress – Allocates $300,000 to the OSU Foundation to establish an endowment to fund the implementation and operation of an AgriStress Helpline for the purpose suicide prevention in the farming and ranching community.

HB 2010: Drought/Water Package – Directs Oregon Consensus at PSU and OSU to establish collaborative process for the development of shared understanding of water management in Chewaucan River watershed and allocated $150,000 to OSU for this work; allocates $3M for OSU Extension and Agricultural Experiment Station to jointly establish an agricultural water management technical assistance program and jointly prepare annual reports related to program and climate-related impacts on agricultural producers; allocates $365,000 to OSU for technical assistance to SWCDs conducing juniper treatment projects. These are OSU highlights of a larger policy and funding package.

HB 2049: Cybersecurity Center of Excellence – Establishes Oregon Cybersecurity Center of Excellence at PSU and jointly operated by PSU, OSU, and UO to coordinating, funding or providing cybersecurity education, awareness and training for public, private and nonprofit sectors, cybersecurity workforce development and cybersecurity-related goods and services to Oregon public bodies. Allocated $5M development and programing.

HB 2649: Agency Construction Requirements – Requires contractors doing public improvement projects for certain state entities, including public universities, have 12 to 15% of their workforce be apprentices and an aspirational target of 15% of their workforce be women, minority individuals and veterans.  

HB 3409: Climate Package – Allocates $3M to OSU College of Forestry for the research development of low carbon fuels derived from woody biomass residues. These are OSU highlights of a larger policy and funding package.

HB 3410: Rural Economic Development$2 million to OSU’s Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy to be used for the purpose of developing professional and workforce development programs; $1 million to the Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy to be used for the purpose of developing a pro-gram to provide facilitation services and technical assistance grants to communities affected by wildfire for community engagement in the planning and construction of outdoor recreation facilities to support the communities’ economic recovery; $500,000 to OSU-Cascades to outfit a fabrication and maker space at the university in order to support prototyping of new products by outdoor recreation economy entrepreneurs; $300,000 for technical assistance to rural seafood businesses conducted by the Oregon Coast Visitors Association, the OSU Food Innovation Center and the OSU Seafood Research and Education Center. These are OSU highlights of a larger policy and funding package.

HB 3456: Sexual Misconduct Training – Establishes a Sexual Misconduct Survey Council to develop a base sexual misconduct climate survey to be used annually by institutes of higher education; requires institutions to enter a MOU understanding with community-based domestic and sexual violence agency; requires annual delivery sexual misconduct primary prevention and awareness training.

Board Appointments

This session also brought appointments of new trustees to the OSU Board of Trustees. Last fall, the OSU Board of Trustees conducted a needs assessment that considered the number of members terming off the board. Collectively the board identified financial oversight, agriculture, higher education with a focus on community college, and tech/innovation as priority skills and backgrounds, along with a regional focus including Eastern Oregon. Governor Kotek nominated five at-large trustees and one student trustee; all six were confirmed by the Oregon Senate.

Stephanie Bulger, president, Lane Community College, Eugene.

Karla Chambers, vice president/co-owner, Stahlbush Farms, and a professional artist, Corvallis.

Grant Kitamura, owner, managing partner and CEO/CFO, Baker & Murakami Produce Co. in Ontario, OR; Fruitland, Idaho resident.

Gregory H. Macpherson, retired attorney, former state representative, Albany.

Elise McClure, former vice president of tax and customs, Starbucks Coffee Co, Portland.

Kasaundra A. Bonanno, undergraduate student in public healthy and public policy, Oregon State, Corvallis.

Thank you to retiring trustees for their dedication and service to OSU: inaugural at-large trustees Rani Borkar and Darry Callahan; at-large trustees Preston Pulliams and Lamar Hurd; student trustee Jax Richards; and in remembrance of inaugural Michelle Longo Eder, who passed away on March 12, 2023. 

This Tuesday was Oregon’s first general election after redistricting. In many areas, both incumbents and first-time congressional and legislative candidates needed to introduce themselves to district voters. This was also one of the first Oregon elections where ballots only needed to be post marked by election day to be counted. While a few races are currently too close to call and an unknown number of ballots will be arriving over the next few days, there is a general sense of the make-up of Oregon’s congressional delegation and state legislature.

Federal Election Landscape

Three congressional district races have not yet been officially called. For OSU campus locations, we are tracking particularly closely the outcome of the OR-4 and OR-5 House races. Both Corvallis and Newport fall within the newly drawn lines of the OR-4. For this race, Val Hoyle (D-Springfield) has what is expected to be a sufficient lead and has declared victory. Additionally, the newly drawn lines of the OR-5 now capture Bend and the winner will newly represent OSU-Cascades campus. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-Happy Valley) currently leads over Jamie McCleod-Skinner (D-Terrebonne). Finally, Oregon’s new 6th congressional district from SW Portland suburbs to Salem also remains too close to call, but Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego) leads Mike Erickson (R-Tigard).

We currently expect to have results for the outstanding Oregon races by Tuesday, November 15. In other races, incumbents U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3) Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1), and Cliff Bentz (R-OR-2) have each been declared winners with substantial margins. 

At the national level, several House and Senate races are still yet-to-be-decided. For both the House and Senate, outcomes of the remaining undecided races are needed to determine which party will hold the majority power for each chamber. For the U.S. House, the Republican party is on a likely path to retake the majority status from the Democrats with at least 218 seats. For the U.S. Senate, in the current congress, the democrats hold the majority with 50 seats and the Vice President as a tiebreaker. As of now, Nevada and Arizona senate races remain undecided, with a Georgia race requiring a December run-off. Either party must win both yet-to-be decided Senate races in order to claim the 51-seat majority for next congress. If the parties split the remaining races to be decided, the December run-off for the Georgia Senate seat will determine the party with the majority. The final outcomes to determine which party will hold the majority power in both the U.S. Senate and House will shape our expectations for the federal agenda next congress

Governor’s Race

The three-way Governor’s race in Oregon made it one of the most interesting and competitive in the Nation. It was also the most expensive in Oregon’s history. As of election day, Kotek spent $29M, Drazan $22.4M and Johnson $17.5M. 

While early ballot turn-ins showed a stronger turnout of Republican voters, Kotek rallied her base and brought along more non-affiliated voters. She currently leads by 3.4% and is the expected Governor-Elect. 

State Legislative Races 

Due to the number of outstanding ballots and close margins, many legislative contests currently remain un-called. Regardless, current results are indicative of shifting political coalitions across Oregon even if partisan control of both chambers remains largely the same:

One of the most pronounced shifts occurred in the Salem/Keizer metro: Republicans Tracy Cramer (R-Woodburn) and Kevin Mannix (R-Keizer) defeated Democratic challengers in House seats that were previously held by retiring Democrats. Senator Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) also won re-election to the Senate in District 11 which shifted into her constituency via redistricting. Senate District 11 is being vacated by outgoing Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem).

However, Democrats remained competitive in the mid-valley region with Senator Deb Patterson (D-South Salem) fending off Representative Raquel Moore-Greene (R-South Salem) in Senate District 10. Representative Moore Greene’s vacated House seat was flipped by Democrat Tom Anderson (D-South Salem)

Communities in the coastal region continued their recent trend of replacing retiring Democrats with Republicans: Representative Suzanne Weber (R-Astoria) flipped Senate District 16, previously held by Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) for a decade and a half. However, while Republicans can celebrate success in a long-held Democrat seat, Representative Weber’s vacated seat, House District 32 (Astoria/Warrington), remains too close to call: Republican Cyrus Javadi has a 500-vote lead over Democrat Logan Laity. While Javadi’s margin is expected to hold, Laity’s competitiveness came as a surprise after Republicans flipped this seat in 2020 in the most expensive legislative contest that cycle. 

If Javadi is declared the winner in House District 32, Representative David Gomberg (D-Newport) will be the sole Democrat on the Coastal Caucus, which once operated as one of the only substantive bi-partisan caucuses in Salem. The Coastal Caucus has been a key voice in advancing OSU legislative priorities in natural resources and on the coast. 

Additionally, Deschutes County continued its transition into a Democrat-leaning community with Emerson Levy (D-Redmond) holding a small but consistent lead over Republican Michael Sipe (R-Redmond) in House District 53, which is being vacated by Representative Jack Zika (R-Redmond). In neighboring House District 54, Representative Jason Kropf (D-Bend) won in a landslide against his Republican challenger. We expect continued and strengthened political support for OSU-Cascades with both Representative Kropf and Senator Knopp returning to Salem as committed advocates for the campus. 

Overall, while some contests in Clackamas County and East Multnomah County remain too close to call, the partisan composition of both chambers will likely remain largely unchanged: Democrats will control a minimum of 16 seats in the Senate while the Republican Caucus sits at 13 seats. The race for Senate District 20, between Senator Bill Kennemer (R-Canby) and Representative Mark Meek (D-Oregon City), remains too close to call. As it currently stands in the House, Democrats maintain a lead in 35 seats versus Republicans in 25 seats. It remains to be seen if Republicans can take the lead in any of the close races where votes are left to be counted. 

While Democrats have likely lost their supermajorities in both chambers, Republicans possess fewer political tools to impact the legislative process with the passage of Measure 113 (see below). We expect the breadth and tone of the 2023 legislative session to be driven by the agenda of Governor-Elect Tina Kotek and economic forecasting for the next biennium. 

State Ballot Measures

This year’s ballot had four measures. Three were constitutional amendments and two of which were referred to the voters by the legislature. 

  • Measure 111 amends the constitution to ensures affordable healthcare access to be balanced against state requirements to fund schools and other essential services. Currently passing by a small margin
  • Measure 112 amends the constitution to remove language allowing slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for crime. Currently passing
  • Measure 113 amends the constitution to disqualify legislators with ten unexcused absences from holding office the next term. Currently passing
  • Measure 114 requires a permit to acquire firearms, local policy offices to maintain a firearms permitting database, and criminally prohibits large ammunition magazines. Currently passing by a small margin

For more Oregon election results, please see the Oregon Secretary of State website.

Oregon’s 2022 short legislative session started off with unusual settings. Since the adjournment of the 2021 legislation, nine legislators have either resigned or passed away; bringing in a new crop of legislature midterm. Additionally besides the Senate President and Senate Majority Leader, every leadership office had changed. Finally with this being an election year, there are several seated legislators vying for upper elected office. These developments changed the working dynamics and priorities of the body.

The legislature started with an unprecedented amount of funding. While this created opportunities to make statewide investments, including rural, housing, drought and climate adaptation and workforce development packages, this also created a challenge for the Ways & Means leadership, as there were few constraints on funding requests. Since this revenue is not predicted to rollover into future bienniums at the same rate, most funding decisions were limited to one-time investments and not for longer term programing.

Operationally, the Oregon State Capitol remained open for session, but a majority of legislators conducted their office meetings virtually and all committee hearings took place remotely.

Overall, this was a positive session for Oregon State, who benefited by some capital investments and productive policy bills.

Capital Investments

House Bill 5202-1 |Budget Reconciliation

House Bill 5701-3 | Bond Authorization

  • $30 million to deferred maintenance funds across the seven public universities

Policy Bills

Senate Bill 1505 | Name, Image, & Likeness

  • Mandates royalty payments to student athletes by producers of jerseys, video games and trading cards utilizing said student athlete’s name, image or likeness. Also, clarifies that students participating in university programs to assist student athletes with their name, image & likeness business development are not athlete agents.

Senate Bill 1522 | Senate Education Omnibus Bill

  • Allows high school teacher who is employed by education service district to serve on Transfer Council
  • Removes exemption of distance learning courses from in-state tuition provisions for military veterans. Exempts individuals who are granted humanitarian parole, asylum, conditional permanent residency, or temporary protected status from nonresident tuition and fees at public universities.
  • Adds public universities and community colleges to list of employers that must provide full-time teachers and school nurses with information regarding the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
  • Creates exemption from requirement for education providers to provide menstrual products in student bathrooms for early childhood care and learning providers and in environments for which requirements may pose a threat to student health and safety.

Senate Bill 1545 | Workforce Investment

  • Authorizes a $200 million investment focused on workforce opportunities related to manufacturing, healthcare, and technology.

Senate Bill 1546 | Elliot State Research Forest

  • Establishes the Elliot State Research Forest with the mission of creating an enduring, world-class research forest. Oregon State University College of Forestry will contract with the state to manage the forest with an interconnected research platform.

House Bill 4030 | Education Workforce

  • Provides funding to help school districts recruit and retain school employees, streamlines licensing requirements for teachers and creates a statewide clearinghouse for education jobs.

House Bill 4055 | Harvest Tax

  • Reinstates portions of the Harvest Tax that fund programing at the College of Foresting. ¢90 tax per thousand square feet of timber harvested in Oregon will go toward the Forest Research Lab and ¢21 toward the Education Fund.

House Bill 4092 | Updates the Oregon Broadband Advisory Council

  • Updates the membership of the Oregon Broadband Advisory Council and directs the development of a state broadband strategic plan.

Statewides CSL Ask

While there were some individual investments in Extension programing and Experiment Station improvement projects, OSU did not receive the $2.2 million requested to maintain current service levels for the OSU Statewides. We will be working collaboratively with internal and external stakeholders to remedy this funding gap during the 2023 long session.

Board of Trustees Confirmation

This week, the Legislature convened for what is known as Legislative Days. Legislative Days occur quarterly so interim committees can meet and the Legislature can conduct non-session business.

During this time, the Oregon State Senate confirmed the Governor’s appointment of five new members to the Oregon State University Board of Trustees. They are:

– Maria Teresa Chavez-Haroldson, regional equity, diversity and inclusion director at Willamette Education Service District
– Susan Clark, an accountant in Oregon State’s Division of Finance and Administration
– Román Hernández, office managing partner in the Portland office of national law firm Troutman Pepper
– Jax Richards, an OSU undergraduate student in economics and social public policy
– Inara Scott, the Gomo Family Professor and assistant dean for teaching and learning excellence in Oregon State’s College of Business

Revenue Update

The House and Senate Revenue Committees also received the December Revenue Forecast. The forecast projected General Fund gross revenue to be up $808.6M (3.5%) from the 2021 close of session estimate. Net general fund and lottery resources are up $1.5B (5.6%) from the close of session estimate and up $725.4M just from the September 2021 forecast. The economists contributed much of the growth to strong corporate taxes and high-income earners, who are top rate payers and have been doing particularly well through COVID.

While this is good news for the state Legislature, it does mean there will be a flurry of spending requests coming their way in the 2022 legislative session. Furthermore, the additional tax revenue created a prediction that the kicker would again kick state tax rebates out in 2024.

Underrepresented Student Taskforce

This week also saw the first meeting of the Joint Task Force on Student Success for Underrepresented Students in Higher Education. This task force was created by the passage of House Bill 2590 at the end of the 2021 legislative session. HB 2590 directs the task force to develop funding and policy proposals to address underrepresented higher education student success in the following areas: access, retention, graduation, and entry into the work force.

Representative Teresa Alonso Leon (D-Woodburn) was elected chair of the task force, after which she remarked that “right now we have an opportunity before us to lay the groundwork to reimagine and construct an education system that values all of our students’ academic journeys equally”. The task force then laid out the foundation for future meetings which will include inviting testimony from underrepresented students and conducting listening tours across Oregon’s higher education campuses.
We are looking forward to collaborating with the task force and highlighting OSU’s commitment to accessibility and academic success along with opportunities of growth. If you would like to follow along with the work of the task force, information and updates will be posted on OLIS. The taskforce is scheduled to meet next on December 16 from 8am to 10am. The Joint Task Force on Student Success for Underrepresented Students in Higher Education hopes to publish its report and recommendations by October 2022.

Beaver Caucus Advocacy Day

The final highlight of Legislative Days was an energized advocacy day organized by the Beaver Caucus. On Tuesday, November 16, impassioned OSU students, alumni, and stakeholders met with Legislators to discuss OSU priorities for 2022. The day was a rounding success with four groups of five-seven advocates meeting with twenty members of the Oregon House and Senate. The net was cast wide with our advocates meeting with a majority of members on the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.

Our advocates talked about a set of issues we hope the Legislature tackles in the 2022 session, including:

– Requesting $2.2 million from the Legislature to fully fund OSU Statewides for the remainder of the 2021-2023 biennium
– Requesting $255,000 from the Legislature to fully cover the cost of the state climatologist who is housed at OSU
(OSU leaders meeting with Representative Dan Rayfield and staff)

We would like to extend our gratitude to the students, alumni, and stakeholders who took time out of their day to advocate for causes that will directly benefit the communities OSU serves. Another thanks to the Legislators who made room in their busy Leg Days schedules to engage with our advocates and learn about OSU’s priorities going forward into 2022.

New Assistant Director of Government Relations

Finally, November saw the appointment of Joe Erickson as Assistant Director of Government Relations for OSU. Joe is a fourth generation Oregon public university graduate and Portland native. Before joining OSU, Joe worked with Representative Rachel Prusak and Representative Lisa Reynolds to further higher education policy in the state of Oregon. 

For all inquiries, you can reach Joe at or (503) 799-9780.

On Saturday, June 26, the Oregon Legislature adjourned an unprecedented session. Not only did the Legislature deal with large policy issues related to the pandemic, policing reform, wildfire preparation and more, all the committee work was done remotely and the Capital remained closed to the public for the entire session.

OSU’s Government Relations team would like to extend our appreciation to our advocacy partners both on and off campus.  During the session, OSU hosted four virtual stakeholder advocacy days, drawing more than 100 participants from every corner of the state to talk about higher education funding, OSU-Cascades, OSU Statewides and OSU Extension 4-H programing. Through these efforts, stakeholders communicated with all 90 legislators, with our partners at The Beaver Caucus facilitating 277 volunteer advocate emails to legislators. Even in the virtual environment, the presence of OSU’s citizen legislative advocates was meaningful in Salem.

The legislature approved increased funding for student financial aid and Oregon State University programs serving student success, research, OSU Extension and outreach programs statewide, and bonding for key building projects at OSU’s Corvallis and Bend campuses.

“I’m very grateful for the increased support of public higher education by Gov. Kate Brown and Oregon legislators,” said OSU Interim President Becky Johnson. “This support will greatly contribute to student success and graduation, while also advancing the valued statewide work of the OSU Extension Service and OSU research innovation and discovery that serves Oregonians, communities and our state’s economy.”

Higher Education Funding

The following are important investments made by the Legislature in higher education, financial aid, research, and Extension.

Programmatic FundingOutcome
Public University Support Fundsupports operating costs at all seven public universities
$900 million (7.5% increase)
Oregon Opportunity Grant financial aid program for low-income students
$200 million ($28.8m increase)
Statewide Public Service ProgramsOSU Extension, Ag. Experiment Station, and Forest Research Lab$151.9m for Statewides (5.88% increase) $4.35m for Statewides Facilities (transfer from PUSF)
State Programsfor OSU: Engineering Technology Sustaining Fund, TallWood Design Institute, Fermentation Science, Signature Research, Marine Vessel Program, Institute for Natural Resources, Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Lab$44.9m for ongoing State Programs (5.88% increase) $2.99m for OVDL (transfer from PUSF)
University Innovation Research Fund federal grant matching fund program in Business Oregon budget$5 million
Oregon Outdoor School K-12 program administered through OSU Extension$49.4m (full funding based on May lottery revenue forecast)
Sports Lotteryfunding for graduate scholarships and women’s programming in athletics departments$16.5m (full funding based on May lottery revenue forecast, $1.2m to OSU)
Campus Veteran’s Resource Grantsprogram in Oregon Department of Veteran’s Affairs to support veteran’s resources on campus$600k (reduction of $400k from 19-21)
Strong Start Program funding for public universities’ summer bridge programs for students entering Fall 2021$4.7m in HECC budget $1.5m from Federal Aid ($500k to OSU)
Wine Smoke Lab increase capacity for testing of wine grapes and other agricultural crops subject to wildfire smoke$2.68m
Berry Researchprogram for strawberry grower support at North Willamette Ext. and funding for four students$150k
Avian deaths & wind energystudy in consultation with the Oregon Department of Energy $427k
OSU-Cascades childcare center – Little Kits Early Learning in coordination with COCC$1m ARPA (federal) funds
Wheat Researchlab upgrades at Columbia Basin Ag. Research Center$100k ARPA (federal)funds
Capital ConstructionOutcome
Shared Capital Renewal Fund$80m XI-Q bonds
Cordley Hall Renovation$86m XI-Q and XI-G bonds
OSU-Cascades Student Success Center$13.8m XI-Q and XI-G bonds
Reser Stadium West Grandstands$40m XI-F bonds (self-financed)

Higher Education and Research Policy

This legislature showed significant interest in higher education policyand governance this session. Some major policies that have been under consideration for several legislative cycles found progress and ultimately passed.

Policy bills with direct fundingOutcome
Benefits Navigatorsfunds advising staff at all colleges and universities to assist students access public benefitsHB 2835: Passed, supporting ($4.9m)
Part-time Faculty Health Carecreating dedicated healthcare insurance program for faculty who work at multiple campusesSB 551: Passed, concerns about implementation ($12.9m for insurance program)
Wildfire Research & MappingOSU to support statewide efforts to mitigate and prepare for wildfireSB 762: Passed, $165k for Institute of Natural Resources and $950k for the College of Forestry for mapping and hosting statewide risk map. $23k to OSU Extension to support the Wildfire Programs Advisory Council and the potential to contract with Oregon Dept. of Forestry for add. collab.
Ocean Acidification & Hypoxia Researchfunding to support three OSU projects: Molluskan Broodstock, sampling along Hydrographic line and monitoring ocean acidificationHB 3114: Passed, supporting ($370k to OSU)
Meat Lab Upgrades – funding to upgrade facilities at Clark Meat LabHB 2785: passed, supporting ($300k)
Policy bills with no direct fundingOutcome
Credit Transferestablishes Transfer Council and common course numbering processSB 233: Passed, funding for HECC and transfer portal, unfunded fiscal for universities
University Venture Development Fund6-year tax credit extension to support donations to innovation programs at universitiesHB 2433: Passed, supporting
Student Voices Bill statewide taskforce on underrepresented students to tour state and develop funding recommendationsHB 2590: passed, supporting
Student Athlete Name, Image and Likenessallows student athlete to contract and benefit from a third party for usage of their name, image, and likenessSB 5: Passed, supporting (unfunded fiscal)
On-time Textbook Adoption – requires colleges and universities to post textbook selections for the subsequent term by the day of registrationHB 2919: Passed, supporting (unfunded fiscal)
GED placement allows students who graduated with a ‘college ready’ score on the GED to bypass certain placement testsHB 2589: Passed, supporting
Menstrual Dignity Act requires all public K-12, colleges, and universities to supply menstrual products in bathrooms at no costHB 3294: Passed (unfunded fiscal)
COFA student tuition requires students from Compact of Free Association nations be granted in-state tuitionSB 553: Passed, supporting
Student Incidental Fee Authority & Processclarifies process for adopting student incidental feesHB 3012: Passed, supporting
Student and University Fee Transparencyrequires mandatory students fees be prominently displayedHB 2542: Passed, supporting
Student Parent Datarequires a question be added to university forms identifying student parentsSB 564: Passed, supporting
Conviction disclosure (admission ‘ban the box’)prohibits colleges and universities to ask about former criminal convictions for the purposes of admission except in certain programsSB 713: Passed, supporting
Hemp Commission and State Plan creation of a hemp commodity commission and state plan to support industry and researchHB 2284: Passed, supporting HB 3000 (includes state plan): Passed
Non-traditional Educator Pathwaysallows for non-university educator preparation programs to offer non-traditional pathways to licensureHB 2166: Passed
Multiple Measures of Educator Assessment requires educator preparation programs conduct multiple assessments for teacher candidacy                                                                         HB 3354: Passed
General Counsel Reportingrequires universities to report to Attorney General on use of outside counselHB 2214: Passed

Remaining Items

Overall, the 2021 legislative session was successful for Oregon State University, higher education, and Oregon students. However, a few issues remain unresolved and will need continued work in the interim.

Harvest Tax – For decades, a portion of the Harvest Tax, which is a tax on harvested timber, has gone to the OSU College of Forestry. Every legislative session the tax is extended, and the rate is reset depending on projected timber harvest and programing needs. Due to political issues, the Legislature could not agree upon a bill to extend the Harvest Tax, resulting in a sunset of the tax. The dismantling of this unique funding source leaves the College of Forestry with a significant revenue gap. Commitments have been made by legislative leadership to address the issue in a future session by using general funds to back fill the budget shortfall for OSU.

Statewides & State Programs budgets – These program areas did not receive their full continuing service level requests to maintain the same level of programing and services as previous years. We will be prioritizing the full funding of these programs in the 2022 short session.

Governance There were several bills filed this session that demonstrated a desire from legislators to have a conversation around university governance. The Oregon Public Universities have committed to engage the Association of Governing Boards and legislators in a discussion around governance and best practices during the interim.

Yesterday, the March 2021 Revenue Forecast was presented to the legislature. This is the fourth forecast capturing the impact of COVID-19 on Oregon’s economy and the first of 2021. Even with some business sectors restricted by Oregon’s COVID-19 rules, Oregon’s tax revenue is holding steady.

General Fund and other major revenues are now slightly up from pre-COVID-19 levels. An ending balance of $1,232.5 million above the 2019 close-of-session estimation is projected. 

To date, the revenue losses in the current recession pale in comparison to Oregon’s recent experiences. Job losses over the past year match the worst of the Great Recession, however revenue declines are much less severe. This is contributed to federal aid packages, stronger personal savings heading into the recession and steady business income.

One surprise from the forecast was that healthy revenue collections are putting Oregon’s kicker into play. Following a booming first half of the biennium, Oregon’s General Fund revenue outlook was very close to the kicker threshold when the pandemic hit. After filling all of the recessionary hole, the March 2021 forecast calls for collections to exceed the threshold by $170 million (0.9%), resulting in a kicker credit of $571 million. However, this kicker credit is far from a sure thing. Oregon has the uncertainty of one more tax season left in the biennium.

Lottery revenues have been the hardest hit by state COVID-19 restrictions. The majority of Oregon lottery sales come from video games in Oregon bars and restaurants. As indoor dining has been restricted or closed, lottery revenues have plummeted. However, long-term revenues are expected to rise to improving economic outlook and strong lottery sales in recent weeks. Economist recognize that risks to lottery sales include an over estimate on the pent-up demand for entertainment, competition for entertainment as the economy reopens and future health restrictions due to hot spots.

Although this forecast is a welcome sight, budget writers still face a challenging environment this session. They must balance the increased needs of the state. Recent estimates for Medicare and Medicaid caseload growth have been as high as $400 million. Human services caseload estimates are beginning to show the impact of pandemic-related job losses, and the state continues to face significant expenditure needs associated with the wildfires that occurred in September. 

Long-term revenue growth is expected to remain modest during the 2021-23 budget period. Overall resources expected to be roughly flat over three budget cycles (excluding CAT). While much better than in most recessions, revenue gains are not fast enough to keep up with rising need and cost of public services.

We anticipate the Tri-Chairs of the Joint Committee on Ways & Means will wait until after a federal relief package reaches the President’s desk to issue their budget framework, a document we will likely see in early April. 

The legislature will receive the next quarterly revenue forecast on May 19th. This will be the baseline that is used to finalize the 21-23 biennial budget.

Thank you to our colleagues at University of Oregon for contributing to this report.

Oregon’s legislative session convened on January 19th. How the legislators conduct their business is heavily impacted by COVID-19. The State Capitol will remain closed until Marion County reaches OHA’s classification of low risk. All committee work will happen virtually through session, and currently, legislators are holding their constituent and lobbyist meetings solely in virtual settings.

Budgetary issues remain OSU’s top priorities for the 2021 legislative session. While several legislators recognize the need for investing in higher education, the legislative process on these budgets will begin later in the session.

The higher education budget hearings have not yet been scheduled, but are expected to take plan in late March/early April. One of the challenges with the Oregon Legislature’s virtual hearings schedule is a limitation on the number of meetings that can take place at one time. This means that the Ways & Means Subcommittees are restricted to about half the meetings they would normally hold, dramatically less time to learn about the vast amount of programing offered by Oregon higher education and specifically at OSU.

The limited time for committees makes it even more important legislators hear from OSU stakeholders and supporters. OSU Statewides Advocacy Day is planned for March 24th and OSU Day is May 6th. These traditional in-person lobby days will be moved to virtual formats. You can register for Statewides Day at this link:

The legislative policy committees are busy at work to meet their deadline of March 19th for scheduling bills for work sessions in their first chamber policy committees. The following OSU priorities have seen action early in the session:

Credit Transfer: The Statewide Provost Council are pursuing the establishment of common course numbering and a state Transfer Council. These concepts are under discussion in a work group led by Senate Education Chair Michael Dembrow. SB 233 is the likely bill vehicle for this concept moving forward.

Basic Needs Navigators: The House Education Committee has held a hearing on HB 2835 which funds a basic needs a navigator position on every community college and public university campus to help students access the local, state and federal benefits they are eligible for.

Hemp: OSU has been engaging with a coalition to bring back legislation from 2020 that would establish a hemp commodity commission (HB 2284) and update the Oregon state plan on hemp (HB 2281).

Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia: Representative Gomberg has introduced HB 3114 to fund research at OSU addressing ocean acidification and hypoxia. It has recently been assigned to the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee and expected for a hearing in late March.

Additionally, our faculty have provided testimony on a multitude of issues including cultural competency standards, textbook affordability, water quality, meat processing and wildfire management.