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 joseph.erickson@oregonstate.edu 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: https://beav.es/J7c

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.

Last week, the Oregon Legislature held a historic, semi-virtual special session. Convened by the Governor, the session sought to address policy bills related to COVID-19, policing reform and a handful of pressing issues carried over from the February session. The State Capitol remained closed to the general public and most staff as the legislature conducted their business through a mixture of in-person voting sessions and virtual committee meetings.

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Oregon Primary Highlights

Oregon held its primary election on May 19th. Results can be found here. Oregon’s U.S. Senate and Congressional incumbents all won their primary and will continue on to the general election. COVID-19 and social distancing definitely changed how candidates ran their campaigns. The traditional candidate forums and debates moved to web-based platforms, door-to-door canvasing became direct phones calls and digital ads, and opportunities to mingle with voters at community events were canceled.

However, COVID did not impact Oregon voter turnout as was seen in other states. Oregon’s commitment to vote-by-mail paid off with one of the highest state voter turnouts in the national 2020 primary election. This was also Oregon’s first election with prepaid envelopes, making voting so easy that 46% turnout almost seems too low.

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