The 2018 short session ended more than a week early when legislators called for sine die on March 3rd. This update provides information about:

  • How OSU’s legislative priorities fared
  • Bills of note
  • What’s ahead as we prepare for the 2019 session

OSU’s Legislative Priorities

OSU entered the session seeking $39 million in bonding for a second academic building on the OSU-Cascades campus and $3 million to match a $35 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to establish a marine energy test bed off the coast of Oregon near Newport. With the help of a wide range of principals and advocates, the legislature approved funding for both.

OSU-Cascades:  OSU-Cascades was a team effort, beginning with Governor Kate Brown who, in December, sought funding for OSU-Cascades along with projects at the University of Oregon and Eastern Oregon University.

Key legislators were also supportive, including Speaker Tina Kotek (D-North Portland), who expressed support early on in the session, and Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend), who has advocated for the campus beginning with its inception in the 2001 legislative session. Rep. Knopp was joined by his legislative colleagues from Central Oregon including Reps. Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver), who participated on the Ways & Means Committee and carried the capital funding bill on the floor; Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend), who sponsored the bill that sought funding for OSU-Cascades during the 2017 session; and Rep. Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte). Rep. Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) helped orchestrate a letter signed by 35 legislators in support of the OSU-Cascades expansion and the projects at UO and EOU. The Oregon Council of Presidents, which includes the presidents of all seven public universities, also supported the Governor’s request in a letter to legislative leadership.

Now4 OSU-Cascades, a non-partisan organization of citizen supporters led by Amy Tykeson and Janie Teater, turned out advocates who made the six-hour round-trip multiple times to testify for a few minutes before the various legislative committees considering the project. In addition to Teater and Tykeson, key among the Central Oregon advocates were Katy Brooks, President of the Bend Chamber of Commerce, and OSU-Cascades students Gabby Bangert, Melanie Widmer, and Lynnea Fredrickson.

The Beaver Caucus, a non-partisan volunteer organization of OSU advocates, chaired by Bill Perry, also joined in support for the campus expansion during both the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions. Advocates spent a productive day meeting with legislators prior to the 2018 session.

The legislature also approved $9 million in lottery bonds for a field house at EOU, $20 million in general obligation bonds for the Knight Science Campus at UO, and $2.8 million in general obligation bonds to replace a boiler at Southern Oregon University.

Finally, the legislature adopted a budget note asking the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) to take a stronger role in evaluating university capital projects:

“The Higher Education Coordinating Commission is directed to report to the Emergency Board in May 2018 on the statewide criteria developed to evaluate and prioritize Public University capital requests that are proposed in the agency’s request budget. The criteria and evaluation process should provide, at a minimum, comparable information across projects, objective analysis of each request, and prioritization of deferred maintenance activities.”

OSU plans to work with the Commission in the coming months as it responds to the legislative request and as it evaluates projects for the 2019-21 biennium.

Wave Energy:  Funding for the wave energy project was also a collaborative effort spurred by Sen. Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay). The Coastal Caucus, including Sens. Roblan, Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) and Reps. Deborah Boone (D-Cannon Beach), David Gomberg (D-Lincoln City), Caddie McKeown (D-Coos Bay), and David Brock Smith (R-Port Orford), joined together in support of this project. Debra Smith, general manager for the Central Lincoln People’s Utility District and Lincoln County Commissioner Terry Thompson were also key supporters throughout our advocacy efforts. Legislators approved a budget note in the funding bill for the wave energy center calling for an additional $1.6 million in the 2019 session to complete the state match. OSU is working to raise an additional $4.6 million in industry and philanthropic support.


Bills of Note

Here is a listing of a number of bills that were approved during the short session:

HB 4089 – Industrial Hemp:  Enables OSU to conduct research on industrial hemp cultivation and utilization and establishes a hemp seed certification program through our College of Agriculture.

HB 4141 – Tuition Setting:  Requires each public university to establish an advisory body on resident tuition and mandatory enrollment fees. The advisory body must have at least two administrators, two faculty members, two students from the recognized student government, and two students representing historically underserved students of the university. The public universities worked hard to make this bill workable, with the understanding that there will be no bills changing the tuition-setting process in 2019.

HB 4053 – Accelerated Credit Reporting:  Directs the Chief Education Office, in collaboration with the HECC to prepare an annual report on accelerated college credit programs. The first report is due in December, 2018. The legislature did not appropriate any funding for the universities to complete this work. We anticipate credit transfer issues will persist during the interim and into the 2019 session.

SB 1563 – Tuition Equity:  Removes the requirement that students who are not citizens or lawful permanent residents apply for official federal identification documents to be eligible for exemption from paying nonresident tuition at public universities. This bill enables universities to provide institutional financial aid to DACA students.

HCR 206 – OSU 150:  Congratulates Oregon State University on our 150th anniversary. Passed unanimously in both chambers!

HB 4014 – Tuition Waivers for Former Foster Youth Fix:  Removes the requirement that foster children or former foster children complete a certain number of volunteer services hours during the previous academic year to qualify for tuition waivers.

HB 4035 – Tuition Assistance for Members of the National Guard:  Establishes a tuition assistance program for qualified Oregon National Guard members qualified participants who maintain a GPA of at least 2.0 and are attending an Oregon community college or public university. The legislature allocated $2.5 million to the HECC for tuition assistance payments.

HB 4056 – Scholarships for Children of Deceased or Disabled Public Safety Officers:  Designates 10 percent of forfeiture proceeds for a scholarship program for children of fallen or disabled public safety officers.

SB 1554 – Disregards 529 Accounts for Purposes of Financial Aid:  Requires the HECC to conduct a study of the effects of excluding savings account balances on state and institutional financial aid programs (529 college savings plans) and submit a report to legislature by December 1, 2018.

SB 1557 – Protections for Students called to Duty for less than 30 Days:  Requires community colleges, public universities, and Oregon Health and Science University to provide certain rights to students ordered to federal or state active duty for 30 or fewer consecutive days.

SB 1507 and HB 4001 – Carbon Cap & Invest: These high profile bills to establish a state carbon “cap & invest” system made it through the committees on party line votes and died after referral to the Rules Committees in each chamber. In the final spending bill, however, the legislature appropriated $1.4 million to create a Carbon Policy Office in the Department of Administrative Services.


Looking Toward 2019

During the short session, public universities sought to inform legislators about our continuing budget challenges as we approach the 2019-21 biennium. We will need at least a $130 million increase over our current $736.8 million appropriation to keep from having to raise tuition by more than 5%. This amount will not provide for any programmatic increases. And this amount will continue to require students to pay for many of our cost-drivers, such as the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) and employee health benefits.

Candidate filings:  March 6th also marked the passage of the deadline for filing for election for the May 15th primary election. In our next update, we will provide a rundown of a number of the changes we may see in the membership of the two legislative chambers in 2019. In the House, seven current representatives (12% of the membership) have chosen to retire and will not be running this year. An additional five members appointed to their seats over the last year will be running for the first time. The Senate will include at least two new members (7% of the membership) due to a resignation and a retirement. An additional three current members appointed to the Senate over the last year will be running for the first time as Senators in the 2018 election.

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