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 joseph.erickson@oregonstate.edu or (503) 799-9780.