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.

With the adjournment of the 2017 legislative session last Friday afternoon, this issue provides a summary of the session, including:

  • The big picture and a prognosis for the next year;
  • How OSU’s legislative priorities fared;
  • Other bills that captured our attention and time; and
  • Acknowledgements for all the help we received over the last seven months.

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This issue provides an update and summary of some of the major budget decisions affecting Oregon’s public universities. Last week when the Governor and House and Senate leaders announced they could not reach an agreement on revenue reform this session, both chambers started moving pell-mell for the exits, with the hope to adjourn well before the July 10 constitutional deadline. The legislature will be working through the weekend and, if necessary, over the 4th of July holiday.

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This report provides a summary of recent actions and proposals on a wide range of issues, including a rundown of some key bills under consideration as the legislature gradually nears it July 10 deadline for adjournment. As the legislature nears adjournment, leaders are taking a number of steps to speed things up.  On Monday, Senate President Courtney announced that committees are now on “one-hour notice,” meaning that instead of waiting the normal 48 hours after posting an agenda, committees may now meet with an hour’s notice. This Friday, June 2 marks the last day committees in each chamber may approve bills from the other chamber. Following the committee deadline, policy committees may hold informational hearings, but their work in approving any further legislation is concluded. The only committees remaining in operation for the purpose of considering legislation will be the Joint Ways & Means Committee and the Revenue Committees and Rules Committees in the House and Senate.

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