At its March 21st meeting, the Executive Council considered bills from our Legislative Committee and took the following supporting positions:
Relating to family leave.
Expands definition of “family member” for purposes of family and medical leave. Makes family and medical leave requirements applicable to all employers, regardless of size of employer. Reduces number of days and hours employee must work for employer in order to become eligible employee. Extends length of leave employee may take for bereavement. Extends length of leave employee may take for family and medical leave. Requires employer to grant family leave with pay. Allows employee to determine order in which accrued leave is to be used when more than one type of accrued leave is available to employee. Allows employee who separates employment with employer to automatically reestablish eligibility to take family and medical leave if certain conditions are met. Allows recovery of compensatory and punitive damages for civil action brought alleging violation of family and medical leave requirements.
Rationale: SB 947 alters the existing Oregon Family Leave Act to provide for paid leave, expand the length of leave to 24 weeks, and expand the definition of family. Such expansions would greatly benefit workers, especially those without existing paid leave in their contracts. SB 947 is largely similar to HB3031, which we have endorsed, and part of the broader work of a coalition we joined last year.
Relating to income tax subtractions for student loan payments; prescribing an
Allows personal income taxpayers to subtract from taxable income amounts paid as principal of or interest on qualified education loans, if borrower is taxpayer, spouse or dependent of taxpayer. Reduces amount of allowed subtraction by amounts of interest deducted on federal return. Applies to interest paid in tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2019, and before January 1, 2025. Takes effect on 91st day following adjournment sine die.
Rationale: SB 956 would lower student loan debt burden by allowing payments to be subtracted from taxable income for Oregon taxes. This both lowers the barrier for higher education and benefits our members, many of whom carry significant student loan debt. This is similar to a number of similar bills we’ve endorsed this session.
Relating to student loans; prescribing an effective date.
Establishes Dreamers Access Program to award student loans to eligible students with demonstrated financial need. Provides that maximum amount of loan per student may not exceed $10,000 per academic year or aggregate total of $50,000. Requires Higher Education Coordinating Commission to administer program by rule. Establishes Dreamers Access Program Fund. Continuously appropriates moneys to commission for purpose of awarding loans and administering program. Requires commission to file annual report with Legislative Assembly stating dollar amount of each loan awarded under program and number of students who received loan under program during previous academic year. Requires commission to file annual report with Legislative Assembly stating total amount of moneys within fund, total amount of moneys appropriated or otherwise provided to fund during current biennium by Legislative Assembly and commission’s annual administrative costs for administering program.
Takes effect on 91st day following adjournment sine die.
Rationale: SB958 is the Senate version of HB3204, which we have already supported. SB 958would make financial aid, via state offered loans, accessible to undocumented students with demonstrated financial need. Doing so furthers our effort to make higher education accessible to this group. The bill is a priority for the Oregon Student Association, our Higher Education Coalition allies.