LEGISLATIVE & POLITICAL

Executive Council Adopts positions on first set of bills in 2019 legislative session

January 31, 2019 / Phil Lesch

On January 31 the Executive Council adopted positions on the first set of bills. These positions are consistent with and in alignment with the positions taken by the academic employees represented by AAUP-OR, which includes UAUO (faculty at University of Oregon), UAOSU (faculty at Oregon State University), and GEU (graduate student employees at Portland State University. The positions are as follows:

Members can look up the bills on the Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS) by typing the bill number in the search bar. 

SB 132: SUPPORT

Relating to paying the cost of health care services.

Requires health benefit plans, state medical assistance program, Public Employees' Benefit Board and Oregon Educators Benefit Board to pay for standard fertility preservation services for covered individual who will undergo medical treatment that is likely to result in iatrogenic infertility.

Rationale: SB 132 to would expand PEBB coverage to include necessary fertility preservation services for those undergoing treatment which is likely to produce infertility. This is a needed and fair expansion of our members’ health insurance benefits.

SB 147: SUPPORT

Relating to income tax subtractions for student loan payments; prescribing an effective date.

Allows personal income and corporate excise taxpayers to subtract from taxable income amounts paid as principal of or interest on qualified education loans. 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 147 allows taxpayers to subtract principal and interest payments on student loan debt from their taxable income for the purposes of state taxes. This is a step toward rendering higher education more affordable and would relieve the student loan debt burden many of our members carry.

SB 263: SUPPORT

Relating to higher education tuition; declaring an emergency.

Provides that student who legally entered United States under Compact of Free Association treaty between United States and Republic of Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands or Federated States of Micronesia qualifies for exemption from nonresident tuition and fees at public universities if student meets other tuition equity requirements. Provides that student who is refugee or special immigrant visa holder qualifies for exemption from nonresident tuition and fees at public universities. Declares emergency, effective on passage.

Rationale: SB 263 removes the barrier for qualifying for in-state tuition for students who would otherwise qualify and entered the country legally under the Compact of Free Association or as refugees or special immigrant visa holders.

This bill represents another important piece of our longstanding push for tuition equity for students who are Oregonians but may not qualify as residents of Oregon for the purpose of in-state tuition.

SB 312: SUPPORT

Relating to resident tuition for indigenous people; declaring an emergency.

Requires public universities and community colleges to charge resident tuition to Native Americans and Alaska Natives who graduated from Oregon high schools. Declares emergency, effective on passage.

Rationale: SB 312 guarantees Native American and Alaska Native students who graduate from Oregon high schools will be charged resident tuition. This bill represents another important piece of our longstanding push for tuition equity for Oregon students who may not otherwise qualify as residents of Oregon for the purpose of in-state tuition.

SB 455: SUPPORT

Relating to higher education contracting.

Requires public universities, community colleges and community college districts to require contractors to employ apprentices and to establish and execute plan for outreach, recruitment and retention of women and minority individuals for certain work relating to improvements to real property.

Rationale: SB 455 has the intention of making contract work paid for by public funds more accessible to women and minorities. Projects paid for by public funds should serve all Oregonians. The intentional inclusion of populations typically underrepresented in these professions better serves Oregon.

SB 497: SUPPORT

Relating to Oregon Promise eligibility.

Lowers high school grade point average required to participate in Oregon Promise program from 2.5 to 2.0. Permits recipient of program grant to be enrolled in courses for less than half-time if recipient can demonstrate that recipient has paid employment that averages 30 or more hours per week.

Rationale: SB 497 would amend eligibility requirements for the Oregon Promise program to better serve populations that are intended to be served. These changes would expand the population able to take advantage of the program and make higher education more accessible.

SB 531: OPPOSE

Relating to public employee retirement; declaring an emergency.

Redirects employee contribution to Public Employees Retirement System to account to be used to pay for pension or other retirement benefits payable to member or member's beneficiary accrued on or after January 1, 2020. For years beginning in 2020, caps at $100,000 annual salary used to calculate final average salary for purposes of system. Changes calculation of final average salary for purposes of system to use five years of salary instead of three years, for salary paid on and after January 1, 2020. Lowers pension factor used to calculate pension benefits of members of system for service performed on and after January 1, 2020. Directs Public Employees Retirement Board to recalculate employer contribution rates to reflect savings attributable to Act. Provides for expedited review of Act by Supreme Court upon petition by adversely affected party. Declares emergency, effective on passage.

Rationale: SB 531 changes the mechanism for calculating final salary for the purposes of PERS benefits and would reduce benefits for many of our members. This is one of many bad PERS bills we will oppose as part of an effort to protect our members’ retirement benefits.

SB 532: OPPOSE

Relating to contributions to the individual account program of the Public Employees Retirement System. Requires member of individual account program of Public Employees Retirement System and member's employer to each contribute three percent of member's salary to individual account program. Prohibits employer from making or paying other contributions to individual account program for or on behalf of member.

Rationale: SB 532 reduces the employer and employee contribution to the Individual Account Program (IAP) of PERS, reducing benefits for our members. This is one of many bad PERS bills we will oppose as part of an effort to protect our members’ retirement benefits.

SB 554: OPPOSE

Relating to the calculation of final average salary under the Public Employees Retirement System.      Changes calculation of final average salary for purposes of Public Employees Retirement System to use five years of salary instead of three years, for salary paid on and after January 1, 2020. Directs Public Employees Retirement

Board to recalculate employer contribution rates to reflect savings attributable to Act. Provides for expedited review of Act by Supreme Court upon petition by adversely affected party.

Rationale: SB 554 changes the mechanism for calculating final salary for the purposes of PERS benefits and would reduce benefits for many of our members. This is one of many bad PERS bills we will oppose as part of an effort to protect our members’ retirement benefits.

SB 346: OPPOSE

Relating to zero-based budgeting.

Declares policy of state to use zero-based budgeting in developing biennial budget plan. Requires state agencies to include information justifying proposed expenditures in agency request budgets filed with Oregon Department of Administrative Services. Applies to biennia beginning on or after July 1, 2021.

Rationale: SB 346 calls for zero-based budgeting. The push for zero-based budgeting is ideologically motivated and predicated on the assumption that we overspend on education, health care, and public services. Additionally, it’s an impractical process that unnecessarily drains the time and resources of public agencies.

SB 530: OPPOSE

Relating to collective bargaining agreements with executive branch.

Requires that collective bargaining agreements with state agency within executive branch be negotiated and entered into in even-numbered year preceding biennium in which agreement takes effect.

Rationale: SB 530 seeks to restrict the collective bargaining rights of unions negotiating with the executive branch of the state government. It removes power from the workers and limits the length of their contracts and their ability to negotiate during time where they may have maximal leverage. We oppose the restriction of workers’ collective bargaining rights.

SB 533: OPPOSE

Relating to redirection of the employee contribution under the Public Employees Retirement System; declaring an emergency.

Redirects employee contribution to Public Employees Retirement System to account to be used to pay for pension or other retirement benefits payable to member or member's beneficiary accrued on or after January 1, 2020.

Directs Public Employees Retirement Board to recalculate employer contribution rates to reflect savings attributable to Act. Provides for expedited review of Act by Supreme Court upon petition by adversely affected party. Declares emergency, effective on passage.

Rationale: SB 533 the calculation of the employer’s contribution to PERS benefits and would result in a decrease in benefits to our members. This is one of many bad PERS bills we will oppose as part of an effort to protect our members’ retirement benefits.

SB 551: OPPOSE

Relating to public employee retirement.

Redirects employee contributions made by member of system from individual account program to account to be used to pay for member's pension or other retirement benefits accrued on or after January 1, 2020. For years beginning in 2020, caps at $100,000 annual salary used to calculate final average salary for purposes of Public Employees Retirement System. Directs Public Employees Retirement Board to recalculate employer contribution rates to reflect savings attributable to Act. Provides for expedited review of Act by Supreme Court upon petition by adversely affected party.

Rationale: SB 551 changes the mechanism for calculating final salary for the purposes of PERS benefits and would reduce benefits for many of our members. This is one of many bad PERS bills we will oppose as part of an effort to protect our members’ retirement benefits.

SB 555: OPPOSE

Relating to distributions under the individual account program of the Public Employees Retirement System.

Eliminates option of members of individual account program of Public Employees Retirement System to receive distributions as installment payments upon retirement. Requires members retiring on or after January 1, 2021, to receive distributions as lump sum.

Rationale: SB 555 would force members to accept the payout of their Individual Account Program (IAP) as a lump sum. Having the option to receive installment payments provides greater stability to our members after retirement. This is one of many bad PERS bills we will oppose as part of an effort to protect our members’ retirement benefits.

SB 556: OPPOSE

Relating to approval of state agency fees by Legislative Assembly; declaring an emergency. Specifies that new or increased fees adopted by state agency do not become effective unless approved by Legislative Assembly by law. Declares emergency, effective July 1, 2019.

Rationale: SB 556 mimics the effort of Measure 104, which we opposed on the November ballot. It introduces a legislative obstacle to the adjustment of any state agency fee, making it more difficult to implement the necessary process of raising fees within the state. This is one of many efforts to restrict normal revenue generation that will worsen budget shortfalls that already affect education and other state services.

SB 660: OPPOSE

Relating to higher education; prescribing an effective date.

Requires public universities, in consultation with Department of Revenue, to develop comprehensive proposal to make public universities as financially independent from state as possible and to reduce hardship imposed on Oregon residents by student loan debt. Requires public universities to file report containing comprehensive proposal with Legislative Assembly by September 1, 2020. Takes effect on 91st day following adjournment sine die.

Rationale: SB 660 is a move toward (further) privatization of public higher education. We believe in the value and necessity of public higher education and will resist efforts to privatize and underfund our state higher education system.

SB 611: OPPOSE

Relating to zero-based budgeting.

Declares policy of state to use zero-based budgeting in developing biennial budget plan. Requires state agencies to include information justifying proposed expenditures in agency request budgets filed with Oregon Department of Administrative Services. Applies to biennia beginning on or after July 1, 2021.

Rationale: SB 346 calls for zero-based budgeting. The push for zero-based budgeting is ideologically motivated and predicated on the assumption that we overspend on education, health care, and public services. Additionally, it’s an impractical process that unnecessarily drains the time and resources of public agencies.

SB 614: OPPOSE

Relating to prudent maximum General Fund-supported debt; declaring an emergency.

Establishes prudent maximum amount of outstanding General Fund-supported debt as amount for which debt service due in biennium equals five percent of General Fund revenues estimated to be received in biennium.

Prohibits State Treasurer from incurring General Fund-supported debt in excess of prudent maximum amount. Declares emergency, effective July 1, 2019.

Rationale: SB 614 is an attempt to limit the ability of the state to issue bonds. Such a move would hamper development-related initiatives and limit the state during emergencies. This could have significant trickle down effects on education funding.

SB 628: OPPOSE

Relating to immunizations for post-secondary institutions of education; declaring an emergency.

Requires that post-secondary institution of education that requires students to receive immunizations accept from student who declines immunization certification that student has completed vaccine educational module. Directs Oregon Health Authority to approve vaccine educational module for each required immunization. Declares emergency, effective on passage.

Rationale: SB 628 would allow students at post-secondary institutions to forgo required immunizations if they complete a short vaccine educational module. Weakening campus herd immunity has serious workplace safety and public safety implications for our members, leading us to oppose this legislation.

SB 668: OPPOSE

Relating to education savings accounts; declaring an emergency.

Establishes education savings account program. Allows participating students to obtain grants from education savings accounts to fund attendance at specified types of schools or education programs. Establishes Education Savings Program Fund and transfers moneys from State School Fund distributions for use in education savings accounts. First applies to 2020-2021 school year. Declares emergency, effective on passage.

Rationale: SB 668 would allow funding that would otherwise go to public education to be paid directly into accounts held by the guardians of Oregon students and then used to fund private school or higher education for the student. This is essentially a move away from public education in favor of charter and private schools.

SJR 3: SUPPORT

Proposing amendment to Oregon Constitution relating to surplus revenue.

Proposes amendment to Oregon Constitution to transfer excess revenues from personal income tax collections to education stability fund and to eliminate surplus revenue "kicker" refund process. Refers proposed amendment to people for their approval or rejection at next regular general election.

Rationale: SJR 3 would send a referendum to the ballot to remove the personal “kicker.” The presence of the kicker produces much of our budget shortfall and precludes a health rainy day fund for Oregon. Removing the kicker would accomplish much of the work of raising revenue and allow education and other public services to be better funded.

HB 2231: SUPPORT

Relating to interpreter collective bargaining.

Provides right to collectively bargain with State of Oregon to interpreters who receive compensation paid by state for providing interpretation services.

Rationale: HB 2231 is an expansion of public employee collective bargaining rights.

HB 2507: SUPPORT

Relating to higher education tuition; declaring an emergency.

Provides that student who legally entered United States under Compact of Free Association treaty between United States and Republic of Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands or Federated States of Micronesia qualifies for exemption from nonresident tuition and fees at public universities if student meets other tuition equity requirements. Provides that student who is refugee or special immigrant visa holder qualifies for exemption from nonresident tuition and fees at public universities. Declares emergency, effective on passage.

Rationale: SB 263 removes the barrier for qualifying for in-state tuition for students who would otherwise qualify and entered the country legally under the Compact of Free Association or as refugees or special immigrant visa holders.

This bill represents another important piece of our longstanding push for tuition equity for students who are Oregonians but may not qualify as residents of Oregon for the purpose of in-state tuition.

HB 2518: SUPPORT

Relating to financial aid at public universities.

Prohibits public universities from decreasing amount of financial aid previously awarded to student due to student's receipt of merit-based scholarships.

Rationale: Currently, a university can reduce financial aid after disbursement if a scholarship or fellowship is received. This can result in students owing back payment to the university on money already disbursed and potentially already spend. This would prevent this practice and remove a hardship from students, including our graduate employee members.

HB 2519: SUPPORT

Relating to hazing at institutions of higher education.

Requires community colleges and universities operating in this state that receive state financial aid to adopt written policy on hazing, provide on-campus policy training on hazing and annually report to Higher Education Coordinating Commission number of hazing incidents reported and investigated by community college or university during previous academic year. Requires commission to annually report to Legislative Assembly number of hazing incidents reported and investigated by community colleges and universities during previous academic year.

Rationale: Hazing is an issue on our campuses. Better reporting and well thought out policies on hazing protect our students.

HB 2580: SUPPORT

Relating to mandatory subjects of collective bargaining.

Amends definition of "employment relations" to include class size and caseload limits as mandatory collective bargaining subjects for school districts.

Rationale: HB 2580 expands collective bargaining rights for public school teachers and counselors by adding class size and caseload limits to the list of employment relations (and thus to the list of mandatory subjects of bargaining). We support both the general expansion of rights and the possibility that this may move us in the direction of having class size as a mandatory subject of bargaining for higher education employees as well.

HB 2675: SUPPORT

Relating to coverage of family members under state-sponsored health benefit plans; declaring an emergency.

Permits duplicate health benefit plan coverage for public employees. Declares emergency, effective on passage.

Rationale: HB 2675 expands PEBB benefits to allow double coverage for family members. This is a benefit expansion for our members.

HB 2640: SUPPORT

Relating to the cost for Native Americans of attending public institutions of higher education.

Provides that public universities and community colleges must waive all tuition and fees for enrolled students who are members of Native American tribe historically based in Oregon. Provides that public universities and community colleges must charge no more than resident tuition for enrolled students who are members of Native American tribe not based in Oregon.

Rationale: HB 2640 goes further than SB 312 by also waiving all tuition and fees for students who are members of Native American tribes historically based in Oregon. This aligns with our values of supporting education affordability for marginalized groups.

HB 2775: OPPOSE

Relating to union representation for public employees.

Prohibits union security agreements between public employer and union. Permits public employees to choose not to join union or pay union dues. Exempts unions from duty to represent public employees who choose not to join union or pay union dues. Makes conforming changes.

Rationale: HB 2775 would make fair share agreements illegal under Oregon law. While the Janus decision makes this true in practice, enshrining it in state law would mean that even if precedent changed, Oregon law would prohibit fair share agreements. Further, removing the duty to represent non-members undermines the solidarity on which unions are built and divides workers from one another.

HB 2726: SUPPORT

Relating to labor organization representation.

Permits employees who are not union members to voluntarily consent to make in-lieu-of-dues payment to labor organization for organization's representation of nonmember employees in employment relations with public employer. Prohibits compulsory payments to labor organizations by nonmember employees. Makes entering into agreement that requires nonmember employees of labor organization to make payments to labor organization unfair labor practice. Allows deduction from salary or wages of nonmember employee for payment to labor organization upon employee's voluntary, written consent authorizing deduction.

Rationale: HB 2726 makes it explicitly legal to enter into agreements where non-members voluntarily pay for representation. This is a practice some chapters have already adopted; making it state law would explicitly protect the practice.

HB 2757: SUPPORT

Relating to income tax subtractions for student loan payments; prescribing an effective date.

Allows personal income and corporate excise taxpayers to subtract from taxable income amounts paid as principal of or interest on qualified education loans, if borrower is taxpayer or spouse, or dependent or employee 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: HB 2757 expands upon provisions in SB 147, allowing taxpayers to subtract principal and interest  payments on their, a spouse’s, dependent’s, or employee’s student loan debt from their taxable income for the purposes of state taxes. This is a step toward rendering higher education more affordable and would relieve the student loan debt burden many of our members carry. It may also encourage more employers to offer student loan repayment to employees.

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