It's a Wrap!



Rep. Michael Dembrow 
NE Portland, Maywood Park & Parkrose

Phone: 503-986-1445


E-Newsletter                              7/11/2013

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Well, the 2013 Legislative session wrapped up on Monday, and none too soon for me.  Why, you might ask?  Because I had to start teaching on Tuesday! 

I must confess that it’s refreshing and humbling to be back in that other world.  When I first walked into my department office, one of the administrative assistants told me that she was particularly happy to see me because she had a pressing political issue she wanted to ask me about.  I was eager to hear her query.  Was it the changes to higher ed governance?  The community college budget?  Funding for career/technical education? Or some other issue that I’d had a hand in this session?  No, she wanted to know why her garbage was only being picked up every two weeks even though her rates had gone up.  That’s what it all comes down to, folks—potholes and garbage.

Still, I’m happy to report that, although we had some painful moments at the end, all in all we had an excellent legislative session.  We were able to improve K-12 budgets by a billion dollars, passed modest but important sentencing reform, gained access to Medicaid for 220,000 additional Oregonians, staved off the most onerous of PERS-reform proposals for low-income pensioners, added enough funding to universities to hold tuition down and enough bonding for community colleges to fund all their capital project requests, created a driver’s card program for undocumented immigrants, ended furlough days for state workers and funded the first raises in many years for home healthcare workers.

In this newsletter I want to focus on the bills that I had a particular hand in passing, bills that I chief-sponsored and/or had drafted and shepherded through the process.  All in all, there were 22 such bills and I’m very proud to say that I believe they will make a real difference to the state.  Only a couple of my priority bills didn’t make it all the way, despite a great deal of effort by Marissa, Logan, and me.  But we will be back next February! 

Actually, Marissa probably won’t be back with me in February.  There was only enough funding in my state account to keep her on staff during the session, and she’s now looking for another position.  (If you have an opening, I suggest that you grab her.)  Marissa was an outstanding team member and colleague, and I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge her work (which began during the February 2012 session, when she worked as my intern).  She guided staff efforts on all our healthcare and human services bills, including the guardianship bills, the healthcare study bill, and the earned sick leave bill.  She was and is very well liked and very well respected at the Capitol.  Please join me in wishing her the best.    

Read on below for details on 2013 session legislation.  But first:

Constituent Coffee -- This Saturday!

Join me this Saturday morning at 10 AM at the Hollywood Senior Center (1820 NE 40th Ave.) for a post-session wrap-up coffee.  I'll bring the coffee, you bring yourselves.  See you then.

Bike Town Hall -- Saturday 8/3

Stay tuned for more on our 4th Annual "Town Hall on Two Wheels."  Save the date now for 8/3.

Higher Education Bills

Not surprisingly, given my role as Chair of the House Higher Ed/Workforce Development Committee, most of my time this session was spent on higher education bills, particularly the first three. 

  • ·         HB 2787 Tuition Equity:  This was of course a huge win for students brought to this country as children, a ten-year effort that finally paid off. 
  • ·         HB 3120 and SB 270 Higher Education Governance:  These two bills consumed the bulk of my time this session (and before).  Taken together, they will allow universities to have their own public governing boards (as do Oregon’s community colleges and independent colleges and universities), creating greater focus, transparency, and accountability.  At the same time, through the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, we will see a higher degree of partnership between the universities and the community colleges.  Students, particularly those who transfer from institution to institution, will benefit.  I’ll talk more about this in a future newsletter, explaining why this new model is already attracting praise from national policy leaders.
  • ·         SJR 1: The Oregon Opportunity Initiative: This is Treasurer Ted Wheeler’s constitutional amendment referral that will, if approved by the voters in November 2014, allow the state to issue bonds to fund projects that will make higher education and workforce development affordable for Oregon’s students.  It’s a creative, innovative approach to deal with the growing crisis of crushing student debt, and would help fund the startup costs of the Pay It Forward plan described next.  
  • ·         HB 3472 Pay It Forward:  This is a related attempt to deal with the student debt crisis. The bill directs the Higher Ed Coordinating Commission to analyze and develop a potential pilot program where tuition would be waived in exchange for a commitment to pay 3% of salary after graduation (1.5% for a CC graduate) for a fixed period of time.  I partnered with a group of PSU students and the Working Families Party) has generated a surprising amount of national interest.  Read the NY Times story about it here.
  • ·         HB 2970 Associate of Science Transfer in Engineering: It is currently difficult for students to transfer from a CC to a university in engineering, which is holding down the number of students graduating with badly-needed engineering degrees.  The bill directs the creation of a statewide transfer degree to change that.  
  • ·         HB 2979 Common Course Numbering: Another obstacle to transfer is the lack of consistency in the lower-division (i.e., first-year and second-year) courses offered at our public colleges and universities.  Making them more consistent will help students who are co-enrolled, who transfer, or who are doing “dual credit” at our high schools. 
  • ·         SB 222 Dual Credit:  This bill ramps up the state’s commitment to allowing students to take college courses while in high school by creating partnerships between high schools, community colleges, and universities.  It seeks to extend a model that has been very successful in Eastern Oregon. 
  • ·         HB 2152 Higher Ed Staff Reporting:  This bill will require our colleges and universities to report annually on the number of employees (they already report on the number of full-time vs. part-time faculty).  This will help us to gauge whether or not the schools are experiencing “administrative bloat.” 
  • ·         HB 3341, 3079 Repeals Adverse Impact Process: Currently a public college or university is barred from creating a new program if that program is already being offered (at much higher cost to students) by a for-profit school.  This bill eliminates that requirement. (Oregon is the only state to have such a requirement.)
  • ·         HB 2417 (merged into HB 3120) Achievement Compact Advisory Committees: Guarantees that each college’s and university’s achievement compacts with the state will be developed by a committee that includes students, faculty, staff, and administrators. 
  • ·         HB 3038 Back to Work Oregon:  Increases funding for one of Oregon’s most successful and innovative workforce development programs, an on-the-job training partnership between the state and employers.  It creates a clear pathway to good jobs for dislocated workers.
  • ·         HB 3079 Fact Sheets for Colleges and Universities:  This bill is part of an effort to create a clearinghouse for prospective students and their families trying to decide on a public, private or for-profit school to see the relative costs, loan default rates, and graduation rates for all the colleges and universities operating in Oregon.  It will bring much-needed transparency and should help students invest their tuition dollars more wisely.  This is still a work in progress that will require further legislation in February.

Career-Technical Education and Apprenticeship

  • ·         SB 498 Career/Technical Education (CTE):  Continues the effort that I initiated last session to restore vocational education to our high schools, increasing the $2 million grant program to nearly $8 million.  
  • ·         HB 2913 CTE Revitalization Grant Committee: Clarifies the role of the advisory committee—which includes representatives of labor, industry, and educators--that distributes the grants.  
  • ·         HB 2912 CTE Advisory Committees and CTE Student Organizations: Encourages the creation of combined industry advisory committees for high school and CC CTE programs within a region to ensure better pathways for training and apprenticeships.  It also creates a $500,000 fund for CTE student organizations like Future Farmers of America and  SkillsUSA, which are critical to the success of CTE students, helping them graduate from high school at a nearly 100% rate.  One of our new representatives, Jeff Reardon (a former shop teacher) was a great champion for this part of the bill. You can learn more about CTSOs here.
  • ·         HB 2986 Driving privileges for Job Training Programs: This bill allows ex-offenders with suspended licenses to regain their licenses in order to enter apprenticeship programs, gain employment, and repay their fines.  Removes a serious obstacle to apprenticeship.
  • ·         SB792 Apprenticeship Utilization in Oregon:  This bill declares that the state has a strong interest in promoting construction apprenticeship as part of post-secondary education and directs a legislative/industry taskforce to recommend minimum standards for utilization of apprentices on public projects. 

Health Care and Human Services

  • ·         HB 3260 Universal Health Care Financing Study:  The Oregon Health Authority will oversee a study to recommend the best model for financing health care in the future: a single payer (Medicare-for-All) system; the current Affordable Care Act system; a public option offered along with private insurance; or a high-deductible plan available to everyone and funded through a sales tax.  Passage of this bill was a huge victory and a key step towards a more rational model for assuring universal access to health care.
  • ·         HB 2922 Affordable Health Care for All Oregon:  No, the single payer bill did not pass this session, nor was it intended to.  But we more than doubled the number of co-sponsors to 24 and had a great hearing.  The work continues.
  • ·         HB 3129 Guardianship Standards: Currently Oregon has no requirements for someone to serve as a professional guardian for a non-family member.  This creates the potential for all sorts of abuse and exploitation.  This bill changes that by requiring that guardians have national certification and a fiduciary responsibility towards their clients.
  • ·         HB 2671 Office of Public Guardianship/Conservatorship: Another bill that came out of my service on a guardianship task force.  It would create a State Public Guardian and Deputy Guardian within the office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program to oversee public guardianships for indigent vulnerable Oregonians.  Unfortunately, at the end of the day there was not enough money to fund the program right away; we’ll be coming back in February if budget projections continue to improve.  Lack of a public guardian program (only Multnomah County has one) is a tremendous problem for Oregon.
  • ·         HB 3390  Earned Sick Days:  The effort to extend a variation on Portland’s new earned sick days ordinance statewide was not successful, though we had two great hearings and a great deal of attention. Work on it will continue, with the creation of a legislative work group to try to work out the differences and find a model that will gain majority support.  Stay tuned.
  • ·         SCR 1 State Plan for Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias in Oregon: The fruits of a task force on which I serve, this resolution is Oregon’s formal endorsement of a long-term plan to help Oregonians deal with Alzheimers and other dementias.

Worker Rights

  • ·         HB 3342 Public Sector Organizing Neutrality:  This bill prevents public employers from spending public dollars trying to defeat union organizing campaigns, just as they cannot spend public dollars on political campaigns.  It also corrects an unintended error in existing law by extending “card-check” to groups of unrepresented public-sector workers who want to become part of an existing union in their workplace, allowing them to do so if a majority of the workers sign cards indicating that they want to join.
  • ·         HB 2646  Prevailing Wage Standard for OUS Projects:  Clarifies that prevailing wage must be paid for all public university construction projects, even if the funding came from philanthropic sources. 


  • ·         HJM 6 Citizens United/Campaign Finance Constitutional Amendment:  This bill, whose final form I helped shape and get passed, allows Oregon to join other states in requesting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would allow Congress and the states to regulate campaign contributions and expenditures more effectively and would prohibit corporations and other associations from claiming the same rights as individual persons.
  • ·         HJM 7 Urging Congress to Increase Investment in State Water and Sewer Infrastructure Funds:  The current loan program, which benefits a number of smaller cities in Oregon, is grossly underfunded and needs ramping up.  This is a great program for job creation, public health, the environment, and investing in our rural areas.
  • ·         HB 3165 State Manager/Staff Ratio:  This is an extension of the bill that I sponsored last session, HB 4131, which created a process for the state to reduce the number of middle managers and focus resources on front-line workers.  Since then, the State has moved steadily towards the target of 11 staff to 1 manager, but some exceptions in certain departments have had to be made.  This bill clarifies when those can occur.


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