Representative Susan McLain - Spotlight on Education

Don't forget to check our Legislative Webpage for important news links and press releases. 


It’s hard to believe we are only in week three of session!  Since February 2nd, I’ve attended 17 committee meetings and had over 50 meetings with constituents, stakeholders, and other elected officials. I am working hard to hear all sides on the bills and issues before my committees, and other important issues that I will be taking votes on. 

I wanted to take this time to share a few updates with you about bills that I have voted on and my bills that have been introduced. We are also starting the first of our “Spotlight” series. This month we’re talking about education and small business.

I hope you find this information helpful, and that you continue to keep up with our newsletters. If you ever have any questions or concerns, or an issue you want to call to my attention, don’t hesitate to call or email me using the contact information below.


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Representative Susan McLain                                                                                 House District 29


Just in case you missed it...

78th Legislative Assembly

Here is my favorite photo of the House of Representatives, taken on Opening Day, January 12th, 2015. 

February 6 Wear Red Day

On February 6, Legislators and their staff in the Capitol were asked to join National Wear Red Day. Heart disease is the  leading cause of death for women in the United States.

Thank you to the American Heart Association - Oregon & SW Washington for organizing this important event in our State Capitol. 

February 13 Tour with the Treasurer

Last week I was visited by two of my dear friends on their way home to Ashland, Oregon. 

We were lucky enough to tour the Treasurer's office and the Vault, and here we are with Treasurer Wheeler!

Important Votes

I have also had the opportunity to vote on 15 bills, including the landmark class action bill, House Bill 2700, which would end the practice of letting corporations who harm the public keep unclaimed class action settlement funds. For more information about HB 2700, you can view it on OLIS here.

I carried my first bill on the floor, House Bill 2405, which would allow the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) to accept donations to the State School Fund. This is a practice already in place with ODE; however, this bill brings their rules and policies in line with the law. It’s a straightforward bill, and I was glad to present it to my colleagues on Friday, February 11. It passed with a unanimous vote, and was referred to the Senate Education Committee. 

2015 Priority Legislation

Last week I also had the opportunity to testify before the House Education Committee about House Bill 2680, which I am Co-Sponsoring with Representative Margaret Doherty. 

House Bill 2680 proposes several modest and common-sense changes. It would prohibit the use of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, or SBAC test, results from the 2014-2015 school year to rate schools or evaluate teachers. The bill also directs the Superintendent of Public Instruction to assemble a workgroup to evaluate our system of assessments from top to bottom and determine how we can design an assessment system that actually supports our state’s shared goals for education. 

I have also officially introduced two bill concepts, which are very important to me and our district. 

First, House Bill 2927 “increases the amount transferred from State School Fund to High Cost Disabilities Account each fiscal year.” The High Cost Disabilities Account is a grant program designed to provide extra funding to school districts with special needs students whose costs of education go above $30,000. This grant program is currently funded at $18 million, and has remained there for the last eight years. However, the claims against the program for actual costs of educating students with disabilities totaled $44.5 million in 2012-2013, meaning that funding was only at 40 percent of need. My proposal is to fund the High Cost Disabilities Account at $36 million dollars, bringing the reimbursement amount up to 80 percent of need. 

Both Hillsboro and Forest Grove School Districts would benefit directly from this legislation, as they are number 33 and number 1 out of 197 districts statewide in per capita spending, respectively. Funding this grant at $36 million could potentially return over $3 million to schools in our area, to be spent for other purposes. 

Second, House Bill 2928 “establishes  Task  Force  on  Class  Sizes  to  determine appropriate  class  sizes  of  students,  identify methods  to  reduce  class  sizes  and determine  cost  for  methods  to  reduce  class  sizes.” I heard over and over again on the campaign trail that students, parents, and teachers alike are frustrated with the number of students in their classes. In my 42 years of teaching, I saw class sizes jump from 25 when I first started to 40 or more when I retired last June. 

Spotlight on Education

I want to highlight just a couple of the great organizations and initiatives doing important education work in the State of Oregon and nationwide that I have learned about since taking office. 

Northwest Youth Corps: Northwest Youth Corps Programs provide youth and young adults opportunities to become stewards of our state lands, and participate in activities with a “focus on education, challenge, community, leadership and empowerment, giving youth critical life skills and confidence.”

Opportunity Youth: According to the newly-created Oregon Youth Development Council, one in every seven youth is an Opportunity Youth, disconnected from the education system and the labor market. The council administers four grants intended “to increase academic and career success and reduce youth violence.” These are: Youth and Community; Youth and Innovation; Youth and Gangs, and Youth and Crime Prevention. 

Spotlight on Small Business

The Forest Grove-Cornelius Chamber of Commerce, together with the Portland Community College Business Development Center, has made a limited number of grants available to small and new business owners in Forest Grove for use in one of four different programs designed to provide training on various aspects of owning and running a business. The Oregonian published the story on Wednesday, found here.

The featured picture is of Becky Kramer, the owner of one of my favorite businesses in Forest Grove, Urban Decanter! If you've never been, be sure to check them out and support a great local business.

email: I phone: 503-986-1429
address: 900 Court St NE, H-376, Salem, OR 97301