December Legislative; Update on Joint Student Success Committee; Supporting our Ports; Coastal Education at the Aquarium

Roblan State

December Legislative Days are Approaching

On Wednesday, Dec. 12th, through Friday, Dec. 14th, of next week, I will be returning to Salem for Legislative Days. These are times during the interim between legislative sessions when the Legislature conducts committee hearings, discusses potential issues and legislation and addresses other agenda items that come up. Task force meetings will be scheduled for Tuesday, December 11th of next week, prior to the committee meetings.

Committees will be holding informational hearings on topics that could lead to legislation in the upcoming session. We also will hear updates on the implementation of past legislation, reports from state agencies and task forces. We also will hear updates on enacted legislation to see if there are any fixes that need to be made.

If you’re interested in following what’s happening in the different Senate committees, you can find information about their agendas and topics they will be discussing at the following links:

Senate Business and Transportation

Senate Education

Senate Environment and Natural Resources

Senate Finance and Revenue

Senate General Government and Accountability

Senate Health Care

Senate Human Services

Senate Judiciary

Senate Rules and Executive Appointments

Senate Veterans and Emergency Preparedness

Senate Workforce

Of course, there also is a wealth of information that will be available during House of Representatives committee hearings, as well as joint committee and task force meetings. 

Senate District 5 Map

Supporting our Ports

As all coastal Oregonians know, our ports up and down the coast are some of our most important economic drivers. I support them in their work, and I will continue to do so, because they create jobs and are unique to our coastal economy and way of life.

Joined with the spirit of community advocacy and determination by your state and federal lawmakers, resources will be coming to the Oregon Coast’s ports. The Governor’s recommended budget for the next biennium calls for $20 million state funds for channel improvements at the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay. I plan to fight for this and even larger investments that will help us create jobs in our rural coastal communities. The United States Army Corps of Engineers also has allocated $16.7 million for dredging in Coos Bay.

The United States Corps of Engineers has announced that it will be dredging Depoe Bay Harbor next spring. The small port generates about $6.5 million to the local economy and supports 50 good local jobs. The harbor, though, was becoming increasingly difficult to use due to silt buildup. This $878,000 project is desperately needed to preserve that functioning harbor – which proudly carries the designation as the smallest in the world!

"Dredging at the Port of Depoe Bay is woefully overdue, with major storms that have made the harbor inaccessible at low tide and hit the Port’s operations hard. I’ve been fighting to get this dredging done, and I’m very pleased to announce that the funding has now come through. Small ports like the Port of Depoe Bay are critical to Oregon’s coastal economy. That’s why every year I fight for increases in Army Corps of Engineers funding for small port dredging and infrastructure. I will continue to fight to get the resources our small ports need to thrive." -- Oregon's U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley

Other ports are slated to undergo maintenance dredging from Newport to Coos Bay. The Corps of Engineers also has included in its 2019 Fiscal Year Work Plan the following dredging projects: $1.1 million in work for the Siuslaw River, $1.6 million for the Tillamook Bay and Bar at Garibaldi and $1.9 million for the Yaquina Bay and Harbor in Newport.


Supporting Coastal Education at the Aquarium

More than 50,000 youngsters every year and hundreds of thousands of visitors learn about our ocean through educational programs offered by the Oregon Coastal Aquarium in Newport. Hundreds of stranded, injured and endangered marine wildlife rely on its rehabilitation program for survival. The aquarium is a gem among our resources in the region and I fully support it.

That’s why I’m supporting the Governor’s proposed $10 million of lottery-backed investments to improve that facility. The community has stepped up with $3.6 million of its own donations to contribute for the work, and the state needs to help out. Slated projects include remodeling the entryway and grand hall, recreating the nature-play area, enhancing sustainable education programming, improving three indoor galleries and building a marine wildlife rehabilitation and education center.

Over the years, the aquarium has attracted 14 million visitors to the Oregon Coast and contributes $86 million in economic value to our communities. It’s doing great things for our economy, boosting our educational opportunities and saving rare and endangered animals through its rehabilitation center. We should all be supporting them for their great work.


Update on Joint Student Success Committee

As a lifelong educator, I think the most important thing we can do for our state’s future is build the best educational system possible so our kids can reach their potential.

Since the conclusion of the 2018 Legislative Session, the Joint Committee on Student Success has traveled to Eugene, Springfield, Marcola, Baker City, Hermiston, Boardman, Irrigon, Pendleton, Arlington, Milwaukie, Happy Valley, Clackamas, Woodburn, Gervais, Medford, Eagle Point, Phoenix, Grants Pass, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Forest Grove, Bend, Redmond, Hood River, Portland, Coquille, Coos Bay, North Bend, and Reedsport.

The committee – for which I am Co-Chair – traveled over 2,700 miles and conducted:

  • 14 student listening sessions with approximately 350 total students;
  • 10 education stakeholder roundtable discussions attended by a total of approximately 300 teachers, administrators, parents, community members, school employees, business leaders, school board members and early learning specialists;
  • 55 site tours at high schools, middle schools, elementary schools, statewide programs and early learning sites;
  • 5 roundtable discussions with business leaders; practitioners in the areas of school safety and school health services; and
  • 10 public hearings.

The committee has visited some of Oregon’s smallest schools, as well as large ones; one of Oregon’s lowest-performing districts on graduation rate and one of the state’s highest performers; districts that are struggling, and a district that is doing so well its Superintendent has won prestigious national awards.

Students spoke about their experiences and impressions of Oregon’s education system. They have discussed homelessness, disengagement, teacher effectiveness, family challenges, opportunity inequities, access to special programs, and shortened school weeks. The stakeholders have spoken about funding challenges, educator workforce needs, declining opportunities for students, student behavioral health, facility needs, and many other topics.

During the summer and fall, the committee split into three work groups to study possible solutions for Oregon’s education challenges. One work group focused on making students ready and able to learn, one work group focused on college and career readiness, and one focused on making the state’s classrooms into high-quality environments.

At its meeting on November 8, the three work groups presented their policy recommendations, which ranged from increasing access to early learning to creating a statewide reengagement program to lowering class size to increasing efforts to recruit and retain teachers. The full recommendations of each work group are posted on OLIS under the Joint Committee’s November 8 meeting.

Next, the Legislative Fiscal Office will begin costing out the work group recommendations. There will be some amount of priority-setting and the committee will deliver a report of its efforts to the Presiding Officers before Christmas.

As always, it is an honor to represent you, my friends and neighbors, in the Oregon Legislature. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting back to work for the best interest of everyday Oregon during the upcoming Legislative Days.



email: I phone: 503-986-1705
address: 900 Court St NE, S-417, Salem, OR, 97301