Town Hall, Session Accomplishments, Travel Oregon Grants & More


Senator Prozanski Senator Floyd Prozanski
Springfield & Eugene
District 4

900 Court St. NE, S-413, Salem Oregon 97301
Capitol phone: 503-986-1704
e-Bulletin                     August 2023

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Dear friends,

    I hope this finds you well and enjoying our seasonable weather. Even though we have yet to endure an extended heatwave this year, dry conditions and little-to-no rain in the forecast means any ignition could lead to wildfire. Please keep up your efforts this summer, avoiding use of open flames, fireworks and driving in grass. If you're camping or working outdoors with gasoline-powered equipment, determine what restrictions are in effect. If you head to the water to cool off, remember that many of Oregon's rivers are still extremely cold and individuals can be overwhelmed. It's wise to wear a life preserver when recreating on our waterways.

    Also, please mark your calendars to join Representative John Lively and me for a legislative town hall on Monday, August 28, at 6 p.m. in the Springfield Library meeting room. We'll discuss the 2023 legislative session and look ahead to the 2024 "short" session. Please note: This town hall is being held in the Springfield Library meeting room due to ongoing remodel work of city council chambers.

    Below you will find information on:

2023 Session Accomplishments: Education & Childcare
        - Homeowner Assistance Fund Accepting Applications
        - $103.5 Million Awarded to Affordable Housing Projects Across Oregon
        - Paid Leave Oregon Application Process Opens
        - Travel Oregon Grant Funding Opportunity

    I hope this information is helpful and informative for you or someone you know. As always, feel free to share your comments, questions or concerns with me by phone, mail or e-mail.

                                                               Sen. Prozanski signature

2023 Session Accomplishments: Education & Childcare

   Following the 2023 Legislative Session, I'm sharing in-depth summaries of bills passed by subject area. Below is a comprehensive listing of accomplishments related to education and childcare — by Senate/House bill and in numerical order:

Senate Bills

    SB 3 - Financial Literacy Credit Requirement: In 2022, a study from the Oregon Department of Education studied high school graduation requirements and made a recommendation that future planning credit requirements be added. This legislation adds a half-credit for higher education and career path skills and a half-credit for personal financial education to graduation requirements starting in 2027.

SB 279 - Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact: This legislation enacts Oregon's membership into the Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact, which will allow any teacher with a valid, unencumbered license to move from one state to another and teach if they have completed the requirements of a state-approved education program and undergone a criminal background check in a partnering state.

    SB 283 - Statewide Data System on Education Workforce: In 2021, a workgroup reviewed issues with labor shortages in Oregon schools and found that schools often compete with a variety of other industries for workers and as wages rise in these industries, schools are losing teachers at an alarming rate. This legislation allows collection of data about the workforce including job satisfaction, shortages, pay differentials for the special education workforce, and employee status. It creates a 20 percent pay differential for educators who support students enrolled in special education and requires classified positions be scheduled at least five hours a day when working with students. SB 283 also creates "just cause" dismissal protections for classified employees, and requires that substitutes be paid for training and be employed by the school district. The bill further creates a Task Force on Salary Schedules to report back to the Legislature and requires the Department of Education to complete a study and develop a plan for implementing statewide minimum salaries for the workforce by August 2025.

    SB 424 - Prohibiting Transcript Withholding: Many universities withhold student transcripts when a student owes any amount of debt to the school. Nine states prohibit or limit this practice if a student owes a certain amount. This legislation removes the ability for schools to withhold transcripts and requires schools to report to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission the number of current and former students who owe debt and whose transcripts are being withheld.

    SB 489 - Removes Restrictions on Unemployment Benefits for Educators:
This legislation supports educators who are unable to work when school is not in session by providing them with the ability to apply for unemployment benefits.

    SB 756 - Access to Records for Special Needs Educators:
Special education is an acute area of need for more staffing, and the teachers we do have are unable to get regular access to student records and are not provided sufficient training. This legislation allows special needs teachers to access individualized education programs, 504 plans, and be consulted on reviews and revised plans, along with providing compensation for attending meetings and trainings.

    SB 758 - Records Related to Special Education: This legislation
 requires school districts to provide records of identification, evaluation, and educational placement for students with disabilities to parents without delay and within 10 days of the request. It also prohibits school districts from prohibiting staff from reporting violations of federal law and sharing information with students' parents.

    SB 819 - Abbreviated School Days: Oregon has more than 1,000 students with disabilities in shortened school day placements, denying them access to full-time school. This legislation requires the Department of Education to enforce the current law by prohibiting school districts from offering students with disabilities fewer hours than non-disabled peers, unless a parent provides written consent.

    SB 992 - Remove the Alternative Certificate Option for Completing High School:
This legislation establishes requirements for issuing certification of attendance and requires school districts and charter schools to ensure all students have on-site access to all resources and courses required for a diploma.

    SB 1024 - Restraint or Seclusion of Students in Public Education Program: This legislation prohibits public education programs and child congregate care providers from modifying or destroying recorded evidence of incidents that involve the restraint and involuntary seclusion of a child.

House Bills

    HB 2281 - Civil Right Coordination and Investigation of State Nondiscrimination Laws: All school districts are required to have a Civil Rights Coordinator who makes sure they comply with federal civil rights laws and discrimination. This legislation requires these coordinators to enforce state nondiscrimination laws and coordinate investigations.

    HB 2504 - Reduce Barriers for Early Learning Workforce: A report by OSU's College of Public Health and Human Services released in 2019 found that early childhood professionals whose first language is not English are less likely to participate in the Oregon Registry professional development system. This legislation directs the Department of Early Learning and Care to develop standards and processes that reduce barriers for international early childhood professionals to enter the workforce.

    HB 2802 - Nonprofit Work Study Pilot Program: This legislation creates a pilot program to employ students at nonprofit organizations in return for an hourly wage and 20 percent tuition reduction. The program is modeled on the Federal Work Study which focuses on serving the public interest, providing academic relevance, and paying a minimum wage.

    HB 3014 - Expanding Eligible School Transportation Costs: Every year school districts receive State School Fund grants to cover the costs of approved transportation for students, which is primarily school buses. These funds are approved for students who live more than one or one and a half miles from the school, students with health issues, preschool children with disabilities, and field trips. This legislation allows the grants to also serve transportation options like walking or biking for students within three miles of school or to provide public transportation passes for secondary school students.

    HB 3031 - School Ventilation and Energy Efficiency: During the COVID-19 pandemic, classroom ventilation became a big point of concern with research finding that many schools did not meet minimum standards. The federal Renew America's Schools grant program made $500 million available to K-12 schools to perform energy improvements. This legislation, in turn, requires school districts to take this money for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. It also requires schools to place and assess carbon dioxide monitors and submit a report to a mechanical engineer for review and recommendations. School districts in every corner of Oregon are interested in these critical updates.

    HB 3178 - Expands Amount of the Oregon Teacher Scholars Program: In 2017, the Educator Advancement Council was established, they then created the Oregon Teachers Scholars Program. This legislation expands the Oregon Teacher Scholars Program amount from $10,000 to $12,000 a year for a scholarship up to two academic years.

    HB 3227 - Custodial Civil Service Board: School districts with a population of 300,000 or more people are required to have a Custodian Civil Service Board that oversees appointment, employment, classification, and discharge of custodians and assistant custodians in the school district. This legislation changes requirements to serve on this board and requires the board to administer practical assessments of custodial applicants' professional skills and consider prior experience.

    HB 3561 - Scholarships for Early Childhood Care and Education Professionals: Creation of the Preschool Promise Program also established a scholarship and grant program to ensure an adequate supply of highly qualified early childhood care and education professionals in Oregon. This legislation expands the eligibility for these scholarships and gives the Higher Education Coordinating Commission authority to convert the scholarship program to a last dollar program, covering remaining tuition costs after all Pell grants and/or other federal, state, or institutional aid have been applied.

    HB 3565 - Oregon Tribal Student Grant Program:
 The Oregon Tribal Student Grant was created in 2022 to provide tuition and other school-related expenses to members of our nine federally recognized tribes who are attending college. The Higher Education Coordinating Commission was able to support 365 students in higher education programs. This legislation codifies this grant program and establishes the Oregon Tribal Student Grant Fund to continue supporting students.

Homeowner Assistance Fund Accepting Applications

    Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) has resumed accepting new applications for the federal Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) Program. OHCS estimates there are enough funds to support about 500 additional eligible homeowners. The program offers federal temporary COVID-19 emergency mortgage relief intended to support homeowners who have experienced severe financial hardships due to the pandemic. It provides funding for past-due mortgages and other housing expenses, as well as ongoing payment assistance, to a limited number of homeowners with low to moderate incomes.

    Homeowners can apply through the online portal or speak with a homeownership counselor who can help them apply and find other resources. Search the full list of free certified housing counselors by county.

$103.5 Million Awarded to Affordable Housing Projects Across the Oregon

    The Oregon Housing Stability Council approved $103.5 million in Local Innovation Fast Track (LIFT) funding to go to 10 affordable housing projects across the state. Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) will provide 646 additional homes with these developments for individuals and households living on low incomes. Half of the funded projects are in rural communities and half in urban areas.

    OHCS received a total of 23 applications, amounting to over $221.6 million in LIFT funding requests, more than LIFT funds available. Special consideration was given to developments that serve communities affected by the 2020 Labor Day Wildfires and those who have a Qualified Culturally Specific Organization on the development team. After careful review, 10 projects emerged for funding recommendation.

    The developments receiving awards include the Ollie Court apartments in Senate District 4! Ollie Court will provide 81 affordable homes in Eugene. In total, 10 developments were awarded funds statewide to help more than 640 families find a safe, affordable place to call home.

Paid Leave Oregon Application Process Opens

    Employees who need to take time off for important life events can apply for benefits for Paid Leave Oregon starting August 14, 2023. Paid Leave Oregon covers paid family leave, medical leave, and safe leave for working Oregonians. Employees can apply for the following reasons:

  • To care for themselves or members of their family during the birth of a child, or to bond with a child after birth, adoption, or placement of a child in their home through foster care;
  • To care for themselves during a serious health condition;
  • To care for a family member when they have a serious health condition; or
  • If they or their child experience sexual assault, domestic violence, harassment, or stalking

    To apply for leave, employees will use the Oregon Employment Department's (OED) new online system called Frances Online.

    The Legislature created Paid Leave Oregon in 2019 via HB 2005, making Oregon one of 11 states (plus Washington D.C.) to offer paid family and medical leave. Oregon's unique program also covers safe leave in addition to family and medical leave. Safe leave supports survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, harassment, or stalking so they can take time to seek safety.

    In January 2023, employers and employees started contributing to a trust fund that will pay for employee paid leave benefits. During the 2023 session, the Legislature passed SB 31, which requires OED to make sure the Paid Leave Oregon trust fund is solvent before launching benefits. Based on current trust fund data and projections, OED has decided the trust fund is ready to launch benefits the week of September 3, as planned. This will be the first week employees can take paid leave, with payments going out within two weeks.

    Detailed information for employees, including eligibility requirements, tutorial videos, a benefits calculator, and much more, will be available on the Paid Leave Oregon website on August 14. Employees can now go to the employee overview page and find many resources, including a guidebook.

Travel Oregon Grant Funding Opportunity

    Travel Oregon has opened its 2023-2025 competitive grant cycle. This year's opportunity will provide more than $3 million in total funding to nonprofits, local governments, port districts and federally recognized tribes. The program focuses on accessibility and inclusivity, supporting our vision of an Oregon that is a welcoming destination where tourism drives economic prosperity, benefits the natural environment and celebrates rich, diverse cultures.

     Ten percent of Travel Oregon's budget is dedicated to a competitive grants program to award eligible applicants for projects that contribute to the development and improvement of local economies and communities throughout Oregon by means of the enhancement, expansion and promotion of the visitor industry. Projects support Travel Oregon's vision of "an Oregon that is a welcoming destination where tourism drives economic prosperity, benefits the natural environment and celebrates rich, diverse cultures." 2023-2025's Competitive Grants Program is designed to address the following strategic priorities that are part of Travel Oregon’s 2023-2025 Biennial Plan:

  1. Reduce high visitation pressures and increase community livability by investing in the development of niche tourism product that is based on growing visitor demand and Oregon’s competitive advantage (e.g., outdoor recreation, culinary, agritourism, arts and culture).
  2. Expand opportunities for residents and tourism stakeholders to actively engage and collaborate in destination management processes.
  3. Align and support communications across the tourism industry to improve visitor behaviors and experiences with timely information, responsible recreation practices and respect for all communities.
  4. Support the development of new and existing tourism-related facilities and products (e.g., visitor experiences, attractions, and public spaces) to better serve historically and currently underserved and under-resourced communities.

    The Letter of Intent (LOI) form will be accepted through August 18, 2023. Total funding available for this grant cycle is more than $3 million. Read the grant guidelines to see eligibility requirements, funding parameters and application questions. Please direct questions to Travel Oregon will host a final lunch-hour Q&A session via Zoom on August 11 from 12-1 p.m.

    Applicants can direct questions to

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