By Mitch Greenlick, Oregon State Representative, District 33
The recently-ended legislative session produced some really important legislation. Perhaps most important to the residents of Cedar Mill, we made funding schools a top priority this session. The education community requested $6.75 billion to support the K-12 budget, a billion dollars more than ever before. I think it was agreed that was a rather aggressive ask. We did, however, produce that amount for schools, with $6.55 billion coming as a direct allocation, and a reduction in the PERS contribution from public schools of $200 million, which leaves that money available for education.
We passed what appears to be a complete restructuring of higher education governance. Our actions basically eliminate the Oregon University System, bringing the Higher Education Coordinating Council more directly into the picture, creating local governing boards for Portland State University, University of Oregon, and Oregon State University. We also held tuition increases down a bit. We provided a great deal of support for higher ed. construction projects, including funding the total amount of bonding requested for construction projects in the community college system. This will provide improved access for Oregon students to post-secondary education.
As usual, I spent a great deal of my time and energy on my duties as chair of the House Committee on Health Care. We passed more than 100 bills out of the Committee, including a set of bills putting the final touches on the transformation of the Oregon Health Plan and on the implementation of the Oregon Health Insurance Exchange, now called Cover Oregon.
We also added autism behavioral treatment insurance payments to Oregon’s other health insurance mandates. The autism community has been working on that problem for years.
In another very significant action we licensed and regulated medical marijuana dispensaries. In recent years some 200 dispensaries have opened that are completely unregulated. We crafted a bill to regulate these dispensaries to create a safe channel of high quality and safe marijuana to people who have a legitimate and a legal right to use it.
Among the failures of the session is a bill I introduced at the request of some constituents living in the Beaverton School District that would have changed the statute on teacher transfers to make competence to teach a class a mandatory factor to consider. I negotiated some language changes with the teachers union and passed the bill out of the House. The bill got to the Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator Mark Hass. Stand for Children objected to some of the language in the bill as it came from the House. I began to draft amendments to meet their objections, at which time the representatives of Stand informed Sen. Hass they preferred the bill to die. And it indeed died; illustrating that compromise does not always get the job done.
Mitch Greenlick represents the people of Northwest Portland and parts of unincorporated Multnomah and Washington Counties (including Cedar Mill) in the Oregon House of Representatives. His legislative web page is http://www.leg.state.or.us/greenlick