Rep. McLane highlights short session priorities
Oregon's 2018 legislative session convenes next week, and going into the session, House Republican Leader and Powell Butte resident Mike McLane is sponsoring two bills.
House Bill 4035 and 4036 are both intended to address changes in policy that he feels are necessary, one affecting the National Guard and the other extracurricular school activity eligibility.
"House Bill 4035 is a bill that would give tuition credit to Oregon colleges and community colleges for enlisted members of the Oregon National Guard," McLane explained. "The reason I introduced it is because we are the only state in the United States not to offer any sort of tuition credit to members of the National Guard."
The bill mandates that the state would pay for a student's tuition, and while that would leave them financially responsible for room and board and books, McLane feels it would benefit members of the Guard.
"It becomes a recruiting tool for the National Guard to get some quality people in the Guard," McLane added.
The other bill he plans to introduce, HB 4036 is a policy tweak that clarifies a bill passed last year directing public school districts to include charter school students in school sports and interscholastic activities.
The legislation was spurred by a situation in the Medford School District where a student was excluded from playing sports after enrolling in a charter school.
"I had a constituent from there who wasn't able to defend her 3A golf title because she had enrolled in a public charter school. I thought that was wrong."
After passing legislation last year to prevent future incidents, a school in the Beaverton School District excluded a charter school student from choir.
"They thought the bill just applied to sports," he said. "I introduced HB 4036 to clarify that it doesn't just apply to sports. It applies to all extracurricular activities."
Going into the 2018 short session, McLane expects a long-developing cap and trade bill to take center stage. The bill seeks to put a cap on carbon emissions, reducing them to 80 percent less than 1990 levels by 2050.
McLane opposes work on the legislation during this session for two main reasons. One, he contends it is too large in scope and has too much of an impact to be addressed during the 35-day session.
"In five weeks, there is not sufficient time to pass one of the most significant changes in tax laws," he said. "Those who are pushing it claim that it has been discussed for multiple sessions, and I don't dispute that, but it's not an existing law, and it is a significant impact to Oregon."
He went on to say that he has not yet been presented with evidence that the cap and trade bill would reduce the impacts to climate change based from carbon emissions.
"But I do know the impact on consumers and seniors on fixed incomes is real," he said.
McLane remains an advocate for keeping the short session focused on budget and policy tweaks, noting that his two bills meet those criteria. Of the bills he has seen so far, he acknowledged that many are policy bills, and although they could have a significant impact, none of them figure to eclipse the cap and trade bill.
"There doesn't appear to be anything on the scale of cap and trade being introduced so far," he said.