Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.

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The Legislature has now been in session for two months, and the fast pace doesn’t show much sign of slowing down. Every day is a full day of meeting with folks on issues that they care about, such as family and business concerns.


The biggest discussion in the capital right now is around school funding. House Bill 5017, the Department of Education’s budget bill, proposes a $7.255 billion budget for schools. This budget will provide, among other things, funding for every child to attend full-day kindergarten. It is an improvement over last year’s budget, and includes significant increases to our dedicated investments in English language learning, early education and special needs students.

However, this bill was a floor, not a ceiling, and it began a conversation about school funding and our spending priorities that will continue for the rest of session. There are also provisions in the bill to allocate additional revenue to schools if it becomes available after the May forecast. HB 5017 was signed into law by the governor April 9.

Of the hundreds of bills we have voted on in the House so far, there are several I want to highlight as top priorities you may not have heard about. First, House Bill 2007 will prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who discuss their wages amongst their coworkers. This will go a long way toward correcting pay disparity between men and women, by allowing workers to advocate for fair and equal pay. It passed the House floor March 3 and was sent to the Senate for consideration.

I am also proud to say I voted “Yes” on HB 2307, which will ban the practice of “conversion therapy.” It passed the House floor March 17. Having been a teacher for 40-plus years, I have seen first-hand the detrimental effects of trying to control or influence a person’s identity formation. This bill had a great showing of bipartisan support, and passed with a 41 to 18 vote.

One of my own bills, House Bill 2680, passed the House floor on March 19, and is now awaiting a hearing in the Senate. This bill will put a temporary moratorium on the use of standardized testing results from the 2014-2015 school year to rate schools or teachers, to give us more time to understand what the results mean. It will also create a work group to look at learning gaps, examine Oregon’s system of assessments, and make recommendations for improvement based in part on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium results.

I have also had the opportunity to testify on two of my other priority bills — HB 2927 and HB 2928 — this session. HB 2928, which would create a task force on class size, passed out of the Education Committee and was referred to the Joint Ways & Means Committee, where it awaits a hearing. HB 2927 was passed out of the House April 1, and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

I am also interested in juvenile justice issues, and have signed on to HB 3537, which would prevent juvenile detention facilities from placing youth in isolation. I am very supportive of Rep. Lew Frederick in his efforts to curb the practice of placing juveniles in solitary confinement for excessive periods of time as punishment.

As a state representative, I have a limited capacity to introduce bills even after certain deadlines have passed. I currently have four slots available for new legislation, and am always open to hearing from constituents about concepts or issues of importance.

As a fifth-generation Oregonian, I continue to feel we must be thinking of our children and our grandchildren in all of our policies. I will continue to work hard in Salem, fighting for families, our schools, and supporting a balance between urban and rural areas.

State Rep. Susan McLain represents Oregon House District 29, which includes Hillsboro, Forest Grove and Cornelius.

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