Government Relations Update for week of 2/29

UO’s Hans Bernard has started posting a little info here. What I’d really like to see are the emails he’s sending the UO Board and Foundation. Meanwhile here’s some pretty straight-up stuff from OSU. Not good:

No new general fund money for universities.

Ways and Means has not moved forward any state bonding for construction of UO academic buildings on the table – plenty for other universities.

UO’s efforts to get lodging tax money to give to the notoriously corrupt IAAF are in trouble.

From: “Mills, Jock” <[email protected]>

Subject: [Government_Relations_Update] Legislature Finalizes budget adjustments, seeks to adjourn this week

Date: February 29, 2016 at 9:49:32 AM PST

To: “‘[email protected]‘” <[email protected]>

Legislature finalizes budget adjustments, seeks to adjourn this week

In its fourth week, legislative budget writers issued a final packet of allocations and redistributions that spread a portion of the state’s projected ending fund balance among a handful of special projects and activities.

Sine die – which in Latin means adjournment without specifying a date for further meeting – could be as early as Tuesday, though more likely on Wednesday, and possibly as late as Thursday, depending on how long it takes for legislators to churn through the bills that remain “in play.”  Republicans in both chambers have slowed the process by not voting for routine motions to “suspend the rules.”  Without a suspension of the rules, the entirety of all bills considered on the floor must be read aloud before legislators can conduct a floor debate and vote.  For most measures considered last week, the majority of the time spent was in reading the bills, rather than in the debate and voting.

For an overall update on the session, see recent articles in the Oregonian and Statesmen Journal:



* * * * * * *

Higher Education Initiatives

University Venture Development Fund Tax Credit: HB 4072 would extend the UVDF tax credit for six years, enabling donors to receive tax benefits for contributions to a fund that supports the transition of university inventions from the laboratory to the marketplace. UPDATE: On Friday, by a 5-0 vote, the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee approved the bill and sent it the Senate floor with a “do pass” recommendation. The bill may be considered as soon as Monday.

University Investments in Equities: HJR 203 is a constitutional amendment referred by the legislature for consideration on the November 2016 ballot. It would enable universities to invest funds in common stocks.UPDATE: The bill passed the House by a vote of 55-1 and last week was approved by the Senate Rules Committee and is now headed for a vote on the Senate floor.

Lodging Tax: HB 4146 as introduced would double the statewide “transient lodging tax” from one to two percent. In the initial years the increase would support activities associated with 2021 international track and field championships to be held in Eugene. Because of OSU’s close proximity, our track & field facilities are likely to be involved as a potential venue, and may ultimately qualify for investments that will likely be under consideration during the 2017 legislative session. UPDATE: The House approved a revised proposal that reduced the rate.  The bill is now under review by the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee which is considering a number of additional amendments.  If the Senate adopts changes and passes the bill, it will need to return to the House for concurrence with the Senate amendments. Given the impending adjournment, bill supporters have little time to complete work on this bill.

Appropriations Actions

Increased Funding for Universities: Universities entered the session seeking at least a portion of the additional $55 million needed to bring them to the $755 million target sought during the 2015 legislative session. UPDATE: Adjustments to the biennial budget did not include any additional operating funds for Oregon’s public universities.

Marine Energy: Members of the bi-partisan Coastal Caucus sought $1.5 million for the research and development of marine energy on the Oregon coast. $1.25 million of this funding would enable OSU to compete for a $5 million federal grant. UPDATE: The Joint Ways & Means Committee approved $800,000 for this purpose included in SB 5701, the biennial budget rebalancing bill.  How OSU will approach the US DoE will depend on the solicitation for proposals that is expected sometime this spring.

ALS Endowment:  Included in the final budget bill is a one-time $100,000 allocation that will enable the OSU Foundation to create and manage an endowment to provide scholarships for students involved in research addressing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  The funding is in honor of State Rep. Vic Gilliam (R-Silverton) who was recently diagnosed with ALS. 

Endophyte Research:  SB 5701 also appropriates $100,000 for endophyte research, to be matched by private dollars.  “These funds are to be used only for endophyte research in support of Oregon’s fiber and straw export industry. A report to the Legislative Fiscal Office on how the funds were used in support of endophyte research and what was made possible by this additional influx of funds should be made by December 31, 2016.”

Continuing Service Level (CSL):  The final budget also included a budget note that directs the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) and Legislative Fiscal Office (LFO) to:

. . . develop, in consultation with the Higher Education Coordinating Commission and the seven public universities, an estimated cost of applying the Community College Support Fund model to the Public University Support Fund, the Agricultural Experiment Station, the Extension Service, the Forest Research Laboratory, and Public University State Programs.  The estimate will include data elements that the public universities will be required to submit to HECC in order to implement the model.

DAS and LFO will provide the estimated cost to implement the Community College Support Fund CSL model for Public University state support to the Emergency Board, through the Legislative Fiscal Office, by July 1, 2016.

If acted upon by the Governor and the legislature during the 2017 legislative session, Oregon’s public universities and the OSU Statewide Public Service Programs may face budgetary increases that more accurately reflect the true cost of increases associated with the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) and other costs that were not included in the calculations that were used in the creation and adoption of the 2015-17 budget.

Industrial Hemp: Although budget writers did not approve funding for industrial hemp research to be conducted at OSU, the legislature approved HB 4060, which revises and clarifies state statutes involving the cultivation of industrial hemp. 

Additional funding for Oregon Promise: The Ways & Means Committee approved an additional$1.7 million for Oregon’s “free community college” program to fund additional support services at Oregon’s 17 community colleges.  The additional funding was taken from a prior, unused, appropriation for accelerated learning and will be distributed by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission. “Each community college will get one share of the funds, except Portland Community College will receive three additional shares given its size and operation of four major campuses.”

Capital bonding for Universities:  The Ways & Means committee approved bonding for five capital projects sought by Portland State University, Southern Oregon University and Oregon Institute of Technology.  The projects had been reviewed and approved by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission and include:

·         $5 million in XI-Q bonds for OIT to repair infrastructure failures in the North Utility Corridor Electrical Supply Feed and the College Union Building Storm Drainage System.

·         $5.1 million for Article XI-F bonds for PSU to purchase the Corbett Building in Portland, which PSU currently leases from its Foundation for use by its Business Accelerator program.  (The legislature also reduced bonding for a housing project at PSU that is expected to be lower than projected when originally approved.)

·         $1.5 million in Article XI-F bonds for SOU to construct a new building for Jefferson Public Radio (JPR), adjacent to the university’s Center for the Arts facility in Ashland; and

·         $2 million in Article XI-Q bonds for SOU to expand the scope of the McNeal Pavilion project initially approved by the legislature in 2014 for deferred maintenance and seismic upgrades. The additional funding will allow the construction of a new competitive gym for intercollegiate basketball and volleyball programs.

·         $1.7 million in Article XI-F bonds for SOU to finance energy improvements to be included in the Science Building deferred maintenance project approved in 2011.

Establishment of a Legislative Policy and Research Committee:  Budget writers approved SB 1569which establishes a Legislative and Policy Research Committee which will oversee and direct an increased capacity in the legislature for conducting research and policy analyses.  Under amendments adopted by the Senate Rules Committee, the Committee will consist of an equal number of House and Senate members and Democrats and Republicans.  Given the interest in collaborating with the legislature on policy matters four universities (including OSU) wrote in support of the bill.

Other Higher Education Bills of Note

SB 1540  Calls on the HECC and universities to determine the best method of increasing number of mathematics majors at Oregon universities. UPDATE:  After approval by the Senate (27-1), the House by a vote of 53-0 approved the bill and sent it to the Governor for her signature.

SB 1558  Limits disclosure of records of college or university student health center, mental health center or counseling center, or records of health professional retained by college or university.  UPDATE:  After the Senate passed the bill (28-0) the bill passed the House on a 53-0 vote.  The bill now awaits the Governor’s signature.

SB 1586  Requires universities to undertake a number of activities to encourage students to register to vote. The seven public universities submitted a statement in favor of the bill, with amendments.UPDATE:  The Joint Ways & Means Committee amended the bill and removed provisions that would have required the state to carry the cost of postage paid envelopes for future ballots.  The bill is awaiting a vote on the Senate floor.  It will then go to the House.

HB 4019 Requires universities to provide in-state tuition to dependents of Oregon residents who leave the state to serve in public service organizations. UPDATE:  This bill passed the House (59-0) and was approved in the Senate on a 28-0 vote.  It awaits the Governor’s signature.

HB 4021 Directs the State Treasurer to study possible refinancing mechanisms for student loans. The seven public universities submitted a statement in favor of this bill. UPDATE:  This bill was passed by the House (54-6) and last week was approved by a vote of 29-0 in the Senate.

If you have questions about this report or any state legislative issues, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Jock Mills, Director, Government Relations

Oregon State University

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Another Oregon energy tax credit scandal

7/21/2013: Ted Sickinger has an excellent investigative piece in the Oregonian on a successful scam to boost the energy tax credits for a wind farm from $10M to $30M. Big money, for comparison UO gets ~$55M a year from the state. Which is a better use of state funds? The story quotes Phil Barnhart as supporting the credits, while Benjamin Franklin says an investment in education pays the best interest.

God Bless the Janitors

3/28/2013: A column by Wicke Sloane, in Insidehighered, on the SEIU staff union’s research reports on conflicts of interest and administrative bloat at public universities:

I commend the 5,000 higher education workers of the Massachusetts Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 615. These men and women, led by Massachusetts SEIU Higher Education Director Wayne Langley, commissioned four of the most trenchant, clear reports on the foibles of higher education finance since The Jungle muckracker Upton Sinclair self-published The Goose-Step: A Study of American Higher Education in 1922. 

These articulate, footnote-laden documents investigate questions that must, but may never, top the public agenda of any discussions of college access for years to come.
While the reports ask familiar questions, my thrill is that these powerful questions come from a new voice, an influential union, outside the higher education policy circles -– the 2.1 million voter, I mean, member, SEIU.

I spent Wednesday visiting our state legislators – including Phil Barnhart and Lee Byers, in an event organized by SEIU, AFT, AAUP, and OSA. The UO administration and the UO boosters obviously have a lot of influence in Salem, but these groups are also very organized and well funded.

Kitz keeps OUS health care costs high

1/14/2013: Nigel Jaquiss in WWeek:

In his report, Kenton says allowing OUS to find less expensive health insurance would have a real impact: In-state students pay $630 in tuition for every $1,000 OUS pays in employee health-insurance premiums. 

The system costs OUS more because its employees tend to be healthier than state employees as a whole. As a result, universities (and students through their tuition) subsidize the state’s health-insurance costs. 

It’s the first serious test of Kitzhaber’s commitment to giving universities more independence. But Kitzhaber believes if OUS employees got out of the state insurance pool, premiums for the remaining state employees could rise—creating long-term consequences that are bigger than higher tuition costs.

Legislature creates Higher Ed Committee

Emily Schiola and Dashiell Paulson have the story in the ODE. There are no Eugene or Lane County representatives on the House Higher Ed Committee:

NE Portland: Michael Dembrow, Co-Chair
Hood River: Mark Johnson, Co-Chair
NW Portland: Mitch Greenlick, Co-Vice Chair
Sweet Home: Sherrie Sprenger, Co-Vice Chair
Beaverton: Chris Harker
Clackamas County: Dave Hunt
Hillsboro: Shawn Lindsay
Clackamas: Patrick Sheehan

RG endorses Knute Buehler for Secretary of State

10/14/2012: Good editorial here. The Oregonian’s endorsement is here. This should be an easy choice for UO supporters too. Current Secretary of State Kate Brown’s office has refused to investigate Pernsteiner for claiming Treetops as his Lane County voting residence. Pernsteiner actually lives in Portland, in a house OUS gives him a $26,000 housing allowance for, paid for out of that shrinking state support for higher education that he keeps complaining about.

Buehler’s campaign website is here. Make a donation. I particularly like his proposed reforms of the State Audits Division. This agency has some good people. They wrote pretty damning audits of Frohnmayer and Moseley. But as Buehler notes there’s not much follow through. In fact Jim Bean broke the deal between UO and the auditors within two months with no consequences, as we explained in “Provosts Gone Wild”. From what I can tell it was my request for those documents that led Dave Hubin and Bob Berdahl to gut UO’s public records process – is that right Dave?

AG John Kroger to head Reed College, broke PR law

4/24/2012 Updated 4/25/2012: Bill Graves story here. Kroger talked the talk on public records, but didn’t deliver. He threatened me for putting the PR manual online, then wrote a series of retrograde public records opinions that set Oregon back 20 years. To cap it off, Jeff Manning’s Oregonian piece today reports that a judge has just ruled Kroger’s DOJ illegally withheld public records in a criminal investigation:

A Marion County Circuit judge has ruled that the Oregon Justice Department deliberately withheld pertinent documents from a state employee embroiled in the 2010 criminal investigation despite the employee’s public records request.

Ironically one of the lawyers on the opposite side was Dave Frohnmayer, who helped draft the PR law in the 1970’s, did a good job enforcing it as AG, then shamelessly and repeatedly broke it as UO President, most famously by having his lawyer Melinda Grier hide the contracts that led to the $2.3 million Bellotti deal.

Kitzhaber will appoint a replacement for Kroger. The permanent AG will be determined by the May primary between Dwight Holton and Ellen Rosenblum, but won’t take office until January. At the moment it looks like the election will be decided by whichever candidate makes the most credible promises not to prosecute the increasingly powerful marijuana growers. Maybe Kitzhaber will wait til the primary is over and then appoint the winner? The DAs and the newspapers are endorsing Holton, Frohnmayer and Phil Knight are making donations to Rosenblum.

Rep. Phil Barnhart to introduce UO Board legislation

12/27/2011: Read the whole thing, in the Eugene Weekly:

Barnhart said he’s been talking to other elected officials, a legislative attorney and UO student and faculty leaders in drafting the bill. “Nothing is final yet,” he said, inviting more input from the public. …

Barnhart said the local UO governing board would improve the transparency of the current local decision making at the UO. Now, “the decisions get made by the president within Johnson Hall without much oversight,” he said. For example, Barnhart faulted former UO president Dave Frohnmayer for deciding to sell Westmoreland family housing without public input. 

Any piece of legislation that starts with a call for more transparency from Johnson Hall deserves serious consideration. Barnhart and other local legislators are planning a meeting at UO, January 17th, 7PM, room TBA, to discuss this. Like the idea? You can donate to Barnhart’s campaign online, here. Remember, Oregon has a tax credit for your first $50 in political donations.

President gives faculty raises, keeps job.

12/20/2011. Last week it was Ed Ray at OSU. Now it’s Wim Weiwel at PSU. Next week I suppose we’ll learn that Pernsteiner did it too. From the Bill Graves Oregonian story:

Portland State University faculty will get as much as a 4.1 percent pay raise for each of the next two years under a tentative contract agreement reached with administrators Monday.

The agreement, which union members must still vote on, affects the 1,288 full-time teaching and research faculty who belong to the American Association of University Professors.

Wim Wiewel, PSU president, said he would like to see faculty – who are paid well below professors at comparable universities – get more. …

They are unionized. I haven’t heard a peep from the UO faculty union organizers as of late. The most recent post on their website is almost a month old. I thought they were going to seize the moment and start a card check in January. Anyone know what is going on?

Pernsteiner on hiring freeze

12/20/2011: From his memo to the OUS system presidents:

December 16, 2012
To:  OUS Presidents
From:  George Pernsteiner
Subject:  State of Oregon Hiring Freeze and Austerity Measures  

As you are aware, Governor John Kitzhaber and Chief Operating Officer Michael Jordan this week imposed administrative restrictions on all State Agencies.  The Oregon University System remains a state agency through December 31, 2011.  Yesterday, the governor’s staff stated that the Oregon University System need not utilize the position review and approval for hire mechanism established by the Department of Administrative Services for state agencies but directed that I establish mechanisms appropriate to the University System. …

What Kitzhaber means by a hiring freeze

12/15/2011: From the Oregonian:

One day after telling state agencies to suspend all hiring except for the most essential jobs, Gov. John Kitzhaber’s office posted a new job for an “early learning system director.”

On Tuesday, the governor and legislative leaders agreed that the state would freeze hiring and stop enrolling people in benefit programs until after a key economic forecast in February.

Then Wednesday at midnight, the governor’s office posted the position on the state jobs page, highlighted by a bold red “New!” It has a salary range from $79,956 to $117,756. …

State Rep Chris Harker

3/26/2011: of the House higher ed subcommittee on the New Partnership plan. From David Sarasohn in the Oregonian:

“(UO President) Richard (Lariviere) was really bold in doing what he did there, and people had their toes stepped on,” says Harker, “but he really pushed the conversation in a significant way.”… “We’re not giving Richard everything he wants, but it won’t be a complete rejection of his proposal,” Harker expects. “We’ll begin the process. We know we’ll be back here in 2012.”

Oregon Higher Ed legislative links

3/25/2011: The Oregonian has a fabulous website for keeping up with our legislature. Read the bill, the amendments, email the sponsors, see it has made it into/out of committee, listen to the hearings. (You’ll need a real audio player – the internet equivalent of 8-track. Free here.) Here are some of their links to UO and OUS related legislation: SB means Senate, HB means House. I’ll try and update this occasionally.*

Note: Any non-budget bill that did not have a work session scheduled by Friday 4/8 is now dead for this session.

* All comments below consist solely of neutral, factual information, and are not advocacy or lobbying for or against any candidate, ballot measure, or legislative issue. This post was not prepared during work time or using state resources.

These bills are still alive.

Gov. Kitzhaber’s bills to replace OUS and Dr. Pernsteiner Mr. Pernsteiner with a new K-20 “Educational Investment Board”

UO President Lariviere’s proposals to create a free and independent UO Board of Directors focused on improving UO’s academic and research success and our contributions to a healthy, sustainable and diverse Oregon economy, while using private donations to double a modest state funded bond endowment, saving Oregon families and students on their tax and tuition dollars.

OUS Chancellor Pernsteiner’s proposals to centralize authority for higher education in the hands of a careerist mid-level manager without a PhD who was appointed by a disgraced child abusing ex-governor, without a public search, and then blow the state’s tax money on his own inflated salary, mansion, car, extra housing allowance, and undocumented expense accounts.

Campus cops  – with guns and extra-fat PERS. Why did Michael Redding let Frances Dyke suck up the legislature’s limited UO attention span with this distraction?

The in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants bill, or the “your parents snuck you into the planet’s greatest country illegally then worked their butts off at 3 minimum wage jobs, year after year, paying federal and Oregon taxes and social security they will probably never collect, while you did well enough in HS to get into college despite all these handicaps, plus probably not speaking English at home either, and now you aren’t eligible for any tuition aid but at least Oregon will not try and make you pay out of state tuition as if you were some rich kid from California” act. Any American who votes against this one should be forcibly deported back to whatever lousy country their own ancestors came from, and preferably back in time as well. And most of the legislators from both parties seem to be enjoying making speeches that say that. Heartwarming – and a little surprising. Passed out of committee already.

Public records:
Deadlines and fees:

These bills are now dead:

“Requires community college or state institution of higher education to expel any student convicted of riot.” I would love to know the backstory on this. From Colonel Qadafi?

Senator Peter Courtney’s bill to use state resources and DOJ time to enforce the NCAA’s efforts to exploit college athletes. Your tax dollars at work, so Kelly, Altman and Mullens can get a raise.

No more Jock Box/Arena/Football museum type lease/build deals for Phil Knight. From the construction unions. Uh, you guys sure you’ve thought this all the way through?

Two bills I hadn’t heard about, to create OIT and PSU boards like what Lariviere is asking for. Interesting. The PSU proposal removes PSU from OUS, joins it to OHSU.
OIT Board
PSU Board

Exempts somebody from some sort of state oversight/control. Who knows?

Faculty reporting. Not sure what the point is. Anyone? A commenter suggests the sponsor thinks we aren’t working enough.

Public meetings minutes:

From Kim Thatcher on public records – much stronger and somewhat less coherent than Kroger’s bills.