Oregon’s legislature adjourned on June 30 at 5:30 p.m., just six and a half hours before the constitutionally mandated close of the 2019 session. As we previously reported, the Student Success Act passed in May included historic investments in early childhood programs and services. The bill allocates $400 million in new investments in high-quality preschool, Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education (EI/ECSE), Relief Nurseries, Early Head Start, parenting education, early childhood workforce development, and an Early Learning Equity Fund. The legislature protected previous funding, so these investments represent an additional commitment to improving the lives of kids and families in Oregon.
We’re very pleased that other priorities listed on the Early Childhood Coalition legislative agenda, including bills to fund universally available voluntary home visiting and address the child care crisis, also passed in the final two days of the session.
Steps to Resolve Our Child Care Crisis
Reflecting a growing awareness of Oregon’s child care crisis, a bill that will create additional infant-toddler care under the program “Baby Promise” and a bill to establish a child care task force championed by Rep. Karin Power both unanimously passed the Senate. Continued funding for child care subsidies were also included in the Department of Human Services budget, which passed the Senate by a vote of 23–4.
Oregon Legislature Gives Families a Boost
With votes of 25–2 in the Senate and 41–10 in the house, the legislature passed an Oregon Health Authority budget that includes funding to implement universally available voluntary home visiting. The funding, championed by Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, will go to expand the successful, evidence-based Family Connects program. This means that all parents of a newborn who want to participate in the program will have the option to receive home visits from a nurse. Families with infants can also celebrate the passage of paid family and medical leave in Oregon. Starting in 2023, House Bill 2005 will allow workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave following a birth, adoption, or illness. Oregon is the eighth state to pass paid family and medical leave. The legislature also passed a bill that included an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for families with at least one child under the age of 3.
Dana Hepper, our director of policy & advocacy, and James Barta, strategic director of Children First for Oregon, provide a legislative recap to close out the 2019 session.
There’s Still Work to Be Done
While we celebrate these strides toward funding the proven programs and services that serve young kids and families, we know our work isn’t done yet. Opponents of the Student Success Act have 90 days to collect enough signatures to refer the bill to the ballot. With the passage of SB 116 over the weekend, we now know that if enough signatures are gathered, the ballot measure will go to voters in January 2020.
Oregon’s Full Commitment to Kids and Families
The list below includes bills of interest to the Early Childhood Coalition that passed the legislature this session:
- HB 2005 – Paid family & medical leave (this was HB 3031 earlier in session).
- HB 2024 – Creates Baby Promise Program (contracted slots for infant-toddler child care).
- HB 2025 – Revises the state’s preschool statute.
- HB 2027 – Expands what office of child care can consider in a background check.
- HB 2262 – Modifies membership of Early Learning Council.
- HB 2346 – Establishes a task force on child care.
- HB 2897 – Early Childhood Equity Fund. This entire bill was included in the Student Success Act (HB 3427).
- HB 3394 – Modifies requirements of Child Care Research and Referral providers.
- HB 3427 – Student Success Act.
- HB 5015 – Oregon Department of Education, Grant in Aid Budget.
- HB 5026 – Department of Human Services Budget, including child care subsidy.
- HB 5525 – Oregon Healthy Authority Budget, including public health dollars to implement universally available home visiting (Family Connects).
- HB 5047 – Allocates the funds raised in the Student Success Act.
- HJM 3 – Urges Congress to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. PASSED.
- HJR 15 – Encourages state agencies to follow Child and Early Parenting Principles.
- SB 13 – Updates language on special education eligibility for developmental delay to comply with federal law.
- SB 116 – Sets special election for the Student Success Act for January 21, 2020.
- SB 490 – Prohibits individual with substantiated child abuse from providing child care.
- SB 526 – Implements universally available voluntary home visits.
- SB 813 – Directs office of child care to follow up on complaints about providers.