2024 State Legislative Session Overview

On the evening of Thursday, March 7, legislators adjourned the 2024 regular legislative session in Salem, three days before the constitutional deadline. 

On the evening of Thursday, March 7, legislators adjourned the 2024 regular legislative session in Salem, three days before the constitutional deadline. 

Lawmakers entered session with two major policy priorities—housing production and addressing the addiction crisis—and delivered funding in both of those areas. Legislators passed a $376 million investment in infrastructure funding, homebuilding, homeless shelters and rent assistance, along with changes to state land use laws to make it easier for cities to build homes. A $211 million package passed to upend the voter-approved Measure 110 drug decriminalization policy that has been in place for three years. Under the bill anyone caught with small amounts of illicit drugs could face jail time, though the bill offers people options to pursue drug treatment rather than receiving criminal penalties, and allows people convicted of possession to have their record automatically expunged. 

Public Universities entered session with a joint agenda of workforce priorities in the behavioral health and semiconductor industries and supporting students with funding for basic needs support and summer programming. The legislature delivered on the workforce components and pared down versions of the semiconductor and behavioral workforce packages were included in the final budget bills. 

Direct Allocations to the University of Oregon

$2,013,423 – Semiconductor Workforce Training: To expand and modernize training facilities at UO for workforce development related to the semiconductor industry. More broadly, HB 4154 will build off of the successes of the passage of the Oregon CHIPS Act by allowing higher education institutions to leverage existing programs, meet the future demand of highly skilled workers, and best prepare Oregon to receive additional federal funding.

$951,236 – UO Law School Criminal Defense Legal Education: To increase the pipeline of public defenders in the State of Oregon, the three law schools in Oregon received funding to create or bolster their criminal defense misdemeanor clinics. For UO Law School this will establish a new clinic with Multnomah Defenders, Inc. as well as greatly expand our existing clinic with Lane County Public Defender Services.

$1,000,000 – Just Futures Institute: For conducting research to understand and address water needs of environmental justice communities and to award grants.

$100,000 – UO Labor Education and Research Center: For a study to research the impact of automation and artificial intelligence on the workforce.

Policy Legislation that Passed with Significant Impact to the University of Oregon

HB 4151, Ballmer Institute for Children’s Behavioral Health Task Force: Directs the System of Care Advisory Council to establish a subcommittee focused on identifying strategies to expand, sustain and diversify the youth behavioral health workforce. More specifically, the subcommittee will:

  • Evaluate how emerging behavioral health professions, as well as existing professions, can help to expand the workforce and meet the increasing demand for behavioral health support among children and families,
  • Determine the structures and supports required to sustain this workforce,
  • Identify strategies for creating pathways into youth behavioral health professions for individuals with backgrounds and identities that are under-represented in Oregon’s current behavioral health system,
  • Identify state-issued professional authorization options for new and existing behavioral health professions and determine how to implement with appropriate regulatory agencies.
    • The subcommittee will make recommendations to the interim behavioral health committees by September 15, 2024.

HB 4119, Name Image Likeness: Allows Oregon athletes to benefit financially from use of their Name, Image, and Likeness and provides clear operational rules. Protects Oregon institutions of higher education from liability for damages as a result of the institution's attempts to identify and facilitate NIL opportunities for the student athlete. 

Other Notable Policy and Budget Proposals That Passed this Session

SB 1552, Education Omnibus Bill: Among many other provisions, this bill authorizes the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to create a Direct Admissions program via rulemaking and includes technical fixes on implementation of part-time faculty healthcare.

HB 4136, Access to Care: UO was part of the coalition that worked with Rep. Nathanson in response to the emergency room closure at University District. The bill includes funding for Eugene Fire/EMS, speeding up licensing for nurses, and funding for innovative programs to reshape delivery of same-day healthcare beyond ambulances and crowded emergency departments.

Budget: Semiconductor Workforce Training, in addition to UO, the following institutions also received funding:

  • $2,013,423 to Oregon State University
  • $1,946,309 to Portland State University
  • $1,677,852 to Portland Community College
  • $1,677,852 to Mount Hood Community College
  • $671,141 to Oregon Institute of Technology

Budget: $30 million was allocated to support summer learning in K-12 schools.

HB 4083, Coal divestment for PERS: Directing the state Treasury to essentially divest Oregon’s Public Employee Retirement System of nearly $1 billion in investments in coal mining and energy companies. The proposal would direct the Treasury to “try to ensure” the state’s $94 billion Public Employee Retirement System, or PERS, does not hold stock in companies that derive 20% or more of their revenue from coal production. It also would direct the Treasury to limit new investments in such companies. 

Relevant Legislation that Did Not Pass

Basic Needs: The Oregon Students Association, ASUO, and students from all of Oregon’s public universities advocated for a $6 million dollar proposal to support the infrastructure and programs relating to student basic needs and for funding for Open Educational Resources. Unfortunately, that proposal was not funded.

Governance Study: A bill was introduced to review a sampling of metrics of university success over the last ten years, since universities have had institutional governing boards. This proposal did not advance.

Additional Funding for Strong Start: Universities were pursuing additional funding to support our summer bridge programs.

Legislator Updates

After Representative Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) tendered his resignation as Speaker of the House at the end of the session, Representative Julie Fahey (D-West Eugene and Veneta) was elected the chamber’s new leader. Rayfield will continue to serve out his term as a representative.

Representative Paul Holvey (D-Eugene), whose district includes the University of Oregon Eugene campus, announced his retirement after 20 years of service.

Senator Michael Dembrow (D-Portland, long time Chair of the Senate Education Committee, is ending his career after 15 years split between the House and Senate.

UO Advocates Impact for 2024 Session

UO Advocates spearheaded numerous engagements during the 2024 legislative session to advance the University of Oregon’s state agenda.

Prior to the session, UO Advocates organized a semiconductor lobby day in January, dedicated to bolstering support for the Semiconductor Workforce Package. UO Advocates mobilized Knight Campus faculty and graduates, alongside other higher education partners, to advocate for the package in Salem. This effort fostered bipartisan and bicameral backing for the semiconductor workforce initiative while also elevating the University of Oregon's contributions to the semiconductor coalition.

The highlight of UO Advocates advocacy efforts during the 2024 session was University Day at the Capitol, held on February 8. Over 250 participants, representing Oregon's seven public universities, convened in Salem to champion the joint higher education agenda. UO Advocates rallied more than 70 UO participants for University Day, including representatives from ASUO, UOAA, SAA, UO Ambassadors, UO Legislative Scholars, Wayne Morse Scholars, and the UO Prison Education Program, surpassing recent participation records. Enthusiastic interactions between the Duck, UO students, state legislators, legislative staff, and members of the Capitol community marked the event, culminating in a photo with Governor Kotek and President Scholz.

On the digital front, UO Advocates activated 147 supporters to send over 900 emails in support of the UO state agenda and specific legislative policies.

Showing 1 reaction

  • Government and Community Relations Legislative Office Assistant