By Representative Suzanne Weber, District 32
We are two weeks into the “short session” that occurs every even year. We are constitutionally required to end the session by March 7, so things are moving incredibly quickly. In these sessions, it really is a reminder that the citizens of Oregon were told that these short sessions were meant to fix unintended consequences from bills passed in the “long session”, which occurs for 160 days in odd years, or to make budgetary adjustments as needed. Sadly, many legislators take the short session as an opportunity to lay out massive policy ideas that really have no business in a session that is only 35 days long. I’ve tried to limit the bills that I’ve introduced to smaller policy changes that nonetheless will still have a big impact on citizens of rural northwest Oregon. Here are a few of them:
HB4053 – Highway 6 that links Tillamook and Washington counties is a well-known infrastructure disaster waiting to happen. There are few guardrails, no cell service, only a small number of turnouts and short passing lanes. The summit of the highway has a massive sinkhole that threatens to find its way into the Wilson River some day soon. Because of all these dangers, seven people were killed in accidents on Highway 6 in 2021 alone. Many others were seriously injured. HB 4053 is a bill to study the condition of the highway, what fixes need to be made in order to ensure its safety, and how we expect it to cost.
HB 4124 – I spent 30 years as an elementary school teacher, and I can say from experience that nothing was more stressful for students, teachers and parents as standardized tests. Some will remember the Iowa Tests, the Oregon Plus tests and many others, but did you know that there is no full list of all the standardized tests that students in Oregon take? Did you also know that many districts give their own standardized tests in addition to the tests required by the state? In fact, a retired teacher from the Eugene school district did his own study and found that his former school district administers nearly 150 different standardized tests to their students between kindergarten and high school! Standardized tests are important to measure the progress of our students, but I’m concerned that we have reached a point that the sheer number of tests as well as their contents are taking up so much time that they are taking away hours and hours of actual instruction time, without accurately measuring student progress. HB 4124 will actually do the work of assessing the number and usefulness of standardized tests in our districts. That way we can make any necessary changes to get us the data we need without sacrificing important classroom time.
The bill has passed out of the House Education Committee and is headed to the Ways and Means Committee for a review of the cost. To listen in to my testimony click the picture to the right.
Because of the intensity of the legislative schedule, it’s difficult to make it into the district for town halls. Technology to the rescue! I was excited to participate in a Q&A session we called “From the Capitol”, which is a little bit of a spinoff of my normal video series, which we call “From the District”. Instead of my chief of staff, we were fortunate to have former Representative Bill Post, a former radio host to serve as moderator. I was able to serve with former Rep. Post for a little less than a year. I didn’t always agree with his points of view or his vote, but I always valued his input and points of view. He made me think, and I always appreciate that. If you weren’t able to take part in the Q&A live, here is a recording. It’s about 45 minutes long, so just long enough to address some important questions but not so long that it drags on.
As always, I encourage all my constituents to follow your legislature and to be informed of what goes on every day. While Oregon has a history of really messing up websites, they actually did a spectacular job with the Oregon Legislative Information System. You can watch committee hearings and floor proceedings. You can track bills and be notified when they are up for a hearing. I encourage you to visit www.olis.oregonlegislature.gov and spend some time getting to know it. I have attached links that bring you directly to the tutorial video’s on each of the “How To” lines below.
- How to find a committee agenda on OLIS
- How to sign up to testify on a bill
- How to submit written testimony on a bill
- How to join a Microsoft Teams meeting and functions within Microsoft Teams
It is a privilege to serve my community in the Oregon Legislature! Please always feel free to reach out to me or my staff to ask questions, make your opinion known or just touch base.