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Legislation makes Oregon better

The legislative session has ended, and I am able to sit down and reflect on what has transpired over the last several months. It has been a whirlwind of an experience, let me tell you! As I look back at photos from the day I took my oath in January, it strikes me how long six months really is, and how much has happened since Jan. 11.

I want to take a look back at the session, and I want to thank you for your words of encouragement, letters, and engagement over the past several months.

n House Bill 2927 — If I were to use one word to describe the general themes of the bills we covered in the House Education Committee this session, it would be equity. One area where this is particularly true is in school funding. No school — and by extension, no student — should be affected because they provide the services special needs students require and deserve.

House Bill 2927 reaffirms this by doubling the funding to the High Cost Disabilities Account, a grant program designed to reimburse school districts for excessive costs related to educating high-needs fragile students. The Forest Grove School District, where my children went to school, has one of the highest spending levels per student for fragile students, and will benefit greatly from this increase in funds.

It was an honor to carry this bill.

n House Bill 2002 — With recent attention on racial profiling by law enforcement across the country, House Bill 2002 ensures that Oregon’s public safety system is held accountable by directing law enforcement agencies to adopt written policies and procedures prohibiting profiling.

This bill resonates with me because of an instance of racial profiling that happened in winter of 2014 to one of my former students. This event shook our community and greatly affected me. House Bill 2002 will establish a precedent that Oregon and its citizens do not support profiling of any kind.

n House Bill 2655 and House Bill 2680 — As someone who was in the classroom for 42 years, I understand the role standardized tests play in the classroom, and in identifying student learning gaps. However, I have heard time and time again from parents and teachers that a one-size-fits-all approach to testing like the Smarter Balanced test does not provide an accurate assessment of a child’s achievement, nor does it provide sufficient information for student teacher or school performance ratings. That is why I introduced House Bill 2680 and co-sponsored House Bill 2655.

n House Bill 2928 — Another issue facing our education system is growing class sizes. Studies have shown that heaving too many students in a classroom is detrimental to student learning. I introduced House Bill 2928, which will provide updated information and look at new factors that impact classroom learning such as development patterns and the use of technology in the classroom.

n House Bill 2730 — The Breast Cancer License Plate Bill. There aren’t many people in our state who haven’t been touched in some way by cancer. The Legislature is no exception. My aunt had breast cancer a number of years ago, and I lost my husband Cliff to cancer in 2009. A breast cancer awareness plate will provide much-needed funding to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) for use for early detection of breast and cervical cancers.

n Senate Bill 411 — I joined the Consumer Protection Committee a few weeks into the session, and SB 411 was a great issue to work on so soon after joining the committee, because it set the tone for other important issues we would tackle later on.

SB 411 removed a longstanding loophole in Oregon law that prevents Oregonians from getting what they pay for when it comes to auto insurance. Through a practice called “stacking,” uninsured and underinsured motorists’ coverage is compared among the parties in an accident, and coverage — instead of accumulating — cancels each other out. I believe this will provide a better choice for people to pay their premium and actually get what they are paying for.

n Senate Bill 478 Toxic Free Kids Act — No parent or grandparent should have to worry that the toys they are buying for their children are harmful to their health. (The bill) establishes a list of chemicals that pose the biggest threat to children’s health.

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