Corvallis Parent: Oregon’s New 2023 Family and Education Laws, Whale Watch Ends Dec. 31, Paying Parents Caring for Disabled Children Considered 

You may have noted The Advocate pushing Oregon’s Whale Watch Week of late, and we’ll just confess, there’s many a fond family memory of this event for some of us. Loved by kids and adults alike, this is the first time it’s been in-person since 2019. In progress now, this freebie runs through Dec 31, and if you haven’t been, you and yours are in for a treat. 

We’re talking an estimated 19,000 Gray whales swimming along Oregon’s shoreline these next several weeks – and during this specially set aside week, Oregon’s State Parks Dept. stations volunteers at many of the best lookouts to help visitors spot our seafaring mammal friends, share information and answer questions  

The volunteers, who in our experience have always been great with kids, are stationed between 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily. Visit the Oregon State Parks site for more info. 

Parental Caregiving for Disabled Minor Children: Prior to the pandemic, parents of children with developmental or intellectual disabilities were barred from receiving payment for care and support of their own kids, but with the pandemic lockdown, that changed, temporarily.   

Now, there appears to be bipartisan support among some of Oregon’s state senators to extend or make permanent the eligibility of parents to be paid for these services.  

Earlier this month, Our district’s Senator Sara Gelser Blouin, a Democrat, and Bend’s Republican Senator Tim Knopp both introduced Legislative Concepts to potentially get the ball rolling. Gelser’s is  LC 1256 and Knopp’s is LC 656 

Estimated impacts on Oregon’s budget run as high as $157 million. There may be a need for federal waivers, and potentially, some funding. Expect to see this issue arise in future legislative sessions. 

State’s New 2023 Family and Education Laws: Oregon lawmakers were busy this year, passing legislation that with the turn of the new year will become law, here’s a sampling for those of us that are of the parenting sort: 

DIVERSITY:  Thanks to House Bill 4031, Oregon’s Department of Education has, among its already existing responsibilities, a new goal – get their percentage of diverse employees equal to the percentage of diverse students in the state’s public schools. 

SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS: Legislators wanted to put a check on potential conflicts of interests, so with the new year, school board members will be required to file verified statements of economic interests with Oregon’s Government Ethics Commission.  House Bill 4114 requires disclosures for sources of income, investments, real estate holdings, and, you get idea, essentially anything in a Board member’s financial life. 

NEWBORNS: Should health plans pay full costs to providers that deliver in-home nurse visits in Oregon? Our state legislature said yes to that idea, passing Senate Bill 1555. 

PAID FAMILY LEAVE: As we previously reported, Oregonians will see a new benefit next year. Back in 2019, our state legislature passed the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act, the ninth state nationwide to do so, and come next September, workers in Oregon will be able to apply for benefits.  

To fund that September startup, paycheck deductions will start on Jan. 1, 2023. If you make minimum wage, you’ll pay $168.48 yearly, but if you need leave, you’ll get a weekly check covering 100% of your wages. If you’re making the state’s annual median income of $67,058, you’ll pay $402.35 yearly, and you’ll receive just over 80% of your usual income while on leave. Workers are paying 60%, and employers with over 25 workers pay 40%.  

Good for up to 12 weeks of leave, the new law isn’t just for new parents, it can also help workers caring for themselves or other family members. It’s worth a visit to the state’s Paid Leave Oregon site to see the eligibility list; it is more generous than one might suspect.  

FAMILY LAW COST RELIEF: Also prior reported, for families facing transitions like separation or divorce, expenses can quickly mount – and adding to that are legal expenses that often have lasting consequences. So, the Oregon State Bar is preparing to permit legal paraprofessionals to help with these cases in ways they currently cannot.  

Think like a nurse practitioner in the medical field – able to help plenty of folks, even if they can’t do everything a doctor can. In this instance, legal paraprofessionals will be permitted to prepare paperwork and even negotiate for family law clients. The only thing they won’t be able to do is appear in court to argue for their client, which would still require a lawyer.  

The change is set for July of next year.  

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