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LEGISLATIVE CONCEPT #11: PERMIT CAMPUSES TO EMPLOY ARMED POLICE OFFICERS

Summary

At its February 18, 2000, meeting, the Board considered 12 potential legislative concepts for submission to the Department of Administrative Services for possible introduction in the 2001 Legislative Assembly. Eleven of the concepts were approved and one, Legislative Concept #11, was held over for further consideration.

Because the deadline for submission is Friday, April 14, 2000, the 11 approved measures will be submitted as directed by the Board, and Legislative Concept #11 will be submitted provisionally, pending final Board action.

Following is the concept as originally presented:

11. PERMIT CAMPUSES TO EMPLOY ARMED POLICE OFFICERS. Under ORS 352.385, the Board is permitted to authorize the designation of special campus security officers, who are empowered to "stop and frisk" and make "probable cause arrest" of persons on campus, as outlined under the police powers in ORS 133.310. However, ORS 352.385 specifically prohibits campus security officers from carrying firearms, or the designation of campus security officers as police officers.

This proposal would amend ORS 352.385, granting the Board the authority to permit requesting campuses to employ police officers with firearms. The proposal is being advanced by Portland State University, which has seen a shift in the nature of the situations campus security officers respond to. PSU's Public Safety Office reports that, as an open, urban campus, the campus community is at risk from potentially dangerous unaffiliated individuals with access to the campus, and seeks enhanced police powers, including the designation of a limited number of police officers, to respond. The proposal is endorsed by the OUS Public Safety Directors.

The Board has visited the issue of armed OUS police officers on a number of occasions in the past. Beginning with the original legislative concept, which was approved in the 1987 Legislative Session, the Board sought authority to appoint "special security officers" and specifically excluded the power to carry firearms. In the 1995 Legislative Session, the number of special security officers permitted under the statute was increased, and the powers of the officers was extended to "stop and frisk." Again, the Board did not seek to include firearms as an option.

Recent Chronology of Events

In December 1998, representatives of the PSU Public Safety office approached the Board and asked for Board reconsideration of the prohibition against firearms in ORS 352.385. The PSU representatives advanced the proposal as a job safety and campus security issue arising from the changing nature of their work and asked that a limited number of campus public safety officers be upgraded to university police, with the authority to carry firearms.

In the January 21, 2000, discussions of the System Strategic Planning and Budget and Finance Committees, significant concern was expressed regarding this proposal and no consensus was apparent. Debate centered on the issues of the changing nature of campus security work and the question of OUS shared liability with municipal or state police agencies contracted to perform campus police work versus direct liability from the employment of university police officers. Discussion also touched on the division of campus employees serving campus interests versus police agencies acting in response to criminal acts.

At its February 18, 1999, meeting, Board members heard a staff report regarding the PSU proposal and revisited the history of the campus security officer statute. The Board then considered a staff recommendation to retain the status quo regarding campus security officers and, after some discussion, reaffirmed its position regarding the issue.

BOARD OPTIONS:

A. Amend Board policy by approving the proposed legislative concept, which would grant the Board the authority to permit campuses to employ a number of armed university police officers.

B. Maintain Board policy regarding armed university police officers and reject the proposed legislative concept.

Staff Recommendation to the Board

Staff recommends that the Board accept PSU's report responding to questions posed by the Board at its February 2000 meeting and their research on Portland-area and OUS campuses. Further, staff recommends that the Board choose from either Option A or Option B as its final decision on the matter.

BOARD ACTION:

STUDENT HEALTH INSURANCE

Summary

The Task Force on Student Health Insurance was asked by the Chancellor to review the current status of student health insurance on OUS campuses and make recommendations for a method to continue to make affordable student health insurance accessible. The Task Force met with the Board Committee on Budget and Finance at their March 17, 2000, meeting and presented its findings and recommendations. The Committee subsequently approved them.

The Chancellor supports the recommendations of the Task Force on Student Health Insurance and seeks Board approval to proceed with the development of specifications for a Systemwide mandatory basic health insurance plan. The Chancellor also seeks Board approval to explore options for a Systemwide or multi-university major medical plan. The universities would like to retain the ability to design their own major medical plans if a Systemwide plan is unable to meet individual campus needs.

After a thorough review of current plans and other options the Chancellor recommends adoption of a Systemwide basic mandatory plan, believing that such a plan would operate most efficiently and cost-effectively.

The mandatory basic plan would be charged to each student required to pay the student health fee. The student would be able to choose whether or not to enroll in an optional major medical plan.

Budget and Finance Committee Report to the Board

Historically, student health plans have been designed and maintained by the individual campuses in an effort to meet the diverse needs of each. Each campus has relied upon its own resources. With one exception, enrollment in the coverage has been entirely voluntary, whereupon a student has chosen whether or not to take the coverage. However, this form of program management has placed affordable, accessible insurance programs at risk for some institutions. This has been especially true for the smaller universities. Radical changes in health care and technology have greatly increased the costs of health care coverage. Additionally, as tuition and other fees have risen, fewer students have opted to purchase medical coverage. The net result has been higher costs for less coverage for those students who opt for coverage.

The Task Force on Student Health Insurance spent several months evaluating the current plans and their costs. One clear finding was that voluntary health plans are becoming far too costly either for students or for private sector companies. This is largely explained by the fact that in general, only those who need and will use the coverage tend to purchase it, resulting in a need for higher premiums to cover the associated medical costs.

While some universities have had a greater enrollment, it is largely a matter of scale. It became apparent to the Task Force that a mandatory basic plan would afford a steady, consistent number of covered people and guaranteed premium for the insurer. Such a plan would allow insurers to offer the optional major medical coverage at a lower rate. Several insurers have expressed interest in developing Systemwide major medical coverage programs which would allow the individual universities to design their own levels of coverage while enjoying the benefits of a larger "pool" of students.

Current estimates place the cost for a basic mandatory plan at $14-$17 per term. The best estimates at this time are that the optional major medical coverage would cost, depending upon levels of coverage selected, about $150-$200 per term.

Budget and Finance Committee Recommendation to the Board

The Board Committee on Budget and Finance recommends Board approval of the request for the development of specifications and an implementation plan for a Systemwide mandatory basic coverage plan. The Committee further recommends that the Board approve continued exploration by the Task Force of the possibility of development of a Systemwide or multi-university major medical plan.

BOARD ACTION:

WORK SESSION: PRELIMINARY RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT JOINT BOARDS WORKING GROUP

Summary

The Economic Development Joint Boards Working Group (EDJBWG) was appointed by Governor Kitzhaber on May 6, 1999. EDJBWG is made up of private sector members who sit on the Board of Higher Education, Board of Education, Oregon Economic Development Commission, or independent college boards. This unique body is committed to exploring how to better align higher education with the economic policies of the state of Oregon. Specific areas of focus for the group include research and development, technology and knowledge transfer, and industry cluster identification and support. The group is co-chaired by Tom Imeson and Brett Wilcox.

To support the work plan of EDJBWG, the Oregon University System and 12 other organizations applied for and received a grant form the U.S. Department of Commerce referred to as EPSCoT (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Technology). The work plan is staffed through Diane Vines and Jim Coonan of the Oregon University System, Bill Buckley of the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department, and Cam Preus-Braly of the Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development.

Since the award of the grant in September of 1999, much progress has been made in developing specific recommendations and implementing programs. These recommendations have been developed by EDJBWG with the help of supporting task forces made up of a broad range of private sector and academic representatives. Final recommendations are to be submitted to the Governor in June 2000. Draft recommendations are included in the supplemental materials (on file in the Board's office). Subjects that are covered by these recommendations include the following:

EDJBWG seeks the advice of the State Board of Higher Education on these draft recommendations.