Mark Hass served in the Oregon State Senate from 2007 until 2021.
Hass was selected in fall 2007 by the County Commissions of Washington and Multnomah counties to serve the remainder of Senator Ryan Deckert’s term, following Deckert’s resignation. He was elected for a full term in 2008. Hass was subsequently reelected twice, in 2012 and 2016.
Hass served as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue. He was also a member of the Senate Education Committee Senate Labor and Business Committee, and the Joint Interim Committee on Public Education Appropriation. He also served as Senate Democratic Whip.
Throughout his time in the Oregon Legislature, Hass made reforming education in Oregon his chief priority. In 2011, Hass sponsored a bill (SB248) for full-day kindergarten, which replaced half-day kindergarten in Oregon public schools in the 2015-16 school year. Hass was also instrumental in restructuring the state’s higher education system. In 2011, as a member of the Higher Education Workgroup, Hass led the legislative efforts to pass SB 242, which provided greater autonomy for Oregon’s seven public universities. It also created the Higher Education Coordinating Commission. During that same 2011 session, Hass led the passage of SB 253, which put the 40-40-20 goals into state law. Those goals seek a workforce by 2025 that is made up of 40 percent people who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, 40 percent who hold a two-year degree and the remaining 20 percent people who hold the equivalent of a high school diploma.
During the 2013 Legislative session, Hass sponsored Senate Bill 270 after chairing the Oregon Legislative Task Force on University Governance. Senate Bill 270 created institutional governing boards for the schools in the Oregon University System. That same year, Hass was the chief sponsor of a bill that established the Accelerated Learning Committee, an institution promoting access to dual credit programs in Oregon high schools.
In 2015, Hass was a chief sponsor of Senate Bill 81, which created the Oregon Promise. The Oregon Promise is a last-dollar program allowing students graduating from an Oregon high school, who meet specified criteria, to attend community college tuition-free.
Perhaps Hass’ most significant reforms happened in the recently completed 2019 Legislative session. Long a critic of Oregon’s inadequate K-12 education system, Hass spearheaded the passage of the Student Success Act. The bill makes new investments in Oregon’s education system by prioritizing early childhood development, mental healthcare in schools, and increasing graduation rates.
Mark Hass’s Ideas
Problem In the changing economy, it’s harder than ever to get a good-paying job with only a high school education, yet a growing number of high school graduates feel that they can’t afford a higher education. Unfortunately, it costs Oregon taxpayers an average of $14,000 per year for each […]
Education | Mark Hass | Former Senator | Portland, OR