Legislative Report, Volume 27, Number 15 – May 2017

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In This Issue

Important Dates

Governance

Natural Resources

Social Policy

Education Policy


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Important Dates and Resources

Here are some key dates in the Oregon Legislature for 2017:

May 16:  Revenue Forecast
May 19: 
Deadline for committees to schedule work sessions on measures that originated in the opposite chamber.
June 2: 
Deadline for committees to hold work sessions on measures that originated in the opposite chamber.
June 23: 
Target adjournment of 2017 Legislative Session.
July 10: 
Constitutional deadline for adjournment of 2017 Legislative Session.

For a list of our Action Committee members and brief position descriptions, please see Taking Action Through Advocacy.

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buildingsymbolGovernance

By Rebecca Gladstone, Governance Coordinator

An excellent Background on Oregon Tax History revisited the initiatives that crippled Oregon’s finances. “The modern era of tax reform debate in Oregon goes back to the passage of property tax limiting initiatives in the 1990s. These initiatives (Measure 5 in 1990 and Measure 50 in 1997) effectively reduced the statewide property tax burden from 4.9% of personal income to 3.4%. This is equivalent to about $2.8 billion annually in today’s terms. Oregon shifted from a high property tax state (5th highest among the states in 1990) to an average property tax state (number 25 in 2014). In addition to the revenue loss, the most significant outcome of the property tax initiatives was the shift in school funding responsibility. In 1990, state resources funded 29% of school operating costs. In 2017, the state picks up about 67% of school operating costs, primarily through income taxes. At the state level, no state is as dependent on the personal income tax for revenue as is Oregon.”

On Thursday 5/4/17 The Oregon Education Investment Initiative subtitled “Band-Aid or A Brighter Future?” was rolled out before the Joint Committee on Tax Reform by Democrat leaders (see the details of this proposed initiative in the EDUCATION section of this Legislative Report including explanatory links and reactions from legislators and others).

Some reactions to this week’s hearings in the NEW Joint Committee on Tax Reform show how far legislators are from reaching agreement: Oregon lawmakers draft corporate tax overhaul; Corporate activities tax could bring in $3.1 billion – or a lot less; Oregon Speaker Kotek proposes $2Billion-plus corporate tax increase per Business Journal; A budget fix takes shape in Salem; Republican Jeff Kruse weekly update; Consideration of a New Gross Receipts Tax Moves Forward in Oregon, from the Tax Foundation; GOP opposes new Oregon business tax plan that could net $3 billion in extra funds

Elections

HB 2505 A: LWVOR supports this bill, which passed unanimously on the House Floor on Wednesday. Oregon seeks to be the third state, joining California and Montana, to have an expanded definition of “communication” under its independent expenditure law. “This bill will limit the influence of dark money in our campaigns. Our citizens, our voters want to know where the money comes from. This bill is about increasing transparency.”-bill sponsor Rep Nancy Nathanson.

National Popular Vote (Marge Easley)

“Continue the barrage” to your legislators to support direct legislative passage of NPV in Oregon. You can find them in the lower right-hand corner of this page.

General Governance & Accountability

SB 2906: Scroll down for Salem Statesman-Journal reference to League testimony for this data management bill, moving forward.

SB 5535: This bill would fund Department of Revenue (DOR) operations over the next biennium. Note that the bill had more than 50 hearings devoted to examining it. Documents posted show how much we’re missing out on with our state budgets. We encourage you to watch the Joint General Governance Committee Revenue Management videos:

Tax Compliance: May 1st & continued May 2nd

Collections, May 3rd & continued May 4th

The strongest call was to insist that DOR reach out to the Legislature to get needed resources to keep their operations functioning. Legislators posed incisive questions to the new DOR Director and staff:

  • Why do we have 30 DOR collections positions unfilled when we so badly need the revenue they would be collecting? New DOR Director Nia Ray started after the election, to report DOR status to project a 10% cut, so hiring, collections, and customer service were all being evaluated.
  • “Cybershaming?” A pilot test of posting “tax scofflaws” showed 50 of our estimated 37,000 Oregonians who aren’t paying up. How did we decide on 50? How is that working? Did I hear right that the top of the list owes $3.7 million?
  • Six audits have shown persistent DOR problems. How can these be addressed and how did we pile up this backlog without acting on them?

PUBLIC RECORDS

SB 2101: This public records exemption bill, proposing legislative oversight, was presented the week before last and awaits a proposed amendment for a “Sunshine Committee”. The amendments page lists -14 and the bill introduction has not yet been “engrossed’, or updated.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! If any of these areas interest you, please contact: Governance Coordinator: Becky Gladstone, 541.510.9387, rebecca.gladstone@gmail.com.

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dropletNatural Resources

By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator

AGENCY BUDGETS (Peggy Lynch)

HB 5022, the Oregon Marine Board budget, was amended and moved out of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on May 4th.  The amendments acknowledge that HB 2320, a bill that would have provided money for non-motorized facilities, died in committee. HB 2321, that was also was amended out of the budget, would have included an aquatic invasive species fee for boats under 10 feet, thereby reducing the total money available to be sure boats are checked at the border to stop these invasive species from damaging our water and wastewater infrastructure.  Protecting our critical water infrastructure is a priority of the League, so we are saddened by the actions of the policy committees that reduced this funding.

SB 5537, the Dept. of State Lands budget, was amended and passed out of the Ways and Means Subcommittee.  We believe our voice was heard  and are pleased with their decision.

CLIMATE CHANGE (Claudia Keith)

Update on Our Children’s Trust lawsuit:  JUDGE COFFIN TO TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: APPEAL NOW “WOULD PUT CART BEFORE THE HORSE, https://www.ourchildrenstrust.org/news/.
Governor Kate Brown was joined today (May 3rd) by 11 other governors in a letter to President Trump urging that he continue the United States’ involvement in the international Paris Climate Agreement.

Legislative Leadership, with the Governor’s influence, could move on critical climate policy, although most likely will be completely dependent on the volume and quality of supportive business, labor, faith, tribal, health, disadvantaged communities and general public response between now and early June.

Clean Energy Jobs (Cap & Trade):  HB 2135A is still alive in House Rules. Senate and House Environment Committees will continue to have Tuesday evening joint work groups.  We encourage you to sign up to receive their agendas. Oil Rail Safety: SB 7 is in Senate Rules. HB 2131, a similar bill, has a Work Session scheduled on May 11 in House Rules.

10-Year Moratorium on Fracking: HB 2711A has been assigned to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

Dept. of Energy and Oregon Global Warming Commission merger with funding request and a new Energy and Climate Policy Board, HB 2020A, moved out of House Energy and Environment with a “do pass” recommendation, but the Speaker then referred it to House Rules.  HB 3269 has a similar theme for the Oregon Global Warming Commission and is also in House Rules, with a “do pass” recommendation.  SB 908A and SB 952A were moved to Senate Rules “without recommendation”.

We have recently learned that SB 990, a bill that would open up Oregon to small scale nuclear reactors, quietly passed the Senate.  We are reviewing the League’s positions and may support others in opposition in the House.

AIR QUALITY & TOXICS (Marilyn Koenitzer)

We continue to follow the Cleaner Air Oregon process (see www.cleanerair.oregon.gov).  Our League member has been attending their final meetings as the committee works toward recommending rules for the Environmental Quality Commission. Both HB 2236, enabling legislation for Cleaner Air Oregon (CAO), and HB 2269A, on fees for funding the new DEQ rules and the agency work, have moved to Ways and Means.

SB 1008A, Clean Diesel, was sent “do pass” to Senate Rules without the -2 amendments we supported.  In the meantime, DEQ is moving forward with rules regarding the settlement.  Written public comment on the proposed mitigation fund plan elements proposed by DEQ will be accepted through May 19, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. The proposed plan elements, as well as background information and information on how to comment, can be found here: http://www.oregon.gov/deq/aq/programs/Pages/VW-Die

ELLIOTT FOREST and FORESTRY (Jennifer Haynes and Peggy Lynch)

Now is the time to speak up to support Governor Kate Brown and Treasurer Tobias Read as they work to keep the Elliott State Forest in public ownership.  We encourage your attendance at the State Land Board on May 9th.  Secretary of State Dennis Richardson suggests that a plan must retain options for public ownership of old growth areas. He also said any plan he approves “must preserve the state’s reputation and the ability to negotiate agreements in good faith with business and nonprofit partners in the future.”

We have learned that yet another plan will be offered to the Land Board.  We would not support the overly aggressive harvest levels in the “Giesy Plan”, named after lumberman Wayne Giesy’s efforts to spur job growth and forest health on federal timber lands.  It is an alternative plan proposed by Bob Zybach of Cottage Grove.  His proposal would rename the land the “Elliott State Educational Forest” and keep it state-owned for at least 20 years, with the option to extend.  Economist Christine Broniak of the Legislative Revenue Office estimated the Giesy Plan would produce more than $460 million in timber revenue over 20 years.  “This would depend on annual sales of 50 million board feet per year, which is less than actually grows every year on the Elliott and a figure that was routinely being reached 30 years ago, when the trees were much smaller and younger on the forest,” Zybach wrote in an email to The News-Review. (EMILY HOARD The News-Review May 5th.)

We will also need the support of the Legislature to purchase the Forest from the Common School Fund.  SB 847, the Trust Lands Transfer bill, has been sent to Ways and Means because it may cost any state agency that would manage former trust lands.  We expect a “priority bill” to be written to address a “keep it public” proposal after the May 9th meeting.

LAND USE (Peggy Lynch, Marge Easley-aggregate/mining)

SB 432, which we oppose, would allow some rural counties in Eastern Oregon to opt out of our statewide land use system and was sent “without recommendation” to Senate Rules, where we hear amendments are being considered.  At this point we continue to be adamantly opposed.

SB 644 includes provisions around a reorganization of the Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries and suction dredge mining, as well as removing local land processes for mining projects.  The bill was not amended, but moved to Senate Rules “without recommendation”. The League continues to be opposed.

HB 2023 would change the definition of high value farmland and is in House Rules. HB 2730A, written specifically for a golf course expansion in Curry County, passed the House and has been assigned to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

HB 3012A would allow a second home on a lot that has a “historic home” in rural areas in order to save that historic home from possible demolition. It has been assigned to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. We are currently neutral on the bill, but will need to be sure the bill is not expanded in the Senate.

We continue to oppose HB 3245A, a bill that would allow comprehensive map amendments to be considered by a hearings officer or planning commission, without a requirement to go to the elected body. It does not address the appeals cost to gain access to their elected officials. The bill passed the House and has been assigned to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

HB 2893 is a bill that would require a city to evaluate for inclusion in their urban growth boundary certain agricultural land consisting predominantly of soil classifications VI, VII and VIII with other first priority lands. The bill was requested by the Bend area as they anticipate that their latest urban growth boundary expansion will not accommodate expected growth and another expansion will be needed in a few years.  In that case, there are those who want to be sure their land is included in the discussion.  A Work Session is scheduled in House Rules on May 11. The League opposes this carve-out legislation.

HB 2007A, a bill meant to address policies around affordable housing, was moved “do pass” to Ways and Means.  The proposals would significantly change how local governments process applications inside cities and urban growth boundaries and would require that accessory dwelling units and duplexes be allowed in single family zones.  The League has concerns around the lack of public process. We understand additional amendments are being considered, but we are not sure that they will move the League to a “support” position.

The Land Conservation and Development Commission will meet in Salem May 18 and 19.  The materials for the LCDC meeting have been posted to the web, http://www.oregon.gov/LCD/Pages/meetings.aspx.

TRANSPORTATION (Peggy Lynch, Sandra Gangle-transit)

Legislative members are hopeful that we will have a complete Transportation Package this session.  The Joint Transportation Preservation and Modernization Committee will hold a meeting Monday evening, May 8th.  It is anticipated that they will release a proposal at this 5:30 p.m. meeting.  On May 10th they will continue discussion on the proposal.

WATER (Peggy Lynch)

SB 812, a bill that will modify the onsite septic loan program, will have a Work Session in the House Environment and Energy Committee on May 8th.  The League supports this legislation and has signed on to a joint letter with others.  Not yet funded for the 2017 biennium (but SB 383 in Ways and Means would do so), this program has brought in additional private dollars to help clean up Oregon’s lands and waters.

HB 2706A, requiring a water rights management fee, was referred “do pass” to Ways and Means. HB 2705, requiring additional measurement of water rights, was recommended “do pass” and moved to House Rules.  The League supports both bills.  HB 2707A, asks for an additional $8.2 million for groundwater studies, was recommended “do pass” and sent to Ways and Means.  Although we support the additional money requested in the Water Resources Dept. budget, we believe this “ask” is a bit too far this session.

HB 3427A, a bill that would require high hazard dams to have emergency plans, moved “do pass” to Ways and Means.  The League also supports a new permanent staffer at the Water Resources Dept. to help with dam inspections, needed for this work.

SB 3A, a bill that would remove the moratorium on suction dredge mining while limiting that action on enhanced salmon-bearing streams, had a hearing in the House Energy and Environment Committee on May 3rd.  Senator Dembrow provided a passionate, yet factual presentation.  The League supports this compromise bill.

The 2017 public review draft of Oregon’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy is now available for public comment.  You can view the Note to Reader section at the beginning of the document to help orient you to what elements are new to this version, where to locate new sections or recommended actions, and what to expect for the remainder of 2017.  To view or download the draft as a PDF, click here.  The Water Resources Department will accept comments on this Public Review Draft through Monday, June 19, 2017.  Comments can be sent electronically to waterstrategy@wrd.state.or.us.  The League supports this effort and encourages members to read and comment. 

The Water Resources Commission will meet in Salem May 11 and 12.  Agenda available here. You can see the staff reports by clicking on the following link: http://apps.wrd.state.or.us/apps/misc/wrd_notice_view/Default.aspx?notice_id=41

The Oregon Health Authority is seeking public input as it decides which beaches to monitor this summer.  OHA and the Dept. of Environmental Quality work together to determine beaches that need monitoring to protect public health. The program will determine the beaches that need monitoring based on criteria like pollution, water quality concerns, and type and amount of beach use. OHA will accept public input until May 8th. To submit a comment, call 971-673-0400 or send an email to: beach.health@state.or.us

REGIONAL SOLUTIONS (Peggy Lynch)

Continue to follow the Regional Solutions (RS) program to assure that there is a public element to any funding decisions and that local citizens know what projects are being “helped” by the RS process.  Please sign up to get the notices of meetings in your region: www.regionalsolutions.oregon.gov

The Greater Eastern Oregon Regional Solutions Executive Committee will meet May 9, 3:30 – 4:00 p.m.@ Blue Mountain Community College Boardroom, 2411 Carden Ave, Pendleton.  Call In: 888-398-2342; code 7476425 #    Agenda is available here.

The South Central Region (Klamath & Lake Counties): May 11, 10:00 – noon @ Klamath Community College, Building 6, Room H138 7390 South Sixth St Klamath Falls, OR 97603 1-888-557-8511 code: 9470233 Agenda is available here.

The Southern Oregon Regional Solutions Advisory Committee will meet May 15, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. @ Josephine County Courthouse, Room 157, 500 NW 6th St, Grants Pass. Call In: 1-877-848-7030; Code 5495754#  Agenda is available here.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!  If any of these areas interest you, please contact Natural Resources Coordinator Peggy Lynch at peggylynchor@gmail.com or 541-745-1025

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houseSocial Policy

 By Karen Nibler, Social Policy Coordinator

The Senate Human Services Committee considered a few housing bills approved by the House.  HB 3175, the LIFT bill to provide home ownership options for low income earners, was supported by Oregon Habitat and Proud Ground on May 1. Land trusts bring down the costs of the homes. The Governor’s Budget included staff and additional funding, $60 million for the LIFT program.

On May 3 HB 2004 brought an overflow crowd to the Capitol to testify for or against rent controls.  Many at the hearing were renters or property owners. Since not all who attended had the opportunity to testify, the Chair announced the record will stay open for written testimony until Monday.

The House Human Services Committee had work sessions on May 4 on a number of bills, including SB 821 the Oregon Stability Housing Council plan for the Emergency Housing Accounts to prevent and end homelessness. The Community Action Partnership Agencies administer these resources at the local level and want to continue to draw down federal matching funds for this purpose.

Senate Health Care met on April 27 for a Public Hearing on HB 2388 A, which was amended and passed out of the Health Care Committee at the end of March.  The bill covers the Department of Consumer and Business Services registration of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) in Oregon and sanctions for violations. This bill caught our attention in 2016 when pharmacies were complaining about costs of drugs and the quality of service by PBMs.  The original intent was cost savings by purchasing in bulk, but the costs have increased, raising concerns about the charges by the intermediate level. The League submitted a letter on 4-27. The bill was passed on May 2, with comments by two Senators on these concerns.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services Budget, HB 5512, was heard on 4-19 in the Transportation and Economic Development Ways and Means Subcommittee.  The 2017-19 Budget will be fee based with no general revenue.  Former funds from federal grant funds will be phased out.  The Department will consolidate the Insurance Division and the Finance and Corporate Securities into the Division of Financial Regulation.  Fee increases are expected to cover costs.  The final budget hearing was scheduled for 5-3, including an amendment covering funds for Worker’s Comp, OSHA, the Insurance Marketplace, COFA, SHIBA, and Worker’s Benefit Fund.

Child Welfare Dependency representation was considered in the Ways and Means Public Safety Subcommittee on April 27.  SB 222 set up a Task Force of 18 members from all 3 branches of government to consider the models for attorney representation for child welfare caseworkers.  Justice Brewer presented the Oregon Judicial intent to protect the rights of parents and children.  The Judge recommended the Department of Justice represent DHS throughout the cases. The budget proposal will begin Phase I with $10.8 million to hire one manager and 7 legal representatives and $161,322 for a data analyst for evaluation.  The phase in would be in 3 tiers by Jan 1, 2019.

The Governor’s bills for this session requested more caseworkers, better training and higher reimbursement for foster parents and treatment providers. HB 2345 A requested that DOJ and DHS ensure full access to legal representation for child welfare cases.  The Public Defense Services Commission was directed to implement a program statewide by Jan 1. 2022.  Final decisions are still pending.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! If any of these areas interest you, please contact Social Policy Coordinator: Karen Nibler 541.752.8567 niblerk@comcast.net

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Education Policygradcap

By Chris Vogel, Education Policy Coordinator

The Oregon Education Investment Initiative proposal says this $1.4 billion Education Investment would include:

K-12 NEW INVESTMENT = $1.0 billion

K-12 State School Fund – $800 million

  • Add two weeks to school year, reduce class sizes K-5
  • SSF in 2017-19 could be $8.4 to $8.8 billion

K-12 Strategic Initiatives – $200 million

  • Teacher mentoring
  • focus on equity
  • school nurse in every school
  • support for English learners
  • improve graduation rates and reduce chronic absenteeism
  • school nutrition

EARLY CHILDHOOD NEW INVESTMENT = $150 million

  • Expand Head Start and Preschool Promise
  • Increase access to home visiting supports
  • Strengthen early intervention/early childhood special education

HIGHER EDUCATION NEW INVESTMENT = $250 million

  • Reduce tuition increases
  • Increase need-based financial assistance
  • Fund Oregon Promise

Oregon Education Investment Initiative “Band-Aid or A Brighter Future?” sponsors say they would commit to:

  • 75% of revenue generated through business tax reform (new revenue) to education and design a guarantee to ensure that commitment continues
  • long-term Cost Containment and more predictable business tax revenue will get us out of the boom-and-bust budgeting of the last 20 years

Future weeks, in this legislative session, will tell more about any tax reform, increased education funding, and increased funding for safety net services.  To get a perspective on how opinions vary, read these releases for an overview of differing opinions:  Oregon House Leaders Announce Plan to Reform Business Taxes, Invest in Education, Democrat release; Oregon speaker earmarks $1.4B of tax hike for schools Reaction sharply divided to new proposal 

Next week, this section of the LR will recap movement of policy bills.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!  If you have an interest in following early learning, K-12 or higher education, please contact Education Policy Coordinator: Chris Vogel, 503.586.8314, chrisvogelvolunteerlwvor@gmail.com we always appreciate further inquiries on bills of interest.

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