In This Issue
By Rebecca Gladstone, Governance Coordinator
The November Interim meetings had one eye on the January 23rd Special Election. The League supports a YES vote on Ballot Measure 101, to retain Health Care funding. We are also watching for the November 29th Revenue Forecast amid many legislator changes.
This January 23rd veto referendum proposes repealing significant health care funding passed by HB 2391.
A YES Vote upholds (retains) funding; a NO vote overturns it. Since measure certification, the related federal funding has been suspended. This process has been unusual:
- Election timing: Moving from a November 2018 to earlier January vote (per SB 229) was added (by Democrats with Republican resistance). The measure’s intended funding cuts include loss of federal matching funds during the elapsing time, less to the earlier 2018 short session budget adjustment, if needed. The timing was opposed for adding special election processing cost and for voter turnout concern directly after holidays, with ballot mailing starting January 6th.
- Ballot titling: Legislative Committee titling to bypass the partisan Republican Secretary of State and Democratic Attorney General, was approved by a 5 to 1 partisan vote. Petitioners (Representatives Parrish, Esquivel and Hayden) contested the title. Oregon Supreme Court rulings instructed that these are (temporary) assessments, not (health care sales) “taxes”.
- Petition signatures: August 24th, the Secretary of State solicited input to change Oregon Administrative Rules to allow signature petition distribution and collection before the contested titling process was complete, requiring inclusion of a full summary statement in lieu of the title. As these proposed administrative rules are limited to initiative petitions and do not apply to referendum petitions, they did not affect prospective Referendum Petition 301.
- Referendum details: Note, with review from the state Elections Division, we revised, printed and distributed “Think Before You Ink” around the state in English and Spanish this summer, expanding distinction between “I, R, R”, Initiatives (proposing legislation), Referrals (originating from the Legislature, i.e. for Constitutional changes), and Referenda (repeal, or veto efforts for legislation passed). Related: on November 16th, the Secretary of State invited pubic feedback on nine state elections manuals, for hearings this December 15th and 18th.
Background: The 2017 health care funding negotiations took on complex revenue issues from four sessions with current partisan issues of prioritizing reduction of PERS costs, and resistance to two bills: HB 3391, the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which covered abortion costs, and to SB 558, to “Cover All Kids” health care costs, regardless of parents’ residency status, estimated to add cost of care for 5% of Oregon’s children. SB 558 passed with bi-partisan support for kids, and HB 3391 passed despite consistent minority party opposition. See October’s Legislative Report for more background.
The next state Revenue Forecast was given at 8:30a on Nov. 29. This forecast provides information about the direction of state revenue for the 2018 session. It was also an opportunity to thank Legislative Revenue Officer Paul Warner for his many years of service to the State of Oregon. He retires Dec. 1st. The Forecast that will guide any budget adjustments for 2018 will be held Feb. 16.
Both the House and Senate Revenue Committees met during the November Interim days to begin helping members understand the possible impacts of the U.S. House and Senate tax bill–should a bill pass and be signed by President Trump. The irony is that the State of Oregon could see an increase in revenue because individual Oregonians would see an increase in their individual taxes!
There were discussions about the Transient Lodging Tax, taxation of different business entities, and a review of the 2017-19 personal kicker, as well as the 2016-17 property tax collections status. Watch meetings and/or download meeting materials about these important discussions. We encourage members to share their observations with us! We can help you navigate OLIS, the Oregon Legislative Information system, if you want to help.
The outcome of Measure 101 related to health care for vulnerable Oregonians will determine the bulk of 2018 revenue work, since a failure of the measure could create a $340 million hole in the current approved budget.
This committee intends to bring a 2019 Public Records bill, to consolidate all ORS public records references into a single location coordinating with the Attorney General’s exemption database cataloging underway.
This new committee will prioritize and provide annual audit priority to the Audits Division, then send to relevant legislative bodies. Chair Devlin finds very unfortunate the federal decision not to fund >$30 billion in human services functions for Oregon’s 2019-2021 budget. This will affect all budgets, including audits’.
The Audits Division has no current risk-assessment plan to prioritize audits. They are working on an IT Procurement audit with the new CIO (State Chief Information Officer). They want a two-year schedule. The current performance Audit pipeline:
- OHA Medicaid improper payments audit, due November 29.
- Procurement practices, Higher ED Coordinating Commission, mid-December
- of ED Graduation rates, High School and Alternative Education audits
- DEQ air permitting quality, due January 3rd.
- Office of Emergency Management, emergency planning, statewide, due 15 January
- OLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission), IT audit, especially including marijuana, late January
- DHS Foster Care
- of Revenue, Gentech system
- Public Utility, energy cost audit, early Feb.
Ongoing Human Services, Department of Revenue, and Small Business Assistance Office audits were updated.
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! If any of these areas interest you, please contact: Governance Coordinator: Becky Gladstone, 541.510.9387, firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator
Bills are being submitted for the 2018 session. Contact your legislators to learn their priorities. Attend Legislative Town Halls in your area. Share what you learn with your Action Team.
After each session, agencies develop rules to implement legislation. YOU can participate in these efforts. Check the agency assigned to the legislation for more information.
We continue to follow the Cleaner Air Oregon (CAO) process (see www.cleanerair.oregon.gov). Consider a program in your local area around this important issue. DEQ is hosting public hearings around the state in November to receive public comment on the draft rules. Some of DEQ’s new CAO rulemaking elements deal with new, modified and existing facilities, risk action levels, and area caps. These elements are worth delving into. You can do so by going to the website listed above. The public comment period is open until 4p on Dec 22nd. We continue to support a program grounded in science, informed by data and health-based.
We will be supporting a fee bill in the 2018 session to implement the adopted rules. Look for more info in the next legislative report.
Clean Energy Jobs legislation is moving forward for 2018. See the Dept. of Environmental Quality presentation on climate impacts: Amendments to the 2017 bill, SB 1070, are being considered and a draft bill should be available by mid-December for legislators to continue to modify in order to have a bill ready to move in February. Senator Michael Dembrow and Rep. Ken Helm are leading this effort. Four work groups were formed to help determine amendments to the 2017 bill. For more information go to https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/helm/Pages/clean-energy.aspx.
The RenewOregon Clean Energy Jobs (CEJ) Campaign had a successful Nov 4th statewide Rally day. Over 12 Oregon communities participated with each other via a Live stream to Portland Rally, hundreds of Oregonians gathered across the state in support of #CleanEnergyJobs. A number of elected officials participated. More than 700 Oregon businesses across the state and business sectors support the Clean Energy Jobs bill.
Join us for the CEJ lobby day on Feb. 12th.We expect to see another attempt to address the concern around oil trains and the transportation of crude oil through Oregon. The House and Senate Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committees held an informational hearing on November 14 that included a presentation from the State of Washington and their requirements.
League member Claudia Keith attended the November U. N. climate conference in Bonn, Germany (COP23) as an LWVUS observer; an amazing experience, meeting folks from all over the world passionate to #actonClimate. Our Children’s Trust (#youthvgov) reps also attended COP23 and participated with #uspeoplesdelegation. This delegation is aggressively reminding the world how important the 1.5C warming aspirational goal is and how we need to ensure the goal is to return to 350 PMM CO2 prior to 2100. The COP23’s three major issues from a very lay point of view: 1) 2010-2020 unresolved issues seem to be moving in a productive direction Progress on the thorniest issue…, 2) funding for mitigation and adaptation 2020 onward is a major concern and 3) there does not appear to be a clear path forward to achieve the 2.0C / 1.5C Paris Agreement goals.
The #wearestillin coalition inside the U.S. “Act on Climate” pavilion was full of U.S. leaders from all over America, including Governor Kate Brown. They are clearly committed to the Paris Agreement. The coalition includes over 40 municipalities and 8 states (that make up the 3rd largest economy in the world) and is committed to delivering on the U.S. Paris Agreement. (WeAreStillIn Coalition America Pledge, U.S. Climate Leaders) Also, many countries have active lawsuits against their governments and fossil fuel companies.
Our Children’s Trust Update: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has given the Juliana v. US attorneys the opportunity to argue in support of the fundamental & constitutional right to a livable climate. Faced with a climate emergency, the youth plaintiffs will call on the Ninth Circuit to lift the temporary stay and allow the case to proceed to trial. The hearing will be December 11 at 10 am at the James R. Browning United States Courthouse 95 7th St, San Francisco, CA. You are invited to show up in solidarity with the #youthvgov plaintiffs and stand for climate rights! You can also livestream it or via OCT Facebook. Recent news at 9th Circuit Appeals Court.
Berkeley Labs and UC Berkeley have put together a series of short, TED-like talks on many aspects of climate change. See the talks here and the home page here. The talks particularly could be the basis for LWV discussion groups or other events.
AGENCY BUDGETS (Peggy Lynch):
Agencies that are charged with protecting our air and water–our environment at all levels–will be struggling to meet their missions. Each agency budget is posted on their individual website, but they are required to find an additional 5% reduction over the biennium. There will be modifications during the 2018 session, including monies to pay for the recent fire season.
ELLIOTT FOREST and FORESTRY (Peggy Lynch):
The Elliott Public Ownership Project has posted new information, http://www.oregon.gov/dsl/Land/Pages/Elliott.aspx, for the Elliott Public Ownership Project – October 2017 Update.
The new public electronic notification system (FERNS) for forestry activities is up and running. Trainings are being held around the state to learn how to access this important public system, although the fire season has slowed that effort. Sign up! https://ferns.odf.oregon.gov/e-notification
Legislators have formed a “Fire Caucus” to consider how they might address fire funding and timber policy. The Senate Environment and Natural Resources and House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees met jointly and held informational hearings during their November Legislative Meetings.
Word is that a version of SB 432-A (2017) will be introduced in the 2018 session. The League continues to work with interested parties to find ways to help Eastern Oregon cities address their needs while supporting our statewide land use planning program. Both this employment report and population report are increasing in most of these counties so we believe the bill is not necessary. According to the Office of Economic Analysis, employment numbers are up: “Currently, 35 out of Oregon’s 36 counties are seeing job gains over the past year. And 21 of 36 counties have more jobs today than prior to the Great Recession.” We did NOT support SB 432.
We expect to see a technical amendment to SB 1051 (2017) to clarify that the accessory dwelling unit provision is for inside cities and urban growth boundaries.
There are on-going meetings as permits for the proposed gold mine (Calico/Grassy Mountain outside of Vale) continue to be processed. The latest meeting revolved around how the company will handle the “tailings” from the mining process. For more information see: http://oregongeology.org/mlrr/chemicalprocess_Calico-GrassyMtn.htm
Want more information about web-based land use information? http://www.oregon.gov/LCD/docs/meetings/lcdc/092117/Item_4_IMMI_Final.pdf
Now that the 2017 Transportation Plan has been funded, the 2021-2024 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program cycle begins. Check it out at oregon.gov/ODOT/STIP. You can take a survey to provide input on funding priorities, sign up for the STIP email list to get regular updates and watch a new video to learn STIP fundamentals.
The Metropolitan Transportation Planning Rules Advisory Committee (RAC) continues to meet. The purpose of the RAC is to increase transportation choices, reduce reliance on the automobile and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change. If you live in one of the seven major metropolitan areas in Oregon, these rules may affect you: http://www.oregon.gov/LCD/Pages/Metro_TPR.aspx. To learn more about MPOs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metropolitan_planning_organization.
Take Amtrak: Beginning Monday, Dec. 18, extra morning and evening trains will run between Seattle and Portland, for a total of 12 trains every day. In Oregon, current train schedules will be adjusted so that passengers can ride between Seattle and Eugene on the train. Amtrak Cascades: www.AmtrakCascades.com
WATER (Peggy Lynch):
The 2017 public review draft of Oregon’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy received over 285 public comments! To view the current public review draft click here. The Commission will be asked to adopt the 2017 Strategy on December 7-8.
Want to learn more about instream water rights? Listen to this informational hearing held November 13 at the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
OREGON FISH AND WILDLIFE:
ODFW is expected to introduce a version of HB 3270 (2017) in the 2018 session to establish an Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund. It imposes a tax on certain beverages at the distributor level and is to be spent to protect, maintain or enhance wildlife resources—to help implement the Oregon Conservation Strategy adopted years ago.
OREGON PARKS AND RECREATION (Peggy Lynch)
Update on Scenic Waterways Candidates: The Nehalem River starting at Henry Rierson Spruce Run Campground and ending at the boundary of Cougar Valley State Park near Cook Creek Road, seems to be the leading candidate for selection. A recommendation to the Governor is expected late winter of 2018. For more information: http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/NATRES/scenicwaterways/Pages/index.aspx
DEPT. OF GEOLOGY & MINERAL INDUSTRIES (DOGAMI):
DOGAMI has launched the Lidar Data Viewer interactive map, which offers additional data and new features that make exploring and downloading lidar easier than ever before. Lidar data is free to download. The viewer includes release of recent Oregon Lidar Consortium project data in 31 Oregon counties.
Because of yet another geologic issue with a transportation project, expect to see a policy discussion around the use of DOGAMI expert geologists when such projects are planned.
REGIONAL SOLUTIONS (Peggy Lynch):
The League encourages members to 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. Members can attend or call in to listen to economic activities in each of the 11 regions.
In 2017, the legislature allocated $4 million in lottery bonds (to be sold in the spring of 2019) for the Regional Infrastructure Fund, but only provided spending authority of $1 until the projects have been specifically identified and presented to the 2019 legislature. During the interim, the Governor has asked the regional committees to provide a broad list of “needs” with the expectation that they may come back to the legislature in 2018 with an additional budget “ask”. The total request from the Regional Advisory Committees is well over $104.6 million! And the total cost of the projects is over $413.3 million! Also, because workforce housing can be a barrier to economic development, the Governor asked for proposals (click on “responses”) around specific projects for which she might allocate some monies to help with housing projects.
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! Although the 2017 session has ended, our work continues. There are opportunities to participate with agencies and with legislators on rulemaking and task forces. We have a new volunteer to follow Hanford Nuclear Cleanup issues (Marylou Schnoes). But we need more of you to take on just one issue. If any of these areas above interest you, please contact Natural Resources Coordinator Peggy Lynch at email@example.com or 541-745-1025
By Karen Nibler, Social Policy Coordinator
Health care is at the top of our priorities since HB 2391, the provider assessment bill has been challenged with a referendum vote in January. The League has signed on to the Yes for Health Care Campaign. Please talk with your friends, neighbors, and acquaintances about maintaining health care for over a million Oregonians. Many of us have friends or relatives who rely on Medicaid.
The Oregon Health Authority has a new administrator, Patrick Allen, former head of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, including the Insurance Division. The agencies are setting new insurance rates and reviewing the federal match process for Medicaid and Medicare. Overpayments need to be resolved this biennium. The Action Plans continue for 2017-19.
A Task Force on Health Care Cost Review met two weeks ago. SB 419 (2017) asked this committee to review cost control models for hospital care. The group is starting with the Maryland Model but will consider other methods of cost control. The cost of prescription drugs is another contentious issue. No further bills are being considered at this time.
Public Health Modernization has not been adequately funded and would require $105 million annually. Disease control is the highest priority. Expect more data and reports on needs with resultant requests for additional funds.
Human Services committees heard Child Welfare Implementation Plans to improve youth safety and sibling rights. Differential response to cases was repealed and caseworker training is in process. New caseworker positions were hired across the state branches. Supervisor training is next. Adoption decisions have been criticized in the press leading to a review of policies and new practices. Open adoptions through nonprofit agencies are possible for birth parents who want to maintain visitation with their adopted children.
The Aged and People with Disabilities Division of Human Services will be implementing HB 3359 on the safety and rights of its clients. Much work is scheduled before Jan 1, 2018. HB 2661 set restrictions on referral agencies to be effective on July 1, 2018. Related bills may be submitted for 2018.
Parents who are in drug treatment programs are eligible for child care if they qualify for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. This program was transferred from the Early Learning Division to Human Services. Parents can get child care for 6 months in residential programs and 6 months of outpatient care.
The House Human Services Committee received reports from the Oregon Housing and Community Services staff on the use of bond funds for current projects. The Document Recording Fee funds were instrumental in projects throughout the state and expansion of the fee will be brought before the 2018 session. A Realtors’ proposal will seek approval of a first time home buyers credit again.
Public Safety Issues were heard in Judiciary hearings in November. Since SB 505 passed earlier in 2017, courts are scheduling preliminary hearings on criminal cases to establish probable cause in lieu of the grand jury process. Three counties, Deschutes, Jackson and Multnomah, are starting preliminary hearing projects. More judicial and public defender time may be necessary.
Reports to the 2019 Session on the preliminary hearing process are anticipated. Other legal issues are failure to perform the duties of a driver in an accident and non-unanimous juries in murder cases.
The Distracted Driving Law HB 2597 (2017) is effective 10-1-2017, so expect to see ads and signs to warn drivers. Only one touch to deactivate a phone is allowed. GPS maps at dashboard level are allowed. Farm equipment and utility trucks are allowed use of hand-held equipment.
Medical marijuana implementation has hit some snags in working with growers and consumers. Recreational marijuana is regulated by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and is sold in licensed dispensaries. One of the legislative concerns is the diversion of marijuana to the illegal market. The League does not have a position on the legalization of marijuana, patient use of medical marijuana, or recreational use of marijuana.
Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) continues to be a top legislative concern. The Senate Workforce Committee has included this topic in both its September and November meetings in preparation for 2018. Using HB 3087A from 2017 as a model, the PFML insurance program would be housed in the Department of Business and Consumer Services (DCBS) and would ensure that all workers would have paid time away from work to welcome a new child, recover from a serious illness or care for recovering loved one.
The League of Women Voters of Oregon has joined the PFML coalition. We’re looking for volunteers who want to work to support this legislation. The coalition will help us with detailed information and training. Please contact Debbie Runciman, firstname.lastname@example.org, to find out how YOU can help.
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! If any of these areas interest you, please contact Social Policy Coordinator: Karen Nibler 541.752.8567 email@example.com
By Chris Vogel, Education Policy Coordinator
The Joint Interim Special Committee On Public Education Appropriation reviewed a report required by statute: “Legislative Assembly shall appropriate in each biennium a sum of money sufficient to ensure that the state’s system of public education meets quality goals established by law, and publish a report that either demonstrates the appropriation is sufficient, or identifies the reasons for the insufficiency, its extent, and its impact on the ability of the state’s system of public education to meet those goals.” The 2017-2019 Draft Report reflects many shortcomings in adequate funding and student achievement; page 21 reflects how adequate funding might be prioritized. The Quality Education Model report (2016 Final) shows the gap between what is needed and what funding is provided to Oregon’s public education. These two reports are important reading to understand why Oregon’s insufficient funding is reflected in Oregon’s student achievement and low graduation rates. Until Oregon adequately addresses TAX and REVENUE, Oregon students shall continue to suffer. Oregon’s history on property tax limitations and decreasing corporate taxes severely impact revenue and student outcomes. As more education payroll goes to PERS payments, and as health care benefit costs increase faster than inflation, adequate school funding is further impacted. Please take an opportunity to listen to the discussion, testimony and legislator comments in public hearing. Higher poverty and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) further impact student achievement and test scores. A biennium shortage of $2 billion dollars will continue to plague Oregon’s education quality.
The House Interim Committee On Early Childhood and Family Supports heard Early Learning Division Director Miriam Calderon present ELD Legislative Concepts for the 2018 session for the Office of Child Care (OCC). Currently, when a license expires in the middle of an enforcement action, the OCC loses its authority to take action. The 2018 legislature will be asked to give the OCC “continuing jurisdiction” to allow the enforcement action to continue even if the license expires. The change would save staff rework and expense while ensuring the licensee does no further harm. Currently a loophole allows an individual who has had previous significant licensing violations to provide care in a different facility or allow a different provider to provide care in their facility. The 2018 legislature will be asked to prohibit care by these individuals to strengthen, simplify and clarify existing statute and better protect children from providers with a history of violations. Currently the OCC does not have the ability to issue a cease and desist order but must seek a court injunction, which is costly and can take several months. The OCC is asking for legislative power to issue cease and desist orders. This would allow for more timely enforcement actions, without losing the ability to seek an injunction or take other actions. OCC is asking for increased civil penalty amounts in statute as clarification for consequences of not paying. This will allow the statute to act as more of a deterrent to facilities and individuals that have repeated rule violations. OCC wants legislative authority to adopt a tiered, progressive enforcement structure to keep children safe. This will be easier for providers to follow, and provide clearer information to parents about which providers are following the rules. Importantly, in cases of abuse or neglect, OCC depends heavily on the findings of DHS when taking enforcement actions. While the two agencies work closely, sometimes OCC cases are hindered by a lack of first-hand information about child welfare cases. Legislative clarification to allow enhanced sharing of information, form joint investigation teams, and that ensure DHS can issue a finding on a child care facility (not just an individual) would improve safety for children.
Other Legislative Concepts discussed include a seamless transition for Early Education Individual Education Plans (IEP) to elementary education. This may allow children with developmental delays to keep early learning services at age five rather than transferring to kindergarten—creating a transition cushion to better assist children and families up to age nine. The third committee bill in this short session may focus on the Early Learning Division’s ability to prioritize services to Latino and other communities of color where greatest gains may be anticipated with early intervention.
A HB 2013 Implementation Update discussed Preschool Promise directives to the Early Learning Council including: eligibility criteria other than income eligibility; rules regarding staff qualifications; salary guidelines for lead preschool teachers and ELD to provide technical assistance to programs; and development strategies that strive to increase the mean salary for lead preschool teachers and other preschool staff in the state.
The House Interim Committee On Education held informational hearings on the challenges facing rural school districts including greater poverty; higher percentage of foster youth and special education students; long distances impacting transportation and budgets; finding and retaining quality educators who carry multiple endorsements to teach students; and STEM education (science, technology, engineering, math programs) utilizing collective impact to reach elementary, junior high and high school students.
The Senate Interim Committee On Education considered Proposed Committee Bills for the 2018 Legislative Session that fine tune past legislation. Additionally, seismic retrofitting, revisions to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission Strategic Plan, and the Oregon State University expansion were also reviewed.
The House Interim Committee On Higher Education and Workforce Development looked at an interesting report K-12 Student Experience: Academic, Social & Emotional Learning, Career Development, and Community Involvement from the Oregon Department of Education that emphasizes the importance of priorities beyond graduation rates or math/science/reading scores.
As we gear up to follow the 2018 short-session and 2019 long-session, LWVOR Action is recruiting more volunteers for broader coverage in following early learning, K-12, higher education, community colleges, and career and technical training. Click on the underlined blue links above to get familiar with OLIS. You do NOT need to spend a great deal of time in Salem, but can be immensely helpful by just following one of these four committees and providing updates for the Legislative Report working with Education Portfolio Coordinator Chris Vogel. Call 503-586-8314 or email ChrisVogelVolunteerLWVOR@gmail.com to brainstorm your interest and availability. Calling retired educators and others with an interest in quality education and education funding, YOU are needed.