Legislative Report, Volume 27, Number 1 – January 2017

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In This Issue

LWVOR Action News

Action Chair Update

Natural Resources

Social Policy

Education Policy

Governance


news iconLWVOR Action News

 

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chair logoAction Chair Update

By Alice Bartelt, LWVOR Action Committee Chair

The Action Committee welcomes you to a new session of the Oregon State Legislature.  There are now about 20 members handling different aspects of our legislative agenda.  The following makes up the management team:

 Chair:  Alice Bartelt
 Natural Resources Coordinator:  Peggy Lynch
 Social Policy Coordinator:   Karen Nibler
 Education Coordinator:   Chris Vogel
 Governance Coordinator:  Becky Gladstone

Even though there are many new members of the Action Committee, we are always looking for more folks to follow bills and to help us write and present testimony.  If you have an interest in any area, where the League has a position, please contact me, and we will get you involved.

The 2017 legislative session will be starting on February 1 and some of the committees of the Legislature have changed.  To help people keep up with issues that are of interest to them, anyone may sign up to receive agendas and alerts in regard to specific bills.  To make sure you are subscribed to receive agendas for the current committees, please be sure to visit: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/ORLEG/subscriber/new and make/update your selections. You can also choose to receive alerts on legislative news and bills at this same location.

As you will notice in many of the articles in this edition, a $1.8 billion shortfall is what is needed to provide services at current levels, will be the major issue affecting much of our work in the Capitol.  Because of the dire fiscal condition of the state, the LWVOR Action Committee has formed a subcommittee to attend hearings and write testimony in regard to revenue and spending issues.  This committee consists of Jody Wiser, Rebecca Gladstone, Claudia Keith, Chris Vogel and Alice Bartelt.  Peggy Lynch is serving as an advisor for the group as well.  Please feel free to contact any of us if you have any concerns.

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dropletNatural Resources

By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator

Volunteers working on behalf of Oregon’s natural resources, such as keeping the Elliott State Forest in public hands, for the protection of clean air, abundant clean water for all, protecting our statewide land use planning program and using our strong positions to address the challenges of our changing climate, need your help.  Already we know of one bill—SB 383–with a public hearing on Feb. 1 in Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. LWVOR will support.  We encourage you to send testimony or appear.  It asks for modifications to the onsite septic loan program passed in 2016 (SB 1563) to get the most for our limited state dollars.

AGENCY BUDGETS (Peggy Lynch)

We will continue to support increase in General Funds to natural resource agency budgets. The League worked with partners in the Oregon Conservation Network (OCN) to create a Common Budget Statement.  These budgets currently incorporate about 2% of the General Fund, but this session agencies are being asked to provide at least a 15% CUT from Current Service Levels.  The Governor has recommended a few additional Policy Option Packages, but we will need to fight for every dollar due to other statewide priorities this session.

The Governor’s Natural Resources Office (GNRO) has provided a short explanation of the Governor’s Priorities and a list of agency and GNRO bills they will be supporting.  The Ways and Means Co-Chairs have provided a “no new revenue budget” that would mean $9.1 million less than needed to continue current programs.  Agencies will seek additional fees to provide services needed to protect our clean air, land and water for a healthy economy.  But fees can only be charged for specific purposes, leaving the public purpose of the agency without adequate funding.  Proposed budgets for each agency are available on individual agency websites.

CLIMATE CHANGE (Claudia Keith)

We will prioritize working with Climate Change coalition partners OCN, Healthy Climate Partnership, Our Children’s Trust, the Northwest Energy Coalition and Renew Oregon to: (1) update Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission reduction targets and pricing mechanism, most likely cap and invest, with environmental justice (SB 557, Healthy Climate Bill), (2) help implement new Metropolitan Planning Organization targets to reduce GHS on transportation, (3) address Building Energy Efficiency standards,  (Dept. of Consumer and Business Services  is considering not updating building codes for 6 years, which will miss the 2020 energy reduction target (see Calif Building Energy Eff Stds),  and (4) will consider support for a Carbon Test  (see LC1596) and oil train legislation. We expect to see bills that we worked on in the 2015 and 2016 sessions and will continue to support or oppose as appropriate.

On January 13, the United States filed its Answer to youth plaintiffs’ complaint in Juliana v. United States (LWVUS filed an Amicus brief in support of the youth). In their Answer, the federal defendants make several admissions to their longstanding knowledge of climate change danger and to today’s knowledge on the severity of those impacts.  

AIR QUALITY (Marilyn Koenitzer)

LWVOR is working to protect our air quality through Cleaner Air Oregon by supporting Dept. of Environmental Quality rulemaking to update and tighten requirements on industrial air pollutants statewide. Regulatory Advisory Committee meetings, followed by public input meetings on legislative drafts, will be held by the end of 2017.  See www.cleanerair.oregon.gov for information about the process. Clean Air Lobby Day, Feb. 15

The Department of Environmental Quality proposes to amend the General Air Contaminant Discharge Permits for chromium electroplating operations located in Oregon. Written comments are due Feb. 20th.

Use Volkswagon settlement to upgrade mobile diesel vehicles to increase air quality.
SB 115 – phases out leaded aviation fuel resulting in a ban on leaded aviation fuel use in Oregon by 2022.
SB 197 – Requires regulation of air emissions from confined cattle operations.
HB 2110 – reduces diesel emissions on trucks.
HB 2236 – Environmental Quality Commission must study and develop regulations related to emissions of air contaminants from industrial sources (Requested by Gov. Brown to implement Cleaner Air Oregon).
HB2269 – modifies fee schedule for sources subject to federal operating permits under Title V of Federal Clean Air Act.
HB 4262 – deals with engine idling.

ELLIOTT FOREST and FORESTRY (Jennifer Haynes and Peggy Lynch)

Support removing the Elliott from the Common School Fund, while keeping the forest in public hands, by supporting legislation creating a Trust Lands Transfer program and a bonding program for said transfer. Elliott State Forest Lobby Day Feb. 23rd.  To register, email staylor@audubonportland.org

Continue to follow rulemaking by the Dept. of Forestry on expansion of water protection rules for riparian areas to include small and medium salmon, steelhead and bull trout streams.

FISH and WILDLIFE and BOATING (Peggy Lynch)

Follow the recommendations of the HB 2402 (2015) Task Force in order to fund implementation of the Oregon Conservation Strategy  under the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.

Consider support for non-motorized boating program of the Oregon Marine Board (HB 2320-NM Boating Program & HB 2321-Aquatic Invasive Species Program)

LAND USE and TRANSPORTATION (Peggy Lynch and Robin LaMonte & Sandra Gangle)

Protect and improve our statewide land use planning system and the link between land use and transportation planning.  We will continue to fight against any weakening of our land use planning program.  Again, there are a number of bills of concern.  Look for bill numbers in the next Legislative Report.

Support for increased assistance to local governments to meet Goal 10, Housing, in connection with the Dept. of Housing and Community Services.  Will provide input to the Land Conservation and Development Commission on housing issues and as new flood insurance requirements  are addressed.  Members should watch for their city’s application to add land for affordable housing (See HB 4079 2016), and for local development code strategies to help with affordable housing, and as local governments struggle to balance development needs with protecting/preserving wetlands and floodplain areas.

Oppose bills that recommend transferring federal lands to the state or counties such as HJM 2, SJM 4 and HB 2365.

Oppose bills that reduce citizen involvement such as HB 2538 relating to increasing damages in LUBA cases.

Honor the 50th Anniversary of the Beach Bill by supporting HCR 8.  Watch HB 2506 redirecting transient tax to a variety of beach-related issues. 

Support SB 114 & SB 258 to repeal of SB 1573 (2016) related to local charter preemption of voter annexation. Contact members of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee to ask for a hearing and support for these bills. 

Advocate with partners of the Transportation Forum for a balanced transportation package that maintains our roads while investing in statewide transit systems and other alternative transportation choices.

WATER (Peggy Lynch)

Continue to support implementation of the Integrated Water Resources Strategy (IWRS) by integration of water quantity and quality and integrating land use and water decision making.  Participate in updated IWRS before the Water Resources Commission.  Support multi-agency sharing of data and collective decision-making on water issues before storage projects are funded. Support additional water measurement and groundwater studies.

-Support HB 2295 to update water right transaction fees to help pay for processing permit reviews.
-Continue to follow issues around suction dredge mining related to water quality such as SB 3.
-Support improvements of wastewater permitting to assure Dept. of Environmental Quality, local governments and industries can upgrade their sewer systems to meet temperature and other water quality standards.
-Support HB 2404 the Safe Water Well bill.
-Review SB 276 related to ocean acidification.
-Members in areas where Place-Based Planning programs have started should engage in this local process.
-Support the Oregon Parks and Recreation process to select new Scenic Waterways.

Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board is beginning a strategic planning process.  For more information, please contact Executive Director Meta Loftsgaarden (meta.loftsgaarden@oregon.gov).

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

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

Anti-Poverty Programs in the past biennium were increased to assist families with children. However in the coming biennium these benefits, including employment related day care (ERDC,) may be cut.  LWVOR supports the maintenance of welfare benefit levels and ERDC. If the family breaks up, the cost to the state is higher in child welfare and relative placements.

Child Welfare is in a crisis mode.  The number of foster homes has declined and payments are not sufficient to entice working parents to take foster children.  Children are placed in temporary sites with supervision until placements are found.

Runaway and Homeless Youth grants were increased last session and further recommendations are expected in this coming session.

Low cost housing is an important factor in maintaining intact families.  The League has supported low cost housing and preservation projects and will continue this support.  Community Action Agencies (CAA) offer federal poverty programs for emergency housing, rapid rehousing and energy assistance. The Food Bank programs are still available to all low income residents.

Budget demands due to an increase in the aging population and services to physically disabled and developmentally delayed children and adults caused budget over runs so that restrictions on some services are in process.  Budget reconciliation will be continuing through the biennia.

Health Care Coverage has expanded through Medicaid and the Insurance Exchange.  The federal government has supplied funds for this expansion, but the reimbursement rate will be reduced to 90% in the coming biennium.  Cost control is a continuing issue for the Coordinated Care Organizations. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) announced they will not seek to implement a Basic Health Plan. The results of the study of financing health care is due to be reported this session.

Public Health Services are under scrutiny as federal funds decrease and health care priorities change. Prevention of disease and public information on wellness are growing.  The legalization of marijuana  requires supervision and testing.  A public information campaign focuses on deterring youth abuse.

Mental Health care is integrated into physical health care, which is covered by private insurance or public health plans.  The costs of operation of the State Hospitals in Salem and Junction City are very high. Oregon has expanded residential programs in communities to decrease the state hospital populations.  However, the examination and treatment of forensic patients continues to be a large expense.

Public Safety issues include child and elder abuse, domestic violence and services to victims.  The population in Department of Corrections (DOC) prisons continues to increase, specifically in the women’s facility.  Preservation of family ties and Earned Release programs are implemented, but the reductions are slowly evolving.  Mental health care and treatment in the institutions is the focus of an agreement with Disability Rights Oregon.  Employee health and stress is also an issue.

The Public Safety Re-investment Project operates in Community Corrections in order to serve early release and parolees in the community. Sanctions are local jail sentences, rather than return to prison.  Community services such as housing, counseling, substance abuse treatment, and job readiness seek to reduce recidivism and consequently the prison population.  Mandatory minimum sentencing might be reviewed this session.  Steps to review sentencing practices would be supported by the League.

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Education Policygradcap

By Chris Vogel, Education Policy Coordinator

Education, a Pre Session Overview:

This could be a year where the legislature makes progress in lifting education graduation rates, more fully bridging department silos to support early learning programs, providing enhanced career technical options, offering community college and higher education choices to historically underserved populations.  However, we enter this legislative session with a huge $1.8 billion dollar deficit for the biennium, following a bitter campaign around Measure 97, and a history of recent legislative sessions unwilling or unable to develop stable and fair revenue policies and tax reforms to adequately fund services and functions critical to the well-being of Oregonians.  Unless elected representatives step up to dramatically improve REVENUE AND TAX REFORM this will be a session where we go backwards, retrench, cutting valuable services to Oregon’s most vulnerable and put the brakes on education improvements that have shown recent progress for lifting Oregon from it’s 47/50 dismally low graduation rate.

The LWVOR Action Education Policy team has been busy:

If you were not able to attend the LWVOR Legislative Process Day in January, but have an interest in following Education within the legislature, check out these three summary documents:

To amplify our LWVOR voice in advocating for children, the Action Committee and LWVOR Board approved joining the United for Kids Coalition. You may wish to review some of the concepts proposed for 2017 bills. This could be a legislative session where we make strides toward making Oregon the best place to be a kid.  To do that, Oregon also needs to be a place where corporations, small business and individuals each pay a fair share of taxes to provide consistent revenue.  Until that happens we will continue to shortchange future opportunities for Oregon’s children and Oregon’s education system.

Submitted by: Education Policy Coordinator: Chris Vogel, 503.586.8314, chrisvogelvolunteerlwvor@gmail.com

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buildingsymbolGovernance

By Rebecca Gladstone, Governance Coordinator

Brief:
We’re out of the gate with budget and revenue proposals. A proposed Council and 3 Task Forces could use League input. Election proposals abound, for campaign finance, redistricting, primaries, voting materials, and more.

Revenue
LWVOR’s top priority this session is addressing Oregon’s $1.8B budget shortfall. Budget proposals (Governor’s, Ways & Means Co-Chairs) will be subject to much negotiating. We see new openness to Oregon businesses taking on funding responsibility; they need educated employees. This will not be a “fix PERS before we will talk” session. Stay tuned. Our Revenue Subcommittee will help discern which bills “have legs”, Alice Bartelt, Chair.

Governance
Three proposed Task Forces are relevant to League interests: Government Transparency, HB 2028, Ballot Measure Referral Language, HB 2513, and Voter Registration Maintenance, HB 2431. Several bills would address Executive Branch agencies under Legislative oversight, SJR 26, SJR 35, SJR 33 . There is some interest in forming new counties from city/county mergers, may have no legs, but is creative!

Elections, Fresh Bills Proposed
Election ethics
– Address Legislative branch funding of partisan office expenses, HB 2449.
Voting changes– a unified primary, HB 2211, NAV’s primary ballot access, SB 226, Independent Party majority status threshold, HB 2450, adding special district measures and candidates onto ballots, HB 2696, extending voter registration deadlines, SJR 02, and linking voter registration updates to their petition-signatures, HB 2411.
Voters’ Pamphlets- enforce honesty in filed statements, HB 2430, prohibit printing and distribution of imitation Voters’ Pamphlets and ballots, to require “Unofficial” labeling on each page, HB 2349, which could affect our Voters’ Guides and Mock Election materials.

Redistricting & Campaign Finance Reforms
LWVOR continues work with the Redistricting Matters Coalition and will support efforts to establish a nonpartisan, independent redistricting commission in place of the current partisan process.
Look for Joint Interim Task Force on Campaign Finance Reform recommendations soon (with strong League input), including a constitutional amendment to allow campaign contribution limits, consider public financing, and stricter independent expenditure disclosure, including “dark money.”
Norman Turrill is our representative to this task force.

Public Records
There are many proposals for records access, exemptions and sunsets from public disclosure, and records retention limits. These could all be overseen by a proposed Public Records Advisory Council, for which League membership is being considered, SB 106.

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