Legislative Report, Volume 27, Number 10 – April 2017

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In This Issue

Important Dates

Natural Resources

Social Policy

Education Policy

Governance


news iconImportant Dates and Resources

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

April 7:
Deadline for committee chairs to schedule work sessions in the bills’ house of origin.
April 18:
Deadline for committee chairs to hold work sessions in the bills’ house of origin.
April 21: LWVOR’s Day at the LegislatureRegister today!
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.


dropletNatural Resources

By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator

AGENCY BUDGETS (Peggy Lynch)

We provided testimony on HB 5010, the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife budget. The Oregon Dept. of Forestry budget (SB 5519) will be presented April 3 and 4, with public testimony on April 5.  The agency has few funds to address recreation in our state forests.  We don’t know if they would have a role in the Elliott State Forest should we be able to keep it in public hands. The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) budget (HB 5040) will begin their presentation on April 6.

CLIMATE CHANGE (Claudia Keith)

We are planning testimony in early April on HB 3343, Climate Test.  The bill would require that qualifying fossil fuel infrastructure project proposals be subject to a mini environmental impact statement, with full lifecycle accounting of a project’s greenhouse gas emissions, coupled with an economic analysis that will show whether a project is viable in a world where climate policy goals are met.

HB 3269 has an April 3 public hearing. It will change the Oregon Global Warming Commission name to Oregon Climate Change Commission. It requires the commission to appoint an executive director and appropriates moneys to the Commission. HB 3166, a similar bill, will also be heard. There are over six bills related to this topic. The League provided testimony on HB 2020, with comments only, asking the Legislature to address how best to reorganize and fund to ensure Oregon Climate Policy has optimal accountability.  We are supportive of the goal of a reorganization that provides teeth to a Commission that can seriously address Climate Change on behalf of Oregonians.

We researched HB 2950 to fund a public funding project in the City of St. Helens.

We continue to follow HB 2131, Rail Safety; HB 2710, Energy Efficient Building Codes (a work session is scheduled April 5); HB 2711, 10 year Fracking Moratorium; HB 2020, Oregon Energy and Climate Board; and GHGE Pricing bills SB 557 and HB 2468.

A win by the Children:  The Denver Post on March 24:  ”Teens prevail in drilling case. Appeals Court says state must protect public health and the environment. The Colorado Court of Appeals sided with a group of teenagers Thursday reversing a lower court and elevating protection of public health and the environment to “a condition that must be fulfilled” by the state before oil and gas drilling can be done.”

AIR QUALITY & TOXICS (Marilyn Koenitzer)

We continue to follow the Cleaner Air Oregon process (see www.cleanerair.oregon.gov). Next week we will testify and have written comments to submit to the April 4th CAO Rules Advisory Committee meeting. The subject will be the Regulatory Framework of CAO.  We testified on HB 2236 enabling legislation for Cleaner Air Oregon (CAO), commented orally on HB 2269 on fees for funding the new DEQ rules and the agency work; however, we also supported the fee bill during the Dept. of Environmental Quality budget hearing.

We testified on SB 2669, the Toxics Right to Know Bill allowing cities and counties to require local businesses to provide toxics information.  We are waiting for the next step on each of these bills.

We are hopeful that SB 1008, Clean Diesel, will be scheduled for a Work Session.  This bill links climate change with air quality.  An article worth reading on this important public health bill.

ELLIOTT FOREST and FORESTRY (Jennifer Haynes and Peggy Lynch)

Write or call the Land Board members, Governor Kate Brown, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson and Treasurer Tobias Read and your legislators to share your belief that the Elliott should stay in public hands.  Governor Brown is working with others to present a plan to the State Land Board on May 9.  The League is supporting this effort and this past week Treasurer Read has joined the effort. We will need the support of the Legislature to purchase the Forest from the Common School Fund, yet keep it in public hands.  SB 847, the Trust Lands Transfer bill, will have a Work Session on April 5.

We provided comments on SB 1017, related to wildfire buffer zones on lands in forestland-urban interface.  We hope this instigates a county-by-county discussion on addressing this important public safety issue.

HANFORD AND THE COLUMBIA RIVER:

The Oregon Hanford Cleanup Board will meet April 3-4 at the Hampton Suites in Hood River, 1 Nichols Parkway.  The public will have an opportunity to comment to the board each day. A full meeting agenda is on the Oregon Department of Energy’s website.  For the last 25 years, Hanford has been the site of the world’s largest environmental cleanup program, the result of wastes created during the production of plutonium for America’s nuclear weapons program. Cleanup will continue for at least the next several decades.

Part of the Oregon Hanford Cleanup Board’s mission is to protect the Columbia River and Oregon from possible contamination from the Hanford site.  Since the 1980s, the League has been involved in policies around nuclear waste.  In the early 1990s, two members have served on the Hanford Nuclear Waste Board.  Potential contamination of the Columbia River continues to be a great concern.

LAND USE and TRANSPORTATION (Peggy Lynch, Marge Easley and Sandra Gangle)

SB 1036, a bill loosening the permitting on landfills, will be heard April 3 at 3p.  On April 6 at 1p in Senate Environment and Natural Resources members will hear SB 432, 602, 608, 612 and 618.  These bills address different ways to weaken our statewide land use planning program.  The League will oppose. Your testimony would be appreciated.

We continue to work with others on possible amendments to HB 2937, HB 2938, HB 3012 & HB 2456 (& SB 1024) related to allowing accessory dwelling units in rural residential areas.  HB 3012 would allow a second home on a lot that has an “historic home” in rural areas in order to save that home from possible demolition.  Amendments related to the definition of “historic”, assuring wells and septic systems are adequate and other issues are being considered.  The League will await amendment proposals before taking further action.

We provided testimony in opposition to HB 3245, 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.  Marge Easley provided our testimony in opposition to SB 644. The bill originally included provisions around a reorganization of the Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries and suction dredge mining.  Amendments were proposed that focused solely on elevating mining above agriculture and expanding mining for aggregate and other minerals in certain Eastern Oregon counties—counties where we recently took action to stop the sage grouse from being listed under the Endangered Species Act.  In the 2015 budget, Oregon spent almost $3.7 million to support that effort.  We support economic activity in Eastern Oregon—the most important agriculture industry is cattle.  That activity would be in direct conflict with some mining proposals and deserve a local public conversation before being allowed.

On Transportation, the Joint Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization will continue meeting to consider recommendations from the subgroups.  Rep. Andy Olson, R-Albany, who heads the accountability subgroup, may recommend suggestions for changing, or clarifying, ODOT’s governance structure and other accountability measures.

OREGON MARINE BOARD: HB 2320, creating a Non-Motorized Boating program, which the League supported, will have a Work Session on April 5th.  Amendments are posted.

WATER (Peggy Lynch)

Maps of the three candidate river segments selected for further study under the State Scenic Waterway program (http://bit.ly/scenicwaterways) are now available.  The three candidates are the Nehalem River (Spruce Run Campground to Nehalem Falls, approximately 15 miles), the North Santiam River (Wilderness boundary to Bruno Mountain Road, approximately 20 miles) and the South Umpqua River (Castle Rock Fork to Tiller, approximately 27 miles).  Each segment is approximate and will be refined as the study progresses.  The League urges local League members to engage in this process. 

Our water watch list includes HB 2106, related to mining, and HB 2786, both related to our removal-fill laws for which the League provided oral testimony in opposition.

The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) will hold a three-day Board meeting, April 24-26 at the Chemeketa Eola NW Viticulture Center, 215 Doaks Ferry Rd. NW, Salem, OR 97304.  View the full agenda here.

REGIONAL SOLUTIONS (Peggy Lynch)

We 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

Last week, the House Human Services and Housing (HHS+H ) committee passed HB 2010, on establishing a Task Force on Racial Disparities in Home Ownership, and HB 2316, on estimating housing needs in towns of 25,000 for future planning. Other housing bills, HB 2011A, 2315, 2685 and 2919A were passed to Ways and Means for funding decisions.

HB 2002, on preservation of participating public supported housing was held over. Advocates for this bill requested $100 million in funds to purchase rental housing complexes to retain low cost housing options.  HB 3357, to increase the Document Recording Fee from $20 to $40, has also not reappeared on the HHS+H agendas.

Most recently, HB 2004A, addressing rent stabilization, was amended, and drew a split 5-4 vote on rental regulations.  Expect to hear more about this bill as it reaches the House floor and/or Senate committees.  HB 2724, a rental guarantee program for landlords and education for renters, seeks to create more stability in the current market.  This bill had more agreement within the committee.

The Oregon Housing and Community Services Department will operate many of the programs passed out of the Housing Committee. HB 2912 assigns an Affordable Housing Land Acquisition fund to the agency.  HB 2961 will provide home repairs for low income owners, and HB 3175 defines low income household eligibility.  HB 2570A provides $25 million for first time homeowners. HB 3175 offers home ownership options and HB 3192A sets up home ownership grants through non-profit agencies.

Department of Human Service bills, HB 2347 sets a standard for providing basic skills and job training but no further school education for assistance to needy families recipients, and  HB 2401A  provides trauma informed training to child welfare personnel.  The continuation of the General Assistance Program, HB 2959, for temporary benefits for applicants for disability benefits, passed unanimously in House Human Services and Housing.

The Ways and Means Human Services Subcommittee has been hearing the DHS budget over the past two weeks and will finish up this coming week.  The Child Welfare Division and Self Sufficiency Division will present this week and public testimony will be accepted on April 5.

The Ways and Means Public Safety Subcommittee heard the District Attorneys and Public Defense Services Commission Budgets.  An issue is the discrepancy between the salaries of Deputy DAs and the Defense Attorneys. The House Judiciary Committee heard the appeal for increases in salary which passed, but it is Public Safety Ways and Means that will determine the funding levels for the agency. The Department of Justice Budget discussion will start this week.  The salaries for attorneys in this agency are higher and some exceed state judges’ salaries.  See letter HB 5033 on the PDSC Budget.

Safety and Savings Coalition (Barbara Ross): A very successful lunch with members of the legislature was held on March 22 highlighting the success of the Justice Reinvestment across the state. The presentations by two graduates of Justice Reinvestment programs was compelling. An important hearing is coming up on April 5. HB 3380 will have a public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. This measure diverts parents with custody of minor children from prison and keeps families together. It avoids the tragedy of children being torn form their parents and the expense to the state of providing foster care.

The following week it is expected that there will be a hearing on HB 3078 which has several sections with the central goal of decreasing use of state prison beds for offenders who can be safely supervised in the community. It increases transitional leave and reduces sentences for certain property and drug related crimes, continues funding for Justice Reinvestment grants to counties for services, which keep the recidivism rate low and provides continuing support for victims of domestic violence.

Senator Sara Gelser and Representative Lininger have 8 bills focused on preventing sexual assault and Domestic Violence. Two, HB 2955 and HB 2972, were approved by the committee and sent to the House floor. Senator Michael Dembrow has 6 bills focused on helping persons leaving prison make a successful reentry into society. Most are expected to be approved.

OHA Review of Hospital Charges (Kirsten Orand): SB 419, which is scheduled April 6 for a Work Session in the Senate Health Care Committee, creates a commission that would set and review rates for hospital charges and establish transparency for consumers (patients) about the cost of services. Rates would be reviewed by the commission every 6 months; the commission would approve or disapprove each charge. A hospital would not be able to charge for a service if not approved by this group, unless the charge was equivalent or less than two times the Medicare payment rate. A hospital could request a hearing if they disagree with disapproval of a specific charge. Any hospital that did not comply with the established rates would be required to pay a civil fine; this would help finance the commission. How compliance would be measured and amount of fine is not clear. Approximately 60 hospital systems across Oregon would be affected. Hospitals that would be excluded from this include the VA, special inpatient care facility, state hospitals, pediatric specialty hospitals that provide care at no cost, and any hospital that receives more than 50% pf gross revenue from comprehensive group practice health care service plans. Commission membership would be selected by the Governor and would be comprised of health administrators, health care consumers, payers and providers. Independent rate review and setting has proven to be effective to help decrease overall health care costs. The state of Maryland implemented a hospital rate review systems in 1971; since then, costs have gone from about 23.6% above to 4.6% below the national average. Several key factors are attributed to Maryland’s success, which includes a waiver from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) so that both Medicare and Medicaid rates are included in Maryland’s rate setting system. Successful implementation in Oregon will require a substantial amount of resources and investment, given the complexity and effort needed to develop and manage. There is also concern of the fiscal impact and political support of this bill. A task force is being established to evaluate the feasibility of this bill.

Debbie Aiona and Nancy Donaldson attend the Housing Alliance meetings in Portland and help with bill analysis and tracking. Nancy submitted a letter on HB 2002 which has not been scheduled for another hearing yet.   Karen Nibler attends HISCO to get health and human services updates.

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

Dr. Eric Pakulak testimony heard in House Committee on Early Childhood and Family Supports about brain elasticity will be of great interest to those who continue following the Children at Risk League Study focusing on Early Learning. HB 3106-3 fine tunes the requirements for participation as preschool provider in preschool program administered by Early Learning Division, bringing these programs more closely in line with Head Start standards. It would convene annual meetings between representatives of the Oregon prekindergarten program and the preschool program described in this section to coordinate the enrollment of eligible children in the programs before the eligible children are enrolled. The representatives shall collaborate to determine the program that best meets the needs of eligible children and their families within the Early Learning Hub:  adopting culturally responsive teaching methods and practices, taking into consideration the scheduling needs of families who need full-time child care. Eligibility would be standardized for children of families whose incomes, at the time of enrollment, are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. HB 2956 directs Early Learning Council to conduct evaluation of Early Learning Hubs and submit report on evaluation each odd-numbered year.

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.

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buildingsymbolGovernance

By Rebecca Gladstone, Governance Coordinator

Revenue

HB 2005 A: This pay equity bill passed on partisan lines, was discussed in terms of revenue this week, otherwise not usually part of the Governance portfolio.

Budget Process

We should be completing Phase 1, with over 100 state agency budget presentations in Ways and Means Subcommittees. Biennial state agency budgets range from $200K to $17B. You can search for them, by bill numbers starting with (50- -) in the House and (55- -) in the Senate.

More info? Legislative Fiscal Office Oregon Budget Basics.

  • Phase 1. should be completed in April.
  • Phase 2 is available for follow up with requested Phase 1 information, any extended large agency presentations, or complicated projects.
  • Phase 3 bills with full budget presentations should move from sub- to full Ways and Means committees, either for approval or return to subcommittees for additional work and return. From Ways and Means, bills are sent to their respective chamber floors for approval.

Behind the scenes bipartisan budget and revenue legislative groups continue to negotiate without releasing public statements, while business advocacy groups segment into separate camps, with rumors of mergers, talk of who will support what, in order to “bend the curve”. Negotiating continues for hospital provider taxes and various business taxes as largest possibilities for filling budget gaps.

Senate Revenue cancelled four March meetings; the House Revenue Chair will not cancel. A staffer observed that Legislative Counsel seems to be requiring a 3/5th’s majority vote for fewer bills with higher revenue generating capacity. Legislative Counsel requires that communication go through Legislators. A relevant proposed bill, SJR 32, basically calls for revenue generating bills to require a 3/5ths vote. Here’s a recent Oregonian PERS bill review. Anticipated federal tax policy changes, timing for those decisions and implementation, could affect our state budget and kicker.

Elections

There was no report this week on National Popular Vote, Campaign Finance Reform, or Redistricting.

SB 888: We supported, for US Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates to appear on Oregon ballots, they must submit to the Oregon Secretary of State, income tax returns for the most recent year with written consent for public disclosure, or complete and submit Statements of Economic Interest that are otherwise required for all candidates in Oregon. (video here).

HB 2298, changing the timing for all candidates appearing on Oregon ballots to file Statements of Economic Interest, passed out of House rules on March 28th.

Upcoming Election bills:

SB 1009: For Oregon counties with 35,000 or more “electors”, this bill requires a “voting booth” for each 15,000 “electors”, for example needing to have 30 locations in Multnomah county. These would be fully functioning, staffed offices. This runs counter to our intention to support Vote by Mail, returning to increased use of polling places, during a legislative session with a dire budget shortfall. We will be asking around to discover who is experiencing a lack of service to warrant this bill.

SB 1012: This bill requiring an official ballot drop site in each high school and (higher education) campus bears investigation. A review of our Oregon Student Mock Election roster shows 308 discrete addresses for Oregon high schools and related programs. Many of those schools may be able to share required employee coverage, to coordinate voter awareness and registration, and other voting needs. This may be very costly. We would ordinarily support this whole-heartedly.

General Governance & Accountability

SB 5536: The League testified to defend state Voters’ Pamphlets in extended hearings. Cutting these has been an option over several sessions. Since they are required by statute, this is unlikely. (video here).

Upcoming:

HB 2906: This bill establishes a Geographic Information Council. It relates to our League Natural Resources work. Testimony was prepared and approved for the predecessor bill in 2016, relating to problems with the League’s ability to describe voters’ ballot choices in our Voter Service programs. The bill was pulled to a Work Group, and we have been participating in that group. We anticipate testifying with respect to our Voter Service and Natural Resources interests.

HB 2884: Interesting bill found this week, would require corporations to serve on juries. No movement.

Lobbyist Reporting

HB 43: After the hearing for this bill, with anticipated revision of lobbyist registration threshold requirements, we decided that League lobbyists should set good examples and register with the Oregon Ethics Commission.

HB 2577: We are discussing this bill with legislative staff. There are ongoing efforts to clarify requirements for lobbyist reporting. We are waiting for LC release of amendment -5, which will probably not change lobbyists’ time spent, but will focus on money, with no reporting required if there is no exchange of money. The Oregon Ethics Commission Executive Director still encourages registration and related that one legislator would not meet with lobbyists if he knew they had not registered.

Thanks to our Governance volunteers!

  • Helen Beardsworth, testimony drafts,
  • Rick Bennett, OLIS search
  • Marge Easley, National Popular Vote, Gun Safety, past LWVOR President
  • Anne Potter, League position analysis,
  • Norman Turrill, CFR, Redistricting,
    current LWVOR President

Thanks to our Revenue Subcommittee:

  • Alice Bartelt, Chair, liaison to A Better Oregon Coalition
  • Rebecca Gladstone, member
  • Claudia Keith, member
  • Peggy Lynch, advisor
  • Chris Vogel, liaison: Oregon Revenue Coalition & HSCO Revenue Coalition
  • Jody Wiser, League member, liaison: Tax Fairness Oregon

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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