Legislative Report, Volume 27, Number 12 – April 2017

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In This Issue

Important Dates

Natural Resources

Social Policy

Education Policy

Governance


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Important Dates and Resources

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

April 18:
Deadline for committee chairs to hold work sessions in the bills’ house of origin.
April 21: LWVOR’s Day at the Legislature
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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dropletNatural Resources

By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator

AGENCY BUDGETS (Peggy Lynch)

We provided testimony on SB 5542, the Water Resources Department budget. This was the last of the natural resource agency budgets, although they are providing an opportunity for more public testimony on the Dept. of Forestry budget (SB 5519) on April 18 and will allow the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Dept. to complete their committee presentation on April 19.  The Subcommittee will begin considering policy bills soon after.  The Full Ways and Means Committee began to pass bills to the floor last Friday, April 14. Expect them to meet each Friday morning from now on.  The Capital Construction Committee will begin meeting on April 28, with hearings every Friday thereafter thru May 19.

The League joined with others to oppose SB 1052, a bill that would require that ALL fee increases come to the legislature before being enacted.  Natural Resource agencies are funded by fees–about 50% of their budgets in 2015-17!  The legislature has allowed small increases by agencies without legislative pre-approval under current statute.  But all fees must come back to the legislature for confirmation.  However, currently some fees can go into effect prior to that confirmation.  The bill died in committee.

CLIMATE CHANGE (Claudia Keith)

Clean Energy Jobs (Cap & Trade), SB 557, moved to Senate Rules on 4/12 without recommendation as to passage, but the Senate President rescinded the referral to Rules and instead referred it to the Senate Business and Transportation Committee which kills the bill this session unless the new committee moves the bill by 4/18. A very similar bill, HB 2135, is scheduled for a work session on 4/17.

Both Climate Test bills (SB 1007 and HB 3343): (environmental and economic test on fossil fuel infrastructure projects) are now dead. The campaign team was pleased that one of these bills was at least scheduled for a work session but had very little expectation of passage the first year out.

Legislative Leadership could move on Climate policy, though most likely completely dependent on the volume and quality of general public response between now and early June.  An informational hearing in front of both the House and Senate Environment Committees will be held April 19 to hear from Oregon Business Leaders on Green House Gas Emissions Reductions.

Oil Rail Safety: SB 7 has a work session scheduled for 4/18 and HB 2131, a similar bill, has a 4/17 work session.  Amendments are proposed.  We expect one of these bills to move. SB 958 would add new review standards for issuing permits for projects that facilitate the transportation of crude oil, potentially applying to a broad category of projects.  There are -1 amendments posted.

10-year Moratorium on Fracking: HB 2711, moved “do pass” with amendments and is headed to the House floor for approval.

Dept. of Energy and Oregon Global Warming Commission merger with funding and a new Energy & Climate Policy Board: HB 2020 has a work session 4/17. There are similar bills with work sessions scheduled In the Senate Committee on Business and Transportation on 4/17. We expect one of these bills to move.

Another update on federal Our Children’s Trust case:  During a telephonic case management conference on April 7 between Magistrate Judge Coffin and attorneys representing the parties in Juliana v. United States, Judge Coffin itemized twelve meaningful admissions that the U.S. government defendants, then acting under the Obama administration, made in their January 13 answer to the youth plaintiffs’ complaint. Then he asked an attorney from the Department of Justice for the position of the Trump administration on climate science. When asked specifically whether the Trump administration defendants will stick to the facts of climate change admitted by the prior administration, Duffy answered, “We don’t have direction from leadership, so I can’t answer.”

AIR QUALITY & TOXICS (Marilyn Koenitzer)

We continue to follow the Cleaner Air Oregon process (see http://www.cleanerair.oregon.gov).  Both HB 2236, enabling legislation for Cleaner Air Oregon (CAO), and HB 2269, with -4 amendment on fees for funding the new DEQ rules and the agency work, have moved to Ways and Means.  SB 1008, Clean Diesel, has been scheduled for a Work Session.

SB 995 and HB 2669, bills that relate to the public’s right to know regarding toxics used by industry, both died in their respective committees. SB 197, that would address air contaminant emissions from dairy confined animal feeding operations, will have a Work Session.

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.  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, has been sent to Ways and Means because it may cost any state agency who would manage former trust lands.  We expect a “priority bill” to be written to address the Governor’s proposal after the May 9th meeting. (Each legislator has up to 5 bills that they can file after the deadline.  These bills, called priority bills, did not have to meet the regular bill filing and action deadlines.)

SB 892, a bill that would require notification on aerial spray activity in forestlands, has been scheduled for a Work Session. Amendments are posted.

The Oregon Board of Forestry will meet Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at the Department of Forestry Headquarters, 2600 State St. Salem OR, 97310.  An agenda and pre-meeting materials are available on the Board’s website at www.oregonforestry.gov.

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

SB 1036, scheduled for a Work Session, will have amendments proposed focusing only on construction done within a landfill, utilities, drainage facilities and irrigation facilities. We are concerned about the effect of this bill on drainage or irrigation facilities.  SB 432, which we orally opposed, would allow some rural counties in Eastern Oregon to opt out of our statewide land use system, yet it is scheduled for a Work Session. Senate President Courtney is working with Senator Ferrioli on amendments.  HB 2983, also scheduled for a Work Session, would change the definition of high value farmland and, with -3 amendments, focus on lands east of the Cascades.  Central Oregon Landwatch is opposed. HB 2730 has -1 amendment that was written specifically for a golf course expansion in Curry County.  It is another “one off” bill, meant to circumvent the local land use system.  The Oregon Coast Alliance is opposed.

We continue to work with others on HB 3012 & SB 1024 related to allowing accessory dwelling units in rural residential areas.  HB 3012 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. We are neutral on the -3 amendments. SB 1024 would require counties to allow accessory dwelling units on rural residential lands.  We currently oppose, but a number of amendments have been filed. Senator Monnes Anderson shared that additional amendments may be filed.

We opposed HB 2222 that would have allowed Deschutes County to update their zoning without using Regional Problem Solving or HB 2229 (2009).  It died in committee.  We opposed SB 186, a bill that would have preempted a regional land use decision of Rural Reserve on behalf of a particular party, to Rural Industrial—another “one off” which the League continues to oppose.

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. The -2 amendments would allow for an appeal to the City Council, but there is no limit on the cost of that appeal.  The bill is set for a Work Session and we still have concerns about a citizen’s affordable access to their elected officials.

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. But the amendments will take away a local planning process for mining projects. We are awaiting potential new amendments that would narrow the bill further.  The Oregon Natural Desert Association is concerned as well.

We have learned that there are amendments to be proposed for HB 2007, a bill meant to address policies around affordable housing.  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 lack of public process.

There are some good bills:  We supported a modified version of HB 3373 that would provide a shared staffer for the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development and Housing and Community Services.  The bill has been sent to Ways and Means.

Landslides:  A new guide to help homeowners identify and reduce landslide hazards around the home is available online on the DOGAMI website at http://www.oregongeology.org/sub/Landslide/ger_homeowners_guide_landslides.pdf
Information about Oregon landslides can be found at http://www.oregongeology.org/sub/Landslide/Landslidehome.htm.

TRANSPORTATION (Peggy Lynch, Sandra Gangle-transit)

Transportation bills moving forward include HB 3230, Safe Routes to Schools, and HB 2288, the annual Connect Oregon bill, both moved to Ways and Means. Legislative members seem hopeful that we will have a complete Transportation Package this session.

WATER (Peggy Lynch)

SB 3A repeals the moratorium on using motorized mining equipment, except in the areas up to the ordinary high water line in any river containing essential indigenous salmonid habitat. In other areas, suction dredge operators would be required to obtain either an individual permit or a general permit from the Dept. of Environmental Quality. The measure also establishes specific conditions for hours of operation.  SB 3A passed the Senate 21-9 in a show of bipartisan support.

HB 2705 requires a water appropriator to install a device at point of diversion or appropriation to measure water being used.  It passed out of committee with a “do pass” recommendation and was sent to House Rules.  HB 2706, requiring a water rights management fee, is still scheduled for a Work Session, but it may also go to House Rules or Revenue.  HB 2707, a request for more groundwater studies, has been moved to Ways and Means. We support all three bills.

We provided testimony in support of HB 3427, a bill that would require high hazard dams to have emergency plans.  The League also supports a new permanent staffer at the Water Resources Dept. to help with dam inspections.

HB 2404, the Safe Well bill, was amended and passed out of Committee with a “do pass” and sent to Ways and Means.

Our water watch list includes HB 2786, related to our removal-fill laws—which we oppose. We will provide testimony on HB 2098, requiring the Dept. of State Lands to study our current removal-fill laws. HB 2785 moved to the House floor with a “do pass” recommendation. Fill-removal requirements would not apply when replacing a dwelling or agricultural building on farmland, as long the structure receives county approval, existed before 2017 and would be located on the same parcel. Representative Brian Clem said the bill is “just a tiny starting place” for dealing with conflicts that may arise from Oregon’s wetland rules.  Rep. David Brock Smith and Rep. Karin Power have volunteered to work toward a longer-term solution on the wetland question.  In the meantime, we’ll see where the current bills go.

The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board will hold a business meeting April 24-26, 2017, at the Chemeketa Eola NW Viticulture Center, 215 Doaks Ferry Road NW, Salem OR 97304. View the full agenda and staff reports.

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 Central Oregon Regional Solutions Advisory Committee will meet April 24, 2017, 9:00 a.m. – Noon @ City Hall, 446 SW 7th Street, Redmond.  Call In: 1-888-557-8511; Participant code: 9470233.  Agenda is available here.

The North Central Regional Solutions Advisory Committee will meet April 28, 2017, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. @ Columbia Gorge Community College, Lecture Hall, 400 East Scenic Drive, The Dalles. Call In: 1-888-251-2909; Participant code: 3494891.  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

HOUSING

The House Human Services and Housing Committee has approved a plethora of housing bills.  LWVOR supported HB 2002, which asked for $100 M for preservation of low cost housing. Existing complexes that are on the market can be purchased to retain low cost options for seniors and disabled or families. HB 3357 was amended to add $5 to the Document Recording Fee of $20 for each real estate filing at the county records.  These bills are on the approval dockets now.

The Oregon Housing and Community Services Budget was heard in mid-March in the Transportation and Economic Development Subcommittee.  Since then, the House Human Services and Housing Committee has passed many bills on to the Budget Committee, which lead to our concern about the disconnect between policy and funding committees.  The League sent a letter to the Chairs of the Legislative Policy and Research Committee. Since then the Chair of the Housing Committee announced that the committee would discuss priorities and the fiscal impact of bills that were passed to the TED Subcommittee.  The League must commend the chair for initiating this discussion.

The OHCS Budget, HB 5012, has a current Service Level of $1,078 M in 2017-19 Biennium. This agency was restructured in 2013-15 when 6 managers and the Portland office were eliminated. The Housing Stability Council was appointed in the 2015-17 biennium when Q bonds and lottery funds were available for housing projects.  In 2016 the Emergency Housing Assistance for families and Shelter Assistance for temporary shelters were funded.  In 2017-19 federal foreclosure and energy assistance programs were scheduled to be spent out, and future federal funding is uncertain.  The Governor’s budget kept funding levels the same for the coming biennium, but added staff and new funding of $60 million for the LIFT program, plus Lottery Funds for gap funding.  The legislature has proposed new programs and additions to funding for this agency. However, there is a budget deficit and new revenue would be needed for new programs.

HUMAN SERVICES

Department of Human Service bills that passed were HB 2959, to continue the General Assistance Program for adults applying for disability benefits, and HB 2903, to modify the license requirements for providers of treatment for dependent children.  Some providers had ceased taking children, leaving DHS without placements.  The changes inspired providers to continue to provide care.

HB 2170 creates the Office of Oregon Ombudsman, including Long Term Care, Residential Facilities Ombudsman, Foster Child and Foster Parent Ombudsman and Oregon Public Guardian and Conservator into one office.  Bills on Guardianships were not passed this session, but they will come back in the interim.  The Ombudsman program for seniors has been very proactive in past sessions, but the Foster Child program is new. The Public Guardian and Conservators have reported to the court, but will be included in this combined office, which will work with state agencies.

The Senate Human Services Committee will hear SB 58, which is a 33 page amendment on the duties of the Long Term Care Ombudsman.  On Monday, April 17 the committee heard SB 241, describing the Rights of Children of Incarcerated Parents, and SB 749, giving foster children over 15 access to their case records.

PUBLIC SAFETY

Public Safety CorrectionsHB 3078, the bill that proposes 5 strategies to offer alternatives to prison, was heard in House Judiciary on April 12.  The League submitted a letter in favor.  If this bill passes, and if these options become operative, the prison population may see a decrease.  At the current time, only the women’s prison is at capacity, but the Family Sentencing Alternative could keep mothers with their children in the community and decrease the new commitments to the women’s prison.

The House Judiciary Committee heard two bills, HB 2795 and HB 2797, which were the vessels for gut and stuff amendments; HB 2795 would assign fees for the use of the Oregon Judicial e-court system – funds will go into the Technology Fund. HB 2097 would put the collection of fines from violations into the Technology Fund also.  Both bills use funds for e-court vendor charges.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed several bills of interest on April 13.  SB 57, 59A and 502 were directions to the Public Ombudsman.  SB 496 mandated grand jury recording and SB 525 continues the role of child welfare workers in court hearings without representation.  SB 895 added pregnant women and women with custody of children as eligible for the Family Sentencing Alternative. SB 935 extended transitional leave from prison from 90 to 180 days.  Both of these bills are part of the prison population decrease efforts

HEALTHCARE

The House Health Care Committee passed HB 2122 after an amendment dated 4-10-17 was approved.  Coordinated Care Organizations will be required to be non-profit, maintain reserves and/or spend funds on community health improvement. The boards of CCOs will be required to have open meetings as transparency is a recognized value.   Four legislators objected because of reimbursement levels in rural hospitals.  The bill was not sent to Ways and Means because there was no fiscal attached.  There will be more negotiations before the 2018-19 renewal decisions.  The total cost of the CCO services is $15 billion according to opponents, so a fiscal review is warranted.  The bill will go to the House floor for a vote.

HB 3355 authorizes prescriptive authority for licensed psychologists through the State Board of Psychologist Examiners.  Training and experience will be required.  Since there is a shortage of psychiatrists and nurse practitioners, the psychologists could prescribe needed medications. The bill passed out of committee and will be referred to Ways and Means due to Board costs.  In HB 2527 pharmacists will also be allowed to prescribe and dispense hormonal contraceptives. HB 3391 is another bill on contraceptives that was in dispute and will go to Ways and Means.

The Senate Health Care Committee considered SB 419 with -3 amendments this week.  The bill sets up a Task Force on Health Care Cost Review through the Department of Consumer and Business Services – Insurance Division.  The Task Force would have 17 members and determine criteria for approval of charges.  The bill is scheduled for April 18, along with SB 793, which asks drug companies to report on price increases.  Bills SB 233 asks CCOs to make information public and SB 934 prohibits CCOs from spending less than 14.4% on primary care

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

ANTICIPATED BIENNIUM BUDGET CUTS IN EDUCATION WITHOUT NEW REVENUE:

From the Co-chairs Framework, Ways and Means

K-12 SB 5517 meeting materials

2017-19 Framework Budget: $7.8 billion
Current Service Level: $8.012 billion
Deficit: $212 million (-2.65%)

Budgeting decisions will vary district to district and are likely to include: teacher layoffs, larger class sizes, cut school days, reductions to educational and extracurricular programs, and cuts to support staff like counselors and librarians.

Community Colleges and Higher Education SB 5524 meeting materials

2017-19 Framework Budget: $1.99 billion
Current Service Level: $2.019 billion
Deficit: $28.8 million (-1.4%)

Cuts could include a reduction in staff at the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, in the Sports Action Lottery Program, in general support for community colleges and public universities, in extension services and research centers supporting programs across the state, and flat lining support for Oregon Promise, limiting the number of students who can enroll and cutting funds for students participating currently.

Other Education SB 5516 meeting materials  

2017-19 Framework Budget: $827.3 million
Current Service Level: $944.2 million
Deficit: $116.9 million (-12.4%)

This category includes Early Learning, Youth Development programs, and grant-in-aid to districts for special education and other supports outside the State School Fund. $294 million in funding for CTE programs mandated by Measure 98 are included in CSL but reductions are assumed to meet necessary deficit reductions. Any additional funding for that program would be at the additional expense of other educational programs, like K-12 classrooms. Cuts could also include reductions in funding for early learning, grant-in-aid programs (excluding special education and nutrition support), or existing CTE programs.

POLICY BILLS FOR EDUCATION

The last day for bills to move out the first chamber (House/Senate) committee is April 18 (except for Rules, Ways and Means and a few other exceptions) so this is a busy time.  By clicking on the “policy bills” link at the beginning of each section below, you may review ALL the bills initially assigned to these four Education committees.

This is roughly the half-way mark of the session. There are four policy committees we follow for Education: Senate Committee on Education, House Committee on Education, House Committee on Higher Education and Workforce Development, and House Committee on Early Childhood and Family Supports.  Bills that have had (courtesy) public hearings but do not have a work session scheduled are likely to be dead for the session—in some cases a similar bill is moving forward.  You may see the work on each of the bills assigned to committees by clicking on the following links.  A brief description of the policy bills can be seen when your computer mouse hovers over the bill numbers.  Click the bill number to see the OLIS overview, amendments, meeting materials and testimony, and the current status of each policy bill.

During the second half of the session, with fewer bills still in play, more serious discussions about the merit of policy changes may proceed at a less frenzied pace.  However, the real story for this session remains the need for consistent revenue sources.

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

The economy’s up, unemployment is down, why is there a revenue problem? This Oregonian April 9th article, Oregon’s economy soars yet state budget gap grows: here’s why, describes our legislative revenue puzzle. Here’s an Op-Ed from Nancy Nathanson, “Chief Budget Writer” with Senator Richard Devlin, calling for bold budget reform. Policy committee work continues to generate creative and optimistic new proposals. To a surprising degree, we are not seeing priority setting or proposal winnowing from the various policy committees, for lack of anticipated funding. Bills will now proceed to Ways and Means committees, with more of those subcommittee agendas now being posted. One legislator in a town hall last week announced being willing to go into Special Extended Session if cuts are too deep, in order to raise revenues.

ELECTIONS

Five Committee meetings in this portfolio have been cancelled for next week. Many bills are getting heavy testimony participation, causing extensions to subsequent extended hearings. Anticipated bill hearing is then not completed in time for referrals, hence the cancellations.

The Secretary of State announced an intended reinterpretation of voting roll rules, to maintain active status for voters who fail to vote for up to 10 years, extended from the current 5-year lapse, before being defined as inactive. This may happen as soon as this June. The Secretary of State’s ad hoc redistricting task force is slated for a possibly final meeting Monday, April 24.

GENERAL GOVERNANCE & ACCOUNTABILITY

HB 2906:We testified in of support this bill codifying a Geographic Information Council and shared data library (video). As mentioned earlier, this relates to our use of geographic information for our Voter Resources applications that sort candidate and ballot measure information into individual voters’ address reporting, searchable on our League websites. This council has been operating for decades; the bill codifies it into statute, intending to have the council work collaboratively to establish rules.

New volunteers are welcome!

Thanks to our Revenue Subcommittee:

  • Alice Bartelt, Revenue Subcommittee Chair, attending Revenue Coalition
  • Jody Wiser, League member, revenue review, Tax Fairness Oregon
  • Chris Vogel, attending HSCO Coalition
  • Peggy Lynch, advisor

Thanks to our Governance volunteers!

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

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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