Legislative Report, Volume 27, Number 13 – April 2017

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In This Issue

Important Dates

Governance

Natural Resources

Social Policy

Education Policy


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Important Dates and Resources

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

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

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buildingsymbolGovernance

By Rebecca Gladstone, Governance Coordinator

Revenue and Tax Subcommittee
(Alice Bartelt, Rebecca Gladstone, Claudia Keith, Peggy Lynch, and Chris Vogel)

Revenue leads with this week’s Cost Containment Work Group Update. Oregon’s ‘17- ‘19 biennium faces a $1.6 billion budget deficit. In February, Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek convened a bipartisan, bicameral group to develop ideas for Oregon’s long-term, structural budget challenges. “Concepts” from these five legislators propose future budget growth curbs:

“to make our state government more efficient and stabilize investments in critical public services. We believe cost containment efforts are a key step toward making sustainable, long-term investments in schools, services, and programs on which Oregonians rely.

Senator Courtney commended legislators working on these tough issues and observed that as soon as OLIS posted updates, phones rang off the hook with concerns and comments. Hard numbers are forthcoming. See the full potential impacts list below- watch the hearing and read meeting materials

Cost Containment Work Group Proposals:

“The following actions are divided into two categories: temporary actions to address the 2017-19 biennium and permanent on-going actions to curb long-term growth.

Temporary, immediate actions to address the 2017-2019 biennium:

  • Freeze non-essential position hiring. This Cost Containment Work Group targets the two-year biennium rather than the Governor’s 60 day freeze.
  • Do not automatically grant standard inflationary increases for services and supplies costs.

Permanent, ongoing actions to curb long-term growth:

  • Limit state government full-time equivalent positions to 1% of the population instead of the current limit of 1.5% of the population.
  • Ensure periodic position vacancy review for savings and position elimination.
  • Require legislative review of state-agency debt collection performance and approval of agency proposals to write off debt.
  • Review Lottery Commission administrative costs and the transfer rate to determine if more funds could be transferred for public purposes.
  • Manage bonding costs. Include paying for small projects with cash rather than increasing overall project costs by using long-term debt.
  • Add rigor to the vendor contracting process.

Take steps to reduce PERS costs.

  • Increase current and future employees’ retirement costs share for all public employees who are PERS members.
  • Require all PERS employers to reserve excess operating funds for prepayment of future employer costs.
  • Determine whether the amortization period is set for the appropriate length of time.
  • Ensure the PERS administrative reserves are at an appropriate level and use any excess administrative reserves to reduce the unfunded liability.

Continue to improve management of and contain health care costs for public employees.

  • Combine the Public Employee Benefit Board (PEBB) and the Oregon Educators Benefit Board (OEBB).
  • Require PEBB and OEBB to stay within a 3.4% annual growth rate.
  • Tie PEBB and OEBB non-primary care rates to a percentage of Medicare rates.

Ensure compensation increases are within budget for the biennium in which they are granted and do not exceed normal growth rates for future biennia.

  • Manage timing of cost-of-living increases to restrain future roll up costs.
  • Any cost of living increases for employees of organizations reliant on state General Fund follow the same rules as increases for state employees.
  • Limit collective bargaining agreements to two years for economic issues.
  • Change the collective bargaining process to even numbered years so the Governor’s budget proposal includes the full cost of increases for the upcoming biennium.

Require legislative approval for the following before they may be implemented:

  • Reclassifications of positions
  • Addition of new steps to salary ranges for state positions

Cost-Containment Budget Principles:

  • Do not create programs and start them at the end of the biennium.
  • Do not create new programs or funds that have no money to support them.
  • Use one-time funds for one-time investments or save them for an emergency.
  • Do not automatically replace lost federal or other funding.
  • Require analysis of ongoing costs, rather than initial costs for all new programs.
  • Review performance and need for current programs and services to determine whether new proposals are a higher priority than current programs and services.
  • Transition the timing of issuing bonds to reduce future rollup costs.
  • Prioritize preservation and maintenance of infrastructure before constructing new buildings.
  • Limit creating new task forces, boards and commissions.”

Meanwhile, correspondence abounds. Please click through for content.

From the Capitol:

From the League and coalition partners:

  • A LWVOR action committee letter expressed frustration earlier this week, to Policy Committees for failing to prioritize “really good policy ideas” vying for funding, passing them directly to Ways and Means for cuts.
  • Finding Funding in this legislative session A series of white papers from Tax Fairness Oregon.
  • A Better Oregon: The Legislature announced their budget — and the cuts are devastating. Oregonians of every age in every corner of the state will feel the effects of these cuts for years to come. It’s clear the future of Oregon is at stake.”
  • 8 key things to know about Oregon corporate taxes from Oregon Center for Public Policy.
  • United for Kids Initiative Statement, on the impact of the Target Reduction on kids.

From others:

In coming weeks, we will address specific bills for both cost containment and stable revenue. Because coming bill amendments will “Gut and Stuff” to completely change original intent, we will closely monitor advances and setbacks in balancing the budget, providing essential services, gaining some cost containment and watching that essential services to those most at risk are minimized.

Elections

HB 2578: Thanks to Common Cause for supporting small donor elections at their Thursday lobby day.

SB 229: The Secretary of State’s 30 page elections omnibus bill is characterized as a housekeeping bill. Notably, it now calls for requiring electronic candidate and document filing for statewide offices. It is technically possible for all Oregon candidates to file electronically and we are investigating.

SB 225 A: We testified in support of this bill addressing liability for treasurers of political action committees (PACs) and petition committees.

National Popular Vote (Marge Easley)

Please continue to press for the National Popular Vote, directly to your state Legislators. See “Find your district and Legislators” on the bottom right of this page. We support legislative passage, not a referral.

General Governance & Accountability

HB 2505 on independent campaign expenditures, for which we submitted testimony, passed unanimously from House Rules to the House Floor.

HB 3361 up this coming week, will address work to improve and coordinate state online services.

Public Records

The third in a triad of Public Records bills is in public hearing this week. We support SB 106, for public advocacy and oversight, and SB 481, for public records policy.

HB 2101 would organize, catalog, and maintain organization of 550 disparate public records disclosure exemptions. Legal review of records requests is necessary to protect personal and public safety. Exemptions must be construed narrowly to maintain transparency and accountability in government.

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

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dropletNatural Resources

By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator

AGENCY BUDGETS (Peggy Lynch)

The Full Ways and Means Committee has begun to pass small fee-funded agency bills to the floor. They only have 10 more Fridays to meet during the session, so, if cost and revenue issues are settled, they may meet a second time each week to complete their work.  The Capital Construction Subcommittee will also be meeting on Fridays to consider bonding requests.

CLIMATE CHANGE (Claudia Keith)

People’s Climate March: The League Marches Again:  Saturday, April 29th.  The League of Women Voters is now an official partner with the People’s Climate March on Washington, D.C. Across the country people are marching, demanding answers of their elected officials by calling and attending town hall meetings, donating to nonprofits at historic levels and participating in our democracy. In this critical window of time, we need to dig deep and keep building our persistence. (More information coming out this week – possible organized League groups in Portland and/or Eugene.)

Legislative Leadership with the Governor’s influence could move on critical climate policy, although most likely it will be dependent on the volume and quality of general public response between now and early June.

Clean Energy Jobs (Cap & Trade):  HB 2135 with -1 amendment adopted is still alive in House Rules.  (SB 557 died in the Senate.) Senate and House Environment Committees will continue to have Tuesday evening joint work groups – Information only by invitation and open to the public to attend, recorded and available on OLIS.

Oil Rail Safety: SB 7 moved, “Without recommendation as to passage” and was referred to Senate Rules. HB 2131, a similar bill, had a work session held and “Without recommendation as to passage” was referred to House Rules and then to Ways and Means if it passes Rules.

10-Year Moratorium on Fracking: HB 2711 moved to the House Floor with the -1 amendments and a “do pass” recommendation. The League joined with an OCN-initiated critical Floor Letter.

Dept. of Energy and Oregon Global Warming Commission merger with funding request and a new Energy and Climate Policy Board, HB 2020 with -2 amendments, moved to House Rules with a “do pass” recommendation.  HB 3269 has a similar theme for the Oregon Global Warming Commission.  It, too, is in Rules with a “ do pass” recommendation.  SB 908, a similar measure, was moved to Senate Rules “without recommendation”.  SB 952 with -1 amendment was also moved to Senate Rules “without recommendation”. Some restructuring of the Dept. of Energy may occur this session.  A joint interim Work Group in 2016 discussed potential changes, but there was disagreement among the members as to a final outcome.  Rep. Holvey and Senator Beyer are both continuing to work on the issue.

Building Code Dept. HB 3189  Establishes the Department of Building Codes. Transfers duties, functions and powers of Dept. of Consumer and Business Services Building Codes Division to Dept. of Building Codes. Establishes a Dept. of Building Codes Fund and appropriates fund moneys for use by Dept. of Building Codes.  Moved with a UNANIMOUS VOTE “Do pass” and referred to Ways and Means.  This new Department could oversee/lead a more dynamic approach to the permitting process, possibly effecting energy efficiency and modernization/technological aspects of the building industry.

HANFORD: HJM 5A will be heard in Senate Environment and Natural Resources on April 26.  It urges Congress to continue funding for the Hanford Nuclear Reservation cleanup, with focus on groundwater treatment systems.  The League has long been active in addressing Hanford issues.  Contact the committee with your support.

AIR QUALITY & TOXICS (Marilyn Koenitzer)

We continue to follow the Cleaner Air Oregon process (see 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, had -1 amendments adopted and sent “do pass” to Senate Rules. The League was disappointed that the -2 amendments were not adopted.  In the meantime, DEQ is moving forward with rules regarding the settlement.  The agency will be holding two public meetings on April 26 to outline the plan elements and answer questions. Participants may attend either in person or by phone/webinar. For full information on the meetings, click here: Written public comment on the proposed mitigation fund plan elements will be accepted through May 19, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. The proposed plan elements, as well as background information and information on how to comment, can be found here.

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.

The Oregon Board of Forestry will meet Wednesday, April 26 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

Timberland lawsuit:  Last year, Linn County filed a lawsuit accusing the State of violating contracts with counties by reducing logging on about 650,000 acres of forestland the counties had donated to the state. The lawsuit has been certified as a “class action” and now includes 15 counties and roughly 150 taxing districts, such as schools and fire departments.  Counties turned over the forestlands in the early 20th century in return for a share of timber revenues, but plaintiffs claim Oregon has curtailed logging due to environmental and recreational considerations.  The State argues that the federal Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act preclude the level of logging sought by the plaintiffs. Oregon’s “greatest permanent value” rule for managing state forests, enacted in 1998, is blamed by plaintiffs for causing the harvest reductions. The State argues that the “greatest permanent value” rule conforms to Oregon law and the Dept. of Forestry is complying with the rule and is a valid defense to the breach of contract claim. The plaintiffs agree that the Dept. of Forestry is following the rule, but they want to recover damages resulting from that compliance. The outcome of this lawsuit could cost the State government millions.  However, those dollars would go to the counties, school districts and special districts now a part of the lawsuit. 

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

SB 1036, with -3 amendments was moved “do pass” and sent to the Senate floor. We are concerned with 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 and was sent “without recommendation” to Senate Rules. HB 2023 would change the definition of high-value farmland.  It was moved to House Rules “without recommendation”. HB 2730 with 1 amendment written specifically for a golf course expansion in Curry County passed to the House floor.  It is another “one off” bill, meant to circumvent the local land use system.  The Oregon Coast Alliance is opposed.

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. The -3 amendments were adopted and the bill was moved “do pass” to the House floor.  SB 1024, which would require counties to allow accessory dwelling units on rural residential lands, died in committee, but the League has agreed to work on the issue during the interim.

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. It died in committee.

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 were adopted and the bill was recommended “do pass” and sent to the House floor. We still have concerns about a citizen’s affordable access to their elected officials.

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

HB 2007, a bill meant to address policies around affordable housing, had -2 amendments adopted and was moved “do pass” to Ways and Means.  The proposals would significantly change how local governments process applications inside cities and urban growth boundaries, and would require that accessory dwelling units and duplexes be allowed in single family zones.  The League has concerns around the lack of public process.

TRANSPORTATION  (Peggy Lynch, Sandra Gangle-transit)

Legislative members seem hopeful that we will have a complete Transportation Package this session.  Such a package would include not only maintenance of current roads, but some seismic upgrades of bridges, addressing needs of ports and other facilities, bike and pedestrian issues and a statewide transit program.  There is still a discussion around Oregon’s Clean Fuels standard and whether or not passage of the transportation package will hinge around a modification of Clean Fuels.  This issue is what stopped passage in 2015 and 2016.  The League is torn between the need for a transportation package and the need to address climate change by promoting clean fuels.

Does ODOT have the staff to oversee a large transportation package?  Read the Portland Tribune article here:

http://pamplinmedia.com/pt/9-news/355319-233382-odot-lacks-staff-or-plan-to-oversee-work-from-hoped-for-new-fees-tax-revenue

WATER (Peggy Lynch)

SB 812, a bill that will modify the onsite septic loan program will be heard in the House Environment and Energy on April 24.  The League supports this legislation and has signed on to a joint letter with others.  As of March 31, 2017, this program has served families in over 19 cities and 13 counties across the state, installing systems that will treat over 3 million gallons annually of wastewater at a cost of nearly $500,000. Not yet funded for the 2017 biennium, this program has brought in additional private dollars to help clean up Oregon’s lands and waters.

HB 2706, requiring a water rights management fee, had -1 amendments adopted and was referred “do pass” to Ways and Means.

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

HB 2786 and HB 2098, related to our removal-fill laws, both died in committee, but the League has offered to work on an interim workgroup around this important issue. Rep. David Brock Smith and Rep. Karin Power have also volunteered to work toward a longer-term solution on the wetland question.

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

Time Change: The North Central Regional Solutions Advisory Committee will meet April 28, 9:30a-11:45a @ 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.

The South Coast Umpqua Regional Solutions Advisory Committee will meet May 5, 11a-12:30p @ Coos Bay Fire Hall, Community Meeting Room, 450 Elrod Ave, Coos Bay.  Call In: 877-848-7030, Password 5495754#.  Agenda is available online.

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

WOMEN’S HEALTH AND WELLNESS ALLIANCE (Debbie Runciman)

The legislative priorities of the Oregon Women’s Health and Wellness Alliance survived the deadlines and continue to move forward.  Several of the health care issues moved to Ways and Means (HB 3391 Reproductive Health Equity Act, SB 558 Cover All Kids.)   In the safety category HB 3078 the Safety and Savings Act, an omnibus bill that deals with criminal sentencing, was sent to House Rules.  Many of its components were broken off into individual bills and they too are in W&Ms.  On the economic front, HB 2005 Pay Equity passed the House and is now in the Senate Workforce Committee.  Paid Family and Medical Leave, HB 3087, and now SB 299A, are still alive.  HB 3087 was sent to Revenue for further work; SB 299A is a watered-down version that goes to the Senate floor.

Many of the bills dealing with domestic violence, sexual assault, and sex trafficking have moved forward.  SB 247, SB 249, SB 250, HB 2740 were all brought forth by a Sex Trafficking Workgroup that includes District Attorneys, victim services representatives, legislators and survivors.  Other bills include:  HB 2972 which gives better protection for women involved in campus assaults; HB 2955 further clarifies the crime of strangulation in domestic violence cases; and SB 261 assures that a victim’s past sexual behavior cannot be introduced as evidence in civil rape cases, just as it is now inadmissible in criminal cases.

PUBLIC SAFETY

Which bills are dead, which passed and how many are sent to Rules?  Those were the final questions for Monday and Tuesday last week.

House Judiciary sent 4 bills to the Rules Committee on April 18, the last day for bills to pass out of their committees of origin.  The Rules Committee will decide on privacy issues in HB 2813, concerning intimate images on electronics; HB 2545, on deception testing required by employers; HB 2739, on civil responsibility for GMO presence on land; and HB 3078, on options for decreasing prison populations.  The League supports HB 3078.

Bills of interest passed: HB 2175 and 2176, on Sobering Facilities and 10% of Mental Health funds could be used for this purpose. A pilot program in southern Oregon has proved to prevent hospital emergency room visits and to refer patients to substance abuse treatment programs.  HB 2793 established a diversion program for prostitution patrons, attendance at a Johns’ School, which is a pilot program in Multnomah County.  HB 2740 increased the age of a trafficked person to be charged with a crime from 15 to 18.  Those under 18 are considered victims. The League supported this bill.

Bills that expired without a vote this session:  HB 2526 sought to direct OHA to develop firearm safety and suicide prevention education to be voluntarily distributed by gun dealers. HB 2629 was a request by District Attorneys to present medical service charges for restitution without challenges.

New Revenue for the Oregon Judicial Department was passed in HB 2795 and 2797, which set fees for civil e-court filings and collecting fines for the vendor costs of the e-court system.  Both bills will go to Ways and Means for further review. The League monitors the OJD budget process.

Senate Judiciary passed SB 496 and 505A to require that grand jury proceedings be recorded. SB 846 A advises that handcuff or shackles on juveniles be removed prior to court appearance. SB 82 chided the Oregon Youth Authority for placing youth alone in a locked room. Isolation should be used for safety intervention only.

SB 64 changes Mental Health terminology – no longer mental disease or defect but now is qualifying psychiatric or developmental condition for Psychiatric Security Review Board statutes. The SB 767 -1 amendment was a gut and stuff for the reclassification of convicted sex offenders by the Parole Board.

SB 895 on eligibility for the Family Sentencing Alternative includes women who are pregnant or have custody of children. SB 935 extends earned transitional leave from prison from 90 to 180 days.  Both bills are options in the decrease of prison populations. The League supports the decrease in prison populations and the increase in community services for diversions.

HEALTH CARE UPDATE

Senate Health Care passed SB 419, which proposed a Hospital Rate Commission.  The bill was amended to create a Task Force on Health Care Cost Review, which will study the feasibility of creating a hospital rate setting process.  The Chair of the Task Force will be the Director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, who will work with the Director of the Legislative Policy and Research Office.

On the last day of the chamber hearings, 3 other bills passed and two were sent to Senate Rules.

SB 233 required information on medical services and payments to Coordinated Care Organizations with information to be provided to the public by the Oregon Health Authority.  HB 934 specifies that CCOs must spend 14.4% of its global budget on primary care.  SB 808 provides newborn screening in a gut and stuff bill. The Senate Rules Committee will see SB 235 with a -5 amendment on the clean air act relative to tobacco and inhalant delivery premises.  SB 272, on prescription drug formularies, will go to Rules with a -3 amendment.  SB 558 to cover all kids passed earlier with League support.

The House Health Care Committee finished its last agenda on Monday, April 17 by passing 15 bills and sending 12 bills to House Rules . HB 2300A set up a Mental Health Clinical Advisory Group within the Oregon Health Authority to develop a preferred mental health drug list. HB 2310A stipulates the formula for the distribution of funds to local public health authorities, which included an opt out provision.  The bill was sent to Ways and Means for funding decisions. HB 2387A asks the Department of Consumer and Business Services to review drug price increases and determine if it is an excess cost and a rebate is warranted. The bill sets up a fund for the collection of rebates.

SB 1046 Health Care for All had a public hearing on 4-20-17 in Senate Health Care. The results of the Rand Study bill approved in HB 3240 (2015) was reported to both the House and Senate Committees this week.  The 4 options were considered: the current Medicaid coverage and insurance market, the public option insurance, the Health Care Ingenuity Plan with private insurance, and the universal single payer with no private insurance.  The last two options involve tax financing.  The report is on OLIS in meeting materials in the House Health Care Committee on 4-19 or the Senate Health Care Committee on 4-20. The Chair announced that SB 1046 will not be moved this session.

The Oregon Health Authority plans to continue the expanded Medicaid coverage since Oregon has a waiver to cover the next five years.  Oregon has the longest operating health care waiver in the US. The next federal budget will be approved for October 1, 2017, but there was no promise of new money with the waiver approval.  OHA will have a deficit to cover the expanded Medicaid population.

The Senate Human Services Committee passed 8 bills and sent 2 bills to the Senate Rules Committee on the last day to process bills in the first chamber.  SB 58A on the Office of Oregon Ombudsman and SB 749A on Foster Child (over age 15) access to case records were the bills referred to Senate Rules.

The House Human Services and Housing Committee passed 14 bills on the last day and sent 3 bills to House Rules. HB 3331 on manufactured park dispute resolutions; HB 3253 on the Commission for Blind products and services; and HB 3273 on safety issues in adult foster homes went to House Rules. The Action Team acknowledged the work of Nancy Donovan on HB 2002 and Debbie Aiona on the Housing Alliance.

This committee held a discussion on the 18 housing related bills passed in this session. Priorities for funding were proposals that leveraged other funds, ongoing programs, preservation and lack of other resources for housing needs, i.e. for homeless populations.  There was a reluctance to eliminate any housing bills from consideration and acknowledgement of the historic number of housing proposals.  Members tended to support the housing needs in spite of the budget deficits.

Next up will be Ways and Means Human Services Subcommittee discussions on these housing bills, along with other health and human service funding proposals.

Progress on the Gun Safety Bills (Marge Easley)

Many thanks to all who followed through on the Gun Safety Action Alert last week.

April 17th was an eventful day for gun safety bills at the Capitol, with both Senate and House hearings. In Senate Judiciary, the hearing room was packed by 7:15 a.m., mostly with gun safety supporters, so two auxiliary rooms were set aside for the overflow crowd. The Governor, Senator Boquist, and many family members of gun violence victims provided heartfelt testimony. The League testified in support of two bills on the Oregon Alliance for Gun Safety’s priority list.  SB 868 (Extreme Risk Protection Order) allows guns to be removed temporarily from individuals who clearly demonstrate they are a danger to themselves and others. SB 797, the Firearm Safety Package of 2017, closes the Charleston Loophole and prohibits gun ownership by convicted stalkers and abusive dating partners. Following the hearing, a procedural error nearly scuttled both bills, however, when it was discovered they hadn’t been scheduled for a work session by the next day’s deadline. To save the bills, the content of SB 868 was folded into SB 719, while SB 797 was folded into SB 764 and sent on to Senate Rules.

SB 719 will soon have a vote in the Senate. Please contact your legislators to support Extreme Risk Protection Orders.

Later in the day, the League provided supportive testimony in House Judiciary on HB 2526, which would make firearm safety and suicide prevention materials available to gun dealers. We pointed out that other states already have programs in place, and the use of existing materials would be more cost effective. Unfortunately, this bill failed to move forward. We are also disappointed that another Alliance priority bill, HB 2130 (Child Access Prevention), died in committee without a hearing.

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

BUDGET REDUCTIONS without additional revenue:

Intense discussions this week in the Capitol were around budget and revenue.  On April 17, the Ways and Means Co-Chairs released an updated 2017-19 Target Reduction Lists impacting education, health care, human services, public safety, judicial, natural resources and other departments.  The co-chairs of W&M say, “This work was necessary to be ready to balance the budget if no additional revenue for state programs and services is available this session. See the Revenue section of this LR for further information. The proposed W&M budget for Education is:

While the Co-Chair Working Budget is less than the Current Service Level (CSL), it is more than the Legislatively Approved Budget (LAB) for 15-17. Click on this link for a further explanation of reductions in each of the three Education budgets.

Some of these cost reductions include:

  • Eliminate Chief Education Office and transfer 5 positions to Governor’s Office and transfer 5 positions to ODE for Statewide Longitudinal Data System (-$ 4.0 million). Continue partial staff for Education policy area coordination in Governor’s Office. Also eliminated funding for Regional Area Compacts and community and statewide convenings.
  • Reduce funding for Early Learning Hubs and Kindergarten Partnership & Innovation grants by 20% (-$5.3M). Both of these programs received significant increases for 2015-17. There are no reductions to the Oregon Pre-K program.
  • Reduce Youth Development grants by 10% (-$1.3M). Reductions would come from Juvenile Crime Prevention, Youth & Community, Youth & Innovation and Community Schools grant programs.
  • (-$97.2M) Reduce funding for Ballot Measure 98 funding by one third for the 2017-19 biennium.
  • (-$20.0M) Outdoor School will serve only a portion of eligible students in the first biennium; funding is for $24 .0 million for 2017-19.
  • Reduce Community College Support Fund (-$7.6M)35% reduction — Funding level is $556.3 million.
  • Reduce general support to Public Universities (-$9.4M) 35% reduction — Funding level is $683.4 million.
  • Reduce support for Statewides (-$2.2M) 35% reduction for Extension, Ag Experiment Station, Forest Research Lab, & other State programs.
  • Reduce Oregon Promise (-$5.0M) Use income eligibility or some other change to reduce eligibility/costs; new program for 2015-17.

An explanation on Current Service Level:

  • Add up the one time actions and the program reductions =  the “original” CSL.
  • Please note that the CSL does NOT include education POPs, or any policy bills w/fiscals in 2017 session.
  • The CSL is built agency by agency. The calculation starts with the agency’s base budget which is the combination of the legislatively approved budget for the previous biennium (including any Emergency Board actions, special session actions, and other administrative changes), allowable personal services changes for the next biennium, debt service changes as required for existing commitments, and elimination of any one-time capital construction expenditure authority. It is possible for programs and costs in either the base budget or the CSL to be eliminated as part of the final adopted budget.

EDUCATION POLICY BILLS:

HB 2957 -2 amendments passed from House Committee on Early Childhood and Family Supports to Ways and Means.  An unknown fiscal has been assigned, so in this tight budget session LWVOR did not testify, although we have Positions that could support five year-olds improving kindergarten student-to-teacher ratios (15:1) in schools that are considered high poverty, with 90% free and reduced lunch.  This is another “really good idea” if adequate revenue were available to Oregon, yet it must compete for funding with other education, social service, health care, public safety, environmental resources that impact current safety net services to vulnerable populations—Oregon simply does not have adequate revenue to fund essential services. LWVOR will monitor this bill as it moves forward and will also monitor the availability of new revenue to fund “good ideas” and ongoing critical services.

HB 3208 prohibiting the Legislative Assembly from enacting more education mandates died in committee because future legislators cannot be bound by prior-session legislators.  Yet this knowingly “unconstitutional” bill accomplished the purpose of bringing forward a lively discussion about how many changes Education can handle in a short time. We appreciate Representative Sherrie Sprenger calling attention to the whirlwind of “new requirements” that often leaves school districts frustrated and financially strapped in complying with an overwhelming number of new legislative bills.  In her newsletter, “Since laws like HB 3208 can’t constitutionally bind future legislatures, this bill was never going to make it past committee. The reason I sponsored it was not to get it passed but to make a point. 433 bills from the House and Senate education committees have been signed into law in recent years in the midst of constant changes in testing, graduation requirements, and education policies. There are just too many laws being passed and too many changes being made to education. You can read more about the bill in this Corvallis Gazette-Times article and watch my testimony in committee.”

As we enter the second half of the legislative session, many policy bills didn’t make it out of the first chamber committees by the April 18th deadline.  Bills that did, move from the originating House/Senate committee to a floor vote and then on to consideration in the opposite chamber committees.  Over the next weeks we’ll delve more deeply into surviving policy bills, revenue impact and what LWVOR Action supports/opposes based on our Positions.

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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