Legislative Report, Volume 27, Number 16 – May 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:  The Revenue Forecast has been released.
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

PUBLIC RECORDS

News Friday reveals continuing efforts to settle control of public records management. First a review. The Attorney General’s Public Records Law Reform Task Force, convened in 2015, is still working to address issues of policy, conflict resolution, and exemption management. Members of this comprehensively assembled and well-qualified group have thoroughly examined and amended proposed bills:

SB 481 A POLICY. The League supports this public records policy bill. It sets policy including timely records request responses, agency immunity from disclosure liability, and calls for a searchable exemptions list to be maintained by the Attorney General, who sponsored this bill. It has passed the Senate, the first house Reading and was referred to House Rules, no hearing scheduled. It has broad support, including from the media.

SB 106 A CONFLICT RESOLUTION. The League also supported this bill, sponsored by Governor Kate Brown, to create an Advocate and a Conflict Resolutions Advocacy Council, with members representing the interests and concerns of various stakeholders. It has been referred from General Government and Accountability to Ways and Means, no hearing scheduled. Control of the Advocate and placement of this proposed Council have been contentious. A Governor’s proposal to place it in the Department of Administrative Services got pushback from the East Oregonian in December 2016. The current SB 106 proposal is for the Archivist to provide office space and administrative support, with Dept. of Administrative Services support and office placement as a fallback.

On Friday May 12th, the Secretary of State lauded his Archivist for a cost containment proposal, making her the Advocate through an Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) interpretation, to create an “Oregon Access Project”. It would render the SB 106 Council and Advocate redundant. Disagreement reported by The Oregonian centers on the extent of independent oversight control of the Advocate. The Secretary would choose an employee as Advocate, with direct hiring and firing power, compared to a Council nominating an Advocate to the Governor, where removal could be by Council appeal to the Governor, or the Governor directly, for cause, only for serious misconduct.

HB 2101 RECORDS DISCLOSURE EXEMPTIONS. This bill creates a Legislative body to oversee management of more than 550 public records disclosure exemptions identified. This bill, sponsored by Rep Huffman, a Task Force member, also called for disclosure exemption “Open Government Impact Statements” from Legislative Counsel. Exemptions have accumulated over time, without review or cataloguing, with more being added this session. Records requests must be examined by attorneys to verify safety in releasing records for all kinds of reasons, including cases currently in litigation, prevention of agency liability through release in violation of disclosure exemptions, to protecting privacy of minors and crime victims. League questioned the need for formation of another body, thinking the proposed Council might perform this function. We learned that exemptions must be managed through statute, which the Legislature must authorize, so we commented in support, with opportunity for further testimony requested in light of changes proposed during the hearing.

“SUNSHINE COMMITTEE”. A surprise Secretary of State proposal during the April 25th public hearing is influencing a -17 amendment, with a repeat hearing expected this week. The Secretary’s proposed “Oregon Sunshine Committee” would have 15 members, including four ex officio members, Legislators on the proposed Public Records Subcommittee of the Legislative Counsel Committee. It would include appointees with staggered terms from the press and any committee or task force appointed by the AG, the Governor, or the SoS. It would propose a schedule and plan for exemption review and include a “pool of public records expertise”, which Legislative Counsel could consult. It might defray the LC costs of managing all oversight functions, yet LC would maintain authority. The exemption review timeline is set for completion in 2026, with ongoing management of incoming statute changes. We are reviewing to testify, anticipate support.

Another Public Records Disclosure Exemptions bill is up this week, proceeding to General Governance.

HB 3274 allows the Office of Small Business Assistance to exempt communications with their client small businesses from disclosure.

REVENUE/TAXES, BUDGET AND COST CONTAINMENT

LWVOR Revenue and Tax Sub-committee: Rebecca Gladstone, Alice Bartelt, Claudia Keith, Peggy Lynch and Chris Vogel. Read online to follow the underlined LINKS.

The Joint Committee on Tax Reform, 5-9 considered revenue growth comparisons, more examples of a commercial (business) activities tax and presented an analysis of options for restructuring Oregon’s state and local revenue system. On Thursday, 5-11, Oregon’s Legislative Revenue Officer, economist Paul Warner, PhD, presented a draft tax reform plan for purposes of running a tax reform simulation model with assumptions that the new tax: applies to all business entity types; has a filing threshold exempting all businesses grossing less than $150,000 in sales from any tax; has a flat $150 for businesses grossing less than $1 million; and a 0.48% tax rate on sales above $1 million.

Other simulations next week may consider assumptions varying tax rates and thresholds (ranging from 0.25% to 0.95% tax rate on gross revenues above $5 million thresholds). Expect that many other options and potential proposals that rival last week’s Oregon Education Investment Initiative proposal. The “framework” for tax reform will face many hurdles and, if agreement is reached this session, is likely to be sent to the voters in November.

Some reactions to this week’s hearings in the NEW Joint Committee on Tax Reform:

The revenue forecast was released. It may trigger the “kicker,” which would refund the difference between anticipated revenue and what actually comes in to taxpayers in the form of a credit on next year’s taxes.

NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE (Marge Easley)

After weeks of inaction on the National Popular Vote (NPV) bills, we’ve received word that The House Rules work session on HB 2927 will take place on Thursday, May 18, 3:00 pm. It remains to be seen whether the bill has a chance in the Senate, however. The League is concerned that some Senators favor a legislative referral (SB 825), which we strongly oppose. We’ll issue an action alert as soon as we have more information, so please stay tuned!

CAMPAIGN FINANCE (Norman Turrill)

Two bills, HB 2584 A and HB 2505 A, on independent expenditures (AKA dark money) are moving in the legislature. These two bills represent one of the important recommendations of the Task Force on Campaign Finance Reform.

REDISTRICTING (Norman Turrill)

A draft constitutional amendment prepared by the Secretary of State’s office was largely panned by many members of the Fair Redistricting Task Force. Some members of the Task Force are preparing their own much simpler draft, which may be ready for review early next week.

GENERAL GOVERNANCE & ACCOUNTABILITY

Department of Revenue (DOR) hearings continued for collections, property tax revenue shortfall, information technology, customer service evaluation, and budget cutting options.  Notably, staffing is inadequate for services needed, with positions still unfilled, none to layoff. “Legacy” (outdated) technology needs to be replaced. This is technology so old they cannot hire for it anymore, since training is no longer available for it. Meanwhile, significant staff retirement is coming.

Improving data sharing with client agencies will improve collections. Chair Manning emphasized that people expect current technology resembling smart phones, at least.  Improving collections was discussed in terms of state employees who owe, the estimated 9,000 vendors being paid by the state (that concurrently owe back to the state), and for other collections, including personal income tax. DOR encourages online tax filing, easier, cheaper and faster to process. DOR is meeting regularly with the Department of Administrative Services (DAS), streamlining expanded interagency access to allow wage garnishing.

Broadband procurement called for diverting existing funds from “renting to buying”, with long-term savings and service improvements, no additional funding requested currently. Questions ranged from “why do we need this?” to “pretty obvious what our needs are.” See page 8 of the presentation for current functional exclusion of Oregon due to lack of adequate coverage. We are not significantly participating in the Western Regional Network, need to improve services for state services, academic and research work, and for health care. Our private sector depends on competitive and reliable access.

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)

SB 5510, the Columbia River Gorge Commission budget, will be in the Ways and Means Subcommittee on May 16.  Word is that the State of Washington’s allocation is well under that which Oregon would like to provide.  But this Commission is required to accept only both states’ matching funds.

SB 5528, the Land Use Board of Appeals budget, will be in the Ways and Means Subcommittee on May 17.  The League supports this small agency and we assume the budget will be as presented to the Committee earlier.

CLIMATE CHANGE (Claudia Keith)

Legislative Leadership, with the Governor’s influence, could move on critical climate policy, although most likely will be completely dependent on the volume and quality of supportive business, labor, faith, tribal, health, disadvantaged communities and general public response between now and early June.

Clean Energy Jobs (Cap & Trade):  HB 2135 A is still alive in House Rules. Senate and House Environment Committees will continue to have Tuesday evening joint work groups.  We encourage you to sign up to receive their agendas.

Oil Rail Safety: SB 7 is in Senate Rules. HB 2131, a similar bill, is awaiting a work session  (expected this week) in House Rules.

10-Year Moratorium on Fracking: HB 2711A is scheduled for a hearing on May 18 in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. There is concern that there are not the votes to get it out of Committee.  Your help is needed.

Dept. of Energy and Oregon Global Warming Commission merger with funding request and a new Energy and Climate Policy Board, HB 2020A, sits in House Rules.  HB 3269 has a similar theme and is also in House Rules.  SB 908 and SB 952A sit in Senate Rules.

SB 990, a bill that would open up Oregon to small scale nuclear reactors, has been assigned to the House Committee on Energy and Environment.  Although League positions have much to say about nuclear weapons and nuclear waste, they only ask that nuclear power plants be well managed and not relied on.

AIR QUALITY & TOXICS (Marilyn Koenitzer)

We continue to follow the Cleaner Air Oregon process (see www.cleanerair.oregon.gov).  Our League member has been attending their final meetings as the committee works toward recommending rules for the Environmental Quality Commission. HB 2236, enabling legislation for Cleaner Air Oregon (CAO), is in Ways and Means.

HB 2269 A, a bill setting fees on businesses who have air quality permits in order to fund the DEQ rulemaking for CAO and other agency air quality work, had a public hearing in the Ways and Means Natural Resources Subcommittee on May 11. The League provided written testimony and attended the hearing, but the number of proponents and opponents was so extensive that we did not get a chance to provide oral testimony.  Our partners in support did a wonderful job of explaining why these fees are necessary, fair and critical to addressing Oregon’s air quality.

SB 1008 A, Clean Diesel, is scheduled for a Work Session on May 17 in Senate Rules.  We can only hope that further amendments are adopted to increase requirements around the use of diesel engines in Oregon. DEQ is moving forward with rules regarding the settlement.  Written public comment on the proposed mitigation fund plan will be accepted through May 19 at 5:00 p.m. The proposed plan elements, as well as background information and information on how to comment, can be found here: http://www.oregon.gov/deq/aq/programs/Pages/VW-Die

ELLIOTT FOREST and FORESTRY (Jennifer Haynes and Peggy Lynch)

The first step in keeping the Elliott State Forest in public ownership was taken May 9th by the State Land Board.  Next, we need to convince the Legislature to provide funding to “buy out” the Common School Fund and move forward with a new management plan.

It’s important to understand how we got here:  Oregon’s Common School Fund received the Elliott in 1930. It was one of the most productive forests in Oregon.  In 1973 the Endangered Species Act passed, recognizing that the loss of the nation’s plants and animals would be harmful to all of us.  In 1990, the northern spotted owl was listed; in 1992 the marbled murrelet was listed and in 2012 the Coho salmon joined the other two.  Each of these species counts on the Elliott to provide them with a home—a place to nest and raise their young, to spawn and then swim to the ocean to provide our state with salmon—an economic benefit to our coastal communities and an important cultural aspect of our tribes.

For a time, Oregon found a way to both log the forest for Common School Fund revenues and to protect the species.  They worked under a Habitat Conservation Plan for the owl and then the murrelet.  As these Plans expired, the State was unsuccessful in renegotiating a new Plan satisfactory to the federal agencies.  The agencies were concerned that the State was not protecting these special species adequately.  With the proposal by Governor Brown to purchase a portion of the Forest, the federal agencies seem willing to engage in a negotiation for adoption of a new Plan.  For more information.

SB 847, the Trust Lands Transfer bill, has been sent to Ways and Means because it may cost any state agency that would manage former trust lands.  This is based on a program used by the State of Washington.

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

SB 432, which we oppose, would allow some rural counties in Eastern Oregon to opt out of our statewide land use system. It sits in Senate Rules where we hear amendments are being considered.  At this point we continue to be adamantly opposed.

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. The League continues to be opposed.

HB 2023 would change the definition of high value farmland and is in House Rules. HB 2730 A, written specifically for a golf course expansion in Curry County, has been assigned to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

HB 3012 A 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. It has been assigned to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. We are currently neutral on the bill, but will need to be sure the bill is not expanded in the Senate.

We continue to oppose HB 3245 A, 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. It does not address the appeals cost to gain access to their elected officials. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

HB 2893 is a bill that would require a city to evaluate for inclusion in their urban growth boundary certain agricultural land consisting predominantly of soil classifications VI, VII and VIII with other first priority lands. The bill was requested by the Bend area as they anticipate that their latest urban growth boundary expansion will not accommodate expected growth and another expansion will be needed in a few years.  In that case, there are those who want to be sure their land is included in the discussion.  A Work Session is scheduled in House Rules on May16. The League opposes this carve-out legislation.

HB 2007 A, a bill meant to address policies around affordable housing, 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. We understand additional amendments are being considered, but we are not sure that they will move the League to a “support” position.

The Land Conservation and Development Commission will meet in Salem May 18 and 19. View a live stream of the Salem meetings here. Materials for the meeting have been posted to the web: http://www.oregon.gov/LCD/Pages/meetings.aspx

OREGON STATE PARKS:  The League provided oral testimony in support of HB 2318, a bill that will allow the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission to adjust fees to manage the use of our parks by reducing fees in lesser used parks and increasing in others and changing fees related to seasons.  The bill is intended to replace lost revenue ($800,840 for the biennium) due to fee waivers granted by the Legislature to veterans and foster families.  Although these “freebies” may be good ideas, the League wanted to be sure everyone recognizes that these aren’t really “free” but cost agencies money similar to tax credits. The bill was recommended “do pass” and sent to the full Ways and Means Committee.

TRANSPORTATION (Peggy Lynch, Sandra Gangle-transit)

Legislative members are hopeful that we will have a complete Transportation Package this session.  The Joint Transportation Preservation and Modernization Committee released these materials at their May 8th meeting. On May 11, they continued discussion and considered these materials.

They are scheduled to continue their discussions on May 15 and 17.  There is an expectation that a bill will be written and public testimony considered at the end of the month.

OREGON MARINE BOARD and DEPT. OF FISH AND WILDLIFE (Peggy Lynch)

The League may provide testimony on HB 2321, a bill that requires boat operators to drain water from boats in order to protect against aquatic invasive species (AIS).  The bill was amended in the House to remove the AIS permit requirement for non-motorized boats less than 10 feet in length.  We are hopeful that provision will be returned.  Here’s why:

http://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2017/05_may/050817.asp

WATER (Peggy Lynch)

SB 812, a bill that will modify the onsite septic loan program, is awaiting a vote on the House floor.  The League supports this legislation and has signed on to a joint letter with others.  Not yet funded for the 2017 biennium (but SB 383 in Ways and Means would do so), this program has brought in additional private dollars to help clean up Oregon’s lands and waters.

HB 2706 A, requiring a water rights management fee, is in Ways and Means. HB 2705, requiring additional measurement of water rights, was moved to House Rules. The League supports both bills. HB 2707 A, asks for an additional $8.2 million for groundwater studies, was sent to Ways and Means. Although we support the additional money requested in the Water Resources Dept. budget, we believe this “ask” is a bit too far this session.

HB 3427 A, a bill that would require high hazard dams to have emergency plans, is in 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.

SB 3 A, a bill that would remove the moratorium on suction dredge mining while limiting that action on enhanced salmon-bearing streams, is awaiting a vote on the House floor.

The 2017 public review draft of Oregon’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy is now available for public comment.  You can view the “Note to Reader” section at the beginning of the document to help orient you to what elements are new to this version, where to locate new sections or recommended actions, and what to expect for the remainder of 2017.  To view or download the draft as a PDF, click here. The Water Resources Department will accept comments on this Public Review Draft through Monday, June 19, 2017.  Comments can be sent electronically to waterstrategy@wrd.state.or.us  The League supports this effort and encourages members to read and comment. 

The Water Resources Commission met on Salem May 11 and 12.  Agenda is available here. You can see the staff reports by clicking on the following link: http://apps.wrd.state.or.us/apps/misc/wrd_notice_view/Default.aspx?notice_id=41

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 South Central Region (Klamath & Lake Counties): May 11, 10:00 – noon @ Klamath Community College, Building 6, Room H138 7390 South Sixth St Klamath Falls, OR 97603 1-888-557-8511 code: 9470233 Agenda is available here.

The Southern Oregon Regional Solutions Advisory Committee will meet May 15, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. @ Josephine County Courthouse, Room 157, 500 NW 6th St, Grants Pass. Call In: 1-877-848-7030; Code 5495754#  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

The Ways and Means Public Safety Subcommittee will consider the Criminal Justice Commission HB 5005 budget this week. The Justice Reinvestment Program continues to provide more community supervision and send fewer offenders to prison. SB 895 on the Family Sentencing Alternative passed Senate Judiciary and had a Senate vote of 28 to 0 with 2 excused.  It’s now in the House JudiciarySB 935 increases Transitional Leave from 90 to 180 days, but it is expected to be negotiated to 120 days.  It passed Senate Judiciary and was sent to Ways and MeansHB 3078 remains in House Rules and it contains further reductions in prison sentences for identity theft and Theft I.

SB 713 A directs the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) to study the effect of type and length of sentence on recidivism rates and report to interim committees before Feb 1, 2019.  SB 767 A directs CJC to study recidivism rates of sex offenders, but a current sex offender classification process will not be completed until Dec 2022, so the report will be extended to Feb. 2023.

SB 241 A was passed in House Judiciary on 5-10.  The bill asserts the Rights of Children of Incarcerated Parents and gives oversight to the Governor’s Reentry Council.  HB 2249 authorized the Department of Corrections to contract with counties for funding for reentry support services for offenders under 25. Senate Judiciary passed this bill on 5-9.  HB 2579 A authorizes the Oregon Youth Authority to provide reentry support and services to youth committed to the Department of Corrections but who served their sentence in Oregon Youth Authority facilities. This bill has already been passed by both chambers and signed.  HB 2616 A sets circumstances for the court to appoint counsel for youth in juvenile delinquency hearings.  Defense attorneys were concerned that juveniles were not aware of their rights and not requesting the appointment of attorneys.

The House Health Care Committee discussed SB 48 A, which mandated suicide prevention training for physician assistants.  The Association of Oregon Mental Health Departments was supportive of early training and continued education.  The Association of Physician Assistants was opposed.  Medical Boards were neutral.  Rep. Kennemer was opposed and stated boards were responsible for training.  No action was taken on May 10.  SB 754 A was passed.  This bill made it an offense to sell tobacco or inhalant delivery systems to persons under 21 years of age. The amendment made the age change over 3 years.  The intent of the bill was to restrict nicotine products from youth 18-21 as a health issue. The vote in the Senate was 19 for and 8 against, so there was some disagreement.

House Rules made decisions on a few Health Care bills on 5-11.  HB 2391, which asked OHA to move on the Basic Health Plan blueprint, was sent to Ways and Means without recommendation. It may be amended to serve another purpose. HB 3331 on manufactured dwelling park landlord-tenant dispute resolution was also sent to Ways and Means without recommendation, but it will go to a different subcommittee. A public hearing on HB 3440, a prescription monitoring program for opiates, expanded into a broader discussion of public health services for addictions and greater access to naloxone to prevent deaths.  No action was taken. HB 2342-4 amendment was a gut and stuff for the Department of Consumer and Business Services to provide a 6-month window for compliance with federal rule changes. This bill moved to the House floor.

HB 2122 A-24 amendment was the main attraction.  This bill had multiple amendments by parties in Coordinated Care Organizations. Issues in the bill were the protection of financial reserves and accountability to the state and members. Transparency in board meetings was a disputed matter, which was resolved by requiring one public meeting a year with the Advisory Council.  The bill was passed with the -24 amendment to the House floor with a do pass recommendation. A letter with comments was submitted.

The House Human Services and Housing Committee invited the Oregon Housing and Community Services agency leaders to present the budget details to Housing Committee members.  The Director and Chief Financial Officer gave a slide presentation on May 11.  It’s in Meeting Materials on OLIS for that date if you would like to see the details.  It included the bills passed by this committee and where they fit in the budget.  The Governor’s Budget included the $60 million bonds for Low Income Family Housing and $10 million for preservation. To see PowerPoint slides, click on the HHS+H committee for May 11 and click on meeting materials.

The Senate Human Services Committee moved HB 2500 A and HB 2903 A to the Senate floor earlier in the week.  HB 2500 A mandates juvenile dependency training for child welfare caseworkers and HB 2903 A authorizes the Department of Human Services to place conditions on license for child caring agency prior to a hearing if there is danger to health or safety.  Recently a Portland child care agency director was arrested for embezzlement or misuse of agency funds in an agency that was closed.

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

HB 2219 A  encourages school districts and public charter schools to offer students courses or other educational opportunities in civics. League offered comment in writing and verbal testimony saying we continue to commend voluntary efforts of school districts to offer opportunities for civics education. With a looming deficit for funding Oregon’s existing education and safety net social services this biennium, now is not the time to impose additional expenses or requirements on individual school districts, the state Department of Education, or individual students.

The following bills remain “parked” in Ways and Means awaiting information on revenue forecast released May 16, and results of revenue reform. School Based Health Centers – HB 2408, Kindergarten teacher ratios – HB 2957A, Summer School Program pilot – HB 3191A, Educator Advancement Program – SB 182A, Ethnic Studies Standards – HB 2845A, Safe Routes to School – HB 3230, Paid Family and Medical Leave – HB 3087A

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 we always appreciate further inquiries on bills of interest.

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