Legislative Report, Volume 27, Number 18 – 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:

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

The National Popular Vote Compact passed the Oregon House for the 4th time. A Senate hearing is not yet scheduled. The League calls for direct passage, not a referral to voters. We are cautioned that tax reform simulations and a draft proposal are preliminary though the session enters the 17th week, with much press coverage. Public records, general governance and elections bills are proceeding, some to completion.

National Popular Vote (Marge Easley)

Thanks to all who followed up on our NPV action alerts. HB 2927 successfully PASSED on the House floor, now for the fourth time. We strongly encourage you to write letters as individuals to your local editors supporting Oregon Senate passage. If you have not yet contacted your senator in support of this bill, please do so as soon as possible, and make sure you ask that the bill not be amended to include a legislative referral clause. Senators Devlin and Burdick have previously expressed their preference for a legislative referral version of the bill (SB 825), and in the last few days Senator Peter Courtney has joined them. The League, along with Common Cause, NPV Oregon, and many others, strenuously opposes a referral for the following reasons:

  • It sends a negative signal to voters that the Oregon Senate is not willing to support this important legislation, even though it has already passed the Oregon House four times in recent years.
  • Once on the ballot the NPV measure would be subject to large sums of outside money pouring into Oregon with the express purpose of defeating it. Nonprofits like the League and Common Cause are unable to compete financially with a well-funded opposition, making it difficult to effectively counter confusing and misleading sound bites.
  • None of the eleven jurisdictions that have already joined the Compact have done so by referral, so Oregon would be in a unique position. The Oregon Legislative Counsel has opined that the Legislative Assembly does have the power to refer NPV to the voters. Yet it also states that a referral “would likely face scrutiny under Article II, section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, the referral would likely be challenged on the basis that the term “legislature” under Article II, section 1, is limited to the representative lawmaking body of a state— i.e., the Legislative Assembly of Oregon. The United States Supreme Court has not yet interpreted the term “legislature” under Article II, section 1.”  And while it is true that case law may be favorable to the idea that “legislature” includes a referral to the voters, there remains “considerable disagreement” among legal scholars on the issue, and it may take years to wend its way through the courts.

 

Tax Reform Update

LWVOR Revenue and Tax Sub-committee: Rebecca Gladstone, Alice Bartelt, Claudia Keith, Peggy Lynch and Chris Vogel

The Joint Committee on Tax Reform considered a draft for revenue reform on Tuesday. However, LC 3549 DRAFT 2017 Regular Session is only a framework to consider a shift to a Commercial Activity Tax (CAT), removing the current Corporate Income Tax. All of the critical details in this framework are literally “blanks” in the document (page 12 of this 111 page legislative concept). Committee members have not agreed on what to put in the “blanks” trying to reach consensus on concepts before addressing actual tax rates. Revenue Reform may not necessarily be Revenue Raising—it all depends on what rate of CAT is placed in the “blanks” and what thresholds are set below which small businesses are not subject to the tax but only pay a minimal flat fee. Another benefit of the proposed tax reform is to offer more stability in recession years where Oregon’s current system sees huge drops in revenue. Depending upon the CAT rate, this tax reform could indeed be just revenue neutral with Oregon’s current system, but more stable in recession years. Or, if the CAT is set at a high level it could significantly increase Oregon’s revenues, but will see more opposition from large businesses and legislators pressured by businesses with the highest tax rates—especially out of state entities that presently do not have nexus in Oregon and thus pay no or little taxes, but would under the new CAT.

One (middle of the road) simulation model demonstrated by the Legislative Revenue Office Draft Tax Reform Plan (5-22-17) (F) would apply to all business entity types (a much broader base than the failed M97). It models off Ohio legislation; has a low threshold $150,000 in sales where below $150,000 gross revenues businesses pay nothing and businesses pay a flat $250 if their sales are above $150,000 but less than $3 million. Businesses with sales in Oregon above $3M annually would pay a flat rate on sales depending on their business type: 0.85% rate for services; 0.35% rate for retail trade; 0.25% rate for wholesale/warehousing; 0.48% rate for all other types of businesses. These varying rates are proposed to minimize “pyramiding” of rates (for example from tree harvest, lumber production to furniture manufacturing and sales, where taxes are added at each level). This simulation also reduces personal income tax rates slightly, adding a “sweetener” for voters if this proposal becomes a ballot measure and slightly addressing “regressivity” of lower income households being impacted by the pyramiding. Tax reform does not necessarily mean a huge increase in tax revenue—that would depend on the actual tax rates. In this specific simulation model, about $1.4 billion in new revenue would be raised each biennium by 2021-2023, with a large portion of that tax revenue generated from out of state businesses without current nexus in Oregon that would be subject to new taxes for sales made in Oregon.

On the higher end of CAT rates the Oregon Education Investment Initiative proposed by Democratic leadership, but probably lacking enough votes for passage, would raise significant revenues. An argument against this higher 0.97% rate is that states converting to a similar CAT in the past have done so with more success at lower CAT rates. Those with higher CAT rates later repealed this concept of tax reform.

Read these recent media articles for a sense of how this complex tax reform is being received by legislators, business leaders, unions and others:

Oregon lawmakers introduce $1B corporate tax reform proposal
Lawmakers ‘close’ to compromise proposal for new gross-receipts tax on businesses
“A critical moment”: Kate Brown, lawmakers discuss budget negotiations
State tax reform leaves small businesses on edge
Oregon lawmakers get first look at 111-page corporate tax measure
Oregon Democrats aim to unveil corporate tax proposal this week
Cuts are not the solution

Elections

SB 229 A: Secretaries Brown, Atkins, and now Richardson have worked on this omnibus election “housekeeping” bill which passed on the Senate floor, now on to House Rules. We continue working to expand support for phase-in development of technically feasible “opt-in” consolidated candidate filing (accessible for all Oregon candidates) through ORESTAR. Filing would include candidate applications and related documents for voters’ pamphlets, etc. The Oregon Association of County Clerks legislative committee sent an invitation to meet next week to continue discussions.

SB 802: The League continues support: Allows voter pre-registration for those at least 16 years old (video). It passed in House Rules, awaits reading on the House Floor.

HB 2349: This bill relates to “imitation voters’ pamphlets”. The Secretary of State’s staff have consulted with us on the bill’s language development to ensure that it is not intended as a prohibition against League voting materials. Passed from House Rules to the House Floor.

HB 2696 A: Permits inclusion of community college district measures relating to bonding in state voters’ pamphlet if certain conditions are met. This is an example of expanding elections support out from the state level to local elections districts. It has passed in the House, is up for a Senate Rules public hearing.

Campaign Finance (Norman Turrill)

Two bills that clamp down on independent expenditures (dark money) seem likely to pass the legislature. HB 2505 A would require disclosure of independent expenditures for communications that even refer to a candidate or political party near an election. It unanimously passed the House and is now in Senate Rules. HB 2584 A would tighten the rules for when third-party expenditures are coordination with candidates or are independent expenditures. It then increases the penalties and other regulations relating to independent expenditures. It passed the House with only one No vote and is now in Senate Rules.

HB 2578 A would establish a Small Donor Funded Elections program to enable candidates for state office to receive 6-to-1 match on small dollar donations. It has passed out of House Rules and is waiting for funding in Ways and Means. It is like the ordinance adopted by the Portland City Council. HB 2578 A will probably require some additional amendments. If the legislature solves its revenue problems, then it seems hopeful that this bill will also receive funding.

Redistricting (Norman Turrill)

We are still waiting for a new draft of a constitutional amendment from the advisory “Fair Redistricting Task Force” that would institute an independent redistricting commission to do the next remapping of legislative districts in 2021.

General Governance & Accountability

HB 2906 Enrolled: This bill has been signed and awaits Chapter Law# assignment by the Secretary of State, the last step in the process. We have followed this 2016 short session HB 4056, for which action was sent to a Data Sharing Work Group. The statute addresses “critical infrastructure information,” “geospatial framework data,” and establishment of the Oregon Geographic Information Council within the office of the state Chief Information Officer. We anticipate that standardizing and coordination will greatly assist our League Voter Service functions.

SB 90 B: The League supports this bill relating to IT security, including establishing a Cybersecurity Council and Center for Excellence (video). It passed this week from Joint Ways and Means.

PUBLIC RECORDS DISCLOSURE EXEMPTIONS

This topic is being covered by bills from a variety of sponsors.

SB 481 A: The League continues support of this bill to administer public records policy, passing this week from House Rules to the House Floor (video).

HB 2874 A: “Provides exemption from mandatory disclosure of electronic mail addresses that are in possession of offices of legislative department.” League testimony to this grammatically complex bill (video) spoke to competing concerns for transparency and privacy. Discussion revealed interest in addressing this additional facet of public records disclosure exemptions in an after-session work group. We expect a HB 2101 hearing soon, with evolving amendment negotiations.

HB 3274: This Office of Small Business Assistance public records disclosure exemption bill has passed both chambers and has been signed by the Speaker. There was a reference during HB 2874 discussion to this bill, for which we also provided testimony.

Audits

There was an “audit alert” news this week from the Secretary of State, not directly related to statutory development or to this portfolio, addressing health care benefit ineligibility, and the Governor’s reply.

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

The League continues to work on Cleaner Air Oregon (CAO).  We provided additional testimony on HB 2269 A, which provides fees in support of the program. Your voice in support of CAO (www.cleanerair.oregon.gov) is needed. Contact all members of the Full Ways and Means Committee in support of these critical one-time fees to assure a robust public outreach on a program grounded in science, informed by data and health-based.

It’s time to also contact Leadership to support bonding for the Elliott State Forest to begin to decouple it from the Common School Fund, provide money for our school kids and keep the Elliott in public hands.

Land use bills such as SB 432, SB 644 and HB 2007 A are all in play.  The League continues to support our statewide land use system with local implementation.  These bills jeopardize that principle. Address your concerns to the Senate and House Leadership.

AGENCY BUDGETS (Peggy Lynch)

SB 5502 and SB 5503, the Dept. of Agriculture budget and fee bills, will be heard in the Ways and Means Natural Resources Subcommittee on May 31.  The League provided comments in February with concerns about the Governor’s budget not including monies to support their water quality programs and the lack of support for the Invasive Species Council.

HB 5009, the Dept. of Energy budget, will also be worked on May 31.  At this time, there is no indication that the bills and reorganization mentioned below related to Climate Change will be included in this initial budget bill.

SB 5527, the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) budget, will be worked June 1. In February we asked that funding for staff be considered over grant dollars, that coastal resilience mitigation planning is important and that we had hoped for a shared position between DLCD and Housing and Community Services to help with housing planning statewide.

HB 5028, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept. budget will also be worked on June 1.  The budget is partially funded by Measure 76 lottery dollars, but also by a number of other fees and licenses.  As they reduce their expansion efforts, they will focus more on maintenance of our parks system.  It is also important that they continue their current effort to assess and consider at least one additional stream reach for scenic waterway designation.

HB 5011, the Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries budget, which LWVOR supported, passed out of Full Ways and Means on 5/26. It is 2% less than the current services level from the 2015-17 budget.

HB 5010, the budget bill for the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), passed the Ways and Means Subcommittee on May 25. Significant reductions were made in federal funds, expenditure limitation, and 76 long-term vacant positions were eliminated in order to address cost containment under the Co-Chairs Framework. In this labor-intense agency, 1,368 positions were approved. The Subcommittee Co-Chairs and others expressed support for possible end-of-session “add-backs” for the in-stream flow biologists in POP 108 to help implement the Integrated Water Resources Strategy.  The League joined with others in supporting this program .  Many Subcommittee members were passionate in their frustration that our natural resources agencies are underfunded and hoped for additional revenue.

Also, budget notes (“.. a budget note is a formal directive to a state agency expressing legislative intent for a particular budget issue. …. technical in nature, directing an agency to take administrative and managerial action relating to the agency’s execution of its biennial budget. …of limited scope, not intended to circumvent, supplant, or replace other substantive or policy measures or law. The directive of a budget note typically expires at the end of the biennium for which it pertains.”  (https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/lfo/Documents/2007-3%20Budget%20Note.pdf ) were added to this budget:

#1 Budget Note: Use of cyanide traps for Predator Control

The Department of Fish and Wildlife will seek assurances from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services that Wildlife Services will not use any state funding to purchase or deploy cyanide traps to control predators before disbursement of any General Fund monies appropriated during the 2017-19 biennium for predator control activities.

#2 Budget Note: Proposal for public anti-poaching campaign

“ODFW is instructed to develop a proposal for a broad anti-poaching public awareness campaign, including a budget, that will include, but not be limited to: An anti-poaching public awareness campaign strategy, identification of tools needed to combat poaching, and any statute changes needed to address poaching. The Department is to report to the appropriate Ways and Means Subcommittee during the February 2018 session on the details and budget for this work.”

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 now.

Clean Energy Jobs (Cap & Trade):  HB 2135 A is still alive in House Rules. The Senate and House Environment Committee may have another informational meeting on June 12.

Oil Rail Safety: HB 2131, the Community Protection and Preparedness Act, had a work session in House Rules. The -5 amendments were adopted on a party-line vote and the bill was sent to Ways and Means with a “do pass” recommendation.  The opposition argued that there are new federal rules pending and the railroads might consider a lawsuit against the state as overreaching their authority under federal railroad laws.  The League continues to support action on this public safety issue.

10-Year Moratorium on Fracking: HB 2711 A is scheduled for a work session on May 31 in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

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

Our Children’s Trust Federal Lawsuit Updates:

– LWVUS and LWVOR have Amici standing in this historical case. More info at: LWVUS Climate Tool Kit- Climate Lawsuit

– All the fossil fuel industry defendants, as of May 25, have now asked to be removed from the lawsuit. More info at:  Fossil Fuel Industry Groups try to withdraw from Lawsuit

– Please consider attending the next scheduled case conference in Eugene on Wed June 14 at 10 a.m. Federal Courthouse, 405 E. 8th, Eugene More info at: Our Children’s Trust Federal Lawsuit Case Management Conference. Come show support for the 21 youth plaintiffs! more info

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 meetings (next set for June 20) as the committee works toward recommending rules for Environmental Quality Commission adoption. HB 2236, enabling legislation for Cleaner Air Oregon (CAO), is in Ways and Means.  The League was invited to give additional testimony on HB 2269 A on May 24 in the Ways and Means Natural Resources Subcommittee.

SB 1008 A, Clean Diesel, had 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.

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.

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.  The bill is based on a program used by the State of Washington.

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

SB 432 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 along with our partners 1,000 Friends of Oregon, Central Oregon Land Watch, Oregon Land and Water Alliance, Oregon Coast Alliance, Oregon League of Conservation Voters and the Oregon Conservation Network.

SB 644 includes provisions around 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.  If a bill is considered, we are working with others to limit it so as to protect our farm and forestlands and the work done these past years to keep the sage grouse from being listed as endangered—a listing that would certainly hurt those industries. We have shared our support for the multi-agency permitting process now being used by the Calico Gold mine proposal near Vale, OR.

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, is scheduled for a work session on May31 in 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 will have a work session on May 31 in 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 had a public hearing on May 25 in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Amendments are being considered, but there are disagreements between the City of Salem and the City of Happy Valley on a solution.  1,000 Friends is working on this bill to address our mutual concerns.

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 is in House Rules. The League opposes this carve-out legislation eliminating a local discussion on where Bend should expand its urban growth boundary in the future. The bill, introduced on behalf of the City of Bend, was also introduced as the A-5 amendment to HB 2031 A on May 24 in the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.  HB 2031 was introduced with a “relating clause”:  “Relating to use of land” which makes it available for any legislation that would fit within that definition.  A myriad of amendments were presented during the May 24th hearing.  The League opposes both HB 2893 and the A-5 amendments to HB 2031.  Without further amendments, HB 2031 would allow the original Metolius development rights to be available for another five years and removes the provision not allowing it to be used “within an area identified as subject to a natural hazard by an acknowledged comprehensive plan provision implementing a statewide land use planning goal relating to protection from natural hazards”.

Of note is that Bend has also submitted an amendment (A-4, similar to the A-5 amendment mentioned above) to SB 418 A, to circumvent the local process and to negate the UGB streamlining process adopted recently by rule after passage of HB 2254 (2013), a process for which Bend was an active participant.  A work session is scheduled on SB 418 A on May 30 in the House Agriculture Committee.

HB 2007 A, a bill meant to address policies around affordable housing, was moved “do pass” to Ways and Means. The proposals would change how local governments process applications inside cities and urban growth boundaries and would require that accessory dwelling units and duplexes be allowed in all single family zones.  The League has concerns around the lack of public process. An informational hearing on this bill was held on May 25th in the House Committee on Human Services and Housing.  You can watch the hearing to learn more about the bill and the current -4 amendments being considered.

OREGON STATE PARKS:   The Senate confirmed former Harney County Judge Steve Grasty, former Salem area State Legislator Vickie Berger, and Arch Cape resident and Portland State University cultural anthropology research professor Doug Deur to the Parks Commission.

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 expects to introduce a bill soon, with public hearings set soon after. There are still many questions and some disagreement among the Committee members. The League supports a robust transit element to the plan.

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

The League provided 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.  A work session was held on May 24th in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee where the A-6 amendments were adopted to require a permit for boats 8 feet or longer.  These amendments will provide about an additional $300,000 for the AIS program. The bill was sent “do pass” to Ways and Means.

WATER (Peggy Lynch)

SB 812, a bill that will modify the onsite septic loan program, passed the House and is on its way to the Governor! 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, asking 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 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 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. 

DEQ invites the public to provide written comment on the conditions of the proposed 1200-Z industrial stormwater permit, known officially as a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System general permit. DEQ will hold a hearing on the proposed permit on Wednesday, June 14 at 2 p.m. View the full news release at: http://www.oregon.gov/newsroom/Pages/NewsDetail.aspx?newsid=2050.

DEQ proposes rule amendments increasing water quality fees by 3 percent above the fiscal year 2016 fees for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits, Water Pollution Control Facility permits, including Water Pollution Control Facility permits specific to Onsite septic systems, and non-permit related fees for the Onsite septic system program.  To learn more about this rulemaking and how to submit comments, go to: Water Quality Permit Fee 2017.  DEQ will accept public comments until 4 pm on Friday, June 30, 2017.

The Water Resources Department is inviting public comment on applications for Water Project Grants and Loans which provide funding to evaluate, plan, and develop water projects that help address an instream or out-of-stream water need and result in economic, environmental, and social/cultural benefits.  These projects may be of interest to local Leagues. Public comments submitted will be considered by the Technical Review Team (TRT). The TRT will evaluate applications and make a funding recommendation to the Commission. The Department will post the TRT funding recommendation for an additional public comment period. The tentative date for the Commission to make its funding decision is November 2017.  To access all applications, please click hereWritten comments on the applications will be accepted until 5:00pm, June 29, 2017 to Grant Program Coordinator, 725 Summer Street NE, Suite A, Salem, Oregon 97301. 503.986.0869. waterprojects@wrd.state.or.us

REGIONAL SOLUTIONS (Peggy Lynch)

Continue to follow the Regional Solutions (RS) program to assure that there is a public element to any funding decisions and that local citizens know what projects are being “helped” by the RS process.  Please sign up to get the notices of meetings in your region: www.regionalsolutions.oregon.gov

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!  If any of these areas interest you, please contact Natural Resources Coordinator Peggy Lynch at peggylynchor@gmail.com or 541-745-1025

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houseSocial Policy

 By Karen Nibler, Social Policy Coordinator

Ways and Means Public Safety Subcommittee is moving smaller budgets.  The District Attorneys, Military Department, and Criminal Justice Commission Budgets have passed out of committee with no increases.  The Department of Justice, Oregon Judicial Department and Defense Services are still waiting.  Typically the larger budgets, such as Oregon State Police, the Department of Professional Standards and Training, Oregon Youth Authority, Department of Corrections and Board of Parole are held until late in the budget process.

HB 3078 A passed out of the House Rules Committee on May 25.  This bill was drafted for prison reduction methods and was approved in spite of the objections of the District Attorneys.  This was a battle supported by advocacy groups, including the League.  The bill was sent to the Public Safety Subcommittee for inclusion in the Department of Corrections Budget.

Ways and Means Human Services Subcommittee has passed the Psychiatric Review Board (PSRB) Budget, HB 5032, with an 11% increase probably because the supervision of Guilty Except for Insanity in the community has been successful with a low recidivism rate. The success of the PSRB process may save money for the Oregon State Hospital.

Ways and Means Human Services Subcommittee will hear the Budget Rebalance of the Oregon Health Authority and Human Services 2015-17 Budget in SB 5543 on Wednesday May 31.  The Budget material is already on the website for that date.  The Oregon Health Authority reports over 1 million people have Medicaid coverage and that the caseload has been decreased 3.4% over the biennium.

Spring Forecasts show an increased caseload in Aging and People with Disabilities, with long term care and in-home care increasing.  Nursing homes are decreasing and community-based care is an uptrend. Child Welfare numbers in foster care and in home care are decreasing, while adoption assistance stays even.  Temporary Assistance for Needy Families peaked in 2013.  The caseload is below the 2009 level now and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is also decreasing, hopefully due to more employment opportunities.  LFO reports a surplus of $51.4 million in General Funds due to a Self Sufficiency caseload drop to 22,426 families now, unspent ERDC funds of $11.2 million and Child Care Development funds of $9.2 million.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services Budget, SB 5512, was amended and passed out of the Transportation and Economic Development Subcommittee to the Full Budget Committee, where it passed 17-4-2.  The Senate floor passed it 21-0, so it waits for a House floor vote.  This agency has the Insurance Division that works with health care coverage through private plans.

The Oregon Housing and Community Services Budget, HB 5012, was heard in mid-March but has not reappeared on the Transportation and Economic Development Subcommittee schedule.  Oregon Housing and Community Services appeared before the House Human Services Committee to present its budget and the placement of housing bills within the agency work plan.  We are waiting for the agency or housing bills to surface.

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

On 5-31, the Joint Subcommittee on Education will be reviewing Medicaid billing opportunities for Education, more in our next report.  On 4-24, Early Indicator and Intervention System Graduation Equity Fund (Senate Bill 183) was reviewed.  Of interest, the funding for this program, proposed by the Chief Education Office and supported in the Governor’s Budget, does not come out of the Department of Education agency budget, but out of the State School Fund allocations. It is designed to support school districts that might not be able to afford this sophisticated Early Identification and Intervention Data Analytics Systems predictive software.  The Graduation Equity Fund (Senate Bill 183) proposes a $20 million investment to address the fact that only about 73.8% of Oregon students graduate on time (or not at all), a 47th ranking in the US only above Nevada and New Mexico. The United States average, across all states is 83.2% and Iowa, the leader, graduates more than 90% of students on time.  In 2016, 11,665 students did not graduate on time in Oregon. These students account for more than 25 percent of the student population and are disproportionally students of color, students living in tribal communities, students with disabilities, students navigating poverty and male students. Oregon consistently has among the worst on-time graduation rates in the nation. A policy brief notes the Graduation Equity Fund supports students and districts in three ways: Early Indicator and Intervention Systems (EIIS), Trauma Informed Practices, and Curbing Chronic Absenteeism.  Some legislators will have a difficult time voting yes for this Graduation Equity Fund, because they believe the State School Fund dollars should go directly to school districts for direct services as demonstrated in the document Oregon Revenue Coalition What A Million Dollars Will Buy 2017, especially as individual school districts are facing layoffs for teachers and increasing class sizes.  All are hoping that Tax Reform legislation might increase revenue.

As policy committee work winds to a close, the focus in the Legislature is on FUNDING programs and determining what the actual budget might be at the close of the Legislative session.  It is helpful to review some of the fundamentals of funding the state Education budget.  EDUCATION expenses accounted for 51.6% of the General Fund and Lottery Funds (page 7) last biennium. For comparison other allocations from General Fund and Lottery Funds included: Human Services 25.9%, Public Safety/Judicial 16.2%, Natural Resources 2.1%, Economic Development 1.0%, Administration 1.4% and all other 1.8%. In other words, more than half of available state funding goes to support Education. The State School Fund (SSF) supports the education of more than 570,000 Oregon children in kindergarten through the twelfth grade by distributing monthly payments to 197 school districts and 19 education service districts (ESDs). State General Fund and Lottery Funds provide about two-thirds of the revenue distributed through the State School Fund. Local property taxes make up the bulk of the remaining one-third, though that varies from district to district—the state has a responsibility to fill in the holes for districts with lower revenues from property taxes. While the legislative session may not have a final budget until July, school districts need to plan further in advance so 2017-2018 State School Fund ESTIMATES, released March 2016 based on Co-Chair budget and supplemented with some grants for small schools, disabilities, transportation and other complex factors. Oregonians without a high school diploma are more likely to be confined to lower paying jobs with less job security. Lower levels of education correlate with higher rates of poverty and family instability that is often multigenerational. Fixing the Oregon graduation rate is not an easy lift: More than half of Oregon public school students qualify for free and reduced lunch, up 10 percent in the last decade.

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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