Legislative Report, Volume 27, Number 19 – June 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 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

This session’s 17th week was shortened by Memorial Day, still intense, switching to high gear by reducing to one-hour notice for committees and bills. The League is calling for direct legislative passage (not ballot measures) for a Tax Reform plan and National Popular Vote. Legislators still need to hear from you (look them up here). Revenue news was dominated by heated Tax Reform discussion and release of the Transportation Package. Continue reading for details, including the “Budget Gap Pie–How did we get into this hole?”, the biennial Audit list, bill updates, and voter service news. The week closed with another narrowing deadline.

General Governance & Accountability

Friday was the last day for policy committees to move measures originating in the opposite chamber out of committee. The deadline does not apply to Ways & Means, Revenue, Rules and other joint committees.

Revenue

Revenue swirls around budget component releases. The Oregon Education Investment Initiative was presented May 4th. This week, the 298 page Transportation Package was released. Adjustments can be made as these are processed into a comprehensive state budget. “Add-back” program lists are prepared. We are waiting for the (hospital) “Provider package”. Tax Reform news below.

TAX REFORM UPDATE

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

On June 1, the Oregon Business Plan (OBP) Chair spoke before the Joint Committee on Tax Reform. Patrick Criteser’s testimony and the OBP presentation outlined specific policy preferences from “the business community” for cost containment and new revenue.  Key presentation points are detailed below, along with many antagonistic Committee members’ responses, expressing frustration with the late-session input on a Tax Reform proposal now in the twelfth rendition of simulation modeling.  League Legislative Action team members jointly wrote and submitted testimony to support legislative action on a Commercial Activity Tax (CAT) this session saying now is not the time to kick this work down the road to another year or another committee. Shortly after the OBP testimony the Oregon teachers union filed a multi-billion dollar corporate tax initiative.

The OBP Presentation priorities include: “1) Preserve critical state services, including gains in education funding and the Medicaid expansion. 2) Additional education funding to help kids read by 3rd grade, graduate high school and attend and complete college. 3) Avoid damaging ballot measure fights so we can work together to achieve better outcomes for Oregonians.”  In a thinly veiled threat Criteser said, “Last week, legislative leaders lamented the lack of votes on key revenue measures. We think cost containment and a balanced budget are essential complements to support for new revenues.”  He said the budget can be balanced through a combination of cost containment and Medicaid solutions that can both balance the current budget and change the trajectory of the state: 1) Control growth in PERS costs. 2) Control growth in state employee healthcare costs. 3) Criminal justice reform. 4) Additional operating cost control. 5) Medicaid solutions, including maximizing federal Medicaid match and implementing provider taxes. Our coalition is prepared to support new revenue for new investments – investments aimed at important outcomes we found are widely supported by businesses across the state: 1) Age-3-to-Grade-3 literacy programs to ensure all third graders are reading at grade level; 2) CTE and improved high school graduation rates envisioned by Measure 98; and 3) Additional funding to improve post-secondary affordability, access, student retention and degree completion. OBP is “laying out for you our policy preferences to show our willingness to join you in putting the state’s fiscal house in order. Co-Chair Hass has provided important leadership to the discussion of revenue options. We thank you for your leadership, Co-Chair Hass. Your proposal for a corporate activity tax clearly demonstrates how much better a legislatively crafted plan can be. However, we don’t believe the corporate activity tax is a practical option this session. Its resemblance to Measure 97 and the limited time available to fully vet the impacts of such a significant change on businesses in all industries and in all parts of the state make it hard to see how it could pass. Our coalition believes adjustments to the current corporate income tax, refining the 2013 pass-through tax cut, premium taxes and elimination of business property tax discounts – all taxes businesses pay – are the mostly likely sources of revenue for new investments.”

Senator Riley replied, “You point out that there’s not enough time to vet the impact of the plan that we’re trying to put together. Well, we’ve been working on it for several years now trying to figure this out. It’s not as if we just now started three months ago. We have done a lot of vetting. … We’ve been working on a plan, a real plan, and it’s hard work. It’s time we actually do something as opposed to another committee.”

Rep Barbara Smith Warner chastened, “The idea that [OBP presented today is] the same thing I could’ve found in the business plan in December, even two years ago, without any further details… It does not feel like coming to the table, willing to be a partner in good faith.”

Read these tax reform articles from legislators, business leaders, unions, and others:

BUDGET GAP PIE

Our economy is doing well. We will probably see kicker rebates. How did we get this Big Budget Gap? Thanks to Rep Nathanson, co-author with Senator Devlin, for sending source materials, including the Co-Chairs’ Existing Resources Budget Framework, 2017-2019.

  • Healthcare, 55% net increases are due to:
    • $331M loss of one-time federal assistance
    • $329M federal matching fund cuts, from 25¢ to 21¢ on the dollar.
    • $340M caseload growth, “335,000 adults recently added to OHP”
  • PERS, 17% net increases for state employees and school districts.
    • $316.2M This figure needs to be covered by the state general fund to cover state and some school district employees. It doesn’t include local government payments, fees or other sources.
  • Ballot Measures, 20% League analysis. Voters passed 3 measures last fall:
    • $18.5M Measure 96, lottery funds for Veterans’
    • $294M Measure 98, “Oregonians for High School Success”
    • $$44.4M Measure 99, Outdoor School Education Fund
  • Inflation, $150M “inflationary rollup on current services”

ELECTIONS

The League has been asked to convene an informational hearing for “consolidated opt-in candidate filing”. The state has the technology to support online (opt-in, not mandatory) filing for all Oregon candidates. We support this and think, once instituted, it could free funding and time to encourage candidate filing and support, in line with our mission. We have met with the Secretary of State, the state Elections Director, Oregon Association of County Clerks (OACC), the League of Oregon Cities (LOC) and Special Districts Association of Oregon (SDAO). We met with the OACC Legislative Committee this week.

HB 2696: We support this bill to allow Community College bonding information to be included in state Voters’ Pamphlets if local ones aren’t provided. It is another example of interest in processing election information at the state level. We noted that Community College districts are not adequately defined to administer taxes or voting. This was not clear to the panel, and we are following up. The state Geospatial Information Officer says this will be changing based on passage of HB 2906, which we supported. This will simplify our voter service work. (testimony video).

CAN WE SAVE THE NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE? (Marge Easley)

As feared, the National Popular Vote (NPV) bill, HB 2927, is now stalled in the Senate Rules Committee after passing the House on May 24 on a party line vote. This is the fourth time that the House has passed NPV, only to have it stall in the Senate. This time around, despite considerable public input and support for the bill, Senate leadership indicates it will only support the legislative referral version, SB 825. Unfortunately, a referral is NOT acceptable to NPV supporters, including the League, and we would actively work to oppose it. We believe that a legislative referral for NPV may not only be deemed unconstitutional, it would hinder NPV efforts in other states and jeopardize the entire NPV effort.

Time is running out. Our only chance is put even more pressure on Senate President Peter Courtney and Senate Rules Chair Ginny Burdick to support HB 2927 and not the referral version. Please send them an email today and urge them to abide by the wishes of the vast majority of Oregonians who want all votes to be counted equally.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE (Norman Turrill)

Two bills that clamp down on independent expenditures (dark money) seem likely to pass the legislature. Both have overwhelmingly passed the House and now have a hearing and possible work session June 5th in Senate Rules.

HB 2505 A would require disclosure of independent expenditures for communications that even refer to a candidate or political party near an election.

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.

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 this bill will also receive funding.

The Secretary of State rejected a draft initiative, IP 12 enabling campaign contribution and expenditure limits (after supporters filed 1,616 signatures to get a ballot title), because it supposedly contains more than one subject. However, because IP 12 is just one sentence long, and because this question was already litigated for Measure 46 (2006), the League disagrees with this determination. The sponsors will either file a lawsuit or submit a new initiative petition.

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.

AUDITS

On Tuesday, the Joint Legislative Audits Committee set the biennial audits list. Their workplan includes criteria for setting audit priority, assignments, and follow up. Audit Request criteria covered 14 proposed audits. The committee called directly for audits of:

  • Department of Revenue (DOR) Information Technology (IT) conversion and customer service. This is highest priority in light of repeated audit problem reports. More committee time was spent on DOR than all others combined.
  • Department of Education to reduce grant fund and administrative overhead “siloing”.
  • Oregon Transit system safety, both for employees and customers
  • Improvement in State Procurement practices, to review if agency exemptions from Department of Administrative Services authority should persist

Thanks to our Revenue Subcommittee:

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

Thanks to our Governance volunteers!

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

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

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dropletNatural Resources

By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator

AGENCY BUDGETS (Peggy Lynch)

HB 5040 and HB 5041, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board budget, will be heard in the Ways and Means Natural Resources Subcommittee on June 7.  The budget contains Measure 76 lottery dollars.  The money is disbursed as grants that are then awarded for projects to restore habitat for our iconic salmon.

SB 5542, the Water Resources Department budget, will be heard in the Ways and Means Natural Resources Subcommittee on June 8, along with their fee bill, HB 2295. The League provided testimony in support of both the budget and the fee increase.  We advocated for additional investment in groundwater studies and place-based planning.

SB 5502 and SB 5503, the Dept. of Agriculture budget and fee bills, passed out of the Ways and Means Natural Resources Subcommittee on May 31.  490 positions were approved, but 48 long term vacant positions were eliminated.  A Budget Note was adopted related to the use of cyanide traps for predator control similar to the note in the Fish and Wildlife budget.

SB 5527, the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) budget, passed to the Full W&M on June 1 with about $1.5 million for local government grants, but without any special guidance as to whom to award, so it is assumed that the money will be disbursed as in past years. We are still advocating 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 passed to the Full W&M on June 1.  More than 20 vacant positions were eliminated.

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. Amendments are being drafted, but it’s unclear if the bill will move.  The Senate and House Environment Committee may have another informational meeting on June 12.

Oil Rail Safety: HB 2131 A, the Community Protection and Preparedness Act, now sits in Ways and Means.  It has been one year since the Mosier train accident.  The League continues to support action on this public safety issue.

10-Year Moratorium on Fracking: HB 2711 A died in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee on May 31.

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.

The Joint Committee on Tax Credits held its first hearing on June 2.  HB 2681 A and SB 177 A, both related to the Residential Energy Tax Credit, were heard.  The projected cost as presented is about $14 million, but the cost becomes over $43 million in 2019 because the credits have a 4-year life.  Both supporters of solar projects and ductless heat pumps were out in force.  No work sessions have been scheduled.

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

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.  Contact all members of the Full Ways and Means Committee in support of HB 2269 A.  These critical one-time fees would assure a robust public outreach on a program grounded in science, informed by data and health-based. Your voice in support of CAO is needed.

SB 1008 A, Clean Diesel, is still sitting in Senate Rules. Unfortunately, new amendments being considered continue to weaken the bill.

ELLIOTT FOREST and FORESTRY (Jennifer Haynes and Peggy Lynch)

Now that the State Land Board has terminated the “Protocol” that would have sold the Elliott State Forest to a private buyer, we need to convince the Legislature to provide funding to begin to “buy out” the Common School Fund and move forward with a new management plan.

SB 847, the Trust Lands Transfer bill, will have a public hearing in the Ways and Means Natural Resources Subcommittee on June 5.

HB 2270, the biennial harvest tax bill, was moved without any amendment or recommendation from House Revenue to Ways and Means.  The bill provides funding for a number of forestry issues and was also considered as a vehicle to create a new firefighting fund.

The Oregon Dept. of Forestry shared a 9-agency software purchasing program they are leading called “OregonBuys”.  And the fire season insurance policy premium is a slight reduction from 2016.

The new public electronic notification system for forestry activities is set to be up and running by the end of June.  Trainings are being held around the state to learn how to access this important public system.

Of interest to some:  An initiative in Lincoln County that would prohibit aerial pesticide spraying, County Measure 21-177, passed by 61 votes!  The issue of aerial spraying has been considered in legislation the last few sessions.  In Lincoln County, where they had an issue with spray in one of their watersheds, locals decided to take the matter up themselves.  It is unclear how the measure fits (or not) with the Oregon Forest Practices Act.

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 amendments are being considered—new ones weekly.  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 consolidated application 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, passed out of  the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee on May 31.

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 was amended in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee on June 1. The -6 amendments clarified that an appeal is allowed to the elected City Council.

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.

HB 2031 A 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”. On May 31, the -11 amendments were adopted clarifying which counties were eligible to be considered for this project, reducing the opportunity to three years and addressed an unrelated issue around noxious weeds.

HB 2007 A, a bill meant to address policies around affordable housing, sits in 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. The current -4 amendments are being considered.

TRANSPORTATION (Peggy Lynch, Sandra Gangle-transit)

HB 2017 is the 298-page transportation package to be considered this session.  The Joint Transportation Preservation and Modernization Committee will hold public hearings at 5:30-7:30 p.m. on June 6 and 5 p.m. on June 7.  They fully expect to adopt amendments soon after and have targeted moving the bill out of committee on June 13. There are still many questions and some disagreement among the Committee members. The League supports a robust transit element to the plan, but we were dismayed by the addition of a requirement to use salt on roads during snow events and requiring some cities to provide snowplows for these few annual events. Among the other provisions:

The current 30 cent per gallon state fuel tax would increase by 6 cents next year and another 2 cents every other year through 2026.

For 2018-19, registration fees would increase by $15, or $100 for electric vehicles. For 2020-21, an additional fee would be levied based on a vehicle’s mileage: $15 for vehicles getting 0-19 miles per gallon; $25 for those at 20-49 mpg; $35 for those getting more than 40 mpg; and $105 for electric vehicles. Those tiered fees each would increase by $5 every two years through 2025.

A 0.75 percent excise tax on dealer vehicle sales, both new and used, would begin next year.

A statewide employee payroll tax of 0.1 percent for statewide transit would take effect next year. It would cost a minimum wage worker about $20 per year, or a worker with an annual salary of about $50,000 about $50 per year.

A 3 percent tax on sales of new, adult bicycles costing $500 or more would begin next year.

There is a list of specific projects, creation of congestion districts and possible toll roads.

The Safe Routes to School program sunsets after 10 years.

As in 2015, some lawmakers insist on modifying the Clean Fuels program before passing this bill.  Supporters of the program believe that any modification would in reality kill the program. The Senate seems interested in a modification while the House Leadership is against any change.

If transportation is your issue, you need to review the index provided by staff:  https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Downloads/CommitteeMeetingDocument/132300

The League suggests that members submit individual testimony on the bill to jtpm.exhibits@oregonlegislature.gov

OREGON DEPT. OF FISH AND WILDLIFE (Peggy Lynch)

Yet another “gut and stuff” bill arrived on June 1st in House Rules:  HB 2213 was amended by the -3 amendments to create a new Outdoor Conservation and Recreation Fund managed by a new Outdoor Conservation and Recreation Advisory Committee to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission.  It is expected that the new Committee would operate not unlike the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board.  The bill requests $11 million in General Funds in the hope that this money will be a match for pending federal legislation.  The League opposes the use of General Funds at this time and has concerns about the establishment of yet another advisory committee.  However, we have advocated for funding the Oregon Conservation Strategy each biennium

WATER (Peggy Lynch)

Victory!  SB 3 A, a bill that would remove the moratorium on suction dredge mining while limiting that action on enhanced salmon-bearing streams, passed the House 38-20 with 2 absent and awaits the Governor’s signature: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/housedemocrats/Documents/SuctionDredgeMining.pdf

SB 383, funding for the onsite septic loan program, sits in Ways and Means.  The League would support $250,000 to $500,000 but not the $1.5 million ask for the program, since 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.

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 here.  Written 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

OWEB seeks public comment on proposed rules for Stakeholder Engagement Grants (formerly Education and Outreach Grants).  Ballot Measure 76 requires that outreach grants be “necessary for carrying out” eligible restoration or acquisition projects. OWEB staff convened a work group and Rules Advisory Committee comprised of grantees and stakeholders to discuss eligible outreach activities and begin developing a revised outreach application. The rules are provided in the link below for your review and public comment.  Proposed Rules for Stakeholder Engagement Grants (PDF). Public comment period for the proposed rules begins on June 1 and will close at 5:00 p.m. on June 30. Send comments by email to Eric Hartstein with the phrase “Comments on OWEB Education and Outreach” in the subject line, or send written comments to Eric Hartstein at OWEB, 775 Summer Street NE, Suite 360, Salem, OR 97301-1290.  Public Hearings will also be held to receive comments regarding the proposed rules. Both oral and written comments will be accepted at the hearings:  June 15 at 10:30 a.m. at Sisters City Hall Council Chambers, 520 East Cascade Ave., Sisters, OR and June 30 at 9:00 a.m. at City of Eugene, Community Conference Rm., 125 E. 8th Ave, Eugene, OR.

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

Social Policy committees disposed of their last few bills or let them go for another session.  Judiciary continues to work on juvenile delinquency processes and alternative programs to reduce prison populations.  Human Services promoted goals to work on the safety of vulnerable citizens and anti-poverty programs with a lack of financial resources.  Health Care barges into the future with our innovative programs.  See HB 2122 B for the latest expectations and requirements for Coordinated Care Organizations.

SB 241 B on Children of Incarcerated Parents was amended to remove the Task Force and assign responsibility for CIP programs to the Governor’s Reentry Council.  The bill passed out of House Judiciary on 5-25 with a 11-0 vote.  Senate floor passed it 29 – 1 excused.  The League supported the bill in the Senate, and the Reentry Council is an appropriate home for this effort to assist these children.

House Judiciary passed 2 bills on 5-30.  SB 64A changed the term mental disease or defect in Criminal statutes to qualifying mental disorder. The change was recommended due to the negative connotations of the original termSB 714 A had a new amendment from the Oregon Health Authority filed on 5-30, which was carried over until 6-1, when it was unanimously sent to Rules.

SB 895 on the Family Sentencing Act option was passed out of House Judiciary. This program was included in the HB 3078 A bill, which recently passed House Rules and was sent to Ways and Means.

The Senate Judiciary committee had public hearings on several bills of interest on 5-25. SB 2616 B was the result of consideration for the rights of youth in juvenile delinquency hearings in circuit courts. Both the Office of Public Defense Services and the Oregon Coalition of Defense Lawyers Association supported the bill to appoint lawyers in cases where adults would qualify for appointed council.  There is a requirement, if the accused does not have sufficient financial means, to employ an attorney. The youth can waive this right after consultation or in cases of informal dispositions.  The League was neutral.

HB 3242 B requires police to electronically record a custodial interview with youth under 18 charged with a felony. In these cases detention or jail may be an outcome from the interview.  The advocates considered this practice a protection for juveniles and the police. The presenters acknowledged juvenile brain development factors. The bill passed 5-30 along with HB 3380 B on the Family Sentencing Act and HB 3438 B on parole release plans for housing and treatment.

The Senate Judiciary met again on 5-31 and passed HB 2308 B, HB 2740 and HB 2988 A.  The League supported HB 2740, which raised the age of exploited youth from 15 to 18 in trafficking cases. Two others, SB 249 and SB 250, were trafficking bills supported by the League, which passed in early May.

HB 2308 B gave defendants in non-mandatory minimum crimes, who lacked fitness to proceed, credit for days in jail per judicial discretion.  The League supports judicial discretion in criminal cases and credit for time served in jail in all casesHB 2988 A increased the penalty for harassment where a minor child was a witness.  This bill followed the policy of increasing the penalty for Assault when children were present in domestic violence cases. The League did not comment on these bills but agrees with concept.

House Human Services and Housing finished up on May 30 with SB 101 B and a gut and stuff amendment on child abuse interviews at school and civil liability for the school if it gives out information.  Last week they passed SB 58 C, on the inclusion of residential facilities in the Long Term Care Ombudsman Office, and HB 2007 A, on the expedited process for housing development. Senate Human Services passed HB 2004 B with revised conditions for rent increases only once in 12 months, fixed term leases with no roll over, no evictions for first 9 months with 30-day notice, and landlords pay one month rent for no cause evictions.  This bill drew huge crowds on the days this bill was heard and passed.

HB 2347 A was passed with -4 amendments, which directed that savings in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families be spent on increasing cash grants in 2019-21.  DHS savings were $30.2 million in TANF this biennium as the number of cases dropped.  The bill was sent to Ways and Means.  This bill was out in the ether during the session, but passed before the deadline.

The Ways and Means Human Services Subcommittee heard SB 5543, the DHS/OHA Rebalance, on 5-31 and HB 2391 A on the provider tax for health services on 6-1.

HB 2391 -1 amendment presented the provider tax increases for the 2017-19 biennium on 6-1. The Governor’s office reported that cost containment by the Coordinated Care Organizations was stable with a 3.4% uptrend. The uninsured rate went from 17% to 5% of Oregon residents. Now 95% of adults and 98% of children are covered.

The proposed bill maintains present coverage. There is a federal fund rollover of $5 billion for 2017-19, but there will be a reduction in match rates from 79% – 21% now to 75% – 25% for the next biennium. The proposed hospital provider rates will increase from 5.3 to 6.0% for large hospitals and rural hospitals and will be assessed 4.0% next biennium. $200,000 in hospital tax is remaining.  Managed Care, Medicaid, PEBB, OEBB and private insurers will have 1.15% to 1.5% bills. The chair announced that a -2 amendment was in process, so expect further revisions.

The Senate Health Care Committee finished up with HB 2838 B, which requires the Oregon Health Authority to improve the application process to apply or renew eligibility. Other bills of interest were HB 2304 A, which adds peer support, family support, and youth support specialists to the Traditional Health Workers Commission, and HB 2527, which allows pharmacists to prescribe and administer injectable hormonal contraceptives and prescribe and dispense self-administered hormonal contraceptivesHB 2324 A allows the Department of Consumer and Business Services to adopt rules if the federal laws change during this biennium.

The House Health Care Committee finished up with SB 48 B, which recommended continuing education on suicide prevention and treatment.  The committee vote was 6-3 and the bill was sent to Ways and Means.  SB 934 A required that CCOs spent 12% of its global budget on primary care.  The committee sent HB 2122 A to House Rules, which passed another amendment on a 5-4 vote and sent HB 2122 B to Ways and Means.  This bill set expectations for CCOs to conduct 1 public meeting a year, report financial information to OHA, keep minimal financial reserves of $250,000, invest in social determinants of health in its community, and pursue alternative payment methodologies.

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

$8.2 BILLION was allocated for Education in the next biennium on 6/1/17 by the Joint SubCommittee on Education, short of the $8.4 school districts say they need. Joint Ways and Means will consider this bill tomorrow, June 6th: Tax Reform, Cost Containment, Provider Tax and Transportation priorities are all interplaying for passage.

One benefit of the Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS) is the ability to listen to committee hearings from your own home, either in real time or later. We highly encourage you to listen to the Discussion on the School Fund in Ways and Means (Education Sub), but if you have limited time fast-forward and start about 25 minutes into the recording. This discussion highlights some of the huge issues facing both local school districts and legislators with Education Budget responsibilities. “How can we be content with mediocrity? It is important that we have a REAL discussion on REVENUE.” One representative described the Education budget as “smoke and mirrors” since the 50/50 split over the two years of the biennium artificially raises the State School Fund allocations the first year when historically a 49/51 split allows for a 2% holdback to account for inflation in the second year of the budget.  The committee is hopeful of further funding in the session end “Christmas Tree” for local school districts.

Shortly after this Ways and Means Education hearing and the Tax Reform hearing, both Thursday morning (see Governance section), the Oregon Teachers Union announced Thursday afternoon that they shall file an initiative with a tax rate of 0.95 percent on companies with $5 million in annual sales – and also reduce personal income taxes in the two lowest brackets. This appears to have many similarities to Oregon Education Investment Initiative (May 4 2017) discussed a few weeks ago in the LWVOR Legislative Report.

SB 5517 LFO Recommendation overviews school district funding. SB 5517 LRO School Finance Distribution Comparison shows what individual school districts received last biennium and what is likely for the next biennium.  While “increases” from last year, Districts say this by no means escapes underfunding of schools. Education Service District allocations are outlined in SB 5517 LRO School Finance Distribution of ESDs.

These state resources, when combined with local revenues, total over $11.8 billion (2017-19 CSL estimate) and represent the formula revenues.  These formula revenues are distributed to the various School Districts and ESDs through a statutory formula which factors in the number of students, local revenue share, specific student characteristics where additional weights are provided (e.g., special education, poverty, remote schools), and teacher experience. The “local revenues” include local property taxes, distributions from the Common School Fund, federal timber related revenues, and revenues from state managed county trust forests.  Local revenues representing both the School District and ESD shares are estimated to total just less than $4.0 billion for the 2017-19 biennium.  The funds distributed through the formula pay for the general-purpose expenses of the districts (of which roughly 80% represents employee compensation) and transportation costs.

EDUCATION IN THE MEDIA THIS WEEK, varying perspectives

Schools budget goes to Ways and Means: Public school administrators had said that it would take a budget totaling $8.4 billion just to ensure that most school districts didn’t have to make cuts. The Oregon School Boards Association quickly announced its displeasure with the spending plan. “The school funding proposal put forth this morning equates to failure,” OSBA Executive Director Jim Green said in a prepared statement. “It amounts to a failure in leadership because it does not address the cost drivers and revenue reform issues that our own legislators have acknowledged are necessary. And it will lead to failure in our schools because it attempts to balance the state budget on the backs of our students.”

Lawmaker ousted to prevent ‘no’ vote on education budget: “We have reached a critical point in this session, and I am sorry but … I cannot vote for a budget that continues to cut our school funding and continues to maintain our mediocrity,” said Rep. Hernandez, who also is a member of the Reynolds School Board. He called on legislators to wait on the budget and to focus on passing corporate revenue reform before the end of session in July. A proposed commercial activity tax, for instance, could bring in additional revenue to put toward schools. While the amount of the K-12 budget for 2017-19 is greater than what was allocated in the previous two years, the Oregon School Boards Association has said the amount will require layoffs, shorter school years and elimination of programs. Schools have increases in unavoidable costs such as employee health care, contracted pay raises and pensions and other cost hikes such as utilities, according to the association. Rep. Hernandez said he wants to see schools receive at least $8.4 billion to maintain existing service levels. Some other subcommittee members who voted “yes” agreed that the education budget was too low but said a greater allocation could be added later, if lawmakers are successful in raising more revenue in the next several weeks.

$8.2 billion education proposal moves forward in Legislature: As lawmakers are in a gridlock over how to close an upcoming $1.4 billion shortfall that jeopardizes health care for 350,000 Medicaid expansion recipients, this week’s education funding proposal is a 9 percent overall jump, or a $830 million increase, from the current budget schools are working with today, although the final numbers are subject to change. Still, some of the state’s 197 school districts say they need at least another $200 million to avoid teacher layoffs and other cuts. Even then, educators say Oregon schools are still underfunded by about $2 billion per biennium – a figure derived from the so-called Quality Education Model, or QEM, which is the state’s metric for determining what’s “adequate and equitable” school funding.

Oregon teachers union files multi-billion dollar corporate tax initiative: The Oregon Education Association is in the process of filing a November 2018 ballot initiative that could raise as much as $1.75 billion annually for K-12 and higher education through a corporate tax that would be assessed based on companies’ sales. The teachers union is also filing a second initiative that would make it easier for the Legislature to raise corporate taxes to pay for education. It would do so by removing the current requirement for a three-fifths supermajority to increase taxes to pay for education in some circumstances. Hanna Vaandering, president of the Oregon Education Association said in a press release  on Thursday. “Lawmakers have a choice – they can continue putting up to 50 students in a classroom, making them endure the third-largest class sizes in the nation or they can fix our broken corporate tax system and invest in our students. Our elected officials appear more interested in protecting corporate profits than addressing inequity and helping our most vulnerable students. Enough is enough. We cannot afford to sell short yet another generation of students.”

Educators to File Ballot Measures to Fund Schools: In the wake of the continued corporate delays and dodging on tax reform, the Oregon Education Association (OEA) is filing two ballot measures to ensure Oregon schools have the resources they need. The measures are designed to give the legislature a path to fully fund public education at the Quality Education Model (QEM) and the resources to do it. The Oregon’s Students Deserve Quality Education measure restores the rule of the majority so extreme minorities can no longer block full funding of education at the level voters called for. Under the measure, if the legislature puts forth education funding below the QEM, the legislature could raise corporate taxes to fund education by a simple majority instead of the current three-fifths majority. The Invest in Oregon’s Future measure will increase fairness in Oregon’s tax system and generates a sustainable level of funding for public education by lowering income taxes for individuals while increasing taxes for large corporations. Personal income tax rates will be reduced for every Oregon taxpayer. The measure would create a simple gross receipts tax of less than one percent for corporations with more than $5 million in annual sales. The revenue from the gross receipts tax would be dedicated to funding public education.

K-12 education budget shows costs of legislators’ inaction:  BY THE OREGONIAN EDITORIAL BOARD  The K-12 education budget approved by the Legislature’s Joint Ways and Means education subcommittee Thursday would — in functional states, at least – seem like great news. The committee is recommending allocating at least $8.2 billion in general fund and lottery dollars for the coming biennium to Oregon’s school districts – an 11 percent increase over the current biennium’s allocation…….”Kicking the can down the road is no longer an option,” Jim Green, executive director of the Oregon School Boards Association, told The Oregonian/OregonLive Editorial Board. Health care and pension contributions are only slated to soar in future biennia. “We need leadership.”

Gov. Kate Brown appeared Friday, June 2, for a sit-down interview with the Portland City Club: The governor expressed disapproval of federal Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ comment that likened education to car insurance. “I don’t think that is my approach. I think it is critically important that we all have really good access to a good public education because I see education as an elevator. It enables us all to rise,” Brown said. When pressed by interviewer Nicole Maher, president of the Northwest Health Foundation, about shortcomings in Oregon’s education funding formula, the governor said now is not the time to fix it. “It’s really hard to change a funding formula when we don’t have enough resources coming in,” Brown said. “… I think our first priority as a state must be to get more resources into our education system as a whole. Then I think we can have that conversation about the funding formula.” The Ways and Means subcommittee on education approved a $8.2 billion budget for K-12 on Thursday, June 1. Oregon education officials have said that amount will require reductions in staff, programs and school days. Democrats in the Legislature are pushing for a commercial activity tax on corporations that could help boost education funding for the state’s next budget for 2017-2019.

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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