Legislative Report, Volume 27, Number 2 – February 2017

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In This Issue

LWVOR Action Alert

Natural Resources

Social Policy

Education Policy

Governance

Important Dates


news iconLWVOR Action Alert

 

ACTION ALERT: local town halls will allow Oregonians to provide input into the 2017-19 biennial state budget

Local League Presidents or their designee are encouraged to arrive at least an hour and a half early to sign in and testify on behalf of the League when Oregon State Legislature’s Joint Ways and Means Committee holds a series of statewide hearings starting this week. Please let us know that your League did testify and which legislators were present at your local meeting. Notes from the meeting would be helpful.

According to the co-chairs of the committee “These town halls will allow Oregonians to provide input into the 2017-19 biennial state budget.” Oregon is facing a $1.8 billion budget shortfall in the coming biennium. Without additional revenue, the co-chairs say “Oregon will see cuts in K-12 and higher education, health care, and critical human services. These meetings will invite stakeholders to consider additional revenue/tax sources and what those new resources would pay for.” You’ll want to review their document for more background information.

Our consistent two minute message is, “My name is ___, and I represent the local League of Women Voters of _(location)__. The LWVOR Legislative Action Team prioritized REVENUE AND TAX REFORM for the 2017 session given the $1.8 Billion deficit for the upcoming biennium. We strongly urge adopting stable and fair revenue policies and tax reforms to adequately fund services and functions critical to the well-being of Oregonians–education, social services, public safety, health care, natural resources and other vital services. Additionally, tax credits and other legislation that takes away from revenue, while perhaps a good thing to consider in better times, must be rejected this session, unless additional revenue is provided. We appreciate the opportunity to testify. The League of Women Voters of Oregon is a is a 97-year-old grassroots nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government. We envision informed Oregonians participating in a fully accessible, responsive, and transparent government to achieve the common good. LWVOR Legislative Action is based on advocacy positions formed through studies and member consensus. The League never supports or opposes any candidate or political party.”

All of these hearings will probably have standing room only crowds. They will have very strict time limits both for individual testimony and total hearing time. We feel that it is important that these hearings away from the capital are monitored. We encourage local League members and friends to attend the hearing in your area and help by being the eyes and ears of the Action Team.

We also encourage members to attend as individuals and express your opinions on any of the state-funded programs that are important to you because it is your taxes they are spending. If you wish to testify as an individual then please leave your League pin at home. If you are simply taking notes, then wear your League pin for everyone to see.

Your help is needed: Public Access Coordinator: Paula Krane, 541.752.2361, kranep@peak.org

Friday, February 10 — Salem    
5 to 7 p.m.
Hearing Room F
Oregon State Capitol
900 Court Street NE, Salem

Saturday, February 11 — Portland
Noon to 2 p.m.
Main Mall, Amo DeBernardis CC Building
PCC, Sylvania campus
12000 SW 49th Ave, Portland

Friday, February 17 — Hermiston
5 to 7 p.m.
Main Commons
Hermiston High School
600 S 1st St, Hermiston

Saturday, February 18 — Madras
1 to 3 p.m.
Performing Arts Center
Madras High School
390 SE 10th St, Madras

Friday, February 24 — Ashland
5 to 7 p.m.
Rogue River Room
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd, Ashland

Saturday, February 25 — Eugene
1 to 3 p.m.
Rooms 308-309 Building 17 (The Forum)
Lane Community College
4000 E 30th Ave, Eugene

Friday, March 3 — Tillamook 
6 to 8 p.m.
Officer’s Mess
Port of Tillamook Bay
6825 Officers Row, Tillamook

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dropletNatural Resources

By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator

AGENCY BUDGETS (Peggy Lynch)

There are new Co-Chairs of the Ways and Means Subcommittee for Natural Resources: Sen. Lew Frederick and Rep. Brad Witt. Sen. Kathleen Taylor is returning as a member (this time as a Senator), but the rest of the members were not on the Committee in 2015 or 2016. It will be important to get to know these members to share our viewpoint on the programs of these 14 agencies.

Bonding: The General Fund debt capacity is estimated at $1.14 billion per biennium through fiscal year 2025. This recommendation is based on a target debt capacity limit of 5% debt service to General Fund revenues. Lottery Funds debt capacity is estimated at $209.4 million per biennium through fiscal year 2025.

CLIMATE CHANGE (Claudia Keith)

We continue to work locally and at the state level to advocate for aggressive action on reducing Greenhouse Gases and practices that are sending our climate into great peril. Last August we wrote a letter to Oregon Global Commission Chair Angus Duncan. Recently their Draft Report  to the Legislature was released. On Feb. 2, the Oregon Health Authority released their Climate Health and Resilience Plan. We are working with partners as bills begin to be heard and will be calling on you to help. LWVOR does have an ever-expanding group of volunteers following climate change issues. Contact Claudia to join!

If you tweet, check this out daily: #TodaysClimateFact

People’s Climate March” April 29th in Washington, D.C. and locally. For more information on The People’s Climate Movement and the mobilization on April 29th, please visit: https://peoplesclimate.org/

AIR QUALITY (Marilyn Koenitzer)

We continue to follow the Cleaner Air Oregon project (see www.cleanerair.oregon.gov). There’s a Rally for Clean Air at the Capitol on Feb. 15–our chance to march on Salem for clean air! More information and to RSVP.

The Department of Environmental Quality proposes to amend the General Air Contaminant Discharge Permits for chromium electroplating operations located in Oregon. http://www.oregon.gov/deq/pub/022017aqpermit.pdf. Written comments are due Feb. 20th.

ELLIOTT FOREST and FORESTRY (Jennifer Haynes and Peggy Lynch)

We are working with partners to provide an alternative to the purchase of the Elliott by private logging company Lone Rock. The State Land Board will have an informational item on its Feb. 14 State Land Board meeting. We encourage your attendance even if no public comment is allowed. Or write the Land Board members, Governor Kate Brown, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson and Treasurer Tobias Read to share your belief that the Elliott should stay in public hands. Elliott State Forest Lobby Day is Feb. 23rd. To register, email staylor@audubonportland.org

FISH and WILDLIFE and BOATING (Peggy Lynch)

Good news is that the recent increase in licenses and fees for hunting and fishing has not affected sales. In fact, as of now, the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife will have a good ending fund balance at the end of June 2017 so additional scheduled increases may not occur.

We will consider support for a non-motorized boating program of the Oregon Marine Board (HB 2320-NM Boating Program & HB 2321-Aquatic Invasive Species Program)

LAND USE and TRANSPORTATION (Peggy Lynch, Robin LaMonte & Sandra Gangle)

We are beginning to see a number of bills of concern relating to land use.

We will Oppose HB 2538 that would increase damages allowed to be awarded in Land Use Board of Appeals cases. It requires LUBA to award “reasonable” attorney fees and expenses and actual damages equal to “any substantial economic loss” suffered by the prevailing party as a result of project delays from the lawsuit. In other words, if someone sues at LUBA and loses, the developer would get damages for the delays to their project the lawsuit cost them. Apart from being an unfair burden on citizen participation in land use proceedings, it is impossible to determine “actual damages equal to any substantial economic loss.” This bill would, as intended, chill land use lawsuits.

We will Oppose SB 186 that would violate the urban/rural reserves agreements adopted by Metro and Washington, Clackamas and Multnomah Counties.

Population Forecast Program Spring 2017 Public Meetings

for Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Polk, Tillamook, Washington and Yamhill Counties (Region 3) are scheduled in early March. These forecasts will be used by the local governments in these areas to plan for the future. This is your chance to weigh in. www.pdx.edu/prc/opfp

There are now subcommittees formed related to the Joint Transportation Preservation and Modernization Committee, working on an anticipated Transportation Package this session. There are also transportation-related policy committees meeting regularly dealing with a number of transportation issues.

The Connect Oregon bill this session is HB 2288 and is expected to allocate 10% to each region rather than allocating related to population or only project consideration.

WATER (Peggy Lynch)

We will continue to follow issues around suction dredge mining related to water quality such as SB 3 that would put a permanent regulatory framework into place to limit suction-dredge gold mining

in sensitive waterways, in order to protect salmon habitat and river ecology. Hearing on SB 3 was set for Feb. 6 in Senate Environment and Natural Resources.

The Water Resources Dept. is following over 200 bills this session. As they are scheduled, we will share. Bills will be heard in Sen. Environment and Natural Resources, in House Energy & Environment or House Agriculture and Natural Resources.

REGIONAL SOLUTIONS (Peggy Lynch)

We 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.

The South Coast Umpqua Regional Solutions Advisory Committee will meet in Coos Bay on Feb. 7. The agenda is available here.

The Central Oregon Regional Solutions Advisory Committee will meet in Bend on Feb. 16. The 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

Human Services Committees have scheduled child care and child welfare bills in the first days of this session, some of which are follow-up from the reported abuse in foster placements in the last session. Bills to watch will be SB 246 on restrictions on authorizations of child caring agencies, and SB 243 on reported violations or failures to comply with regulations.

House Human Services will hear HB 2216 on the Foster Children’s Sibling Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights for Foster Children passed in past sessions, but this bill will cover the contacts and visitation for children in care or placement of siblings in the same settings. HB 2221 requires reports on reimbursement of child abuse medical assessments done in community settings. HB 2500 directs continuing education for Child welfare workers on court proceedings.

Judiciary Committees will hear bills supporting Court Appointed Special Advocates, HB 2171, in child welfare cases, and HB 2345 which asks for legal representation for child welfare staff in court proceedings. This representation was discussed last session and required reports from Public Defense Services on this possibility. SB 525 extends the sunset on authorizing The Department of Human Services staff to appear without an attorney. HB 2345 was filed by the Governor for DHS and includes directions to CASA, the Dept. of Justice, Defense Attorneys and the Judicial Department.

Health Care for all Children is reflected in 2 bills, SB 558 which requires that the Oregon Health Authority convene a workgroup to assist in the outreach and expansion of the program. And HB 2305 that authorizes OHA to provide medical assistance to low income children residing in Oregon. The income level is at or below 300% of the Federal Poverty Level.

Coordinated Care Organizations will be under intense scrutiny in this season. Variations in the cost of operation among CCOs will draw comparisons and restrictions. SB 273 will modify requirements in 2018 and 2023 for continuation of contracts. Prescription drug costs will draw the wrath of consumers too.

Budget, Bonds and Housing bills will come later.

GUN SAFETY (Marge Easley, Gun Safety Portfolio)

Oregon Alliance for Gun Safety top priorities for the 2017 Legislative Session:

  1. Establish an Extreme Risk Protective Order. Give families and law enforcement the ability to petition the court to temporarily remove firearms from a person in crisis who is a danger to themselves or others. This is similar to the initiative that has just passed in Washington State.
  2. Extend Domestic Violence Protections. Oregon has strong protections to remove firearms from domestic abusers, but has a narrow definition of those relationships (often referred to as the “Boyfriend Loophole”). We should expand the law to all types of domestic relationships.
  3. Close the Charleston Loophole (HB 2237). Require that a background check be completed before a dealer sells a gun, replacing current law that lets a dealer transfer the gun after three business days, regardless of whether a check is complete.
  4. Require Safe Storage of Guns Around Kids (HB 2130). Establish liability if a person fails to safely store a firearm and a child gains unintended access to it.

Governor Kate Brown has been very supportive of gun safety issues and includes #2 and #3 from the above list on her legislative agenda. It will be a busy session, since in addition to these priority bills there are at least nineteen other bills related to firearms that the League will be closely monitoring. Many have been introduced by the gun lobby and would remove gun safety protections currently in place. Stay tuned for updates and alerts in the coming weeks. Questions about gun safety may be addressed to subject specialist Marge Easley for gun safety, marge.easley@frontier.com.

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

Nancylee Stewart, LWV Education Policy Committee Early Learning and P/3 Specialist offered these observations from the committee meeting. David Mandell, Active Early Learning System Director of the Early Learning Division, and Sue Miller, Chair of the Early Learning Council provided an overview of the Early Learning Division and the Early Learning Council. Key programs and components of the Early Learning System were highlighted. The power point can be downloaded at: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Committees/HECFS/2017-02-02-13-00/MeetingMaterials

The Early Learning Programs are:

  • Early Learning Hubs
  • Child Care Licensing & Supports
  • Relief Nurseries
  • Healthy Families Oregon
  • Oregon Ore-K & Head Start
  • Preschool Promise

Future presentations will be held on each of the Early Learning Programs, along with other significant topics such as Spark (re-brand of QRIS – Quality Rating Improvement System), Race to the Top (RTTT) and utilization of Trauma-Informed Care. Areas of specific interest were also identified as ensuring children arrive at Kindergarten prepared:

  • professional development for early learning/child care providers
  • parity in access and funding for early learning in both rural and urban areas of Oregon
  • wait lists
  • supports for the early learning workforce
  • affordable, quality child care

While this first hearing was a starting point, many important questions were asked and foundational information was provided. Answers to the many questions will be derived as the committee continues their work throughout this session. You can watch the recording log of the 2/2/17 hearing (90 minutes) at https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Committees/HECFS/2017-02-02-13-00/RecordingLog

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! If you have an interest in following early learning, K-12 or higher education, please contact Education Policy Coordinator: Chris Vogel, 503.586.8314, chrisvogelvolunteerlwvor@gmail.com.

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buildingsymbolGovernance

By Rebecca Gladstone, Governance Coordinator

Revenue

Many documents were provided in committee materials in OLIS. See 2017 Oregon Public Finance: Basic Facts for an explanation of Oregon’s various taxes, historic perspective and current figures. Senate Workforce Committee is similarly covering PERS Overview. This week, see tax credit discussions, housing on the 7th and the Tax Credit Report, on the 9th. We will prioritize action within the tax credits, tax reform and pass-through tax credits, including the Phil and Penny Knight Center at the University of Oregon, the New Market tax credit, and public employee benefits.

Governance

PERS Update: The Senate Workforce Committee opened with a PERS Overview. They are soliciting proposals with a February 28th deadline. Legislative Counsel, Fiscal, and PERS officials will evaluate submissions based on criteria listed in a memo: constitutionality; potential savings; impact on employer contribution rates and state and local budgets; effect on employee benefits; impact on the workforce; equitability of costs and benefits to employees, and administrative feasibility. Bills filed: SB 559 (average salary calculation change) and SB560 (employee contribution account oversight changes). LWVOR has not advocated on this issue. We can follow it as a revenue issue this session. Note: of the $1.8B projected short fall, $1B relates to anticipated Affordable Care Act cuts, $781 M to increased K-12 costs, and $354 M to “unfunded liability in the aftermath of the Oregon Supreme Court’s decision striking down key elements of PERS reform from the 2013 session will cost another $354 million.” See Sen. Prozanski’s budget newsletter for “Oregon’s $1.8 Billion Budget Shortfall, Co-chairs’ Proposed Budget, and the Ways & Means Statewide Tour.

Redistricting

The Secretary of State’s adhoc Redistricting Task Force, which will meet weekly, and during next week’s meeting will discuss who should be included in a proposed independent redistricting commission and how they would be chosen. Half a dozen Redistricting bills have been filed, from Sen Ferrioli: SJR 9, SJR 10, SJR 11, SJR 12, SJR 13, from Sen Knopp: SJR 14, from Sen Girod: SJR 29, and from Rep Parrish: HJR 12.

Campaign Finance

The Task Force on Campaign Finance Reform has submitted its report to the legislature and showed general agreement on many issues. Secretary of State Richardson is now Chair of the Task Force, which does not expire until July 1. League members should contact legislative leaders and the SoS to ask/demand follow up on the Task Force report.

Public Records/Transparency

The newly formed Joint Legislative Committee for information Management and Technology replaces Ways & Means Information Technology, and can introduce policy bills directly. For session phase 1, they will hear from 8 or 9 state agencies on their largest projects, then move to processing bills.

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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Important Dates

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

February 24: Legislative Counsel will return measures that were requested by
January 13.
February 28: Deadline to file bills with the Secretary of the Senate or the Chief Clerk.
April 7: Deadline for committee chairs to schedule work sessions in the bills’ house of origin.
April 18Deadline for committee chairs to hold work sessions in the bills’ house of origin.
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.

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