Legislative Report, Volume 27, Number 21 – June 2017

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In This Issue

Important Dates

Revenue and Tax Reform

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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Revenue and Tax Reform

By Alice Bartelt, Rebecca Gladstone, Claudia Keith, Peggy Lynch and Chris Vogel

The week of June 12 was busy for the Tax Reform bill, and the week of June 19 promises to be eventful with possible passage or failure of HB 2830 in the hands of 36 members in the House and 17 in the Senate.

Public testimony on the bill was heard on June 13 with both morning and evening sessions in the Joint Committee on Tax Reform.  Read written testimony from the morning and afternoon public hearing meeting materials or listen to public testimony from morning testimony of pre-selected panels that highlight those groups that support and oppose the legislation and the evening overflow public testimony from a variety of business, union, educators and others.  League submitted a second LWVOR Testimony on this bill encouraging the Joint Committee on Tax Reform to pass a “bridge” and a Commercial Activity Tax (CAT) bill this session.

The -3 amendments arrived on Thursday, the HB 2830-4 and HB 2830-5 were posted in OLIS late Sunday evening and the HB2830-6 appeared in OLIS mid-day Monday and the HB 2830-8 were posted in OLIS  at a 1:30 extension of the morning Committee meeting.  As we go to press League is continuing to sort the nuances of the amendments -4, -5, -6 or – 8 could be in play.  The bill is anticipated to move out of committee tomorrow the 20th in some version.

More details on the EDUCATION STRATEGIC INVESTMENT FUND that would be funded by the CAT are in the Education section of this LR.

SB 1067  Cost Containment and SB 1068 PERS bills are linked to the passage of HB2830 per Co-Chair Hass. They will move together or not at all.

Media coverage on Tax Reform highlights the diversity of perspectives on this bill:

Editorial: Governor gambles on a different pitch Editors, Albany Democrat Herald, 6-19-17:  Puts forth the opinion that there’s plenty of time for all of this to fall apart, and for the Legislature to leave Salem with none of its major work accomplished in Tax Reform, Cost Containment, Transportation, Provider Tax, and many Budget and Policy bills.

Business tax up next in Salem, Legislature to vote on $900 million overhaul  Gary a. Warner, THE BEND BULLETIN, June 17, 2017: Supporters say the change would generate $900 million, helping close the state’s $1.4 billion deficit in its two-year budget. Opponents say the bill is essentially a warmed-over version of the gross receipts tax at the heart of Measure 97, which voters rejected in November. The bill would bring in about one-third of the revenue that Measure 97 would have generated. Proponents say a business tax with a low rate but wider reach is necessary to make a dent in the deficit. Tax bills require a three-fifths majority to pass. Democrats are one vote short in both the House and Senate, requiring at least one Republican to join all Democrats in the vote if it’s to pass.

At the Capitol this week: a business tax, a hospital tax, pregnant thieves  Diane Dietz and Tracy Loew, Statesman Journal,  June 17, 2017:  The gross receipts bill — House Bill 2830 — is one of four or five major issues the 79th Legislature means to resolve before it adjourns July 10.

Democrats pitch revenue proposal  Dana Haynes, Pamplin Media Group  June 17, 2017: Rep. Margaret Doherty of Tigard led the charge Friday, outlining the plan for a receptive audience and explaining how the proposal would “smooth out” Oregon’s volatile tax structure. With the state’s reliance on income tax and no sales tax, Oregon tends to free fall into reception and to rocket back out during good times. The proposal is designed to increase revenue, but also to decrease the rollercoaster effect of the state’s highly elastic revenue stream. With the state’s reliance on income tax and no sales tax, Oregon tends to free fall into reception and to rocket back out during good times. The proposal is designed to increase revenue, but also to decrease the rollercoaster effect of the state’s highly elastic revenue stream.

Tax bill will be amended before House vote next week  Claire Withycombe, Capital Bureau, June 15: A proposed tax on business sales authored by Democrats is going to be amended over the weekend before it is expected to go to the floor of the House of Representatives. It is projected to raise more than $500 million per year. Senator Hass said 92 percent of Oregon businesses have less than $3 million in annual sales.

No magic bullets Editorial Register Guard June 14:  discusses the complexity of cost containment, business taxes, funding public schools, kicker, Opposes HB2830.

No Senate GOP support for Democrats’ biz tax plan  Claire Withycombe, Capital Bureau June 14, 2017:  In both the Oregon House and Senate, Oregon Democrats are one seat shy of a three-fifths majority required to raise new taxes. Any tax measure will require some Republican support. The article discusses the bill from proponent and opponent perspectives.

Kate Brown changes course on new business tax, says she built ‘sense of urgency’  Hillary Borrud and Gordon R. Friedman, OregonLive  June 14, 2017:  Governor Brown says the CAT, the state’s Medicaid budget shortfall, trim government costs and fund a transportation upgrade are priorities before adjourning.

Democrats continue to push business tax despite its slim odds of approval  Saul Hubbard, The Register-Guard June 14, 2017:  The article quotes business owners who favor and support the bill and says the bill would increase the existing corporate income tax, raising $900 million over the next two years. Then, that income tax would be repealed and replaced with a gross receipts tax for all businesses on their sales in Oregon over $3 million a year. That would raise a net $1.2 billion per biennium to start. It will require at least one GOP vote in both chambers to become law in the final weeks of the session. And among Senate Republicans, there are no takers — so far at least.

Businesses speak in favor of gross receipts tax to fix education funding   Diane Dietz, Statesman Journal  June 13, 2017:  Quotes those in favor and opposed to the new tax plan. Notes that proponents say the tax is the best chance of curing what they say is a structural problem with Oregon’s tax system, which left the state $1.4 billion short for the coming biennium despite record tax receipts. Opponents say instead that the Legislature has a spending problem and the remedy is to cut the budget.

Public Testimonies Divided Over Oregon Business Tax Proposal The Joint Tax Reform Committee invited the public this week for the first time to weigh-in on a large-scale makeover to Oregon’s corporate tax system, and the testimonies were mixed especially from the private sector.  Kristena Hansen,  Associated Press June 13, 2017: After a dozen meetings since early May, the Joint Tax Reform Committee invited the public this week to weigh-in for the first time on a large-scale makeover to Oregon’s corporate tax system.

Gov. Brown maps out how Legislature will balance budget  Diane Dietz, Statesman Journal & KGW June 12, 2017: A major sticking point is the Democrats’ desire to pass a gross receipts tax on business in lieu of the current corporate income tax. A major business group complained that there wasn’t enough time to vet the tax.

So, Sen. Mark Hass, D-Beaverton, and House Speaker Tina Kotek proposed boosting the corporate income tax for one year — from 6.6 percent to 8 percent on the first $1 million, and from 7.6 percent to 9 percent on additional income — to make the state budget whole and then adopt a gross receipts tax starting as soon as 2019.

Brown appears to have been lobbyist-in-chief on the tax proposal.

Labor may go to the Oregon ballot on tax reform and workers’ rights  Don McIntosh, NW Labor Press Jun 13, 2017: Oregon’s biggest unions have begun the groundwork for ballot measures aimed at the 2018 ballot — in case the Democratic-led Oregon Legislature doesn’t deliver. Lawmakers have just weeks remaining in the 2017 legislative session. IP 23Fair Work Week I; IP 24Fair Work Week II;  IP 25Corporate Accountability and Transparency;  IP 26Oregon’s Kids Deserve Quality Schools; and  IP 27: Invest in Oregon’s Future

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

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buildingsymbolGovernance

By Rebecca Gladstone, Governance Coordinator

Cautions and encouragements abound to keep advocating; the session “isn’t over till it is over!.” We will be diligent, have heard of end of session “add-back” adjustment funding that can make significant differences. Senate President Courtney wanted to finish by June 26th. The buzz is to keep working until after the 4th of July.

Look to our Sine Die report for a recap of bills we’ve supported or opposed and what happened to them. Of the 29 governance bills we addressed in this session, two have been signed and five more await the governor’s signature. The next few weeks will be intense with most Governance bills in Rules, Revenue, or Ways and Means Subcommittees, and they may yet see movement on short notice.

OTHER REVENUE ISSUES

The Tax Reform Plan(s), the Health Care Provider Tax, the Transportation package, Education Initiative(s), and a Kicker proposal are getting press attention. Meanwhile, DAS (Dept. of Administrative Services) and Secretary of State budgets are not yet out of General Governance subcommittee:

HB 5002: The DAS $1B 2017-19 LFO budget recommendation, reviewed in detail, passed out of committee. Funding is mostly passed through from other agencies, with minor direct state general fund and lottery fund allocations. Oregon Public Broadcasting support was questioned, no action. “Performance metrics” and many specifics like telephone system upgrades (and problems), the state Data Centers, hiring difficulties, and ancillary expenses are still being discussed.

SB 90: DAS Information technology and cybersecurity are included in DAS budget discussions but are more directly addressed with SB 90, awaiting House hearings after unanimous Senate passage.

SB 5536: This biennial Secretary of State budget lacks LFO analysis OLIS posting to date, despite the 620 page budget summary, covering: Administrative Services, Archives, Audits, Elections, and Corporations Divisions. There is a helpful Emergency Board package list on page 212. Note the volume of testimony submitted, much of it concerned with possible cutbacks in voting information.

Governance bills that may move this week:

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

ACTION ALERT:  Call your Senator and Representative to stop SB 432, a bad land use bill that will remove our statewide planning system from much of Eastern Oregon. 

It’s time to contact Leadership and members of the Capital Construction Subcommittee to support $100 million in 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.  This investment will encourage federal agencies to support a Habitat Conservation Plan, protecting endangered species and allowing for some harvest in our second growth forests.

Your help is also needed to provide funding for Climate Change bills and Cleaner Air Oregon.  If you’ve been waiting to participate, now is the time! 

AGENCY BUDGETS (Peggy Lynch)

SB 5537 Dept. of State Lands has been signed by the Governor.

HB 5022 Oregon State Marine Board has been signed by the Governor.

SB 5510 Columbia River Gorge Commission passed both chambers.

HB 5011 Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries passed both chambers.

SB 5528 Land Use Board of Appeals passed the Senate.

HB 5009 Oregon Dept. of Energy passed the House.

SB 5502 & 5503 Dept. of Agriculture budget and fee bills passed the Senate,

SB 5527 Dept. of Land Conservation and Development passed the Senate.

HB 5010 Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife passed the House.

HB 5028 Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept. passed the House.

SB 5542 and HB 2295 Water Resources Dept. budget and fee bills passed Full Ways and Means.

HB 5040 and HB 5041, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board budget and 6-year spending authorization moved out of the Ways and Means Natural Resources Subcommittee on June 14.

We are still awaiting hearings on the Depts. of Forestry (SB 5519) and Environmental Quality budgets (SB 5518) and dozens of policy bills with budget costs. We are hopeful that there will be “add-backs” to these budgets in the “Christmas Tree” final appropriations bill.  Passage of a revenue package is critical to these small but important agencies.

HB 2725 A, a bill that funds a grant program to address wood smoke pollution, had a public hearing in the Ways and Means Natural Resources Subcommittee on June 15. Lane County League members followed the Interim Work Group that developed the bill.

HB 2270, the biennial harvest tax bill, was moved to Ways and Means.  The bill provides funding for a number of forestry issues and is critical to that agency’s budget.

We understand there are at least 30 bills assigned to the Ways and Means Natural Resources Subcommittee awaiting further direction by the Full Ways and Means Co-Chairs who, in turn, are awaiting passage of a revenue package.

CLIMATE CHANGE (Claudia Keith)

Governor Brown will take the climate fight to the United Nations Conference in Germany:
http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/news/2017/06/13/kate-brown-will-takeclimate-fight-to-u-n.html

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 majority of Oregonians want to see smart, practical action to slow climate change and speed the transition to clean energy and greater energy efficiency in our state. The changes in climate that scientists have long predicted are now becoming clear: Record heat, reduced water supply, increases in fires, worsening air quality, new insect infestations – all this threatens our quality of life, our health, our businesses and our jobs. This year, our legislators have a chance to take significant action on climate pollution while also boosting our local economies. We support legislation that would help reduce the pollution that is the primary cause of climate change.

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 is specific to Oregon Global Warming Commission and is also in House Rules. SB 908 and SB 952 A sit in Senate Rules.) We are hopeful, if new revenue is approved, to see funding for the Global Warming Commission at minimum.

Oil Rail Safety: HB 2131 A, the Community Protection and Preparedness Act, now sits in Ways and Means.  The League continues to support action on this public safety issue. Recent amendments have reduced the effectiveness of the bill, and we hope for reinstatement before final passage.

The Joint Committee on Tax Credits heard HB 2066 A on June 16.  The bill has a proposed amendment related to “solar energy efficiency”.  A Work Group has been meeting to modify what was the Residential Energy Tax Credit.  If we get more revenue this session, this modified credit might move forward, but it is expected to be administered by an agency other than the Dept. of Energy.

LWVUS and LWVOR have Amici standing in this historical case. More info at: LWVUS Climate Tool Kit- Climate Lawsuit . Latest update: https://www.ourchildrenstrust.org/press-releases/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-most-important-lawsuit-on-the planet_us_593d55bce4b0b65670e56b6e?ncid=engmodushpmg00000006

Kids climate change lawsuit: https://insideclimatenews.org/news/13062017/kids-climate-change-lawsuit-childrens-trust-jayden-foytlin-louisiana

June 14 court transcript: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/571d109b04426270152febe0/t/5941ce14e4fcb533d8d87829/1497484821573/06-14-2017+Coffin+Juliana.pdf

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, http://www.oregon.gov/newsroom/Pages/NewsDetail.aspx?newsid=2107) 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 $100 million in bonding to begin to “buy out” the Common School Fund and move forward with a new management plan.

SB 847, the Trust Lands Transfer bill, had a public hearing in the Ways and Means Natural Resources Subcommittee on June 5. The League submitted testimony in support.

The new public electronic notification system for forestry activities will 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.

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

See the Action Alert on SB 432 which would allow some rural counties in Eastern Oregon to opt out of our statewide land use system.

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.

HB 2023 would change the definition of high value farmland and is in House Rules.  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 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)

HB 2017 is the 298-page transportation bill being considered this session.  The Joint Transportation Preservation and Modernization Committee has held public hearings and has been reviewing the many suggested changes.  We expect to see one or more amendments and movement on this bill next week.

OREGON DEPT. OF FISH AND WILDLIFE (Peggy Lynch)

HB 2213 A is in Ways and Means.  It creates a new Outdoor Conservation and Recreation Fund managed by a new Outdoor Conservation and Recreation Advisory Committee to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission.  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)

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, 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.

The Department of Environmental Quality invites the public to provide input on a list of priority water quality standards review and revision projects that the agency should initiate over the next three years. DEQ’s public comment period will end at 5:00 pm on Friday July 14, 2017.  View information about this review process, a list of water quality standard revision priorities, and public meeting information online at: http://www.oregon.gov/deq/wq/Pages/WQ-Standards.aspx.

The 2017 public review draft of Oregon’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy is 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 July 19 (new date!).  Comments can be sent electronically to waterstrategy@wrd.state.or.us  The League supports this effort and encourages members to read and comment. 

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 about this rulemaking and how to submit comments until 4 pm on June 30, go to: Water Quality Permit Fee 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) who will 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 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. The rules are provided for your review and public comment here:  Proposed Rules for Stakeholder Engagement Grants (PDF). Public comment period for the proposed rules 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 both oral and written comments regarding the proposed rules June 30 at 9:00 a.m. at City of Eugene, Community Conference Rm., 125 E. 8th Ave.

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

In this past week, the Ways and Means Public Safety Subcommittee approved the Department of Corrections Budget and the Department of Justice Budget.  Also this week the Transportation and Economic Development Subcommittee approved Veterans programs and the Human Services Subcommittee approved the Long Term Care Budget.

Public Safety Budgets  – The Department of Corrections Budget, HB 5004, was passed on June 13 by the Ways and Means Subcommittee. The total funds approved were $1,615 million which was below the current service level (CSL) but up 3.6%. The DOC population capacity for men was increased by 200 beds at Deer Ridge in Madras, but there was no increased capacity for women at Oregon State Prison annex in Salem.  A Behavioral Unit for men at OSP was approved. Disability Rights Oregon has been working with DOC on mental health services.  The League has commented on the DOC Budget most sessions.

The DOC Community Corrections Budget was increased 9% from Current Service Level and 15.9 % above the 15-17 budget.  This reflects the emphasis on community supervision programs in lieu of prison or after prison release.  However, treatment funds of almost one million were eliminated due to the General Fund shortage. Health Services were reduced and some services were transferred to health education programs.  There were no funds for Capital Construction and debt service was down 28%.

SB 689 A requests the extension of the Task Force on Reentry, which passed the Senate Judiciary in April and had a public hearing on 6-12 in the Public Safety Subcommittee.  The Task Force was initiated in December of 2015 headed by Senator Dembrow. The committee generated a 22 page report on January 19, 2016. Background information on Reentry is in The Executive Summary and Report on the Joint  Interim Task Force on Reentry, Housing and Employment in the meeting materials for June 12 on OLIS.

The Budget for the Department of Justice, HB 5015 A, was approved on June 14. The total budget was $539 million which was a reduction of 5.9% from the current biennium.  There were no program reductions but reductions were in the loss of unfilled positions. Budget notes asked Department of Justice to report back on the legal service delivery model options, billing alternatives and attorney compensation increases.

Related bill SB 360 A was a gut and stuff bill to allow offenders to do community service in lieu of payments of fees, but that allowance was not extended to substitute for restitution. It passed on 6-5.

Local Courts: SB 896 A was the result of a work group on local court appeals of misdemeanors which concluded that state district courts have the authority to correct a lower court judgment. The Public Hearing was on June 5 and the bill had no opposition.

HB 3067 A was a request for funding a child care program in courts or public service agencies. The request was for $200,000 from Marion/Polk Early Learning and Family Building Blocks.  Multnomah County has a similar program financed by the Oregon State Bar and local fundraising. This wasn’t the most urgent need but it might appear in an end of session bill.

Monday the Public Defense Services Budget will be heard along with HB 2600 on a home for Court Appointed Special Advocates and HB 3078 A on alternative programs.

The Transportation and Economic Development Subcommittee considered bills for Veteran Services on June 13. HB 5012 A, the agency budget bill, was approved.  It included funds from SB 5529 A, the Lottery Allocations bill.  Ballot Measure 96 set up a separate Veterans Services Fund that is 18.7 million. SB 140 A directed the process of transferring 1.5% of fund quarterly from Department of Administrative Services to the Veterans Department.

The Human Services Subcommittee opened this week with the Long Term Care Budget, HB 5021 A, one of the first Department of Human Services budgets.  The assigned funds were $7.2 million which was a 3% increase over 1915-17. A special appropriation was set aside for later in the biennium.  No staff were present for the hearing, which is unusual.  The agency operates with 24.5 FTE and many volunteers to investigate complaints and visit residential programs. SB 243 A on investigation of child safety in Child Welfare and Developmental Disabilities placements was also considered in a Public Hearing on June 12.  This joint Department of Human Services and Department of Justice program had a high cost, which will be reviewed before a decision is recommended.
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

The week of June 19 promises to be eventful with possible passage or failure of HB 2830 in the hands of 36 members in the House and 17 in the Senate. This was another week when Educators and School Employees had a huge presence in the Capitol as they testified in the Joint Committee on Tax Reform to pass a “bridge” and a Commercial Activity Tax (CAT) bill that would designate CAT taxes on businesses be dedicated to an EDUCATION STRATEGIC INVESTMENT FUND, Section 28-3, HB2830-6, page 32:

(3)(a) The Department of Revenue shall certify quarterly the amount of moneys available in the fund.

(b) The department shall transfer quarterly the moneys in the fund as follows:

(A) Seventy percent of the moneys in the Education Strategic Investment Fund must be used solely for purposes of supporting the State School Fund and making strategic investments at the prekindergarten through grade 12 level that are targeted at improving student academic outcomes, such as the implementing of sections 2 to 16, chapter 1, Oregon Laws 2017, improving early literacy, reducing class sizes and increasing instructional time;

(B) Twenty percent of the moneys in the Education Strategic Investment Fund must be used solely for purposes for which moneys in the Public University Fund established under ORS 352.450 may be used, with two-thirds of the amount designated in this subparagraph to be used for the purpose of funding higher education and one-third of the amount designated in this subparagraph to be transferred to the Community College Support Fund under ORS 341.620; and

(C) Ten percent of the moneys in the Education Strategic Investment Fund must be used solely for purposes of providing early intervention services and early childhood special education programs and other early learning programs.

(c) Moneys transferred under paragraph (b)(B) of this section must be targeted at lowering the growth rates of student tuition in this state and improving student outcomes such as investments in advising and student support services.

(4) It is the intent of the Legislative Assembly that the moneys transferred from the Education Strategic Investment Fund as provided in subsection (3) of this section are in addition to, and not in lieu of, any other moneys available to those purposes.

Stay tuned the week of June 19 to see if this new funding source for education moves out of committee on Monday to tenuous votes in the House and Senate where at least one Republican is needed in each chamber to obtain the 3/5 revenue raising required votes. Of particular interest to those following Education are the written submissions from  Oregon Education Association Testimony, Confederation Of Oregon School Administrators, COSA Testimony, Oregon School Employees Association Testimony, United For Kids Testimony.  Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT Data Center materials were also submitted into testimony, “Despite a better than average economy, Oregon has 171,000 children in poverty and 295,000 who live in a rent-burdened household, leaving Oregon ranked 30th in the nation. Our ranking in Education is even worse. One-third of 4th graders and one-third of 8th graders are not proficient in their respective reading and math grade level. Given 25,000 low-income children are not enrolled in quality preschool and school-age children endure some of the largest class sizes and shortest school years in the nation, we shouldn’t be surprised at these poor outcomes.” Readers may compare Oregon’s data with other states in the 2017 KIDS COUNT States’ database.

The League submitted testimony in an informational hearing on SB 437, opposing the next generation of school vouchers called Education Savings Accounts. Not to be confused with 529s, this bill would have allocated up to $6,000 per student to private schools or parents who home school, pulling funding from public schools. The LWV of the US has a strong position in support of public education and opposes school vouchers. The LWV of the US is a member of the National Coalition for Public Education, which also opposes school vouchers. Voucher programs divert desperately needed resources away from the public school system to fund the education of a few voucher students. In addition, voucher programs have proven ineffective, lack accountability to taxpayers, deprive students of rights provided to public school students, and threaten religious liberty. This bill will not move this session but is expected to be reintroduced next session. Similar bills are being proposed in many states.  Watch these and potential changes in how federal funding is available to schools as changes continue nationally in Washington DC and in states.

SB 5517, the State School Fund budget bill has passed the Senate and has a House vote scheduled June 20. SB 5516 for the Oregon’s Department of Education remains in Ways and Means.

Media this week regarding Education in the legislature.

Report: Oregon lagging in support of children Jun 12, 2017, Eric Tegethoff, Oregon News Service, KTVZ.com

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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