Legislative Report, Volume 27, Number 3 – 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

Ask the State Land Board not to sell off the Elliott State Forest!

BREAKING NEWS: Governor Brown has offered a new plan to keep the Elliott State Forest in public hands.  See the Action Alert–thank the Governor and encourage the Secretary of State and Treasurer to follow her lead! Deadline is end of day February 13 since the State Land Board meets at 10 a.m. on Tuesday,  February 14.  A wonderful birthday present for Oregon!

This Tuesday, the Department of State Lands will decide whether to proceed with the sale of our first State Forest, the Elliott State Forest. Tell them no!

The State Land Board agenda for February 14th pushes for privatization: “The Department will initiate negotiations in good faith with the plan proposers towards a binding Purchase and Sale Agreement (PSA), and an eventual transfer of ownership of the Elliott Property to the Elliott Forest LLC, unless and to the extent the Board directs the Department otherwise.”

The proposed sale would:

  • Sell off our public lands
  • Severely reduce protections for spotted owls, marbled murrelets and Coho Salmon
  • Open thousands of acres of rare older forests to industrial-style clearcutting and pesticide spraying

Only members of the State Land Board can stop this sale. The League of Women Voters of Oregon is working with our Conservation allies on long-term solutions that would provide needed money to schools and education, protect critical forest values, create jobs in the timber industry and other fields, and maintain public access.  Governor Brown has provided this opportunity to reconsider the sale.

Please get involved NOW!:

  • Call Governor Kate Brown (503) 378-4582 Treasurer Tobias Read (503) 378-4329 and Secretary of State Dennis Richardson (503) 986-1523 and ask them to keep the Elliott State Forest public and protected.
  • Attend the State Land Board meeting on Tuesday, February 14th—10 a.m. Speak up & wear green. Details here.
  • Send a personalized note to Governor Brown, Secretary of State Richardson and Treasurer Read sharing how important this spectacular forest is to you and future generations. Once sold, its public value is no longer in our control.

REMINDER:  Remaining Ways and Means hearings around the state.

The first two town hall meetings drew hundreds in Salem and Portland- read more here and here. Be sure to attend the meeting closest to you in the coming weeks for your chance to weigh in on the state budget. Your voice counts!

For more info contact Public Access Coordinator: Paula Krane, 541.752.2361, kranep@peak.org

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)

Next week’s budget is the Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept. (HB 5028).  Since the passage of Measure 66 in 1998, general funds were removed from the Parks budget, substituting lottery funds (rather than supplementing them).  In 2014 SB 1514 was passed changing the split of recreational vehicle license fees from 40% counties/60% state parks to 45/55, again reducing state parks revenues.  And we have added new parks to the system, something we support in order to have lands for our growing population and to save Oregon’s special places.  Fees have been increased, yet the needs outweigh the revenue coming in.  One more reason to seek additional revenue for state services.

CLIMATE CHANGE (Claudia Keith)

Two LWVOR Action members attended a RenewOregon Climate Organizing Summit Jan 28 at UofO in Eugene, where a clear set of Climate Policy ReNewOregon Campaign Goals were presented. More than130 Coalition partner reps from 40+ groups attended. LWVOR agrees with OCN’s Climate priority Clean Energy Jobs Bill SB 557, which: 1) reduces climate pollution based on science, 2) Invests in communities that need it most, 3) ensures that energy is still affordable; and that workers who are impacted by clean energy transition are retrained in the new economy, 4) requires all sectors to pay their fair share if they pollute above the cap and that 5) ensures no communities are left with an unfair burden of pollution or cost.

Recently released Third OCCRI Oregon Climate Assessment Report shows that the state is still warming, despite a frigid winter.  As Dr. Philip Mote noted, “Overall, temperatures are still getting warmer – in Oregon, throughout the United States, and globally – and the impacts are very real.” “For Oregonians, it means warmer temperatures, lower snowpack and less water during the summer. And more and more studies are confirming greenhouse gas emissions as the cause.”

Recently released Oregon Clean Energy Report Card is another reason for LWVOR to aggressively support Climate Policy.

LWVOR partnered with the League of Women Voters’ United States in Sept 2016 in filing an Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of Youth Plaintiffs Our Children’s Trust.  The Amicus Brief, and  recent Feb 2017 Press Releases, includes Kids Name President Trump As Defendant in Constitutional Climate Case.

AIR QUALITY (Marilyn Koenitzer)

We continue to follow the Cleaner Air Oregon project (see www.cleanerair.oregon.gov) and are developing a plan to support additional budget dollars for staff and equipment to address industrial air toxics throughout Oregon.  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.

ELLIOTT FOREST and FORESTRY (Jennifer Haynes and Peggy Lynch)

We hope you have acted on the League’s Action Alert (link) to help save the Elliott and will attend the State Land Board meeting on Feb. 14th even if no public comment is allowed.  Or write or call 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)

The Governor has asked the Fish and Wildlife Commission to reconsider its decision around gill netting in the Columbia:  “Oregon and Washington have invested a great deal of time and effort in resolving conflicts and providing certainty for fisheries in the lower Columbia River,” read Brown’s letter to Commission Chair Michael Finley. “It is the policy of my administration to honor those commitments.”

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

The Co-Chairs and Co-Vice Chairs of the Joint Transportation Preservation and Modernization Committee provided a “Transportation Framework” https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Downloads/CommitteeMeetingDocument/95303

to begin the 2017 session work on a state transportation plan.

The Transportation Forum https://oregontransportationforum.wordpress.com/ is supporting legislation that prioritizes $161 million in dedicated funding toward increased transit service; safe routes to school for Oregon’s kids; safer streets, sidewalks and crosswalks; and connected bike networks.  Although the League is not currently a member, many of their issues are ours. 

WATER (Peggy Lynch)

We will be supporting HB 2295, increasing water permitting fees to the Water Resources Dept.

We will continue to follow issues around suction dredge mining related to water quality, such as SB 3 (hearing was Feb. 6 in Senate Environment and Natural Resources:  http://oregon.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=22307 ) 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.

REGIONAL SOLUTIONS (Peggy Lynch)

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

The Central Oregon Regional Solutions Advisory Committee will meet in Bend on Feb. 16.  The agenda is available here.

The South Central Oregon Regional Solutions Advisory Committee will meet in Lakeview on Feb. 17.  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

The Oregon Health Authority Budget was the first up to the firing line in the Ways and Means Human Services Subcommittee.   The Current Service Level total Budget is $20.7 billion, including over $11 billion in Federal Funds, which covered the expansion of coverage under the Affordable Care Act.  The federal government approved the program for 5 more years, without additional funding. However, OHA will submit reimbursement billing for health care services to Medicaid clients within the extended 5 years.

The Coordinated Care Organizations have been operating at a lower cost level. OHA released metrics for the past year on its website, entitled Oregon’s Health System Transformation:   CCO Metrics Mid-term 2016 Report.  The metrics are impressive in meeting or exceeding the transformation goals.

The CCO reform bill, HB 2122,will deal with new rules for CCO reports and rate setting for the new biennium. HB 2303 changes the CCO reporting dates.  HB 2155 covers community benefits in lieu of taxes for non-profit hospitals.  HB 2305 covers All Oregon children in a family below 300% of Federal Poverty Level.  HB 2389 asks OHA to convene a Work Group for outreach and enrollment of all eligible Oregon Children in health care.

HB 2114 asks to limit the number of opioid pills in a prescription in order to reduce the illegal supply of drugs. This bill inspired a good discussion and further negotiations will take place. HB 2024 imposes taxes on inhalant forms of nicotine and punishes sales to minors under 21.  SB 235 covers OHA tobacco licensing and enforcement. SB 754 submitted by Sen. Steiner Hayward seeks to raise the age to 21 to purchase tobacco.  This bill was supported by health care practitioners as a preventive measure. The League can support this bill under our Children at Risk position.

Prescription drug price increases are driving the move toward more transparency in HB 2387. Another bill HB 2116 creates help in cutting costs for pharmaceuticals.  SB 399 limits co-pays to $250.  The League’s position on Health Care includes cost control.

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

In addition to listing some of the bills we are following, this week we focus on a $20 million investment in Oregon’s students proposed in SB 183. In this tight-budget legislative session, LWVOR Action will continue to track this bill in the budget process to learn more before submitting written testimony.  It directs the Department of Education to establish an Early Indicator and Intervention System to increase high school graduation rates.  Oregon’s graduation rate improved from 68% in the 2010-11 schoolyear to 73.8% in the 2014-15 school year, yet continues to be one of the lowest in the US. Colt Gill, Oregon’s Chief Innovation Officer, says that the bill meets many of the needs that were identified statewide in diverse schools.

SB 183 would establish Trauma-informed practices in schools that would address the needs of students impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) to increase high school graduation rates.  SB 183 also addresses Chronic Absenteeism interventions.  ACEs scores impact more than a child’s life-long physical and behavioral health, but can identify students who need extra help to stay in school. ACEs impacts the student’s success in school because of issues like stress responses, behavior, inability to focus, a lack of family support for learning, and poor attendance. ACEs include physical, sexual, and emotional abuse; household substance abuse; adult mental illness; separated, divorced, or incarcerated parents; and intimate partner violence. ACEs are associated with negative health outcomes including depression, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and behavioral health problems, including substance abuse.

SB 182 Directs Early Learning Division to establish and implement policies and practices related to comprehensive early childhood professional development systems. SB 182 also appropriates moneys to support culturally and linguistically diverse teacher candidates in pre-school and K-12.

House Committee On Early Childhood and Family Supports continues to hold information hearings on Oregon’s Early Learning System from 2-2-17 until 2-23-17.  These may be of particular interest to League members, since we reported on the early rollout of these programs in the Children at Risk: Early Learning  LWVOR study in 2014 and 2015.

SB 13, with the support of Oregon’s nine federally recognized Native American Tribes, directs the Department of Education to develop historically accurate curriculum relating to Native American experience in Oregon and to provide professional development related to curriculum.  It requires all school districts to implement this curriculum.

SB 187 directs the Department of Education to reimburse education provider for expenses incurred from providing vision screenings, and appropriates moneys to the Department of Education for deposit in Vision Health Account.

SB 204 directs the Department of Education to establish a pilot program to certify schools, school districts and educators that exemplify culturally responsive practices and competencies.

SB 138 requires the Department of Education and the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to establish career and technical education pathways to permit students to easily progress from secondary school to public post-secondary institutions of education.

HB 2648 adds school social worker to list of professions included in school-based system for which school district or education service district may receive moneys for decreasing rates of school absenteeism. HB 2658 establishes pilot program for the purpose of increasing the number of public school students who are served by school social workers.

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

JOBS: Economic Trade & Development reported improved Oregon job and wage growth, with our now “tight” labor force returning, including to rural areas, lagging only in Morrow, with south and southeast counties not fully recovered. High tech jobs now figure as importantly as timber used to, but with significant geographic differences.

TAX: Presentations progressed from Basic Facts to overviews of Oregon tax expenditures (think tax breaks) and “Listed Jurisdictions”, for applying corporate taxes globally. The question was, distinguishing tax avoidance from illegal tax evasion. We probed “unitary groups” for calculating taxes vertically (i.e., all firms involved in a top to bottom mining operation) or by umbrella ownership. For example, all firms owned by Berkshire Hathaway, which might otherwise be unrelated. This could involve opaque or perhaps an impermeable lack of transparency.

PERS: Presentations were heavily attended by stakeholders. These meetings are scheduled concurrently with revenue meetings, so we could use more observers reporting.

Note: Other portfolio issues will bounce to Governance because of the huge revenue shortfall. This week friends asked about HB 2006 (Human Services & Housing), affecting mortgage deductions. Questions are welcome!

Elections

The Secretary of State addressed the opening House Rules meeting. He intends to push to make the office non-partisan, like the Bureau of Labor and Industries. He also wants to reduce printing costs by modernizing to more digital. Rep. Hack thanked him for supporting her proposed impeachment bill, HJR 10, (also SJR 16, Ferrioli). He mentioned giving a serious look at a program to translate ballots to other languages. From Rep. Smith Warner, look for a bill to drop the voting pre-registration age to 16.

Redistricting
Norman Turrill

The Secretary of State’s ad hoc Redistricting Task Force is meeting weekly, with the goal of crafting a constitutional amendment and a statute bill for the legislature to consider. Some have criticized the task force for not being representative. Our understanding is that several Democrats were invited to join the task force, but declined, so that there is only one Democrat. Fortunately, besides the League, the Independent, Green, and Progressive parties are also represented. Furthermore, at the League’s and other’s suggestion, the task force will make decisions by consensus, or at least general agreement, so the imbalance should not make any difference.

During this week’s meeting, chaired by Rep. Jeff Barker (D-28), the task force made its first decision by consensus to model selection of an independent redistricting commission on the California citizen’s redistricting commission, which was adopted by initiative.

While most people agree that the 2011 redistricting was relatively thoughtful and fair, it was likely because the House was evenly split between D’s and R’s. All previous redistrictings since the 1960s went poorly to some degree. See http://www.redistrictingmatters.org/.

Campaign Finance

There has been little movement on the report to the legislature of the Task Force on Campaign Finance Reform, which showed general agreement on most issues. The previous Secretary of State Atkins pre-session filed HJR 5 (https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Measures/Overview/HJR5) and HB 2350 (https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Measures/Overview/HB2350) as placeholders for the task force’s work.

Meanwhile, a large coalition of organizations, which worked on passing Portland’s 6 to 1 small dollar matching campaign finance ordinance, is now working on a similar program for state elections. HB 2578 (https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Measures/Overview/HB2578) will probably have a hearing at 3 pm Feb. 28 in House Rules. League members are encouraged to come listen.

Public Records/ Transparency
Two Public Records bills, SB 106 (Governor Brown, establishing Public Records advocate and Advisory Council) and SB 481 may be reconfigured into a single bill over this session.

Our Transparency group heard the December 2016 Economic Development Incentives & Loans Audit this week and met afterward to discuss with auditors. Loan default rates are very low but aren’t usually monitored for jobs created, wages, and return on investment. Many incentive loans go to companies with below average wages, underrepresenting rural areas. Some lack sunsets. Wisconsin was cited for having a good model.

IT: The Joint Legislative Committee for Information Management and Technology (JLCIMT) heard an IT Overview. Oregon CIO Alex Pettit cautioned, ”Despite eleven IT security audits in the last decade focused solely on the security of the state data center, the IT security posture of the state of Oregon remains fundamentally inadequate.”  The JLCIMT introduced LC 2860, proposing a Geographic Information Council.

National Popular Vote Compact:  How YOU can help
Marge Easley

Will Oregon finally join the National Popular Vote (NPV) Compact in 2017?  The current level of enthusiasm from a wide array of groups is an encouraging sign that things may be different this year. As you may recall, the NPV bill passed the Oregon House in 2009, 2013, and 2015, blocked by Senate leadership each time. We expect the 2017 bill to drop soon, but there have been hints it may take the form of a legislative referral. The League has joined a coalition of supporters, under the auspices of the national NPV, who will be working hard for passage.

We’ll keep you informed about the NPV bill progress. In the meantime, we ask that you let legislators know, either through town hall meetings, emails, or phone calls, that the National Popular Vote Compact is important to Oregon and to you as a citizen. Here’s an easy way to compose your email and contact your legislators immediately.

Please keep in mind that the National Popular Vote Compact does not eliminate the Electoral College but would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. More information about the national NPV Compact can be found here. Also, here’s our Legislative Process Day 2017 NPV handout.

Thanks to our Governance volunteers! Marge Easley for submitting on NPV, Rick Bennett for scouring OLIS for pertinent bills, and Anne Potter for analysis of League positions.

I encourage you to see our League positions. View Legislative meetings online and E-subscribe through OLIS, for news, newsletters, and committee and bill notices.

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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