Legislative Report, Volume 27, Number 5 – February 2017

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In This Issue

LWVOR Action News

Natural Resources

Social Policy

Education Policy

Governance


news iconLWVOR Action News

 

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, 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

LWVOR NATURAL RESOURCE BATTLE FRONTS

AGENCY BUDGETS (Peggy Lynch)

We testified on SB 5502, the Dept. of Agriculture budget, related to protection of agricultural land and addressing water quality issues.  We also heard about HB 5022, the Oregon Marine Board budget.  There are a couple of important bills linked to this agency’s work that we will support:  HB 2320, creating a non-motorized boating program with fees to recognize and support the needs of canoe and kayak owners (more here and here.)  A hearing is scheduled on HB 2320 on March 1 in the House Committee on Transportation Policy.  The League has engaged with the Marine Board as it collects fees to address aquatic invasive species which, if getting a foothold in Oregon, could devastate our water and wastewater systems. HB 2321 updates and enhances that program.

The budget for the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development, SB 5527, will be reviewed on Feb. 27 and 28, with public testimony received on March 1.  The Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries budget, HB 5011, will begin their presentation on March 2. This agency is critical to the public’s health and safety in that it provides information on where a tsunami might inundate our coastal areas, where landslides might occur and other geological information.  They also regulate the mining and aggregate industries, being sure they are responsible for protecting our natural areas during any industrial actions.

CLIMATE CHANGE (Claudia Keith)

The March 1 policy committee meeting agendas (Senate Env. & Natural Resources agenda; House Energy & Environment agenda) have been posted. All five bills addressing a cap and pricing mechanism for Greenhouse Gas Emissions will be heard. LWVOR will support the Clean Energy Jobs bill, SB 557. (See last week’s LWVOR Leg Report Alert; please support this position by calling and/or writing your House Rep and Senator, House and Senate committee members and Oregon Legislative leadership.) A 2-minute general public testimony will be available via a signup sheet process. There is always a preference to folks who have traveled over 100 miles. The bills being heard:

SB 557 Clean Energy Job Bill – Repeals greenhouse gas emissions goals and requires Environmental Quality Commission to adopt by rule statewide greenhouse gas emissions goals for 2025, and limits for years 2035 and 2050. (Cap and Trade)

SB 748 Clean Energy Job Bill – Requires Environmental Quality Commission to adopt carbon pollution permit program by rule. (Cap and Fee)

HB 2135 (Identical to SB 557 but filed in the House) Repeals greenhouse gas emissions goals and requires Environmental Quality Commission to adopt by rule statewide greenhouse gas emissions goals for 2025, and limits for years 2035 and 2050. (Cap and Trade)

HB 2468 Updated Heathy Climate HB 3470 from 2015 – Reflects Our Children’s Trust lawsuit use of current science requiring accelerated reduction of GHGE to ensure we return to 350 CO2 ppm and a max 1.5 degree global warming no later than 2100 (Cap and Trade). Requires Environmental Quality Commission to adopt by rule certain statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits by no later than January 1, 2018.

LC 1242 (carbon tax) will have an “informational hearing only”.  It Imposes tax on each fuel supplier and utility based on amount of carbon in carbon-based fuel that is sold by fuel supplier to consumers in this state or that is used to produce carbon-generated electricity supplied by utility to consumers in this state.

We continue to watch the other six climate policy bills listed in last week’s report.  One of those bills, SB 276, climate change impacts on ocean resources & ocean acidification/hypoxia, will be heard on Monday, Feb. 27, in the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.

AIR QUALITY (Marilyn Koenitzer)

We continue to follow the Cleaner Air Oregon (see www.cleanerair.oregon.gov) process.  New regulations are expected to be enacted in early 2018.  We met with others as the bill dealing with program amendments, new added Title V fees, the allocation of the Volkswagen Diesel settlement dollars and other issues are addressed in HB 2269Expect amendments.   

ELLIOTT FOREST and FORESTRY (Jennifer Haynes and Peggy Lynch)

Continue to write or call the Land Board members, Governor Kate Brown, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson and Treasurer Tobias Read and your legislators to share your belief that the Elliott should stay in public hands.  The State Land Board will meet again on April 11, where we will continue to support Governor Brown’s plan.  Also, SB 847, the Trust Land Transfer bill, was dropped this week.  In 2015, we supported a similar bill (HB 3474).

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

The Safe Routes to School Lobby Day will be held March 6.

We are concerned with HB 2214 that would establish an expedited Housing Permitting Fund.  Hearing in House Agriculture and Natural Resources on Feb. 28.  We have questions about SB 677 that would allow cider businesses in farmland.  It will be heard in Senate Environment and Natural Resources on March 2.

Some members may be interested in two annexation bills, HB 2039 and HB 2040, to be heard in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on March 2. 

WATER (Peggy Lynch)

Two important water bills have passed their policy committee and are headed to Ways and Means.  The League worked with others to develop HB 2295, the Water Resources Dept.’s updated fee bill and will advocate for the bill to fund important permitting functions and dam safety work.  The House Energy and Environment Committee will hold an informational hearing on Feb. 27 on water issues. 

We got word that the minor “fixes” to the onsite septic program, SB 812, will be heard on March 6 in Senate Environment and Natural Resources.

There is a Water Conservation, Reuse, and Storage Grant Program at the Water Resources Dept. funded again in 2015. Applications received and funding recommendations are at click here. You have until March 27 to provide comments.

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

Monday, March 6, the Northeast Oregon Regional Solutions Advisory Committee will meet 10 am-noon at the Eastern Oregon University, 208 Badgley Hall, One University Blvd, La Grande.  Call In: 888-398-2342; code 7476425#  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

OREGON HEALTH AUTHORITY

The Budget HB 5026 has been wrapping up the Health Services section this week in Human Services Ways and Means Subcommittee. The Health Services Division includes Medicaid and Medicare and spends 74% of the OHA funds.  The Governor’s Budget recommends a total of $20.432 billion, which is a reduction from the current service level.

Only 11 people testified on the budget in a sparsely populated room on 2-21.  Several health workers called for new revenue.  Many wanted to maintain the Medicaid expansion, health care for women and mental health care in communities.  The hearing closed early. Public Health will be heard this coming week.

Current bills on Health Care include SB 558 to expand health insurance to Cover all Children, under 300% of the Federal Poverty Level.  The bill was heard this week and may be scheduled for work session soon.  Coverage would cost $55 million. HB 2305 is the house version of the bill.

The Oregon State Hospital Budget was on the Ways and Means docket this week. OSH reconstruction was completed in 2012 and the Junction City Hospital was opened in 2015.  The joint population is 612 patients, with 535 in Salem and 78 in Junction City. The Budget for Salem is $485.4 and for Junction City is $41.5 million.  The Pendleton Secure Cottage has 16 patients and spends $9 million. The Governor’s Budget proposes to close the Junction City Hospital in July 2018, as a cost cutting measure for Health Services. This was not discussed in detail.

The goal of OSH is to decrease the Aid and Assist population for forensic evaluations and discharge within 30 days of eligibility.  The intent is to take in all civil commitments without a wait list and discharge within 120 days.  Community Mental Health Departments are needed to provide treatment at lower cost in the community. The US Dept. of Justice recommended expansion of community resources.

PUBLIC SAFETY

The Oregon Youth Authority Budget was reviewed in the Public Safety Ways and Means Committee this week.  Public testimony was taken on 2-11 and the League supported the budget for the operation of county and state juvenile systems.  See attached HB 5042  letter. The agency will close one state facility in Salem and remodel the facility in Woodburn, but the agency is not likely to get further funds, except for bonding for construction projects.

SEX TRAFFICKING (Debbie Runciman) A package of bills to combat sex trafficking has been introduced and is working its way through the legislative process.  SB 249 and SB 250 addresses charges and convictions of sex trafficked victims: SB 249 provides an alternative method to clear the trafficked victim’s record; SB 250 creates an affirmative defense to prostitution charges if the defendant was a victim of sex trafficking.   SB 375 increases public awareness of trafficking by posting help line information in highway rest areas and other public roadways. Each of these bills met with favorable receptions in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  In addition, the House Judiciary Committee is considering HB 2740 , which extends a victim’s age from 15 to 18 for certain increased penalties for traffickers, thus making our laws more consistent with other sex crime offenses involving juveniles.

PAY EQUITY (Debbie Runciman):  Identical bills SB 752 and HB 2005 both address pay equity. Each had a hearing in their respective chambers on February 22.  The data shows that women and people of color continue to earn less than their equally skilled white male counterparts, with those disparities having long term impacts from subsequent job salary scales through retirement.  We expect to see them coming back for more discussion.

Another Judiciary bill, HB 2130 is on our radar since it creates the crime of endangering a minor by allowing access to a firearm.

HUMAN SEVICES AND HOUSING

The Department of Human Services Budget has not been scheduled yet, but the child welfare bills have come to the forefront early.  The House Human Services and Housing Committee has scheduled work sessions on several bills to require training for DHS caseworkers:  in HB 2401 on trauma informed counseling and HB 2500 on juvenile dependency court process. Former foster care children brought forth a Foster Children’s Sibling Bill of Rights in HB 2116.  The League has supported this bill to retain the sibling relationships for children in care.

HB 2221 required the Oregon Health Authority to report on reimbursement of child abuse medical assessments in local community resource centers.  One of the CCOs in the Bend area has not been paying for these assessments, but has been making a profit overall.

Housing has received a lot of attention this session.  The advocates for the Housing Alliance  asked for $100 million for housing preservation of existing low income housing.  The League agrees preservation is a high priority but there are many other options in flux.

HOUSING ALLIANCE (Debbie Aiona): LWVOR is member of the Oregon Housing Alliance, a statewide coalition focused on preventing and ending homelessness, creating new affordable housing and preserving what we have, and protecting tenants.

Through an inclusive decision making process, the alliance develops a Housing Opportunity Agenda each legislative session.  Priorities for 2017 include the following:  meet emergency needs throughout Oregon, protect the four in ten Oregon households who rent, increase the supply of affordable housing, protect existing affordable housing, and increase homeownership.

Proposed legislation aims to provide additional resources for low-income housing development.  HB 2852 would renew the Oregon Affordable Housing Tax Credit and increase the cap from $17 million to $34 million, providing more money to develop and preserve low-income housing.  The Housing Alliance is also seeking an increase in the Document Recording fee from $20 to $40.  Proceeds are allocated as follows:  10 percent for homeless programs, 14 percent for homeownership, and 76 percent for multi-family low-income housing development.

With increased population, rental housing has become scarcer and more expensive.  Two bills have been proposed to address the fallout.  HB 2004 would require just cause evictions so that landlords could only evict tenants for reasons set out in law, such as non-payment of rent.  The other would lift the statewide preemption on rent stabilization policies and allow local governments to pass local ordinances protecting tenants from large increases in their rent.

The Housing Alliance is planning a Lobby Day on March 22 and would welcome your participation.

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

EDUCATION POLICY

The League submitted testimony on three civics education bills HB 2219, HB 2691 and HJR 14 commending voluntary efforts of school districts to offer opportunities for civics education and acknowledging that the  Oregon Department of Education for Oregon Social Sciences Academic Content Standards has already developed core standards and grade level standards in kindergarten through high school in civics education.

We also submitted testimony on SB 439, SB 565 and SB 595 regarding tax credits on interest paid for student loans, stating that while perhaps a feasible idea to consider in better financial times, we urge rejecting these tax credit bills this session, unless significant additional revenue is provided for this biennium and into the future. Currently, the state “gives away” billions of dollars each biennium in so called “tax expenditures” which include deferrals, deductions, exemptions and credits. Once established, these tax expenditures take money from available General Fund monies far into the future. Introducing new tax credits despite the need to better fund schools and human services does not seem prudent during this biennium.

For those of you who want to get into the weeds of education funding, the next several weeks you’ll find lots of information as early learning, K-12, and higher education budget hearings proceed. The Joint Ways and Means Sub-Committee on Education LFO report has detailed information (p 27-29, 39-45, 48-49, 51-53) that paints a picture of the budget flows through the State of Oregon to Education. This report also overviews Higher Education budget and issues (p 48-58).  Even more detail is available in weeks to come.

A P-20 Education System Overview shows:

Early Learning

  • 230,000 children ages 5 and under in Oregon
  • 46.4% White, 28.3% Hispanic, 8.1% African American, 2% American Indian, 2% Asian, .5% Pacific Islander, 4.7% Multiracial, 8% Unknown
  • 45,000 children born every year – half born on Medicaid.
  • More than 4,500 private and non-profit early learning programs in Oregon serving 137,000 children.
  • 22,000 people are employed in the early learning workforce.


K-12

  • 576,407 K-12 Students
  • 63.4% White; 22.5% Hispanic/Latino; 2.4% Black/African American; 1.4% American Indian/Alaska Na1ve; 3.9% Asian, .7% Na1ve Hawaiian/Pacific Islander; and 5.7% Multiracial
  • 9.9% English Learners
  • 21,352 homeless students
  • 13.29% special education
  • 51% of students qualify for free and reduced priced lunches
  • 197 school districts; 1347 schools
  • 66,061 school staff
  • 25% of students do not graduate, or do not graduate on time, many with disabilities or those from historically underserved populations


Priority bills and investments
for 2017-2019 to be discussed in upcoming weeks include:

  • SB 183: Graduation Equity Fund
  • SB 13: Tribal Curriculum
  • State Chronic Absenteeism Plan
  • HB 2657: Task Force on Out-of-School Youth
  • High School Graduation and Career and College Readiness Act
  • SB 55: Oregon Promise Cap
  • SB 182: Council on Educator Advancement Recommendations
  • Balanced Assessment Pilots
  • Trauma Informed Practices Pilot (from 2016 HB 4002 Enrolled)
  • Statewide Longitudinal Database


Equity Plans
budget investments that address chronic absenteeism, low graduation rates for English Learners, American Indian and African American students are:

  • English Learners Statewide Strategic Plan – English Language Learner Outcome Improvement Plan (HB 3499): $12.5 M
  • American Indian/Alaska Native State Plan – Tribal Attendance Pilot Project : $1.5 M
  • African American/Black Student Success State Plan – African-American/Black Student Success Grant (HB 2016 passed in 2016): $2.8 M

Some of the greater challenges that face the Education system, many unlikely to be resolved in this funding environment with a $1.6 billion shortfall in the co-chairs framework, are:

  • 90,000 eligible children who the state is not currently serving in early learning
  • Bridging health, human services, K-12 and early learning by breaking down silos for easy access
  • High Cost Disabilites Fund Budget. Increasing the HCDF by $35m per year (total of $70m per year) because of the increased the percentage of reimbursement to school districts for these high cost (high needs students from 41% to 70%, enabling these vulnerable students to be served better).
  • State School Fund. For 2015-17, $5.6 Billion was appropriated for the SSF, an increase of $118 M above CSL that increased the per-pupil spending $130 per weight to $7,118 in 2016-17. For the upcoming biennium, the Governor’s Budget has appropriated over $8 Billion. The number of teachers increased from 27,868 to 29,097 (2014-15), a 4.4 % increase.
  • Oregon’s higher education funding per student has been among the lowest in the nation – ranked 45th in the nation in the actual public educational appropriation per student in 2015, accounting for years of under-investment.
  • Oregon’s need based higher education financial aid per Oregonian is ranked low nationally (33rd in 2014-15).


Student Threat Assessment Systems and School Safety Tipline Informational Hearing
updated new law enforcement, mental health, Oregon Health Authority and schools working in partnerships to reduce school violence and suicide while taking preemptive prevention steps and a statewide threat assessment. (HB 4075 in 2016)

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

National Popular Vote Gains Steam (Marge Easley)

The National Popular Vote (NPV) Interstate Compact is clearly on legislators’ minds. Three more NPV bills were introduced last week, making a total of five. The favored bill appears to be SB 823, sponsored by Sen. Boquist and Rep. Clem. The League is part of the NPV-Oregon Coalition, working closely with the national NPV organization to mobilize legislative and public support.

League members are asked to lend a hand in this effort. You will soon be asked to contact your legislators in support of SB 823. It’s a simple step that can make a big difference.

Interestingly, the first four NPV bills (HB 2927, HB 2731, SB 823, and SB 824) are identical, but the fifth (SB 825), sponsored by Sen. Devlin, has an additional clause that refers the final decision to the voters. The League, as well as other proponents, do not support a legislative referral for several reasons. A referral implies that legislators are unsure of public support and thus unwilling to take a stand. Polling shows strong widespread support in Oregon for NPV (76% in 2008), and there is every indication that public support has only increased since the 2016 Election. A referral would be added to an already crowded slate of ballot initiatives, resulting in an expensive election media campaign and inevitable attempts to sway voters with politicized hype and misleading sound bites. And most importantly, the League believes that the statewide winner-take-all aspect of the Electoral College system is deeply flawed and has caused many to believe their votes don’t count when electing a President. Oregon has been a leader in election reform, and it would be a shame for the idea of “one person, one vote” to be put off any longer.

Revenue

The February 22nd revenue forecast may ease the predicted shortfall from $1.8+ billion down to $1.6+ billion. The largest portion of that, $1B, is in the Oregon Health Authority, attributable to loss of one time funds, increase in federal match requirements, and anticipated health care cost inflation. Uncertainty for Affordable Care Act coverage going forward is a big concern.

Property Taxes SJR 3 ad valorem property taxes and certain exemptions are being discussed, particularly expansive differences between assessed vs real market values. (League testimony, @49 minutes).

Our revenue coalition meetings focused on tax credits, the money the state “gives back or gives away”. We will work to emphasize that worthy projects, which we might have supported with a wave through during other sessions, will get a stern look if they involve tax credits. Watching these bills, no hearings scheduled:

Mortgage HB 2006, still not sent to committee, retains income tax deduction for principal residence mortgages (not multiple property deductions).

Income Disparity HB 2951: This bill alters business income tax rates by excluding deductions for compensation of executives whose income is more than 100 times the median of their employees. This is a gentle version of a similar December 2016 Portland City Council vote.

Chop High Income Deductions HB 2767, phases out itemized income tax deductions (except to charities) for income levels above $125K or $250K filing jointly.

Capital Gain rate change for home sales HB 2772, requires addition to taxable income for Oregon tax purposes of amount of gain attributable to sale or exchange of taxpayer’s principal residence and excluded from federal taxable income, if in excess of certain threshold (not set yet).

General Governance & Accountability

Interesting discussions, for example, concerns with bill sponsors of record in House Rules; committee chair power, if members should remove sponsorship if amendments erase original intent, etc.

Another example: SB 193, creates a Sunset Advisory Committee that “abolishes state agencies on specified dates”. As written, this could abolish state agencies, which is alarming, out of context. Good discussions are taking place on this complex issue and lots more work is needed.

HJR 6 This bill would amend the Oregon constitution to allot a Senator per county. League OPPOSED.

(League testimony, @11 minutes).

Public Records assorted bills are coming, still working toward each other, touching on efficiency, coordination, access, who is subject to whom, privacy, and cybersecurity. Agency heads and representatives are still presenting in committee orientation meetings.

Watching: SB 90, SB 120 (possible hearing March 1st), SB 481.

HB 2906 is on hold–This Geospatial Information Systems bill has a Ways & Means placeholder for a processing technicality. Support anticipated for this complex, broadly negotiated, multi-session opus.

Elections

We generally support improving voting access. We are discussing these bills, set for Senate Rules hearings:

SJR 2 Changes voter registration deadline to day before elections, March 1st.

SB 683 Prepaid ballot return envelopes, March 6th

CAMPAIGN FINANCE (Norman Turrill)

The LWVOR will be testifying Tuesday in House Rules on HB 2578, which “establishes Small Donor Funded Elections program to enable candidates for state office to receive 6-to-1 match on small dollar donations.” This is quite similar to the ordinance adopted in December by Portland.

The LWVOR is still hopeful that the report to the legislature of the Task Force on Campaign Finance Reform, will be acted on.

REDISTRICTING (Norman Turrill)

The Secretary of State’s ad hoc Redistricting Task Force has just one more weekly meeting with the goal of crafting a constitutional amendment and statute bills for the legislature to consider. The Task Force will have to hurry to make its goal.

During this week’s meeting, the Task Force heard from the City Club of Portland on its redistricting study. Next the Task Force discussed various criteria that could be used in the redistricting process without coming to any conclusion.

Thank our Governance volunteers!

  • Helen Beardsworth, testimony drafts, a new member in Eugene
  • Rick Bennett, OLIS search, Medford
  • Marge Easley, NPV, past LWVOR President, also on 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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Important Dates

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

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 18:
Deadline 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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