Legislative Report, Volume 27, Number 6 – February 2017

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In This Issue

Natural Resources

Social Policy

Education Policy

Governance

Important Dates


dropletNatural Resources

By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator

AGENCY BUDGETS (Peggy Lynch)

We testified on the budget for the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development, SB 5527, choosing to support keeping staff, rather than increasing local government grants, for the first time ever.  But staff can help multiple jurisdictions with model codes, etc.  We need more money!  We will provide testimony on HB 5011, the Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries budget, focusing on their public safety mission related to natural hazards.   The Dept. of Environmental Quality budget, SB 5518, will be heard March 7, 8 and 9 with public testimony heard on March 13.  Their water quality program is facing significant cuts because it is where 75% of the agency’s General Funds reside.  HB 5025, the Oregon Business Development Department budget, is up for hearings in the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development on March 6, 7, and 8, with public testimony on March 9.  The Regional Solutions Fund, proposed at $11 million, is one item.  Bonding for the Infrastructure Finance Authority (including drinking water and wastewater projects) is also included in their budget, as is Arts and Culture.

CLIMATE CHANGE (Claudia Keith)

Big thanks to 6+ League members, we were well represented at the Clean Energy Jobs (SB 557) Mar 1 rally and ‘price on carbon’ climate policy public hearing. Julie Chapman provided League testimony. She was one of 45+, including kids and adults, who provided supportive testimonies, with only the Associated Oregon Industries and Oregon Business Association in dissent.  See also our coalition partner’s Our Children’s Trust SB 557 & HB 2468 Letter of Support.  The other price on carbon bills are SB748, HB 2135 and a Carbon Price Place Holder HB3023.

We are watching the following bills and plan on League testimony, likely one in each category.  Please let me know if you would like to write or co-write any of these testimonies. A number of these bills were just posted and it’s unclear which ones will have hearings. Tentative #’s HB 3343, SB 1007 and SB 773:  fossil fuel major infrastructure projects – a possible ‘Climate Test” bill. See the national campaign at ClimateTest.org.  Related HB 3307 new program for regulating air contaminant emissions from new facilities generating methane or other toxic gas.

SB 7, HB 2131 & tentative HB 3344 (Mosier Acts of 2017) address state transport of hazardous materials. These bills could be heard the week of March 13.

SB 958 relating to state transportation of crude oil and SB 959.

HB 2239 a task force on energy efficient building codes.

HB 2711 moratorium on hydraulic fracturing:  Hearing March 8.

HB 3269 changes the name, improves the structure, mission/charter & funding for the Oregon Global Warming Commission.

HB 3165 relating to the carbon dioxide standard for energy facilities. Requires Energy Facility Siting Council to update carbon dioxide emissions standard for base load gas plants no less than once every two years and HB 3308 regulating air pollution/emissions from dairy-confined animal-feeding operations.  SB 197, also about this issue, will be heard in Senate Environment and Natural Resources on March 9.

SB 995 requires employer operating certain facility to submit annual materials report on facility’s input and output of hazardous materials to DEQ.

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.  Marilyn is providing research on the fees charged by other states to help assure adequate funding for this program.  The Dept. of Environmental Quality budget, SB 5518, will begin hearings on March 7, with public testimony on March 13. A separate bill, HB 2269 (major amendments coming), will include a proposal for a one-time assessment to air quality permit holders to pay for the initial work of Cleaner Air Oregon, with new Title V fees to be considered in the 2018 session (after the rulemaking has been completed this year).  HB 2269 also includes allocations from the Volkswagon settlement and other diesel issues.  We expect Sen. Dembrow to have an additional bill related to diesel emissions.    

ELLIOTT FOREST and FORESTRY (Jennifer Haynes and Peggy Lynch)

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.  Governor Brown is working with others to present a plan to the State Land Board on April 11.  The League is supporting this effort.  A new Trust Land Transfer (SB 847) bill may be one vehicle for a solution, along with the $100 million in lottery bonding the Governor suggested in February.  President Courtney and Senator Roblan are also working on a public solution.

HB 3226 would require the State Dept. of Forestry to review the Forest Practices Act.

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

The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will hear HB 2023 relating to high value farmland.  Amendments are expected.

Readers might be interested in watching the presentations of Dr. Chris Goldfinger and others related to our earthquake and tsunami risk in House Veterans and Emergency Preparedness on Feb. 28.  HB 2140 was also considered, which would require disclosure of seismic risk in seller’s property statement.  Homes build after 1994 were required to be bolted to their foundation.  Older homes may not have that same feature.

HB 2012, which defines the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Region, including Ontario, Vale and Nyssa, has a Section 4 related to modification of some land use laws and may be of some concern.

Safe Routes to School Lobby Day is March 6.  The Transportation Policy Committee will hear from some transit districts on March 8 as they consider funding for statewide transit services.

WATER (Peggy Lynch)

The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will hold public hearings on HB 2099, related to municipal water right extensions.

The House Energy and Environment Committee held an informational hearing on water issues on Feb. 27.  Worth watching.  Also, HB 2295, to update fees for the Water Resources Dept., and HB 2296, related to well drilling were passed out of committee to Ways and Means.  SB 812, providing program “fixes” to the on-site septic loan program will be heard on March 6 in Senate Environment and Natural Resources.  The League has joined with partners in support.  The House Energy and Environment Committee will hear HB 2485 related to water rights point of diversion changes to benefit fish passage.   

The public has an opportunity to comment on new applications for Feasibility Study Grants (click here) from the Water Conservation, Reuse, and Storage Grant Program.  Deadline to comment is March 27.

Our water watch list includes HB 2106, relating to mining and HB 2786, both related to our removal-fill laws for which the League provided oral testimony in opposition.

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: www.regionalsolutions.oregon.gov

Monday, March 6, the Northeast Oregon Regional Solutions Advisory Committee will meet at 10a-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.

Thursday, March 16, the Greater Eastern Oregon Regional Solutions Advisory Committee will meet at 10a-noon at the North Gilliam County Rural Fire Protection District, 1500 Railroad Ave, Arlington

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

PUBLIC HEALTH THIS WEEK

The Public Health Budget was increased by 1.9 % in the Governor’s Budget to $648 million versus a 2% decrease in other health budgets.  The major source of public health funding is from federal funds to halt communicable diseases, protect against environmental hazards and promote healthy behaviors. County health departments provide services locally but inconsistently.

HB 3100 last session aimed to provide a basic level of services throughout the state, but this would cost an additional $30 million, which is not included in the Governor’s budget. Fee increases in HB 5027 will add $2.5 million, including two new fees for laboratory tests for water and marijuana.  The Oregon Health Authority Budget HB 5026 covers all divisions of the Health Department.  Public Testimony on the entire budget will be on Wednesday, next week.

The Co-Chairs Budget cuts General Funds from the OHA Budget up to 27.5%, which could eliminate funds for prevention programs and the state support for county health departments. The major long term concern is federal Affordable Care Act changes, which are not anticipated until the 2019-2021 biennium.

HB 2122, introduced by Rep. Greenlick, seeks to modify the Coordinated Care Organizations.  Currently 6 of the 16 are non-profits, but he wants to move all of them into non-profit status because they have saved money and have $9 million in reserve funds.  He proposes these reserve funds should be held in a state escrow account.  The CCO model will be renegotiated in 2018 for another 5 years.

Next week, the Senate Health Care Committee will consider SB 558, which asks for a work group to implement a Health Care for All Oregon Children program.  The House Health Care Committee will also consider the identical HB 2726 for Health Care for All Oregon Children. The League will support this concept.

GUN SAFETY UPDATE (Marge Easley)

With at least 40 gun-related bills introduced this session, it’s clear that the regulation of firearms remains a volatile issue in Oregon. The League hopes to focus most of our attention on the Oregon Alliance for Gun Safety’s priorities of closing loopholes and providing added protection for domestic violence victims. Hearings have not yet been scheduled on any gun bills, but we will soon be asking for your help, particularly on these key bills:

SB 797, Governor Brown’s Firearm Safety Package, includes provisions to:

  • Ensure that a person passes a background check before receiving a firearm. This closes the Charleston Loophole, which allows a gun transfer without a background check after a three-day waiting period.
  • Prevent gun transfers to those convicted of stalking.
  • Change the relationship status requirement from “intimate partner” to “family or household member” on certain court orders and misdemeanor convictions that cause a person to be prohibited from possessing firearms.

SB 232 requires a person to surrender firearms if that person is prohibited due to a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (also referred to as an Extreme Risk Protective Order).

HB 2130 creates the crime of endangering a minor by allowing access to a firearm (also called Child Access Prevention).

The League also supports the public education intent of HB 2526, although funding may be an obstacle. It directs the Department of Justice to establish a firearm safety and suicide prevention education program, to create or approve educational material, and to provide these materials to gun dealers.

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

Beginning this week SB 5516 Oregon Department of Education, ODE’s, Administrative Budget for statewide programs and, SB 5517 the Oregon State School Fund that flows to individual school districts and education service districts, will be heard by the Education Subcommittee on Ways and Means. Over many weeks of hearings additional meeting materials and testimony will go into great detail, as it should since it represents over 50% of General Fund and Lottery Fund expenditures.

The League provided testimony supporting both HB 2657 that establishes the Task Force on Out-of-School Youth to reengage drop out and high risk youth, as well as HB 2261 that expands allowed responsibilities of the Youth Development Council to include coordinating statewide services to youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning; another high risk group for failure to graduate and for high suicide rates.

This graph on page nine shows how Early Learning, K-12, and the Youth Development Division interact with children from birth to twenty four.  This overview will be helpful in upcoming weeks as school funding and the education administrative budget are discussed.

ODE’s 2017-19 Current Service Level Budget totals $10.4 billion: Early Learning Division $414.6M; State School Fund $8,015.9M; Common School Fund $110.2M; Other Education Services $1,840.4M; Youth Development Division $26.2M.  The 2017-19 Governor’s Recommended Budget reduced DOE’s operations and programs (not including the State School Fund) by $32.9 million General Fund. A decrease of 8.25 FTE, a reduction of $1.1 million for Educator Effectiveness Grants; a reduction of $1.7 million for Child Nutrition Programs; a reduction of $15.1 million for CTE/STEM Related Programs and Grants; a reduction of $1.4 million for Student Success Grants; a reduction of $1.9 million for Youth Development Division Programs and Grants; a reduction of $5.0 million for debt service costs; and a reduction of approximately $6.7 million in operations costs. Ouch!  The co-chair’s budget has even deeper cuts, assuming no new revenue sources.

Did you know there are 61,091 educators in Oregon who hold a total of 65,538 licenses, registrations or certificates? The Teacher Standards and Practices Commission Teacher Standards and Practices Commission also licenses 484 charter school teachers (an increase from 407 in 2014) and 90 charter school administrators (an increase from 78 in 2014). The TSPC is almost fully supported by fees charged to educator licensees.

HB 2998 would require the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to conduct a study and develop recommendations on the best methods for creating common course numbers for courses within Oregon transfer module and for ensuring courses within a module are commonly accepted as general education requirements at post-secondary institutions.

SB 231 would establish a Task Force on Student Mental Health Support to investigate mental health issues, including college recruitment, retention, and program completion.

If you followed the LWVOR Children at Risk Study, you may be interested in following how success is being measured, Early Learning Hubs: Metrics and Monitoring, Early Learning Division, Oregon Department of Education and what progress in being made with the State Longitudinal Data System that will enable interventions and preventions for children and youth with high risk factors to be tracked and measured.

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 (Marge Easley- See our letter sent this week)

REVENUE
No stones are being left unturned in creative searches for possible revenue sources. Agency heads are still informing committees with background reports. Corporate Taxes, hospitals and health care provider taxes are being discussed, along with many others.

HB 2830 and HB 2831 The League testified in support of these corporate tax measures, to increase excise taxes and corporate minimum taxes, video here.

HB 2063 and HB 2770 both address “communications infrastructure” property tax exemptions, extending into multiple hearings. Our ability to support our tech industries, to compete with Silicon Valley by providing high speed broadband, to allow “big data” processing, is central to this ongoing legal concern, referring to a pivotal “Seattle City Light vs. the Oregon Department of Revenue” case. Rep. Johnson asked about other states, as we compete for workers who want to live in Oregon and don’t need to be tied geographically for hi-tech jobs–just need a reliable, strong signal. More will be coming on this.

Our complex uncollected debt burden of approximately $3.3 billion is being addressed. See table 9, page 11, for June 30, 2016, DAS Accounts Receivable Report. This is a complex figure covering unpaid taxes, child support, fines, fees, restitution, and so forth. It is updated annually, from beginning balances, correcting with debts written off and cancelled, and new ones added. Senator Johnson described the thud heard as agencies “dump” their debt loads into the Department of Revenue (DOR) to collect, wondering if they got the 30 staffers needed to get the money due to the state.

Revenue bills on coalition watch two weeks ago have yet to be assigned to committee hearings.

On the docket next week:

  • Tobacco tax bills: HB 2037, HB 2056, HB 2062, HB 2084, HB 2119, and HB 2662
  • Property taxes for nonprofit organizations HB 2052, and not for profit health care, HB 2115
  • Property tax, phasing out deductions in higher income brackets, HB 2771
  • Corporate minimum tax bill, another, SB 150
  • Kicker modification, equal rebates? HB 2051
  • Counties in distress to withhold property tax processing costs, SB 787
  • Return personal income taxes back to (mostly rural) counties from government employees working there, SB 391

GENERAL GOVERNANCE & ACCOUNTABILITY
Presentations for these bills are mostly still in general presentations. They often conflict with revenue meetings. We could use more help–please contact us to volunteer!

Next week, eight PERS bills in Senate workforce on Monday. This is General Governance, directly affecting costs to the state. On Thursday, we’ll get the preliminary PERS Earnings Crediting Report.

ELECTIONS
We generally support improving voting access.

SJR 2 We testified to shorten the 3-week voter registration blackout preceding elections. This could be whittled down to one or two weeks. Concerns include allowing time for mailing ballots both ways, processing through the Department of Motor Vehicles for new registrants, and intensifying the volume of work into a narrower time for clerks. We support easing access for voting, video here.

Next week:
HB 2702 Transparency- identify who authorizes campaign messages.
SB 683 Prepaid ballot return envelopes. We will comment, March 6th.
HB 2349 Imitation voters’ pamphlets should be marked “unofficial” (not our Voters’ Guides).
HB 2428 Addresses signature and fee requirements for Voters’ Pamphlet candidate space.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE (Norman Turrill)
HB 2578 We testified to “establish 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 Portland ordinance adopted in December. A large group of organizations has formed around this bill, but it is doubtful that it will pass, given the revenue problems during this legislative session, video here.

We will testify on two other important campaign finance bills: HB 2584, about independent expenditures and coordination of campaign expenditures, and HB 2702, about campaign advertisement disclaimers.

REDISTRICTING (Norman Turrill)
The Secretary of State’s ad hoc Redistricting Task Force made good progress during its meeting this week. It has the goal of crafting a constitutional amendment and a statute bill for the legislature to consider. The Task Force agreed on most major features of an independent commission redistricting process, which are similar to the California commission and process. A LC draft will be returned to the Task Force in about two weeks, when the Task Force may again meet to iron out remaining details.

And our Governance volunteers!

  • Helen Beardsworth, testimony drafts, a 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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news iconImportant Dates

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

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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