Legislative Report, Volume 27, Number 7 – March 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 provided extensive testimony on the Dept. of Environmental Quality budget, SB 5518.  This is a critical agency responsible for protecting our air, land and water.  Many of the programs mentioned below are linked to this budget.  Although we are not a part of a recent lawsuit related to water quality permits, we can relate to the frustration implied in the suit.  We need funding to deal with expired permits AND we need money to fund municipal facilities to keep our waters clean!

This week the Dept. of Energy budget, HB 5009, will be heard.  An Interim Committee had extensive meetings on a possible restructuring or dissolution of this agency.  The budget has no General Funds, and Lottery Funds only to pay for debt service, so the League usually is silent on this budget.  You can listen to testimony on the agency restructuring proposals in the House Energy and Environment Committee March 15.

CLIMATE CHANGE (Claudia Keith)

Senator Dembrow’s latest newsletter gives a great overview of what’s happening with climate policy. The Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources has formed a CC policy workgroup, which started meeting this past Tuesday. You can follow the video of the workgroup’s meetings on the committee’s website. Other resources: League’s letter about the Cap & Trade Clean Jobs Bill SB 557 and our coalition partner, Our Children’s Trust’s letter of support for SB 557 & HB 2468.

HB 2131, the oil by rail bill, and HB 3344, the bill to make it a little harder to build oil terminals in OR, are both up in House E&E on Monday 3/13. SB 7 was also filed on this issue.

Climate Test bills (Oregon Climate Test FB page and the national campaign at Climatetest.org) have been introduced in both the House and the Senate. Chief Sponsors are Rep. Ken Helm (D-Beaverton) and Sen. Michael Dembrow (D-Portland). The bill numbers are HB 3343 and SB 1007 respectively. SB 773, sponsored by Sen. Beyer, was also introduced. Related is HB 3307, a new program for regulating air contaminant emissions from new facilities generating methane or other toxic gases.

HB 2343, HB 3166, SB 908 & HB 3167 redefines DOE, comprehensive energy report – emerging energy opportunities, etc.

HB 2239 a task force, energy efficient building codes and HB 3189, new Dept. of Building Codes for green energy technology. HB 2710 on this issue will be heard on March 20 in House Energy and Environment.  Expect amendments.

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

HB 3165 relating to the carbon dioxide standard for energy facilities, requires the Energy Facility Siting Council to update carbon dioxide emission standard for base load gas plants no less than once every two years.

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

These Price on GHGE Bills are still “alive”:  SB 557, SB 748, HB 2135, HB 2468 and a Carbon Price place holder HB 3023.

AIR QUALITY & TOXICS (Marilyn Koenitzer)

We continue to follow the Cleaner Air Oregon process (see www.cleanerair.oregon.gov).

Sen. Dembrow introduced SB 1008 related to diesel emissions. The League provided testimony in support.  We are now following HB 2669, the Toxics Reporting and Community Right to Know bill, that gets its first hearing March 20 in the House Environment and Energy Committee.  This bill provides a direct benefit to any city or county wishing to implement a toxics reporting and community pollution emissions database. It involves air, water and ground pollutants. Businesses using these toxics are required to report at no cost to the local government.  It will allow a city or county to collect toxics emission data in air and water for over 1500 toxic chemicals down to the pound, rather than the ton.  HB 2669 gives everyone in their local community the opportunity to get data about air toxics pollution anytime from a publicly accessible website run by the local Fire Marshall.  It is a voluntary opt-in program. Based on community support, cities or counties can choose to, but are not required to, implement the program.

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 bill (SB 847) 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.  SB 847 will be heard in Senate Environment and Natural Resources on March 15.  The League supported a similar bill (HB 3474) in 2015.

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

LAND USE and TRANSPORTATION (Peggy Lynch and Sandra Gangle)

On March 14 the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will hear HB 2983 changing soils requirements related to urban growth boundary expansions (UGB) and HB 2894 allowing cities to consider likelihood of development when selecting UGB lands.  The League opposes these bills. At the same time, the House Human Services and Housing Committee will hear a number of land use bills focusing on affordable housing.  HB 2937 and HB 2938 both allow dwellings on exclusive farm use (EFU) lands.  The League has consistently supported preserving our EFU lands.  We also have concerns about infrastructure including wells, septic systems and roads.  Allowing accessory dwellings in urban settings is appropriate where services exist.  We will oppose the EFU elements of these bills.

HB 2012, 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.

On transportation, the House Committee on Transportation Policy will hear HB 2290, which increases some fees that the Dept. of Motor Vehicles charges related to motor vehicle registration, titling, driving privileges and vehicle business certificates.  Becomes operative July 1, 2018. (Note: Over 40% of the state’s income comes from fees and they do not have the same restrictions for approval as a tax increase does.)  This is the last week of workgroups, and then the full Joint Committee on Transportation will be coming back together to see if there is an emerging transportation package. The workgroup on transit, bike, pedestrian, and safety will be recommending a $107M statewide package based on an employee payroll tax of 1/10 of one percent.

OREGON FISH AND WILDLIFE (Peggy Lynch)

The Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet on Friday, March 17 at the Benton County Fairgrounds (Guerber Hall, 110 SE 53rd Street, Corvallis) to reconsider their rules on Columbia River Fisheries Reform adopted Jan. 20.  Friday’s meeting starts at 8 a.m. and follows this agenda http://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/commission/minutes/17/03_march/index.asp

OREGON MARINE BOARD (Peggy Lynch)

The Oregon Marine Board invites recreational boaters to complete an online survey and provide feedback on how to improve the area where you boat. Boaters can access an online survey at http://www.oregon.gov/OSMB/forms-library/Pages/Six-Year-Plan.aspx or go to the survey directly at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GWGC7L6. The survey will be available online through March 31, 2017. To view the existing plan and completed facility projects, visit http://www.oregon.gov/OSMB/forms-library/Documents/Boating%20Facilities/SixYearPlanNeed_Completion.pdf.

WATER (Peggy Lynch)

Monday the Dept. of Environmental Quality budget bill, SB 5518, will again be heard.  The water program is slated for major cuts.  Your help is needed to share the importance of this agency to water quality.

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. SB 3, related to suction dredge mining is another important bill.

A work session on SB 812, the onsite septic loan program “fixes”, was held in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee on March 13.  The League supports. 

The Dept. of Environmental Quality held public hearings on March 15 on a general permit which will allow industrial facilities to discharge stormwater in Oregon. There are a wide variety of industries that operate under these permits, such as manufacturing, transportation, scrap yards, landfills, metal plating and timber products industries.  You can view or submit comments by March 20, http://www.oregon.gov/deq/get-involved/documents/0320171200z.pdf

The 2017 Clean Water State Revolving Fund rulemaking will revise rules to allow for fiscal and programmatic flexibility to ensure perpetuity. The rulemaking process will include Clean Water State Revolving Fund Advisory Committee meetings. To learn more about this rulemaking and the advisory committee you can view the rulemaking web page at: CWSRF 2017 Rulemaking. DEQ will post documents related to the advisory committee on this page.

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.

The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) Grant Program and Restoration Grant administrative rules were last amended in 2009 and 2011, respectively. Since that time, OWEB has identified refinements that will result in more efficient and effective processes to receive, evaluate and administer grant applications and agreements. Proposed Rules for OWEB Grant Program and Restoration Grants (PDF).  Public comment period for the amended rules will close at 5:00 p.m. on March 30, 2017. Send comments by email to Eric Hartstein with the phrase “Comments on OWEB Grant Program and Restoration Grants” in the subject line, or send written comments to Eric Hartstein at OWEB, 775 Summer Street NE, Suite 360, Salem, OR 97301-1290.

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

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

NOW WE GET THE WHOLE OHA BUDGET PICTURE

The Ways and Means Human Services Subcommittee concluded last week with the review of the total OHA budget.  Public testimony was taken on March 8.  The proposed closure of the Junction City Hospital brought in parents of adult children in care, a forensic doctor and a nurse from the facility who asked to keep the hospital open.  County Public Health Directors (6) talked about communicable disease prevention and treatment and the potential loss of programs, such as Baby’s First (home visiting) food programs and reproductive health programs.  Planned Parenthood talked about access for college and community college students planning their careers. College partners supported the $30 million ask to modernize public health programs. School based Health Center advocates pointed to treatment for children in the school settings. College students talked about health care careers. The Co-Chairs of the Committee were open to additional written comments from the public.  (See LWVOR’s testimony on HB 5026)

The House Health Care Committee passed HB 2726 for targeted outreach for Health Care for All Oregon Children.  There were 4 quiet no votes among the committee members, but the majority prevailed. They also passed HB 2882, to require that a representative from a dental care be on Coordinated Care Organization boards.  Still on the Health Care Agendas is HB 2122 on modifications for CCO financial operations, and HB 2679 on hospital rate review commissions.

The Senate Health Committee heard SB 419, a bill related to hospital rates, and 2 bills on control of drug prices in SB 792 and SB 793.  The League has a position on cost control so we will continue to follow these bills. Other pending bills are on tobacco and other product taxes. SB 588 on Health Care for All children also passed on a 3-2 vote on March 7 and both will go to Ways and Means.

HUMAN SERVICES UNDER THE SCOPE THIS WEEK

The Department of Human Services Budget Review process starts this week, so check OLIS for Budget Information, which are online stating March 14.

Recent bills in Senate Human Services were on SB 231 for a task force for college student mental health support. SB 246 has discussed suspension of child care certifications when there were reported concerns about child safety. SB 101A on child abuse investigations was passed to the Judiciary Committee, and HB 2116 the Sibling Bill of Rights was passed by House HS on March 8.

The House Human Services and Housing Committee has been focusing on Housing this session.  One of the most recent bills is HB 2006, which drew a crowd testifying in favor of the elimination of the tax credit for mortgage interest deductions. Debbie Aiona drafted testimony for the League. Becky Gladstone delivered it.

The Housing Alliance has asked for $100 million for preservation of low-cost housing. This week HB 2570 asks for $25 million for grants to eligible non-profit agencies through the Oregon Housing and Community Services.  Habitat for Humanity administered a revolving fund in past sessions. The League has not yet supported these bills because of the amounts requested and unknown funding availabilty.  SB 301 was approved for vertical housing development zones in Senate HS.

Anti-poverty bills in play now: HB 2347 on the TANF program enhancements in 2007, which were suspended in the recession in 2009 and were set to continue for another 2 years.  The bill asks for a sunset in 2019.  The intent is to return to the enhancements in the longer term. HB 2684 is the bill to set the minimum hourly wage at $15 an hour.  Labor leaders and staff who work in Developmental Disabilities asked for wage increases to bring jobs above poverty level.

MONITORING HARMFUL GUN BILLS (Marge Easley)

Last week’s Legislative Report included information about gun-violence prevention bills that the League supports this session. However, there is a long list of bills, most of them sponsored by legislators with ties to the National Rifle Association and the Oregon Firearms Federation, that the League will strongly oppose if they make it to a hearing. Two of the bills, HB 2126 and HB 2973, seek to repeal the 2015 Oregon Firearms Safety Act (SB 941), which requires background check bills on all gun transfers. Another (HB 2840) would allow for tax credits for firearm background checks and associated travel.

Bills to ease restrictions or repeal concealed carry laws (HB 2127, SB 655, SB 668, SB 669, SB 775, SB 920) are particularly popular this year, perhaps inspired by the Trump Administration’s current efforts to pass a national concealed carry reciprocity law (HR 38). Reciprocity bills are referred to in the gun safety community as “Forced Mandated Concealed Carry” and are especially dangerous, because they would override existing state laws regarding who may carry loaded, concealed guns in the community and would force states to allow individuals to carry guns who are not qualified to do so under their own laws.

If necessary, League members will be called on to take action in opposition to these harmful bills.

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

Continuing this week, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) Administrative Budget for statewide programs, SB 5516, and the Oregon State School Fund that flows to individual school districts and education service districts, SB 5517, are in the Education Subcommittee on Ways and Means. The Early Learning Division’s Funding Metrics presentation summarizes how $400.7 million in the 2015-17 budget was spent (slide 7) and the request for 2017-19 $414.6 million (slide 25). A Pre-School Promise overview showed 25,000 low income children still lack access to high quality preschool. 62% of low-income preschool-age children in Oregon still lack access to a high quality, state-funded preschool, and are likely unable to afford tuition.  The National Institute for Early Education Research lists Oregon as 31st nationally in access to publicly funded preschool.  Next week the Youth Development Division budget will be heard.

SB 231 would establish a task force on student mental health support to investigate mental health issues among students, with emphasis on college recruitment, retention and completion. It has had a public hearing and waits scheduling of a work session in the Senate Committee on Human Services.

HB 2543 would remove the percentage cap on calculations for State School Fund distributions for students in average daily membership who are eligible for special education as a child with disability. That would allow districts with higher percentages of students on Individual Education Plans to be compensated beyond the present cap. But some argue this unfairly penalizes school districts with successful interventions that lower the percentage of enrollment in special education. It has had a public hearing in the House Committee on Education and awaits a work session.

HB 2649 would direct the State Board of Education to adopt by rule a complaint process to report school district policy in violation of state law prohibiting harassment, intimidation, bullying and cyberbullying. This bill establishes a process where a student or parent may file a complaint with the Department of Education claiming that the anti-bullying policy was not applied as required by state law – but only after the student or parent has fully exhausted the district complaint process and notified the district of their intent to file with the state.  It has had a public hearing and awaits a work session in the House Committee on Education

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

Corporate revenue: Bi-partisan support is evolving for “bending the cost curve” and “modernizing business taxes”.

A revenue workgroup is studying two ideas:

  • A flat gross receipts tax. All businesses over a minimum threshold pay a flat rate, based on sales
  • The Washington state Business and Occupation taxes; minimum threshold, with many rates and exemptions that would be tailored to Oregon. Roughly, if we substituted a business and occupation tax for our current corporate income tax, with 2017-19 forecasts, we’d collect $3.5 billion, minus $2.5 repealed in corporate income taxes, for a net increase of $1 billion annually.

Calls for corporate contributions to our state budget shortfall got heavy attention at our Budget Roadshows. More than $35 million was spent in Measure 97 opposition in 2016. If we can find a workable compromise, funding like that could be used positively in our state budget. For example, 46% of our state ODOT technology work force is within five years of retirement. We need well-educated replacement workers. We can agree on this; note Oregon Business Summits vision:

  1. Strong economy/strong middle class
  2. Well educated people with access to quality education
  3. Healthy people/access to quality health care
  4. Safe communities and just incarceration policies
  5. Great place to live

HB 2770 and HB 2063: Behind the scenes discussions continue on these complex 2015 follow up bills, designed to keep Comcast, CenturyLink or Frontier from using a generous property tax exemption (incentive) designed for Google. Ten’s of millions of dollars in property tax revenue dollars are at stake. HB 2770 seems the better of the bills.

Housing revenue: Corporate taxes remain the bigger focus to resolve Oregon’s budget shortfall, though two housing tax deduction bills, which we testified on, made the press this week. Two progressive phase-out bills would target wealthy Oregon households, our more usual itemized deduction filers and subsidy beneficiaries. Primary federal tax mortgage deductions would not be affected, only the smaller Oregon tax portion. The League supported both tax deduction phase out bills; property taxes in House Revenue and MID- mortgage interest deduction, in Human Services and Housing. Several who spoke for and against these two bills referred to them together in testimony.

HB 2771 Property tax deduction phase outs: Basically, households with gross incomes 5 times higher than Oregon’s average, those above $125,000, or $250,000 filing jointly, would lose this Oregon deduction. State revenue impact is forecast at $190 million (video here, 1 hour in). Tax Fairness Oregon thinks this bill is unlikely to move.

HB 2006, mortgage interest deduction limits, removes the subsidy for interest over $15,000 a year and eliminates the deduction entirely for joint filers with $200,000 in taxable income, $100,000 for single filers. Revenue saved would benefit the Oregon Housing Fund. Testimony participation was heavy, arguing that the six metro counties benefit most, low income and racial minorities suffer, and state budget loss this biennium will be $1.1 billion. Some thought this would pass in 2013. Opposition now may imply concern that it is closer to passing this session. (video here, 1 hour, 35 minutes in).

Tobacco taxes were assigned to Social policy.

Elections

We support pre-registering 16-year-olds to vote when they apply for drivers’ permits etc., especially since they may not get a driver’s license renewal with Motor Voter registration until 8 years later and may miss out on intervening elections.

SB 802 would pre-register 16-year-olds to vote, not change their actual voting age. (video here, 1 hour 23 minutes in).

We will also support HB 2948, the corresponding 16-year-old pre-registration House bill this week.

SB 683 would require repaid ballot return envelopes. We did not support this out of concern for the cost, when there is a budget deficit.

SB 1013: We’re watching this interesting bill that would study increasing voter registration database accuracy by comparing records with Department of Revenue tax payment address changes.

Several elections bills have a “policing” stance. The Elections Division expects these to have complaint-driven monitoring:

  • HB 2349: A 2016 primary imitation state “Voters’ Pamphlet Guide” prompted a Secretary of State action showing the problem. We did not testify but have been invited to help craft a bill amendment to clarify that the League does not attempt to imitate state voters’ pamphlets.
  • HB 2430: Voters’ pamphlet statements must be true.
  • SB 225: Campaign treasurers assume personal liability, to be heard in committee on March 22.

National Popular Vote (Marge Easley)

See the letter sent this week and Marge Easley’s Beaverton Valley times NPV Compact article, and Eugene Register Guard NPV Op-Ed. Testimony has been submitted for the hearing set Tuesday.

Campaign Finance (Norman Turrill)

The LWVOR testified this week in favor of HB 2702 that requires communications (advertisements) made in support of, or opposition to, a candidate or measure to identify whether the candidate, petition committee or other political committee authorized the communication. This is a very modest requirement for a campaign advertisement disclaimer. However, it does not go as far as a “paid for by” disclaimer that federal candidates and many states require on campaign ads. That idea is thought to be unconstitutional under Oregon’s constitution, although it has never been tested in the courts. Such disclaimers help control “Dark Money” expenditures in election campaigns.

Redistricting (Norman Turrill)

The Secretary of State’s ad hoc Redistricting Task Force made no further progress during this week. We are waiting for an LC draft of a proposed constitutional amendment to be returned to the Task Force, then the Task Force may again meet to iron out remaining details.

General Governance & Accountability

JLIMTC (Joint Legislative Information Management and Technology Committee)

Agency presentations are almost complete with bills expected soon, including testimony requested on HB 2906, establishing a Geographic Information Council.

Department of Transportation technology reports projects on time, on budget, with reserves. DMV can take credit cards in all 60 branches and is phasing out microfilm. LIDAR scanner technology augments interactive road condition travel signs. Trip check servers were fine during recent storms with over 80,000 peak hits per minute. LIDAR 3-D modeling is much safer (no more human survey crews in dangerous traffic ) and huge road construction savings.

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
  • Jody Wiser, League member, revenue review, Tax Fairness Oregon

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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