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Legislative Report, Volume 28, Number 2 – February 2018


In This Issue

Governance

Natural Resources

Social Policy

Education Policy


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Governance

By Rebecca Gladstone, Governance Coordinator

Please share our report and keep reading! See the Oregonian overview. This week in governance: NPV (National Popular Vote), “tuition equity” update (read: “Dreamers”), small donor and financial disclosure (elections) bills, cybersecurity, broadband, and sunset review bills. Most governance committees are scheduled concurrently, in conflict with others. We need your brain power, as referenced below.

TAX Revenue (Chris Vogel)

LWVOR Testimony on SB 1528 (the section to limit pass through tax deductions): In evaluating specific tax preferences, League uses the following criteria: whether the tax preference promotes equity and progressivity; and whether the revenue loss from the tax preference is justifiable. The LWVOR believes any tax proposal should be evaluated with regard to its effect on the entire tax structure and the tax system should recognizes the individual’s responsibility for government services by providing for broad sharing of the tax burden. The pass-through business tax exemption limits Oregon’s ability to invest in our schools and other essential services, and works against equity and progressivity.  While LWVOR would prefer complete elimination of the Oregon pass-through tax break, we commend the effort to impose a limitation “not to exceed $250,000,” and it should be limited to taxpayers with no more than $250,000 of nonpassive income.

SB 1523  SB 1527 , SB 1528, and SB 1529 were moved out of Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue to be heard next week on the Senate floor.

House Committee On Revenue considered a variety of bills this week in a rush to move some to the House floor: HB 4011, HB 4026, HB 4028, HB 4074, HB 4078, HB 4080, HB 4083, HB 4108, and HB 4139.

Elections

HB 4076: The League supported this Small Donor Elections bill with testimony together with a large coalition of other organizations.

HB 4077: We supported this bill to close a loophole for candidate financial information disclosure, testimony here and video here, in coordination with Common Cause and the ACLU.

National Popular Vote (Marge Easley)

Thanks to all League members who responded to the recent Action Alert (link to Action Alert) on SB 1512, the National Popular Vote (NPV) bill that refers NPV to the voters. At a hearing in Senate Rules on February 6, the League listed the many reasons why legislators should reject the idea of a referral and instead pass a clean bill. Common Cause, NPV Oregon, and many members of the public joined the League in its stance. The remaining testimony at the hearing came from those who favor the Electoral College. Thus, it appears that SB 1512 in its current form, despite the backing of Senate President Courtney, has little to no public support. It will be interesting to see if it moves forward. Stay tuned!

Public Records Transparency (Josie Koehne)

SB 1514: Sunset review of various Executive branch entities. Our testimony was tempered by long-term League perspective of task force and commission oversight in other League advocacy portfolios., Amendments are expected. Our testimony here and video here.

Upcoming Governance bills-

We have been asked to consider supporting these upcoming bills.

  • HB 4023 Broadband Access: Relating to broadband access and the “digital divide” in Oregon. Remember the “Information Superhighway”? Michael Copps, former FEC Chair, spoke to this at our 2015 LWVOR State Convention. Here are presentation slides and video.
  • HB 4155 “Net Neutrality”: Establishes Task Force on Broadband Security to study uniformity of national to protect customers of broadband Internet access service providers.
  • HB 4158 Prepaid ballot return envelopes: Permits county, city or district to choose to permit electors to return ballot by business reply mail, with county, city or district paying cost for ballot return.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! If any of these areas interest you, please contact: Governance Coordinator: Becky Gladstone, 541.510.9387, rebecca.gladstone@gmail.com.

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dropletNatural Resources

By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator

Your natural resources team has prioritized the Clean Energy Jobs bills (SB 1507 or HB 4001) and the fee bill in support of Cleaner Air Oregon (SB 1508 or HB 4002) for the 2018 session.  Plan on coming to Salem to help lobby with Cleaner Air Oregon on Feb. 14. Agencies have small budget “asks”, but all will depend on the Feb. 16 Revenue Forecast. Some land use bills are still alive, since they have been posted for Work Sessions. Policy bills must be moved out of committee by Thursday, Feb. 15.  See below for details 

CLIMATE CHANGE (CLAUDIA KEITH)

Our main priority this session is Clean Energy Jobs (CEJ/Cap & Invest) carbon pricing legislation. SB 1507 and HB 4001 both reflect the LWVUS Carbon (greenhouse gas emission) Pricing position. Key policy differentials are outlined clearly in this document: Clean Energy Jobs – LC 44 & LC 176 – Summary of Policy Decisions on Specific Legislative Components. You can find more information on CEJ at Clean Energy Jobs Leg Work Group Resources.

The House and Senate Environment policy committees met jointly this past week: The League provided written and verbal testimony. There was a great turnout on Wednesday with two conference rooms full plus additional overflow areas to accommodate climate activists. Work sessions and committee votes were scheduled for Monday. Amendments are to be posted soon. We expect both bills to move to Ways and Means this week where they may sit until end of session. Many League members signed up for CEJ Lobby Day on the 12th, along with 400-500 of our friends.

Oil Rail Safety, HB 4004, had a public hearing on Thursday with League testimony. Expect amendments and a work session on Feb. 15. The bill is less comprehensive than the bills from the 2016 and 2017 sessions.  It would add “oil trains” as an additional hazard to current statute.  Because of the request for a small addition in Dept. of Environmental Quality staffing, this bill will also need to go to Ways and Means.

HB 4148 Oregon Dept. of Energy restructure with a new Energy Board had a public hearing on Friday Feb 9.  The League provided written testimony. We are disappointed that the bill is not as comprehensive as HB 2020 (2017), which actually addressed Climate and Energy Policy. There are also two similar bills we have not supported, SB 1519 and SB 1537. We understand there are amendments that may combine these concepts.  Currently all three bills fund the Oregon Global Warming Commission.  These three bills may also move to Ways and Means to await end of session.

AIR QUALITY& TOXICS (MARILYN KOENITZER)

We continue to follow the Cleaner Air Oregon (CAO) process (see www.cleanerair.oregon.gov). We support a program grounded in science, informed by data and health-based.  SB 1508 and HB 4002 both address the fees needed to implement the rules that we hope will be adopted by the Environmental Quality Commission in July. There is a third bill, SB 1541, that we will also be following. A hearing and possible work session on all three will be held Feb. 12. The Joint Audits Committee will hold an informational meeting on the DEQ Air Quality audit also on Monday.  Put Feb. 14 on your calendar and join us to deliver “we love clean air” notes to our legislators.  Lobby Day for Clean Air: Click here for more information/RSVP

LAND USE (PEGGY LYNCH)

We provided oral testimony on Feb. 6th in support of HB 4034, a technical amendment to SB 1051 (2017) to clarify that the accessory dwelling unit (ADU) provision is for inside cities and urban growth boundaries.  We have offered to work on the concept of ADUs in counties during the interim.  The bill is not set for a work session although the issue may be included in HB 4031, a bill meant to clarify/correct a couple of bills from 2017 related to the transfer of development rights related to the Metolius and the Madras Airport.  We also expect an amendment to reestablish the guest ranch statute that expired at the first of the year.  That law allowed from 4-10 rooms to be used for guests at a working ranch. The “relating clause” of the bill could mean that others will try to use this as a vehicle for mischief, although word is that the bill will only deal with a few narrow issues.  We will be watching closely as the bill is set for a work session on Feb. 13.

HB 4075 would have changed the agreed-upon Metro urban and rural reserves lands. The League supported the Metro process and does not support this bill. After a lengthy public hearing on Feb. 8, the Committee chair announced that this bill will not move forward this session.

HB 4092 had a hearing on Feb. 9.  It would establish new standards for the expansion of state airports onto Exclusive Farm Use (EFU) lands, but was specifically targeted to expand the runway at the Aurora Airport. The League provided testimony in opposition as a run around local land use. A work session on the bill is scheduled for Feb. 12.

See the report on Housing in the Social Policy portion of the Legislative Report for other bills that intersect with land use.

We are also watching the process in Douglas County where the county commission is attempting to expand the amount of rural residential lands using the Southern Oregon Regional Pilot Project. There was a final public hearing on this issue on Feb. 7 with an expectation that the County Commission will decide on Feb. 21.  Other counties are watching this process closely, as they consider expanding rural residential zones on lands currently not eligible under our land use laws.

NATURAL RESOURCE AGENCY BUDGETS (Peggy LYNCH)

There are a number of budget requests the League will be following.  The Ways and Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources will be discussing a request from the Dept. of Environmental Quality to continue working to replace/upgrade their IT system—a four-year project.  The onsite septic fees adopted by the Environmental Quality Commission in November are expected to be ratified by the legislature at the end of the session in the budget Fee Ratification bill: LC 264

Depending on budget constraints, the League will support the Water Resources Dept. request for $1,285,956 General Funds for basin studies related to groundwater.

Agencies are already working on their 2019 budgets and legislative concepts.  The League is engaged in these discussions.  Most agencies must have information to the Governor’s Office by June.  After the Governor reviews, agencies get a second chance to argue their case, with their final requests due in September.  If the current Governor wins in November, her total state budget is due Dec. 1.  If it is a new Governor, the budget is due Feb. 1.

ELLIOTT FOREST AND FORESTRY (PEGGY LYNCH)

The Elliott Public Ownership Project has posted new information: Elliott Public Ownership Project – January 2018 Update and will be discussed at the State Land Board (Meeting Packet) meeting on Feb. 13.

OFFSHORE AND COASTAL ISSUES

Federal offshore oil drilling: Public meetings on the Trump administration’s plan are being held around the country. In Oregon, the meeting was Feb. 6th where those in opposition rallied.  Comments can be submitted online or by mail until March 9. More information is available at www.boem.gov/National-Program-Comment/#submitcomments. The League has a long-standing position against this activity and provided testimony in opposition.  We expect a bill in 2019 to continue the moratorium on oil drilling in Oregon waters within the 3-mile limit.

TRANSPORTATION (PEGGY LYNCH)

The Oregon Transportation Commission will meet in Salem on Feb. 15. Agenda: https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/ORDOT/2018/02/08/file_attachments/955755/OTCagenda2018feb15.pdf

WATER (PEGGY LYNCH)

Prepare for drought this summer:  Currently the snowpack is 35-40% of normal.  And rainfall has also been less than normal.  Of course, there’s still time for snow, and we could have a rainy spring.  But it’s been a warm winter as well.  This summer is looking more like 2016.

REGIONAL SOLUTIONS (PEGGY LYNCH)

The League encourages members to 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  Members can attend or call in to listen to economic activities in each of the 11 regions. The Ways and Means Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development held an informational hearing on the program on Feb. 8.  You can listen to Committee discussion online.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!  The 2018 session will be quick! Important hearings will be scheduled the first week. There are opportunities to participate with agencies and with legislators on rulemaking and task forces.  If any of these areas above interest you, please contact Natural Resources Coordinator Peggy Lynch at peggylynchor@gmail.com.

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houseSocial Policy

 By Karen Nibler, Social Policy Coordinator

House Health Care Committee passes HJR 203 A, the constitutional amendment that declares Health Care is a Right.  If it passes the House and Senate chambers, then it will be on the November Ballot.

HJR 203 was presented in a special evening committee session by Representative Mitch Greenlick, Senators Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward, Lee Beyer, and Laurie Monnes Anderson.  They aspire to a Health Care for All system in Oregon, but start with the statement that Health Care is a Right. Rep Nosse and The Oregon Nurses Association supported the bill. The League submitted Comments on the bill. The federal contribution to the Oregon Medicaid program is tenuous for the future and the financial picture is unknown. These legislators want to forge onward to create an Oregon system that is proactive and cost effective. The House Committee voted 6 in favor, 3 opposed, and 2 excused.   The bill will move to the House floor for a vote.

In HB 4005 the increasing prices for prescription drugs was challenged. The League supported new regulations to report price increases to the Department of Consumer and Business Services. See letter. The bill was amended, passed and sent to the House with a ‘Do Pass’ recommendation and referral to Human Services Ways and Means.

HB 4018 sets boundaries for the Coordinated Care Organizations requiring open meetings and risk bearing representatives on the board. See letter. Further amendments are still pending and the bill was set over until Monday. A bill has to be scheduled for a work session in order to stay alive past Friday, the 9th.

Other health care bills were discussed this week and scheduled for hearings next week.  HB 4003 deals with diesel emissions, which are harmful to health; HB 4020 proposes longer recovery time in Ambulatory Surgery Centers; and HB 4133 explores causes and prevention for maternal morbidity at childbirth.  HB 4137 asked the Alcohol and Drug Commission for recommendations, but no reports have been received, so the plan is to send the bill to Ways and Means for follow-up. HB 4156 prohibits changes in drug coverage during the insurance plan year and will be scheduled for further hearings.

Senate Health Care introduced SB 1539 to provide a psychiatric advice line for adult patients at the Oregon Health Sciences University, similar to the OPAL-K for the consultation for children. The bill was moved to the Senate floor and will go to Ways and Means for a funding decision. SB 1548 declared June 27 as Oregon Post Traumatic Injury Day.  SB 1549 considered Medicaid insurance coverage for Oregon State Hospital patients after admission and upon release from the hospital. Decisions are pending.

House Human Services and Housing presented housing bills the first day.  HJR 201 asked for bonding authority for local governments and HB 4007 requests an increase in the Document Recording Fee and establishes a homeowner savings program. HB 4006 considers local planning assistance for rent burdened communities.  Nancy Donovan presented the League positions and submitted lettersThese bills will be heard again on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

HB 4010 sets up a Task Force on Racial Disparity in Housing. HB 4134 allows property owners to clear offensive language off property deeds.

The League is a member of the Housing Alliance which meets in Portland.  The 2018 Housing Opportunity Day is Thursday, February 15, at the Capitol.  Further Information is online.

The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) grant levels were proposed to be increased in HB 4081.  This bill was discussed in the Committee for Early Childhood and Family Supports.  The grant levels for families on TANF have been extremely low for years.  Parents cannot afford to pay rent and utilities without further assistance.  The Department of Human Services provides food benefits on the Oregon Trail card, work training, and child care while in training or treatment programs, but some families live with relatives or friends or are homeless. The low grant levels contribute to homelessness.  This bill will be sent to Human Services Ways and Means for budget decisions if it passes.

House Revenue is considering HB 4028, which covers the Earned Income Tax Credit and other tax credits for housing lenders and biofuel projects.  House Judiciary will hear HB 4009, which amends juvenile dependency codes for taking a child into protective custody.

Senate Human Services heard SB 1540 A, which tightened the definitions of abuse for mandatory reporters.  It defined sexual abuse and added sexual contact between a provider and patient in mental health or substance abuse treatment.  The bill passed and will be sent to the Senate floor for a vote.

House Human Services heard HB 4129, which changed the Nursing Home Board to Long Term Care Administrators Board and required that residential care administrators attend 40 hours training and take an exam to be licensed. The bill is scheduled for a work session on 2-13-18.

GUN SAFETY (MARGE EASLEY)

On February 7, the League delivered testimony in support of HB 4145, often referred to as the “Boyfriend Loophole” bill, in an emotional hearing in House Judiciary. The bill strengthens Oregon laws related to firearm possession by including boyfriends or other household members in the list of those who must relinquish firearms if convicted of stalking. It also mandates that data on stalking convictions be entered into law enforcement databases.

Kicked off by a statement from Governor Brown, supportive testimony included pleas from the Justice Department, law enforcement, the medical community, as well as victims and family members of domestic violence. Opponents of the bill, including the Oregon Firearms Federation and the NRA, emphasized the prevalence of false accusations and the unfairness of our judicial system in obtaining stalking convictions. On February 9, the bill successfully passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on a 7 to 2 vote and now heads to the House floor.

Public Safety Bills in the short session come from the Oregon Judicial Department.  House judiciary considered HB 4096 on judicial salaries and HB 4097 on law library services for litigants.  Testimony on HB 4096 supported the request for salary increases for state judges in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and District Circuit Court Judges.  See attached letter.

The General Government Committee will hear SB 1545, which requests that state agencies be billed for court technology services.  The Chief Justice will ask for supplemental funding for court staff in district courts in a Budget Rebalance.  The 2017-19 budget reduced court staff levels, which lead to program reductions and insufficient staff to serve the public in district courts.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! If any of these areas interest you, please contact Social Policy Coordinator: Karen Nibler 541.752.8567 niblerk@comcast.net

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Education Policygradcap

By Chris Vogel, Education Policy Coordinator

The Joint Committee on Student Success meets on Friday during this short session. Invited panels of students, business leaders, school administrators and state agency leaders spoke about strengths and weaknesses of Oregon’s school system.  Committee members will be holding about 18 sessions this next year throughout the state to continue exploration with students, teachers, administrators, community leaders, business owners and others.  Many of the committee members also sit on Revenue Committees in the House or Senate.  The League is hopeful that a connection between a quality education model and funding for schools will be discussed as this committee furthers work on student success.

House Committee on Early Childhood and Family Supports considered:

HB 4067 to expand the definition of term “child with a disability” for purposes of special education to include children who have developmental delays and who are under 10 years of age. League testimony used our position that the early years of a child’s life are crucial in building the foundation for educational attainment and greatly impact success or failure in later life. Early intervention and prevention measures are effective in helping children reach their full potential. The League supports policies, programs, and funding at all levels of the community and government that promote the well-being, encourage the full development, and ensure the safety of all children.  These include comprehensive services for children with developmental and cognitive disabilities. HB 4067 would clarifying this definition of “developmental delays” so children who have received Early Learning intervention services would bridge seamlessly into K-12 services without the burden of extensive paperwork and have continuity of service.

HB 4066 would establish an Early Childhood Equity Fund. LWVOR testimony supports funding for culturally specific early learning, early childhood and parent support programs in this state. To receive a grant under this section, a program must: provide outreach, support and resources to children and families of ethnicities that are not currently served, or that are underserved, by existing programs in this state, including children and families who are of African-American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian American or multiracial descent; and demonstrate a proven ability to provide outreach, support and resources to children and families

The Senate Committee on Education held a public hearing on SB 1563 that says undocumented students need not apply for federal identification documents. The League testified that LWVUS believes in a federal immigration law that provides an efficient, expeditious system for legal entry of immigrants into the United States including the DREAM ACT.  Unfortunately, Dreamers and other similar undocumented immigrant youth wishing to attend college are facing huge barriers, through no fault of their own.  LWVOR supports SB 1563 because it removes a requirement that students who are not citizens or lawful permanent residents apply for official federal identification document to be eligible for exemption from paying nonresident tuition at public universities; permits public universities, and community colleges to provide scholarships and other financial aid to students who are not citizens or lawful permanent residents; and permits colleges to exempt from paying nonresident tuition students who are not citizens or lawful permanent residents. These young adults should not face barriers in education and livable wages. Federal immigration policy may change and could prevent college attendance for some students by fall of 2018 without the protection of this bill, which separates federal DACA identification requirements from the relationship between Oregon students and schools.  We should uphold HB 2787, the 2013 tuition equity bill, and urge support of SB 1563.

House Committee on Higher Education and Workforce Development heard HB 4014 that removes requirement that current foster child or former foster child complete volunteer service hours during previous academic year to qualify for tuition waiver. LWVOR testimony said this bill would address an unintended consequence that sometimes stands in the way of current or former foster-care-youth qualifying for college tuition waivers.  Foster children typically have already experienced many adverse childhood experiences that frequently result in increased poverty and lack of opportunity to gain job skills in technical, community college or higher education programs.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!  You may watch live on OLIS or later on OLIS recording. There are opportunities to participate with agencies and with legislators on rulemaking and task forces outside of the legislative calendar, preparing for 2019.  If any of these areas above interest you, please contact LWVOR Action Education, Early Childhood Coordinator Chris Vogel at chrisvogelvolunteerlwvor@gmail.com or 503.586.8314

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