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Legislative Report, Volume 28, Number 3 – February 2018


In This Issue

Revenue and Tax Reform

Governance

Natural Resources

Social Policy

Education Policy


Revenue and Tax Reform

By Chris Vogel, Revenue and Tax Reform

If you plan to attend the LWVOR Day at the Legislature on Friday, and have time at 8:30 am, please step into Committee Hearing Room A.  Go to this link and click on the February 23 date on the right-hand side of the page to see the agenda for the Senate Committee On Finance and Revenue.

The March Revenue Forecast was presented to the House and Senate Revenue Committees on Feb. 16.  The forecast, based on current law and not any legislation being considered this session, indicated that we have $100 million in monies agencies returned to the treasury unspent in the 2015-17 biennium.  Although there was a decrease in General Funds, there was an increase in Lottery Funds adding about $70 million additional revenue from the December forecast. There is still uncertainty around the effect of the federal tax law changes.  The legislature is continuing to consider legislation to blunt any effect on Oregon revenues.

SB 1529 passed out of the Senate.  It disconnects Oregon’s system from the federal tax code around monies multinational corporations will be returning to the states, along with other issues.  The bill assumes a gain of about $140 million to the state in one-time revenue.  The bill currently places that money into the Rainy Day Fund.  However, should the Governor’s PERS reform bill (SB 1566 A) pass, this one-time money may be moved to help pay down current PERS liability.  SB 1566 A has moved to Ways and Means.

SB 1528 would address Oregon’s “pass-through” tax breaks due to the new federal law allowing a 20% tax deduction for income received by individuals through certain businesses.  It passed out of Senate Finance but was returned to the Committee before a vote on the Senate floor.  The bill would have provided an additional $81 million in revenue. We expect to see the bill rescheduled for a hearing next week, perhaps with some amendments.  Current budget requests exceed current revenue, even with the slight growth from the March forecast.  The League has supported the concept and the need for additional revenue to pay for state services.

Action will be reviewing SB 1523 related to how Oregon taxes “broadcasters” as well as bills related to tax credits. Tax credits reduce revenue for other services, so it is important they be considered carefully. We need to get through this biennium with as little harm as possible while we consider how to engage in a broad tax reform discussion for the 2019 session. Rep. Greg Smith reminded us all that we need to “keep in mind the future is uncertain, …and we have many priorities that we’re going to want to continue to fund in the future.”  He said legislators have two options: revenue reform or controlling spending. The League works with others to assure efficient use of our tax dollars, but we continue to support true revenue reform that addresses our structural budget issues.

HB 4080 is yet another bill related to how the new federal law affects Oregon’s revenue.  Work sessions are scheduled in House Revenue on Feb. 19 and 20.

2018 OR Public Finance Basic Facts is published annually and provides some interesting information worth reviewing.  Click on the link to learn more.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!  There are opportunities to participate with agencies and with legislators on rulemaking and task forces.  If any of these areas above interest you, please write or call Revenue/Tax Reform contact Chris Vogel at chrisvogelvolunteerlwvor@gmail.com .

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Governance

By Rebecca Gladstone, Governance Coordinator

We are looking at HB 4033 -2 for election rules effects on 2018 referrals, HJR 201 A, housing, and HJR 203 A, health care. This session’s rapid processing saw rules suspended to allow progress before Thursday’s deadline for bills lacking committee hearing assignments. Bills either proceeded forward apace, were pulled for Interim refinement, or stopped.

Governance bill grab bag (non-revenue)

We were asked to prepare positions for Elections Division budget reconciliation, which all passed in work session without a public hearing. HB 4033 was pulled to form a Task force and is noteworthy:

HB 4033: Study and analysis of 2017 elections laws. We were asked to review the -2 relating to two 2018 general election referrals: HJR 201 A, housing, and HJR 203 A, health care, see press.
The League’s top priority, as always, is ensuring that voters are well informed.

SB 1551: This Equifax breach cybersecurity bill passed unanimously, proceeding to the Senate floor.

HB 4147 A: This House bill, equivalent to SB 1551, is proceeding to House Rules on a partisan vote.

HB 4023 A: Oregon Broadband Advisory Council passed unanimously to Joint Information Management and Technology.

HB 4076, the Small Donor Funded Elections program, is still alive in the House Rules committee.

HB 4077, expanding candidate Statements of Economic Interest, passed on party lines to the House Floor.

SB 1559: Anonymous whistleblower bill. Rules were suspended to adopt late posting of the -4 amendment and to pass without fiscal and revenue impact statements to Senate Rules. (News story here.)

SB 1563, “Dreamer Tuition” passed on partisan vote, proceeding to the Senate floor.

Bills pulled:

HB 4158, allowing County Clerks to opt for using pre-paid ballot return envelopes, delayed to 2019.

SB 1514, sunsetting review of commissions, etc., is off the table, moved to Interim for “refinement”.

Thank you to our volunteers! Please write or call if you would like to participate!

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 Clean Energy Jobs (SB 1507 or HB 4001) and fees for the Dept. of Environmental Quality to implement Cleaner Air Oregon.  Agencies have small budget “asks” that we will follow. Some land use bills are still alive. See below for details 

CLIMATE CHANGE (CLAUDIA KEITH)

Both Clean Energy Jobs (CEJ/Cap & Invest) carbon pricing legislation (SB 1507 A and HB 4001) that reflect the LWVUS Carbon (greenhouse gas emission) Pricing position have moved to their respective Rules Committees, where additional amendments will be considered. Then they would be moved to Ways and Means before final action in each chamber.  It is unclear which bill will be considered, but the Senate bill has already had amendments and more are already planned.  It could take until early March before a bill is considered.  It is clear that, without continuing significant public pressure, these bills could be kicked to the next session.  That would be the 10th year that this critical climate topic has been postponed for “additional changes”.  Your voice is needed.  Please call your Senator and Representative and ask them to share their support for Clean Energy Jobs.

Oil Rail Safety (HB 4004) did not move this session.  A work group was formed (Reps. Lewis, Lively, Post and Evans with the bill’s sponsor Rep. Barbara Smith Warner and stakeholders) with a goal to deliver a bipartisan bill in 2019.  It continues to be a very difficult task.  The latest effort would not have improved accident prevention, address reasonable liability coverage or even begin to address rail safety legislation that has been passed in Minnesota, Washington, or a number of other states.  In the meantime, we remain concerned about our precious Columbia River Gorge and remember the accident at Mosier.

HB 4148, which would create a new Energy Board to provide oversight to the Oregon Dept. of Energy, moved to Ways and Means with a do pass recommendation.  SB 1537 died, but SB 1519 was amended, had bipartisan support and also passed to Ways and Means, where the House and Senate bills will be considered and may be combined in some manner.  Currently both bills fund the Oregon Global Warming Commission.  The League has concerns with SB 1519 A as expressed in the Oregon Environmental Council’s testimony.

AIR QUALITY & TOXICS (MARILYN KOENITZER)

SB 1541, a compromise fee bill to implement the Cleaner Air Oregon program, was amended and moved to Ways and Means.  Although not as strong as we would have liked, the bill will begin to fund the Dept. of Environmental Quality, gather data and move the program forward. It creates a pilot program for the Portland area, is on par with over 30 other states and portions of the program sunset in 10 years, allowing the state to reconsider the cancer risk numbers.  HB 4002 was also amended and moved to House Rules. We support a program grounded in science, informed by data and health-based. SB 1508 died in committee.  Rulemaking will still need to be completed by the Environmental Quality Commission.

LAND USE (PEGGY LYNCH)

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, died in committee.  The amendment is expected to be included in HB 4031 A, a bill that clarifies/corrects a couple of bills from 2017 related to the transfer of development rights related to the Metolius and the Madras Airport. The amendment also reestablishes the guest ranch statute until 2020, allowing that issue to have a longer conversation in 2019, while allowing a Sisters area ranch to expand within the current law.  That statute had expired at the first of this year.  The “relating clause” of HB 4031 could mean that others will try to use this as a vehicle for mischief, so additional amendments could be considered in the Senate. A hearing on HB 4031 A may be held Friday, Feb. 23rd in the Senate Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources.  We have offered to work on the issue around where ADUs should be allowed in counties during the interim.

HB 4092 A 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 bill was amended and moved to House Rules without recommendation.  The League continues to be opposed.

HB 4060 was heard in the Joint Committee on Transportation on Feb. 14.  The proposed -7 amendments were introduced to address aggregate permitting.  These amendments would prevent a county from addressing noise, water, dust or other impacts.  The League joined with partners in opposition.

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 discussed a request from the Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to continue working to replace/upgrade their IT system—a four-year project. DEQ processes almost 17,000 permits annually. The League provided testimony in support. The onsite septic fees adopted by the Environmental Quality Commission in November are expected to be ratified by the legislature at the end of 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 ground water.

We support the $2 million request for the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development in HB 4006 that would provide help for cities with high numbers of “rent burdened” residents to hold public hearings, develop plans and consider development code changes to help with housing issues.

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. 1st.  If it is a new Governor, the budget is due Feb. 1st.

ELLIOTT FOREST AND FORESTRY (PEGGY LYNCH)

The Dept. of State Lands has signed a contract with Oregon Consensus to facilitate work on the Elliott Public Ownership Project (update).  After meeting with stakeholders, an advisory group will be convened to develop recommendations for decoupling the Elliott from the Common School Fund (CSF).  The $100 million bonds to be sold in the spring of 2019 will be deposited in the CSF with $120.8 million still owed.  A Habitat Conservation Plan is expected to be developed with approval by June of 2021.  In separate action, former State Senator Vicki Walker has been appointed as interim Director of the Dept. of State Lands.

OFFSHORE AND COASTAL ISSUES

Federal offshore oil drilling: Public meetings on the Trump administration’s plan are being held around the country.  Comments can be submitted online or by mail until March 9. More information is available here. The League has a long-standing position against this activity and provided testimony in opposition.

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.  (latest drought report)

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.

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

HEALTH CARE

As most of you are aware, HJR 203 A, the proposal for a constitutional amendment that declares that access to Health Care is a Right, passed the House Health Care Committee and the House Chamber of Representatives on a party line vote.  It was scheduled for the next step, a hearing in the Senate Health Care Committee on Monday, February 19. HB 4019 on Organ Donations was also scheduled then.

The LWVOR position has been widely quoted in newspapers and other media outlets. Our letter submitted comments on the bill.  The LWVUS and LWVOR positions support a health care system that provides access to a basic level of quality care for all residents and controls health care costs.  The Oregon system for Medicaid is supported with 90% of federal funds, which will decrease each year or biennium. When the federal government decreases its contribution, Oregon will be hard pressed to come up with the amount lost from federal matching funds.  The proposed amendment makes a promise for expanded health care that the state revenues cannot supply. Read our letter and Oregonian Op-Ed.

The House Health Care Committee successfully processed many of its bills last week  

HB 4005 A included the requirement to report prices and costs of manufacturing pharmaceuticals to the Department of Consumer and Business Services. This bill is an attempt to hold down the price increases, or to schedule public hearings on price increases.  Read our letter.  The bill passed with amendments and was assigned to Human Services Ways and Means CommitteeHB 4151 A requires state agencies to purchase prescription drugs through the Oregon Prescription Drug Program in order to hold down costs.

HB 4018 A sets boundaries for the Coordinated Care Organizations requiring open meetings and risk bearing representatives on the boards. See our letter.  The 15 Coordinated Care Organizations had many negotiations before the final bill was approved.  A few amendments failed, but the base bill passed with a split vote along party lines.  It has not yet had a House floor vote.

HB 4020 proposes an option for recovery 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 4143 A asked the Department of Consumer and Business Services to study substance abuse disorders with opioids. The bill was sent to Ways and Means.

HB 4003 deals with diesel emissions which are harmful to health, but it was sent to House Rules for more work.  HB 4135 on Advance Directive Adoption was passed but received a split vote along party lines. HB 4104 on hearing aids and implants for children passed with a high vote count, as well as HB 4019 on recognition of organ, eye and tissue donations.

Senate Health Care passed SB 1539 to provide a psychiatric advice line for adult patients OPAL-A at the Oregon Health Sciences University similar to the OPAL-K for consultation for children. The bill was sent to Ways and Means for a funding decision. SB 1548 declared June 27 as Oregon Post Traumatic Injury Day, passed the Senate floor 27-3 and is scheduled in House Health Care.  SB 1549 passed out of committee and is scheduled on the Senate floor. The bill considers Medicaid insurance coverage for Oregon State Hospital patients prior to after admission and upon release from the hospital.

PUBLIC SAFETY

Public Safety Bills this week in the Judicial Committees

The House Judiciary passed HB 4009A, 4097A and 4149 on Thursday, Feb 15HB 4009 A -3 amendment reinstated parental rights when an older child remained in foster care after the parent had complied with court ordered conditions.  This does not happen often when the parent had reformed and the child had not been adopted.  The League has a broad position on the welfare of children and monitored this bill.

HB 4149 A -6 amendment prohibits the District Attorney from excluding conditions for grand jury information, court appearance and constitutional information from plea agreements.  The bill originally had other restrictions on District Attorney actions but was narrowed for this bill.  A work group will consider a broader bill in the 2019 session.

HB 4097 A was modified by -6 amendments to give statutory authority to plan for the Multnomah County Resource Center in its new courthouse.  A funding request of $9,000 will be considered by Ways and Means Public Safety Committee.

SB 1545 A proposes that the Oregon Judicial Department assess state agencies for court technology services.  This bill passed out of Senate General Government and goes to Public Safety Ways and Means in the next few weeks.

Other bills on batterer’s intervention services in SB 1543 A and strangulation in SB 1562 A were considered in the Women’s Health and Wellness Committee.  The League did not testify on the criminal bills because we do not have positions on crimes but are concerned about public safety.

GUN SAFETY (MARGE EASLEY)

On February 15, the day after the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting, HB 4145 A passed the House on a bipartisan vote of 37 to 23 and is now on its way to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Labelled the “Boyfriend Loophole” bill, it adds boyfriends or other household members to those who can have their firearms removed if they are convicted of stalking in domestic violence situations. If your representative voted “yes” on this bill, please take a moment to say thank you for taking a stand on reducing gun violence.

SJM 202, sponsored by Sen. Peter Courtney, urges Congress to define and regulate rapid fire enhancing accessories, such as bump stocks.  It passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party line vote on February 14 and heads to the Senate floor. The League testified in favor of the bill, although pointing out that a much stronger and more credible legislative action would be to pass a statewide ban on assault weapons and accessories next session.

HUMAN SERVICES AND HOUSING

The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families grant levels were proposed to be increased in HB 4081 A.  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. (Link to HB 4081 letter)

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 bill passed with unanimous vote and will be sent to Human Services Ways and Means for budget decisions.

House Revenue is considering HB 4028 A which covers the Earned Income Tax Credit and other tax credits for housing lenders and biofuel projects.  The committee has scheduled but not voted on this bill which is now scheduled for 2-20.  This tax credit has benefitted low income families.

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 the Senate 16 to 11 and is scheduled to be heard in House Human Services on 2-20.

The Child Welfare managers discussed the Secretary of State Audit and the Department of Human Services response.  The agency centralized a child abuse hotline for public abuse reports. The agency will focus on recruiting and training caseworkers and redesign foster parent training.  The managers reported that the caseworker turnover has stopped and new foster homes have been developed.

Senate Human Services also heard SB 1526 A which stated that juvenile courts may not consider a parent’s disability unless the limitations endanger the child even with support services. SB 1555 A stated that 20% of funds in the Marijuana Account must be used for mental health treatment, alcohol and drug abuse prevention, or early intervention and treatment.  Both bills passed the Senate with votes of 25-5, and go to the House Human Services Committee.

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 had a work session on 2-15-18 and was referred to Ways and Means.

The Ways and Means Human Services Subcommittee discussed the Public Defense Services for parents and children in Juvenile Dependency cases and the Long Term Care Ombudsman expansion to include the Public Guardian and Conservator Program for vulnerable at risk disabled or senior adults.

HOUSING (NANCY DONOVAN)

HB 4007—An increase to the Document Recording Fee to provide an ongoing source of revenue to build more affordable homes and create access to home ownership was amended to set means testing to address who could take advantage of the first-time home buyer savings account/tax credit and moved to the House Revenue Committee yesterday keeping the proposed $75 fee. It advanced along a party line vote, will be considered in Revenue related to the fee increase and is expected to be moved to Ways and Means before the end of session. A video of the hearing can be watched here.

HJR 201—Constitutional amendment and referral to voters to provide flexibility to local jurisdictions who issue bonds for affordable housing will be heard on the floor next week. The League submitted a letter of support of HJR 201.

HB 4006—Requires Housing and Community Services Department to annually provide to each city with a population greater than 10,000 data showing the percentage of severely rent burdened households and will consider local planning assistance for rent burdened communities. The bill was amended, passed unanimously and was sent to Ways and Means.

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

WOMEN’S ISSUES (DEBBIE RUNCIMAN)

LWVOR is watching several bills this session:

Strangulation is a serious crime that frequently is only treated as a misdemeanor.  Perpetrators of domestic violence use strangulation to intimidate and control their victims. SB 1562 adds compression of the chest to the definition of strangulation and increases penalty for crime of strangulation. The bill has passed out of Senate Judiciary and was moved directly to Senate floor.

A bill was finally introduced to establish a paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program.  HB 4160 ensures every working Oregonian will have paid time away from work to welcome a new child, to recover from a serious illness, or to care for a loved one recovering from a serious illness.  While unlikely to pass this session, a workgroup continues to meet, and a hearing in the Senate Workforce Committee is tentatively planned for Feb. 20.

Policies regarding sexual harassment in our schools continue to be addressed. HB 4150 requires sexual harassment policies of school districts to include requirements for notification, disclosure of specific information and outcomes of complaints for students, student parents and staff and the end of an investigation.  The bill passed out of the House Judiciary Committee and will be on the House floor soon.

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

If you plan to attend the LWVOR Day at the Legislature on Friday, please attend in Committee Hearing Room F.  Go to this link and click the February 23 date on the right-hand side of the page to see the agenda for the  Joint Committee On Student Success.  It is scheduled to run until 3 pm, so a great session to visit after the Day at the Legislature.

Our League volunteer covering Education and Early Learning has been out of town this past week, so look for a comprehensive “catch up” in the next LR.

The Joint Committee On Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education saw a provoking ODE CEdO Presentation about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in Oregon, chronic absenteeism, barriers to graduation, and barriers for historically underserved students and students of color.  Listen here to gain some sense of the challenges to student success.

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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