In This Issue
By Chris Vogel, Revenue and Tax Reform
Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue: SB 1528 had earlier language to limit the Oregon state pass-through tax, that the League supported, but it was stripped from this bill in amendments. An orchestrated effort of business written testimony killed this session’s effort to limit Oregon’s pass through tax benefits to no more than $250,000. SB 1528 B (-13) now contains two key elements (1) decoupling from the federal policy for pass-through-income and (2) Oregon Opportunity Grant tax credits. A heated discussion in this committee on 2-20 preceded another heated discussion on the Senate floor 2-23 (start at 30 minutes). LRO estimated the impact would go primarily to high income business owners if Oregon does not disconnect from this section of the federal tax code. Tax benefits would flow 61% to the top 5% of Oregon tax payers, but only 16% to the bottom 80% of earners. An unprecedented twenty one (21) floor letters during the Senate hearing (scroll to the bottom of the page) reflects the divisive nature of this bill that passed by a thin margin along party lines in the Senate. Democrats claim that budgets for essential services within Oregon will be threatened if Oregon does not disconnect, while Republicans claim that failing to stay connected to the federal pass-through tax deduction is a direct attack on small businesses in Oregon. This bill is a microcosm of how difficult it is to pass any tax reform to develop additional stable revenue for Oregon. This debate is worth listening to in order to understand the great philosophical divide!
SB 1529, connects with most of the federal tax law but has a disconnect relating to 529 college plans as overviewed by LRO with current amendments. SB 1529 has a hearing Monday, February 26, in the House Committee on Revenue. One analyst summary says the impact of the new federal law in curbing corporate tax abuses is uncertain and unpredictable, while Oregon’s state tax haven law is relatively simple and straightforward and, most importantly, works reliably and equitably to stop improper corporate profit shifting overseas. If passed, this would be another section of the federal tax law Oregon would disconnect, opting for more revenue stability and predictability.
HB 4080, Oregon allows an income tax subtraction for contributions made to Oregon 529 College Savings Network accounts for higher education. Proceeds of the accounts are intended to be used to pay higher education-related expenses for a designated beneficiary. Changes to federal law regarding 529 programs made in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December of 2017 expanded the definition of qualified higher education expenses to include public, private and religious elementary or secondary schools (up to $10,000 per taxable year). The -9 amendment has a provision stating, “If a taxpayer makes a withdrawal from a savings network account for higher education … to pay expenses in connection with enrollment or attendance at an elementary or secondary school, the amount of the withdrawal that is attributable to contributions that were subtracted from federal taxable income … and the amount of the withdrawal that is attributable to previously untaxed earnings and gains.” Thus, Oregon would preserve the tax benefits of 529 plans for post-secondary college, CTE, or other training programs not private tuition at K-12 schools.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
By Rebecca Gladstone, Governance Coordinator
You should know IP 22, “Stop Oregon Sanctuaries,” is currently under Secretary of State investigation for misrepresentation of its intent to signers. If you feel you were misled in signing to support sanctuaries, email email@example.com. They cannot remove your signature. The League has gotten complaints of ongoing violations. See our Think Before You Ink. The League urges you to read petitions carefully. Only sign if you are sure you understand and agree with them. Otherwise- Decline to Sign! Nine of our legislative committee meetings lacked advance agendas last week.
SB 1510 A elections omnibus bill: On February 5, the League was asked to support budget reconciliation, but figures were not available, so we did not speak at the 3 pm Senate Rules public hearing the next day. The figures appeared at a February 14 work session (not accepting public testimony), requesting funds for election cybersecurity staff and the Jan 23 Special Election with costs already at $3.32M.
An interpretation of Secretary of State administrative rules for initiative petition titling came up in the Tuesday February 20 Senate Rules work session with a -7 amendment. The Secretary of State called for the legislature to codify his rules. Senator Burdick called for research into League statements (video). We shared letters with committee members (posted here). We were unaware of the -9 and -10 amendments, not published until the Thursday Senate Rules work session, where we were invited to speak if necessary, and did not. The 15 page -9 amendment passed unanimously out of committee, overriding the SoS’s administrative rules on ballot titles for initiative and referendum petitions.
National Popular Vote (Marge Easley)
SB 1512: There was a flurry of activity last week on the National Popular Vote (NPV) bill. A second action alert was sent to League members, following word that Senator Courtney would allow a hearing to take place on a clean version, without referral to voters, even though he himself would vote against it. Senator Dembrow quickly drafted an amendment to remove the referral provision, but Senator Burdick has thus far refused to schedule a hearing on the amended bill. We are working hard to line up the votes and very disappointed by her stance. Time is running out, so if you have not yet contacted your senator about your support for the version of NPV that has passed the House four times, please do so today.
See League testimony at 35 minutes, presented on February sixth, exhibit 8 of 185 posted.
SMALL DONOR ELECTIONS (NORMAN TURRILL)
HB 4076 is technically still alive in House Rules, but no action is scheduled.
GENERAL GOVERNANCE & ACCOUNTABILITY
Remember when an LWVOR 2015 State Convention topic was the Internet Superhighway with speaker former FCC Chair, Michael Copps? Our members need to be informed on these issues. We need a study and a position to be able speak to them.
HB 4023 A -13: Emergency networks, schools and other public services are competing with businesses and other customers for growing broadband access needs. Expanding into rural markets is critical for economic viability, negotiating provider responsibility and profits between public and private providers explains part of why this bill has 13 amendments. Cell phone use and Netflix take up a third of our stream generally. Capitol broadband access is currently an issue. The bill passed out of Joint Information Management and Technology on Friday to Ways and Means.
Two internet privacy and protection bills address the Equifax security breach, which probably affects a majority of our members. See League member Nancy Nathanson, on her personal experience, on HB 4147 A, and speaking with AG Ellen Rosenblum, on SB 1551 A.
HB 4147 A proceeded on partisan votes from House Business and Labor to House Rules but is not yet scheduled.
SB 1551 A passed unanimously on a Senate floor vote, and is scheduled next week in the House Business and Labor Committee.
See the hearing for a discussion of the evolution of administration between the Legislative Audits Committee and the Secretary of State’s Audit Division.
PULIC RECORDS TRANSPARENCY (JOSIE KOEHNE)
FINDING BILLS’ STATUS
Note from the LWVOR Day at the Legislature: Current session bill status is available on OLIS, under Reports and then Publications, as STATUS REPORT for Legislative Measures. We discussed presenting this as a downloadable, searchable spreadsheet. Staff already has redesigning this on their project list, was interested to compare with ORESTAR candidate search downloads and will work on design options after this session. It will be a challenge, anticipating the usual list of several thousand proposed bills to catalog. Thank you to OLIS workers! And Thanks to our Governance volunteers!
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! If any of these areas interest you, please contact: Governance Coordinator: Becky Gladstone, 541.510.9387, firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator
Clean Energy Jobs is still alive—until it isn’t. The League continues to press the “urgency of now” when it comes to climate change. With many policy bills about done, the focus goes to the budget to implement good environmental laws. Watch Ways and Means Subcommittees this coming week. See below for details
CLIMATE CHANGE (CLAUDIA KEITH)
Both Clean Energy Jobs (CEJ / Cap & Invest) carbon pricing bills (SB 1507 A and HB 4001) reflect the LWVUS carbon pollution (greenhouse gas emission) pricing position. Both are currently in their respective Rules Committees. On Feb 20, the House Rules Committee considered the -12 amendment, introduced by House Speaker Tina Kotek, which would cap greenhouse gas emissions this session and would allow the price/trade and invest details to be finalized next session. However, if the legislature does not act during 2019 full session, the Environmental Quality Commission would have authority to implement a program by rule. For more details, see Portland Tribune article or OLIS. There is a possibility next week that a bill will move from Senate or House Rules to Ways & Means or have some form of progress by the end of session. It is clear that, without continuing significant public pressure, this critical climate policy could be kicked to the next session. That would be the 10th year that this urgent climate legislative policy has been postponed for “additional work”. Your voice is needed. Please call your Senator and Representative and ask them to share their support for Clean Energy Jobs.
Oil Train Safety: SB 1518 A passed out of the Senate Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee on Feb. 14 and is currently in Ways & Means with bipartisan support. It has a significant amendment that addresses hazardous material spills or releases that occur during rail transport. The amended bill addresses hazardous waste and oil spill prevention, preparedness and response. It adds annual, statewide training for oil spills to the statewide hazardous material emergency response plan adopted by the State Fire Marshal. It also directs the Office of Emergency Management to collaborate with several state agencies and marine and railroad operators and report by March 2019. The stated intent is to use best practices from federal, California and Washington programs and submit recommendations for legislation not later than Sept. 15 for the 2019 legislative session.
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 with only partisan support from the House Committee. However, SB 1519 does have bipartisan support from the Senate Committee and is also in Ways and Means, where the House and Senate bills will be considered and may be combined in some manner. The League has concerns with the current 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. HB 4002 was also amended and moved to House Rules. We support a program grounded in science, informed by data and health-based. We are hopeful that a fee bill will be passed this session to begin to stand up this important program. 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 for inside cities and urban growth boundaries, died in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, but Rep. Clem provided the -16 amendment for the Senate Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources to consider. On Feb. 23 , it was included in HB 4031, a bill that clarifies/corrects a couple of bills from 2017. The House bill also reestablished 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. HB 4031 A with the -16 amendment now goes to the Senate floor. Because of this new amendment, it will have to go back to the House for final approval. Another amendment, this time related to a specific piece of property in Clackamas County in their designated Rural Reserves and purchased by a car dealership after that designation was decided, had a hearing on Feb. 23 . It was not adopted.
HB 4092 would establish new standards for the expansion of state airports onto Exclusive Farm Use (EFU) lands, but it 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 amendment was introduced to address aggregate mining permitting. This amendment would prevent a county from addressing noise, water, dust or other impacts. The League joined with partners in opposition. This bill is still alive, although we understand that the -7 amendments will not be considered. However, it’s not over until sine die!
NATURAL RESOURCE AGENCY BUDGETS (PEGGY LYNCH)
The Ways and Means Subcommittee on Capital Construction held a hearing on bonding requests on Feb. 23, including a request from the Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to continue working to replace/upgrade their IT system—a four-year project. The League provided testimony in support.
The League is supporting the Water Resources Dept. request for $1,285,956 in General Funds to provide a second team to work on basin studies related to ground water. Although we are excited that the mountains received considerable snow recently, there is a concern that we may again have drought conditions (Klamath County has already declared a drought.). If so, there are special provisions that allow for emergency wells. Without good data, we could be sucking our groundwater dry as occurred in California.
We supported a $1,730,000 request for the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development and $270,000 to Housing and Community Services in HB 4006 A, which 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.
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.
The State Forests Advisory Committee is currently seeking applications to fill two vacancies to advise the Oregon Department of Forestry staff on forest operations, projects and activities. To apply, complete this questionnaire by March 19 and submit to April Davis at the Oregon Department of Forestry by email to email@example.com or mail to 801 Gales Creek Rd., Forest Grove, OR 97116.
The Board of Forestry and ODF are actively engaged in an analysis to consider new rules under the Forest Practices Act, Specified Resource Site rules for threatened and endangered species (OAR 629-665-0200), for the marbled murrelet. Please send any comments or input by February 28 to Jennifer Weikel, Private Forests Wildlife Biologist, ODF, 2600 State St., Salem OR, Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteers are needed to help plan possible protections for Nehalem River study segment, a candidate for designation under the State Scenic Waterways Program. The advisory committee will meet twice this spring, and members will be encouraged to attend a public hearing in the early fall. Meeting locations will be in Clatsop or Tillamook County, with the exact location to be determined later. Those interested should contact Scenic Waterway Coordinator Alex Phillips at email@example.com or 503-986-0631. For more information see the State Scenic Waterway program.
DEQ evaluates groundwater on the north coast. DEQ proposes water quality permit renewal for seafood processing. Learn more about this 900-J permit at Public hearings March 14 in Newport, March 15 in Coos Bay and March 19 in Astoria.
At the Dept. of State Lands, a Stream Function Assessment Method (SFAM) is being developed for Oregon to provide a standardized and rapid way to describe ecological and societal benefits, called functions and values, provided by streams in Oregon. The goal of the SFAM is to improve federal and state regulatory programs relating to mitigation planning and removal-fill permitting. Visit the Aquatic Resources Mitigation Framework project webpage for more information.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Karen Nibler, Social Policy Coordinator
Health Care bills grab our attention. HJR 203 A, a constitutional amendment establishing the right to health care for every resident of Oregon, was heard in Senate Health Care and is still being considered for amendments. A work session is scheduled for Monday 2-26. HB 4018, on Coordinated Care Organizations, is also scheduled for last amendments and a committee vote on Monday.
GUN SAFETY (MARGE EASLEY)
Good news on the gun safety front! Oregon made the national news this past week as the first state to pass gun safety legislation following the shooting at the Parkland, Florida, high school. After an emotional hearing on February 20 in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Boyfriend Loophole bill (HB 4145) moved quickly to the Senate floor, where it passed February 21 on a near party line vote of 16 to 13, despite two Republican attempts to send it back to committee. Senator Betsy Johnson was the lone Democrat to vote no. Governor Brown is expected to sign it very soon, since it was one of her priority bills. HB 4145 extends firearm prohibition to boyfriends and other family members who have been convicted of stalking.
Prescription drug costs incite an incentive to hold down increases in HB 4005 A, which was again amended with an 18-member Task Force appointment and was passed out of the full Ways and Means Committee on Friday. HB 4151 A, on the Oregon Prescription Drug Program, was passed out of House Health Care with a unanimous vote and sent to Ways and Means for funding decisions.
The Senate Health Care Committee passed SB 1549, on coverage for Oregon State Hospital patients, after discharge and the Senate voted 27-3 to approve the bill. On Friday the House Health Care Committee passed the bill. SB 1539, on OPAL-A consultation at OHSU, passed to Ways and Means and SB 1548, on Post Traumatic Stress Injury Day, was approved by both the Senate and House floors. Ways and Means Human Services Subcommittee will hear 6 health care bills on Monday. HB 4143 A considers opioid drugs, 4020 A approves short term aftercare facilities, 4079 sets up retirement accounts for low income folks, 4129 tests administrators of long term care facilities, and 4133 looks at maternal mortality and morbidity. Health Care was very prolific for a short session.
Human Service Bills that will impact low income folks were HB 4028 A and HB 4081 A. House Human Services considered HB 4081 A, which asked for an increase in cash benefits for recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). The bill was passed unanimously out of committee and sent to Ways and Means where it may never see the light of day again. HB 4028 A was assigned to House Revenue because it is a Tax Credit bill, including child care for TANF recipients. This bill had repeated hearings and amendments and finally passed out of committee on Thursday. It is waiting for a floor vote.
Senate Human Services Committee heard SB 1526 A, which considered the rights of parents with Developmental Disabilities and passed the bill 25-5. House Human Services passed the bill unanimously. SB 1540 A stayed in committee for repeated hearings and amendments on mandatory reporters, but passed the Senate floor 16-11. The House Human Services Committee amended the bill again and passed SB 1540 B on a 5-4 vote. There is disagreement on the age of child victims.
HB 4009 A was assigned to House Judiciary to review the child welfare statutes for termination of parental rights. The bill was amended to consider dismissal of termination of rights if the child had not been adopted and the parent had ameliorated the cause for termination. The bill passed unanimously out of committee and the House passed the bill 55-5. Senate Human Services has scheduled a hearing on Tuesday.
HOUSING (NANCY DONOVAN AND DEBBIE AIONA)
HJR 201, if passed, would refer a constitutional amendment aimed at exempting affordable housing projects funded by bond dollars from the requirement that they be owned and operated by the jurisdiction issuing the bonds. If referred and passed by voters in November, this would give more flexibility to local jurisdictions wishing to develop low-income housing with bonds. They would be able to partner with private entities, such as non-profit developers, and access other resources, including federal low-income housing tax credits. The bill passed out of the Senate Health Committee 5-0 and moved to Senate Rules where it is expected to get the paperwork to put it on the ballot. Then it will go to the Senate floor.
HB 4007 passed out of the House Revenue Committee on a 5-4 vote and was sent “do pass” to Ways and Means. As amended, this bill would increase the Document Recording Fee from $20 to $60, giving a boost to state resources available to low-income housing development, affordable home ownership, and emergency housing assistance. In addition to the increase in the Document Recording Fee, the bill has a first-time home buyers savings account program supported by the realtors. Details on the savings program are still undergoing revisions.
WOMEN’S HEALTH AND WELLNESS (DEBBIE RUNCIMAN)
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 the of Senate and is being heard in the House this week.
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. This bill will NOT move forward this session. However, a bipartisan, bicameral workgroup has been formed to continue working out the details of this program and will report back in time for legislative action in 2019.
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 has passed the House and is moving forward in the Senate, with a hearing in the Senate Education Committee this week.
Public Safety bills that have legs to finish the short session race are HB 4096, 4097 and 4149. The first bill, HB 4096, on judicial salaries, was approved unanimously in committee and sent to Ways and Means. HB 4097 A, on law libraries in district courts, passed the House committee unanimously and was passed by a House floor vote 55-5. HB 4149 A limits the plea bargaining factors that may be used by District Attorneys passed unanimously in the House Judiciary Committee and drew a 56-4 vote on the House floor. Both HB 4097 A and HB 4149 A are scheduled for a Senate Judiciary hearing on Tuesday.
Senate General Government passed SB 1545, for Oregon Judicial Department fees for electronic services, by a unanimous vote and sent the request to Public Safety Ways and Means. The Oregon Judicial Department Budgets have not been heard or passed out of committee so far in this short session.
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! If any of these areas interest you, please contact Social Policy Coordinator: Karen Nibler 541.752.8567 email@example.com
By Chris Vogel, Education Policy Coordinator
The Joint Committee on Student Success will not hear any specific bills this session, but has committed to conduct public hearings and individual conversations with students, teachers and other stakeholders throughout the state before the 2019 legislative session. During this session this committee has hosted a series of presentations from a variety of stakeholders that preview some of the critical areas impacting student success. Read and listen to presentations from: students, educators, businesses, and statewide education agencies, and parents and consultants on high performing K-12, school district fiscal transparency, and data quality. Additionally, K-12 time and credit requirements, college readiness and career readiness were considered. On Friday, March 2, the committee will get an overview of state school funding and legal obligations. LWVOR will post the schedule of regional meetings when available, and League members are encouraged it participate in their local or regional meetings. Some are hopeful that this effort will move Oregon toward student success by identifying and removing barriers while accentuating best practices. Others see this as an effort to procure new funding sources dedicated solely to education, but they fear that flexibility for funding of social services, healthcare, public safety, natural resources and other General Fund budgets will be diminished. Time will tell.
The Joint Committee on Ways and Means Sub-Committee on Education has held a series of informational hearings throughout this session on previously funded education programs. Listen to reports on: Measure 98 Implementation, Chronic Absenteeism, and Trauma-informed practices in education, Implementation of Senate Bill 182 (2017) – Educator Advancement, Implementation of the Outdoor School, Oregon Promise and Oregon Opportunity Grant programs, and Summer Education. Behind the scenes the W&M Education Co-chairs have been working with the full Ways and Means Committee to vet additional budget allocations to early learning, K-12, and other education funding. Our end-of-session LR will address funding allocations.
The Senate Committee on Education this week heard HB 4067 that expands definition of term “child with a disability” for purposes of special education to include children who have developmental delays and who are in third grade or lower. It next moves to the Senate floor—LWVOR offered testimony in support of HB 4067. The League has not taken a position on, but is watching, HB 4113 that has passed the House and will be heard in this committee Monday, February 26. The bill includes class size as a mandatory subject of school district collective bargaining, written testimony reflects varied perspectives, aspirations and fears about this bill. School boards generally worry about increased costs as they must also pay for PERS and health care increases from their allocation of the state school fund; educators advocate for quality education through smaller class size, saying that mandatory discussion of class size is essential to student success.
The House Committee on Early Childhood and Family Supports considered many bills that have been moved to Joint Ways and Means for funding consideration, including: Early Childhood Equity Fund HB 4066, Task Force on Public Assistance Reform HB 4037, and Central Background Registry for Child Care HB 4065 A. Listen on Tuesday, February 27 for Early Learning Division–Future Plans. Our end-of-session LR will address funding allocations.
The House Committee On Education heard HB 4044 that directs the Chief Education Office to conduct a study on recruitment, retention, mentoring and professional development of educators who serve students from groups that may be at risk for experiencing an achievement gap; was passed by the House and will be heard Monday, February 26 in Senate Education.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 503.586.8314