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Legislative Report, Volume 28, Number 5 – March 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

The House Committee on Revenue and Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue spent much of their time this session looking at issues relating to connecting or disconnecting from recent federal tax code changes.  Since the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 was first reviewed by the Legislative Revenue Office and the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, both committees worked to minimize destabilizing impacts to Oregon’s tax code and revenue.

Setting the stage for ongoing contentious battles in 2019 were the differing perspectives surrounding SB 1528, which passed virtually along party lines. Listen to both the Senate hearing and House hearing (click on the blue links, scroll to SB 1528 and listen to the discussions).  SB 1528 is on the Governor’s desk—she is getting pressure from business entities to veto the bill.  LWVOR shall continue to follow the discussion—we fear that the philosophical differences and, therefore, how Oregon shall address more comprehensive tax reform in 2019 will continue to be divisive.

SB 1528 reviewed: Congress passed the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act late in 2017.  Oregon and most other states are scrambling to determine how the new federal tax system will affect state revenues. A new provision of the federal tax law created a special tax break for individuals who own certain types of businesses that can “pass-through” business income deductions to their personal tax returns.  The state bill disconnects from the federal law giving a 20% discount to the taxable income generated by LLCs, Partnerships and S-corporations.  Business owners who qualify for this federal tax break will continue to claim it to reduce their federal taxes. Some argued that SB 1528 is a tax increase for small business.  The 2017 federal tax overhaul created a new deduction for owners of pass-through entities. Senate Bill 1528 disconnects from this deduction, meaning Oregonians who take the federal deduction will need to add the income back on their state tax returns before calculating their state income tax. Differing interpretations can be heard at the above links for Senate and House hearings. In another section, not hotly debated, this bill also creates a work-around so that taxpayers who itemize on their federal returns can subtract all of their State and Local Taxes (SALT), some as taxes paid, some as a donation. It creates the Opportunity Grant Fund to which taxpayers can donate the amount by which their SALT taxes are greater than the federal $10,000 a year limit and receive a tax credit with which to pay their state income taxes. The tax credits have a three-year carry-forward and any excess tax credits can be sold at an auction managed by the Department of Revenue.  This bill as originally introduced would have also addressed Oregon’s own tax break for business owners; but the $100 million annual cost will continue until addressed in more comprehensive 2019 tax reform discussions.

Other tax measures passed this session include:

  • SB 1529 that deals with collecting taxes on money held offshore. The new federal law offers reduced tax rates if corporations agree to pay taxes on money they’ve stashed off shore. Rather than the old 35% federal rate, or the new 21% federal rate, they will pay 15% on cash and 8% if the money has been invested in factories or properties offshore. SB 1529 passage means corporations will also pay Oregon taxes on this “repatriated” money, increasing Oregon revenue by an estimated $160 million. That one-time $160 million goes into PERS. The bill also maintains Oregon’s connection to many other federal provisions for personal and corporate income tax, most of it around definitions.
  • HB 4080 that keeps Oregon’s 529 College Savings Plan for college expenses only, it was not expanded to include K-12 private school education.
  • HB 4007 raises the document recording fee from $20 to $60 and invests the $35 million in new money in low income housing programs. The bill also creates a tax-advantaged First-time Home Buyers Savings Plan (see the Housing section of this LR for more information).
  • HB 4026 addressed a concern that historically charitable contributions and activities could be one of many factors used to determine if a given personal income tax filer is a resident of Oregon or a different state. Such a determination could affect how a taxpayer files their income tax return. This policy simply removes from consideration the identified factors.
  • HB 4028: The Working Family Dependent Care tax credit was created in 2015 through the merging of two former credits, the Working Family Child Care and Dependent Care tax credits. A similar federal child and dependent care credit exists; however, the federal credit is more limited than Oregon’s.
  • HB 4074 allows the Department of State Lands to redeem fully matured savings bonds and deposit the proceeds to the Common School Fund—if the bond owners come back they will still be able to reclaim the bond proceeds via a petition process.
  • HB 4117 increases local option taxes to be excluded from the formula revenue in a given year to the lesser of (1) 25 percent of the formula revenue a school district receives, and (2) $2,000 per extended weighted Average Daily Membership (extended ADMw) of the district. $2,000 limit per ADMw increases by three percent annually.
  • HB 4120 clarifies and changes the definition of intermediary to include the collection of any consideration charged for lodging and providing for the use of a third party—online travel companies such as Airbnb.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!  If Revenue/Tax Reform interest you, please contact Chris Vogel at chrisvogelvolunteerlwvor@gmail.com. The 2019 session is likely to consider multiple aspects of substantial tax reform.  We will be meeting with coalition partners, doing research and interviews during the interim.

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Governance

By Rebecca Gladstone, Governance Coordinator

The 2018 short session wrapped  early, all aware of candidate filing deadline within days, note:
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 elections.sos@oregon.gov. 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! 

Action Alerts – Should you call, email, or write a note?

Correspondence advice from Rep. Gomberg’s newsletter:

Our office works hard to encourage and respond to feedback, support, or criticism from across the district. Emails work best because they create a clear record and are paper-free. (Be sure to list your hometown so we know you are constituents!) Posted letters are helpful, but paper must be stored, and the state pays postage for return letters to you. Phone calls are important but create no formal record and leave us to note your concerns in our words rather than letting you detail them in your own words.

You can SUBSCRIBE to Legislator’s newsletters, Legislative Committee and Bill notices.

Elections

SB 1510 Enrolled: This elections omnibus bill covered these topics (detailed analysis here):

  • Ballot titles and signature gathering
  • Voter privacy
  • Reprinting ballots and mailing military and overseas ballots
  • Opening bank accounts for political committees
  • Provisions regarding electronic signature sheets were dropped from the bill.

The Secretary of State asked for statutory guidance for 2017 Elections Manuals revisions that the League spoke to, details in our Feb 24 LR. The 15 page -9 amendment passed unanimously out of committee, overriding the SoS’s administrative rules on ballot titles for initiative and referendum petitions. The Senate Rules Committee consulted with the League before passage.

National Popular Vote (Marge Easley)

We’re very disappointed to report that the session ended with Oregon once more failing to join the National Popular Vote (NPV) Interstate Compact. 2018 marks the fifth time that Senate leadership has effectively blocked passage of NPV legislation. We gave it a good try, and we are grateful to all of you who responded to our action alerts on the issue.  Be assured that we’ll be back again in 2019 to ask for your help.

Senate President Courtney and Senate Rules Committee Chair Ginny Burdick tried a new tack this year and pushed a referral version of NPV (SB 1512). However, it was strongly opposed by supporters, including the League, since the U.S. Constitution clearly stipulates that the assignment of electors is a legislative task. A flurry of lobbying ensued to line up Senate votes to pass a clean bill, and Senate leadership appeared to reconsider its stance. In the waning days of the session, we were also heartened to hear that Senator Dembrow had filed an amendment to strip referral language from SB 1512, but our hopes were dashed when the amendment did not show up on OLIS, and a hearing was never scheduled.

Campaign Finance (Norman Turrill)

A Small Donor Elections bill, HB 4076, had a hearing in House Rules, but was never voted out of committee. Another bill, HB 4077, would have required more information about sources of business income from a candidate, public official, or member of their household in their Statement of Economic Interest (SEI). HB 4077 died when it was referred back to House Rules from the House floor.

Redistricting (Norman Turrill)

A single bill, HJR 204 by Rep. Heard, was filed on redistricting. The leadership of the legislature has so little interest in this subject that this bill was not even given a hearing in House Rules. We expect redistricting to get more attention in the 2019 session, since legislators elected in 2020 will have to redistrict the whole state in 2021.

General Governance & Accountability

These three bills, covering Net Neutrality, personal information (data) breaches, and internet broadband await signing by the Governor. On a related note, a voter engagement budget request called for an election cybersecurity staff addition. The Economist urges that today’s data economy requires a new approach: “The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data”. Data breaches are “a significant and growing problem”. Consider, if someone steals your identity to take your property, the state has the right to ensure that a person not be deprived of property without due process of law.

HB 4155 Enrolled: This is a Net Neutrality bill. “There is urgency around this issue; there is not time to wait, to study” – Rep Jennifer Williamson, Salem Statesman-Journal.

SB 1551 Enrolled: This bill addresses the Equifax security breach, affecting an estimated 1 million Oregonians, modifies the Consumer Protection Security Act. The -11 amendment, which includes monitoring and testing for breaches, free credit freezes for all consumers, passed unanimously from the House Committee on Business and Labor, see hearing, 15 minutes in, is being heard on the House Floor.

HB 4023 Enrolled: This internet broadband bill addresses emergency networks, schools and other public services competing with businesses and other customers for growing broadband access needs. Expanding into rural markets, 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.

Audits

See the hearing for a discussion of administrative evolution between the new Legislative Audits Committee and the Secretary of State’s Audit Division.

Public Records Transparency (Josie Koehne)

Note, OLIS Bill Status page is an update for the STATUS REPORT for Legislative Measures!

Open Government Impact Statements describe anticipated public records request exemptions that may arise as bills are passed. These 2018 bills have generated the first of these, as required by the 2017 public records law, HB 2101 Enrolled, (press review). Open government, fiscal and revenue impact statements are listed on individual bill overview pages linked below, under analysis tabs. They are included here to demonstrate the breadth of privacy issues. They are also listed centrally: 2018 Open Government Impact Statements.

HB 4005 requires prescription drug pricing reports. Mandatory public records disclosure could reveal trade secrets; exemption can be appealed.

HB 4049 A exempts public records disclosure of sexual assault forensic evidence. Much of this information will be protected from public disclosure by federal or state law.

HB 4082 permits disclosure of certain juvenile records to researchers, evaluators and data analysts. Public records exemption addresses sharing of privileged youth offender information to third parties.

HB 4094: Proceedings for an incapacitated person’s personal injury claim, a minor or a decedent are confidential.

HB 4095: Using a lawyer referral service, to hire a lawyer, is protected by attorney-client privilege.

HB 4105 prohibits disclosure of shared data identifying recipients of medical assistance.

HB 4129 adds residential care facility administrators to the definition of a health care provider for health care record privacy.

*HB 4133 exempts all information used by the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee, in connection with a study or review, from public disclosure.

*HB 4139 exempts public disclosure of tax return information pertaining to heavy equipment rental.

HB 4160: Administration of the family and medical leave insurance program.

HJR 204: Citizens Redistricting Commission for state Senate and House Reps, Constitutional amendment referral. Oregon Citizens’ Redistricting Commission documents will be subject to mandatory disclosure.

*Possible candidates for public disclosure modifications.

Thanks to our Governance volunteers!

  • Helen Beardsworth, drafts, Eugene
  • Rick Bennett, OLIS search, Medford
  • Marge Easley, National Popular Vote, past LWVOR President
  • Ursula Lalović, research, Portland
  • Tom Messenger, general governance
  • Anne Potter, League position analysis, Portland
  • Norman Turrill, CFR, Redistricting, current LWVOR President

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

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dropletNatural Resources

By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator

A Carbon Policy Office and a Joint Committee headed by Senate President Courtney and Speaker Kotek—climate wins in 2018.  Cleaner Air Oregon moves forward.  Funding to help local governments meet our land use Goals 1 and 10 was allocated.  For a short session, it was a good one for natural resources.

CLIMATE CHANGE (CLAUDIA KEITH)

Clean Energy Jobs (CEJ) – Cap and Invest legislation progressed with a very clear path forward. Neither SB 1507 A nor HB 4001 bills survived; however, monies were allocated to work on the concepts in these bills with a 2019 CEJ Legislation completion date.  The omnibus budget reconciliation bill, HB 5201, provides $1.6M funding (see page 22 and 54 of HB5201’s budget report). The bill includes funds for 2.3 FTE (limited duration), additional Carbon Price Studies, and includes $.16m for the Dept. of Environmental Quality Greenhouse Gas Emission quality assurance collection and reporting data. A new Dept. of Administrative Services Carbon Policy Office was established to work with Governor Brown’s Carbon Policy Advisor. Senate President Courtney and House Speaker Kotek have announced formation of a Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction and Governor Brown has expressed support. AP news article

Oil Rail Safety:  Both the House and Senate bills addressing oil rail safety died. It is expected that the House and Senate will work together via a task force and/or workgroup on a 2019 comprehensive bill. It most likely will include the Office of Emergency Management, several state agencies and marine and railroad operators. The hope is to use best practices from federal, California and Washington programs and submit recommendations for the 2019 legislative session.

Creation of a new Oregon Energy Board (SB 1519, SB 1537 and HB 4148) would have provided guidance and set policy around the Oregon Dept. of Energy/Climate Policy.  They did not move. It is expected that a more efficient, congruent and accountable (Carbon/Climate & Energy Policy) state agency organizational structure will be addressed in 2019 legislation. State agencies must be able to efficiently/effectively manage climate mitigation and adaptation across all state agencies including treasury and other executive branch regional/global commitments.

Our Children’s Trust:  It is expected that both state and federal climate lawsuits, which have LWVOR amici standing, will proceed in 2018. The Judiciary Branch of government will no doubt affect Climate Change/Carbon related policy/legislation into the future.

AIR QUALITY & TOXICS (MARILYN KOENITZER)

SB 1541, a compromise fee bill to implement the Cleaner Air Oregon program, passed with fees and some General Funds for both the Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Oregon Health Authority to move the program forward.  DEQ also got additional General Funds to process the current backlog of air quality permits. We continue to support a program grounded in science, informed by data and health-based. Rulemaking will still need to be completed by the Environmental Quality Commission.

LAND USE (PEGGY LYNCH)

HB 4031A, a bill that clarifies/corrects a couple of bills from 2017, was amended to include the clerical error around SB 1051 (2017) and 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 passed.

NATURAL RESOURCE AGENCY BUDGETS (PEGGY LYNCH)

DEQ received General Funds in HB 5201 and Bonding in SB 5702 to continue working to replace/upgrade their IT system—a four-year project. The League provided testimony in support.

We were again unsuccessful in seeing the Water Resources Dept. (WRD) receive a second team to work on basin studies related to groundwater. We expect to be back in 2019.  WRD did receive instructions on page 5 of the budget report for SB 5702 to study Oregon’s High Hazard Dams and prepare a plan for the 2019 legislature to consider.

The Dept. of Land Conservation and Development received $1,730,000, and Housing and Community Services received $270,000 in HB 4006, which will 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.  They also received $300,000 to provide planning assistance to Eastern Oregon counties.

 

FORESTRY

The State Forests Advisory Committee is currently seeking applications to fill two vacancies to advise the 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 april.r.davis@oregon.gov or mail to 801 Gales Creek Rd., Forest Grove, OR 97116.

PARKS/SCENIC WATERWAYS

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 alex.phillips@oregon.gov or 503-986-0631. Find more information on the State Scenic Waterway program here.

WATER

DEQ proposes water quality permit renewal for seafood processing.  Learn more about this 900-J permit here. Public hearings March 14 in Newport, March 15 in Coos Bay and March 19 in Astoria.

Scientists have found dramatically declining snowpack across the American West over the past six decades that will likely cause water shortages in the region that cannot be managed by building new reservoirs, according to a study published Friday by Phil Mote et al. – Study: New Reservoirs Will Not Offset Dramatically Declining Snowpack.

The hurricane in and near Houston, TX, was an indication of concerns we should consider in Oregon.  This is a great article about toxic chemical sites and spill potentials around Oregon.

The Department of State Lands (DSL) is initiating rulemaking to DIV 89 Placer Mining General Authorization.  The Proposed Rules and link to the Secretary of State’s Office public notice are available here. Submit your comments by mail to:  Anne Friend, Rules Coordinator, DIV 89 Placer Mining Rulemaking, DSL, 775 Summer Street N.E., Ste 100, Salem, Oregon 97301-1279 or via email: rules@dsl.state.or.us by 5:00 PM March 28.  RULEMAKING HEARING:  March 21 @ 4-6:00 p.m., DSL – Land Board Room, 775 Summer St NE, Salem OR 97301.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality invites the public to the next Willamette Basin Mercury Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Advisory Committee member meeting.  DEQ and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are revising the 2006 Willamette Basin Mercury TMDL to meet a new mercury standard and meet a court-ordered deadline of April 2019. The TMDL is being updated to meet Oregon’s 2011 revised water quality criterion for methyl mercury, which is eight times more stringent than the 2006 criterion. The goal of the revised TMDL is to reduce mercury in the Willamette Basin to levels allowing safe consumption of fish.

This meeting is open to the public; however, discussion is limited to advisory committee members only. Everyone will have an opportunity to provide written comment to DEQ during DEQ’s public review period, tentatively scheduled for November 2018: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. March 21, 2018 @ Linn County Extension Services, 33630 McFarland Rd. Tangent, OR 97389.

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.   Members can attend or call in to listen to economic activities in each of the 11 regions.

The Central Oregon Regional Solutions Advisory Committee will meet March 21 from 10:00 a.m. – Noon @ OSU Cascades Graduate & Research Ctr., Rm 209, 650 SW Columbia St, Bend. Call In: 1-888-557-8511; Participant code: 9470233.  Agenda is available here. The focus is on Central Oregon agriculture.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! 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 WRAP UP

HJR 203 A was not approved by the Senate Health Care Committee on Monday, Feb. 26, so the constitutional amendment for health care as a right will not go to the voters in the next election. The committee discussion focused on a -3 amendment to limit the expenditure of funds for legal challenges and not take funds from education or other state commitments. Two Senators said there was no pathway to move to Health Care for All, and the motion failed. The League submitted a letter with comments about the financial impact. Rep. Greenlick intends to come back next session with another Health Care proposal.

The committee also considered HB 4018 with an amendment to further define rules for Coordinated Care Organizations.  The committee members discussed refinements to the bill, but in the end supported the need for transparency when spending public funds, an estimated $9 million. The bill was amended again in the Senate Health Care Committee and HB 4018 passed the Senate and House floor votes.  The League supports this model of health care delivery and submitted a letter.

Prescription drug prices remains a concern.  HB 4151 asked for an advisory committee for the Oregon Prescription Drug Program.  State agencies, PERS, PEBB and OHSU purchase prescriptions through this program.  The bill passed unanimously in the House Health Care Committee but was not passed out by the Ways and Means Committee.

HB 4005 requires drug companies to report to the Department of Consumer and Business Services on the price of drugs when introduced and increased in the last 5 years.  The bill was approved by Ways and Means and passed the House floor with a vote of 46-14. The Senate floor passed it 25-4. The League supported this measure, and the Ways and Means hearing had a packed audience.

HB 4134A asked the Department of Consumer and Business Services to set up pilot programs for opioid-addiction treatment in 4 counties.  This bill had no opposition, passed the house 59 to 1 excused and passed the Senate 27 to 3 excused.  HB 4104 requires health plan coverage for hearing loss treatment for children including hearing aids and cochlear implants. The bill passed easily.  HB 4019A, to recognize organ, eye and tissue donors with an appreciation week, passed unanimously.

Last but not least, HB 4133A proposes to establish a Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee within the Oregon Health Authority, with the goal to identify solutions to the growing mortality rate in Oregon.  This bill passed with unanimous support in both houses.

HUMAN SERVICE IMPACTS

Senate Health and Human Service Bills included SB 1526B, which prohibits Juvenile Court to consider parental disability as a reason for termination of parental rights.  This bill had support from Disability Rights Oregon, the Development Disabilities Coalition and Community Mental Health Association.  The bill passed the Senate 25-5 excused and the House 57-3 excused.

The hearings on SB 1540B, requiring mandatory reporting of child abuse, evolved into long discussions of definitions of child abuse, school staff reporting of student behavior, and child welfare responses.  The bill was sent to Senate Rules where the A-10 amendment removed definitions of child abuse but kept requirements for school reports and interviews by child welfare staff on school campuses. Clients in residential mental health or drug and alcohol treatment programs were also protected by the abuse statues.  The amended bill passed the Senate floor 16-11 and the House floor 49-11.

SB 1539 asked to support the OHSU program for psychiatric consultation for adult clients, which was referred to Ways and Means and funded with $900,000 in the end of session budget bills. SB 1549 B on medical coverage upon entrance and discharge from the Oregon State Hospital passed earlier.

SB 1555 considered the distribution of funds in the marijuana accounts.  Senate Human Services and House Revenue heard the bill. The Senate passed it 25 to 5 excused. The House vote failed the first time, but the bill was reconsidered and passed with a 35-22 vote and 1 excused.  Marijuana revenues will go to Behavioral Health for Alcohol and Drug prevention, early intervention and treatment, the Oregon State Police, and the school fund.  None went to cities and counties without recreational marijuana stores.

The House Human Services and Housing Committee considered HB 4081A, which proposed that Self Sufficiency family benefits be increased with any saved funding. The bill passed the House Committee and was sent to Ways and Means.  The League supported this bill but was informed there were no funds available. Link letter.  HB 4028B with tax credits for dependent care was approved by House Revenue and both floor votes.  The bill also included housing benefits for low-income.  See Housing bills.

GUN SAFETY (MARGE EASLEY)

Celebration was in order on the afternoon of March 5 when hundreds of gun safety supporters, including the League, gathered on the steps of the Capitol as Governor Kate Brown signed HB 4145, closing the Boyfriend Loophole in Oregon’s stalking laws.  There were speeches from Moms Demand Action leaders, victims of domestic violence, a student gun safety activist from the University of Oregon, Senator Floyd Prozanski, as well as Governor Brown herself.  However, the most impressive sight was seeing five busloads of energized high school students from Lake Oswego, waving signs, chanting, and expressing support for ongoing efforts to prevent gun violence.

HOUSING PORTFOLIO (NANCY DONOVAN AND DEBBIE AIONA)

Document Recording Fee Increase (HB 4007C) – Passed

The LWVOR is a member of the Oregon Housing Alliance and works with its 80-member organization of nonprofits, local governments and housing authorities from across Oregon to advance housing opportunity. The Housing Alliance’s top priority this session was HB 4007C, to increase the document recording fee to create and preserve affordable housing. Read the League’s letter of support.

On March 3, the House passed HB 4007C on a vote of 39 to 20 and the Senate passed it by a vote of 20 to 9.  These votes were important because the increase in revenue requires a 3/5ths vote to pass.  Administered by the Oregon Housing and Community Services the bill raises the document recording fee from $20 to $60 on real estate transactions. The $40 increase is estimated to raise $90 million per biennium. These new state resources will provide a big boost to build or preserve low-income rental housing, affordable homeownership and emergency housing.  One out of every four dollars will serve veterans.

Also, HB 4007C creates a First Time Homebuyer Savings Account advanced by the Oregon Association of Realtors. It will offer first time homeowners with moderate incomes a subtraction on their income taxes when saving for a down payment.

Constitutional Amendment for Bonding for Affordable Housing (HJR 201A) – Passed  

This bill will refer a measure to voters that will change the constitution to allow local governments to lend their credit to benefit affordable housing. Since this is a Joint Resolution, it heads straight to the voters for their vote in November 2018. The LWVOR supported this bill.

Addressing Severe Rent Burden (HB 4006B)Passed

This bill requires cities with a high percentage of renters with a high rent burden (who pay more than 50% of their income for rent) to hold a public meeting and report on several metrics. Oregon Housing and Community Services is required to annually provide each city with a population greater than 10,000 data showing the percentages of renter households that are severely rent burdened. The League testified in support of this bill.

Racial disparities in homeownership (HB 4010A) – Passed

People of color continue to face discrimination as they try to purchase their own home. This bill creates a taskforce to study and address racial disparities in homeownership.

Governor’s Request for Emergency Shelter (HB 5201A) – Passed

The Governor’s office requested $5 million to address an unprecedented increase in the need for emergency shelters and homeless prevention services across the state.  Grant amounts specified in the bill will be distributed to counties and organizations with the greatest need to provide emergency winter shelter, housing and services.  These funds are to be spent as efficiently and effectively as possible.

OAHTC Technical Fix (HB 4028A) Passed

The Oregon Affordable Housing Tax Credit can be used to purchase and preserve manufactured home parks to ensure long-term affordability for residents.  By removing restrictions, this bill will allow an LLC or LP controlled by a nonprofit organization to be an eligible purchaser.

WOMEN’S ISSUES/WELLNESS (DEBBIE RUNCIMAN)

SB 1562 dealing with strangulation, finally passed this session.  Perpetrators of domestic violence use strangulation to intimidate and control their victims.  It is a has very serious health impacts but, in most cases, has been only treated as a misdemeanor.  SB 1562 adds compression of the chest to the definition of strangulation and increases the penalty for crime of strangulation.

A Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program continues to be elusive.  HB 4160 was introduced to ensure 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 did 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.  We remain hopeful that 2019 will see success.

Policies regarding sexual harassment in our schools were enacted.  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.  Passage of this bill strengthens protections for both students and staff in our K-12 schools.

PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUES

Public Safety requests from the Oregon Judicial Department were directed to Ways and Means. HB 4096 asked for judicial salary increases, HB 4097 asked for law libraries with funding in Multnomah County’s new courthouse, and SB 1545 asked for fees from state agencies for electronic records.  The requests were funded in the end of session HB 4163 Program Change and HB 5701 Reconciliation bills, including additional judges and courthouse staff.  The Public Defense Services leaders requested attorneys’ salary increases and a caseload study.  The League has supported both judicial and defense salary increases in prior sessions, as well as this session.

The Reconciliation Bill included funds for the Criminal Justice Commission for the Justice Reinvestment projects, a Marion County Sobering Center, a DePaul Treatment Center project in Portland, and a Trillium Family Services construction project at the former Children’s Farm Home.  Residential Mental Health rates were increased as well as funds for School-Based Health Clinics.  Oregon state employees also received salary increases in this end of session bill.  Not bad for a short session budget.

House Judiciary Committee introduced HB 4149 which limited District Attorney offers in plea agreements.  The bill originally included many conditions but was narrowed to defendant appearance, grand jury information and unconstitutional laws.  The bill was amended and passed on February 27, with the intention of returning to the discussion in the next session. A Lewis and Clark Professor presented testimony on the imbalance in the negotiations and pressure to accept plea bargains.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held an informational hearing on March 1 on the Impact of M 11 on Youth in Oregon.  An OHSU researcher presented information on brain development, and a Public Defender compared the adult and juvenile systems. A PSU researcher gave data on the present system and recommended more data collection on prosecution.  An OYA staff talked about the fight or flight response in traumatized teens and the programs available in the juvenile facilities. A member of the Council on Civil Rights recommended that Oregon create a system considering youth development.  Chair Prozanski announced he would appoint a Work Group on this issue.

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 2019 long session might just create the perfect storm to consider substantial changes in education policy and education funding during a session when state tax policies may also be in the spotlight.  Some believe that while there is little political will within the legislature, nor with voters, to broadly raise corporate and small business taxes or address substantial property tax reform; there may be a pathway to raise specific revenue directed toward education funding.  Others fear that outcome, since education already use more than half of state General Fund and Lottery funding sources, believing that other essential services including human services, public safety, health care and natural resources are already insufficiently funded.

The Joint Committee on Student Success continued to gain an overview of all things education prior to a busy traveling schedule in the interim before the 2019 session.  View presentation materials on: State Spending, School Funding, The,
School District Budgeting Process – in a larger school district, School District Budgeting Process – in a smaller school district, or go to the session overview for this committee and click on individual dates in the right column, then “meeting materials” for each of those dates.  The committee’s work was initiated based on five foundational principles:

  1. Early childhood education is important to school success.
  2. Attendance and having sufficient learning time are crucial.
  3. Oregon must improve high school graduation rates.
  4. The school system needs to be accountable and transparent.
  5. Schools need stable and sufficient resources.

Oregon Student Voice (OSV), a student-led organization that empowers students to be authentic partners with education decision makers, recently released their State of Our Schools Report, one of many resources available to this committee.

Statewide meetings will be scheduled in large, small, urban and rural areas of the state to get a better handle on what role the legislature and state agencies can play in improving student success while continuing to honor independence and autonomy of local districts. The first regional meeting will be 3/22/2018, Sheldon High School – Auditorium 2455 Willakenzie Road, Eugene, OR 97401 from 6:30-8:30 pm. As other meetings are scheduled during the interim, they will be posted  at the  Joint Interim Committee On Student Success “Meetings” link

Budget changes impacting Education (page 33) from this short session include the following.

  • There is no net change in the State School Fund flowing to local school districts from the total $8.2 billion provided in the 2017-19 legislatively adopted budget.
  • An increase of $1,980,708 General Fund and 14 positions (7.72 FTE) were approved for the Office of Child Care in the Early Learning Division to address safety and quality issues in the child care system, as well as to provide funding for testing of lead contamination in drinking water in child care facilities. Five limited duration positions were funded in a pilot program in collaboration with the Department of Human Services (DHS). A pilot program will provide teams of ODE and DHS staff to jointly investigate neglect and other cases that take place in a child care facility.
  • The Oregon Department of Education is instructed to use one-time funding from the Network for Teaching and Learning to provide up to $100,000 to support the Civic Scholars program under HB 2955 (2015) for the annual Oregon Civics Day for Teachers for the 2018-19 school year. This program provides ongoing professional development for civics teachers across the state.
  • A one-time General Fund appropriation of $250,000 for a grant to the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation to assist in the funding for the Mike McLaran Center for Student Success, which provides a variety of services for students of the Salem Keizer School District. The Center provides services relating to: (1) college preparation and awareness; (2) career exploration and exposure; (3) academic supports like tutoring and mentoring; and (4) social supports.
  • A net increase of $65,049 General Fund for Higher Education Coordination Commission (HECC) A $250,000 General Fund appropriation to HECC was approved for the Oregon Volunteers Commission for Voluntary Action and Service program. The primary program administered by this Commission is AmeriCorps, which requires a state match for administrative costs. This program is currently in the Governor’s Office and is being transferred to HECC. Two one-time appropriations were approved through HECC for public universities.  The first is a $250,000 General Fund investment for a Portland State University/Oregon Health and Science University Center for Violence Prevention Research, Education, and Practice.  The work of the Center is to research identifying causal factors and other social determinants of health that are linked to various health conditions and dangerous outcomes (e.g., abuse or motor vehicle accidents), distribution of culturally and geographically appropriate best practices, and improved public awareness. The second appropriation of $3,000,000 General Fund is to provide a portion of the match for federal funds for a project at Oregon State University’s Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC).
  • The budget for the Chief Education Office reflects the two-year amount authorized for the coordination and research role of the Office, as well as the funding for the Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS). This SLDS funding will be used to complete payment for the primary contractor, an extension of the third-party Quality Assurance contractor, costs to transition the SLDS to the updated version of the relational database management system at the State Data Center, and provide full funding for the project’s state positions.  $222,002 General Fund was provided for one Policy Advisor in the Governor’s Office since the Chief Education Officer will no longer perform this function.
  • General Fund was increased by $950,000 to supplement existing funding for the school-based mental health capacity fund. This fund is run by OHA to provide funding to place mental health providers in school-based health centers and in schools without school-based health centers.  The current 2017-19 funding level, before this addition, is $8.1 million General Fund.  For purposes of building the 2019-21 budget, these programs are considered ongoing.  The Oregon Health Authority will use this additional funding to supplement the existing capacity grant program.  Applicants should be encouraged to list potential community partnerships; other local, foundation or CCO financial participation; and how the efforts respond to adverse childhood experiences, critical mental or behavioral health challenges facing youth, or ensuring school and student safety.  The proposals could be through direct funding of in-school services and/or leveraging other community resources and partnerships.

The Joint Committee on Ways and Means Sub-Committee on Education and Joint W&M moved bills that then passed both chambers in the last days of the session. HB 4065 provides additional enforcement capacity to the Office of Child Care, which is part of the Oregon Department of Education’s Early Learning Division, and also increases civil penalties for violations by child care facilities. In addition to $2 million for childcare safety, this bill will provide additional authority to the Office of Child Care to maintain a Central Background Registry of childcare providers, develop a system for enforcing rules governing providers, and respond to rule violations.  HB 4053 directs the Chief Education Office, in collaboration with the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, to prepare an annual report on accelerated college credit programs. HECC must also adopt statewide standards for public post-secondary institutions of education to make information related to accelerated college credit programs available on each institution’s website. HB 4130 appropriates $250,000 General Fund in the 2017-19 biennium to the Department of Education for grants to public school districts for student transportation costs, for students grades 9-12, which are not reimbursed by the State School Fund.

Senate Committee on Education, HB 4113 (a collective bargaining issue) would have included class size as a mandatory subject of school district collective bargaining. While it passed the House, it received only a courtesy hearing in this committee, considering both the pros and cons of this bill—worth listening to and expected to resurface in the upcoming regional meetings of the Joint Committee on Student Success.  Stable and sufficient revenue resources could enable smaller class sizes.

Bills assigned originally to this committee that passed both chambers and awaiting the Governor’s signature include: SB 1563 removing the requirement that undocumented students apply for an official federal identification document in order to be eligible for resident tuition at public universities, and allows students who are not citizens or lawful permanent residents to receive scholarships, grants, and other financial aid from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission. SB 1557 provides rights to students at community colleges and public universities, who are ordered to active military duty for 30 days or fewer. SB 1554 disregards any amount in an account established for higher education expenses for the purpose of determining an individual’s eligibility to receive any assistance or benefit authorized by law, and requires the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to conduct a study of the effects on state and institutional financial aid programs. SB 1522 makes modified diploma recipients in Youth Corrections Educational Program eligible for transition services. SB 1520 expands a 90-day grace period for employment to all licensees who are licensed by the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission and restores an expedited licensing fee process that was diminished in 2017.

The House Committee On Education had bills assigned originally to this committee that passed both chambers and are awaiting the Governor’s signature.  HB 4036 requiring districts to allow students to participate in activities—available to non-chartered public school students – be available to charter school and homeschooled students. Dead in Joint Ways and Means, but perhaps emerging in future years: HB 4051 would have established a task force to write a report assessing the impact of current state policy and laws on rural schools and making recommendations for state policy changes. HB 4102 would have required the Oregon Department of Education to conduct a study on students who drop out of public secondary schools in this state and examine methods for tracking and collecting information on school dropouts.  Both rural schools and dropout reengagement will certainly be subjects of the Joint Committee on Student Success statewide meetings before the 2019 legislative session.

The House Committee on Early Childhood and Family Supports originally heard HB 4067 that is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Currently, schools must provide special education services to school-age children (kindergarten through grade 12) who have one of the following conditions: intellectual disability; hearing, speech, language, or visual impairment; deaf-blindness; emotional disturbance; orthopedic or other health impairment; autism; traumatic brain injury; or special learning disabilities. HB 4067 adds developmental delays to the list of conditions eligible for special education services, for school-age children in kindergarten through 3rd grade. HB 4066 died in Ways and Means.  The bill would have created the Early Childhood Equity Fund to allow the Early Learning Division (ELD) to make grants to culturally specific early learning, early childhood, and parent support programs including those who are African-American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian-American, and of multiracial descent.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!  There are opportunities to follow regional meetings with the Joint Committee on Student Success and to participate in preparing for 2019.  If early learning, K-12, CTE, post-secondary education, or addressing historically underserved students interest you, please contact LWVOR Action Education, Early Childhood Coordinator Chris Vogel at chrisvogelvolunteerlwvor@gmail.com.

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