1330 12th St SE Suite 200 Salem, OR 97302
(503) 581-5722
lwvor@lwvor.org

Legislative Report, Volume 29, Number 10 – March 2019


Sign up for the Legislative Report

In This Issue

Climate Change

Education

Governance

Natural Resources

Revenue and Tax Reform

Social Policy


 Climate Change

By Claudia Keith, Julie Chapman, Shirley Weathers, Cathy Frischmann and Lynette Pierson

YOUR VOICES are STILL NEEDED, the “Fierce Urgency of NOW”!

Please consider taking just a few minutes this week and engage in your citizenship rights and responsibilities. On Monday, March 25, all HB 2020 amendments are expected to be published and it’s critical that League members contact their legislators to ensure that the Oregon Climate Action Program (OCAP), HB 2020, (Cap and Invest) bill amendment process is productive, moves the bill forward. It’s time to put a PRICE on greenhouse gas emissions! ACTION: Let your legislators know the urgent need to address meaningful climate policy is now. Visit your legislators in the next week. If that’s not possible, then make a phone call and or write a personal email or letter. You can focus your contact with your legislators on the League’s and our coalition partner priorities.

We are about at the half way mark, the first major Session deadline occurs March 29 when committees must post the agenda and work-session date for any bill that they want to move forward. Then on April 9 all active Bills will need to have moved out of their first chamber policy committee. In order for a bill to be heard in committee by second chamber deadline (May 24), it has to be posted on an agenda for work-session by May 10. However, this does not apply to Rules, Revenue, or Joint Committees.

HB 2020 committee work sessions are scheduled for March 25 and March 29. At this time, it has been posted for both meetings: “The work session is scheduled for the purpose of providing an opportunity for the committee members to discuss potential amendments to HB 2020. The committee will not be voting on amendments at this meeting.”

This past week, the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction (JCCR) conducted one “invitation only” panel presentation: Natural Working Lands Incentive Programs, staff representatives from 1) Natural Resources Program Area, 2) Oregon Department of Agriculture Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, and 3) Oregon Department of Forestry. (The complete presentation ppt.) Additionally, it’s important to note the Citizens Utility Board response, “Northwest Natural’s Criticism of HB 2020: Misleading, Lacks Context”.

HB 2020 Highlights

OPB Carbon Pricing Educational Video

Oregon’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals: The bill strengthens the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals to 80 percent below 1990 emissions by 2050 and adds an interim target of 45 percent below 1990 emissions by 2035.

Setting the Cap: The Carbon Policy Office will place an annual cap on total regulated greenhouse gas emissions by setting an annual allowance budget that will steadily decline to meet the state’s GHG reduction goals. Allowances each year act as permits to emit a ton of greenhouse gases. Regulated entities will be required to turn in allowances equal to their emissions.

Annual Auction: There will be an annual auction of allowances that regulated entities must purchase to cover their emissions. There will be a price floor and ceiling to provide certainty, and the Carbon Policy office shall adopt measures to protect against market manipulation.

Direct Allocation of Allowances: To protect Oregon businesses that are at risk of leakage and to offset potential impacts to low income utility customers, a certain number of allowances will be directly allocated to regulated entities.

Program Investments: All investment of proceeds from the auction must meet the goals of the program, which include: (1) reducing greenhouse gas emissions, (2) sequestering carbon, (3) helping communities adapt to the impact of climate change, and (4) helping communities and businesses adjust to a new low carbon future.

Recommended amendments to the bill may include: 1) More aggressive Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Goals (including increased interim 2035 goals) that address net-zero emissions by 2050 per IPCC science related to keeping global warming to a maximum of 1.5º C; 2) related to that goal, consideration to the current number/size of free allowances, offsets, free credits, exemptions, temporary exemptions and exclusions; 3) clarify percentage of funds/reinvestment process in rural and other most affected communities; and 4) a possible companion bill that would put a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure projects. There could be a new omnibus bill from the Senate replacing HB 2020, which would reflect all critical amendments needed for an affirmative vote. There is talk this amended Bill could be signed by the Governor on Earth Day.

Other Bills

Fracking: The League is supporting and provided testimony on HB 2623 creating a 10-Year fracking moratorium. The bill was passed in the House on March 18, and assigned to the Senate Environment and Natural Resource Committee.

Oil Rail Safety: SB 99, HB 2064, HB 2209, HB 2858. The League is an active member of the Oregon Conservation Network (OCN), which supports Oil Rail Safety legislation this session. Oregon communities continue to be at risk due to unsafe crude oil trains and the lack of emergency response preparation. The threat was illustrated in June 2016 when an oil train in Mosier, OR derailed and spilled oil that leaked into the Columbia River, causing a large fire near homes and an elementary school. SB 99 and HB 2858 are the most comprehensive, and both of these bills would require the state’s approval of contingency plans and training for oil train-related spills, fees on railroad operators used to improve oil spill response and establish funding for emergency preparedness, adequate insurance for railroads to cover true worst-case oil train derailments and oil spills, and 24-hour notice that oil trains will be passing through a certain area. We are encouraged, after four legislative sessions, to see Oil Rail Safety disaster prevention and response, including appropriate funding legislation, receive public hearings. The League supports SB 41 A (moved to Joint Committee on Ways and Means) SB 99 and HB 2858.

Climate Authority: The League supports the Governor’s recommendation for forming (SB 928) and funding (HB 5044), an Oregon Climate Authority state agency, which would assist coordinating climate mitigation and adaptation efforts across all agencies, including folding the Dept. of Energy into the new agency. The League’s support for this kind of management structure was first proposed to OGWC Oregon Global Warming Commission and the Governor by the League in August of 2016. (The Governor briefed the Senate Energy and Environment Committee March 21.) There are mixed views if the current bill as written is ready to move. We also would support SB 598, if needed. This bill addresses changes related to the Oregon Global Warming Commission, including folding it into the new Climate Authority, renaming it “Oregon Climate Change Commission,” and providing a real budget.

Nuclear Energy and Renewable Portfolio Standard: We oppose SB 444, small scale nuclear energy. Until nuclear waste issues are resolved, it’s very doubtful this technology/industry will be expanded. We oppose SB 508 (League testimony posted and League verbal testimony was provided at the Senate Environment and Natural Resources public hearing on March 7), which would change the definition of the Renewable Portfolio Standard to include all hydroelectric energy. The public hearing discussion was productive and most likely a work group will form in July to consider how best to move to 100% renewable energy before 2040-2050 timeframe. (This concept is similar to a Washington State bill.)

Renewable Energy Credits: The League has agreed to join eight other organizations in opposing SB 451 and addressing this issue in HB 2020. We oppose passage of SB 451, which (LINK needed to League Letter and Coalition Letters) awards renewable energy credits for the creation of electricity from municipal solid waste (MSW) incineration.

Other bills we may support: HB 2209, HB 2064 and SB 45.

Other League Climate Change Advocacy

Jordan Cove & Pacific Gas Pipeline: The Dept. of State Lands and Dept. of Environmental Quality permits announced a 6-month delay due to the overwhelming number of public comments submitted. The agencies are required to consider the comments and will be looking to address specific comments related to the permit criteria. FERC announced a 35-day delay in their decision caused by the federal government shutdown. We have heard FERC may publish a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on March 29.

Our Children’s Trust (@youthvgov) (OCT): In the Federal case, the 9th Circuit Court will expedite an interlocutory appeal now calendared during the week of June 3-7, 2019 in Portland, Oregon. On March 1 the LWVOR and LWVUS submitted a third amicus brief.

Our Children’s Trust (@ youthvgov) are recognized both nationally and globally. The KIDS climate Strike movement includes a number of the Oregon based and other plaintiffs . A few examples or publications that feature OCT, including cover of UK geographical magazine, VOGUE feature article and recently in OPRAH magazine “what-is-climate-change-save-the-planet”.

In the State of Oregon lawsuit, the case received in Jan. 2019 an unfavorable ruling, and now OCT has appealed. On March 8, Multnomah County Supports Youth Climate Lawsuit Against the State of Oregon. LWVOR Action will be considering a request to all Oregon Leagues to ask their county local commissioners to follow the leadership set by Multnomah County and join a statewide county brief. Related, On March 22, fifty three (53), individuals, including state legislators and organizations filed a amici’s briefOregon’s Politicians, Businesses, Faith Groups, and NGOs Support Youth Plaintiffs in Chernaik v. Brown, the Climate Lawsuit Against the State”. “The amicus brief presents the Supreme Court with evidence from state and federal agencies about how climate change is already harming Oregon’s resources and citizens to illustrate that many people are affected by the erroneous Court of Appeals’ decision, and that if it is not corrected, it will result in a serious and irreversible injustice. The brief also explains that the State of Oregon has not taken adequate steps to address climate change, despite numerous opportunities to do so, and accordingly, judicial review is imperative….”

LWVUS new Climate Position and Green New Deal: The LWVUS Board on March 1 posted the approved position on climate change (to be included in next LWVUS Impact on Issues): “The League believes that climate change is a serious threat facing our nation and planet. The League believes that an interrelated approach to combating climate change—including through energy conservation, air pollution controls, building resilience, and promotion of renewable resources—is necessary to protect public health and defend the overall integrity of the global ecosystem. The League supports climate goals and policies that are consistent with the best available climate science and that will ensure a stable climate system for future generations. Individuals, communities, and governments must continue to address this issue, while considering the ramifications of their decision, at all levels—local, state, regional, national, and global.” It is understood that this new position reflects recent convention climate related resolutions.

On March 14, LWVUS provided GREEN NEW DEAL talking points to Leagues about our engagement with a possible “Green New Deal” and climate change policy more generally. These points are meant to inform Leagues of the activities of LWVUS and can be used by individual Leagues in their messaging on this subject. LWVUS Engagement with the Green New Deal Letter to Congress – Recent published Talking Points.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! If any of these areas interest you, please contact Claudia Keith, ca.keith@comcast.net


Back to top


Education Policy

By Chris Vogel, Education Policy Coordinator with assistance from those listed below.

On 3/19/2019 the Joint Committee on Student Success members were asked to share how each of them would prioritize the proposed funding initiatives. While LWVOR does not often list direct responses from committee members, these Senators and Representatives have invested months in regional meetings and in developing priorities to meet available funding. It is worth seeing what each prioritizes.

The following is a brief summary of individual members of the Joint Committee on Student Success individual recommendations or listen to the hearing.

  • Helt—Prioritize minimizing the achievement gap, provide social-emotional support
  • Lively—early learning is on the top of the list, also supporting mental and physical health, expanded learning time
  • Fahey—early learning (research on benefits of are clear, not only right for kids but will help the long-term stress on budgets), extended school year, lowering class size (expensive but could be an option)
  • Frederick—concern about the negative impact of assessment and a data warehouse, interested in the diversity of the workforce, student success teams and early learning
  • Nathanson—critical issues include: teacher mentorship, nurse- librarian-counselors, concern with getting students job-ready
  • Taylor—funding basic core learning, early learning especially Preschool Promise, mental health and social services, preparation for the adult world, student success teams
  • Hernandez–focus on equity–early learning equity fund, student success plans, diversity initiatives
  • Springer—priorities are in early learning (three overlapping programs: Relief Nurseries, Preschool Promise and Head Start), student success teams. The representative pointed out the legislature has implemented many of the initiatives proposed and then stopped them; consistency year-after-year is important.
  • Thatcher—addressing the diversity of district needs; not new ideas, wishes we were outside of the box in delivering services better
  • Hass—add more class time (research on longer school year showing it is valuable), reduce absenteeism, mental health support, class size, engaging more families in schools—we need accountability mechanisms
  • Clem–class size is a central priority
  • Co-Vice Chair Sen. Knopp—mental health is the number one priority, second is school safety, expanded student choices (summer school, tutoring, more electives), lower class size in the lower grades, student success teams in districts that are struggling, accountability and transparency, must address spending, PERS
  • Co-Vice-Chair Rep. Smith—balance career and technical education, ready to read by 3rd grade, making sure kids in high school have all the classes they need, finally early learning including adequate busing to get kids to school
  • Co-Chair Sen. Roblan—need a vision of where we want schools to be in the future; every two years the legislature comes up with a new plan, but this doesn’t lead to consistency—we need to come together as a group and create a strategic plan. Our priorities should include early learning as recommended by the Sub-committee. The biggest dividend is from Early Childhood Education. Don’t put a lot in statewide things. Mentorship statewide, diversity initiatives, training for teachers, student support teams, re-engaging students who are disengaged, extend school year so we don’t let kids get behind, allow choices for districts, class size is important, especially in early grades. “If you don’t attend to it, it will go away.” So districts need to make plans, follow their plans.
  • Co-Chair Rep. Smith Warner–early learning and social-emotional supports are top priorities, also universal meals, nurses, counselors, expand learning time in summers. The challenge with regard to early learning is that we need a system and we don’t have one—where do we start? If we don’t invest, we will never have a system. How do you do it?

Meeting materials included: Committee Discussion – JCSS Co-Chairs (proposal: “School Improvement Fund Categories & Allowable and Committee Discussion – JCSS Co-Chairs (proposal: “New Investment in Education – Co-Chairs Proposal”

The Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Revenue will meet Thursday 3/28 to discuss tax and revenue proposals that may significantly fund the above priorities.

On 3/26/2019 the Joint Committee on Student Success has invited experts to address Equity in Education:

  • Jenny Lee, Advocacy Director, Coalition of Communities of Color
  • Carmen Xiomara Urbina, Deputy Director, Oregon Department of Education
    Amanda Manjarrez, Director of Advocacy, Latino Network
  • Coi Vu, Director, Asian Family Center, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO)
  • Marcy Bradley, Program Officer, Black Student Success, Oregon Community Foundation
  • Parasa Chanramy, Director, Policy, and Implementation, Stand for Children

AVID – Advancement Via Individual Determination will be covered by Dr. Edward Lee Vargas, Executive Vice President, AVID and Melissa Cole, State Director, AVID Oregon

Joint Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education

The Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) along with universities and community colleges continue budget presentations, HB 5024. Some of the presentation materials of interest may be: LFO Budget Review (Community Colleges), LFO Budget Review (OHSU), LFO Budget Review (Operations), LFO Budget Review (Opportunity Grant), LFO Budget Review (Public Universities), HB 5024 HECC Presentation (Part 1), and HB 5024 HECC – Governor’s Budget. On 3/20 written testimony and verbal testimony were given on HECC related programs. On 3/26 Community Colleges and Related Programs public testimony will be heard.

Senate Committee on Education

On 3/18 the committee heard: SB 257 appropriates money from General Fund to Higher Education Coordinating Commission for agricultural experiment station and branch stations, Oregon State University Extension Service and Forest Research Laboratory programs of Oregon State University. SB 624 requires public universities to establish a common application for undergraduate admission. SB 157 directs the Department of Education to administer a nationally recognized assessment of high school students’ knowledge and skills. SB 963 modifies allowed and prohibited uses of restraint of students by public education programs.

On 3/20 the committee heard: SB 739 appropriates money from General Fund to Higher Education Coordinating Commission for distribution to the University of Oregon for a program that strives to improve high school graduation rates through collaborative partnerships between university faculty and high school teachers. SB 802 allows a military child to be considered resident of the school district for purposes of enrollment and class placement based on official military order for a transfer of parent of the child. SB 690 repeals sunset provision for Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children.

SB 859 exempts graduate students at public universities who qualify for tuition equity from having to pay nonresident tuition. SB 958 establishes Dreamers Access Program to award student loans to eligible students with demonstrated financial need.

House Committee on Education

On 3/18, the committee heard: HB 2031 requires that educator who is certified by a national professional organization for teaching standards be teaching in public school in the state in order to qualify to have educator license renewal fee waived. HB 2326 provides funding for grant program under which Department of Education awards grants to school districts for a percentage of certain student transportation costs for which school district does not receive any amount in distributions from State School Fund or any amount related to transit activities. HB 2651 directs Higher Education Coordinating Commission to conduct a study that identifies duplications and redundancies among public university degree programs, certificate programs, classes, and other programs and identifies methods for consolidating or eliminating duplications and redundancies. HB 2990 establishes Task Force on Family Engagement in Education. HB 3010 establishes Task Force on Educator Attraction and Retention.

3/20 public hearings were held on: HB 2246 directs Early Learning Division to develop a plan for ensuring children seamlessly transition between mental health services. HB 2520 directs the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to conduct a study to determine whether the state should recognize more than one high school equivalency test. HB 2941 directs the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to require each mental health provider preparation program in this state to prepare a plan to recruit and graduate diverse mental health providers. HB 2976 requires the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to adopt by rule additional minimum standards for licensing of career schools that receive $10 million or more in annual revenue or that are subsidiary with the parent company. HB 2987 requires public institutions of higher education to bypass developmental educational requirements and placement tests for each student who receives a grade on approved high school equivalency test indicating the student is fully qualified to bypass requirements and tests.

A “Map” to Education Committees in the 2019 Session

To follow specific committee discussions in detail, use these links; then click on a specific date to see the agenda, meeting materials, and video recording. We routinely follow:

2019 is a very busy year for Education legislation. If you have an interest in working with us, following specifically assigned bills, watching recorded OLIS hearings from home on your own schedule, or making recommendations to assure LWVOR Action is effective in following bills, then please contact ChrisVogelVolunteerLWVOR@gmail.com. With appreciation to the following for analyzing specific bills and following committee hearings: Early Learning: Stephanie Feeney; P-3, K-12, P-20: Fran Dyke, Nancy Donovan, and Sharon Posner; Higher Education: Alice Bartelt and Karan Kuntz

This week (and every week) you may find value in reviewing other perspectives from within the Capitol: The Children’s Agenda, United for Kids one of the many coalitions where LWVOR participates. Read their excellent weekly updates.


Back to top


Governance

By Rebecca Gladstone, Governance Coordinator

Thanks to our volunteers! We need an Ethics Law Coordinator.

Rick Bennett, governance bills review
Marge Easley, National Popular Vote
Josie Koehne, Transparency, Public Records
Ann Potter, League position review
Norman Turrill, Redistricting, Campaign Finance

Brief

Developments continue. We now support prepaid ballot envelopes. Negotiations and amendments proceed for our candidate filing information bill, for multiple campaign finance proposals, and campaign contribution limits. Up this week, 16 year-old voting. From week to week, not all of our issues will have progress to report here.

Elections

SB 861 is about prepaid ballot envelopes. We support the likely improvement of voter turnout this bill would enable, especially for young voters unfamiliar with stamps, low-income voters for whom the cost may be a deterrence to voting, and rural voters for whom ballot drop boxes may be several hours’ drive away. As anticipated and reported in last week’s report, the League has changed position on this bill, based on new information on the reduced anticipated cost. Fully 60% of ballots have usually been returned into ballot drop boxes, not incurring cost for postage. Prepaid envelopes returned via drop boxes would similarly not be charged postage. Negotiations continue between the US Postal Service and our Elections Division, also with Rep. Earl Blumenauer, who described urging for “Freedom Postage” at a press conference last week.

SB 838 & SJR 22 would reduce voting age from 18 to 16 years of age, amending the Oregon Constitution. The League is not speaking on these companion bills because we have not studied the issue and have not taken a position, as confirmed with our national staff.

HB 2685 is about candidate filing information. We are gathering final agreement confirmation with participating parties on amendments to this bill. Meanwhile, as our League voter service volunteers are collecting candidate information for the May 2019 primary, they are finding a significant number of filing forms lacking the required contact information, underscoring our motivation in filing this bill.

Redistricting, Norman Turrill

We are actively preparing a revised redistricting bill draft for the legislature. If the legislature does not refer an amendment to the 2020 ballot, then discussions are underway for an initiative petition drive.

HB 2492 is a bill on “prisoner gerrymandering” that would require prisoners to be counted during next year’s census at their last known address rather than where they are incarcerated. Counting prisoners where they are incarcerated skews the populations used for redistricting. We will be watching and would probably support this bill.

HJR 24 is a new proposed constitutional amendment by Rep. Helt that would establish a “Citizens Redistricting Commission.” This is similar in many respects to our proposal, having been derived from the same Task Force on Redistricting of the Secretary of State two years ago. This bill is currently sitting in House Rules and will probably not get a hearing.

Campaign Finance, Norman Turrill

Save the date: The LWVOR will support HB 3004 and SB 1014, the Small Donor Election Program. We encourage our members to attend the Small Donor Elections Lobby Day on April 25, Room 161 in the State Capitol. This will coincide with the House Floor reading of HCR 8, to commemorate Kappy Eaton.

SJR 18: On Wednesday 3/20, the League testified to the Senate Campaign Finance Committee on this constitutional amendment referral that would enable limits on campaign contributions. In League testimony submitted the week before, we preferred HJR 13 since it was a more comprehensive proposal, allowing campaign contribution limits at the county, city and district levels; enabling contribution or expenditure disclosures made in connection with all political campaigns; and allowing disclosure of who paid for political advertisements. HJR 13 further specifies that it applies only to laws or regulations made after December 3, 2020. This would preclude the Measure 47 statutory limits on campaign contributions passed by the voters in 2006 that has been dormant ever since the voters also turned down the Measure 46 constitutional amendment. It would also preclude the popular campaign finance laws adopted by Multnomah County and Portland voters.

We are now pleased to report that the committee listened to our (and other’s) requests and it is now proposing the SJR 18 -4 amendment that would include all the benefits of HJR 13 and clean up a few more issues, including changing the application date to January 1, 2016. This would not preclude the Multnomah County and Portland ballot measures, but would still preclude Measure 47 from 2006. However, this date may not matter, since the legislature will likely want to adopt its own contribution limits in statute and voters could still consider another initiative on the subject. However, leaving off that date altogether would give the legislature motivation to pass such a limits statute by the 2021 legislative session. The League now prefers SRJ 18 with the -4 amendment.

Transparency & Public Records, Josie Koehne

No new bills were scheduled this week. The full Sunshine Committee met March 20 and adopted “Legislative Recommendations on PII” (Personally Identifiable Information), passed the previous Friday:

Here is a summary:

PII can include a home address, personal telephone numbers, personal email, driver’s license, date of birth and social security number. A person’s name and employment status with a public employer is not PII. The Sunshine Committee recommends:

  • Strike a balance to protect Oregonians personal privacy, still allowing PII release in the public interest. Refrain from expanding exemptions or roll back to current personal information access.
  • Guarantee that existing law change would help speed along public interest access to PII.
  • Maintain existing standards for protecting individual public employees PII, with ORS 192.363.
  • Apply the public interest balancing test to current PII exemptions that don’t currently have the balancing test, and clarify criteria that the public entity should use in making a determination.”

They determined the reason a local public entity withholds or hesitates to disclose requested records is:

  1. They do not understand their obligations under the public records laws.
  2. They fear reprisals – public or legal – for disclosing what should not be disclosed, or what the person who is the subject matter of the request believes should not be disclosed. Typically risk-averse by nature of the job, they err on the side of non-disclosure.

Most public entities have at least one person on staff or a governing board who knows to consult ORS chapter 192, as well as the AG’s Public Records and Meetings Manual for public records questions. Those who have legal advice will usually consult when in doubt about how to respond.

Clarify and streamline ORS chapter 192 to be easier for a layperson to read, and revise the AG’s Manual to encourage timely compliance by creating a “bright line” for public entities to know what the law does/does not require.

They also suggest consolidating all statutes requiring PII withholding into ORS chapter 192 (public records law). Legislators should define PII, the criteria to be considered “in the public interest”, and circumstances for when PII shall/shall not be disclosed; (absent a court order); and may be withheld.

They recommend requiring a public body or agency to document in writing why a declined request failed to meet the public interest test and suggest a periodic review of records requests and denials.

Concerning a public entity’s fear of public reprisals, ORS chapter 192 already includes three statutes that protect public entities from liability for inadvertently, or otherwise acting in good faith, disclosing protected information.

A public body may not disclose a specified public record if an individual requests withholding of home address, personal telephone number or electronic mail address and demonstrates to the satisfaction of the public body that “the personal safety of the individual or the personal safety of a family member residing with the individual is in danger,” but if disclosed, the public entity will be immune from civil or criminal liability associated with the disclosure.

The Sunshine Committee will form three subcommittees to review public records request exemptions:

  • One will review remaining exemptions for “low hanging fruit” to eliminate or consolidate similar exemptions categories.
  • One will follow current legislative bills under consideration and report on proposed legislation.
  • One will continue to refine the PII recommendations.

National Popular Vote, Marge Easley

Good News for National Popular Vote!

We are thrilled to report that President Courtney has publicly announced he will allow a Senate floor vote on the National Popular Vote bill (SB 870), since he is satisfied that the votes are there for passage. We expect that it will be heard in the Senate Rules Committee as soon as April 1 or 3. Stay tuned for a League Action Alert on NPV in the next few days.   

Cybersecurity

The Oregon Cybersecurity Advisory Council reported last week, as required by SB 90 Enrolled (2017), which LWVOR supported (our testimony). They use a protective, easily understood public health model, to prevent problems, rather than a regulatory or punitive approach. We report here to underscore that a League study proposal, “Cyber Security and Privacy Today” has been recommended by the LWVOR board and will be presented for adoption at our state convention in May. Note this week’s news: 2 million Oregon DHS emails in January, FEMA data revealed from 2.5 million disaster survivors.

The Council is comprised of unfunded volunteers and does not have a budget request. The Cybersecurity Center for Excellence has a $10 million biennial budget request, mostly to provide workforce development by paying for Oregon higher education programs. They report:

  • From Jan 1, 2016 to Feb 24th this year, 279 companies reported data breaches that would affect Oregon citizens. They suspect breach numbers are greater, given that not all firms report.
  • Oregon currently has 2911 cybersecurity positions unfilled, about 30%, with related protective work not being done. They get consistent calls for workforce development, encouraging and educating younger students toward this field. There was concern to ensure this workforce will be available to our public agencies. This shortage is true for Information Technology in general.
  • Proposed outreach includes services to nearby businesses and public libraries, and linking students to county extension services.

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


Back to top


Natural Resources

By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator

Coastal success, improvements in some land use bills, but budgets are still a struggle. March 29 is when bills in the first chamber must be scheduled for a work session. By April 9 we may be down to below 1,000 bills to deal with by end of session. Your voice is needed to support or oppose bills as recommended in this report.

Budgets

The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board budget and fee bill (SB 5539 & SB 5540) and Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) budget (HB 5511) were heard last week. The League has supported the hazards work of DOGAMI in past biennia and submitted testimony in support. Members of the Coastal Caucus provided oral testimony concerned about the update of the 1995 tsunami inundation line. A Task Force was recently appointed and held a first meeting, but the Caucus had asked for broader membership and participation. Their concern: That current state law requires that new public buildings NOT BE sited in that zone. Such restrictions can also affect construction of other development. It’s unclear if the “fix” would need a change in state law.

The Dept. of Environmental Quality’s Environmental Data Management System (EDMS) Project got a review on March 19 in the Joint Committee on Information Management and Technology. The League strongly supports this project and provided a letter of support to the Committee members. The EDMS will not only assist DEQ, but also provide access to data for other agencies’ permitting processes. 

We testified in support of HB 2672, a bill that would authorize reimbursement to the Dept. of Agriculture, Dept. of Energy, and Water Resources Dept. for administrative and enforcement costs around activities related to the cannabis industry. A work session is scheduled on March 25 where we hope to see the bill moved to Ways and Means to help fund these agencies. Contacting members of the House Committee on Economic Development with your support could help move this bill and provide funding for these agencies.  

The Columbia River Gorge Commission budget (HB 5009) will be heard on March 25 where the League will again provide oral testimony in support. This budget must be equal to the monies allocated by the State of Washington, so it’s unclear of their exact funding until the end of both state legislative sessions. Oregon often advocates for more monies than Washington is willing to allocate.  

The Dept. of State Lands budget (HB 5035) will be heard March 26-28, with public testimony on March 28. The League will support continuing oversight of the Elliott State Forest, continuation of Removal-Fill mapping, Portland Harbor Superfund expenses, and three POPs on the South Slough. We will connect the one wetlands bill we support to this budget as well.

Air Quality, Susan Mates

HB 2007 had a second public hearing due to the number of people interested in providing testimony. The bill would direct the Environmental Quality Commission to adopt diesel engine emission standards for medium-duty trucks and heavy-duty trucks, help school districts replace old school buses with clean-running buses, and ensure that certain public improvement contracts require use of motor vehicles and equipment with newer diesel engines. These measures would bring us more in alignment with California and Washington. The League submitted testimony in support.

Coastal Issues, Peggy Joyce

It’s always encouraging to score a win early in the legislative session and the passage of SB 256, otherwise known as the repeal of the sunset of the moratorium on oil, gas, and sulfur leasing in Oregon’s territorial waters, was a great way to kick off the 2019 legislative session. Hurrah for the courage and farsighted votes that put this bill on the Governor’s desk for signature.

On a less encouraging note, SB 961 was introduced on behalf of Steve Neville, a constituent in Sen. Roblan’s district, who owns a piece of deteriorating beach property that he would like to see the state save by changing Goal 18 of the Land Conservation and Development Commission to include his property. So far no public hearings are scheduled for this bill, so we’ll take a wait and see approach.

Drinking Water, Amelia Nestler

The House Committee on Energy and Environment held an informational hearing on Harmful Algal Blooms and Drinking Water Quality on March 7. HB 3326 and HB 3340 were heard on March 14 to address this important health issue with subsequent referrals to Ways and Means to fund both the Dept. of Environmental Quality and Oregon Health Authority. The Oregon Lakes Association and professors from Oregon State University are taking a lead on this important issue. We hope to see a work session soon. HB 2656 was heard on March 12 that addresses the link between certain forest practices and drinking water sources.  

Environment

HB 2250, a bill that requires the Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Health Authority to regularly assess final changes to federal environment laws to determine whether changes are significantly less protective of public health, environment or natural resources than standards and requirements contained in those federal environmental laws, as in effect on January 19, 2017, was passed by the House and has been assigned to the Senate Committee Environment and Natural Resources.

Elliott State Forest

The State Treasurer this week sold $100 million of certificates of participation to begin to “buy” the Elliott State Forest and repay the Common School Fund. Additionally,

“Oregon State University and the Department of State Lands are in the beginning stages of developing a plan to turn the forest into a place for long-term, large-scale studies. The research would inform foresters on how best to manage Oregon’s coastal wood

Forests

Starting March 18, through 5 p.m. on May 2, Oregonians can weigh in on draft Annual Operations Plans (AOPs) for state forests, which lay out on-the-ground activities expected to take place in the coming fiscal year. The draft AOP summary documents can be viewed online. ODF is offering several convenient avenues to comment on AOPs:

On April 4 a hearing will be held on SB 926, a bill related to the aerial application of pesticides to state land, and SB 931, a bill that establishes new requirements for sending notifications to the Oregon Dept. of Forestry involving aerial application of pesticides to nonfederal forestland. 

Hanford, Marylou Schnoes

Our volunteer attended the March 11 and 12 meetings of the Oregon Hanford Cleanup Board in Hood River. The Board heard updates on the status of current cleanup projects from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Department of Energy’s Office of River Protection, and the Washington Department of Ecology. Presentations by the Oregon Department of Energy’s technical staff and additional information from the Washington Department of Ecology were also heard. We have grave concerns regarding federal funding cuts per the following article:

RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — The Trump administration is proposing big cuts to the cleanup budget for the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The Tri-City Herald reports the administration on Monday proposed cutting Hanford’s budget by $416 million. Hanford for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons and the site is now engaged in cleaning up the resulting highly radioactive wastes. Hanford’s annual budget would drop from about $2.5 billion this year to $2.1 billion next year under the budget request submitted to Congress, which sets the budget. The cut comes as a new estimate at least triples the estimated cost of Hanford cleanup. A report released in January puts the remaining cleanup costs for Hanford at $323 billion under a best case scenario. At worst it could be $677 billion.

Land Use

The League provided testimony in opposition to SB 8, requiring petitioners to pay attorney fees should developers of affordable housing prevail. A second hearing is scheduled in the Senate Housing Committee on April 1 with a subsequent referral to Senate Judiciary. There is a –1 amendment that narrows the development applications that would qualify, but this bill will still have a chilling effect on public participation. 

We expressed concerns on SB 10, establishing very high density requirements in areas adjacent to transportation corridors. We have provided input on amendments to SB 10 to President Courtney’s office and have received a draft “gut and stuff” proposal that addresses some of our concerns. We provided additional comments, including explaining the differences between urban growth boundaries outside of the Metro area and city boundaries with their attendant infrastructure. A second public hearing is set for April 1 in the Senate Housing Committee. 

In the meantime, HB 2001, a bill that would require certain cities and counties to allow “middle housing” in lands zoned for single-family dwellings and require a number of other changes to land use law may be amended by -10 amendments that address some of the League’s concerns. Speaker Kotek provided comments that better explain the amendments. It will receive another hearing in the House Committee on Human Services and Housing on March 27.

HB 2003, a 30-page bill related to housing, had a public hearing on March 5 in the House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use. The extensive bill deals with a number of state agencies and regional responsibilities. The cost to implement the bill will be extensive. The intrusion into local jurisdictions and reduction of Goal 1 obligations are just a few of the reasons that, as filed, the League expressed concerns in our testimony. A second public hearing was postponed last week as we await amendments that are expected to be a complete rewrite of the bill. 

HB 2228, a bill sponsored by the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) and League of Oregon Cities (LOC), asks for funding for land use planning work AND for technical assistance focused on a variety of local actions around affordable housing. The League is pleased by the adopted amendments that clarify the roles of AOC, LOC, the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development and Oregon Housing and Community Services. A work session was held on March 20 in the House Housing and Human Services Committee, and the bill, with its $2.5 million price tag, is headed to Ways and Means. This bill and HB 2075 are important components to help local governments comply with HB 2001, HB 2003 and SB 10, should they pass the legislature.

SB 88, a bill that would allow counties to authorize accessory dwelling units in certain rural residential zones, sits in the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources where a work session was held March 19 to consider the -2 amendments. It’s unclear if further amendments are forthcoming. With the amendments, the League may be neutral on the bill.

HB 2225, related to certain forest dwellings, had a hearing in the House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use on Feb. 5. The League will continue to follow this bill that attempts to reduce the number of new dwellings in forest zones, a position we support.

HB 3018 relates to the building of single-family dwellings within urban growth boundaries except for certain conditions. There is a misunderstanding among legislators about the function of urban growth boundaries and how they differ from city boundaries. The bill is in the Committee on House Agriculture and Land Use and was heard March 12. The League again has concerns. 

SB 2, as amended in the Senate, has been assigned to the House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use. The bill allows some Eastern Oregon counties to designate no more than 10 parcels region-wide up to 50 acres outside of urban growth boundaries for industrial or other employment. Because of the sideboards on this bill, the League is neutral.

HB 2055 and HB 2056 had Work Sessions on March 18 in the House Committee on Human Services and Housing. The -4 amendments were adopted for HB 2055 to clarify and better define the program. The bills establish a workforce housing program that would work in conjunction with employers. The League followed the pilot program through the Governor’s Office and believes this is a good example of public/private partnerships addressing a very real economic problem as well as a housing need.  

Marine Board

SB 47 will get a work session on March 26th in the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. The bill would establish the Waterway Access Fund to improve waterway access and promote boating safety education for the non-motorized boating community. The measure would also require a waterway access permit while operating a non-motorized boat, set permit fees, and eliminate the requirement to purchase an Aquatic Invasive Species permit for persons operating a non-motorized boat.

Pesticides & Toxics, Amelia Nestler

HB 3058 and SB 853 would ban the use of chlorpyrifos (pronounced: kloor-peer-uh-fos), a toxic nerve agent pesticide proven to cause brain damage in children, contaminate waterways and harm wildlife. These bills would also restrict the use of bee-killing neonicotinoids (pronounced: nee-ō-nick-ō-tin-oids) to licensed professionals only, thus removing them from store shelves. Both will have hearings on March 26, one in the House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use and the other in the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. 

HB 3355 amends the Toxics Free Kids Act to remove the quantitative exposure assessment option. A public hearing will be held March 26 in the House Committee on Energy and Environment.

Water

The League supports SB 756, a bill that continues the onsite septic grant and loan program for low income Oregonians. It sits in Ways and Means.

The Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is considering a 3% increase in fees in their water quality permitting program. This increase will be billed in Sept. 2019. This is separate from the proposed significant increase in the 2019-21 DEQ budget that would take effect in 2020. These fees apply to National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits and Water Pollution Control Facility permits. View the water quality permit fee rulemaking 2019.

We are awaiting a work session for HB 2085, the dam safety bill that updates statutes for the Water Resources Dept. on regulation of dams, particularly high hazard dams where the public’s safety could be at risk. Amendments are in the works.  

Wetlands

HB 2437, a bill on how the agricultural community deals with their need to clean ditches while protecting fish streams, is still alive in the House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use. There is still disagreement among the varied interests on this issue but work is being done to find some common ground. We expect to see amendments soon.

Another bill on whether or not the state should partially “assume” part of the role of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers related to some removal/fill permits (HB 2436) was filed as a “place-holder”. The proposed amendment was considered at a public hearing on March 19. Although the amendment is focused on preparing for substantial work in 2020, we remain opposed because of the request to fund one employee to work on this project.  

A third bill would establish a pilot program to help some Willamette Valley cities develop a mitigation bank or find other answers to addressing the clash between wetlands and development (HB 2438). The League supported the -2 and -4 amendments because the mid-Willamette Valley’s Regional Wetlands Consortium has done significant work and the staff assistance and General Fund monies to work on this pilot might well assist in having additional industrial lands available for future jobs. A part of the requirements for getting the state assistance would be to provide a manual for others who might want to follow this lead in the future. Also, an additional Removal-Fill staffer would help local governments as new, more inclusive wetland maps are rolled out. A hearing was held on March 21.  

A fourth bill (HB 2796) appeared on the March 21 agenda that would allow development on “degraded” wetlands. The bill was brought by a developer in Sheridan where he has been blocked from development by a determination that wetlands exist on his property. The League appreciated the need for housing and the comprehensive description of the community and how lack of housing can affect families, but the bill itself would create bad public policy so we provided oral opposition. We don’t expect the bill to move forward.

Regional Solutions

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 Governor’s budget recommends $15 million be allocated to this program for regional economic development projects.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! We don’t have someone to follow Stewardship issues (as in plastic bag bans, etc.), Transportation and Toxics.  If you are interested in these issues OR have one bill you want to follow, please contact Peggy Lynch, peggylynchor@gmail.com


 Back to top


Revenue and Tax Reform

By Maud Naroll and Chris Vogel, Revenue and Tax Reform Co-Coordinators

Oregon Business & Industry repeated their support for a value-added tax over a gross receipts tax and their position on fixing PERS as a condition of raising taxes. House Revenue learned more on taxing tobacco and vaping products. A bill asking voters to send the kicker to a new and narrowly-focused education account may have had its one and only hearing. The Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Revenue did not meet, for the second week in a row.

Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Revenue

Recall that Oregon Business & Industry (OBI) presented to the Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Revenue on possible ways to raise revenue. According to the Oregonian, the subcommittee chairs recently wrote to OBI, asking whether the group preferred a gross receipts or a value-added tax; OBI repeated their position that PERS needs to be fixed at the same time and they prefer a value-added tax; OBI also said they would work against a gross receipts tax, $2 billion was too big a business tax, but that they would work with the legislature. For the second week in a row, the revenue subcommittee did not meet.

House Revenue

House Revenue heard from a Department of Revenue (DOR) economist on tobacco taxes. Cigarette taxes alone should yield $397 million next biennium. Nationally, a 10% increase in cigarette prices reduces cigarette sales by 4%. However, changes in tax rates can change where smokers buy. In 2002, Washington increased cigarette taxes in January. Oregon’s cigarette sales rose 11%, then fell back to the gently declining trend in December when our own tax increased the same amount.

Oregon currently taxes cigarettes at $1.32/pack. Washington charges $3.025 tax per pack – plus sales tax. In 2017, Oregon collected tax on 38 packs per Oregonian. Washington collected tax on 17 packs per state resident. Either Washington residents smoke less than half as much as Oregonians, or they smoke a lot of cigarettes their state doesn’t tax. Between credit card and delivery service (UPS, FedEx, USPS) rules, internet sales do not seem to be a factor. Likely a lot of Washington residents drive to Oregon to shop, and bring back cartons of cigarettes. As we saw in the 2002 example, they are sensitive to changes in differences between the states’ tax rates.

This is important because the governor’s budget proposes raising tobacco taxes $2/pack (pg. 59), sending the increase to tobacco prevention, the Oregon Health Plan (OHP) and Public Health Modernization. OHP is looking for an additional $95 million in tobacco tax – but the estimate does not take into account how many Washingtonians will stop buying Oregon cigarettes and stop paying our tobacco taxes.

House Revenue also heard about taxing vaping. Easiest for DOR to administer, and fastest to ramp up, would be to treat all vaping supplies and equipment – fluid, holders, batteries, and disposable sets – as other tobacco products like snuff, taxing distributors on a percent of the wholesale price. Vaping products are sold over the internet and Washington does not tax vaping products, though they do impose sales tax, so an Oregon tax could push some vaping sales elsewhere.

Taxing vaping and raising tobacco taxes could have health benefits. Not only would it incentivize some adults, many of whom want to quit, to take the plunge, but teens are much more price sensitive than adults, so it will cut teen smoking, preventing more teens from lifetime smoking. Meeting materials are here and here.

Senate Finance

Senate Finance and Revenue

Senate Finance and Revenue heard SJR 23. It would ask voters to amend the constitution to send the personal income tax kicker to a new Personal Investment in Education fund, to be used for K-12, prioritizing a seismic rehabilitation grant program and student behavioral health counseling. Appropriations out of the fund would require a three-fifths vote. Only the bill’s two sponsors supported it, one weakly. The chair objected to some testifiers using the words take back and steal, pointing out that the bill would not change the constitution, just refer a proposal to let voters decide. LWVOR gave written testimony in opposition, supporting doing something with the kicker but not tying spending to narrow programs nor using such a volatile revenue for mental health professionals’ salaries. See meeting materials.

SB 262 was much better received. It extends for 10 years local governments’ ability to exempt, for a decade, improvements that increase low-income rental housing. Improvements are usually new construction of multi-family rental housing, but local governments can set requirements; the land underneath remains taxed. Two cities use the exemption. Portland uses it to incentivize affordable housing. Eugene uses it to increase housing density in its core. The exemption costs $13.7 million per biennium. It’s scheduled for a work session March 26. See meeting materials.

They heard SB 214, which would change Oregon’s connection point to federal personal income tax. Currently, Oregon’s income tax computation starts with federal taxable income, what income remains after subtracting all federal deductions. Thus we automatically include all federal deductions. SB 214 would start Oregon’s computation with federal adjusted gross income, so Oregon would explicitly decide on which federal deductions to allow on the state form. The committee chair noted that the intent would be to adopt most or all federal deductions. Without adopting any federal deductions, the Oregon personal income tax base would increase, yielding a one-time tax receipts jump of about $800 million. The Legislative Revenue Office (LRO)’s slide deck on SB 214 links from here.

Senator Betsy Johnson’s bill, SB 523, authorizes the Department of Revenue (DOR) to post information about delinquent tax debtors online. The -1 amendment limits posting to those owing at least $50,000. When heard, DOR explained that a delinquent payer would be posted only after multiple attempts to contact and at least one payment plan had fallen through. Senate Finance and Revenue unanimously sent it to the floor, advising do pass with amendment.

The committee heard SB 595, which would give local governments the option of using up to 30% of their lodging taxes for affordable housing. A Tillamook County commissioner pleaded for the bill, saying 150 of their housing units turn into short-term rentals each year, eating away substantially at available housing for residents. But his plea was overwhelmed by testimony from a long line of tourism officials and hotel owners saying lodging tax-funded advertising helped fill rooms during off-season.

Ways and Means Roadshow

The Joint Committee on Ways and Means brought its roadshow to Portland. The crowd filled a community college auditorium and overflowed to two other rooms. Of the people called up to testify, many spoke in favor of the many reasons for additional community college funding, including technical programs and to cap tuition hikes, citing students living in cars because they could not afford both tuition and rent. The next biggest group called up spoke for K-12, saying even the Governor’s Budget would force cuts and the Co-Chair’s Budget would force even more. A number of anti-vaccinators railed against HB 3063’s requirement that school children be vaccinated unless they have a medical exemption, saying thousands of children would be pulled from schools, cutting schools’ funding when enrollment drops. They did not cite the fiscal effect of reduced medical costs. LWVOR sent written testimony, praising Ways and Means for keeping all state needs in mind when balancing the budget and pointing out that earmarking limits flexibility in future years with unforeseen challenges.

Sneak Preview: What We Know So Far about the Week of March 25

Senate Finance and Revenue will hold a work session on SB 262, extending property tax exemption for multiple-unit housing and on SB 702, directing LRO to study land value taxation.

House Revenue will hear HB 3237, which creates a tax credit for workers at three star or better child care facilities, a suite of bills on the transient lodging tax, and a few on food and agricultural equipment.

The Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Revenue had not posted any meetings for the week of March 25 by the previous Friday morning.

If Oregon’s revenue and tax reform issues interest you, please contact Chris Vogel, ChrisVogelVolunteerLWVOR@gmail.com or Maud Naroll, MaudLWVOR@gmail.com


Back to top


Social Policy

 By Karen Nibler, Social Policy Coordinator

Human service, health care and judiciary bills often intersect on mental health treatment and evaluations.  Public defense is important for justice and the evaluations, treatment and hospital care are often part of the defense and court-ordered treatment.  This week many defense and mental health bills were considered. 

The Ways and Means Public Safety Subcommittee reviewed the budget for The Public Defender Services Commission (PDSC), SB 5532. This agency was created in 2001 when it was separated from the Oregon Judicial Department. The courts still take the applications for defense attorney representation from low-income clients for cases in juvenile dependency, juvenile delinquency, adult criminal cases and appeals in Oregon Courts.

Lawyers are assigned from local consortiums or private firms. Lawyers are paid by the Office of Defense Services at an hourly rate or a flat fee for termination of parental rights cases. A study by the 6th Amendment Center found that there was not sufficient oversight with no limit on the number of cases. The Commission buys time from independent contractors with no data on the number of cases. However, the PDSC has exceeded its allocation before the end of the biennium and has come back to the E-board for additional funds for the remainder of the biennium. We support this essential service for court cases. See attached letter.

The Parent Child Representation Project is a promising model with consistent representation by one attorney from the start of the case and has resulted in shorter placement in custody and more successful reunifications.   

The Senate Human Services Committee has been hearing child welfare bills, which will continue next week. The Governor appeared this week on SB 1 and SB 221, which promote a System of Care for Children and Youth with Specialized Needs. The emphasis is on providing in-home services rather than removal of the child from the home. Congress has passed the Family First Prevention Act and will be providing payments for services outside of foster care system.    

Senate Judiciary has focused on Mental Health bills. SB 762, which extends holds from 5 to 15 days and SB 763, which expands definition of danger to self or others in the near future or recent past which resulted in harm to self or others. The expansion of the definition was opposed by Disability Rights Oregon (DRO) and The Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. A public hearing and work session was held March 18, but no votes were recorded. A future work session date is anticipated.

SB 378 requires that a court-ordered fitness to proceed examination occur within 14 days of the order if defendant is in custody. The bill passed with a -3 amendment, which changed the bill to study identifying barriers to evaluations and admission of defendants for evaluations. DRO will receive $50,000 and report to interim committees with information relating to counties’ commitments.

The House Health Care Committee has passed two options for community resources for behavioral health. HB 2339 A proposes Sobering Facilities as an alternative option to jail and hospitals to be supported by Oregon Health Authority grants. HB 2831 A proposes Peer Crisis Centers to keep behavioral health clients in the community. Both bills were passed by the House Health Care Committee and were referred to the Ways and Means Human Services Subcommittee.

Paid Family Leave, Debbie Runciman

HB 3031 has its first public hearing Monday March 25 in the evening, before a joint meeting of the Senate Workforce Committee and the House Business and Labor Committee. The Time to Care coalition, supporters of HB 3031, will be there in force. LWVOR is sending written testimony in support of the bill.

At the same time, just last week, another bill relating to paid family leave has appeared. HB 3385 asks the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs to develop a program that utilizes private insurers and is funded entirely by employee contributions. This bill will also be heard that same Monday during a night hearing.

Housing, Debbie Aiona and Nancy Donovan

Last Week at the Legislature:

Last week began with the Housing and Community Services (OHCS) budget hearings on HB 5112 by the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development. OHCS provides critical services to vulnerable families and individuals including emergency rent assistance, shelter funding, resources that prevent child and family homelessness, and development and preservation of low-income housing units. Letters to the Committee are due by Wednesday, March 27 at 3 p.m. to committee co-chairs Senator Manning and Representative Gomberg. LWVOR is drafting a letter in support of OHCS’s new budget proposals reflective of our positions.  

The Human Services and Housing Committee held a work session on HB 2055 and HB 2056. Both passed out of committee and now head to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.

  • HB 2055 establishes the Housing Accelerator Program that provides grants or loans to support workforce housing in development-constrained areas.
  • HB 2056 creates a grant program within Oregon Housing and Community Services that supports expanding development of affordable housing.

The Committee also held a hearing on HB 2002, the Speaker’s proposal to expand protections for a right of first refusal for affordable housing to include all existing affordable housing; and HB 2916, a technical fix to the transitional housing campground ordinance. 

The Senate Housing Committee heard SB 939, which would require the same disclosures for purchasers of manufactured homes as for stick-built homes.

The Senate Finance and Revenue Committee heard SB 595, to allow local communities to dedicate a portion of their transient lodging taxes currently spent on tourism to affordable workforce housing. This addresses the concerns in high tourist areas about the lack of affordable housing needed for workers serving out-of-town visitors. See our testimony here

Next week at the Legislature: 

As mentioned above, the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development will hear public testimony on the Oregon Housing and Community Services Budget, SB 5112. Community representatives will be coming from around the state to share their success stories in using a range of OHCS programs and resources to creating housing opportunity.  

On Monday afternoon, the Senate Housing Committee will hold an informational hearing on permanent supportive housing, emergency rent assistance, and the State Homeless Assistance Program funding.

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


Back to top