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Legislative Report, Volume 29, Number 16 – May 2019

 


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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

Expect Climate Policy ‘Cap and Invest’ HB 2020 -84 amendment will be posted to OLIS on Monday, just in time for the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction 5pm work session. This may be the final version; the May 6 meeting agenda: “Overview of -84 Amendment, Maureen McGee, Senior Deputy, Legislative Counsel.”

Don’t forget – Save the Date for May 29th Climate Day of Action in Salem. Details will be available soon. We are now less than a week from a major second chamber deadline; “In order for a bill to be heard in policy committee by second chamber deadline (5/24), it has to be posted on an agenda for work session by 5/10.” (The only exceptions are bills in Rules, Revenue or Joint committees.)

It’s unclear when HB 2020 will move to the House floor for a vote, most likely the end of May or possibly June. You can focus your contact with your legislators on the League’s and our coalition partner’s priorities, which include municipal trash incineration industries and F-gases/semiconductor industries as critical emissions.

As of May 3 there are 45+ amendments posted for the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction (JCCR) to take time to consider. Seven have been added in the last two weeks. Most of these amendments are unlikely to be voted on and many have already been heard in the previous six work sessions. See the Oregonian’s recent political opinion/news article.

Other Active Climate Change Portfolio Bills

Fracking Moratorium: The League is supporting and provided testimony in Feb. on HB 2623 that would impose a 10-year fracking moratorium. The bill was passed in the House on a bi-partisan vote and the Senate Environment and Natural Resource Committee held a public hearing on April 23. Find the April 23 updated League testimony here. It’s unclear if this bill will move from committee but watch for a possible amendment which may address an acceptable compromise with key committee members.

Oil Rail Safety: HB 2209 -10 passed out of committee unanimously on April 2 with a “Do pass with amendments” and was sent to Ways and Means. This bill may not be heard again until mid-May.

Oregon Climate Authority: The SB 928 -1 public hearing was April 8 with the Governor’s Natural Resource Director Jason Miner’s testimony and with League testimony. The bill moved with “Do pass with amendments” to Ways and Means. The Governor’s recommendation is to form (SB 928) and fund (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 American Planning Association Oregon Chapter testimony can be found here. Legislators are considering whether or not to take on this new agency this session or link HB 2020 to work inside the Dept. of Environmental Quality. The League would prefer to see the approach in SB 928.

Renewable Energy Credits: SB 451 had a work session with a 4 – 1 vote without recommendation as to passage in committee and was referred to Rules on April 12. The League submitted, with eight other organizations, opposition to SB 451 and addressed this issue in HB 2020. We oppose passage of SB 451, which awards renewable energy credits for the creation of electricity from municipal solid waste (MSW) incineration, and which includes the burning of plastic medical and non-medical waste and toxic metals. Its unclear if this bill is part of a compromise deal ‘the sausage making process.’

Governor Brown’s Oregon Environmental Protection ACT: HB 2250 A requires certain state agencies, Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Health Authority, to regularly assess proposed and 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 that were in effect on January 19, 2017. This bill passed in the House on March 14 with a vote 39/20 and was heard in Senate Environment and Natural Resources on April 30. The League submitted supportive testimony.

Other League Climate Change Advocacy

Jordan Cove Energy Project: The four interested local Leagues (LLs) are continuing work on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) released on March 29 by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) staff. Recent JCEP news and here. This is a comprehensive list of all Oregon agencies involved in this project. Two recent LTE’s mentioning LWV, #2 other LTE’s here and here.

Our Children’s Trust (OCT) and Social Media YOUTVGOV: The Federal lawsuit with briefing completed has oral argument still scheduled for June 4 in Juliana v. United States in The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland, Oregon. Briefing was completed on March 8 when the federal government filed its reply brief. See media coverage in “Teens drop eloquent climate change testimony on Congress”, and “NPR Fresh Air: “How Climate Change Became A Partisan Issue”. LWVOR may consider asking local Leagues to request that their local county commissioners follow the “Multnomah County Files Brief In Support Of Youth Climate Lawsuit” example.

The UCLA School of Law published on Apr 24, 2019 “Climate Change on Trial: An Earth Day Conversation with Julia Olson” moderated by Ann Carlson.

Our Children’s Trust; Recent “Human Rights Claims Show Promise in Climate Cases, Report Says…”. A number of Our Children Trust programs are planned between now and the June 4 Court of Appeals Hearing; find details here.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! If any of these areas interest you, Transportation, Agriculture and or Forestry Climate Policy or Climate Adaptation 2010 Oregon Update, please contact Claudia Keith, ca.keith@comcast.net.

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Education Policy

By Chris Vogel, Education Policy Coordinator with Stephanie Feeney

A literal game-changer in Oregon Education dominated the Legislature this week. The Student Success Act moved from committee passing along party lines, not because of the Education Policy but because of the accompanying Tax Policy. The House floor debate on May 1 was a lengthy six and a half hours, spanning from 11:00 am until 5:24 pm (listen here, but you might wish to skip the first 2 hours that was a droning read-aloud of the bill, a slow-down strategy). The bill passed out of the House on party lines and is expected to be on the Senate floor next week, probably on May 8th.

Joint Committee on Student Success

The Student Success bill -32 of HB 3427 passed out of the Joint Committee on Student Success along party lines on 4/29 (listen) Read the Revenue section of this LR for more information about the TAX portion of this bill that was predictably divisive. There was general support for the EDUCATION POLICY section of the bill. It moved onto the House floor on May 1 for a long debate (listen here, but you might wish to skip the first 2 hours that was a droning read-aloud of the bill, a slow-down strategy of those opposed to the tax funding mechanism).

If you don’t want to read the entire 82-page bill, here are the Cliff Notes in legislative shorthand:

  • “HB3427-32 establishes the Fund for Student Success (FSS). Allocates moneys in the FSS to the State School Fund, Student Investment Account (SIA), the Early Learning Account (ELA), and the Statewide Education Initiatives Account (SEIA).
  • Establishes grant program for moneys in the Student Investment Account (SIA). Requires funds to be spent on increasing learning time, decreasing class size, offering a well-rounded education, or student health or safety. Establishes ability for school districts and certain charter schools to apply for grants directly. Outlines grant application requirements and process, review and approval process, distribution formula, and oversight requirements. Requires Oregon Department of Education (ODE) to work with grant recipients to establish growth targets for the following metrics: percentage of third graders reading at grade-level proficiency, percentage of ninth graders completing that year with at least six credits toward graduation, percentage of students graduating or completing high school, and percentage of students attending school more than 90 percent of instructional days. Establishes reporting requirements for school districts and ODE. Requires financial audits of grant funds and reviews of district performance. Establishes coaching program for districts not meeting performance growth targets and intensive program for chronically low-performing districts. Allocates additional funding for districts participating in the intensive program. Establishes Student Success Teams to assist participants in intensive program. Requires intensive program participants to implement certain recommendations made by the Student Success Teams. Requires ODE to offer technical assistance to school districts. Establishes needs assessment as part of school district continuous improvement plan.
  • Establishes allowable uses for the Statewide Education Initiatives Account (SEIA) and Early Learning Account (ELA). Expands access to free meals at school. Establishes youth reengagement system for students who have left high school and wish to complete. Establishes statewide school safety and prevention system. Enacts recommendations of School Safety Task Force. Establishes American Indian or Alaskan Native education plan. Establishes Latino or Hispanic education plan. Establishes summer learning programs for Title I schools. Allocates funding for early warning systems to assist school districts in keeping high school students on track to graduate on time. Requires ODE and the Educator Advancement Council, Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, school district representatives and education stakeholders to report to the 2020 Legislative Assembly on recommendations to increase educator diversity. Establishes the Early Childhood Equity Fund.
  • The Fund for Student Success is divided between the Early Learning Account (20%), the Statewide Education Initiative Account (30%) and the School District Improvement Fund (50%).
  • Establishes an ongoing funding mechanism that reduces personal income tax rates for the lowest three tax brackets by 0.25 percent. Establishes a modified commercial activities tax of 0.57 percent on Oregon commercial activity over $1 million. Establishes a 35 percent subtraction. Defines business receipts. Delineates exceptions. Requires income from commercial activities tax be deposited in Fund for Student Success.”

Joint Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education

HB 5047, the Student Success budget bill carries the fiscal funding for HB 3424-32, the Student Success Act. Funding models from Legislative Fiscal Office (LFO), Doug Wilson, show about $473 million available late in this biennium as the Fund for Student Success begins to receive revenue from the new tax. Remember the taxing mechanism will take time to implement, and it will take time for the tax pipeline for the Student Success Act to reach school districts, so the full impact won’t be until the next biennium budget crafted in the 2021 legislative session. About $2B (yes $ two billion dollars per biennium, or one billion per year) will flow through this fund when fully implemented. This is in addition to money allocated through current funding levels. This is a great game changer for early learning, school district funding, statewide education initiatives as well as other aspects of education. LWVOR joins many other supporters in anticipating passage of HB 3424 on the Senate floor.

HB 5016 SSF – LFO Recommendation for the State School Fund flowing by formula to school districts is $9B for the 2019-2021 biennium. HB 5047 ODE – LFO Recommendation shows how the new Fund for Student Success will supplement funding.

This committee is now turning to other school policy-funding issues. On 5/1 testing or student assessments were discussed by an invited guest Framework of a Balanced Assessment Budget (submitted by Rick Stiggins) and the Oregon Department of Education Student Assessment Presentation. More student assessment discussion will continue on 5/7. On 5/2 governance of the Early Learning System was reviewed by Miriam Calderon, Director, Early Learning Division; Rob Saxton, Superintendent, Northwest ESD; Eval Manderson — Director, Child Care Resource and Referral in ODE Early Learning Division Overview Presentation.

Next week higher education funding assistance for students will be addressed (Oregon Opportunity Grant, Oregon Promise, and Emergency Student Assistance) on 5/8. Ballot Measure 98 and Related Grant-in-Aid Programs will be before the committee on 5/9.

House Committee on Education

4/29 the agenda included: rules for administration of naloxone or any similar medication designed to rapidly reverse overdose of opioid drug; and disability definitions for purposes of special education statutes. 5/1 committee hearings were cancelled due to House floor debate on JCSS. 5/6 will focus on higher education tuition and degrees.

Senate Committee on Education

4/29 pathways out of poverty and self-sufficiency programs were discussed by an invited panel including representatives from: Oregon Community College Association, Portland Community College, Self-Sufficiency Program Department of Human Service, National Skills Coalition, and Career Pathways and Skills Training at Portland Community College and summarized in a pamphlet.

Accelerated learning (presentation) in HB 2263 A discussed college credit classes in high school. HB 2519 A, a discussion about campus hazing and prevention, received verbal support from committee members with a work session to follow. HB 3280 would re-designating five current nonvoting positions on Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) as voting positions and by adding one additional position for a graduate student attending a public university. Students want the change to be voting members. Current HECC board members have some concerns (listen).

Next week on 5/6 informational hearings will include members of the Sexual Assault Task Force and a review of the Oregon Healthy Teen Survey. On 5/8 tuition waivers for former foster children is on the agenda.

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.

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, offers a weekly update. Stand for Children writes a weekly blog during the legislative session. Legislative updates from educators and administrators offer their unique priorities: Oregon Education Association, Confederation of Oregon School Administrators, Oregon School Boards Association, Oregon Department of Education State School Fund, Oregon Youth Development Council, Early Learning Division of OEA and Early Learning Council, and Children’s Institute.

We welcome other League members to follow policies and funding in education. 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 Nancy Donovan; Higher Education Alice Bartelt and Karan Kuntz.


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Governance

By Rebecca Gladstone, Governance Coordinator

Thanks to our volunteers! You’re welcome to work with us, too.

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

Our HCR 8 (honoring the work of Kappy Eaton) is up in Senate Rules on Monday, forecast to move quickly. The Senate Campaign Finance Committee held an informational hearing for CIR (Citizens’ Initiative Review) and Redistricting. Our bill watch list has been delayed from extended House Floor discussions, notably six hours for the Student Success model.

Citizens’ Initiative Review, Marge Easley

The Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) was one of the topics featured at the Senate Campaign Finance Committee hearing on May 1. Chair Jeff Golden, a long-time CIR supporter, provided this welcome opportunity to explain the CIR process and promote SB 755, which creates a CIR endowment fund. The bill has already passed Senate Rules and will hopefully be given favorable consideration by the Ways and Means Committee. The League was invited to speak on the merits of the CIR, emphasizing its value in countering the huge amounts of money flowing into initiative campaigns to sway public opinion. The four-day CIR process allows a diverse panel of citizens to take a deep dive into the pros and cons of a ballot measure and present the results of its findings in a “Citizens’ Statement” that appears in the Voters’ Pamphlet.

Redistricting, Norman Turrill

An informational hearing on redistricting was held May 1 in the Senate Campaign Finance Committee. See the League and others testifying here (at 41:16) and see the PowerPoint that was presented here. The Redistricting Matters’ bill has emerged from Legislative Council as LC 4233, which is not yet available to the public, but should soon be submitted as a normal bill. In the meantime, a group of organizations is coalescing around the idea of a redistricting initiative campaign.

Campaign Finance, Norman Turrill

Rep. Rayfield, Rep. Holvey, and Senator Golden have compiled what they heard from previous meetings of campaign finance stakeholders into a summary document and a package of draft bills and circulated them for comments. New drafts have been prepared from the feedback and another stakeholder meeting has been called for May 7. The whole package of bills may be ready to move by mid-May.

Bill Watch

House Rules Committee public hearings for our online candidate filing, HB 2234, and candidate filing contact information, HB 2685, bills have been delayed repeatedly by extended House Floor sessions.

HB 2210 is our incumbent website bill. It was referred from the (sponsoring) House Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee to the Joint Committee for Information Management and Technology. On advice, we have asked the sponsoring committee to request a hearing. We’ve been working on this since we beta-tested the LWVUS “Who Represents You” website software in 2013.

HB 3202 would allow sharing of race, ethnicity, and/or preferred language when registering to vote. We have extensive testimony prepared to address the preferred language portion, related to our experience in providing translated materials for the LWVOR Voter Service. We are inquiring into why race and ethnicity are included. The bill was pulled and has not been rescheduled.

SB 944 for risk-limiting elections audits will have a work session this week. We have been discussing amendments with the bill sponsor, a number of elections experts, and the Elections Director.

SB 861 A for pre-paid ballot envelopes and SB 755 for the National Popular Vote are waiting for Ways and Means scheduling.

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


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Natural Resources

By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator

The time is getting shorter for policy bills to be adopted. Many budgets are awaiting the May 15th Revenue Forecast. Housing bills with a land use nexus are a legislative priority. Water issues are getting attention as well. Your advocacy is needed on behalf of the budgets and policies in this report. Contact your legislator today! 

Budgets

Due to the extended debate on the Student Success Act on May 1, the following budgets have been rescheduled to May 7: The Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB) budget (SB 5521), along with two policy fee bills to help fund the OSMB: HB 2080 A and SB 47 A (a bill to establish the Waterway Access Fund to improve waterway access and promote boating safety education for the non-motorized boating community). The League supports these fee bills, including the assurance that the Aquatic Invasive Species Fund will continue to receive a portion of the fees to support the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife’s boat inspection stations. The Committee will also consider the budget (HB 5009) for the Columbia Gorge Commission. We have supported this budget that must be equal to that funded by the State of Washington.

On May 8, the committee will consider the budget for the Dept. of State Lands HB 5035. This budget included requests for continued funding of the Portland Harbor Cleanup, the South Slough Reserve, on-going work related to the Elliott State Forest and support for the Removal/Fill program, all of which we hope will receive funding. At this point, no policy bills are scheduled under this budget. We continue to oppose most of the wetlands bills being considered. (See below.) 

Policy bills we are following in Ways and Means

HB 2001 A, 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, has a $3 million ask to help local governments do the work demanded by this bill. We have provided testimony in support of the amended bill.

HB 2003 A, a bill requiring extremely technical regional housing needs analyses and then each city greater than 10,000 population to develop and adopt a “housing production strategy” (defined in the bill) and that the Land Conservation and Development Commission will set criteria to review the local government work and enforce any lack of action, has a $1.5 million price tag—an amount expected to be increased should the bill be worked in Ways and Means. The League opposes the current bill and opposes that policy will be done in Ways and Means, but we have engaged in a work group to see if improvements to the bill can be made. The League expressed concerns in our testimony on the original bill. New amendments are expected. 

HB 2228 A, A asking for $2.5 million General Funds for land use planning work AND for technical assistance focused on a variety of local actions around affordable housing. The funding MAY come out of the Housing and Community Services budget. HB 2075 A has a $1.358 million General Fund price tag. Both bills are intended to help local governments comply with HB 2001, HB 2003 and SB 10, should they pass the legislature.  

HB 2436 A, 2437 A, 2438 A and 2796 A are all bills related to wetlands. The League is in support of only HB 2438 A. (See the April 15 Legislative Report for more information.)

HB 2672 is a bill that would allow some marijuana revenue to help Water Resources and Dept. of Agriculture address administrative costs related to our marijuana laws. 

HB 2860 A is a bill establishing requirements for testing and reporting groundwater contaminants for residences that depend on well water as a drinking water source and establishes a Safe Well Water Fund (Fund). It requires sellers of real estate and landlords of a dwelling that includes a well for drinking water to have the well tested and directs the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to analyze results of well water tests to identify areas with groundwater contamination problems and provide education about groundwater contamination and to share information with other agencies. The League provided testimony in support.

HB 2980 is a bill that extends the sunset date of the pesticide reporting system. HB 3058 A now requires the Dept. of Agriculture to review the most current scientific data regarding the safety of current uses within Oregon of pesticide products that contain chlorpyrifos and report back to the legislature.

HB 3141 A, would increase availability of charging stations.

HB 3326 A declares harmful algal blooms to be a menace to public health and welfare. It would fund both the Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA). 

SB 27 A authorizes the Oregon Health Authority to adopt by rule a schedule for fees assessed on water suppliers to partially defray costs related to the Oregon Drinking Water Quality Act.

SB 45 A is a bill that updates fees charged by the Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries for various mineral and mining permits to help fund the Mineral Land Regulation and Reclamation program which is fully funded by fees and federal funds.   

SB 88 A, a bill that would allow counties to authorize accessory dwelling units in certain rural residential zones, has a fiscal impact related to a requirement around fire risk mapping by the Dept. of Consumer and Business Services. The League is currently neutral on the bill.

SB 260 A requests $1.9 million (fiscal). from the General Fund to Oregon Ocean Science Trust, State Department of Fish and Wildlife, Higher Education Coordinating Commission and others to address ocean acidification.

SB 346 declares that it is the policy of the state to use zero-based budgeting in developing a biennial budget plan. The League provided testimony in opposition.

SB 756 requests $2 million to continue the on-site septic low-interest loan program the League has supported for the past two sessions, although with different funding amounts.

Air Quality, Susan Mates

SB 1031 and a similar bill, HB 3408, would continue to provide funding to the Department of Environmental Quality for the Residential Solid Fuel Heating Air Quality Improvement Fund. Each would help communities to reduce wood smoke with heating system upgrades and compliance, weatherization, clean-burning firewood programs and education. Both bills sit in Ways and Means. The Senate bill asks $2 million and the House bill only $500,000 in General Funds.

HB 2093 A will permit the Department of Administrative Services to locate and install electric vehicle charging stations on state-owned premises. It heads to the Governor’s desk. HB 3141 A was moved to Ways and Means as it would use $1.5 million to purchase vehicles and charging stations. Vehicle electrification is an issue that the legislature will surely be working on a lot in the coming years.

HB 2007, the “Dirty Diesel” bill, would direct the Environmental Quality Commission to establish diesel emission standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. The Volkswagen settlement monies would be directed to help fund getting rid of old diesel engines. There are currently some pretty substantial amendments being considered, almost a whole rewrite. A public hearing is currently scheduled for May 6 in House Rules. 

The League continues to follow the implementation of Cleaner Air Oregon and participates in DEQ’s Stakeholder meetings. This year, DEQ has begun calling in the top 20 Oregon polluters to further assess the problems and develop plans for risk reductions. https://www.oregon.gov/deq/FilterDocs/caofacilityresults.pdf 

Coastal Issues, Peggy Joyce

House committees open their doors to a stream of land, air, water and animal experts presenting the latest in status reports on water allocations, eco-system evaluations, climate modeling, wildlife control as well as shifting habitat areas due to warming climate trends, environment degradation due to droughts, fire, invasive species and the continued threat to fish in our streams and ocean coastline as well as the shellfish industry of our near shore. On Tuesday, April 30 the House Committee on Natural Resources invited presentations outlining the robust economy of Oregon’s entire coast that include a range of boating, fishing, sailing, diving, hiking, biking, surfing, walking and just plain hanging out venues to the tune of a $2.4 billion dollar industry. Climate change has the potential to seriously damage not only a way of life for many Oregonians but will impact the diets and health of the millions of people who depend on our ocean’s continued abundance of food and food products.

Scientific studies were the highlight of the second half of Tuesday’s informational session with presentations made by Jack Barth, Exec. Dir. of Marine Studies at OSU, Cristen Don with ODFW’s Marine Reserves Program and Peter Ruggiero, Climate Change Institute, OSU. Across the board all the presenters continued to emphasize the importance of funding for scientific research and studies in order to understand the underlying structure and interconnectedness of the complex systems that are being created as a result of carbon absorption from our atmosphere (fossil fuels) into our oceans and the particular impact that is having on our fishing and shellfish populations.

Public Hearing on Territorial Sea Plan Part 3 and Part 5 – May 22, 4-6pm at Agate Beach Inn, Newport. This is the geographic public hearing for both the Territorial Sea Plan Part 3 (Territorial Sea Plan part 3 (Rocky Habitat management Strategy) and Part 5 (Part 5 (Marine Renewable Energy Siting). A hearings officer will be present to collect public testimony for the Land Conservation and Development Commission who is scheduled to potentially adopt both parts at their May 23-24 meeting where another public hearing will be held.

The amendments to Part 3 are intended to balance rocky ecosystem conservation with appropriate use as provided in Goal 19 and the Oregon Ocean Resources Management Act. Additionally, the amendment increases public engagement opportunities as provided in Goal 1. The amendments to Part 5 will incorporate maps that designate areas where marine renewable energy development may be sited and the standards and review criteria that would be applied by state agencies for conducting their review of project proposals within those designated areas. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Hearing, Statement of Need and Fiscal Impact, Housing Impact Statement and the Proposed Rules are available here. See the League’s Coastal Study where some of these issues were discussed.

SB 961, a bill that seeks to amend and expand the definition of “development” to land use planning goals related to beaches and dunes (Goal 18) allowing properties that had not been subdivided prior to January 1977 to do so now sits in the Senate Rules Committee. The League opposes this bill.  

Elliott Forest

The Dept. of State Lands is holding an Open House from 5:30 to 7:30 on May 7 at the DSL office, 775 Summer St NE, Salem, where you can learn more about the evolving future of the Elliott as a research forest.

Land Use

SB 8 A would require prevailing party attorney fees when publicly supported housing developments are challenged to LUBA and the developer prevails. The League believes this bill will have a chilling effect on public participation and appeals to the Land Use Board of Appeals is the enforcement mechanism to assure local Comprehensive Plans and Development Codes are enforced. We continue to oppose this bill. A work session is set in the House Human Services and Housing Committee on May 6.

SB 10, establishing very high density requirements in areas adjacent to transportation corridors, sites in Senate Rules. As currently written, the League opposes

HB 2456 A is a bill related to rezoning farmlands in the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Region to residential uses. The League provided oral testimony in opposition. The bill has been moved to House Revenue without recommendation due to the income tax credit and continuing farm assessment allowed in the bill.   

It has been a tough year to follow land use bills in the legislature. The bills are often assigned to policy committees that land use advocates don’t always follow. And new policy committees were formed where such bills have been considered. Individual landowners come to the legislature to have their issues resolved, even if those issues have been considered by the courts. Recently the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that dwellings on farmland can only be replaced if they were subject to property taxes within the past five years. The ruling reverses the current interpretation of Oregon’s replacement dwelling statute, which doesn’t impose such a limit on demolished homes. While the decision is a victory for Landwatch Lane County, a farmland conservation group, the ruling’s legal effect may be overridden by a bill that’s being considered by Oregon lawmakers. Before the court had reached its decision, HB 3024 sought to dispel the uncertainty by allowing replacement dwellings regardless of when property taxes were last assessed. That legislation was approved by the House last month and is scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources on May 9.

Pesticides and Toxics, Amelia Nestler

HB 2619 A was moved to House Rules without recommendation. The bill was amended to prohibit the sale, purchase, or use of a pesticide containing chlorpyrifos in Oregon. We expect further work around this bill which may also address the use of neonicotinoids as well.

Water

HCR 33 will have a public hearing and possible work session on May 6 in House Rules where the League will provide testimony in support. The resolution urges the Governor and others to work together over the next two years to create a comprehensive state water vision, using the Integrated Water Resources Strategy (IWRS) as the basis for that work. The League has been involved in the adoption of the IWRS and we look forward to finally funding it.

HB 2085 A, 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, will have a hearing and possible work session on May 16 in Senate Environment and Natural Resources. The Water Resources Dept. has provided a list of possible amendments to be addressed in the Senate. The League supports updating our dam safety policies.

HB 2084 will extend the sunset date for place-based integrated water resources planning. It has a work session May 7 in Senate Environment and Natural Resources. The League strongly supports this bill.

The Environmental Quality Commission has received a petition to designate Waldo Lake as an Outstanding Resource Water. The Dept. of Environmental Quality invites public comment on whether the commission should deny the petition or direct DEQ to begin a rulemaking process as proposed by the petition. Waldo Lake is located in the Cascade Mountains in Lane County.

DEQ specifically requests comment on whether options exists to achieve the rule’s goals with less negative economic impact. The Environmental Quality Commission is scheduled to act on the petition at its meeting on July 18-19, 2019. If the Commission directs DEQ to conduct a rulemaking, that process will include an opportunity for public comment on the rule language amendments proposed by the petition.

DEQ will accept written public comments on the petition until 5 p.m. on June 3, 2019. To view the Notice Document and the Petition, and to submit written comment, please view the rulemaking web page at: https://www.oregon.gov/deq/wq/Pages/WQ-Standards-ORWO.aspx

The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) awarded 86 grants totaling $10,554,731 to local organizations statewide to support fish and wildlife habitat and water quality projects at their April 16-17 board meeting.

Governor Kate Brown announced a settlement agreement by the states of Oregon and Idaho regarding the operation of the Hells Canyon Complex that benefits water quality, habitat, and Columbia Basin fish.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing new federal Clean Water Act (CWA) water quality criteria for freshwaters in Oregon to protect aquatic life from the effects of exposure to harmful levels of aluminum. More information is available on the EPA’s website here.

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. This request is in the Oregon Business Development Dept.’s budget.

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


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Revenue and Tax Reform

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

The House passed the Joint Committee on Student Success (JCSS) bill, HB 3427 A, on a party line vote after a long, slow reading of the bill and hours of questions, answers, and speeches. It will be in the Senate the week of May 6. Senate Finance and Revenue held a second hearing on SB 1045, which allows property tax exemptions for house sharing. 

Student Success

The Joint Committee on Student Success (JCSS) posted a -32 amendment to their bill, HB 3427, shortly before the April 29 work session. The Legislative Revenue Office (LRO) walked through changes in the -32, mainly raising the deduction for purchased inputs or labor costs from 25% to 35%, with a resulting increase in tax rate from 0.49% to 0.57%. Then Oregon Business and Industry testified they were now neutral, signaling that major business group would not bankroll taking the tax to the ballot. Presumably this was the agreement that delayed the expected April 26 vote. The committee amended in -32 and sent it to the House on a party line vote.

House members made speeches, most praising the importance of children and education and the Student Success committee’s hard work. Opponents read from a long list of pointed questions about the bill’s new tax. Some spoke of the harm the tax would impose on their own family businesses. Some spoke of the harm of pyramiding, when one business pays the tax on its gross receipts, and the next business buying its product in turn pays tax on its own gross receipts. None mentioned that businesses still manage to thrive in states where most pay over 6% in sales tax each time one business buys things from another. Some spoke of PERS gobbling the tax increase, not mentioning the governor’s PERS proposal.

Six and a half hours after the floor session started, the House voted Student Success out on party lines. Listen here, skipping the line-by-line read of the bill in the first two hours unless insomnia threatens. Read what the bill does for schools and young children in the Education section of this LR.

HB 3427 A still exempts the 90% of businesses grossing under $1 million in Oregon sales. As amended, it lets them deduct 35% of purchased inputs or labor costs, and taxes them $250 plus 0.57 percent, still well under one percent, on sales over $1 million net of the 35% deduction. Proceeds go to the Fund for Student Success to pay for the bill’s education policies. Since revenue stays out of the General Fund, it is not subject to the kicker.

The Corporate Activity Tax (CAT) is still paired with a quarter percent cut to all but the top personal income tax rate. SNAP qualifying groceries and payers of the medical provider tax are still exempt. The bill still grandfathers Portland’s green gross receipts tax on large retailers. A revenue subcommittee chair read a list of local taxes the bill does not exempt, including franchise and excise taxes, making clear that a local soda excise tax, among others, would still be possible.

The tax takes effect January 1, 2020, with the first quarterly payment due April 30, 2020. Just for the 2019-21 biennium, $200 million will transfer from the Fund for Student Success to the State School Fund.

Oregon Business and Industry stood down, rumors swirling on what else they got in return. Oregon Public Broadcasting reported the governor saying HB 2269, her plan to tax businesses paying too little for employee health care, was likely dead. See last week’s LR on that bill.

But other, smaller business groups could still take Student Success’s new Corporate Activity Tax to the ballot in January 2020, and without revenue from the new tax, Student Success fails – and a $200 million hole opens in the regular State School Fund for the coming biennium. Both sides are gearing up for a ballot fight on Student Success.

The House sent HB 3427 A to the Senate, which sent it back to the Joint Committee on Student Success, likely for a straightforward lob back to the Senate floor. Look for Senate readings, more questions and speeches, and a vote, all in the week of May 6. Unclear how the Senate’s timing will mesh with the midweek May 8 teacher walkout.

Senate Finance and Revenue – House Share

Senate Finance and Revenue held a second hearing on SB 1045, which allows local governments to give property tax exemptions for owners who house share with tenants through a housing authority, non-profit, or program run by the local government. The chair announced that the -2 amendment was not yet ready, so there would be no vote. Ready or not, drafts of the -2 had circulated, and testimony spoke to the sideboards it would create: renters could earn no more than 60% of area median income, unless the local jurisdiction set a lower cap; renters could not be a relative, spouse or domestic partner; the program would start small, with at most 500 parcels exempted at any one time; the exemption would subtract up to $300,000 from the home’s assessed value.

The assessors’ organization praised the bill’s requestors, Harbor of Hope, for working with assessors, saying the -2 took care of their concerns about administering the proposed exemption, careful to say assessors were neutral on the policy. The -1 would exempt schools from the exemption, essentially creating a separate taxing district for each home-share parcel and serious administrative work for assessors.

In the bill’s first hearing, Harbor of Hope and Portland developer Homer Williams had testified how useful the house share matchmaking website SilverNest would be to help local governments administer the program and that SilverNest would charge homeowners $30/month. On 5/2, the Oregon Women’s Rights Coalition testified that home sharing is nothing new, rattling off a list of matchmaking companies operating in Portland and pointing out that SilverNest has only two listings in the city.

Tax Fairness Oregon testified against giving schools $2 billion with one hand and taking away school property tax revenue with the other.

LWVOR testified in favor of the new -2 sideboards, but pointed out that SB 1045’s home sharing could easily be incorporated into HB 3349 A, which funds housing and homelessness prevention programs by removing the mortgage interest deduction from second homes and Oregon’s highest earners and already includes provision for rental assistance vouchers; HB 3349 A sits in House Revenue. SB 1045 has a work session in Senate Finance and Revenue on 5/9.

Next Revenue Forecast

The countdown continues to the Department of Administrative Services Office of Economic Analysis (OEA)’s May 15 revenue forecast release, which lets Ways and Means know how much General Fund and lottery earnings they can budget, less expected kicker payments that will come out of next biennium’s revenues.

Sneak Preview: What We Know So Far about the Week of May 6

LWVOR expects the Joint Committee on Student Success bill, HB 3427 A, to have first, second, and third readings in the Senate, followed by debate, a successful vote, and the governor’s signature. Stay tuned to see whether the final vote happens on May 8, when many Oregon schools will close due to a teachers’ day of action.

On Monday, House Revenue hears HB 3028 A, which increases the share of the federal earned income tax credit allowed as a credit against Oregon taxes. LWVOR submitted testimony in favor. Tuesday they hear HB 2053 A, which changes the employment and compensation requirements for business tax breaks in various enterprise zones. Senate Finance and Revenue holds a work session on the house-share bill, SB 1045.

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


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Social Policy

 By Karen Nibler, Social Policy Coordinator

The House Human Services Committee passed HB 2908 A, which proposes an expansion of the Oregon Project Independence Program statewide. This program provides in-home services to disabled and elderly residents with eligibility through Area Agencies on Aging in regions throughout Oregon. The bill asks the Department of Human Services for an evaluation of resources needed. The House floor passed the bill 59 – 1. Senate Human Services has scheduled the bill for hearing on May 7. 

Health Care Bills often get referred to Rules Committees because they have problematic issues that need vetting. HB 3076 is one of those bills. The bill requires non-profit hospitals to establish financial assistance policies. House Rules had a hearing on April 29, which drew testimony from community hospitals, insurance companies, nurses, unions, community service programs, and collection agencies. If you would like to hear the discussion or read letters, check the OLIS system for House Rules.

The Senate Health Care Committee had a public hearing on HB 2658 A, which asks prescription drug manufacturers to report price increases to the Department of Consumer and Business Services. This hearing on May 1 drew lots of testimony in favor of transparency in drug pricing from nurses, health care providers, and advocacy groups. A pharmaceutical representative blamed price increases on Pharmacy Benefit Managers and Insurance Companies. There will be an administrative fiscal cost for DCBS in technology and staff time.

Earlier in the week, the Senate Health Care Committee heard HB 2447 which, was a report by the Oregon Health Authority on a future Health Care Delivery System. Oregon will apply for a Medicaid waiver for the Coordinated Care Organization model 2.0. The House floor vote was 41-17 along party lines. A work session should be scheduled in committee soon.

Ways and Means Human Services Subcommittee reviewed Public Health programs on May 2. SB 526 A requires a universal home visiting program for newborns. This bill passed the Senate Committee on a 4-1 vote and was referred to W&M for funding. The Family Connects model serves 0-24 month-old children with public health nurses. Medicaid covers those eligible now and commercial insurance companies will be required to cover this service.

Senate Human Services has focused on Child Welfare practices the last few weeks and criticized the agency leaders for placements out of state. This week, a panel of leaders in children’s programs presented local options in foster homes, family programs, Boys and Girls Aid, and treatment foster care. A Providence executive in Behavioral Health suggested they should start a program to meet the need. This week was a more positive look at ways to provide in-state services. 

Senate Judiciary heard HB 2625 A on April 30. The bill asked for a study on missing native women by the Oregon State Police. Local city and county law enforcement have no jurisdiction on Indian land or reservations. Representative Sanchez reported that women and girls go missing and no police agency investigates or takes reports. Young girls are found in Portland or other areas after they have been kidnapped and trafficked. Older women disappear and sometimes remains are found on reservation. Many Indian tribal members came to testify about known incidents of missing family members. The Oregon State Police support this request and will absorb the cost of investigations. The report is due September 15, 1920. The League was appalled and submitted a letter in support.

SB 297 A was heard in House Judiciary on April 30. This bill brought up the lack of mental health care on the Indian reservations. Civil commitment of Indians has to be done by local law enforcement. The court will notify the community mental health director to conduct an investigation and court will notify the tribe within 24 hours. The bill allows the county courts where the reservation lies to have this responsibility. The Senate passed this bill 28-2 and the House Judiciary passed it on May 2.

Paid Family Leave, by Debbie Runciman

HB 2005, the Family and Medical Leave Insurance bill, sits in the House Rules Committee, and continues to be a topic under discussion. Lobbyists for the business community and for the Time to Care Coalition have crafted some compromise provisions that are giving the bill new life. In the new version, ALL WORKERS will be covered and be able to take 12 weeks of paid leave – for parental leave or medical leave to care for themselves or a loved one. ALL EMPLOYERS will permit this paid time off, with job protections for returning employees. As with unemployment insurance, funding for this insurance program comes from payroll deductions. The contributions will be split 60% employee/40% employer, up to a total of 1% of payroll. As a concession to the reality of running a small business (those employing under 25 employees), small businesses are exempt from their piece of the contribution; their employees pay their 60% but are still eligible for FULL benefits and job protections. Benefits for minimum wage workers are set at 100% of their weekly wages, with decreasing benefit percentages as incomes rise. The new version also has some managerial changes to decrease the administrative burdens. While not perfect, both the coalition and business participants agree to these changes. Amendments are being drafted to reflect these provisions, and we hope to hear HB 2005, the FAMLI Act, in the House Rules Committee soon.

Youth Justice, Barbara Ross

SB 1008, the package of youth justice measures, would result in more youth being handled in the juvenile system and shorter sentences for some youth, who demonstrate that they have been rehabilitated and can safely be released to community supervision. The bill passed the Senate, had a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, but is still waiting for a work session. Intense lobbying is taking place from both sides. False information is being spread that the bill would allow the release of dangerous criminals now in prison. That is completely false. The bill is not retroactive, and applies only to future convictions

Several newspapers have come out in favor of SB 1008, including the Oregonian.

Mike McLane, the most influential republican in the House Judiciary Committee, has taken the unusual step of instructing Republican house members not to accept any more appointments related to SB 1008 but to route all requests for meetings through him.

The Oregon LWV has sent out an action alert asking members to contact their house representatives and urge a yes vote on SB 1008.

There are also a number of bills that deal with transparency in district attorney’s offices, and compensation and supervision of defense attorneys, but their fate is uncertain at this time.

Housing, Nancy Donovan and Debbie Aiona

Last Week at the Legislature

  • The House Human Services and Housing Committee held a public hearing on SB 278 A, which provides access to Rent Well or Ready to Rent classes for youth aging out of the foster care system.
  • The Committee also heard SB 586 A, which is the Manufactured Home Park Landlord Tenant Coalition bill for this session. Manufactured homes are an important part of the affordable housing stock in Oregon.
  • The Senate Housing Committee held a work session on HB 2916, the Oregon Housing Alliance’s technical fix bill for transitional housing campgrounds. The proposal needs additional technical amendments and will be scheduled for a vote at a later time.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on HB 2285, the bill to fix the local receivership process to potentially make it possible for cities to address abandoned homes.

This Week at the Legislature

  • On Monday, the Human Services and Housing Committee will meet at both 1 pm and 5 pm.
    • The Committee will hold an informational hearing with Oregon Housing and Community Services regarding changes to the homeless service system, as well as permanent supportive housing and the Governor’s proposal to support children and families experiencing homelessness.
    • The Committee will hold a possible work session on SB 278 A, which expands access to the Rent Well Program.
    • The Committee is also beginning to hold informational hearings on bills that have missed the deadlines and are not intended to move. On Monday, they will hear about a bill from Representative Zika that would study shelter needs.
  • On Wednesday, the Senate Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee will meet and hear HB 2530 A, which would require veterans to receive notification of programs to help with rental assistance and foreclosure assistance.

Student Success Act

On Wednesday, May 1, the House passed the Student Success Act, or HB 3427. The measure now heads to the Senate. It includes provisions of interest to housing advocates:

  • One provision will give school districts flexible grant funds to address needs for students who may have mental or behavior health needs and to increase academic achievement for students facing barriers. In particular, the act identifies several categories of students who may be the focus of these resources, including students experiencing homelessness.
  • The act would provide universal access to school meals. This will decrease the stigma associated with free and reduced-price breakfast and lunches. Kids can’t learn when they’re hungry, and many families must make tough choices between paying rent and putting food on the table.

Please refer to the Natural Resources section of this report for housing bills related to land use.

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


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