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Legislative Report, Volume 29, Number 18 – 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

Major Progress! “Cap and Invest” HB 2020 -94 amendment moved from the Joint Committee Carbon Reduction to Joint Ways & Means Friday afternoon. This new bill continues to reflect an “energy economy that caps and permanently reduces greenhouse gas emissions, uses natural and working lands to sequester CO2, builds climate resiliency and a just transition process statewide. The Clean Energy Jobs Bill (HB 2020-94) accomplishes all four. Stay tuned….

*Don’t forget – Save the Date for May 29th Climate Day of Action in Salem.*

It’s still unclear when HB 2020 will move to the House floor for a vote, most likely in mid-June after negotiated compromises now that the Student Success legislation is completed. Additional amendments/compromises may occur in Ways and Means. The optimistic goal is the Governor signs by June 18. 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. HB 2020 is in the News: Environmental Defense Fund HB2020 analysis and OregonLive news article.

Other Active Climate Change Portfolio Bills

Fracking Moratorium: The League is supporting HB 2623 that would impose a 10-year fracking moratorium. We presented testimony to the Senate Environment and Natural Resource Committee at the public hearing on the bill on April 23. During the past week, Sen. Prozanski proposed an amendment that would reduce the moratorium period from ten to five years in an attempt to obtain adequate votes to get it out of committee. The work session is scheduled for May 21.

Oil Rail Safety: HB 2209 A passed out of committee unanimously on April 2 with a “Do pass with amendments” and now sits in Joint Committee on Ways and Means. This bill may not be heard until late May or June.

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 in Senate Rules had another public hearing on May 13. The League submitted, with eight other organizations, opposition to SB 451 and addressed this issue in HB 2020. We oppose passage of SB 451.

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 both the Senate and House and is on its way to the Governor.

Jordan Cove Energy Project: On Monday, May 6, the Oregon DEQ denied JCEP’s application for a 401 Clean Water Act (CWA) permit. As noted last week, the applicant has the right to appeal the decision, and the denial is “without prejudice” so they could also reapply when/if they believe they have adequately solved the many problematic issues identified by DEQ. They have not yet indicated what course they will take. On May 9, JCEP released a 1,600-page response to the Request for Information Department of State Lands (DSL) sent them on April 10. This process is related to the “Removal-Fill” permit needed by the project. The RFI called for extensive additional information, plus tasked JCEP with responding to a number of named individuals and organizations that submitted substantive comments during the public comment period, including the four LLs in the project area (CC, UV, RV, KC). While our read of the RFI’s instructions raise some questions about the adequacy of their choice of response mechanism, we are reviewing the document to determine how effectively they answered our concerns and will decide if any further action is appropriate. The League and other opponents of JCEP are grateful that Oregon’s state agencies are doing a thorough and diligent job of upholding the law and protecting our resources. Work is continuing on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) released on March 29 by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) staff. Public hearings are expected in June and the public comment period ends on July 5. This is a comprehensive list of all Oregon agencies involved in this project.

Our Children’s Trust (OCT) and Social Media YOUTHVGOV:

** Mark Your Calendars **: (Click for more details)

MAY 21 Climate Science Goes to Court! Tue 18:30, The Royal Room, Seattle, WA

MAY 21 If You Won’t, We Will: Youth Action on Climate, Tue 18:30

MAY 26 Forum: Climate Change in the Courtroom, Sun 09:00, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Portland

MAY 28 Climate Science and Solutions with Dr. Shahir Masri, Tue 18:30, Unitarian Universalist Church, Eugene

JUN 4 Juliana v. US Rally and Ninth Circuit Court Hearing Portland Oregon

JUN 4 Juliana v US Live stream in Eugene Federal District Court (tentative)

Recent Press Release May 9, 2019: Groundbreaking Report Shows the United States Can Lead the Way Toward Climate Recovery Without Economic Hardship; more info here.

During the LWVOR May 17-19 Convention a “Climate Emergency” resolution was considered and passed. Our Action Committee Climate Change team sent it out May 12th to all Oregon Leagues for consideration. Over 500 municipalities and two countries have now declared a climate emergency and many other governments have declared 100% Carbon Neutral or Net Zero GHGE goals by 2050. Ireland and the UK are the first two countries to declare a Climate Emergency and Germany announced a Carbon Neutral by 2050 goal. Multinationals are also joining in. Even Amazon is looking at aggressive GHGE reduction goals.

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

The historic Student Success Act HB 3427 was signed by the Governor on Thursday, May 16. The Senate passed it along party lines on Monday, May 13. In an unusual move, on Wednesday, the Senate minority party proposed to withdraw the bill from the Governor before signing—that failed, along party lines—the same Senate Republicans who were absent Tuesday-Friday last week. While this bill makes significant policy and accountability changes for school districts and creates a significant dedicated funding source, it is likely to go before the voters in January due to the new taxing mechanism (see more in the Revenue section).

The Senate convened at 3:00 pm 5-13 to hear HB 3427—the first Senate hearing in a week while the minority party staged a protest walkout over this bill. Listen here to the Senate hearing (scroll down to HB 3427 A-Eng. Roblan). You may see the vote scrolling down to “measure history” here noting a party-line vote. And finally, read the floor letters referred to in the Senate debate (scroll to the very bottom) supporting and opposing this bill.

While we celebrate the passage of this monumental legislation, several other bills reached the cutting room floor in an agreement to kill them—gun safety and vaccinations. Civil discourse is strained in this 2019 legislative session with a Super-majority of Democrats and a Super-minority of Republicans.

Joint Committee on Student Success

HB 2018-3 Established the Task Force on Educational Accountability and Transparency. The fifteen-member task force shall consult with small, medium and large school districts throughout this state to study methods that: (a) align Oregon’s educational accountability measures into a coherent, cohesive system; (b) streamline data collection, eliminate redundancy in data collection and improve data governance processes among school districts and the Department of Education to ease school districts’ reporting burden and ease student transfers; (c) provide the department with information the department needs to ensure accountability for alternative schools; and (d) offer new accountability tool options at the local level. This oversight group will assist in implementing the Student Success Act, HB 3427. It has been referred to Ways and Means.

Joint Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education

This committee is conducting informational hearings. On 5/14  discussions centered on melding Measure 98 and the Student Success Act for cost-effective non-duplicative services as shown in ODE High School Success Fund (Measure 98) Presentation and committee member discussion.

Next week on 5/21 the Early Learning Division of the Oregon Department of Education will discuss Baby Promise and the Child Care Development Block Grant. 5/22 will focus on the Educator Advancement Council.

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

National Popular Vote leads our news this week, with a public hearing in House Rules Committee, probably a work session on Thursday. Our HCR 8 to commemorate the work of Kappy Eaton is complete and filed. Other bills show promise to move quickly. 

National Popular Vote, Marge Easley

A hearing on SB 870, the National Popular Vote bill, was held in House Rules on May 20, and we expect a work session to follow in several days. We are disappointed that the committee vote hasn’t yet occurred, but we remain confident the bill will pass this session.

Stay tuned for the date and time of the historic House floor vote. You’re invited to join us in the House Gallery that day, or you can watch online from home. This is the culmination of many years of effort from loyal NPV supporters, and huge thanks are extended to Eileen Reavey, who led the Oregon lobbying effort this session.

Meanwhile, NPV is also on the move in three other states. This past month, the bill has passed one chamber in Nevada (6 electoral votes), Minnesota (10 electoral votes), and Maine (4 electoral votes). 

Bill Watch

HCR 8 to honor the work of Kappy Eaton, has been completed, signed, and filed with the Secretary of State. (see testimony).

These bills look promising, with floor readings scheduled early this week:

  • HB 3348, the initiative reform bill we spoke to last week requires disclosure of ballot measure financial impact.
  • SB 944 addresses election risk-limiting audits.

Stand by for short notice on these House Rules bills:

  • HB 2234, our online candidate filing bill, for all Oregon candidates
  • HB 2685, our bill to codify clear guidance for candidate filing contact information.
  • HB 3202, to allow registrants to share race, ethnicity, and/or preferred language when registering to vote, has been pulled twice from scheduled agendas. We have extensive testimony prepared to address only the preferred language portion.

These other committee bills, delayed by bills subject to current deadlines, are still active:

  • HB 2210 is our incumbent website bill. We requested that a message be sent from the pre-session filing committee chair to the assigned committee chair.
  • SB 861 for pre-paid ballot envelopes passed from Senate Rules to Ways and Means.

Redistricting, Norman Turrill

Senator Golden has drafted a simpler constitutional amendment bill on redistricting, which is still in LC form, as an amendment to HJR 24. His intention is to also draft a companion statutory bill, which would have much of the supporting detail that should not be in the constitution. In the meantime, a group of organizations is coalescing around the idea of a redistricting initiative campaign.

In the meantime, HB 2492 on prisoner gerrymandering will have a work session in House Rules May 23. The League testified in favor of this bill on April 17.

Campaign Finance, Norman Turrill

Rep. Rayfield, Rep. Holvey and Senator Golden have produced new drafts of HB 2714 on campaign contribution limits, HB 2983 on independent expenditure reform and dark money disclosure, and HB 2716 on advertisement disclosure. HB 2983 and HB 2716 are scheduled for hearings in House Rules on May 23. Also to be heard at the same time is HB 2714, that would establish a (another) Task Force on Campaign Finance Reform, which the League believes would be redundant with a previous joint task force on CFR on which a League member served.

We still hope that a small donor election system bill (HB 3004 or SB 1014) will also be considered further, so that we have a complete and balanced campaign finance system.

Public Records, Josie Koehne

Several bills were signed into law last week and some await Ways & Means input because of funding needed for reporting and other reasons.

The Public Records Advisory Committee and Public Records Advocate position (Ginger McCall) will be permanent as the sunset date was eliminated (HB 2430) and the government agency annual reporting bill HB 2431 on their number of records requests, delays, and fee waivers is pending Ways and Means approval. The $200 penalty on state and local government agencies that fail to respond within the 15 day limit, bill HB 2353, finally passed the Senate Business and General Government Committee during a work session on May 14 and awaits the governor’s signature after last minute objections to the fees from the League of Oregon Cities and other local government agency groups.

HB 2051 also passed, to exempt witness information on the Oregon State Police tipline from public records requests. It also awaits the governor’s signature. A Senate Judiciary hearing and work session is scheduled on HB 3224 after passing the House Judiciary Committee that would require county district attorneys to develop and publish on their website policies relating to discovery, charging decisions and case disposition, to reduce inconsistencies between counties and increase transparency on elected officials’ policies, while allowing district attorney discretion.

The Sunshine Committee is making progress towards fulfilling its charter to reduce and recommend changes to over 600 exceptions to public records disclosure in Oregon law. On May 15, they voted to adopt several subcommittees’ recommendations. The Legislative Review subcommittee recommends that Legislators not add new public records exemptions in the bills they are currently reviewing, but wait until the Sunshine Committee reports with recommendations. It cited several current bills they found problematic, contradicting current public records law protecting agencies that unintentionally disclose protected information, or that protect information they feel should be made available upon request.

As much as possible, the Sunshine Committee, at the recommendation of the personally identifiable information (PPI) subcommittee, wants all public records reduced and consolidated into ORS 192, including ORS 192.345 (public records conditionally exempt from disclosure) and ORS 192.355 (public records exempt from disclosure), and make these simpler to easier to understand.

Other recommendations:

  • A ‘balancing test’ be more clearly defined and that even defined exemptions need exceptions in cases where a good case can be made that it is in the public interest to disclose the information, including personally identifiable information.
  • Agencies be required to document the reason for denying a request.
  • More ongoing training for agency public personnel, and revising the AG’s Public Records and Meetings Manual to make it easier to use and understand for agency guidance on public records questions.

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

Now that the Revenue Forecast has been revealed, we expect to see budgets finalized. There is some additional money, but the Co-Chairs have indicated they will mainly consider only one-time expenditures and not funding new programs where future costs will need to be rolled up as costs in future biennia. Policy bills will have their last hurrah on May 24 unless they are in Rules, Revenue or a Joint Committee. Your advocacy is needed on behalf of the budgets and policies in this report. Contact your legislator today! 

Budgets

The Dept. of Agriculture budget (HB 5002), its fee bill (HB 5003) and three additional bills related to fee increases in specific areas (HB 2057, 2059 and 2061 A) were passed to the Full Ways and Means Committee on May 16. The three fee bills were also passed out of Full to the House floor on May 17. You can review the specific details of budget bills by reading their Legislative Fiscal Office Recommendations.

Two Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries federal grant requests were also approved by the Full Ways and Means Committee on May 17. No other budgets or bills have been posted for next week except the PERS reform bill (SB 1049) (see the Revenue section of LWVOR’s Legislative Report), but we expect to see them soon. Now is the time to contact your legislators on the following policy bills that are sitting in Ways and Means. Some of these policy bills will be given an “informational hearing” in their original policy committees next week.

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 with each city greater than 10,000 population required to develop and adopt a “housing production strategy” (defined in the bill). The Land Conservation and Development Commission will set criteria to review the local government work and enforce any lack of action. The bill 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 as expressed in our testimony. New amendments are expected that may improve the bill slightly, but we still have concerns, particularly around the use of Regional Solutions mapping for the regional housing needs analyses. Those areas are too big to be helpful for local governments to use the data to assist in local planning. 

HB 2228 A is asking for $2.5 million in General Funds for land use planning work AND for technical assistance focused on 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.) The League has signed on to a letter in opposition with partners alarmed by HB 2796 A. The Metro Council has also expressed their opposition to the bill.   

HB 2672 is a bill that would allow some marijuana revenue to help Water Resources and the Dept. of Agriculture address administrative costs related to our marijuana laws. The Dept. of Agriculture budget bill included a budget note: “The Oregon Department of Agriculture is directed to work with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to determine an appropriate funding mechanism for the reimbursement of the Department’s laboratory expenses related to the testing of cannabis in cases referred by OLCC and OHA, and report back to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means during the 2020 session.” We are hopeful that a similar note will be added to the Water Resources Dept.’s budget. 

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. The League provided testimony in support. 

HB 2980 is a bill that extends the sunset date of the pesticide reporting system. HB 3058 A 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 use $1.5 million to purchase electric vehicles and 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.

SB 1031 requests $2 million and a similar bill, HB 3408, requests $500,000 to continue to provide funding to the Department of Environmental Quality for the Residential Solid Fuel Heating Air Quality Improvement Fund. 

HB 5005 is the bonding bill for this session which includes funding for the Dept. of Environmental Quality Electronic Data Management System. The League supports this project.

Air Quality, Susan Mates

HB 2007, the “Dirty Diesel” bill, has been quietly referred to Ways and Means with its -1 amendment. Rep. Karin Power fought hard to find compromises that address the highest priority concerns over the past weeks. Rather than applying to the entire state, its amendment would phase out heavy-duty and medium-duty trucks in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties where emissions are the worst. It will prohibit the sale of older equipment, which would stop the dumping into Oregon of equipment that is being phased out in neighboring states. There was still some grumbling that, as written, the bill may prevent small, rural contractors from being able to bid on projects in their own local areas, although the regulations for clean contracting standards on public-funded contracting projects only apply to projects $20 million or larger. The bill will also allocate the remaining $52 million of the Volkswagon settlement with priorities to address those most impacted by new regulations and where the clean equipment will most benefit the highest impacted communities.

The transportation sector accounts for the largest single share of Oregon’s emissions, 40% of them, and emissions from this sector are increasing each year. Our state will not be able to meet its carbon reduction goals unless we convert the transportation sector. HB 2093 A allows the Department of Administrative Services to provide additional infrastructure for the operation of state agency-owned electric vehicles, state employee charging, and public charging at state facilities. It was signed by Governor Brown on May 13.

A related bill, SB 1044, would require biannual reporting by the state about how we are meeting our emissions goals and what recommendations to provide to the legislature about how to better meet those goals. It allows investor owned electric utilities to get involved with creating charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, encourages the state government to buy or lease electric vehicles, and expands the uses for public purpose charge moneys by school districts. Its next public hearing is scheduled for May 20.

A straightforward technical fix for electric vehicle rebates would be addressed by HB 3111. Funding for the Clean Vehicle rebate program was tied up in the Supreme Court, causing confusion for good faith purchases of electric vehicles in 2018. This bill creates a one-time opportunity to get additional time to apply for the rebate. It also extends the requirements for the Charge Ahead rebates, for low- or moderate- income households, to include rebates for plug-in hybrids and for used electric vehicles.

House Speaker Tina Kotek introduced a bill (HB 3440) on Thursday that would cut about half of the estimated $1.4 billion “kicker” tax rebate and apply it to transportation initiatives. Kotek proposed spending roughly $220 million on an existing “Clean Diesel Engine Fund” to help freight carriers in Oregon transition to cleaner-burning diesel engines. Another $220 million would start a new “Zero Emission Fund” in order to create the infrastructure to help the state transition to zero-emission vehicles. It would require Republican buy-in to gather the necessary two-thirds support in both the House and Senate to pass, which will be a hard sell.

On Thursday, the Environmental Quality Commission adopted a fee increase for the Title V Program. The adopted fee increase is 2.42 percent, equal to the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index. Title V permit fees include:

  • Annual base fees assessed to all Title V sources regardless of emission quantities;
  • Emission fees assessed per ton of emissions from individual sources per calendar year; and
  • Specific activity fees assessed when a source owner or operator modifies a permit.

The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency, which regulates air pollution and emissions in the county, has adopted more stringent guidelines for monitoring and permitting air toxics. The state Environmental Quality Commission approved revised rules for LRAPA on Thursday that mirror the Cleaner Air Oregon rules the state implemented this past fall. LRAPA is the only regional air authority in the state, while the DEQ regulates air through the remainder of Oregon.

Coastal Issues, Peggy Joyce

This week the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) sought legislative approval from the Joint Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources to apply for a grant application to the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program (NTHMP) under the umbrella of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). DOGAMI wants to continue its work of outreach efforts along the coast, improving access to evacuation guidance while continuing to research risk and hazard mitigation through new evacuation modeling and exposure analyses. DOGAMI has been awarded this competitive grant since 2002 and hopes to continue its winning streak as climate change continues to impact our coastline. There is no match required of the state for this grant. The Full Ways and Means Committee approved this request. 

A Public Hearing will be held on the Territorial Sea Plan Part 3 (Rocky Habitat Management Strategy) and Part 5 (Marine Renewable Energy Siting), May 22, 4-6pm at the Agate Beach Inn, Newport. Another public hearing will be held before the Land Conservation and Development Commission, which is scheduled to potentially adopt both parts at their May 23-24 meeting in Salem. 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. The League is expected to provide testimony in support of these rules. 

An informational hearing was moved to May 23 in the House Committee on Natural Resources related to the Oregon Dunes Restoration Collaborative.

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) continues to sit in the Senate Rules Committee. The League opposes this bill.  

Land Use

HB 2456 A is a bill related to rezoning 200 acres of farmland in the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Region to residential uses. The League provided oral testimony in opposition in the House Agriculture and Land Use Committee. The bill was moved to House Revenue without recommendation due to the income tax credit and continuing farm assessment allowed in the bill. The A5 amendment was adopted, the bill passed the House floor and is on its way to the Senate. The League still opposes the underlying land use policy.

SB 8 A would require prevailing party attorney fees when publicly supported housing developments are challenged to LUBA and the developer prevails. We continue to oppose this bill. The bill is on its way to the House floor.

The Oregon Legislature made it a law in the mid-1990s that certain “essential facilities” cannot be built inside the tsunami inundation zone — namely new hospitals, fire and police stations, schools, colleges and jails. The Coastal Caucus of the legislature has asked that the rule be repealed, allowing coastal communities to use their own judgment regarding where building should occur, taking into consideration the latest science and building codes. There is also a request for a multi-agency task force to consider changes to current law. 

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

Pesticides and Toxics, Amelia Nestler

HB 2619 is scheduled for a possible work session in the House Committee on Rules on May 22. HB 2619 no longer addresses neonicotinoid use; it simply bans chlorpyrifos. Chlorpyrifos are neurotoxic and can drift from fields to neighboring communities, enter farmworker’s homes on their clothing, and impact the developing fetus in pregnant farmworker’s. It has off-target environmental effects as well. Banning chlorpyrifos protects the health of Oregon’s children and our environment. The Committee will consider the A3 amendment, making the effective date January 1, 2021. This bill struggles to get the votes needed to move it out of Committee and to the floor. 

Water

HCR 33 had a public hearing and possible work session on May 15 in House Rules, where the League provided testimony in support. The resolution urges the Governor, in partnership with the Legislature 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. There was surprise oral testimony from Richard Kosesan, a lobbyist for Water for Life, opposing the bill. Although the overwhelming testimony had been submitted in support, the Chair held over the work session.

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, had a hearing on May 16 in Senate Environment and Natural Resources where the A5 amendment was considered. The League supports updating our dam safety policies. The bill received positive feedback from the Committee and is set for a work session on May 21.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) has initiated a study of approximately 27 miles of the South Umpqua River to determine its suitability as a potential Oregon State Scenic Waterway (see attached map). They anticipate the study will take about 18 months to complete. Local Leagues were involved in the Chetco and Molalla designations and we are hopeful that Umpqua League members will participate in this study. For more information, contact Kitty.Weisman@oregon.gov

The Environmental Quality Commission has received a petition to designate Waldo Lake as an Outstanding Resource Water. The Dept. of Environmental Quality will accept written public comments on the petition until 5 p.m. on June 3. To view the Notice Document and the Petition, and to submit written comment, please view the rulemaking webpage. 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 rulemaking, that process will include an opportunity for public comment on the rule language amendments proposed by the petition. 

The Oregon Water Resources Department invites public comment on applications received for the 2019 cycle of Water Project Grants and Loans, which provide funding to evaluate, plan, and develop water projects that help address an instream or out-of-stream water need and result in economic, environmental, and social/cultural benefits. The Department received fourteen complete grant applications requesting a total of $12,341,262 in funding. The Technical Review Team (TRT) will consider public comments submitted in their evaluation of applications and will make a funding recommendation to the Commission. The Department will post the TRT funding recommendation for an additional public comment period. The tentative date for the Commission to make its funding decision is November 2019. Learn more about this Public Comment Opportunity to view the Applications Received- 2019 Funding Cycle. Written comments on the applications will be accepted until 5:00pm, July 16, 2019.

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 anyone to follow Stewardship issues (as in plastic bag bans, etc.) and Transportation. If you are interested in these issues, please contact Natural Resources Coordinator Peggy Lynch peggylynchor@gmail.com


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Revenue and Tax Reform

By Maud Naroll, Revenue and Tax Reform Coordinator

Kickers should be a lot bigger next year. The Office of Economic Analysis (OEA) released its May revenue forecast that sets the size of the budget pie for the 2019-2021 biennium, with both good and bad news for the pie.

The governor signed the major Student Success education bill, HB 3427 A, after Republican senators ended their walkout and the Senate passed the bill on a party-line vote.

Student Success

Although Democrats have the 3/5 majority in both houses needed to approve the new tax to fund the Student Success education programs, they needed at least two Republican senators for a quorum so the vote could occur. Senate Republicans returned in exchange for killing the vaccine and omnibus gun safety bills, HB 3063 B and SB 978 A, much to the outrage of those bills’ supporters. See the Social Policy section of this LR.

The Student Success bill’s sweeping changes to early learning and K-12, and the billion-dollar-a-year gross receipts tax and cuts to personal income tax, are detailed in earlier LRs’ education and revenue sections. The strong closing argument for HB 3427 A at 1:35:55 of the Senate floor session is worth a listen. For the full discussion, start at 10:45, and see floor letters here.

This is not the end of the story. Although Oregon Business and Industry said they would remain neutral, other opponents are expected to put the new tax on the ballot for January.

Revenue Forecast and Kicker

The Office of Economic Analysis (OEA) released its May revenue forecast, setting the size of the budget pie for the 2019-2021 biennium. This fiscal year is going out with a roar. Compared to the March forecast, there should be $870 million more in the General Fund at the end of this biennium June 30.

The personal kicker will be huge, $1.4 billion, $338 to the median filer, $14,000 on average to the top 1%. The corporate kicker will send $616 million to K-12 next biennium.

Since personal kickers will be a credit on our personal income tax (PIT) filings made in April 2020, they reduce next fiscal year’s PIT forecast by $1.4 billion. Total General Fund revenue next biennium will be $132 million less than the March forecast.

The net effect is $737 million more General Fund to spend than we thought in March – but it’s all one-time money from this biennium’s surprisingly strong ending. It’s the single inheritance check the state gets from Aunt Ruthie’s estate, at the same time it gets a cut in pay. At least one legislator was wise enough to suggest using the one-time money for PERS or the Rainy Day Fund.

The House speaker introduced HB 3440 that would reduce the kicker, using the money not returned as kicker for the I-205 Abernethy Bridge over the Willamette, the Clean Diesel Engine Fund, and a new Zero Emission Fund to develop and build infrastructure for zero and low emission vehicles. This would affect only the current kicker, by retroactively increasing the 2017 revenue forecast used to calculate the kicker. Changing the 2017 forecast needs at least a two-thirds vote, so at least two Republicans in each house, which could be tough given many Republican comments that Oregonians should get back every penny of the kicker.

Why the surprisingly large change in the 2017-19 forecast? What happened between the last forecast, in March, and now? When OEA last forecast, state personal income tax year-end payments were tracking with the previous four years. Then payments shot out of a cannon, and are nearly 50% higher than recent history. See slides 7 and 8 in OEA’s presentation. See also the Legislative Revenue Office summary, and, for revenue junkies, OEA’s 65-page Economic and Revenue Forecast.

Public Employees Retirement System – PERS

One wavering Democratic senator, a crucial floor vote for Student Success, announced support for a ballot measure repealing the bill’s new tax unless this session passes substantive reform to the Public Employees Retirement System, PERS. Pointed comments at 1:25 of the Senate floor session. On May 14, the Joint Subcommittee on Capital Construction heard the -2 amendment to SB 1049, which, among other changes, would start diverting some employee contributions away from existing 401K-type accounts and to individual accounts within PERS. Hearing rooms, and the testimony sign-up sheet, filled with irate public employee union members and representatives. The subcommittee cancelled the next day’s public hearing and possible work session on the bill. Stay tuned for more PERS drama.

Tax Expenditures

The Joint Tax Expenditure Committee did not meet the week of May 15, likely letting Ways and Means digest the new revenue forecast and decide whether to adjust the $40 million budget they’d given for tax expenditures. .

House Share

The Senate unanimously sent the house share property tax exemption bill, SB 1045 A, to the House. See the May 6 Revenue LR more on the bill.

Sneak Preview: What We Know So Far about the Week of May 22

Apparently receiving a big enough ear full in the first packed hearing, Capital Construction scheduled a work session on the PERS bill, SB 1049, for Tuesday May 21, 9 am.

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

Gun Safety, Marge Easley

As you most likely have heard, gun safety and public health advocates were dealt a serious blow this past weekend when a backroom deal was cut to kill the omnibus gun bill (SB 978) and the vaccine bill (HB 3063) in exchange for Republican agreement to end their walkout and allow the vote to proceed on the Student Success Act (HB 3064). The League, as well as many legislators, were very disappointed that such important bills were bargaining chips in the negotiations. While we understand that hard choices must be made, we feel strongly that the health and safety of citizens should not be sacrificed for political expediency. We remain hopeful that the Safe Storage component of SB 978 has a chance of revival in the form of HB 2505, which passed out of House Judiciary without recommendation on April 4 and now sits in House Rules.  

On a more positive note, HB 2013, which closes a loophole for the relinquishment of firearms from domestic violence abusers, is on track for passage. The bill has already passed the House and unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 16.  

Housing, Nancy Donovan and Debbie Aiona

Last Week at the Legislature

  • On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a work session on HB 2285, which would clarify city receivership programs to potentially support affordable housing. The bill passed out of Committee unanimously and now heads to the Senate floor for a final vote.
  • On Wednesday, the Senate Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee met and held a public hearing on HB 2530 A, which would require veterans to receive notification of programs to help with rental assistance and foreclosure assistance. The bill is scheduled for a work session next Wednesday.

On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee SB 873, which would help ensure people who rent their homes can expunge previous evictions after the time period that landlords can legally use them for screening has passed.

Next Week at the Legislature

  • On Monday, the House Human Services and Housing Committee will meet to hold work sessions SB 534 and SB 586. SB 534 would require cities of a certain size to allow development on all available historically narrow lots. SB 586 is the Manufactured Home Park Landlord Tenant Coalition bill. A summary from John Van Landingham, of the Lane County Legal Aid/Oregon Law Center is available.
  • On Monday, the Senate Housing Committee will meet to hold work sessions on two bills. First, they will hold a work session HB 2916, which is the Housing Alliance’s technical fix for transitional housing campgrounds. Second, the Committee will hold a work session on HB 2997 A, which would only impact the City of McMinnville. The bill clarifies, for the City of McMinnville, that if the city adopts an inclusionary housing program, and a proposal comes forward for a housing development that splits a housing development of twenty or more units across several buildings or lots, they would still be subject to the inclusionary housing rules.
  • On Wednesday, the House Human Services and Housing Committee is scheduled to meet at 1 pm and 5:30 pm, and during one of those hearings will hold a discussion about bills related to housing that are in the Joint Ways & Means Committee.
  • On Wednesday, the Senate Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee is scheduled to meet for a work session on HB 2530 A, which would require veterans to receive notification of programs to help with rental assistance and foreclosure assistance.

On Wednesday, the House Revenue Committee is scheduled to meet for a work session on SB 262, which would extend the sunset on a key property tax exemption for housing used by Portland and Eugene.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development published a proposed rule related to residents of public housing. The proposed rule would prohibit what HUD is terming “mixed-status” families from living in public or other subsidized housing. These families are households that include members who are eligible, and others who are ineligible for housing assistance based on their immigration status. More information is now available from national housing partners. Individuals can submit comments to HUD on the Proposed Rule through July 9. Please refer to the first page of the proposed rule under “Addresses” for guidance on how to submit comments. HUD strongly suggests sending comments electronically.

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


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