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

Legislative Report, Volume 29, Number 22 – June 2019

 

Sign up for the Legislative Report

In This Issue

Climate Change

Education

Governance

Natural Resources

Revenue and Tax Reform

Social Policy


Climate Change

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

Editors note: HB 2020 passed the house late Monday evening after this report was written. A brief update is included in the intro below

Exciting news! HB 2020 passed the House Monday evening! Now on to the Senate chamber floor for a vote with hopeful passage this week! Oregon may again lead on environmental legislation. Contact your legislators with a thank you for support or encouragement to support! Also, 4 local Leagues continue to work to stop the climate-harming Jordan Cove project. Other climate bills are moving.

HB 2020 B: Oregon Climate Action Program

By the time you read this report the House most likely will have approved HB 2020 B Monday June 17 and passed it to the Senate for a possible Thursday, June 20 vote. Four adopted minor amendments were combined into -116 and, after the June 12 Full Ways and Means affirmative vote, became HB 2020 B. This Vox Magazine article comes recommended as an excellent HB 2020 B summary for the lay reader. Including WCI info; “…That’s a big deal in and of itself. What makes it more interesting is that Oregon is doing so by following California’s lead, linking to the Western Climate Initiative, (WCI) a regional carbon trading system that currently contains California and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Quebec… “

We hear the House most likely has easily the 31 majority, possibly 36 affirmative Yes votes. Rep. Courtney Neron has agreed to sign an LWVOR floor ‘Climate Emergency’ letter. The challenge for passage will be in the Senate, where a minimum of 16 affirmative votes are required. The recent fiscal impact analysis is $22.3 million, and the revenue impact is estimated at $1.3 billion. We understand the Governor would like to sign this bill in June.

Other Active Climate Emergency Portfolio Bills

Oil Rail Safety: HB 2209 A is scheduled for a June 17 vote in the House chamber.

Renewable Energy Credits/Covanta: SB 451 moved with a do pass recommendation out of Senate Rules with -4 amendment. The League is joining about a dozen groups in a coalition letter to oppose this bill. The League continues to adamantly oppose passage of SB 451. Recent Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility news is here. This bill appears to have the Senate votes for passage but will find major difficulty in the House.

Jordan Cove Energy Project: Governor Brown met with five JCEP opponents on June 11 to discuss their request that she came out publicly against the project. From their reports shared with rally attendees after the meeting, she encouraged them to continue sharing their views, including participating in all public commenting opportunities. She maintains neutrality but reiterated that her administration will continue to consider all permit applications in rigorous compliance with the all pertinent laws and regulations. She said the agencies are working on comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and will submit (thereby making it publicly available) in advance of the July 5 deadline. DEQ’s denial of JCEP’s 401 Water Quality Permit, backed up by 200 pages of permit deficiencies is certainly an example of that approach. DSL has still not released any information since JCEP submitted what appears to us to be an inadequate response to that agency’s request. DSL asked that the applicant to respond to concerns raised by several entities and individuals who submitted substantive comments, including the four LLs opposing project operations in their areas. DSL’s decision on the Removal-Fill permit is set for September. Also in this past week, Colorado Governor Jared Polis declared neutrality on JCEP, a change not welcomed by natural gas interests and fossil fuel supporters after years of former Governor Hickenlooper favoring the project.

This is a comprehensive list of all Oregon agencies involved in this project. Opponents, including LWV members, continue to challenge local land use permits. LWV members working on the DEIS comment for the four Local Leagues are still hard at that task. FERC has scheduled hearings, but it has been confirmed that they will be one-on-one recorded hearings. No time-limit has been announced. You may also submit written comments on the FERC website to the same effect as attending the hearings. FERC has threatened to shut down hearings if there are disruptions.

Hearing Locations and times: Southwestern Oregon Community College, Hale Center for the Performing Arts, 1988 Newmark Avenue, Coos Bay, June 24, 2019, 1:00–8:00 p.m.; South Umpqua High School 501 Chadwick Lane, Myrtle Creek, June 25, 2019, 1:00–8:00 p.m.; Ramada Medford Hotel and Conference Center, 2250 Biddle Road, Medford, June 26, 2019, 1:00–8:00 p.m.; Klamath County Fairgrounds/Event Center, 3531 South 6th Street, Klamath Falls, June 27, 2019, 1:00–8:00 p.m. The public comment period ends on July 5.

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

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

CIEL: Central Questions and Key Takeaways from the recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Hearing

Groundbreaking Report Shows the United States Can Lead the Way Toward Climate Recovery Without Economic Hardship; Find the Climate RECOVERY Plan – 350 PPM pathway Report here.

A new article in the NEW YORKER “The Right to a Stable Climate Is the Constitutional Question of the Twenty-first Century”. “If we look back on the twentieth century, we can see that race and sex discrimination were the constitutional questions of that era. And when our great-grandchildren look back at the twenty-first century, they will see that government-sanctioned climate destruction was the constitutional issue of this century.”

LWVOR  “Climate Emergency” Resolution

Now globally over 622 municipalities (83M people) and two countries have declared a climate emergency including the Vatican. Many other governments have declared 100% Carbon Neutral or Net Zero GHGE goals before or 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. On June 14 the LWV Corvallis sent ‘Climate Emergency Declaration’ letters to the Corvallis City Council and the Benton County Commissioners, now posted to social media.

Five LWV state Leagues have now passed ‘Climate Emergency Declaration’ resolutions or Action Motions at their conventions. (LWVOR, LWVC, LWVCO, LWVIL, LWVMA and LWVFL). The LWVUS Council that meets late June may address this Climate Emergency declaration topic in some form. Related, applicable State League Presidents, LWVUS board members and LWVUS staff have been updated. LWV NGO UN observers will attend in December COP 25 in Santiago Chile and this climate emergency declaration topic will no doubt be discussed.

Mark your calendars: Three Portland Metro Groups (350PDX, XRPDX + Sunrise PDX) plan a Climate Emergency Rally on June 21.

Economics and Climate

Action Committee members Maud Naroll and Claudia Keith attended Portland the MSA Economic and Population Forecast hosted by The Northwest Economic Research Center (NERC) at PSU on May 30. It was the second annual Portland MSA Economic and Population Outlook and did not mention Climate Change, Emergency or Crisis, no reference. The keynote speaker did mention 3 scenarios , one that included a high probability for a possible recession. This program was basically a major disconnect between the latest UN IPCC Oct 2018 report, which described radical comprehensive changes that are necessary to stay under 1.5c global warming and so-called GNP/growth rates ‘business as usual’. Related, the most recent OEA Oregon Economic Quarterly Forecast reported to the Legislature lacked mention of a path to 100% renewable energy in contrast to the recent news from U.S. regulators and many other global economies. The Insurance regulators are also about to publish new guidelines.

It would be great to have volunteers; YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! If any of these areas interest you, Energy (DOE), Transportation, Agriculture and or Forestry Climate Policy, OLCD Climate Adaptation 2010 Oregon Update, or new ODFW Climate Strategy, please contact Claudia Keith, ca.keith@comcast.net.


Back to top


Education Policy

By Chris Vogel, Education Policy Coordinator with Stephanie Feeney

The Student Success Act and its funding tax, signed by the governor, continue to be a focus of the legislature since it will probably go by referendum to a vote of the people in January 2020. See the Revenue section of this LR for a further discussion. The League is already working in coalition with other education advocates to preserve this historic bill and funding for Student Success. As the session soon comes to a close, look for more updates on this critical issue.

Funding for Early Learning, K-12 grant in aid through Oregon Department of Education

The Joint Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education recommended a do-pass on HB 5015 on June 12. It goes before the full Ways and Means Committee next week and then to the floors of the House and Senate for passage. For the fine print see HB 5015 ODE – Program Budget Comparison and HB 5015 – LFO Recommendation. As you may recall, this long budget process began with an agency presentation in February detailing the elements of grant-in-aid that flow through the Oregon Department of Education to regional education service districts and local school districts, ODE – Agency Presentation and LFO Budget Review. This whole budget process begins when agencies work with the Governor to develop Governor’s Budget, Part 1 and Part 2 as presented in February and in the DAS Presentation overview June 12. It is the Legislatively Approved Budget (LAB) that actually funds agency work. While HB 5015 – LFO Recommendation is nearing final numbers, an end of session bill known as the “Christmas Tree” may provide a little more funding. We’ll wait until session end to present a summary of funded priorities and those not surviving the session.

HB 2024 regarding early childhood care and HB 2025 for early learning passed out of the Joint Committee On Ways and Means. A 2018 study by the Oregon Child Care Research Partnership (OCCRP) at Oregon State University found that 12 percent of infants and toddlers in Oregon have access to a regulated child care slot. HB 2024 directs the Early Learning Division to administer a program to improve access to high quality infant and toddler care for families with income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Oregon’s Preschool Promise program is a publicly-funded preschool system available to children living at 200% of the poverty level or below. It is offered through nine different Early Learning Hub (Hub) regions around the state. The Hubs develop and implement a strategic vision and work plan to achieve the following three goals: (1) create an aligned, coordinated, and family-centered system; (2) ensure children entering school are ready to succeed; (3) create healthy, stable, and attached families. HB 2025 modifies the Oregon prekindergarten program to serve children from three and four years of age, to prenatal through five years of age. It modifies the role of the Hub under the Preschool Promise Program to reflect current practice and identifies coordinating among entities. It requires that the Hubs complete a community plan to identify populations of children and families to enroll and access preschool programs once every two years. It establishes a scholarship and grant program jointly administered by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) and Early Learning Division (ELD) to ensure there are highly qualified early childhood care and education professionals in Oregon. It transfers the current Preschool Promise program reporting requirements from the Superintendent of Public Instruction to the ELD.

SB 155 is headed to the Senate floor after passing out of the Joint Ways and Means Committee on Friday. The bill deals with sexual misconduct by school employees toward students.

Funding for Higher Education

HB 5024 and HB 5025 the budget bill and fee bill for the Higher Education Coordinating Commission and HB 2910 the Oregon Promise program passed out of the Joint Committee On Ways and Means on 6/14. The Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) coordinates, provides funding, and oversees responsibilities for all aspects of postsecondary education, including seven public universities, 17 public community colleges, private and independent colleges and universities, local workforce development boards, private career trade schools, and state financial aid. HECC sets state policy and funding strategies, administers numerous programs (some of which were previously independent agencies and others transferred from the Oregon Department of Education), and manages approximately three billion dollars of public funding for postsecondary education. The HECC determines state funding allocations to public institutions, approves new degree and certificate programs, licenses and authorizes private postsecondary institutions, makes budget and policy recommendations to the Governor and Legislature, collects and reports postsecondary data, administers state financial aid and other access programs, and undertakes a variety of other reporting and oversight responsibilities assigned by state law.

HB 2910 extends the eligibility for the Oregon Promise Program to individuals under the supervision of the Department of Corrections and the Oregon Youth Authority. The eligibility for the program extends for six months after the individual’s period of incarceration ends and they have completed prior educational requirements for the Oregon Promise Program. The bill will cover approximately 146 individuals and the bill appropriates $200,000 General Fund to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to cover the additional grants. The grants are separate and distinct from the Oregon Promise program and will be administered separately.

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.

Following Education Advocacy

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. Children’s Institute leads the Early Childhood Coalition. Chalk Board gains funding from  six Oregon philanthropic foundations that support education initiatives. 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.

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.


Back to top


Governance

By Rebecca Gladstone, Governance Coordinator

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

Brief

National Popular Vote passed in Oregon! We are still working, facing end of session intensity. Committee schedules are added and revised on very short notice. Some of our bills are deferred to active discussion for interim engagements.

National Popular Vote, Marge Easley

SB 870 Enrolled June 12 was a day of jubilation for the scores of NPV volunteers, organizational leaders, and legislative sponsors who joined Governor Kate Brown in her office as she signed into law SB 870, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact bill. Local NPV lobbyist Eileen Reavey and NPV co-founders Dr. John Koza and Barry Fadem were also among the celebrants. After ten years of effort, it is quite a relief to say that Oregon is now one of 16 jurisdictions, representing 196 electoral votes, who have signed onto the Compact, although it will not go into effect until the electoral vote total reaches 270. 

 

Pictured in photo: The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact was signed by the Governor! Oregon SB 870 signing, left to right: LWVOR Norman Turrill, seated, Governor Kate Brown, John Koza and Barry Fadiman, NPV LWVOR Becky Gladstone and Marge Easley, Eileen Reavey, NPV.

All eyes are now on Maine, where NPV passed in the Senate but then experienced a roller coaster ride in the House—first failing, then tying, then passing. We are hopeful that after some procedural votes it will 

be on its way to the Governor’s desk. Maine’s four electoral votes will put the NPV total at an even 200.

Bill Watch

Three of our bills filed pre-session will face resurrection in the interim:

HB 2210, our incumbent website bill, has interest from the State Archives, with discussion around Blue Book links. The sponsor is planning for interim work. The website has been built already.

HB 2234, our online candidate filing bill (our testimony), has direct opposition from the Elections Director. We will continue to support based on efficiency in government and transparency.

HB 2685, our candidate filing contact information bill, see testimony here and here, would clarify statute so that public phones, emails and staff time not be used for campaigning. We have networked this with the Department of Justice, the State Bar Association, etc. With House Rules Committee meetings being added daily, this has a small chance.

We’re watching all these, too:

HB 3441 for an automatic voter registration task force, had a public hearing only, our testimony.

SB 116 A This bill has been referred to Ways and Means Committee with disparate recommendations. As listed in the June 12 Senate Rules agenda: Requires Secretary of State to conduct study and develop recommendations regarding most effective methods for improving candidate inclusion in voters’ pamphlet and efficacy of voters’ pamphlet.

It has changed substantively to: Creates legislative committee to prepare ballot titles and explanatory statements for 2019 measures that are referred to the ballot. Authorizes Supreme Court review of ballot title and explanatory statement. Allows Court to modify title or refer to Attorney General. Submits any provisions of Enrolled House Bill 3427 that are referred to the ballot to election held on January 21, 2020. Declares emergency, effective on passage.

And for the Minority amended version: Directs Secretary of State to conduct study of special elections held since January 1, 2015. Requires study to include whether elections create barriers to franchise, including financial impact on state and counties and whether elections create disproportionate impact on members of protected class, veterans, persons with a disability, and rural and nonurban voters. Requires report to Legislative Assembly by January 1, 2021. Sunsets on January 2, 2022.

SB 224 A for numerous elections’ issues, passed from Senate to be heard on the Senate floor this week. (our testimony).

SB 670 Enrolled passed, related to HB 3409, which we supported. They address concerns that elections materials providing candidate information should not list information simultaneously for the presiding filing officer and that person as a candidate.

SB 761 A relates to printing of petition sheets. We opposed the bill, our testimony. The -1 amendment was adopted and passed on partisan lines in Senate Rules Committee, with the recommendations for do pass with amendment and do pass with different amendments in the minority report.

SB 861 for pre-paid ballot envelopes passed to Ways and Means on March 13, has not moved. We would prioritize HB 2234, with a much smaller fiscal, over this one. (our testimony).

SB 944 for risk-limiting (election) audits, will be heard on the Senate floor this week. Sen Frederick told an amazing story about his grandfather getting kicked off the farm where he was picking cotton when he didn’t vote as instructed by the farm owner.

Campaign Finance, Norman Turrill

All three campaign finance bills were passed by the House on June 6 and are now in the Senate Rules Committee:

  • HB 2714 A, for campaign contribution limits
  • HB 2716 A, for campaign advertisement donor identification
  • HB 2983 A, to disclose “dark money” organizations intending to influence Oregon elections

A hearing was held June 12 in Senate Rules on only HB 2983 A on independent expenditure and “dark money” disclosure, and the League provided testimony. The dollar limits in this bill are about 10 times too high, and there is no “drill down” to disclose the original source of the money. The League still supports this bill in spite of its large defects.

HB 2714 A. According to discussion around the Capitol and Pamplin Media and Salem Reporter news articles, the HB 2714 contribution limits bill will not be considered further during this session, but will be deferred to next year’s short session and worked more during the interim. This bill currently has huge loopholes in organizational contributions limits, which the League and others want closed. Large contributors want business as usual.

HB 2716 A on advertisement donor disclosure had a hearing in Senate Rules on Monday, June 17. The League previously submitted testimony on the original bill. This bill is also flawed with high dollar thresholds, no disclosure in candidate ads, and without any “drill down” provision to disclose the original source of the money. In the same hearing, work sessions were held for HB 2983 A, passing on partisan lines, and (surprise) SJR 18 A, the constitutional amendment to enable these other reforms. The –A 11 also passed on partisan lines with the minority party splitting their votes. The League has previously testified on both of these bills here and here.

It now appears that the constitutional amendment and the remaining two other bills will be rapidly voted on the Senate floor. That is good, because there is not much time left in the session!

Redistricting, Norman Turrill

All redistricting bills are considered dead for this session.

Transparency & Public Records, Josie Koehne

HB 2353 Enrolled. The Governor has signed this public records penalty bill, our testimony.

Immigration & Discrimination, Claudia Keith

HB 2015 “Drivers licenses for all”, passed from Joint Ways and Means, largely on a partisan vote, to be heard this week on the House floor (our testimony).

HB 2508 A for refugee resettlement grants, is in Ways and Means for a work session this week.

SB 577 B, a hate/bias crime bill, passed unanimously from Joint Ways and Means to the House floor this week.  

SB 2932 Enrolled relating to immigration status of criminal defendants, passed on partisan lines.

Thank you for reading our report!

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


Back to top


Natural Resources

By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator

It’s time! There IS an urgency of NOW! There are bills being considered this late in the session that could harm our environment or that will not address critical issues. We encourage you to read this report and take immediate action! 

Budgets

HB 2436 A, a bill that would allow the Dept. of State Lands to put together a program where Oregon would partially “assume” the responsibilities of the Army Corps of Engineers for some portion of Oregon’s removal/fill permit requests, has popped up in the Capital Construction Subcommittee for June 17. The League opposed this bill because there are issues around tribal protections and the Endangered Species Act that the Corps reviews and, should Oregon assume these duties, we would need a much larger staff to do this review. This review takes great expertise. Alarmingly, an A7 amendment is being proposed that would change current removal fill law. The League is actively trying to inform legislators of this proposal, which has had NO public discussion, and we are asking that they oppose the A7 amendment.

SB 5511, the budget for the Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI), and HB 5019, the budget for the Dept. of Forestry, as well as the harvest tax bill HB 2073, with the same 60/40 split, will be worked in the Natural Resources Subcommittee on June 17. The Forestry budget doesn’t include additional monies for firefighting resources, community resiliency and landscape analysis.

The League is disappointed that DOGAMI is back where it was in 2015 related to lack of good fiscal management. As a result, the legislature will only provide a one-year budget and has three budget notes requiring that they address this issue, including a discussion around whether or not this small agency should be housed in another larger agency. The League believes the scientific work of this agency is critical to Oregon, but we also believe in good fiscal management. After the 2015 crisis, League members followed the work that updated their fiscal management and watched their Board review their budget at each Board meeting. We thought the agency was on the right course, but somehow, the original intense scrutiny must have faded since we are back where we were in 2015.

As a result, SB 45 A, 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, has not been included. Currently, DOGAMI is only inspecting 6.5% of the 865 surface sites (of over 1,000 total mining sites). Without the fee increase or an infusion of General Funds, the status quo will continue.

SB 5545, a bill stuffed with the Dept. of Energy (ODOE) budget, moved out of the Natural Resources Subcommittee to Full Ways and Means. LWVOR provided testimony that, while supporting the transition to the Oregon Climate Authority next year, the legislature needs to be sure to have a place for the 6 people who work for all of us on the Hanford Cleanup program. Committee members agreed.    

The Ways and Means Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development has worked SB 5512, the budget for Housing and Community Services and 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. The League reminded members that using the Regional Solutions boundaries for the regional analysis will provide limited usable data.  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, moved late Thursday as well. There is $3.5 million General Funds for local government grants in HB 2001 and about $1.6 million in HB 2003. No staffing for the Dept. of Land Use and Conservation has been included, but we understand they will appear in the end-of-session bill when all the housing bills where they have a responsibility have been passed.

You can review the specific details of budget bills by reading their Legislative Fiscal Office (LFO) Recommendations.

Other bills we continue to follow although they have yet to be scheduled in Ways and Means:

HB 2331 would limit the authority of the Water Resources Department to enforce against well standards related to well repair, construction, alteration, abandonment or alteration beyond three years. Properly constructed, maintained and abandoned wells are critical to ensuring against health hazards, ensuring public safety and protecting the environment. The Department’s authority to protect these public values should not be limited and/or restricted in any way. The League opposes this bill.

HB 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.

HB 3141 A would use $1.5 million to purchase electric vehicles and charging stations.

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.

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

The DEQ budget bills, HB 5017 A and HB 5018, should be up for a vote in the House chamber on June 17. Then they need a vote in the Senate chamber. They include funding for Cleaner Air Oregon. SB 1044, around zero-emission vehicles, is also up for a House vote on June 17.

We are still awaiting a final compromise on the Dirty Diesel bill, HB 2007 A. We expect it may depend on the action on HB 2020 B, the clean energy jobs bill.

Coastal Issues, Peggy Joyce

The Oregon Legislative Coastal Caucus (CC), created in 1985 as a bicameral and bipartisan group of 8 elected coastal officials, will hold their 8th Annual Coastal Caucus Economic Summit this August 21-22 at Three Rivers Casino Resort in Florence, Oregon. The topic of this gathering is Infrastructure Investments: A Collaborative Approach. The meeting is planned and supported in partnership with Coos Lower Umpqua Siuslaw Indian Tribes who have offered the Three Rivers Casino as a meeting place for the first day’s activities along with reduced room rates at the Resort.

The CC, while still focused on marine and coastal issues, will expand the discussions this year to include job growth and economic development issues that impact local communities and the challenges of dealing with specific regional problems such as: housing and seismic resiliency; developing renewable energy and education; creating better systems to fund water infrastructure and preparing rural communities for the shifting energy landscape. Second day activities on August 22 will be held at the Florence Event Center, close to the heart of Old Town Florence. League members will attend this event. You can, too. For further information contact: Sen.ArnieRoblan@oregonlegislature.gov

The Oregon Coordinating Council on Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia (OAH) is pleased to announce the release of Oregon’s DRAFT Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Action Plan. This OAH Action Plan was developed in recognition of the OAH impacts that we see today, in the hopes of minimizing the impacts for tomorrow, and altering the trajectory of ocean changes for future generations.

Because Oregon is one of the first states to feel the impacts of OAH, it is the intent of this Action Plan that it will contain actions that are meaningful locally, and in fighting the global challenges of climate and ocean changes. Additionally, the Action Plan will serve as a model for others to apply to their own geographical and political context. Once adopted by Governor Brown, the Action Plan will guide Oregon’s efforts and will become Oregon’s submission to the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification, and thus will be shared with the region and world.

The Oregon’s OAH Council welcomes public comment on this DRAFT from June 10th – July 9th of 2019. Public comment may be made by contacting the Council’s staff and leadership:

Charlotte R. Whitefield Ph.D., OAH Council Staff, Charlotte.M.RegulaWhitefield@state.or.us

John (Jack) Barth Ph.D., OAH Council Co-Chair
Jack.Barth@oregonstate.edu

Dr. Caren Braby Ph.D., OAH Council Co-Chair
Caren.E.Braby@state.or.us

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.  

Forestry

For those of us in Western Oregon, the threat of wildfire is beginning, starting on the north coast and working south thru the Coast Range and to the foothills of the Cascades. The National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for June 2019 has been issued by Predictive Services at the National Interagency Fire Center. The predictive services webpage at NIFC can be found here.

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 bill has been assigned to the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee even though the underlying revenue policies have been removed. The League opposes the underlying land use policy.

SB 10, establishing high-density development requirements in areas adjacent to transportation corridors, had another public hearing on June 5 in Senate Rules. New amendments were considered that we understand would only affect the Cities of Salem, Springfield and Eugene. Representatives of those cities, the League of Oregon Cities and our own Lane County League provided testimony of concern or in opposition.

Transportation

The Oregon Dept. of Transportation transit committee is providing a recommendation list for transit funding that is ready for review and comment. The recommendations are a result of ranking applications that came in for the first competitive Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund (STIF) Discretionary and Statewide Transit Network grant programs. Comments are due by July 1 and can be submitted via email (to Patrick.depriest@odot.state.or.us) or by attending a public hearing that will be part of the next Public Transportation Advisory Committee meeting: 1:15 p.m., July 1 at Building X, 885 Airport Road SE, Salem (ODOT Region 2 campus). To request an accommodation to participate in this meeting, please call Rhonda Urben at 503-986-3412, rhonda.urben@odot.state.or.us, or statewide relay at 7-1-1 at least 48 hours prior to the meeting. Keep Oregon Moving (HB 2017) established the Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund. To learn more about the program and other STIF funding opportunities, visit the STIF Project website.

Water

HCR 33, a resolution urging work on a state water vision, is stalled in House Rules. However, legislators and our water partners continue to work on the beginning of this two-year project. The League continues to work on this project even if the bill does not pass.

The Klamath River Compact Commission will meet June 18 from 11:00 am to 1:30pm in the Mt. Scott Room, Oregon Institute of Technology, Klamath Falls, OR. Contact the Water Resources Dept. for the complete agenda. 

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.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED YEAR ROUND! If you are interested in natural resource issues, please contact Natural Resources Coordinator Peggy Lynch.


 Back to top


Revenue and Tax Reform

By Maud Naroll, Revenue and Tax Reform Coordinator

The Joint Committee on Tax Expenditures heard public comment on tax expenditures and on potential tweaks to the Student Success Corporate Activity Tax (CAT), saying they would hold a work session on both June 13, cancelled the meeting the night before, posted a new amendment, but no hearing on the bill. Stay tuned.

The tobacco tax came back to life as a ballot referral, headed for the Tax Expenditure Committee.

Student Success

The Senate Committee on Rules gut and stuffed SB 116, creating a January 21, 2020 special election date if all or part of the Student Success act is put on the ballot, recommending do pass with amendments and referral to Ways and Means. The amendment also charges a joint legislative committee with writing the ballot title and explanatory statement. The latter “may describe any effects or consequences that the committee determines will result” if all or part of the Student Success act is rejected. If Student Success gets on the ballot, the -2 requires it to be the only measure in the January 21, 2020 voters’ pamphlet. That might prevent opponents of the resurrected tobacco tax (see below) from trying to get tobacco on the same January 2020 election as a second, simultaneous tax vote. And if the Student Success tax is repealed, it would also give the legislature a chance in the short 2020 session to fill the resulting gaping hole driven through the education budget.

OregonLive reported a million dollar donation to the campaign against the Student Success Corporate Activity Tax.

The Joint Committee on Tax Expenditures will amend into its tax expenditure bill, HB 2164, tweaks and changes to the Student Success funding mechanism, its Corporate Activity Tax (CAT). The -21 amendment to HB 2164, the most recent as of June 15, makes mostly clarifying changes, with two exceptions:

For single family home construction, general contractors can exclude 15% of the labor costs charged by their subcontractors.

HB 3427, Sec. 63 says of the CAT, “The tax imposed under this section is imposed on the person receiving the commercial activity and is not a tax imposed directly on a purchaser.” That means, the CAT should not appear on a sales receipt the way a sales tax does. However, the -21 to HB 2164 carves an exception for motor vehicle dealers. They can estimate the CAT amount due to each vehicle sale and charge their customers.

Joint Committee on Tax Expenditures

The committee will also amend its omnibus tax expenditure changes and sunset renewals into HB 2164.

  • The -21 amendment renews and slightly raises the earned income tax credit (EITC) one percentage point, from 11% to 12% of the federal credit for those with children under three and from 8% to 9% for all others. This is a small victory for the Renew and Raise coalition working to pull Oregon’s EITC rate up from the depths of state rankings.
  • The -21 renews the political contributions tax credit, cutting the income limit from $200,000 for joint filers and $100,000 for all others to $150,000 / $75,000.
  • Contributions to 529 education savings accounts and ABLE accounts change from subtractions from income to credits, which shrink for higher incomes; this may keep the change mostly revenue neutral.
  • Short line railroads get a new tax credit, for up to half the cost of a rehabilitation project or $1,000 per mile the railroad owns or leases in Oregon, whichever is less. If the railroad is public or has less than 200 Oregon miles, the credit can be up to $3,500 per mile. Total tax expenditure is capped at $4 million per biennium.
  • The Cultural Trust tax credit is raised from $500 to $1000 for joint filers, staying at $500 for others.
  • Cities and counties could opt out of all or part of the five-year property tax exemption for food processing equipment.
  • Tax expenditures are also renewed for manufactured housing, some retirement income, rural emergency medical services providers, employer-provided scholarships, construction of agricultural workforce housing (the push for adding operating costs did not make it to the -21), crop donation (also no increase), and vehicles used in emissions testing.
  • All existing tax expenditures above are renewed for six years except low income rental property (10 years), farm machinery (5 years), and historic property (2 years).
  • The CAT exemption for billion-dollar investments has not reappeared since meeting stiff headwinds in its first hearing.

Likely all changes in the -21, including those to the CAT, fit within the committee’s $70 million budget.

Tobacco

After some, including LWVOR, thought the tobacco tax bill snuffed, House Revenue sent HB 2270 do pass with the -14 and on to Tax Expenditures, where it’s scheduled for a public hearing June 17.

What’s in the -14?

  • Biggest change – the bill is referred to voters in the next general election, November 2020,
  • Cigarette taxes increase $2 (as in the base bill), and
  • Proceeds from the $2 cigarette tax increase and from a new tax on vaping delivery systems go to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), with 10% passing through to numerous programs addressing tobacco-and-nicotine-use-related health issues programs.
  • Vaping delivery systems are taxed as other, non-cigarette, tobacco products, at 65% of the wholesale price,
  • Local governments can also tax vaping,
  • Small cigars are defined as cigarettes,
  • Cigarettes may not be sold in packs of less than 20,
  • Selling cigars at wholesale for less than $3 becomes illegal,
  • The 50 cents per cigar tax cap is lifted, and
  • The tax changes start January 1, 2021 – little effect on next biennium.

One Democrat spoke out against regressive taxation. One Republican appreciated that the bill specified that the revenue going to OHA covers medical assistance, including mental health services. Both voted for the bill.

Sneak Preview: What We Know So Far about the Week of June 18

Not much, given that session hearings are now on one-hour notice.

The Joint Tax Expenditure Committee will hold a public hearing on the tobacco tax bill, HB 2270.

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


Back to top


Social Policy

By Karen Nibler, Social Policy Coordinator

The Oregon Judicial Department Budget, HB 5513, was presented to the Public Safety Subcommittee on 6-11. The total budget is $565,000,000, a 14% increase. The recommendations were to reduce the General Fund portion by $5 million but continue Other Funds of $4,641,531 and 19 positions for treatment courts. Allocations for repairs on the Supreme Court Building, the move into new the Multnomah County courthouse, and e-court technology increases are in the budget. HB 2241 is a separate bill for technology fees.

The Judicial Compensation was increased 8.4% but Legal Aid was only increased by 3%. Legal Aid has been funded at $11.9 million since 2011. The Public Defense Services Commission Budget, SB 5532 EN was heard on May 7 and has been signed by the Governor. The League supported the agency budget. HB 3145 A, a separate bill on salaries and workload in the PDSC, is pending. The Judicial Department was directed to provide oversight of indigent defense.

Member comments indicated dissatisfaction with the budget levels and methods to address the needs. The next day HB 3447 A assigned moneys to the Court Technology Fund and HB 2241 A set user fees for District Attorneys and Community Corrections for e-filings. Objections were presented by representatives of counties and cities who had not anticipated this cost in their budgets. The OJD has authority to set fees and can delay the implementation of fees in coordination with local agencies. HB 2241 A was then passed by the full Ways and Means Committee.

SB 1002 B concerned the use of plea bargaining for resolution of criminal cases in court and the A 2 amendment limited bargaining to waive services in the Department of Corrections programs. The Association of Community Corrections was in favor, but the Association of District Attorneys was opposed. The bill was amended in House Rules on 6-10 and passed to the House floor for a vote.

Earlier HB 3201 B limited District Attorney practices in negotiating plea agreements in the adult system and required DAs to publish their policies in electronic or posted forms in HB 3224 B. Both bills passed the House floor and the Senate amended and passed them. The House did concur on the amendments and passed the bills again with a higher number of votes.

The Department of Corrections Budget SB 5504 is the largest in Public Safety. $1.83 billion was the amount recommended by Legislative Fiscal Office. The operation of prisons is the highest cost in Public Safety with additional funds for hospital transportation and supervision, high medical needs and infirmary, and additional work crew supervisors. Additional administrative positions were granted for records, payroll and accounting functions. Replacement of computers and software and deferred maintenance were the largest needs. Health Services will get $1.5 million for electronic health records and 55 positions for on-staff nurses and aides in lieu of contracted services. County Community Corrections will lose some funds from fines and assessments. They will gain one position on Health Promotion. The bill passed.

Health Care bills continue to percolate throughout the session.  The Ways and Means Human Services Subcommittee passed five bills on June 10: HB 2257 B on treatment of Substance Use Disorder, HB 2600 A on inspections of DHS residential programs, HB 2678 B on OHA preferred drug lists, and HB 3397 B on prescription purchases by CCOs.

SB 872 on Prescription Drug Transparency was discussed by Senator Steiner Hayward who said “sunshine is the best disinfectant.” The bill drew objections from insurance representatives and pharmacy benefit managers. HB 4005 passed in 2018 requires reports to the Department of Consumer and Business Services from them, and they recommended this process be allowed to play out before there are any new reporting requirements. The bill is scheduled in the Capital Construction Subcommittee.

HB 3165 B proposed funding planning grants at $95,000 each for school-based health centers in 10 districts and $120,000 for full funding for 6 centers for five years. The funding will be included in the Oregon Health Authority Budget, which will be heard on Jun 12. HB 2706 proposed to provide dental care for pacific islanders. An amendment replaced the bill to instead request that DCBS study the feasibility and cost estimate and report by 4-15-20. Representative Hayden suggested the study would cost more than the coverage. The amendment passed on June 11.

The Human Services Subcommittee reviewed two major agency budgets for the Department of Human Services Budget and the Oregon Health Authority Budget on June 12 and 13. The DHS Budget, HB 5026, proposed a 6 % increase with 19.8 % of General Funds. DHS benefitted from the increased revenue funds this session. The Aged and People with Disabilities program will receive 11.4 % more than its prior budget. The Providers of Assisted Living or Foster Homes will have higher rates in this year and next year. The Area Agency on Aging will add positions to fulfill the caseload model of counseling and referrals for services. The Intellectual Developmental Disabilities program will receive a 20% increase in funding with the requirement that rates for providers will be increased to $15. an hour.

The Child Welfare Program will receive 15% more in funding than the 2017-19 biennium and additional positions for the child abuse hotline and foster care home recruitment in 16 regions of the state. Case aides will be hired to support CW caseworkers. The Department of Justice will provide legal representation in court for caseworkers to be phased in July 2019. SB 1 added funds for Behavioral Health placements for specialized needs youth, specifically enhanced foster care for 142 youth and a group home for 12. The Runaway and Homeless Youth Program was transferred from Child Welfare to Self Sufficiency as families were often receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and the youth can participate in the Jobs Training programs.

The Self Sufficiency Program received additional funds for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. The $40 million was distributed to TANF, TANF past 60 months, Jobs and Vocational Training, housing assistance and housing stability in Oregon Housing and Community Service Programs. The caseload forecast anticipates a slight decrease in TANF, SNAP and OHP eligibility over the biennium.

The Oregon Health Authority Budget, SB 5525, received a decreased overall budget. The Health Services Division Budget is $17 billion, which operates on Medicaid Federal Funds, Tobacco Tax Master Settlement and Marijuana Revenue. General Fund backfilled $9.1 million of tobacco revenue. HB 2010 (2018) with increased provider taxes starts 1-1-2020. The forecast predicts an increase in ACA enrollment and parent or caretaker relative applications.

Behavioral Health will receive $50 million investment – $31.3 million for Children and Youth Specialized Needs, $5.7 for interdisciplinary teams, $1.5 for medical technology, and $4.5 for permanent supportive housing. The Oregon State Hospital will get additional funds for suicide prevention, Hepatitis C treatment and additional nursing staff. Public Health will start a voluntary universal home visiting program for parents and new babies. The bill, SB 526, passed after much discussion and with the cost estimated to be $4.7 million. Public Health modernization will continue to be funded at $10 million plus funds from the medical marijuana program.

Paid Family Leave, Debbie Runciman

Big news for Paid Family Leave!!! HB 2005 has passed the House Rules Committee. Next stop Ways & Means!!

The committee adopted the -4 amendments, negotiated between both advocates and business. The bill was scheduled to be heard with only 24 hour notice, but LWVOR had our testimony ready, emphasizing 3 main points:

  • The lack of a paid leave program disproportionately affects women and people of color, who provide much of the caregiving services. It is a question of equity.
  • The benefit level for our lowest-wage workers must be great enough for them to actually utilize the leave. These workers are likely living paycheck to paycheck, without savings to carry them through loss of income.
  • By having a program run like unemployment insurance, individual employers are relieved of many of the administrative burdens commonly associated with a paid leave benefit. It becomes easier for both employers to manage and individual workers to access.

The -4 amendments specify a 60/40 payroll contribution split between employee/employer, up to a maximum of 1% of total payroll. In addition, recognizing adverse impacts this new legislation might impose on small business (those who employ fewer than 25 employees), small businesses will NOT have to contribute their piece to the insurance pool. Their workers will contribute their 60% portion, but still be eligible for FULL benefits.  

Leadership will be counting the votes now, and we’re hopeful this will move rapidly forward.

Housing, Nancy Donovan and Debbie Aiona

Last Week at the Legislature

On Monday, the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development held a work session on several important bills.

  • HB 2006 A is the rental market resources proposal from OHCS and Governor Brown. This bill includes $3 million for OHCS to issue by RFP, initiatives including housing navigators, tenant’s rights hotlines, training, and an expansion of Rent Well, and $3 million to the Department of Justice to support people experiencing domestic violence in accessing housing.
  • HB 2896 relates to four manufactured housing-related bills (HB 2893, HB 2894, HB 2895, and HB 2896). These were combined into HB 2896, along with $3 million in funding for a new manufactured home park in Springfield (a current park is closing). The bill now creates an OHCS working group, a $2.5 million pilot program to decommission and replace aging homes, and a $9.5 million loan fund to preserve manufactured home parks.
  • HB 2002 extends the right of first refusal for all affordable housing. Originally, this bill included $25 million to preserve existing affordable housing. Amendments removed this provision, however, any funds will be dedicated in a separate bill, the lottery bond bill.

On Tuesday, the Oregon Housing and Community Services budget, SB 5512, was heard and approved by Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development. Highlights on the items approved in the budget are described below. 

On Thursday, the Senate voted unanimously to approve SB 491. The bill transfers the Fairview Trust to the Oregon Community Foundation where it will continue to fulfill its mission of supporting housing for people experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities. The bill now heads to the House for approval.  

Next Week at the Legislature

With just over two weeks left until the constitutionally required adjournment, bills are moving very quickly. In the coming week activities are anticipated to take place on many bills, however they are outside of the priorities and endorsed bills we’ve been working on.

Oregon Housing and Community Services Budget Update

Last Tuesday, the Oregon Housing and Community Services budget, SB 5512, was heard and approved by the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development. The full report by the Legislative Fiscal Office includes details on the budget. A total of $1.7 billion is the amount recommended by Legislative Fiscal Office for this biennium which is higher than $1.6 billion approved for the agency in the last 2017-2019 biennium. Highlights from the budget approval package are below:  

  • $50 million in funding will be available for the Emergency Housing Account (EHA) and State Homeless Assistance Program (SHAP). The current service level is $40 million for 2019-21. In addition, $10 million is included as “one time only” money. Of these dollars, $5 million will be distributed through the Emergency Housing Account, and $5 million will be prioritized for shelter. These dollars will be distributed through a competitive awards process by OHCS to strengthen and increase shelter capacity in high need areas in the state. OHCS has recently conducted a Statewide Shelter Survey to help guide funding on awards to applicants.
  • $1.5 million in funding is available for counseling for homeowners facing foreclosure. These resources will help homeowners access trained counselors across Oregon prior to mediating with lenders. The funds may also be available to support homeowners at risk of foreclosure.
  • OHCS received approval to add staff positions to meet demands and operate programs efficiently and effectively.
  • The creation of a new mortgage product was approved. The bill authorizes staff to develop a new single-family loan product, which will include down payment assistance.

The bill now heads to the Full Committee on Ways and Means. 

For housing bills related to land use, please see the Natural Resources Report.

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


Back to top