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Legislative Report, Volume 29, Number 23 – June 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

(Note – dated information, this report was written Saturday, June 22 AM.)

The democratic process must overcome irresponsible acts of intimidation, leadership needs to ensure we end the summer with the remaining 100+ bills signed by the governor. These bills address many critical issues addressed by League positions including budgets for many state agencies. The Governor has called for a special session to begin July 2 if there is no movement by June 30. It’s unclear what may unfold.

HB 2020 B: Oregon Climate Action Program

On June 17, during a six hour House session witnessed by three League Action members, HB 2020 B passed the House with a 36 to 24 vote. Co-Chair of the Joint Carbon Reduction Committee Rep. Karin Powers explained, “We are here today facing the greatest crisis of our lifetime, but I stand before you today in support of this bill because all hope is not lost.” Rep. Karin Power, D-Milwaukie, is one of the bill’s central architects. “We have a short window to act.” Rep. Karin Powers answered question after question from members. Many representatives gave supportive floor speeches. The process was clearly an example of civil discourse that Oregon can be proud of. Rep. Courtney Neron posted a LWVOR HB 2020 B Floor Letter, which highlighted the Climate Emergency Resolution unanimously approved at our recent LWVOR Convention. Senator Sara Gelser has graciously agreed to post that same Floor Letter for the Senate chamber vote.

As of today the Senate has HB 2020 B scheduled for a Sunday June 23 session. However, it’s very unlikely the missing in action Senators will return this weekend to the Capitol to ensure a minimum of 20 Senators to establish a quorum.

Other Active Climate Emergency Portfolio Bills

Oil Rail Safety: HB 2209 A passed the House last week 56/3 and is on its way to the Senate floor. This bill does not really address prevention, just primarily response. “Requires railroads that own or operate ‘high hazard train routes’ to have oil spill contingency plans that have been approved by Department of Environmental Quality.”.

Renewable Energy Credits/Covanta: SB 451 was approved by the Senate 19 to 11. The League joined 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. It is rumored that this bill will find major difficulty in the House.

Jordan Cove Energy Project: Please attend the hearings listed below. See previous Leg Report for details.

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:

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.”

What’s Next for the Youth Climate Law Suit? “…There are people getting congressional and other elected leaders to recognize that there’s a fundamental right to a stable climate system….”

At the last week of school “Corvallis students strike for Climate Action”.

LWVOR “Climate Emergency” Resolution

The United Nations calls for action and clearly named the very real Climate Emergency.

Now globally over 629 municipalities (representing 119M people in 15 countries) 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. Perhaps related, Corvallis City Council recently decided to fund $100K to advance Climate Action Goals.

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 is meeting this weekend 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.

Economics and Climate

Action Committee members Maud Naroll and Claudia Keith attended in 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 1.5ºC 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.

Insurance Journal: “Oregon is on the precipice of becoming the second state after California to adopt a cap-and-trade program, a market-based approach to lowering the greenhouse gas emissions behind global warming.” Stringent Climate Policy Poised to Pass in Oregon. “These programs can cut emissions all while providing a more stable business environment that will attract new investors,” Burtraw said. For Sen. Michael Dembrow, the other main lawmaker behind Oregon’s bill, the program is less about solving the global climate crisis and more about raising the money needed to prepare for a heating planet’s worst effects. “This is a worldwide problem, and if we hit businesses too hard with regulations, they’ll simply move out of Oregon and pollute at the same rates somewhere else,” the Portland Democrat said. “That solves nothing.”

Even (6/21/19) Australian APRA (Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) is very clear. “More importantly, the availability of more timely, reliable and granular data will help all businesses, investors and regulators to better understand the transition-physical risk trade-off, and the reality that there is no avoiding the costs of adjusting to a low-carbon future. Taking strong, effective action now to promote an early, orderly economic transition is essential to minimizing those costs and optimizing the benefits. Those unwilling to buy into the need to do so will find they pay a far greater price in the long-run.“

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.


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Education Policy

By Chris Vogel, Education Policy Coordinator with Stephanie Feeney

These policy bills have passed the House, but will die this session if the Senate does not establish a quorum and vote before sine die. If a special session is called, any introduced policy bills must again go through committees before floor votes.

  • HB 2024 regarding early childhood care.
  • HB 2025 for early learning.
  • SB 155 dealing with sexual misconduct by school employees toward students.
  • HB 2910 extending the eligibility for the Oregon Promise Program to individuals under the supervision of the Department of Corrections and the Oregon Youth Authority.

Agency funding bills will be extended based on current funding if the Senate does not establish a quorum by session end.

  • HB 5024 the budget bill for the Higher Education Coordinating Commission.
  • HB 5015 detailing the elements of grant-in-aid that flow through the Oregon Department of Education to regional education service districts and local school districts.

These bills were voted out of Ways and Means 6/20 headed to the House then Senate:

  • HB 2018 -A4 moves the statewide longitudinal data system to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission as the Chief Education Office sunsets.
  • HB 2346 -A8 establishes Task Force on Access to Quality Affordable Child Care.

If you “click” through to this section of the LR, you have an ongoing interest in education policy and funding. We need your expertise and time (often from your own home computer screen) to follow early learning, K-12, higher education and community colleges; and policy issues for children and youth with high-risk factors and those historically underserved. Please email ChrisVogelVolunteerLWVOR@gmail.com to inquire how you may help. Thanks. While this session will end soon, there is work to be done year-round with interim sessions, committees and coalition partners.

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.


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Governance

By Rebecca Gladstone, Governance Coordinator

Thanks to our volunteers!

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

We are held in limbo at the tail-end of the 2019 session, with many critical bills in danger of being lost, for lack of a quorum to hear them in the Senate. The causative issue is the Cap & Trade bill, HB 2020 B, covered in our Climate Change report section. We may convene into a special session, not declared yet. Our thanks to all of you for reading and keeping in touch! 

Elections

HB 2234 At this point, our online candidate filing bill (our testimony) is dead for this session, along with others. We assert that the fiscal for instituting this software update bears a close look, is worthwhile, not as large as the Elections Division anticipates.

HB 2210, our incumbent website bill, shows promise for post-session follow up via the sponsoring committee, House Veterans and Emergency Preparedness, which intends to pull a work group together. There is interest among Archives staff to link it via the Blue Book.

HB 2685, our candidate filing information bill, never got traction despite Legislative Counsel agreeing that the statute is inadequate even though everyone agrees with the intent, that candidates not use their incumbent information for campaigning. It seems to have stumbled for confusion over privacy for residential information required to certify in-district filing. We will continue to pursue this.

HB 3348, an initiative reform bill whose concept, the “Budget Gap Pie”, information sheet and testimony, we’ve been working on since the 2107 session, awaits reading in the Senate.

SB 760 awaits the Governor’s signature. We have supported this bill via the companion bill, HB 3049. Both addressed concern with voting materials that can be confusing, by listing overseeing elections officials while simultaneously including information for them as currently filed candidates within the materials. Our HB 3049 testimony includes references on the second page.

SB 944 Enrolled, the risk-limiting audits bill, awaits the Governor’s signature.

The League has issued an Action Alert on SB 761 A on e-petitions. The bill is still pending in House Rules as of this writing, so you still have time to contact the House Rules Committee and your legislators! The League opposes this bill because it would probably require voters to individually print the full petition including the full text of the measure, which could be dozens of pages long. See the Herald and News editorial here.

National Popular Vote, Marge Easley

As we celebrate the passage of NPV in Oregon, Maine supporters were dealt a recent setback. After the defeat of the NPV bill in the Maine House, a rare tie vote on June 12 revived the bill. However, the bill was then defeated in a subsequent House vote on June 17 and 19. The total electoral vote count remains at 196, with 270 needed for NPV to go into effect.

Campaign Finance, Norman Turrill

With the Republicans abandoning the Senate, all campaign finance bills appear dead or at least stalled for the session:

  • SJR 18 B, the constitutional amendment to enable these other reforms,
  • HB 2714 A, for campaign contribution limits,
  • HB 2716 A, for campaign advertisement donor identification, and
  • HB 2983 B, to disclose “dark money” organizations intending to influence Oregon elections.

Senate Rules held work sessions Monday, June 17, for HB 2716 A, HB 2983 A, and SJR 18 A, adopted some further amendments, and passed them to the Senate floor with mostly party-line votes. These bills now await a third hearing on the Senate floor. If passed by the Senate, then HB 2716 A will go to the Governor, and SJR 18 B and HB 2982 B will go to the House for concurrence.

Transparency & Public Records, Josie Koehne

HB 2431 We have supported this public records reporting bill, now more attractive with reportedly reduced or eliminated fiscal impact. It is stuck in the logjam with other legislation stalled for lack of a Senate quorum.

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


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Natural Resources

By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator

The work’s been done. Testimony written, posted on the Oregon Legislative website and orally given in front of committees. Meetings were held with legislators and with proponents and opponents of issues. The 2019 legislative session is almost over—if the Senate Republicans return to provide a quorum. Here are last week’s final items and the expectation from next week’s closing bills.

Budgets

Here are the last bills of session (Note: The contents of these bills are not available as of the writing of this report on June 21. Look on OLIS for details by Monday morning.)

HB 5005, Bond Authorization (establishes amounts authorized for issuance of general obligation bonds, revenue bonds, certificates of participation and other financing agreements for biennium), HB 5030, Lottery Bond Authorization (list of projects authorized to be funded by lottery bonds) and HB 5006, Capital Construction (limits for six-year period beginning July 1, 2019, payment of expenses from fees, moneys or other revenues, including Miscellaneous Receipts, but excluding lottery funds and federal funds, collected or received by various state agencies for capital construction).

Public hearings and work sessions will be held on HB 5029, Lottery and Criminal Fine Account Allocation, HB 5038, Tobacco Settlement Funds Account, HB 5050, Emergency Board Allocations (establishes appropriations for the Emergency Board, finalizes the General Fund components of the statewide budget, implements budgetary changes tied to other legislation, and makes technical adjustments to agency budgets previously approved—this bill is often called the “Christmas Tree Bill”), and HB 2377 A, Program Changes (implements statutory changes necessary to support the 2019-21 legislatively adopted budget and to clarify the application of statutes) at 10 a.m. Monday, June 24, in the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Capital Construction. It is assumed that a Full Ways and Means Committee meeting will be held soon after. Then the bills will need to pass both chambers. The Governor must sign (but has the ability to line item veto individual issues).

Updates from last week: 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, was amended by the A 10 amendment to address the decision by the Oregon Court of Appeals on how the Dept. of State Lands determines whether or not to approve certain removal/fill permits. The League worked to narrow the issue, but we still have concerns about the long term effect of this last minute 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, and SB 5545, a bill stuffed with the Dept. of Energy (ODOE) budget, all moved out of Full Ways and Means to the chamber floors.

Other bills we had been following and which have been a part of this report weekly are assumed to be dead for this session.

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

Air Quality, Susan Mates

HB 2007 was amended by the A 12 amendment and sent to the chambers for a vote. An explanation of the final bill is here

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has rolled back President Obama’s Clean Coal Plan as expected. So this session Governor Brown introduced and the legislature passed HB 2250, a bill that requires the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Oregon Health Authority to regularly assess final changes to federal environment laws to determine whether changes are significantly less protective of public health, environment or natural resources than standards and requirements contained in those federal environmental laws, as in effect on January 19, 2017. DEQ is already reviewing the effect of EPA’s latest actions.

Coastal Issues, Peggy Joyce

The Oregon Legislative Coastal Caucus (CC) 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. 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. 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

Drinking Water Advisory Committee

SB 27 has been signed by Governor Brown and is now Chapter 138, (2019 Laws) with an effective date of January 1, 2020! SB 27 authorizes the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to adopt by rule fees assessed on water suppliers to partially defray costs related to the performance of certain duties under the Oregon Drinking Water Quality Act. The LWVOR supported this bill because it provides necessary funding to the drinking water program, which is currently underfunded, and addresses the disproportionate burden placed on small water systems compared to medium and large water systems. Adequate funding will help maintain the integrity of our drinking water system by supporting OHA in their efforts to improve compliance, particularly by smaller water suppliers, by contributing to OHA’s timely review of the latest science, and by supporting OHA work on emerging chemicals of concern in drinking water.

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

The League is working with partners, legislators, agency heads and the Governor’s office to move forward on a state water vision based on the work we all did on the Integrated Water Resources Strategy. We look forward to work in the interim and officially starting this work in the 2020 session with a goal of a substantial bill in 2021.

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.


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Revenue and Tax Reform

By Maud Naroll, Revenue and Tax Reform Coordinator

Tax expenditures and Corporate Activity Tax tweaking went to the House floor.

Tobacco tax rolled through the House. House sharing went to the governor.

Student Success

Ways and Means gave SB 116 a do pass with amendments, still creating a January 21, 2020 special election date if all or part of the Student Success act is put on the ballot, and sending it to the Senate Desk, waiting for a second reading…whenever the Senate has a quorum.

The Tax Expenditure Committee amended changes to the Student Success funding mechanism, the Corporate Activity Tax (CAT) into HB 2164. Most were wording tweaks and clarifications. More substantive changes:

  • General contractors may exclude from tax 15% of the labor costs charged by subcontractors on single-family residential construction projects.
  • Vehicle dealers – and only vehicle dealers – can charge customers an estimate of the amount of CAT that dealers will owe due to customers’ purchases. All other customers will not see a CAT charge separately on their invoice or sales slip, just as they would not see a business’s corporate income tax.
  • Businesses with commercial activity over $750,000 need to file, even though paying tax still starts at $1 million. The filing threshold had fluctuated between three-quarters and a million while the original Student Success bill, HB 3427, was being worked.

Tax Expenditures

The Tax Expenditure Committee also amended its omnibus tax expenditure changes and sunset renewals into HB 2164. Without this bill, a number of tax expenditures, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), would expire during next biennium.

The main difference from the -21 that was detailed in last week’s Legislative Report?

Donations to be distributed to individual development accounts (IDAs) are good for a tax credit of up to 90% of the donated amount, up from 70%, at least until January 1, 2022. The total amount of credits is still capped at $7.5 million, so there is no impact on the General Fund. IDAs match low income individuals’ savings for purposes including education, first-time home-buying, and starting a small business. Supporters asked for the credit rate increase, saying the 2017 federal tax cut and resulting IRS rules threatened viability of the whole program if the credit stayed at 70%.

Senate Finance and Revenue passed HB 2128 A, requiring the Legislative Revenue Office to study the statutory definition of tax expenditures and automatic sunset provisions. There has been discussion during the session about whether the Tax Expenditure Report should continue to include items required to be excluded by federal law, and there have been some peeks at expanding sunsets to more property tax expenditures.

Tobacco

The House amended the tobacco tax bill, HB 2270, and sent it to the Senate. How is HB 2270 B different from the -14 described in last week’s LR?

Local governments are pre-empted from taxing vaping inhalant delivery systems. This is sad news for local governments. Locals get part of the current cigarette tax rate, $1.33 per pack. They’ll still get their share of the $1.33, but none of the additional $2 HB 2270 B imposes, as the $2 all goes to or through the Oregon Health Authority, OHA.

The additional $2 per pack tax will cut cigarette sales – health is one of the arguments for the tax hike – cutting the revenue collected under the $1.33, and thus cut funding to local governments.

In addition, cigars will be taxed at 65% of the wholesale price, but the tax will be capped at a dollar a cigar, and there’s no floor on wholesale cigar prices.

The final decision still goes to voters on the November 2020 ballot.

Separately, Senate Finance and Revenue heard HB 3436 A. The bill requires those taking orders for vaping inhalant delivery systems to verify that Oregon customers are at least 21 years old. The committee took no action.

House Share

The House passed the house-share bill, SB 1045 A, sending it to the Governor. LWVOR likes the idea of encouraging house-sharing as another tool to increase the supply of affordable housing, but does not support eating away at local governments’ property tax base with yet another exemption, in this case for homeowners who rent out room(s), if their city or county allows the exemption. Fortunately, sideboards were amended into the bill – at most 500 properties may use the exemption statewide, renters must be at or below 60 percent of area median income, and at most $300,000 of the home value may be exempt.

Other Property Taxes

The House unanimously amended and passed HB 2130 A. The bill renews property tax exemptions for cargo containers, and creates sunsets for land on which a nonprofit intends to build low-income housing and for the partial property tax exemption for surviving spouses of some public safety officers killed in the line of duty.

911

HB 2449 B will raise the per-phone-line tax for 911 call centers from 75 cents to $1.25 over two years. House Revenue had heard much testimony on the need for more funding for the call centers; local public safety departments have been cutting officer positions to fund 911. Presenting the bill to Senate Finance and Revenue, the sponsor said, as a fairly conservative Republican, he’d been apprehensive when a paper in his district headlined his name and the bill’s tax increase, but instead had received only supportive comments. “See what happens when you raise taxes?” quipped the Democratic chair. The committee sent HB 2449 B to the Senate floor with a do pass.

Sneak Preview: What We Know So Far about the Week of June 24

LWVOR hopes that, by the time this reaches readers, Senate Republicans will be back at work in the Capitol, and that major bills, including HB 2124, tax expenditures and CAT changes; and HB 2270, tobacco and vaping, will land on the governor’s desk before the required sine die June 30.

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

Health Care for the Future

SB 770 B sponsored by 13 senators passed the Capital Construction Committee last Monday. This bill appoints a Task Force on Universal Health Care with a report due on May 20, 2020 for the next biennium. The Task Force will consider the Oregon Health Authority’s role in a Medicaid Buy In or public option plan. The Task Force will explore costs, eligibility, legislative changes and federal approvals needed. Funding sources for expanded services will be critical.

Oregon Health Policy and Analytics and Department of Consumer and Business Services staff will be assigned to assist the Task Force. $1.7 million of General Fund was appropriated for this purpose. The one-time revenue increase undoubtedly made this possible. Health Care for All Advocates lobbied intensively and many of our members were involved.

This bill was sent to the Senate floor with a do pass recommendation. If the Senate meets this week, It could consider his bill.

Paid Family Leave, Debbie Runciman

Family and Medical Leave Insurance, HB 2005 , has passed the House! It received bipartisan support, with 43 Aye votes. This is great news for its future success in the Senate.

The compromise bill was negotiated by both advocates and business. LWVOR testimony emphasized 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 compromise bill specifies 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 remain eligible for FULL benefits.

Floor speeches in support of the measure were given by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, highlighting the collaboration (successful!) among all the interested parties.

Now it’s on to the Senate.

Housing, Nancy Donovan and Debbie Aiona

Last Week at the Legislature

On Monday, the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Capital Construction held a work session on SB 5512, the Oregon Housing and Community Services budget to correct one final math error in the amendments. Details can be found later in this report as to what is included in OHCS’s budget.

Then on Tuesday, the Joint Committee on Ways and Means held a work session and approved SB 5512, the OHCS budget, and HB 2896 to fund manufactured home replacements and park preservation. These bills head to their respective chambers for votes on the floor.

Also on Tuesday, the Joint Tax Expenditure Committee held a work session on HB 2164. The bill was amended with -23 and -25 amendments. Included in the tax expenditure bill, among other items, are sunset extensions on the following housing-related bills:

  • Agriculture Workforce Housing Tax Credit;
  • capital gains exemption for manufactured home park sales to nonprofits, resident cooperatives or housing authorities;
  • tax credit for residents in case of park closure; and
  • local option affordable housing property tax exemption.

On Wednesday, the House 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 Governor’s office for signature.

On Thursday, the House voted to approve the bills below.

  • HB 2006 A is the rental market resources bill from OHCS and Governor Brown. This bill would provide funding to support tenants with education, hotline services, renter education classes, and support to survivors of domestic violence in accessing housing. The bill was approved 56-0 with 4 excused. The bill now heads to the Senate for approval.
  • HB 2002 will help preserve existing affordable housing by extending the right of first refusal to all existing affordable housing. The bill was approved 46-11 and goes to the Senate for approval.

Next Week at the Legislature

Next week is the final week of the Legislative session with adjournment sine die by Sunday, June 30, 2019. At the present time, with the lack of a quorum in the Senate, there is a question as to how and when the legislature will complete its responsibilities. With many large items still pending, such as budgets, bonding bills and tax credits, it should be a busy week in Salem.

On Monday, the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Capital Construction is scheduled to convene at 10:00 a.m. to hold work sessions on the general obligation and lottery bonding bills, as well as the end of session budget rebalance bill. We will watch what will be included in the bonding packages for housing, especially the preservation bill, HB 2002. Originally, this bill included $25 million to preserve existing affordable housing. Amendments removed this provision, and any funds approved will be dedicated in a separate bill, the lottery bond bill.

Oregon Housing and Community Services Budget Update

The Oregon Housing and Community Services budget, SB 5512, has been heard and approved by the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee. The report Full Legislative Fiscal Office Report on the Budget by the Legislative Fiscal Office includes details on the budget approval package. Below are the highlights.

  • $50 million in funding will be available for the Emergency Housing Account (EHA) and State Homeless Assistance Program (SHAP). The “current service level” (the amount of ongoing funding for 2019-21 is $40 million). In addition, $10 million was approved 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 shelters. These dollars will be distributed through a competitive awards process to strengthen and increase shelter capacity in the state’s high need areas. OHCS recently conducted a Statewide Shelter Survey to help guide funding decisions and awards to applicants.
  • $1.5 million in funding will be 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 in the budget to add staff positions to meet demands and operate programs efficiently and effectively.

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


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