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Legislative Report, Volume 29, Number 25 – Sine Die – September 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

The #1 priority Carbon Cap and Invest climate policy, HB2020E Clean Energy Jobs bill, passed the House but failed to pass the Senate during the session after the second Senate Republican walkout. Then a few days after the session ended the Governor is quoted; “I am willing to do whatever it takes to get this done,”  Governor Kate Brown, July 2, 2019.

Think Out Loud on OPB 

Governor Brown’s July 1 Press Conference: Gov. Brown invokes executive order if compromise on climate bill can’t be reached. Renew Oregon “Clean Energy Jobs” Coalition posted on social media: “We’re not done yet. @OregonGovBrown is ready to lead our state forward in the coming weeks in her signature way: collaboration but also strength. Inaction is not an option, she said. Cap-and-invest is the way to go.” #ORpol

Cap and Invest

The Legislative session ended late Sunday night June 30 and the Governor‘s July 2 press conference and OPB Think Out Load interview set expectations for Climate/Carbon policy follow-up in 2019. However, at this point it’s very unlikely that any efforts will roll-out in 2019–via an Executive Order or by any other means including what was hoped for via a special session. The Clean Energy Jobs Renew Oregon coalition, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Climate Solutions and Oregon Environmental Council all provided press releases highlighting this major disconnect between the Governor’s good intentions vs. her actions this summer. It is likely a Carbon Cap and Invest bill will return in the 2020 short session and pass with changes addressing concerns that Senator L. M. Anderson referenced HERE. Additionally, some media and legislators referenced lack of understanding of the benefits of the bill HERE as one of a number of reasons the bill failed. Find the League’s HB2020 supportive testimony HERE.

Earlier this summer, Legislative Leadership announced 2020 committee structure which added House committee Water and Senate Committee Wild-Fire Prevention and Recovery and eliminated the Joint Committee On Carbon Reduction. Find House Rep. Marsh and Power’s recent “Opinion: Cutting through misinformation, rhetoric on Oregon climate legislation” HERE.

Fracking Moratorium

HB 2623E imposes a five-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for oil and gas development statewide. Fracking is defined in the bill as “the drilling technique of expanding existing fractures or creating new fractures in rock by injecting water, with or without chemicals, sand or other substances, into or underneath the surface of the rock for the purpose of stimulating oil or gas production.” The bill does not prohibit employing such techniques to develop natural gas storage wells or geothermal wells or activities related to exploration for geothermal energy. Fracking on coal bed methane extraction wells in existence as of the effective date of the bill (June 17, 2019) are also excluded. Introduced for the third session to implement a 10-year moratorium, the bill passed the House with bipartisan support as written but was amended to five years to effect passage out of the Senate Environment and Natural Resource Committee. HB 2623 bans fracking until January 2, 2025.

HB 2209E Oil Rail Safety

Oil Rail Safety Bill passed focused on response planning to spills and minimal liability requirements, not on prevention, and only covered oil via rail on specific high hazardous routes. Given these major issues the League stayed neutral all session.

SB 451A Renewable Energy Credits/Covanta

As expected, this bill died without a vote in the House. Find recent news HERE. SB451 coalition work opposing Covanta Renewable Energy Credits: SB 451. The League submitted testimony, with eight other organizations, in opposition to SB 451 and addressed this issue in HB 2020. The League adamantly opposed the passage of SB 451. Recent Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility news HERE.

Other Bills

HB 2250E: Oregon Environmental Protection Act, Passed — Support. Senate Joint Memorial SJM7: Green New Deal Resolution – Support, died in committee — Support. SB 928: Climate Authority state agency –  Support.  This bill was part of Governor Brown’s signature Carbon Policy package published in Nov 2018 and interrelated to HB2020, died in committee — Support.

 SB 508: Changes definition of Renewable Portfolio Standard, died in committee — Oppose.

Jordan Cove Energy Project (JCEP)

Excerpted from recent LWVOR newsletter article. ‘Four Local Leagues of Women Voters from Coos Bay to Malin and LWVOR Call for State and Federal Agencies to Deny Permits to Jordan Cove Energy Project’, Shirley Weathers, LWVRV Climate Change Coordinator and Christine Moffitt, LWVCC Board.

“…the proposed Jordan Cove Energy Project (JCEP)…. consisting of a 530-acre liquefied natural gas storage and export facility known as the Jordan Cove LNG project on Coos Bay and a 230-mile 36” Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline…. Proponents see jobs (mostly temporary) and tax revenues as benefits…. Pembina spares no expense on high-dollar promotional efforts. Opponents, including the four local Leagues—Coos and Klamath Counties and Rogue and Umpqua Valley—and the LWVOR, see unacceptable negative impacts on the natural environment from air to water to aquatic and wildlife, as well as serious safety risks…. This joint action by the four local Leagues, taken in solidarity with other community members and organizations and Tribes, is a step in the long journey to stop this harmful project.…”

JCEP Related League Letters/Testimony

July 2019: Letter to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission: a technical comment on Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) — OPPOSE

February 2019: Letter to Oregon Department of State Lands: Public Comment on Jordan Cove Energy Project Removal-Fill Permit–DSL Application Number 60697 NWP-201741 – Oppose

August 2019: Letter to Governor Brown and Attorney General Rosenbaum: Allegations of law enforcement entities engaged in surveillance of citizens and groups opposing the Jordan Cove Energy Project

This is a comprehensive list of all Oregon agencies involved in this JCEP project.

Our Children’s Trust,  #YouthVGov, Climate Emergency and Global Climate Strike

Excerpted From recent LWVUS Climate Blog written by LWVOR action members:

“… In 2016, LWVUS and LWVOR, in joint standing, submitted to the U.S. District Court an amicus brief in the Juliana case, making LWVUS the first national organization to do so. The amicus brief uniquely recognized that judicial involvement is necessary to safeguard the fundamental rights of underrepresented individuals when the other branches have failed them. In late 2016, in her Juliana v. United States ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Aiken introduced ‘The Right to a Stable Climate’ as a Constitutional Question.

In the coming months, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will decide whether the 21 plaintiffs will go to trial. While the plaintiffs wait for a decision from the court, Our Children’s Trust is rolling out the #Congress4Juliana Campaign. The campaign asks supporters to call on their Congressional representatives to publicly endorse the Juliana claims against the government and the constitutional right to a stable climate system. Additionally, five state Leagues have amicus briefs standing in youthvgov state lawsuits, for which more info can be found at LWVUS Toolkit For Climate Action. (In July 2019 LWVOR joined 175 individuals and groups in a State of Oregon Lawsuit amicus brief filing. The oral argument in Chernaik v. Brown is scheduled for November 13, 2019 in Portland, Oregon at David Douglas High School. More details related to the state lawsuit HERE)

Recognizing the need for urgent climate action, in the last three months, seven state Leagues adopted Climate Emergency Resolutions or decisions: Oregon, California, Massachusetts, Florida, Colorado, Alaska, and Illinois. These decisions have the goal of advocating for government (local and state) policies to stabilize the climate by returning atmospheric CO2 levels to below 350 ppm by 2100. Late in 2018, the UN IPCC 1.5C recommendation reflected reducing global net human-caused greenhouse gas emissions by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and net-zero by 2050.

Currently, LWVOR, LWVMA ( and now LWVC) have voted to support the September 20 – 27 Global Climate Strike: ”This September, millions of us will walk out of our workplaces and homes to join young climate strikers on the streets and demand an end to the age of fossil fuels. Our house is on fire—let’s act like it. We demand climate justice for everyone.” Our Children’s Trust is currently one of many Global Climate Strike North American partners.

**Check out and involve your League in your community’s Climate Strike activities HERE**.

Oregon Economic Analysis (OEA) staff’s recent quarterly revenue forecast mentioned climate risks on page 18 of their 65-page report. The League is concerned that this issue needs broader consideration related to future costs to the state, the effect on future revenue, insurance regulations, and related population forecast assumptions. Related find OEA report “what replaces timber” HERE.

Oregon State Agency’s Update Climate Planning

Dept of Land Conservation and Development

Land Use and Transportation Planning for Climate Change

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

Read more below for session highlights! As we “wrap-up” the 2019 session, we are already working in coalitions to consider and promote legislative concepts for 2020’s short session and the next long session in 2021. Our work in LWVOR Action is only as strong and as in-depth as our volunteers allow. We are seeking new LWV legislative action team members for early learning, PK-12, career and technical education, at-risk youth, community college, and higher education.

If you are able to contribute a few hours (from your home computer) and have an interest in strengthening Oregon’s education system, please contact ChrisVogelVolunteerLWVOR@gmail.com We need you! Gratitude to Stephanie Feeney for following early learning this session. Please join us. 

PK-12 2019 Legislative Highlights

Student Success Act

Clearly, the singular most important aspect of the 2019 session for Education, was the passage and funding of the Student Success Act. This omnibus bill (that absorbed many other bills) brings the most substantial changes to PK-12 and career technical education (CTE) in thirty years, since the 1990 demise of property taxes and the shift of primary funding from local property taxes to the state general fund. With an additional dedicated source of funding, work is being done in the interim to establish the rules by which the Oregon Department of Education will allocate and evaluate Student Success Funds. When fully implemented, the measure is expected to increase investments in K-12 education by $2B per biennium.

As in past legislative budgets, the State School Fund will continue to be distributed by a formula—taking more than half of the General Fund. Education is the singular greatest outlay in the Legislatively Approved Budget (LAB). The LAB for the 2019 session includes this major funding for PK-12: House Bill 5016 – $9.0 Billion State School Fund, Measure 98 – $303 million, Student Success Act (House Bill 3427) will generate $475 million through the startup of the Student Investment Account in 20-21, and K-12 Facilities Bonding (House Bill 5005) provides $125 million for bond matching grants and $100 million for seismic rehabilitation grants.

In total, all bills increased the ODE’s budget by $1.96 billion above the previous 2017-19 Legislatively Approved Budget (HB 5015). This represents an increase of 17.7 percent to the ODE budget and includes a net growth of 109 agency staff positions (102.87 FTE). Nearly 58 percent of ODE’s $1.96 billion budget increase comes from new resources generated through the passage of the Student Success Act. An additional 35 percent is from increased revenue or new General Fund resources added to both the ODE and State School Fund budget bills. The remaining 7 percent represents new General Fund and Capital Bonds appropriated for programs, grants, initiatives, and/or agency operations.

The Student Success Account under Local and State Level Transparency and Accountability is expected to distribute $900 million under HB 3427 when funds begin flowing during the 2020-21 School Year and HB 5047 allocated into three areas:

Equity-Focused Student Investment Account 2020-21 School Year Appropriation $472.7M granted directly to individual school districts for:

  1. expanded learning time
  2. student health and safety
  3. class size reductions
  4. well-rounded learning experiences (music, art).

Statewide Initiatives, 2020-21 School Year Key Appropriations:

  1. Full funding for Measure 98 ($133 million)
  2. Expanded nutrition access ($41.6 million)
  3. Equity initiatives ($8 million)
  4. Education Service Districts ($24 million)
  5. High Cost Disability Fund additions through the SSF ($20 million).

Early Learning Programs, 2020-21 School Year Key Appropriations:

  1. Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education (EI/ECSE) ($37.5 million)
  2. Early Childhood Equity Fund ($10 million)
  3. Oregon Pre-K Program ($44.4 million)
  4. Early Head Start ($22.3 million)
  5. Preschool Promise ($30.8 million).

Some bills introduced earlier in the session, were ultimately incorporated into the Student Success bill. LWVOR testimony on education bills supported these earlier versions and the final Student Success Act. :

  • SB 12: early interventions and early warnings systems.
  • SB 14: statewide plan for early childhood through post-secondary education students who are American Indian or Alaska Natives and who have experienced disproportionate educational results. (Student Success Act, Section 38).
  • SB 217: School Improvement Fund otherwise known as the Student Success Account (Student Success Act, Section 7).
  • SB 584: Statewide School Safety & Prevention System. (Student Success Act, Section 36 and 37).
  • HB 2440: statewide education plan for students in early childhood through post-secondary education who are Latino or Hispanic and have experienced disproportionate educational results (Student Success Act, Section 39).
  • HB 2765: Breakfast After the Bell (Section 26).
  • HB 2760: Universal School Meal Account (Section 30).
  • HB 2939: Statewide Youth Reengagement System (Section33).
  • HB 2897: Early Childhood Equity Fund (Section 53).

Other key legislation impacting local PK-12

  • Suicide prevention bills (SB 52 and SB 707)
  • Holocaust instruction (SB 664)
  • Student restraint restrictions (SB 963)
  • Licensed teacher appointed to state school board (HB 2512

Higher Education and Community College 2019 Highlights

Community Colleges and Higher Education Universities fought hard for late-in-the -session funding increases reflected in HB 5025 and HB 5024.

  • State support to the community colleges funds educational and operational expenses for the 17 colleges: The LAB increases funding for Oregon’s community colleges to a total of $644.8M, an increase of $70.9M or 12.3 percent from LAB. The Community College Support Fund (CCSF), which constitutes the majority of this is funded at $640.9M. It will mean that tuition increases at almost all community colleges are expected to grow by less than 5 percent. The Public University Support Fund supporting educational and operational funds at Oregon’s seven public universities increased by $100M or 13.6 percent for a total of $836.9M. While this will mitigate the need for higher double-digit tuition increases that had been planned at some Oregon public universities, three institutions (Oregon Institute of Technology, Southern Oregon University, and University of Oregon) will have tuition increases above five percent at this level of funding. Institutions that did not present requests for tuition increases above five percent this year have not ruled out the possibility of presenting requests in 2020.
  • Oregon Opportunity Grant: Oregon’s longstanding need-based financial aid program serving the lowest-income Oregonians with grants toward postsecondary expenses, increases to $164.2M, an increase of 3.7 percent from 17-19 LAB, allowing the grant to serve approximately 2,500 more applicants. The grant currently serves 30,000-40,000 students per year. The OOG supports low-income students and families, including both recent high school graduates and adults, who attend eligible public and private Oregon colleges and universities. The entire increase is attributable to proceeds from the 2018 College Opportunity Grant Tax Credit Auction. Recent changes to the federal treatment of credits offered by states lead to uncertainty about future revenue from a tax credit auction.
  • Oregon Promise: Oregon’s grant program to support most or all tuition at Oregon community colleges for recent high school graduates and GED recipients, is funded at $40.2M, a small increase of $200K from 17-19 LAB. At this funding level, HECC will not have to limit the number of new students eligible for the program based on “expected family contribution” (a measure of a student/family’s ability to pay for college) for the first year of the 2019-21 biennium. The grant is designed to support students for approximately two years and served 9,530 students in 2017-18.
  • Oregon National Guard Tuition Assistance: The Oregon National Guard State Tuition Assistance (ONGSTA) Program is funded at $3.7M for the biennium. Previously, it was funded at $2.5M for the 2018-19
  • OHSU: Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) support increases by $2M or 2.4 percent above 17-19 LAB for a total of $79.1M for 2019-21. New funding is dedicated to the OHSU Center for Evidence-based Policy for the Children’s Integrated Health Database.
  • State Longitudinal Data System: Effective July 1, 2019, Oregon’s State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) for education was transferred to the HECC’s Office of Research and Data. Previously housed in the Chief Education Office, SLDS is a project that involves collecting and storing current and historical individual-level data from the Oregon Department of Education, HECC, and the Oregon Employment Department. By connecting these records at the individual level, with personal identifiers removed, the system is capable of describing the various educational and work pathways that Oregonians take. The system is a tool for measuring our progress toward state goals, as well as identifying barriers and opportunities within the education system for the purpose of informing policies and investments. Although SLDS is an inter-agency project, guided by a collaborative framework, it requires an agency home for its funding, accountability, operational support and administration. The SLDS transition to HECC is the result of the legislative sunset of the Chief Education Office on June 30, 2019.

Other Resources for Education

There were more than 65 education-related bills passed this session. To gain additional perspectives, please read the 2019 legislative wrap-ups from these key players influencing education policy and funding: United for Kids, 2019 Children’s Agenda, Stand for Children, Oregon’s Early Childhood Coalition, Chalk Board, Oregon Education Association, Oregon School Boards and COSA. And read more about implementation of these bills from state agencies including the Higher Education (HECC) Legislative Summary, Oregon Department of Education Student Success Act Implementation, ODE Summary of 2019 enacted legislation on Education, the Sunsetting of the Chief Education Office, and 2019 Oregon State Board of Education Minutes2019-21 Legislatively Adopted Budget Summary

To see what media sources had to say at session end read these: Holocaust education, Oregon schools still rank 44th, one of the lowest in the nation, Oregon Students Fight For Excused Mental Health Days, Student Success Funding and Student Safety are big wins in the 2019 session, Manufacturers abandon effort to repeal new $1 billion Oregon business tax, Funds doubled for vision screening of Oregon kids.

2020 Preview

Legislative Committee Days 2019-2020 Interim will be September 16 – 19; November 18 – 21, January 13 – 16. About a week before each interim session, the calendar will propagate with committee informational hearings. This is the precursor to 2020 legislation, a sneak peek through invited testimony and agency reports regarding legislative concepts that may become bills.

Proposed deadlines to request draft measures and file measures for the 2020 session are as follows:

    • Friday, November 22nd, 2019– measure requests are due to Legislative Counsel
    • Monday, January 13th, 2020 – measure drafts will be returned by Legislative Counsel
    • Friday, January 17th, 2020 – measures must be filed at the Chief Clerk’s Office or the Secretary of the Senate’s Office by 5 p.m.
    • Monday, February 3rd, 2020 – first day of the legislative session

Mental health will be a focus of the 2020 session. Senator Roblan has been appointed to chair a new committee in 2020 on mental health, no doubt building on the Student Success Act funding as well as broader community mental health. A task force to expand Access to Quality Affordable Child Care and to study ways to increase the use of and access to federal child care subsidies will report recommendations to Legislative Assembly no later than December 31, 2020.

There is work to be done year-round with interim sessions, committees and coalition partners. 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.


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Governance

By Norman Turrill, Governance Coordinator

The League has supported, opposed or followed so many governance bills during the last legislative session that there are too many to summarize.

The following are only bills and efforts that the League had some role in during the legislative session.

Memorial

We dedicate this Governance Sine Die edition to Kappy Eaton, League citizen advocate extraordinaire for over 60 years! Much of that time she was Governance Coordinator. See House Commemorative Resolution, HCR 8.

Elections

HB 2234, our bill for an optional, centralized, statewide online candidate filing system. Note that the Elections Division says they need to replace their two mutually exclusive, outdated candidate filing programs. OCVR, Oregon Centralized Voting Records, is used for local candidates and is not posted publicly. ORESTAR, for state-level candidate filing and all candidate financial tracking, is posted online, and is an important asset for our voter service work. This bill would have been a boost for voting transparency and a big help with our voter service work, but it failed to get out of committee.

HB 2685, our bill advocated for publicly listed candidate contact information, barring campaign use of incumbent office emails and telephone numbers. This bill would have been a big help with our voter service work, but it failed to get out of committee.

HB 2210, our comprehensive incumbent information website bill. The website has been built by the state Geospatial Enterprise Office, with interest from the House Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee, discussing a post session work group. State Archives is discussing Blue Book links. The bill did not get a hearing.

HB 3348, passed and requires a financial impact disclosure by a Financial Estimate Committee that a “MEASURE SPENDS MONEY WITHOUT IDENTIFYING A FUNDING SOURCE,” if no source of funding is provided for an initiative costing the public more than $100,000. The League supported.

HB 3202 would have allowed voters to share race, ethnicity, and/or preferred language when registering to vote. The League was prepared to testify regarding the preferred language portion; however, the bill did not get a hearing.

SB 670 passed and prohibits voting material references to overseeing elections officials when they run as candidates. The League supported the related HB 3049.

SB 761 passed and will limit e-petition printing. The League opposed because we saw little difference between single and multiple signature petitions. Our other concern was about requiring voters to print, sign, and mail in a petition with its full text, which could be dozens of pages long. The bill is ambiguous on this point, and others suggested that the Secretary of State could address this by administrative rule.

SB 861, prepaid ballot envelopes, passed with League support with a fiscal impact caution.

SB 944, risk-limiting election audits, passed with League support.

HB 3441 for an automatic voter registration task force. We urged “filer voter” expansion beyond the DMV such as filers with the Dept. of Revenue. Despite League support, it did not get out of committee.

SB 224 was the omnibus elections bill. It passed with the League supporting some of its many features.

SB 755 would have created a Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) endowment fund. The League testified on CIR merits, emphasizing its value in countering the huge amounts of money flowing into initiative campaigns to sway public opinion. The four-day CIR process allows a diverse panel of citizens to take a deep dive into ballot measure pros and cons and present findings in a “Citizens’ Statement” in Voters’ Pamphlets. It did not proceed from Ways and Means.

HB 5034: The League supported these Policy Option Packages, POPs, in the Biennial Secretary of State’s adopted budget:

  • POP 105 Elections Division staffing, including positions to (1) respond to elections misinformation on social media and (2) increase technical support for OCVR and ORESTAR.
  • POP 202 continues OMV (Oregon Motor Voter) payments to counties.
  • POP 207 funds prepaid postage.
  • POP 102 includes a manager for the Network Operations Security Center.
  • POP 206 continues four elections security systems implemented last year.

National Popular Vote

The League worked hard once more to pass the National Popular Vote bill, SB 870. This was the sixth try, with the House previously passing it and the Senate blocking it. This session the advocates started with a Senate bill, and it finally passed!

Redistricting Reform

Several redistricting constitutional amendments, such as SJR 8 and SJR 11 were submitted this session; however, none of them even got a hearing. The Redistricting Matters Coalition’s proposed redistricting constitutional amendment was submitted to Legislative Counsel for drafting, but it never even got submitted as a bill. In the meantime, the League held 20 popular educational forums (video) with some 500 total attendees. The legislature did not refer an amendment to the 2020 ballot, so coalition partners, led by the League, are preparing for an initiative drive.

Campaign Finance

Several bills would have amended the state constitution to allow regulation of political campaign moneys. SJR 18 eventually passed, will be on the November 2020 ballot, and will enable the next two bills. This was a major victory for reform advocates after decades of attempts.

HB 2716 will require disclosure of donor information in campaign ads. HB 2983 will require disclosure of “dark money” by organizations intending to influence Oregon elections. The problem with these two bills is that they are just an outline of significant reform with high dollar thresholds, and they do not include any “drill down” to the actual source of the campaign contributions. Another bill, HB 2714 A, to set actual contribution limits did not pass through the Senate.

Small Donor Elections: HB 3004 was submitted on behalf of the Voice for All Oregon coalition that would have allowed candidates for statewide, legislative, and judicial offices to choose a different path to raise money for their campaigns. Participating candidates could match small donations up to $250 six-to-one with limited public funds. This bill was similar to the program already adopted for Portland city elections. (League member Norman Turrill was appointed to the Portland Open and Accountable Elections Commission, which will advise on the implementation of the city’s ordinance.) A similar bill, SB 1014, was briefly considered in the Senate, but neither bill passed. The League believes we need such a bill so that we have a complete and balanced campaign finance system.

HB 2134 extended the sunset of the income tax credit for political contributions. The League was neutral on this bill since we believed this money could be better used for small donor elections, but understood that it should continue for now.

HB 2709 would have specified types of expenditures that are definitively considered to be made in coordination with candidates for purposes of determining if they are independent expenditures. This would be important for limiting independent expenditures that are often used for “hit pieces” during candidate campaigns. However, the bill died in committee.

Transparency & Public Records

HB 2431: The League supported this bill requiring public reporting of statistics about public records requests; however, the bill did not get out of committee.

SB 25, which allows for the sharing of mental health records in a forensic investigation, passed with League support.

SB 703, which would have created a task force on the protection of personal health records from commercial sale, did not pass out of committee despite League support.

HB 2353 adopted a $200 penalty bill on public agencies for public records requests that were late or were not responded to. The League and journalists pushed for this bill, because some agencies have not improved request response times, despite changes in the law that took effect in January 2018 requiring fulfillment of requests within 15 days (with reasonable allowances for exceptions). Small agencies and the League of Oregon Cities opposed the bill, citing more time was needed for training agency personnel.

HB 2393 passed with League support. This “intimate image” bill modifies the crime of harassment and spells out the damages that can be awarded in a lawsuit when a nude or sexually explicit image is disseminated without consent.

HB 3224 passed with League support. It requires District Attorneys to “develop and adopt policies relating to discovery, charging decisions and case disposition and to make policies available to public on a website”.

Immigration & Discrimination

The League supported all four of these successful bills:

HB 2015, “drivers’ licenses for all”.

HB 2508 for refugee resettlement grants, passed with League support.

SB 577, a hate/bias crime bill.

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

Many thanks to:

Becky Gladstone, Governance Coordinator for most of the session!
Rick Bennett, governance bills review
Marge Easley, National Popular Vote
Claudia Keith, Discrimination
Josie Koehne, Transparency, Public Records
Ann Potter, League position review
Norman Turrill, Redistricting, Campaign Finance

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! If any of these areas interest you, please contact Norman Turrill at n.turrill@lwvor.org.


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Natural Resources

By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator

The sine die version of our legislative reports usually encompasses the League’s actions during the previous legislative session. But the Natural Resources Team works all year long on issues of statewide concern. The 14 natural resource agencies and their Boards and Commissions continue to meet and work on rulemaking related to legislation that was passed and planning for future sessions. We hope you review all the 2019 reports and find items of interest to take action on in this report. There are two new committees that we should follow: Senate Wildfire and House Water. We need volunteers!  

Budgets

The League provided testimony on many of the 14 natural resource agency budgets in 2019. The agencies were slighted this session after having done well in 2017. However, there were some wins. 

Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) 2019 Budget Update. The League can be proud of the work our volunteers have done to advocate for the many budget and staffing increases. We were also pleased that they received funding to continue to adopt a new Environmental Data Management System that will provide access to important data not only to DEQ but other agencies and the public.

Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) 2019 Budget Update. The League engaged in budget meetings before and during session. We were most interested in POP 123 for fish biologists to implement the Integrated Water Resources Strategy where 2 of the 4 positions we requested were funded. 

We supported a number of programs in the Water Resources Dept. (WRD) budget and were pleased to see monies to fund another groundwater basin study. We also supported the budgets of the Columbia River Gorge Commission, the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD), the Oregon State Marine Board, Dept. of Agriculture (DOA), the Dept. of Forestry and Dept. of State Lands. There were a number of fee increase bills for natural resource agency permits and enforcement which the League supported. Most passed. Other policy bills around wood heating and on-site septic loans did not pass, but monies were added in the final budget bills. 

The Governor wanted to restructure the Oregon Dept. of Energy (ODOE) into a Climate Authority. The League supported this effort that failed, but also supported funding for the 6 agency staff dealing with Hanford that had not been included in the proposed new agency. The ODOE budget passed with those positions continuing.

Of concern is that the Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) only received one year’s budget since they had overspent their previous budget’s General Funds. This agency’s work is very important related to natural hazards science and to regulating mining in Oregon. The agency is so small that they have had fiscal issues in the past. The Governor will need to determine the best way to assure the work done by DOGAMI continues, even if the agency is dissolved and the work assigned to other agencies. 

The League supported HB 2075 that would have established a Development Readiness Program with $1.35 million in funding and one staffer at DLCD. Instead, monies were added to HB 2001 to help with this effort. Monies were also provided to help with HB 2003 work.     

We supported HB 2672 that would have authorized reimbursement of expenses related to the new marijuana industry for the DOA and the WRD. Although the bill did not pass, a budget note was added for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to work with DOA on how to cover these expenses.

Now that the session is over and budgets decided, many natural resource agencies have grant programs that were funded to support a variety of issues. Support your community’s grant requests!

Air Quality, Susan Mates

We continue to follow the Cleaner Air Oregon (CAO) process. The CAO program has hired permanent staff and begun implementation. It is now assessing new facilities and is working with eight of the first twenty existing facilities initially identified for evaluation. One additional facility, PCC Structurals Inc. – Large Parts Campus, will be called in to initiate work in late September. DEQ will now conduct a more in-depth analysis to determine whether these called-in facilities pose health risks and if their air permits should be revised. The agency will call in the remaining facilities from Group 1 by April 2020, with Group 2 facilities to follow over the course of the next year.

In July, the DEQ and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) furthered the process of assigning more protective health standards to toxic pollutants expected to have developmental or other severe human health effects. They were charged with providing input for how to set Oregon’s Hazard Index benchmarks for reducing non-cancer health risks from industrial sources of toxic air contaminants. There is a process going forward that will result in rule adoption in early 2020. You can find a summary of that meeting here.

HB 2007, the “Dirty Diesel” bill, became effective on August 9. Although weakened so that it applies only to trucks registered in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties, it is a step toward reducing diesel pollution and bringing Oregon more in line with the regulations in California and Washington. The DEQ is working on completing the rulemaking timelines for implementing the new legislation. The first engine phase-out deadline is Jan. 1, 2023. Again, the DEQ is hampered by underfunding, as a prior budget study showed they would need six new positions to implement the program. Instead, they were granted only two.

The DEQ asked for a modest revision of the fees for the Vehicle Inspection Program (VIP), the first increase in over twenty years. Expenses have exceeded revenues since 2013. For the Portland area, the fee was established as $21 in 1997, which would equal $33 in today’s dollars. The DEQ was requesting a fee increase to $25. Although they were confident about the legislature’s response, a lobbyist managed to derail the bill’s passage. As a result, they are cutting staff and considering closing one or more of their inspection stations which will result in longer wait times. In November, the DEQ is planning to ask the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission to adopt the new fees, which could then be ratified by the legislature in February. That will be an opportunity for LWV and others to speak on behalf on of the VIP, an important component of our state’s air quality.

The EPA proposed a rule to implement the clear language of the Clean Air Act that allows a “major source” of hazardous air pollutants (HAP) to reclassify as an “area source” after acting to limit emissions to below the levels that define major sources. EPA will accept comment by Sept. 24. LWVUS and LWVOR are opposed to this roll-back of air quality rules and encourage members to share their objection with the EPA.

Climate Change, Claudia Keith and team

See separate report on this important issue.

Coastal Issues, Peggy Joyce

The League supported SB 256 to limit offshore drilling which passed overwhelmingly and SB 753, which also passed, to allow the Oregon Ocean Science Trust to raise outside monies to fund their work. We supported SB 260 to fund studies on ocean acidification, but that bill died in Ways and Means. SB 961, a bill that would require changes to Goal 18 related to riprap, was opposed by the League and did not pass. 

The South Slough National Estuarine Research Center continues under the Dept. of State Lands and funding was provided for improvements supported by the League. 

The Rocky Habitat Working Group continues to work on site specific designation language and process criteria. Visit the working groups website for more information. This year the Territorial Sea Plan Part Five was adopted, as well as Part Three. The League was involved in these efforts.

We followed the work of the Ocean Policy Advisory Council. The Oregon Legislative Coastal Caucus (CC) held their 8th Annual Coastal Caucus Economic Summit this August 21-22, where they provided panels on “Infrastructure Investments: A Collaborative Approach.”. League members attended to learn more about coastal issues.

Drinking Water, Amelia Nestler

The League continues to participate in the Oregon Health Authority’s Drinking Water Advisory Committee.

SB 27. Relating to Oregon Drinking Water Quality Act fees. We supported this bill because Oregon’s drinking water program is currently underfunded. There are delays in the review of the latest science, which could improve water quality and reduce costs. Some water systems are chronically out of compliance. In addition, the current fee structure is a disproportionate burden on small water systems in comparison to medium and large water systems. SB27 authorized a change in the fee structure that helped address these inequities. The bill passed and the League will be involved in new rulemaking related to this bill.

HB 2860. Safe Well Water Bill. We supported this bill because it addresses ongoing issues with well water contamination that are linked to serious health concerns. It required testing of rental properties, similar to how properties must be tested at the sale of real estate. It authorized grant funds to help local governments and nonprofits assist with groundwater contaminant education, and allowed for free or low-cost testing in some situations. However, the bill did not pass, in part due to implementation costs.

Elliott State Forest

The League continues to follow decisions around this state treasure. The legislature provided $100 million in 2017 to “buy” environmental interests in the forest. The State Land Board is scheduled to make a decision on future management—considering authorizing Oregon State University to make it a new Research Forest. For more information, go to https://www.oregon.gov/dsl/Land/Pages/Elliott.aspx

Forestry

The Governor issued Executive Order 19-01 establishing the Oregon Wildlife Response Council and the legislature provided $250,000 to fund this work. The Council will issue a report during the Sept. interim legislative meetings. We expect recommendations on legislation around mitigation, suppression and recovery.

The Oregon Dept. of Forestry (ODF) is working with state and federal partner agencies to pursue a Western Oregon State Forests Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). They are currently in Phase 2, which includes developing conservation and timber management strategies as well as a public engagement process. Their next meeting will be held Sept. 25. Contact Liz Dent, State Forests Division Chief (liz.f.dent@oregon.gov) if you want to be engaged.

The Oregon Board of Forestry voted 5-2 to accept a petition for rulemaking on coho salmon. The Wild Salmon Center and their partners filed the petition. A little used portion of the Forest Practices Act requires the Board to consider forest protections on private and state land when species are listed under state or federal endangered species acts. 22 groups petitioned the Board to: (1) collect and analyze the best available information on coho salmon; (2) conduct a resource site inventory; and (3) adopt rules to protect resource sites and to develop a process to identify new sites in the future. This will be important work for all of us to follow.

As of August 27, ODF’s gross large fire costs for fire season 2019 are currently estimated at $36 million. With cost recoveries from FEMA eligibility on the Milepost 97 fire and other agency billings, the net costs are currently estimated at $16 million.

Hanford/Nuclear Waste, Marylou Schnoes

The League continues to follow the Oregon Hanford Cleanup Board and has provided testimony this year on the importance of protecting the Columbia River.

Land Use/Housing

See Social Policy’s Legislative Report on HB 2001, 2003 and other housing bills. The League did provide testimony on HB 2001, providing for “middle housing”, and 2003, dealing with regional planning and increased housing needs analyses, which significantly improved those bills. We will be following rulemaking to assure a fair and equitable implementation of these significant new policy bills.


SB 8, which we opposed, did pass that provides for legal fees on Land Use Board of Appeals of public supported housing if the case is deemed frivolous and the local government supports the project. We provided testimony with concerns on SB 10, a bill that would have established very high-density requirements adjacent to transportation corridors. The concept of increasing density near where the public has supported transit is a good one, but this bill’s requirements needed modification. The bill did not pass. We worked on SB 88, the rural accessory dwelling unit bill, and were neutral during session. It did not pass, but agencies are to consider wildfire danger, including building code changes and mapping of high-risk areas in forested areas. We opposed HB 2456, a bill that would have allowed 2-acre lots on agricultural lands outside of Ontario. It died in the Senate. 

The League continues to participate in Land Conservation and Development Commission meetings and recently provided testimony on their 2019-21 policy agenda which will be adopted at their Sept. 26 meeting in the Portland Metro area.

Pesticides, Amelia Nestler

SB 853 & HB 3058. Relating to pesticides, prohibits chlorpyrifos and requires licensing for neonicotinoids. Did not pass. We supported these bills because they address ongoing issues with pesticide use linked to harming human and environmental health. Chlorpyrifos is a toxic nerve agent pesticide that can impact neural development in children, babies, and fetuses. It is persistent in the environment and can harm birds, fish, aquatic invertebrates, and key pollinators such as bees. EPA scientists recommended it be banned, which these bills would do. Neonicotinoids contaminate waterways in Oregon, and while more research is needed to fully understand the risks to human health, studies suggest that chronic exposure does pose a risk. Neonicotinoids also persist in the environment and are highly toxic to pollinators. A letter signed by over 200 renowned scientists in 2018 called for restricting its use, which these bills would have done. The LWVOR has started a study on the use of pesticides and other biocides in Oregon to better understand essential uses, harms from using pesticides, and potential policy options. Contact Amelia (a.nestler@lwvor.org) to volunteer.

Scenic Waterways

Oregon Governor Kate Brown has designated a 17.5-mile section of the Nehalem River as Oregon’s newest state scenic waterway! To see a map click here. Work has now started on consideration of a 27-mile portion of the South Umpqua River as our next designated scenic waterway. To get involved, contact Michele Scalise, Interim Manager-Recreation Grants & Community Program @ michele.scalise@oregon.gov or 503-986-0708.

Transportation

The Oregon Transportation Commission will update our Statewide Transportation Strategy. This effort has implications to our state’s climate strategy. HB 2017 (2017) continues to be implemented. A real positive is the increased funding for public transit statewide.

Water

The League continues to work with others to advance a “water vision” for Oregon to continue our work on the Integrated Water Resources Strategy. Here is a helpful news article.  The Governor has created a new website: www.oregonwatervision.org where a draft vision is available. The League will be actively engaged in this process. During session, we supported HCR 33 that would have urged work on this important plan. The bill did not pass.  

The League supported HB 2085, to update our dam safety policies and increase regulation of non-federal public and private dams in Oregon. We will work with others on rulemaking to implement the bill. We also supported funding for planning replacement of the two high risk dams in Newport and will continue to work to address this important public safety issue statewide.

The League supported HB 2084 that extended the Place-Based Planning program for the current four planning areas. We are hopeful that this process can be expanded as we work on a statewide water vision.

Harmful algal blooms were a topic of discussion during the session.  A work group will consider legislation for the 2021 session.

Waldo Lake and Crater Lake, two of Oregon’s treasured bodies of water, could get additional state protections after action taken by the Environmental Quality Commission. DEQ will now develop a project plan and schedule for the rulemaking processes, and will work with the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service to adopt policies to prevent degradation of water quality. For more information about the proposed Waldo Lake designation, visit https://www.oregon.gov/deq/EQCdocs/07182019_E_Wald.

For more information about the proposed Crater Lake designation, visit https://www.oregon.gov/deq/EQCdocs/07182019_F_Crat…

Wetlands

HB 2436, 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, passed. The League will be engaged during the interim as the discussion on “assumption” quickly moves toward a bill in 2020 to authorize a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency. HB 2437, a new process for cleaning agricultural ditches in wetlands areas, passed. The League was neutral on this bill after many compromises were adopted. We supported HB 2438, a bill that would have provided monies for a Mid-Valley mitigation bank and additional staffing for the Dept. of State Lands. This bill did not pass. A fourth bill, HB 2796, would have allowed development on “degraded” wetlands. The League opposed the bill but recommended that the Governor see if there are ways to help the development proposal in Sheridan provide affordable housing for the Fox River employees. The bill did not pass.

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! League members are engaged in rulemaking, work groups and task forces as we prepare for the next session. If you are interested in natural resource issues, please contact Natural Resources Coordinator Peggy Lynch @ peggylynchor@gmail.com.


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Revenue and Tax Reform

By Maud Naroll, Revenue and Tax Reform Coordinator

A new Corporate Activity Tax will raise $1 billion/year for P-K education. Opponents dropped plans to put it on the ballot in January 2020, so the tax takes effect January 1, 2020.

Tobacco tax hikes and a new vaping tax goes to voters in November 2020.

Many existing tax expenditures were renewed and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) was renewed and, slightly, raised.

Interested in where the money comes from to support state and local government programs? Or willing to admit being a tax nerd? We’d love help. Contact Maud Naroll, MaudLWVOR@gmail.com.

Student Success

The act makes sweeping improvements to public and pre-school education, funded by a new Corporate Activity Tax. Some supporters have worked to increase education resources ever since Measures 5 and 50 hollowed out property tax funding for schools and local governments in the 1990s. See the Education section of this and earlier Legislative Reports for details on the education side of the bill. The Corporate Activity Tax (CAT) charges businesses 0.57% on commercial activity in excess of $1 million after deducting 35 percent of either purchased inputs or labor costs, leaving the vast majority of Oregon businesses exempt. LWVOR supported the Student Success Act April 10, April 15, April 16, and April 24.

Although opponents of the CAT filed to put the tax on the ballot as Referendum 301, in July Oregon Manufacturers and Commerce withdrew support for the referendum. They cited hurdles passed by the 2019 session, including setting a January date and additional requirements on signature gathering (see Governance section of this report). The referendum has since been withdrawn. SB 116 had created a January 21, 2020 special election date, requiring only one measure to be in the voters’ pamphlet if all or part of the Student Success Act were put on the ballot. SB 212, non-severability, provided that if the Corporate Activity Tax failed at the ballot, most of the rest of the act, including spending for P-12 education improvements and cuts to personal income tax rates, also would not take effect. 

Tobacco and Vaping

HB 2270 ends tobacco tax changes and a new vaping tax to voters on the November 2020 ballot. The cigarette tax increase of $2 per pack would go to the Oregon Health Authority, with part passing on to smoking cessation programs. Cigars would incur higher taxes, and vaping supplies, both devices and nicotine liquid and cartridges, would be newly taxed. Mom and pop vaping stores and liquid producers testified against the tax, but data and testimony on the rapid rise of teen vaping preserved the new tax through the amendment process. Sadly, HB 2848, aimed at preventing Internet vaping sales to teens, died in the House Committee on Health Care. Amendments changed the successful HB 2270 from direct passage to a ballot referral, pushing the effective date out to January 2021, adding only six months of revenue to the biennium instead of the original year and a half. LWVOR supported HB 2270.

Revenue Bills Signed by the Governor

HB 2164 amends changes to the Student Success funding mechanism, the Corporate Activity Tax (CAT); renews a number of tax expenditures; and raises Oregon’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) slightly. Oregon’s EITC will grow from eight to nine percent of the federal EITC for most, and from 11 to 12 percent for those with dependents under three. While the League is generally skeptical of most tax credits, trusting Ways and Means’ direct funding of priority programs over letting revenue leak through a sieve of tax expenditures, we appreciate the EITC’s contribution to child welfare and to making Oregon’s personal income tax slightly more progressive, and supported much larger increases to Oregon’s EITC.

The house share bill, SB 1045, lets local governments exempt part of a home’s value from property tax if the owner-occupier rents a room or two to lower-income renters. Amendments limited the exemption to $300,000 and capped the program at 500 homes statewide. LWVOR liked encouraging house-sharing to increase affordable housing, but not Swiss-cheesing local governments’ property tax bases. We recommended passage of HB 3349, which would have removed the mortgage interest deduction from second homes and from filers with incomes over $250,000, sending the additional revenue to state Housing and Community Services for affordable homeownership and homelessness prevention. HB 3349 would have funded long-term rental assistance vouchers, which, we pointed out, could be used to subsidize house-sharing without reducing property tax revenue. Sadly, HB 3349 never got out of House Revenue.

HB 2128 requires the Legislative Revenue Office to study the statutory definition of tax expenditures and automatic sunset provisions. There was discussion during the session about adding sunsets to more property tax expenditures, and whether or not the Tax Expenditure Report should still cover tax expenditures required by federal law.

HB 2449 raises the tax for 911 services from 75 cents per phone line to $1.25 over two years, providing much-needed funding for 911 services. Some public safety agencies have cut officers from the street to fund 911 call centers.

HB 2130 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.

Other Revenue Bills Died in Committee

SJR 23 would have asked voters to amend the constitution, using the kicker to fund seismic rehab and student behavioral health counseling. While LWVOR supports doing something sensible with the kicker, we opposed putting such narrow constraints in the constitution, funding mental health professionals with volatile kicker revenue, and asking voters to give up their kicker in the same biennium we believed they’d be asked about Student Success funding, and were pleased to see the resolution die quietly in Senate Finance and Revenue.

Gratitude

Many thank yous to Chris Vogel, Peggy Lynch, and Jody Wiser for extraordinary assistance, advice, patient tutoring, and background information on revenue.

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 Action focus was on the status of the Oregon Health Plan, Coordinated Care Organizations, and health care delivery to expanded populations. The Oregon Health Authority currently serves 4 million people. The Oregon Health Systems Transformation has published the 2018 metrics for CCO organizations and the payments for success earned by each organization.

HB 2010 provided funds for the current OHP programs with continued hospital and insurance assessments. HB 2270 increased cigarette, cigars and tobacco taxes and added taxes on vaping products. HB 3076 required non-profit hospitals to adjust charges for low income patients and to provide community benefits. See OHA Budget Letter comments in SB 5525.

Additional Health Care bills. HB 2185 limited Pharmacy Benefit Managers practices, and HB 2658 requires drug manufacturers to report price increases to the Department of Consumer and Business Services 6 months ahead. HB 2935 requires notification of availability of prescription readers. HB 3074 requires insurance companies to file proposed rates with DCBS and comply with public reviews.

The Oregon Health Authority spending is reviewed periodically and the next review will be in December during legislative days. Newly passed bills do not show up in Budget Expenditures immediately as there is often lag time in implementation. Federal matching funds for programs often lag expenditures too.

The Oregon Health Policy Board and Department of Business and Consumer Services will advise the legislative committees and newly appointed Task Force on Universal Care passed in SB 770. The Task Force will consider options for expansion and funds for coverage of more residents. The League supports expansion of medical coverage but has concerns about funding since the state legislature faces demands in many state agencies for expanded funding.

The League invites members supporting Health Care for All to become more involved in attending hearings, studying proposals and resources and exploring options for the expansion of services. The Task Force meetings should be monitored and reported by attending league members.

The Oregon State Hospital and Mental Health community services are within the Oregon Health Authority Budget and Supervision. The State Hospital has been overcrowded due to Aid and Assist evaluations and civil commitments ordered by circuit courts. Several bills passed this session addressed these processes. SB 24 set rules on OSH commitments and return to the court of commitment. SB 25 requires that records be released to OSH or the appointed evaluator.

Public Health has been underfunded in the last two legislative sessions. Contagious diseases and contraceptive services continue as well as Women, Infant, and Children programs. SB 526 will provide a new universal home visiting program for parents and new babies. Community mental health services were not sufficient but have been increased in this session for children and youth with specialized needs, interdisciplinary teams in communities, and supportive housing. Additional funds for mental health and addictions will come from the Medical Marijuana program.

School Based Health Centers were given a boost in HB 3165, which will fully fund 6 school based centers for five years and provide 10 districts with planning grants. This health care delivery model has been useful in providing nursing services to students with medical or mental health issues in schools. The clinics can bill coordinated care organizations or insurance companies for services. The Senate set up a new Mental Health Committee for the short Session in February 2020, but the related bills often show up in Judiciary Committees due to legal issues.

The Department of Human Services presented a budget early in the session with a review of its service areas. Most of the presentations were well received, except for Child Welfare. The agency was grilled on the lack of placements in foster homes and treatment programs. Since there are few behavioral residential treatment options in Oregon, many children were placed out of state. The Senate Human Services Committee criticized the agency leaders and insisted children be transferred back to Oregon. The agency has had caseworker and aide departures and staff turnover, and the budget reflects the attempt to stem this tide and retain employees. SB 1 added a new Advisory Council and funds for specialized placements in Behavioral Health.

The agency has been taking children into temporary custody for a short period rather than rushing into full custody or permanent placements. The agency has also increased services to families on Temporary Assistance to Needy Families to prevent family disruptions and establish family stability. HB 2032 provided a pilot program for housing through Oregon Housing and Community Services, and HB 3183 provided for eligibility for caretaker relatives and Supplemental Security Income applicants.

The league letter on the DHS Agency Budget HB 5026 commented on the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program coordination of services and support for options not in state custody. The Special Session will hear more reports on placement options from the agency. 

The Aged and People with Disabilities and Intellectual Developmental Disabilities programs received additional budget funding for increased populations and increased rates for providers. This area could use advocates for oversight of programs for residential placements and services to home bound.

Public Safety Policy made the most progressive gains this session. SB 1008 made substantial changes to the Juvenile Justice system by restricting adult charges and sentencing in adult courts. Judges will decide at special hearings whether juveniles will be charged in adult courts and will hold second-look hearings for juveniles sentenced in adult courts. SB 1002 and HB 3224 limited plea bargaining and requires that district attorney practices be published in electronic or printed forms for the public. 

The League has monitored Juvenile Justice and Adult Corrections policies as well as the budgets for the Oregon Youth Authority SB 5541 and the Department of Corrections SB 5504. The League has supported community corrections programs for both juveniles and adults for skill building for education or employment, substance abuse treatment, and mental health stability. The Budgets and program plans are reviewed every session in Public Safety Ways and Means and documents are online. The League submitted a letter of support on SB 5541, the Oregon Youth Authority Budget.

The Criminal Justice Commission receives funding for court or correctional programs, most recently in SB 973 for substance abuse and mental health grants and HB 3064 for Criminal Justice Reinvestments in county corrections with the goal of reducing prison populations. The League joined partners in lobbying for the continuation of these grant programs.

The Oregon Judiciary Study was published in 2007, and the League has followed the budgets and commented on the funding recommendations. The SB 5515 budget bill passed along with HB 2241 and HB 3447 on technology service fees. The Chief Justice requests additional judge positions and salary increases which are gradually and slowly granted. The Public Defense Services Commission budget, SB 5532, was also supported by the League, but a request for additional salary increases was denied.

Gun Safety, Marge Easley

Hopes for passage of an omnibus gun safety bill were dashed late in the session when SB 978 was one of two bills sacrificed by legislative leadership to entice Republicans to return from their walkout and allow passage of the Student Success Act. The main features of SB 978 included safe storage requirements, minimum age changes, regulation of “ghost guns,” reporting of lost or stolen firearms, and allowing local concealed carry restrictions in public buildings. We will be working hard, alongside several gun safety groups, to revive the bill during the 2020 session. An initiative petition has been filed by State of Safety to put a safe storage law on the November 2020 ballot.

The only substantive gun safety bill to pass was HB 2013, which closes a loophole in the 2018 Extreme Risk Protection Law. It prohibits possession of firearms by those convicted of domestic violence offenses, even if they don’t request a hearing, don’t appear for a hearing, or withdraw a hearing request.

Paid Family Leave, Debbie Runciman

HB 2005, the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act, PASSED on the last day of the session with overwhelming bipartisan support!!! This is big news. Oregon will have one of the most inclusive, most comprehensive paid leave program in the nation. In 2023, it’s estimated that 1.5 million Oregonians will have access to paid family and medical leave. Thank you to the large coalition of advocates working on this measure and to the leadership of Senator Kathleen Taylor, Rep. Jennifer Williamson, and many others who made this legislation possible.

Housing, Nancy Donovan and Debbie Aiona

Awareness of the housing crisis is increasing in our communities. Our Legislature has stepped up to fund programs that will help prevent homelessness, preserve existing and develop new low-income and affordable housing. We have witnessed historic investments in protections for renters, affordable housing and the passage of a bill to increase more housing options.

Preventing and Ending Homelessness

A $50 million bill as part of Oregon Housing and Community Services Budget Bill will fund emergency rent assistance, rapid rehousing and emergency shelter support through the Emergency Housing Account and the State Homeless Assistance Program (SB 5512).

$150 million in general obligation bonds will go towards building more affordable homes for rent and for sale through the Local Innovation and Fast Track, or LIFT Housing Program (HB 5005).

$25 million in lottery bonds will preserve and maintain access to affordable housing across Oregon. The bill also expands eligibility for these funds to include all regulated, multifamily affordable housing, as well as public housing and manufactured home parks (HB 5030).

$3 million is dedicated to access to housing for survivors of domestic violence (HB 2006).

$10.5 million is for families with children experiencing housing instability and will support up to four pilot programs for families receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (HB 2032).

Changes to improve transitional housing campgrounds (or camps for those experiencing homelessness) (HB 2916).

Low Income Housing Development and Preservation

$15 million in lottery bonds will create an acquisition fund for low cost market rate housing (HB 5030).

$9.5 million will help preserve manufactured home parks by creating a fund to assist with purchase (HB 2896).

A right of first refusal was created for all currently regulated affordable housing to prevent the loss of any homes (HB 2002).

The Fairview Trust bill transferred the existing fund to the Oregon Community Foundation to expand access and create housing opportunity for persons experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities (SB 491).

Other Housing Bills

To address missing middle housing through zoning, the bill allows duplexes, triplexes, quads, and cottage clusters in cities of a certain size to increase housing options for changing needs in communities. The Legislature included $3 million to support the implementation of the measure. In April 2019 the LWVOR submitted testimony in support of the missing middle housing bill (HB 2001).

Critically needed sunset extension bills were passed for property tax exemptions for affordable housing; Agriculture Workforce Housing; residents of manufactured home parks facing closure; and capital gains exemption for manufactured home parks which are sold to nonprofits; housing authorities, or resident cooperatives (HB 2164).

A technical fix to receivership programs will allow cities to address blighted homes (HB 2285).

$2.5 million will be available to decommission older manufactured homes and help homeowners replace their older homes without significant cost (HB 2896).

The Legislature approved a landmark budget bill for the Oregon Department of Housing and Community Services during this session of over $336.5 million. $70.5 million will address and prevent homelessness; $5 million will accelerate development in Greater Oregon; $206.5 million will increase the supply of affordable housing; and $54.5 million will invest in permanent supportive housing. In March 2019, the LWVOR submitted testimony in support of OHCS’s budget (SB 5512).

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


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