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Legislative Report, Volume 29, Number 3 – February 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

LWVOR Action published a Clean Energy Jobs (CEJ) Alert on Jan. 31. We encourage League members from all over the state to attend the Feb. 6 CEJ Lobby Day and or contact their legislators to let them know how important it is to pass a Climate Cap and Invest (carbon pricing) Bill this session.

Your voice can make a difference!

On Feb. 1, LWVOR submitted testimony to Oregon Dept of State Lands supporting a letter submitted by four local southern Oregon Leagues opposing Jordan Cove Energy Project Removal-Fill Permit.

On Jan. 31, the Climate Bill Legislative concept was posted to OLIS and introduced at the Feb. 1, Joint Committee Carbon Reduction (JCCR) public hearing. Prior to the JCCR meeting on Feb. 1 CC team member, Julia Chapman, attended the Renew Oregon coalition meeting. LC 894, now HB 2020, has received extensive news coverage.  It addresses 45% interim 2035 GHGE reduction targets, based on 1990 pollution levels. However, it’s unclear how this legislation could address the Jordan Cove Energy Project proposed for Coos Bay or other new fossil fuel infrastructures. Current bill assumptions would not accomplish zero GHGE by 2050 that is necessary to meet 1.5º C maximum warming. (Refer to the LWVOR Climate Change (CC) pre-session Legislative report Jan. 14 and Jan. 26 for the League CC resolutions policy framework and scope, including how the League CC position does not agree to the recent Governor’s Carbon / Climate Policy November 2018 announcement.) The JCCR committee plans a number of public hearings in Feb. Most likely, the committee will not vote on this legislation until mid or late March, and a few amendments are expected. The League has prioritized advocacy that addresses our positions and recent climate change resolutions, including meeting aggressive greenhouse gas emission reduction targets balanced with ensuring that equity / social policy issues are addressed. The League continues to agree with the Oregon Conservation Network (OCN) and Renew Oregon CEJ proposed policy outcomes.

Other Bills: The League is supporting HB 2623 creating a 10 Year Fracking Moratorium.  Shirley Weathers and I will be submitting written testimony early next week to the House Committee on Energy and Environment for a possible public hearing. The LWVOR is working with a number of other groups on this bill and expect to pass this important legislation this year. Our testimony may be similar to 2017 HB 2711 A. Related, here’s Coos Bay Curzon Energy PLC info.

We are encouraged after four legislative sessions, to see Oil Rail Safety disaster prevention and response, including appropriate funding legislation.  The League supports SB 41 and SB 99.  We support the Governor’s recommendation for forming and funding an Oregon Climate Authority state agency, which would assist coordinating climate mitigation and adaptation efforts across all agencies, including folding the Dept. of Energy into the new agency, HB 5044. We support, with many other groups, an off-shore gas and oil drilling moratorium SB 256. We oppose SB 444, small scale nuclear energy. We support SB 598, which addresses changes related to the Oregon Global Warming Commission, including folding it into the new Climate Authority, renaming it to ‘Oregon Climate Change Commission’ and providing a real budget. Other bills we may support: HB 2209, HB 2064 and SB 45.

Other CC Advocacy: Jordan Cove & Pacific Gas Pipeline: Recent developments include Jackson County Commissioners opposition to the Dept. of State Lands removal/fill permits.  Our four local Leagues and state League provided a letter.  The Coos League held a forum to explain the concerns with this massive project. Our Children’s Trust (OCT) recent developments: Federal case, 9th Circuit will expedite interlocutory appeal. LWVOR and LWVUS may submit a third amicus brief in March.  In the Oregon state case, we received an unfavorable ruling and OCT will appeal.  On Jan. 10, LWVUS signed onto, with 600+ other groups, a Green New Deal Congressional letter and referred to it in its recent League Update. The Oregon Green New Deal coalition has formed, and LWVOR will consider joining this group with a decision most likely later this spring.

The CC team: Julie Chapman, Shirley Weathers, Cathy Frischmann and Nancy Murray. Openings: We critically need volunteers to cover transportation, Oregon 2010 Climate Adaptation Plan update, and forestry/ag renewable energy policy, four critical volunteer openings.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! If any of these areas interest you, please contact Claudia Keith, ca.keith@comcast.net


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Education Policy

By Chris Vogel, Education Policy Coordinator with assistance from those listed below.

As the session gains momentum, more substantive policy bills are moving through the committees addressing education.  Within the Capitol, those following the Joint Committee on Student Success (JCSS) see the new revenue subcommittee as the likely birthplace for substantial tax policy changes.  Early learning is again in the spotlight with the creation of a new JCSS subcommittee and publication of a 2019-2023 document. The Secretary of State audit recommendations on the Oregon Department of Education are on the agenda the week of February 4.

Joint Committee on Student Success

  • Click here to see bills assigned to this committee for the 2019 session.

There are now three subcommittees under this important Joint Committee on Student Success (JCSS) umbrella.  The three subcommittees will dig deeper into specific topics.  Highlights from each of the three are listed below.  If you have an interest in education, student success and revenue funding for education and other essential services provided in Oregon, you may wish to actually click on the underlined “read” and “listen” links to gain more understanding.

Senate Committee on Education

  • Click here to see bills assigned to this committee for the 2019 session.
  • Last Monday the Senate Committee on Education heard two bills regarding higher education. SB 3, which permits community colleges to offer applied baccalaureate degree programs under specified conditions and upon receiving approval from Higher Education Coordinating Commission.  These would be technical degrees and would allow people to gain a degree to help them in their careers and that do not require them to go to a four-year university.  Twenty-four states already allow these types of degrees, including Washington.  There will likely be amendments to the original bill.  Sen. Peter Courtney testified in support of this bill. SB 4 permits merger of community college and public university.  The bill is short on specifics, which will have to be filled in before this bill has its final form.  Even the Higher Education Coordinating Council did not have details about how this would work.  This is another bill that Sen. Courtney is supporting.  He views both as providing more access to education for Oregonians. (Summary submitted by Alice Bartelt.)

In the week of February 4 some of what we’ll be tracking in this committee includes these bills:

  • SB 18 allows the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission to discipline administrator who fails to make report, follow specified procedures or provide written notification related to suspected abuse of child or sexual conduct by educator.
  • SB 155 requires all investigations involving suspected abuse or sexual conduct by school employees to be conducted by Teacher Standards and Practices Commission.
  • SB 573 directs the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission to immediately suspend license or registration of teacher or administrator if commission determines there is reasonable cause to support report that teacher or administrator engaged in specified behavior.
  • SB 13 changes terminology for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing for purposes of special education statutes.
  • SB 151 adjusts statutory listing of education service districts to reflect mergers of districts.
  • SB 216 allows person to be employed in public schools for 90 calendar days after date of submission of pending application for licensure only if person had not been employed during previous 12 months with pending application for same license.
  • SB 52 requires school district to adopt policy on student suicide prevention.
  • SB 485 directs Oregon Health Authority to collaborate with certain schools and facilities when developing plan for communication following suspected suicide.
  • SB 180 directs Department of Education to award grants to school districts to support safe schools by funding programs related to bullying prevention and youth empowerment.
  • SB 489 encourages school districts to collaborate and enter into agreements with law enforcement and providers of social media websites and applications for purpose of responding to acts of cyberbullying.
  • SB 584 establishes Statewide School Safety and Prevention System.

House Committee on Education

This past week, early learning was a focus of House Education as reflected in meeting materials and OLIS recording on these two bills:

  • HB 2025 revises preschool program administered by Early Learning Division and establishes program as Preschool Promise Program.
  • HB 2262 modifies duties and membership of Early Learning Council.

Additionally, we especially call readers’ attention to promising work reflected in HB 2026 about trauma-informed approaches to education (meeting materials and recording).

  • HB 2512 requires one member of State Board of Education to be engaged in teaching as licensed teacher.
  • HB 2022 changes name of Oregon Virtual School District to Oregon Online.
  • HB 2026 extends sunset on pilot program to decrease rates of school absenteeism by using trauma-informed approaches to education, health services and intervention strategies.
  • HB 2444 directs Department of Education to coordinate with Oregon FFA Association to increase student achievement and improve college preparation and career placement for students enrolled in agricultural education courses.

In the week of February 4, we’ll be tracking these bills in this committee. HB 2318 will once again consider the controversial nature of testing, especially at a young age (letters and testimony reflect the heated differences of opinion). 

  • HB 2030 renames Oregon Youth Conservation Corps Advisory Committee as Oregon Youth Conservation Corps Advisory Board.
  • HB 2247 directs Early Learning Division to develop, implement and administer Oregon Imagination Library Project to improve reading proficiency and high school graduation rates by providing enrolled children with age-appropriate book once each month.
  • HB 2140 extends sunset for tax credit for payments to employee and dependent scholarship programs.
  • HB 2318 prohibits State Board of Education from requiring, and school districts from administering, certain assessments to students enrolled or preparing to enroll in prekindergarten through grade two.
  • HB 2289 establishes Task Force on School Safety Features.
  • HB 2191 expands reasons for excused absences from school to include mental or behavioral health.
  • HB 2327 establishes Statewide School Safety and Prevention System.
  • HB 2307 directs Department of Education to conduct study related to safety of career and technical education spaces.

2019 is a very busy year for Education legislation. If you have an interest in working with us, following specific assigned bills, watching recorded OLIS hearings from home on your own schedule, or making recommendations to assure LWVOR Action is effective in following bills, then 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: Fran Dyke and Nancy Donovan; and Higher Education: Alice Bartelt and Karan Kuntz


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Governance

By Rebecca Gladstone, Governance Coordinator  

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

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

Brief

We are seeing 40-50 new bills filed daily, watching elections, ethics, audits, and a grab bag that resists categorizing, like day-light savings. LWVUS is urging election security awareness (Secure Our Vote). Your help is very welcome! If these interest you, or you have other governance issues you’d like to help with, please contact LWVOR Governance Coordinator Becky Gladstone.

In today’s testy climate, SJR 13 bears featuring: Section 8, Article I of the Constitution of the State of Oregon, amended to read: “No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print freely on any subject whatever; but every person shall be responsible for the abuse of this right.” 

We started the week with a commemorative resolution for Kappy Eaton.
House Commemorative Resolution, HCR 8:

In memoriam: Mary Katherine “Kappy” Eaton, 1924-2018. The session’s first House Rules hearing opened with unanimous passage of HCR 8, testimony from the Governor and three Lane legislators, Representatives Nancy Nathanson, comments from Chair Paul Holvey, and Senator Floyd Prozanski (video). Thanks to Common Cause, AAUW, and the University of Oregon for historic input. This will be heard in the House Chamber on April 29 during the LWVOR Day at the Legislature.

Audits

Audits continue to be newsworthy and complex. The Joint Legislative Audits Committee (JLAC) and the Audits Division with the Secretary of State are still establishing their relationship, covered this week in Willamette Weekly. The Statewide Audit and Budget Reporting section supports the DAS Chief Financial Officer. The Governor’s Budget “includes funding and position authority for an internal auditor position while supporting core service programs”, basically repeated 14 separate times, with multiple auditors requested for the Dept of Revenue and Office of Public Records. The Hackett Report was mentioned in committee, reiterating problems with “legacy systems” and challenges of replacing our aging agency workforce. Not simplifying the issue:
SB 520 was transferred to JLAC, deemed a better fit and rescinding subsequent referral to Senate Rules, proposing an Office of Accountability.

Ethics

The Senate Committee on Campaign Finance met, calling for League testimony (video) and requesting further League participation. Here’s a quick list of bills we’re watching relating to ethics:

  • HB 2525: Legislators transitioning to lobbyists, after a year or two years, HB 2595.
  • SB 360: A 62 page nonprofit corporation law omnibus update.
  • HB 2582: Sanctions against false tax statements from legislators.
  • SB 545: Standardized reporting, with costs and justification for agency swag (stuff we all get).
  • HB 2096: Fee awards in certain OGEC (Oregon Government Ethics Commission) cases.
  • SB 659: Requires OGEC advisory opinions to written requests.
  • SB 670: Addresses duplication of listing elections officials in Voters’ Pamphlets when they are also running for office and listed as candidates.
  • Various harassment bills: SB 477 and SJR 10, to exclude legislators, SB 478, to limit sources of “hush funds”.

Elections

We are following 18 bills so far for facets of elections. Here are a few:

  • HB 2234, our bill for optional, centralized, state-wide online candidate filing. This continues negotiations. Note that the Elections Division would like to replace their two mutually exclusive, outdated candidate filing programs, OCVR, Oregon Centralized Voting Records, for local candidates, and ORESTAR, for state-level candidates, publicly searchable. ORESTAR errors in the 2018 general election characterized ORESTAR as having reached functional limits, also here.
  • HB 2107 and HB 2279 change the Oregon Presidential Primary date.
  • HB 2513: Landlords must provide voter registration cards. For efficiency and increased accuracy, we recommend online registration.
  • HB 2707, allows 17 year-olds to vote in primaries if they will be 18 for the general election.
  • HB 2713, requires clerk to file ballot measure argument for voters’ pamphlet.
  • HB 2762, requires campaign ads to disclose source, i.e. PAC, petition committee, or candidate.
  • SB 117, calling for a review of 2017 election laws.
  • SB 224, this multi-faceted 25 page bill addresses numerous elections issues.
  • SB 594, requires disclosure of presidential and vice presidential candidate tax returns.
  • SB 225, for non-affiliated voter primary elections, and SB 226, for minor party primary candidates address political party issues.
  • SB 691, requiring ballot postmarks no later than the Saturday before elections, with reporting on late ballots.
  • SJR 17, a referral for impeachment in the Oregon Executive branch.

National Popular Vote, Marge Easley

As Oregon faces another try to pass the National Popular Vote, there is good news on the national front, as two new states are poised to join the 12 states that have already joined the NPV Interstate Compact.  On January 29, the Colorado Senate passed the NPV bill, and on February 1, the bill passed the New Mexico House. It is headed to the other chamber in each of those states, where Democrats hold a substantial majority. If successful, this would boost the Compact’s electoral vote total (Colorado, 9; New Mexico, 5) to 186. The number needed for the Compact to go into effect is 270. Legislative updates from around the country can be found here.

Redistricting, Norman Turrill

SJR 8 and SJR 11 are redistricting constitutional amendments. The League would oppose SJR 8 because it is a public official appointed commission and is therefore not independent as required by our positions. SJR 11 is similar in some respects to the Redistricting Matters Coalition’s proposal that is currently being drafted in Legislative Counsel.

The League has held 16 popular educational forums throughout the state and more are scheduled in January, February and March. The next forum will be 2 pm, Feb. 23 at Rooster’s Restaurant in Pendleton. If the legislature does not refer an amendment to the 2020 ballot, then discussions are underway for an initiative drive.

Campaign Finance, Norman Turrill

Small Donor Elections: League member Norman Turrill was appointed last week to the Portland Open and Accountable Elections Commission, which will advise on the implementation of the city’s small donor elections ordinance. The Senate Committee on Campaign Finance will hear Feb. 13 about proposals for small donor elections; the League has been invited to testify.

Bills that are of interest to the League:

SB 661 would limit campaign accounts to $1M and allow subaccounts.

HB 2278 would require disclosure in ORSTAR of contributions to or expenditures of any political committee that supports or opposes any petition (initiative, referendum or recall) during the petitioning period. Such disclosures are now only required of the petition committees.

HB 2709 would specify types of expenditures that are definitively considered to be made in coordination with candidates for purposes of determining if they are independent expenditures. This is important for limiting independent expenditures that are often used for “hit pieces” during candidate campaigns.

HB 2710 would require the Secretary of State (SoS) to randomly select political committees 4 times per year to be audited. It also permits the SoS or Attorney General to audit political committees upon complaint from a voter.

HB 2712 would prohibit a candidate from expending campaign moneys for services from certain businesses required to be listed on the candidate’s statement of economic interest (SEI).

HB 2714 would establish another Task Force on Campaign Finance Reform. Compare with HB 2178 Enrolled (2015) on which a League representative served.

HJR 13, SJR 13 and SJR 18 would amend the state constitution to allow regulation of political campaign moneys.

Transparency & Public Records, Josie Koehne

Many of these bills relate to our transition to electronic public and private records, communications for coordinating public services. The League’s only privacy position relates to reproductive health care rights. We needed positions in 2017 to address identity theft and privacy, for example. There are 39 bills submitted so far in 2019, on a search for “privacy” issues. LWVOR President Norman Turrill is calling for a study of cybersecurity and privacy in order to develop positions that we can apply to future legislation. Here’s an example: SCR 4 Declares Oregon policy for cybersecurity risks and the need for proactive cybersecurity risk management. Please contact us if you are interested in joining a committee to assemble resources and study these issues.

We are following 16 bills so far:

  • HB 2100, protecting lottery vendor and winner personal information.
  • HB 2282 is whistleblower protection relating to audits.
  • HB 2345 proposes a 50% fee reduction for press public records requests.
  • HB 2353 proposes a penalty for late public records response.
  • HB 2430 eliminates sunset date of Public Records Advisory Council.
  • HB 2431 requires state agency reporting of public records requests and fee waivers.
  • SB 25 relates to public records release for forensic and mental health records.
  • SB 105 establishes Chief Privacy Officer.
  • SB 106: A call to list regulatory boards and commissions.
  • SB 222 requires state agency payroll information to be listed on the transparency website, updated monthly.
  • SB 223 relates to State Archives and privacy of email and mobile communications.
  • SB 542: This voting and voting tally machine audit privacy bill was pulled for amendments.
  • SB 563 prohibits public body from using cell-site simulator to get or use personal electronic data or metadata unless public body obtains consent or pursuant to search warrant or established warrant exception.
  • SB 609 requires records request be filed in writing, with statement of intended use.
  • SB 626 addresses scope of reporting household conflicts of interest
  • HB 2259 removes requirement for transparency website to link to state agency websites in addition to Secretary of State website.
  • HB 2260 The state Chief Information Officer can make transparency website rules.

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

Population growth, need for a range of housing types and land use are all joining together in a number of bills this session.  Water shortages, how to address wildfires and what about protection of our air, land and water?  What natural resource programs should be funded? These are a part of the bills from last week and this. 

The League presented oral and written comments on SB 5527, the budget for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept. on January 31 in the Jt. Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources.  Next week the committee will hold public hearings on HB 5002 and HB 5003, the Dept. of Agriculture budget and fee bills.  Public testimony will be taken on Feb. 6th.  The League supports the establishment of a State Natural Resource Agency Grants Coordinator to help all natural resource agencies apply for grants on behalf of Oregon priorities.  We will also speak on water quality and in support of a robust Pesticide Stewardship Program.  On Feb. 7, the Land Use Board of Appeals budget bill, HB 5028, will be heard with public testimony taken the same day. The League believes that this small agency helps enforce our land use laws and provides citizens with a voice in the land use process. 

We will watch HB 2672, which authorizes the Dept. of Revenue to reimburse the Dept. of Agriculture, Dept. of Energy and Water Resources Dept. for expenses incurred in administration and enforcement of activities related to cannabis. Each of these agencies has been impacted by the regulation surrounding the marijuana program. The bill has been assigned to the House Committee on Economic Development.  No hearing has yet been scheduled. 

Coastal Issues, Peggy Joyce

The Territorial Sea Plan (TSP) was adopted in 1994 as a plan to guide state and federal agencies in the management of Oregon’s territorial sea area covering 0-3 nautical miles off shore.  The TSP outlines a vision of the management for Oregon’s Rocky Shores and its biologically rich tide pools, headlands, cliffs and habitats. The Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC) is responsible to periodically review the TSP to maintain its relevance and vision as new scientific and management practices evolve and change. The Rocky Shores Working Group has been meeting to update the plan and will meet again on Feb. 7, 1-4 pm in the Gleason Room of the Oregon Coast Aquarium for a final review of the changes before its scheduled public release on Feb. 23. OPAC will hold a webinar on Feb 23, 2-3:30 pm, because the public comment period begins Feb. 23 with final adoption anticipated in May.

Part V of the TSP, also under review, covers renewable energy development in Oregon’s territorial sea, such as wave energy. Rule amendments made to Part V were invalidated by court order in 2013 but have now been sorted, and it is anticipated that OPAC will endorse the adoption of Part V amendments at its April 3 meeting at the Holiday Inn on Market St, Salem.  The League participated in development of this important chapter and looks forward to its final adoption before the Land Conservation and Development Commission.

The Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources heard public comments on SB 256 (repeals sunset on moratorium on oil, gas and sulfur leasing in territorial sea) and has scheduled a work session for Feb. 5. Public comment was overwhelmingly in favor of passage removing any time limitation on the ban of oil, gas and sulfur leases in Oregon’s coastal waters.  The League signed on to a letter in support of SB 256, which would block offshore drilling in state waters now and in the future. 

Drinking Water Advisory Committee, Amelia Nestler

The League provided testimony in support of SB 27, a bill that authorizes the Oregon Health Authority to adopt by rule a schedule for fees assessed on water suppliers to partially defray costs of authority related to performance of duties under the Oregon Drinking Water Quality Act.  Water providers want a commitment for some General Funds and better criteria for how the fees will be spent.  The League believes the program is critical and needs funding.  We believe the Senate Committee on Health Care is seeking amendments to address concerns while also recommending full funding for this important public health program. We are happy to support General Funds if available, but also believe a new, fairer fee structure should be adopted by rule. SB 5526 is the budget bill for the entire Oregon Health Authority budget.  The next meeting of the Drinking Water Advisory Committee is April 17. 

Elliott State Forest

More information here. The State Land Board will meet Feb. 5 to consider signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Oregon State University as they consider new management of the Forest. 

Environment

HB 2250 has been filed by the Governor to require certain state agencies to regularly assess proposed and final changes to federal environment laws to determine whether changes are significantly less protective of public health, environment or natural resources than standards in effect as of Jan. 19, 2017, and requires state agencies to take actions to retain protections.  As the current federal administration weakens environmental protections, this bill is meant to protect Oregon’s environment and its people.  This important bill will be heard Feb. 5 in the House Committee on Energy and Environment.

Fish and Wildlife

The Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is seeking public comment on two requests to waive fish passage requirements.  One waiver request is for the Bureau of Reclamation and Washington County’s Clean Water Services’ joint proposal to construct a new dam on Scoggins Creek in Washington County and the second request is for a culvert repair associated with the City of Newport’s Municipal Airport in Lincoln County. More info at the ODFW website. Written comments are due by Feb. 8 on the two proposed actions, for consideration by the Oregon Fish Passage Task Force. Send to Greg Apke, ODFW Fish Passage Program Coordinator, 4034 Fairview Industrial Dr., Salem, OR 97302, or by calling (503) 947-6228. Additional opportunities will be available at a Feb. 15 meeting. and at the ODFW Commission meeting. in April.

ODFW staff convened a meeting of conservation interests to discuss how to fund the Oregon Conservation Strategy, Outdoor Recreation and other conservation and environmental interests.

Forestry

Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order 19-01 establishing the Oregon Wildfire Response Council and named Matt Donegan as Chair. The charge of the council is to evaluate Oregon’s current system of response to large fires, and determine whether or not the current model is the best possible way to defend Oregon from the threat of wildfires. The council will issue a report in September 2019 to make recommendations for the future of Oregon’s wildfire response infrastructure.

Land Use

SB 88, a bill that would allow counties to authorize accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in certain rural residential zones, was heard on Jan. 31 in the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. A -1 Amendment was included in the meeting materials to create state-required sideboards around such a use if counties choose to allow ADUs in their development codes. A work group (of which the League is a member) met on Jan. 30 to continue to refine this concept and new ideas were presented at the hearing.  There may be a separate bill to ask the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) to adopt a set of “fire risk” maps to guide future development throughout Oregon. 

HB 2075, a bill that would establish a Development Readiness Program within the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD), with $1.35 million in funding and one staffer, was heard on Jan. 29 in the House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use.  The League supports this effort to provide funding to help local governments update their Comprehensive Plans and Development Codes and work to provide housing for all.  HB 2228, a bill sponsored by the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) and League of Oregon Cities (LOC), also asks for funding for this work AND for technical assistance focused on a variety of local actions around affordable housing.  The League supports the concept of having such technical assistance, but wants the staffing to be housed in Housing and Community Services and not at AOC nor LOC, and wants HB 2228 to be narrowed in focus so as not to duplicate the work being considered in HB 2075. A hearing on HB 2228 will be held Feb. 4 in the House Committee on Human Services and Housing.   

SB 2, which will allow some Eastern Oregon counties to designate up to 50 acres outside of urban growth boundaries for industrial or other employment, will be heard in the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources on Feb. 5.  This bill is a different version from SB 1588 (2016) and SB 432 (2017) with increased criteria around what land might be considered. In 2018, DLCD had $300,000 included in their budget to help these counties do Economic Opportunity Analyses (EOAs). The League may be silent on this bill. 

HB 2001, a bill that would require certain cities and counties to allow middle housing in lands zoned for single-family dwellings and require a number of other changes to land use law, will be heard on Feb. 11 in the House Committee on Human Services and Housing. The League supports housing for all in communities, but has concerns about a number of provisions in this bill as written.  The 16-month timeline for implementation at the local level is just one of our concerns.  

SB 102: Requires State Forester to establish guidelines for wildfire buffer zones that produce defensible spaces around lands in forestland-urban interface.

There are a number of bills around annexation to be heard in the House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use on Feb. 5.  Two other bills of interest to the League are HB 2225, related to certain forest dwellings, and HB 2363, a bill that would amend HB 3012 (2017), a bill that would allow conversion of an 1850-1945 dwelling to become an accessory dwelling unit and a new home to be built on the same lot. HB 2363 seeks to expand dwellings without a true nexus between preserving historic homes and our land use system.

The State’s Citizen Involvement Advisory Committee has opened the application period for the Achievement in Community Engagement (ACE) Awards. This award recognizes organizations and individuals who have actively promoted and implemented the values of Oregon’s Statewide Planning Goal 1 through an outstanding community engagement strategy.  Applications are due March 27 for projects completed between January 2018 and March 2019.  For additional information, visit the website.

Marine Board

The League will follow HB 2351, which authorizes the State Marine Board to adopt special regulations to protect shoreline in Willamette River Greenway and HB 2352, which creates a towed watersports program within State Marine Board.

Solid Waste

HB 2772 establishes a product stewardship program for household hazardous waste.  There are a number of bills around various plastics bans:  bags, straws and other implements in an attempt to reduce our use of plastics.

Scenic Waterways

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission will consider a recommendation to add a section of the Nehalem River as an Oregon Scenic Waterway on Feb. 21.  The Water Resources Commission will hear the issue on Feb. 22.  The League has been supportive of this program and hopes both commissions will so designate.  For more information see State Scenic Waterway program.

Water

The League supported HB 2084, which would extend the Place-Based Planning program sunset to 2023. This bill had a robust public hearing with members of the current efforts attending from around the state. The bill is scheduled for a Work Session in the House Committee on Energy and Environment on Feb. 5.

We support increasing dam safety and are working with stakeholders on legislation to address this important public safety issue. We will also be asking the Legislature to fund this program.  

The League has been a long-time supporter of the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. The State Land Board will receive a report on this important asset at its Feb. 5 meeting.

HB 2437, a bill on how the agricultural community deals with their need to clean ditches, was heard on Jan. 31 in the House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use.  There is still much disagreement among the varied interests on this issue.  Additional bills on whether or not the state should partially “assume” part of the role of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers related to some removal/fill permits (HB 2436), and establishing a pilot program to help Willamette Valley cities develop a mitigation bank or find other answers to addressing the clash between wetlands and development (HB 2438) are yet to be scheduled for a hearing. The League is likely to support the third bill. 

To learn more about what the Environmental Protection Agency is doing to address excess nutrients in the nation’s waters, visit here.

The U.S. Drought Monitor for Jan. 28 shows an improvement in conditions in Oregon over the past few weeks. Indicators now point toward D3 (Extreme Drought) in a little over 12 percent of the state. This is down from the 23 percent indicated last week. The report continues to show that 78 percent of the state is in D2 (Severe Drought), 91 percent is listed as in D1 (Moderate Drought) and 100 percent of the state is still listed as D0 (Abnormally Dry).

Regional Solutions

The League encourages members to continue to follow the Regional Solutions (RS) program to assure that there is a public element to any funding decisions and that local citizens know what projects are being “helped” by the RS process. Please sign up to get the notices of meetings in your region.  Members can attend or call in to listen to economic activities in each of the 11 regions. The Governor’s budget recommends $15 million be allocated to this program for regional economic development projects.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! We don’t have someone to follow Stewardship issues (as in plastic bag bans, etc.), Transportation and Toxics.  If you are interested in these issues OR have one bill you want to follow, please contact Peggy Lynch, peggylynchor@gmail.com


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Revenue and Tax Reform

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

The Joint Committee on Student Success Revenue Subcommittee heard examples of business taxes in other states and ways to reduce Oregon’s income tax bite on low incomes. House Revenue finished Revenue 101. Both House Revenue and Senate Finance and Revenue heard minor bills.

Joint Committee on Student Success Revenue Subcommittee

The Joint Committee on Student Success Revenue Subcommittee will likely be the introducing body for the large revenue bill we expect to fund education enhancements.

At their first meeting, a co-chair announced intentions to also improve Oregon income tax for those with low incomes.  The Legislative Revenue Office (LRO) pointed out that even taxable incomes under $3,550 pay 5%, and the 9% rate starts at $8,900, both for single filers.  Possible fixes include changing the brackets, increasing the standard deduction, or increasing credits aimed solely at low-income filers, like the earned income tax credit, EITC. [Note: there are already several bills aimed at increasing Oregon’s EITC.]

The subcommittee heard about business taxes in general, in other states, and in Oregon. LRO reminded them that the wider a tax base, the lower the rate can be to generate the same amount of revenue.  A gross revenue tax has the widest base but runs into pyramiding. [For example, a winery, its distributor, and a store all pay on their gross revenue, so the same bottle of wine gets taxes three times.] A value-added tax avoids pyramiding, as the cost of purchased goods can be subtracted out, but has a narrower base so needs a larger rate.  A profits tax subtracts all costs, but has the narrowest base, requiring the highest rate for the same revenue.

LRO walked the subcommittee through several states’ gross receipts or value-added taxes.  Nevada and Washington have gross receipts taxes with dozens of different rates for different economic sectors [likely in part because profit margins vary widely between sectors; think of the small margins in grocery stores compared to some technology firms]. Ohio’s gross receipts tax is very simple, with a very low rate of 0.26% of receipts over $1 million. Texas has a hybrid gross receipts/value-added tax, allowing filers to pick tax bases (total revenue – compensation or total revenue – cost of goods sold, etc.) so consulting firms and grocery stores can each pick the tax base that works best for them while keeping nearly the same rate for all. A value-added tax (VAT) can be subtractive, revenue minus cost of purchased goods, or additive.  New Hampshire’s VAT is additive: dividends paid + compensation paid + interest paid, and covers all types of business enterprises with one tax rate.  A committee member pointed out that New Hampshire’s VAT, since it taxes compensation, could disincentivize hiring, possibly not realizing that a subtractive VAT has essentially the same base. Listen to the hearing.  Read the document. 

Property Tax

There are several bills to tax some or all properties on real market value (RMV) or 75% of RMV.  See HB 2167, HJR 1, HJR 2, HJR 3, HJR 4, and SJR 2.  At least two legislators pointed out that what assessors calculate as RMV may be substantially lower than an appraised value would be, possibly in part because assessors do not have the incentive or resources to compute an accurate RMV. The Legislative Revenue Office (LRO) pointed out there are moves this session to increase assessor resources.

Sneak Preview: What We Know So Far about the Week of February 5

Senate Finance and Revenue will hear SB 161, creating an income tax credit for contributions to higher ed savings or ABLE accounts; no credit if income over $100,000. House Revenue will hear HB 2388, disallowing the subtraction for contributing to a higher education savings account if the contribution is rolled over to an out-of-state program, and will hear about crypto-currencies February 6, 8:30 am.

Revenue 101 Continued

House Revenue continued Revenue 101.  The Legislative Revenue Office (LRO) did a nice job of explaining the twists and turns of Oregon’s school financing, property tax, transportation funding, and alcohol, marijuana, and transient lodging.

Here is a link to the Legislative Revenue Office (LRO)’s 2019 Oregon Public Finance: Basic Facts.

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  

Criminal Justice Reform, Barbara Ross

Good news: The Supreme Court of Oregon made a positive ruling on State vs Valin last week. This decision validated HB 3078 which the league supported in the 2017 session. This victory will make it easier for us to be successful in making other modifications to how Measure 11 is applied to youth. It may be possible that several of the changes being proposed can be approved by a simple majority, rather than requiring a 2/3 vote.

We do not have bill numbers for our most important proposals because legislative council is so backed up in getting drafts back to sponsors. Feb 22 is the final deadline. Senate Judiciary staff tells us the hearings on juvenile justice bills will probably be in early March. The concepts we are supporting are (1) eliminating automatic waiver to adult court, (2) increasing access to Second Look hearings, and (3) streamlining the expungement process so that it is more affordable and accessible

Our team has had sit-down discussions with 24 legislators, including all members of the House and Senate Judiciary committees. Our next step is to talk to all the new legislators so that they begin to understand the issues around juvenile justice reform.

Gun Safety, Marge Easley

While the League supports many gun safety bills this session, here are some of the gun bills that the League will strenuously oppose If they come up for a hearing:

  • HB 2298SB 323: House and Senate versions of a bill that would allow someone to carry a handgun in Oregon if they have a concealed handgun license (CHL) from a state with similar CHL requirements. This goes hand in hand with the national gun lobby’s long-time effort to enact a nationwide “concealed handgun license reciprocity” law.
  • SB 322: Those seeking a concealed handgun license would be allowed to “sheriff shop” in order to find an Oregon county in which CHL requirements are less stringent than the county in which they reside.
  • HB 2546: Creates a tax credit for the cost of background checks and allows associated travel mileage to be tax deductible.
  • HB 2287: Authorizes school districts to allow firearm safety instruction to sixth grade students on school property at taxpayer expense.

Women’s Issues, Debbie Runciman

The Joint Committee on Capitol Culture has begun its work to implement the recommendations from the Oregon Law Commission regarding sexual harassment and discrimination in the Capitol. You can find the Commission’s full report and summary of the recommendations here.

SB 744, which establishes a Joint Committee on Conduct and a Legislative Equity Office, will be heard Tuesday Feb 6, as well as HB 2859, relating to confidentiality of complaints. Working to change the culture for all employers and employees, the Senate Workforce heard SB 479 and now has SB 726, an omnibus bill which addresses discrimination with prevention, training, reporting guidelines, confidentiality, time period for reporting, and much more. 

A bipartisan workgroup has been studying paid family leave for months, to develop an insurance program where employers and employees each contribute to make paid leave available for new parents and those caring for sick children or aging parents. The Family and Medical Leave Insurance bill has yet to be introduced, but legislative leaders indicate that a bill will be coming soon. 

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


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