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Legislative Report, Volume 29, Number 5 – 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 submitted our first Oregon Climate Action Plan (OCAP), previously referred to as Clean Energy Jobs (CEJ) Cap and Invest, 2019 testimony to the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction (JCCR) Thursday Feb. 14 LWVOR posted an OCAP, Cap and Invest Action Alert. It is critical that League voices are heard supporting this historical climate legislation. Please plan to attend and testify at one of the five OCAP Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction public hearings.

Julie Chapman provided a OCAP presentation to LWV of Clackamas County on Thursday and Friday with other League members who planned to testify at the Capital during the first of six JCCR public meetings. Recommended amendments to the bill may include: 1) More aggressive Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Goals that address zero emissions by 2050 per IPCC science related to keeping global warming to max of 1.5C, 2) Related to that goal, consideration to the current number of Free Allowances, Offsets, Exemptions and Exclusions, and 3) a possible companion bill that would put a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure projects.

The Feb. 8 JCCR informational meeting included the long awaited Economic Impact Study presented by David Roland-Holst, Managing Director and Principal, Berkeley Economic Advising and Research, LL. “Our primary finding is that Oregon can meet its 2050 climate goals in ways that achieve higher aggregate economic growth and employment,” David Roland-Holst, a UC Berkeley economist, told the JCCR.

HB 2020, continues to receive news coverage. (Refer to the LWVOR Climate Change (CC) Legislative reports (Feb. 11, Feb. 4, 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 committee is not expected to vote on this legislation until mid or late March. 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, Claudia Keith and the League submitted written testimony last week to the House Committee on Energy and Environment for the Feb. 7 public hearing. The LWVOR is working with a number of other groups on this bill and hopes to pass this important legislation this year. Our testimony may be similar to 2017 HB 2711 A. Related, here is 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, receive public hearings. 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 Climate Change Advocacy

Jordan Cove & Pacific Gas Pipeline: Recent developments include over 35,000 testimonies, including Jackson County Commissioners’ opposition, to the Dept. of State Lands removal/fill permits. Our four local southern Leagues and the state League provided a letter.

Our Children’s Trust (OCT) recent developments: In the Federal case, the 9th Circuit will expedite an interlocutory appeal. The LWVOR and LWVUS may submit a third amicus brief in March. In the State of Oregon case, they received an unfavorable ruling, and OCT will appeal. On Feb. 7, Our Children’s Trust filed a motion to stop the federal government from leasing out federal land and offshore areas to fossil fuel companies for oil, gas and coal extraction. It also demanded a halt in federal approvals of new fossil fuel infrastructure. The motion, asked for a temporary injunction to freeze all fossil fuel infrastructure permits while an early appeal of their case, Juliana v. United States, is being considered. “At a minimum, this injunction would apply to the approximately 100 new fossil fuel infrastructure projects poised for federal permits, including pipelines, export facilities, and coal and liquefied natural gas terminals,” the motion said.

Green New Deal (GND): On Jan. 10, the 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 the LWVOR will consider joining this group with a decision most likely later this spring. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., foresee it as a massive policy package that would remake the U.S. economy and, they hope, eliminate all U.S. carbon emissions. They formally introduced their legislation Feb. 7. Other Renew Oregon coalition partners are considering how OCAP and GND concepts may fit into a broader portfolio of legislative near and long-term climate policies.

Environment Oregon is launching, “This is Climate Change,” an online storytelling project to share the stories of Oregonians already feeling the impacts of climate change. The plan is to share these stories with decision-makers and others to reinforce that climate change isn’t something happening in the distant future, but one that is impacting us, our neighbors and our environment right now. You can read the stories at “This is Climate Change”.

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.

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.

Seeing our entire education system (P-20, CTE, and Early Learning) through an equity lens was a highlight in the funding overview presented to the Education Ways and Means subcommittee this week.  Underserved preschool populations, chronic absenteeism, dropout rates, and more were discussed in an Education Overview in this important funding committee. Only 25% of African American students meet 3rd-grade proficiencies. Only 50% of all students meet 3rd-grade proficiencies.  Only one regulated childcare slot is available for every eight infants within Oregon!

Joint Committee on Student Success

While this larger committee has been meeting as subcommittees for the past several weeks, they are likely to meet as a group in the near future to hold public hearings and work sessions on assigned measures (bills first heard in House or Senate Education committees).

Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Early Childhood Education, Stephanie Feeney

An informational meeting was held on 2/12. Three speakers addressed the committee. Read the meeting materials here and listen.

The first speaker, Berri Leslie, Deputy Chief of Staff and Coordinator of the Governorʻs Childrenʻs Cabinet began the hearing with an overview of the Governorʻs current interest in early childhood education, which she views in the context of all family issues. She stated that “the time is right” for early childhood education—advocates, legislators and the Governor have come together to focus on this topic. Since the price for child care has risen substantially, the Cabinet realized that they needed to provide a foundation for families, including high quality child care. Recommendations “that will make a difference” were presented.  See Recommendations of the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet – Berri Leslie (packet) and (handout) in the meeting materials. The two items relevant to this committee were: recommendation 3–increase access to quality, affordable child care and recommendation; and 4–preschool for low income children.

The next speaker, Miriam Calderon, System Director, Early Learning Division, ODE, provided more information on New Investments in Early Care and Education from the Governorʻs Recommended Budget, 2019-20. The proposed investment is $368.9 million.

The first of the funding recommendations address Child Care Supply and Quality. Proposed funding is for for infant and toddler care through the Baby Promise program ($10 million) and for preventing an increase in child care licensing caseloads ($1.5 million).

The second investment area, Preschool & Kindergarten Readiness, is based on recognition of the fact that there are approximately 30,000 low-income children in Oregon who have no access to preschool. The Governorʻs plan proposes $169.7 million for the Preschool Promise Program, $15 million for an Equity Fund for culturally specific readiness programs for historically underserved families, $101.3 million for the Oregon PreK & Early Head Start Programs to convert existing slots to full day to include transportation services, to add 960 new slots for Early Head Start for families with children birth to age 3, and to provide $45.6 million to increase the level of service to children under 5 who have disabilities and learning delays.

Funding is proposed to increase training for the early childhood workforce, including $18.3 million for early learning professional networks, $7 million for scholarships for early childhood educators seeking additional training and certification, and $ 3.5 million for centers of excellence to promote training for preschool and elementary school teachers in best practices for the transition from preschool to elementary school.

The final funding recommendations are for Community-Based Family and Parenting Support, which will assist an additional 2,000 families to access programs that promote child development and family well-being. These include $5 million for Relief Nurseries, $2 million for the Healthy Families Oregon home visiting program, and $2 million for parenting education programs.

The next speaker was Dana Hepper from the Childrenʻs Institute representing the Early Childhood Coalition. She began by underscoring the importance of early childhood education. She then addressed the need for family supports, child care, early intervention and early chldhood special education, and preschool and other early learning opportunities to prepare children to be successful in school. She presented statistics on the need for child care in Oregon (described as a crisis), looked at the increase in percentages of families who need child care, and reiterated the benefits of preschool (see the Recommendations of the Early Childhood Coalition – Dana Hepper (handout) (handout 2) (presentation) and (testimony), in the meeting materials).

The Early Childhood Coalitionʻs comprehensive agenda “informed by expertise and experience of providers, community organizations and research” was presented. These recommendations are closely aligned with the recommendations of the Joint Student Success Committee and the Governorʻs Education Investment Package (not surprising since the groups have been working together).

In most areas the Coalition supported the funding package proposed by the Governor. They recommended higher levels of funding for early intervention and early childhood special education ($30 million above the Governorʻs recommendations) and for family supports, including Relief Nurseries and home visiting programs offered by Healthy Families Oregon.

Legislators discussed how to communicate increases in early education funding to the public, and conjectured about how the state could reach the goal of providing early education to the 30,000 unserved low-income kids. They talked about what would be needed to sustain programs after initial funding and how they would determine the priorities they will give to the full Student Success Committee.

LWVOR observations: There is clearly a commitment to substantial increase in funding for early education. But determining priorities, expanding and improving the competence of the workforce and finding ways to coordinate a piecemeal system of programs and funding sources, offer enormous challenges.

Next week on 2/19 the committee will consider: preschool in other states; Oregon’s public preschool programs: provider, teacher, and parent perspectives; preschool in Oregon: gaps and opportunities; and equity funding for historically underserved children of color, poor, rural communities.

Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Accountability and Transparency

School District perspectives on accountability and transparency were heard on 2/12 from both large and small school districts. Outcomes encouraged by districts were “consistency” in policy measures for organizational learning rather than disruptive changes each year.  Powerful measures recommended in tracking outcomes are the four- and five-year graduation rate, the chronic absentee rate (as opposed to straight absentee numbers), and third-grade assessments. Changing formative assessments (Smarter Balance Formative Assessments) at mid-year rather than year-end were recommended to encourage current year educators to know how to impact learning in real-time.  Smaller class size, more well-rounded education (not teaching to the test), student health and safety, and more learning time were recommended.

Accountability & Transparency: Teacher Perspectives were offered by the Oregon Education Association’s Laurie Wimmer, Government Relations.  Teachers believe that Oregon overemphasizes test scores as the primary measure of school quality and of student achievement. Teachers want a well-rounded educational opportunity for all students. This means access to fine arts, music, electives, libraries with certified teacher librarians, after-school programs, science, social studies – all the things that have been lost due to the over-reliance on test data combined with decades of disinvestment. Using a social and emotional learning framework rather than test-driven data would be helpful. Housing, food security, dental care, clothing and other basics on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are needed.  Availability of summer school supports for struggling learners, and students building relationships with adults in smaller class sizes are heralded by OEA.

Joint Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education

Education agency heads all appeared before this budgeting committee on 2/13 and will be back over the next weeks as budgets are dissected.  Presenting were: Lindsey Capps – Chief Education Officer; Berri Leslie – Deputy Chief of Staff, Governor’s Office; Miriam Calderon – Early Learning System Director; Colt Gill – Director, Oregon Department of Education Serena Stoudamire Wesley – Youth Development Director; Anthony Rosilez – Executive Director, Teacher Standards and Practices Commission; and Ben Cannon – Executive Director, Higher Education Coordinating. 

Listen for greater detail and see the targeted outcomes in the Education Overview. Disturbing facts:

  • Oregon families with children under 5 are twice as likely to experience poverty.
  • 5 percent of Oregon children aged 5 to 17 live at or below poverty.
  • Numbers are even higher for children of color and those in rural communities.
  • In 2017, there were approximately 17,506 16-21-year-olds in Oregon who did not have a high school diploma or GED and were not enrolled in school. Of these youth:
    • 6,613 were working.
    • 10,893 were unemployed and not in school (Disconnected Youth).
    • Dropouts – 6,401 students dropped out of high school in the 2017-18 school year.
    • Non-Completers – 7,096 youth in the 2017-18 5-year Cohort did not graduate or complete high school.

Highlights from the testimony:

  • We have a patchwork of funding streams from state and federal investments as well as nonprofit funding that serve children in early learning (the scattering of programs has developed over time in a complex network). Accessing funding sources, coordinating services and having successful outcomes, continues to be challenging.
  • Safe and effective schools with an equitable environment is a goal. Many students have absences due to bullying and fear for their safety.  An inclusive school pilot program (social and emotional learning, trauma-informed learning), early intervention to assist with graduating on time, and a new effort creating the Oregon Student Advisory Network, will enhance the voices of students for the Board of Education and the Oregon Department of Education.  Equity initiatives for low income, rural, Native American and African American students historically marginalized with lower graduation rates, are a focus.  Over the past four years, the graduation rate has increased by 6%, a start, yet still dismal when compared with some other states. College and career pathways are facilitated through a transition from high school to CTE, community college and higher education links.  There is also an effort to encourage diversity in the teaching workforce to better reflect more professionals of color and diverse ethnic backgrounds.
  • Post-secondary education can be a ticket to the “middle class,” but increasingly it is more cost prohibitive to those who are not already in the middle class. Oregon ranks 38th nationally, well below the average, in appropriations per FTE student for college.  Students are being asked to pay much higher percentages of tuition and costs.
  • HB 5015: Oregon Department of Education budget and HB 5016 State School Fund budget ($8.3 billion for the next biennium) will be discussed on 2/20 and 2/21.

Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Revenue

(See the Revenue/Tax section of this Legislative Report.)

Senate Committee on Education

On 2/11 diversity, equity and inclusion in Oregon’s Public Schools was discussed with an informative presentationSafe and Effective Schools for AllSB 12  and  American Indian/Alaska Native Student Success Education PlanSB 14, received favorable support.

On 2/13, in a SB 497 hearing to lower the high school grade point average required to participate in Oregon Promise program from 2.5 to 2.0, committee members expressed verbal support to expand access to about 15% more students annually.  Oregon only pays last dollars after federal Pell Grants are utilized. “A year of community college is a lot less expensive than a lifetime on public assistance,” was noted.  SB 730 will move universities and community colleges to integrate foundational curricula and unify statewide transfer agreements into Transfer Student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.

Next week on 2/18, a panel will update progress on the High School Graduation and College and Career Readiness Act (Measure 98). SB 764 proposes to add one simple phrase into law that would amend the definition of “employment relations” to include class size and caseload limits as mandatory collective bargaining subjects for school districts. Discussion will likely be around cost, funding this investment in students, and studies that reflect student success based on smaller class size. SB 664, that would require school districts to provide instruction about the Holocaust and genocide, has a public hearing 2/20. Vision screening bills have public hearings on 2/25.

House Committee on Education

Public hearings on several bills regarding students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing occurred on 2/11. These bills and HB 2140, extending the sunset for tax credit for payments to an employee and dependent scholarship programs, passed from the committee to Revenue.

Next week on 2/18 hearings are scheduled on: HB 2248 establishing a grant program for purpose of improving kindergarten student-to-teacher ratios in schools that are considered high poverty; HB 2742 directing Department of Education to distribute grants for purpose of developing and diversifying education workforce for prekindergarten through grade 12; and HB 2867 to modify requirements for school to qualify as small high school for purposes of State School Fund distributions. On 2/20 several bills strengthening education in rural schools will have public hearings.

To follow specific committee discussions in detail, use these links; then click on a specific date to see the agenda, meeting materials, and video recording.  We routinely follow:

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, Nancy Donovan and Sharon Posner; Higher Education: Alice Bartelt and Karan Kuntz


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Governance

By Rebecca Gladstone, Governance Coordinator

Thanks to our volunteers!

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

Brief

The introductory committee briefing period is largely over. Norman was asked to speak as a resource for Campaign Finance. Josie continues to see portfolio overlap, especially this week in her many public records bills. Marge anticipates National Popular Vote action soon. A couple of our elections bills will be heard this week. Ethics is growing enough to warrant coverage by itself. We need your help; please contact us.  

Audits

The Secretary of State’s office (SoS) announced an ambitious audits agenda in light of also announcing limiting their Information Systems project list. (See Information Management.)  

Joint Information Management & Technology

The SoS Chief Information Officer referred to sidelining all but 22 of 77 projects, citing lack of staffing with their limited IT staff of 40 FTE, with current funding: hearing video, their presentation, and public relations video. They contract out for hardware, software, and consulting engineer support, focus on four areas: Infrastructure, security, applications and data. 

Transparency, Public Records, Josie Koehne

49 public records bills have been introduced this session so far. Most are intended to keep personally identifiable information (PPI) private for whistleblowers and those under active government investigations of citizen complaints. The League supports exemptions for these kinds of disclosure purposes but not others. Hopefully, the Sunshine Committee will make recommendations soon to the Legislature, as is their charge, and will generalize and consolidate these PPI exceptions to public records requests. As reported, a subcommittee is answering questions that concern privacy. There is always a push/pull between the public interest and the public’s right to know (PPI needed by the press to do investigative reporting) versus the privacy of individuals to protect their safety, their medical and financial records, protection from harassment, and from unsubstantiated allegations. But when there are exemptions that would make it hard for the press to get certain personal information required for them to do their investigative reporting that is in the public interest, we must protect their right to disclosure and transparency as intended by Oregon’s public records law. Sometimes, the distinction can be hard to make, and this is the work assigned to the subcommittee of Sunshine Committee, which met Feb. 1 and will meet again on Feb. 22.

Several new bills of note:

HB 2341, at the request of the Public Records Advisory Council requires each state agency to report to the Attorney General, Public Records Advocate, and public records subcommittee of Legislative Counsel Committee, on the number of public records requests received during the preceding year and the number of those requests still outstanding after specified periods of time. Presumably, this is intended to see how burdensome the requests are on each agency, and provide data on delays for each agency in responding to requests, so that corrections can be made to facilitate the process.

HB 2481 expands the definition of “records” that law enforcement and agencies investigating child abuse in the best interests of the child, are entitled to see. “Reports and records” includes, but is not limited to, any police report, investigative report, photograph, audio or visual recording or any other document that was generated as a result of a child abuse investigation. Those interests would outweigh the parent or others from claims of privacy.

HB 2858 requires better rules, reporting, advance warning and planning to the DEQ for potentially hazardous waste transportation by rail along listed environmentally sensitive areas. In addition to multiple petroleum products, including some deemed hazardous materials. It establishes a High Hazard Train Route Oil Spill Prevention Fund, and limits disclosure: “A department or agency in receipt of information that a facility will receive crude oil from a railroad car may not disclose information that contains proprietary, commercial or financial information.”

SB 609, initially introduced by Deborah Boone and later withdrawn, was reintroduced by Senator Johnson, would require a requester to make “the request in writing and must state with particularity:

(a) A description of the records being sought; and

(b) A statement of how the requester intends to use the requested records.

The bill does not state who would evaluate or how that information would be used by the agency supplying the information. This bill could be used to impede investigations and introduce delays that would not be in the public’s interest and the public’s right to know.

Elections

SB 224: We spoke to this elections omnibus rules bill, largely supporting it, with concerns for deletion of the electioneering-free zone near voting locations. A 2016 ruling from the AG finds this ban unconstitutional and unenforceable. Legislative staff for the SoS distinguishes between electioneering and voter suppression or intimidation, from which voters would still be protected. (hearing video).

We will speak to the three bills up for hearing in House Rules on Monday. These two are ours:

HB 2685: This bill addresses candidate filing contact information and is currently being amended. The intent is to make sure the candidate contact information that is publicly available is appropriate.

HB 2234: This bill reprises our 2017 efforts to move *opt-in, optional* online candidate filing. Note the support and cautions from the County Election Clerks. More on both of these next week.

Election Security

LWVUS shared Hearing: Defending Our Democracy: Building Partnerships to Protect America’s Elections. Thomas Hicks, Election Assistance Commission, on voter fraud: “If you don’t vote, your vote [surely] won’t count,” a reference to elections being vulnerable to misinformation generated to mislead or discourage the voting public. (Sidelight, take a look at this Oregonian report on Russian measles misinformation.) Rep. Cleaver, D MO 5th CD, says: ”in a presidential election, all votes are not equal. If you live in Oregon, you can vote on Sundays, you can register all the way up to the election… Also in South Carolina and even Florida, ‘souls to the polls’ on Sundays. In Missouri, you can’t do that, or in Kansas, or Iowa. Some people have a greater opportunity to vote than others.”

Mr. Rivera, Chief Information Officer for the Oregon SoS, now says we get an average of 60 million hack attempts daily to Oregon Elections. Many are along the lines of “checking doorknobs, to see if they are locked.”

National Popular Vote, Marge Easley

The League is once again part of a statewide effort that will allow Oregon to join with the 12 other jurisdictions in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The main goal will be to ensure enough Senate votes to pass the NPV bill through the Senate Rules Committee and then onto the Senate floor. We are hopeful that a hearing on the bill will occur in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for additional information.

As you may recall, last session the bill passed the House but failed to move in the Senate, due to the insistence by both Senate President Peter Courtney and Senate Rules Committee Chair Ginny Burdick that NPV be referred to voters. Fortunately, Senate support of a non-referral bill is likely stronger this session, but it remains important to convince legislators on both sides of the aisle that the current Electoral College system is deeply flawed and detrimental to our democracy.

Redistricting, Norman Turrill

We are actively visiting legislator and public official offices to recruit sponsors for the Redistricting Matters Coalition’s proposal that is currently being drafted in Legislative Counsel. We have oral commitments for bi-partisan support for the bill.

The League has held 16 popular educational forums throughout the state and more are scheduled in 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 petition drive.

Campaign Finance, Norman Turrill

The Senate Committee on Campaign Finance held an informational hearing Feb. 13 about proposals for small donor elections; the League orally testified.

HB 2709, which tightens statutory rules on coordination of in-kind donations to campaigns vs. independent expenditures, will be heard in House Rules during Monday’s holiday. This may seem like a minor bill, but it is very important in the context of other bills on campaign contribution limits, small donor elections and tightening other campaign disclosures. Campaign contributions limits have historically increased independent expenditures, which are often used for “hit pieces,” dark money, and foreign money during candidate campaigns. Candidates can lose control of their campaign messages if independent expenditures get out of control.

None of the following bills have yet moved beyond being assigned to a committee:

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

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 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.

Ethics

We have an eye on ten ethics bills, ranging from Committees on Judiciary and Rules to Revenue and Capitol Culture. We won’t have targeted positions on many of these bills, but we want to be aware of them. The key-word grab bag includes: harassment hush funds (SB 478), the non-profit omnibus law bill (SB 360), sanctions against misleading legislators (HB 2582), legal fee withholding (HB 2096), a complex public employee civil penalty ban (HB 2830), Ethics advisory opinions on request (SB 659), the crime of electronic sexual harassment (HB 2300), and temporary legislator exclusion for harassment (SJR 10).

Write for more info and help us. 

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 

We voiced our support for Oregon’s coast, for our award-winning land use planning program with local implementation and opposed bills subverting that same land-use planning system. We continue to be engaged in natural resource agency budgets. Some of our bills are moving; others we continue to work to improve.

Budgets

The League submitted written testimony and provided oral comments in support of  HB 5027, the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development budget, to the Jt. Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources.

On Feb. 18-20, the committee will hold public hearings on HB 5017 and HB 5018, the Department of Environmental Quality’s budget and fee bills. Public testimony will be taken on Feb. 21. This is a critical agency, responsible for administering the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and providing environmental protection for our lands. The League is working with water quality stakeholders to request changes in the Governor’s budget request to reflect the broader needs of the program, while trying to stay within the actual budgeted amount. Without new air quality fees, Cleaner Air Oregon cannot be implemented.

Coastal Issues, Peggy Joyce

Written and oral testimony was given last Tuesday, Feb. 12 in support of two bills before the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, SB 753 and SB 260. The Oregon Ocean Science Trust (OOST) is asking the legislature that created the Trust in 2013 (without money to support their work) to allow it to enter into contract agreements with nonprofits for the purpose of raising research monies to support their mission of studying ocean acidification and hypoxia. Besides the LWVOR, testimony was heard from Dr. Caren Braby, Program Manager, Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), OOST Co-founder and Board member Laura Anderson, Dr. Jack Barth, Oregon State University (OSU), and the Audubon Society which was a refreshing point of view of how devastating ocean acidification can be on other wildlife in the food chain. Overall it looks like the bill may sail through this session especially since they aren’t asking for any money from the state.

SB 260 drew the same support testimonies from those who commented on SB 753. A lengthy and robust discussion took place over what the state could do to influence or change a global climate system that negatively impacts our local coastline and economy. Drs. Braby and Barth were very clear on the advantages of, and cited examples of, the scientific knowledge that kept the coastal fishing industry from collapse because of the studies done by OSU, which were so successful that even California has copied and adopted our system. For some members on the committee that seemed to get their attention, but it was clear they are torn on this climate change issue but yet open to hearing the scientific results and impressed that the interventions and mitigations employed by ODFW and OSU really did save the fishing industry and continues to improve the strategies of how to manage the increasing acidification along our coastline. Dr. Braby pointed out that the acidification comes from increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and although we’ve managed to avoid the worst of the acidification and hypoxia event for now, as CO2 increases it will eventually overrun the current science if we don’t stay on top of what’s happening in the ocean waters and that requires further studies. So the take-away message was: support cap & trade and support more scientific studies. Both ocean bills will be up for work sessions on Feb. 21 where they are expected to be moved to the Senate floor.

The League has been a long-time supporter of the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (SSNERR) as has our Coos County League. The League is concerned about any change in management for this first-in-the-nation estuarine research reserve. Any change would take legislative action.

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. The Senate Committee on Health Care adopted the -1 amendments and the bill was moved to Ways and Means.

The Safe Well Water Bill, HB 2860, will be heard in the House Committee on Energy and Environment on Feb. 21. We testified in favor of HB 4125 (2016) and we expect to testify in support again in 2019.

Land Use

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, was 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. We expect amendments and will be reconsidered if they consider our concerns.

HB 2003, a 30-page bill related to housing, has been filed. The extensive bill deals with a number of state agencies and regional responsibilities. The cost to implement the bill will be unreasonable. The intrusion into local jurisdictions and reduction of Goal 1 obligations are just a few of the reasons that, as filed, the League will oppose.

HB 2228, a bill sponsored by the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) and League of Oregon Cities (LOC), asks for funding for land use planning work AND for technical assistance focused on a variety of local actions around affordable housing. The League 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 was held Feb. 4 in the House Committee on Human Services and Housing, where the League provided testimony and proposed amendments to narrow the bill. The League is expecting to see consensus amendments next week. We are looking for amendments that will provide for local jurisdictional help for facilitating local citizen conversations, adopting appropriate land use updates, and seeing work between DLSD and the Oregon Housing and Community Services. The goal is to finally get projects on the ground so Oregon’s residents have a safe and affordable home.

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, had a work session on Feb. 12 where the -1 amendments were adopted that limit the number of 50-acre designations to no more than 10 throughout the region. The bill now goes to the full Senate. The League is neutral on this bill.

The League provided oral testimony opposing HB 2456, a bill that would allow some agricultural lands within the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Region (defined in HB 2012 (2017) to be rezoned 1, 2, 5 and 10-acre lots and would allow tax credits to reward such behavior. We also provided oral testimony opposing HB 2363, a bill that would amend HB 3012 (2017) that allowed conversion of an 1850-1945 dwelling to become an accessory dwelling unit and a new home to be built on the same lot, and HB 2357 that would limit “standing” in appeals of land use decisions to people who live within 25 miles and actually appeared before the decision maker (not just provided written testimony for the record).

SB 88, a bill that would allow counties to authorize accessory dwelling units 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 additional state-required sideboards around such a use if counties choose to allow in their development codes. We look forward to additional amendments and continue to work on polishing this bill so it addresses concerns around placing more housing in rural areas of the state.

HB 2225, related to certain forest dwellings, had a hearing in the House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use on Feb. 5. The League will continue to follow this bill that attempts to reduce the number of new dwellings in forest zones, a position we support.

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. This bill has a work session scheduled on Feb. 21 in the House Committee on Energy and Environment. 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. It passed the House on Feb. 13 and is headed to the Senate. Funding for staff and grant assistance to continue this program is included in the Water Resources Dept. budget (HB 5043) to be heard in early March.

HB 2437, a bill on how the agricultural community deals with their need to clean ditches while protecting fish streams, 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. Another bill 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) has been filed as a “place-holder”. The latest understanding is that amendments would narrow this “partial assumption” to Urban Growth Boundaries. The League continues to be engaged in discussions around this issue. At this point, we are opposed. A third bill would establish a pilot program to help some Willamette Valley cities develop a mitigation bank or find other answers to addressing the clash between wetlands and development (HB 2438). Both bills are tentatively scheduled for a hearing in March. The League is likely to support the third bill if Business Oregon can find a way to assist in the proposed program.

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

Senate Finance and Revenue heard SB 543, which allows formation of children’s service districts. Next week they’ll hear two property tax bills that may provide lively discussion. The Joint Committee on Student Success Revenue Subcommittee heard more on a value-added tax from the Legislative Revenue Office.

House Revenue and Senate Finance and Revenue

Senate Finance and Revenue heard SB 543, allowing formation of children’s service districts. No surprise, all speakers favor after school and summer programs for children. Also, no surprise, entities providing children’s services favor the bill, citing great need for services and sustainable revenue.  Local governments, including the cities and special districts associations, worry about compression, their own revenues getting squeezed down to fit yet another levy under the Measure 5 $10 per $1000 maximum for the total of local government property tax rates.  To keep the district rate out of the $5 rate limit for education property tax rates, the bill says “If an action is filed claiming that any revenue of a children’s service district is subject to the $5 limitation….because the revenue funds a project constituting educational services, including support services, the children’s service district shall discontinue the project and shall instead use the revenue for a project that does not constitute educational services…”  The special district association pointed out that clause does not require proof that an after school service is educational, just an accusation filed in court, so that one disgruntled voter could paralyze a district by repeated filings. Our crystal ball predicts the Senate will pass the bill, again. We’ll keep you posted.

If you’re dying to hear Senate Finance and Revenue’s hearing on estate tax bills, listen here and read meeting materials. All five bills heard would reduce or eliminate Oregon’s estate tax. LRO wrote nice Cliff’s Notes.

House Revenue heard HB 2847, which would expand a tax credit for rural health care providers; see meeting materials. Bill sponsors testified the expansion would add only Sky Lake Medical Center in Klamath Falls. One legislator is looking at all the incentives for rural health to see which ones are effective.

The Oregon Society of CPAs presented what changed in federal tax law for 2018; read here.

LRO and the Department of Revenue (DOR) presented on tax expenditures, revenue not collected because of credits, deductions, and exemptions; material here. Here’s the full DOR report of all tax expenditures and a deeper dive by LRO on the far fewer expenditures scheduled to sunset next biennium.

Joint Committee on Student Revenue Subcommittee

The Joint Committee on Student Success Revenue Subcommittee heard more on a value-added tax from the Legislative Revenue Office (LRO). LRO walked through the equation:

Profit = Gross Receipts – Input Costs – Labor Costs – Capital Costs – Other Costs (i.e. rent)

pointing out that Oregon’s corporate income tax is imposed on profit, a narrow roughly $10 billion tax base, a gross receipts tax is imposed on gross receipts, about a $300 billion tax base here, and a value-added tax (VAT) or business activity tax (BAT) is imposed on the value a business added to its purchased inputs, with a tax base between the two in size.  The Oregon Business and Industry’s BAT proposal’s base is about $100-125 billion.

That tax base can be computed additively, labor costs + capital costs, as New Hampshire does, or by subtraction, gross receipts – input costs – other costs. In theory both methods should get to the same base.  However, an additive tax like New Hampshire’s is an origin-based tax that does not tax businesses with no labor or capital costs in the state but that sell into the state.  A subtractive tax could capture firms that have gross receipts in Oregon, i.e., that sell into the state but don’t produce here. On the other hand, with a subtractive tax one needs to be careful of the interstate commerce clause on treating out-of-state businesses. View the handout.

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

LWVOR predicts a lively meeting Wednesday 2/20 when Senate Finance and Revenue hears two major property tax bills, both of which propose amending the Constitution. SJR 2 proposes to change the ratio of maximum assessed value to real market value to at least 0.75.  Given the vast range of ratios across the state, this would increase horizontal equity between similarly-valued properties, and also increase the value many properties are taxed on. SJR 21 would repeal Measure 50 and require the legislature to put the measure into statute. Both measures, if passed by the legislature, would go to the voters. 

The committee hears SB 211 on Tuesday 2/19. It increases the tax rate for income from many S corporations, partnerships, and sole proprietorships. Joint filers’ income over $415,000 would be taxed at 9.9%, a rate currently hit only by incomes over $5 million. To get the pass-through break under SB 211, taxpayers must qualify for the new 20% IRS Sec 199A deduction, which excludes many professionals.

On Thursday 2/21 they’ll hear SB 702 requiring LRO to study land value taxation, a property tax system valuing land much more than improvements (buildings), which could also provide interesting testimony and questions.

On Monday February 18, House Revenue hears three personal income tax bills. HB 2120 reduces itemized deductions by 5% and increases the earned income tax credit (EITC) to 16% of the federal amount. It is one of several bills that would increase the EITC. HB 2154 limits itemized deductions on higher income returns and allows deducting employee business expenses. HB 2387 creates a credit for contributing to higher education savings or to ABLE accounts for taxpayers with income under $100,000. On Feb. 19, the committee hears two bills, HB 2171 and HB 2172 increasing tax on investment-services partnership income. On Feb. 20 they hear two bills changing the homestead exemption.

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 

The most important development in Health Care was the passage of HB 2010 A by the Ways and Means Human Services Subcommittee on 2-12. This bill provided a package of funding for the Medicaid services delivered to Oregon’s residents. The legislative members and representatives from the health care industry put together this cooperative effort to continue Medicaid services. The bill was heard in the Full Ways and Means Committee on 12-15 and passed with 19 yes and 2 no votes. The bill will be voted upon on the House floor on 2-19. Listen in for a good discussion on Medicaid services.

The House Health Committee also passed 3 important bills:  HB 2257, which will appoint a Governor’s Task Force on Opioids during the interim, HB 2691 for a psychiatric help line for physicians at Oregon Health Science University, and HB 2667 for an Adult Suicide Prevention Coordinator with the Oregon Health Authority. Good work from this committee on 2-12.

The Senate Health Care Committee has scheduled SB 131 and SB 249 for a hearing on February 18. SB 131 requests that OHA appoint a Children’s Health Advocate for children placed in private child care agencies. One concern was current vaccinations. SB 249 will have an amendment for the appeals process for insurance denials. It is expected to pass. SB 770 has been filed as Health Care for All (89 pages long) and is now in the OLIS system, but not scheduled for a hearing.

The Senate Human Services Committee passed one of its assigned bills on to Senate Judiciary, SB 167, which covers a Bill of Rights for Mentally Ill clients at the Oregon State Hospital. SB 26, on abuse by staff, was passed by the committee and by the Senate floor by 29 yeas and 1 excused vote. SB 26 will go to House Health Care Committee. Four other bills were not discussed but all transferred to Senate Health Care.

Housing, Nancy Donovan and Debbie Aiona

On February 12, the Oregon Senate voted 17 – 11 to pass SB 608, which would provide protections for people who rent their homes. The House Human Services and Housing Committee will hear the bill on Monday, 2-18. The bill would provide protection from no cause evictions from tenants after the first year of occupancy; and provide statewide protection by limiting rent increases to no more than 7% plus the consumer price index percentage. Senate Housing will hear 2 new bills: SB 564 on affordable housing pilots and SB 595 on using 30% of local transit lodging tax for affordable workforce housing on 2-18.

The House Human Services and Housing Committee had an informational hearing on Monday, January 28 to introduce five new committee members to the topic of housing. Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) Director Salazar presented an agency overview, as well as information on their legislative priorities. Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) also presented about their work as it relates to planning for housing. The Senate Housing Committee also had an informational hearing on Monday, January 28. The hearing introduced the Committee to topics related to supply, homeownership, and renting.

As an active member of the Oregon Housing Alliance, the LWVOR supported two bills from the H.A’s homeless housing agenda including:

Support for 211Info expansion, HB 2560, the request is for $3.2 million to support 211Info operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide staff and emergency housing referrals in communities across the state.

Support for General Assistance provides support to people experiencing homelessness while they are waiting for their federal disability determinations.

House Human Services and Housing heard HB 2001 on 2-11. The League has concerns and amendment suggestions about this bill, which is about housing options to allow middle housing for smaller homes or townhomes for retired citizens or small families. This week they have SB 608 scheduled on Monday and child care programs on Wednesday.

Gun Safety, Marge Easley

Although no hearings have yet been scheduled on gun safety bills, discussions are occurring behind the scenes to determine which of the many bills will rise to the fore. The one most often cited as having the best chance of passing this session is HB 2505, the Yuille Forsyth Safe Storage Act, which requires the owner or possessor of a firearm to secure it with a trigger or cable lock or alternatively to keep it in a locked container, except in specified circumstances.

Much attention has also been given to the two omnibus bills (the Governor’s Bill, HB 2251, and the Student’s Bill, SB 501), as well as the two bills (not yet numbered) introduced by Lift Every Voice Oregon, that would ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines. However, here is a look at a number of other gun violence prevention bills that the League may testify on this session:

  • HB 2929 creates the offense of unlawful use and transfer of a bump-fire stock (defined).
  • HB 2705 directs the Department of State Police to establish a voluntary firearm “Do Not Sell List,” using a secure internet website.
  • SB 481 requires a law enforcement agency that takes custody of a firearm, using the firearms surrender protocol, to establish procedures to notify specified individuals of the anticipated return of the firearm.
  • SB 87 allows a gun dealer or person transferring firearm, ammunition, or firearm components at a gun show to establish a minimum age for purchase, provided that the minimum age is 21.
  • SB 5 makes a shooting range and a person discharging a firearm at a shooting range strictly liable for injuries resulting from bullets that stray outside the boundaries of the range. It also allows an injured person to bring civil action against a city or county that fails to regulate a shooting range after having received notice of dangerous conditions.

Judiciary and Public Safety, Barbara Ross

The House Judiciary Committee started with the Oregon Judicial Department and two requests for increases in salaries in HB 2238 and additional judges in HB 2239. No action was taken but the budget decisions are made by the Ways and Means Public Services Subcommittee.

The Criminal Justice Commission presented information on its grants and programs early. Again, the Public Safety Committee heard the Budget, SB 5506, on 2-6 and 7, which was supported by the League in a letter by Barbara Ross. CJC initiatives propose to reduce correctional costs by providing services to offenders in community corrections or on parole supervision. The CJC hosted a Summit on the Norway Correctional System in Salem on 2-15.

Next up in House Judiciary was the Oregon Youth Authority, which supervises youth offenders in the community and in correctional facilities. The Oregon Law Commission presented its mission to review legal issues for the judiciary, which was followed by discussion of HB 2240 to set up a Central Violations Bureau within the judicial system.

The Oregon State Police presented HB 2046, which was a request to increase the ratio of troopers to population by 15 troopers to 100,000 residents, ultimately a Public Safety decision. The Oregon Public Defense Services presented the results from a 6th amendment center report on the Oregon system, which indicates a need for higher rates and lower caseloads.

Several bills on sex offender laws were HB 2044 on classifications and HB 2045 on risk assessments. Additional bills on HB 4047 on sex offender supervision, HB 4048 on obligation to report, and HB 4049 on travel outside the United States. HB 2042 covers disclosure of Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) records to the Department of Corrections.

The Senate Judiciary  heard Steven Wax, a former federal defender, talk about the Innocence Project. SB 321 deals with changes needed in discovery and testing of evidence. The Dept. of Justice was neutral on the bill. The disposition will be the appointment of a workgroup. The legal process for pardons by the Governor included notifications in SB 388 and sealing of records. The Judicial Department had no position on the bill. Pardons are rare with only 24 by the last 3 Governors.

New bills concerning mental health and wellness of police in SB 423 and SB 424 will be handled in another workgroup. A sheriff and police chief were in favor of psychological testing and mental health wellness policy. The League has no position on police training or practices but has positions on mental health services.

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


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