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Legislative Report, Volume 29, Number 6 – 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 member Julie Chapman attended the Feb. 18 public hearing on the Oregon Climate Action Plan (OCAP), HB 2020, in the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction (JCCR). LWVOR members attended the Feb. 22 JCCR public hearing on HB 2020 in Springfield, and LWVLC (Lane County) plans to provide a League letter. On Feb. 23, Shirley Weathers provided League approved HB 2020 testimony at the Medford public hearing. Renew Oregon did make available a Clean Energy Jobs Advocacy Guide. It is critical that League voices are heard supporting this historical climate legislation. Please plan to attend and testify at one of the four remaining of seven OCAP Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction public hearings.

Hearing Details

Feb. 25 via video live hookup:

From 5:00 to 6:00 pm: Baker County Fairground Event Center
2600 East Street
Baker City, OR

From 6:00 to 7:00 pm, Oregon State University – Lincoln County Extension
Thompson Conference, Room First Floor
1211 Southeast Bay Boulevard
Newport, OR

March 1, 12:00 to 3:00 pm

The Dalles Civic Auditorium
Community Room
323 East 4th Street
The Dalles, OR

March 2, 9:00 am to 12:00 pm

Central Oregon Community College
Cascade Hall, Room 246-248
2600 NW College Way
Bend, OR

House Bill 2020 Summary

Oregon’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals:  The bill strengthens the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals to 80 percent below 1990 emissions by 2050 and adds an interim target of 45 percent below 1990 emissions by 2035.

Setting the Cap:  The Carbon Policy Office will place an annual cap on total regulated greenhouse gas emissions by setting an annual allowance budget that will steadily decline to meet the state’s GHG reduction goals. Allowances each year act as permits to emit a ton of greenhouse gases. Regulated entities will be required to turn in allowances equal to their emissions.

Annual Auction:  There will be an annual auction of allowances that regulated entities must purchase to cover their emissions. There will be a price floor and ceiling to provide certainty and the Carbon Policy office shall adopt measures to protect against market manipulation.

Direct Allocation of Allowances:  To protect Oregon businesses that are at risk of leakage and to offset potential impacts to low income utility customers, a certain amount of allowances will be directly allocated to regulated entities.

Program Investments:  All investment of proceeds from the auction must meet the goals of the program, which include:  (1) reducing greenhouse gas emissions, (2) sequestering carbon, (3) helping communities adapt to the impact of climate change, and (4) helping communities and businesses adjust to a new low carbon future.

Recommended amendments to the bill may include:  1) More aggressive Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Goals (including increased interim 2035 goals) that address zero emissions by 2050 per IPCC science related to keeping global warming to max of 1.5º C, 2) Related to that goal, consideration to the current number/size of free allowances, offsets, free credits, exemptions and exclusions, 3) clarify percentage of funds/reinvestment process in rural and other most affected communities, and 4) a possible companion bill that would put a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure projects.

Other Bills

The League is supporting HB 2623 creating a 10-Year Fracking Moratorium. Shirley Weathers, Claudia Keith and the League submitted written testimony to the House Committee on Energy and Environment. A Work Session is scheduled for Feb. 28.

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 A (moved Feb. 19 to Joint Committee on Ways and Means ) and SB 99 (public hearing in Senate Environment and Natural Resources on Feb. 28). 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 oppose SB 444, small scale nuclear energy, and SB 508 (public hearing in Senate Environment and Natural Resources on March 7), which would change the definition of the Renewable (energy) Portfolio Standard related to hydroelectric 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 League Climate Change Advocacy

Jordan Cove & Pacific Gas Pipeline:  We are awaiting decisions on the Dept. of State Lands and Dept. of Environmental Quality permits. 

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 Jan 2019, an unfavorable ruling, and OCT will appeal.

On Feb. 19, a Our Children’s Trust press release says, “Zero Hour Launches Nationwide Campaign in Support of Juliana v. United States Youth Plaintiffs; San Francisco, California – On Saturday, Zero Hour, youth-led climate group, launched the website www.joinjuliana.org and announced its nationwide campaign to help thousands of young people add their names to the Young People’s amicus (friend of the court) brief in support of the young Americans behind Juliana v. United States, the landmark ….” This is a real legal brief that Zero Hour will file with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, calling upon the court to allow the voices of the Juliana Plaintiffs to be heard. The Join Juliana organization includes a clear platform.

On Feb. 22, a Our Children’s Trust press release says, “San Francisco, California – Today, attorneys for the 21 young Americans behind the constitutional climate lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, filed their answer to the government’s brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; “Juliana v. US Plaintiffs Argue the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Should Let Them Go To Trial –Youth.  Plaintiffs’ brief concludes with the following: … The Framers substituted a constitutional democracy with a tripartite form of government in place of a monarchy. Since the early days of the Republic, our judiciary has been a last line of defense against governance that threatens the lives and liberties of the People. As a critical check on governance, the courts have reckoned with large, entrenched government systems and institutions that deprive people of unalienable rights, including widespread systems of racial and sex discrimination, which harm and burden our Nation’s children. When the tripartite system of governance did not timely redress the gross deprivation of unalienable rights resulting from legalized slavery, the result was civil war. While imperfect, our constitutional democracy allows these children to seek to protect their lives, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness without declaring independence from their government, so long as those who govern assent to review by our courts and let the facts be told in the light of day so that justice may be illuminated and the vital constitutional conversation had between the three branches of government. These young people deserve that chance to present their full case against those who through their governance harm them, and let the light of justice fall where it may. Plaintiffs respectfully request that the Court remand to the district court for trial.”

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.

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: Claudia Keith, 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.

If you listen to only one Education testimony this week, we suggest Rob Saxton, Superintendent Northwest Education Service District discussing opportunities in Early Intervention (EI) and Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) programs (at about 16 minutes in the video). Oregon’s Early Learning System is doing a great job of identifying children at an early age, but there is not enough money to fully serve these children. The Joint Committee on Student Success has prioritized this area, but increased revenue through state tax changes must be made to impact infants to three-year-old toddlers with diagnosed development delays. Spending money in these early years, saves money in later years and helps students start kindergarten with skills to graduate on track!

Joint Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education

This is the committee where all education budgets are discussed in detail over a period of three weeks. For now, this budgeting process is separate from the ambitious wish-list budget additions proposed by the Joint Committee on Student Success; that additional $3 billion in potential programs and the $2 billion ask in somehow creating more revenue is not the nuts and bolts reality of the current education budget—they may tie together later in the session if a revenue-changing bill passes the legislature and a likely vote of the people. 

SB 5537, the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission budget, HB 5015, the Oregon Department of Education budget controlled through Salem’s ODE office, and HB 5016, the State School Fund passed to districts through a complicated distribution formula, were heard. State School Fund and Common School Fund fiscal analysis shows $8.203B legislatively approved budget for 2017-19 and a $8,972B Governor’s recommended budget (GRB) for 2019-21. The Governor’s Investment budget, that does not have an identifiable revenue source for an additional $2B in education investment, includes additional funding “bringing funding for Ballot Measure 98 back to CSL ($133.2 million) and bringing the Farm to School program back to CSL and then doubling the funding ($9.2 million). In addition, the Investment budget includes a $794 million School Improvement Fund including funding for what is referred to as Full School Year ($537.2 million) and Class Size Reduction for K-3 grade levels ($265.5 million).” Ultimately it is the Legislatively Approved Budget (LAB) that determines distribution to local school districts. Federal funds are a significant source of Education funding, $1.497B.

A high level overview of the Education Budget is in the 2019-21 WM ODE Presentation 2-20-19. Funding flowed to 197 school districts;19 education service districts; 1,335 schools, approximately 77,899 teachers, administrators and other local employees in the 2017-18 school year. Population in Oregon includes 232,168 children under age five; 580,690 students in K-12 (2017-18); and an additional 15,919 youth ages 6-24. Approximately 4,000 licensed child care facilities are overseen by Early Learning within ODE. Oregon K-12 Student Demographics show economically disadvantaged students compose 52.1% of the population, 18.3% are English language learners having another primary language, 3.8% of students are homeless with an additional 9.1% highly mobile, moving often, and students with disabilities compose 13.6% of the K-12 enrollment. 

Increase in costs are driven by larger-than-average personnel service costs, contributed primarily by PERS; current funding dedicated for High School Success Grants (Measure 98); funding that serves children with disabilities from birth to school age is projected to only provide an average of 75 percent of the service levels necessary; and 20.5 percent of Oregon students meet the definition of being chronically absent – 10 or more consecutive days during the school year.

Senate Committee on Education

The High School Graduation and College and Career Readiness Act (Measure 98) was reviewed. SB 764 to allow discussion of class size in union negotiations drew mixed written testimony and verbal testimony.

2/25 hearings will consider vision screening. 2/27 will consider four policy bills on testing assessments SB 154, SB 428, SB 433, and SB 456. 3/4 will address special education eligibility.

House Committee on Education

On 2/18 and 2/20 consideration for small school programs and those with high poverty rates were discussed. Higher education and community college bills will be heard on 2/25.  Universal school meals and breakfast after the bill public testimony will be heard on 2/27 for HB 2673, HB 2759, HB 2760, and HB 2761.

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 about two weeks for public hearings and work sessions on assigned measures (bills first heard in House or Senate Education committees).

Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Accountability and Transparency

From a state agency perspective Barriers to Accountability – Colt Gill, Brian Reeder, & Michael Wiltfong (presentation) were discussed. And as Student Success is considering Outcomes-Based Funding for Education, two other state agencies already using “outcomes” funding provided verbal testimony and data Outcomes-Based Funding – Oregon Housing & Community Services: Margaret Salazar & Jimmy Jones (presentation)Outcomes-Based Funding – Higher Education Coordinating Commission:Ben Cannon & Jim Pinkard (presentation). Written summaries show details: Outcomes-Based Funding – Margaret Salazar (summary) and Outcomes-Based Funding – Ben Cannon (report). These examples shall be helpful as the Student Success Committee frames requirements for local school districts being incentivized and budgeted by outcomes-based criteria. On 2/26 Data and transparency in other states and student information systems will be considered. On 2/28 Education Systems will be the focus of invited speaker Dr. David Driscoll, Former Secretary of Education, State of Massachusetts.

Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Revenue

(See the Revenue/Tax section of this Legislative Report where we report on all tax and revenue committee action.)

Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Early Childhood Education

Early Learning is followed and reported in-depth by Stephanie Feeney. We’ve expanded this section of the LR since we have an experienced volunteer willing to track Early Learning. Following Early Learning and at-risk children is a continued commitment LWVOR made following the 2015 League study: Children at Risk

The committee meeting on 2/19/2019 featured two out-of state experts as well as representatives of Oregon’s early childhood programs and initiatives.

  • Matthew Weyer of the National Conference of State Legislatures presented (verbal testimony) and a (presentation) with information about how states fund Pre-K programs, how Pre-K funding relates to K-12 funding, pros and cons of including Pre-K in the K-12, the state funding formula, and the preschool development grant received by the state of Oregon ($4,257,418) that will be used to develop a strategic plan, improve coordination and service delivery, maximize parental knowledge and choice, share best practices and improve program quality. He also spoke about issues relating to the preparation and compensation of the early learning workforce (handout); most notably low wages and insufficient opportunities for professional development.
  • The second out-of-state speaker, Bruce Atchison from the Education Commission of the States, addressed the P-3 Continuum (verbal testimony) (presentation). He stated that a continuum from preschool to grade 3 would ameliorate the disconnect between preschool and K-3. He looked at Pre-K funding nationally from 2012-2017 and discussed the three preschool programs currently implemented in Oregon and pointed out that 58% of 3- and 4- year-olds in Oregon are not enrolled in school. He also addressed the benefits of full-day kindergarten, the need for leadership and professional development, and issues around teacher preparation. Note the (handout) “How States Fund Pre-K: A Primer for Policy Makers.”
  • Jared Condon, Beaverton director for early learning discussed efforts in his district to make a strong Pre-K system that focuses on access for historically underserved students (verbal testimony) (presentation). At this time, the district has 10 classrooms, serving 160 students. He reports that they are seeing significant return on investment in ECE. He also presented a (handout), Beaverton School District Early Learning Update.
  • Wayne Gallagher and Tim Sweeney, Coquille School District expressed their enthusiasm for early childhood education programs in their district that serve children 30 months through age 5 and presented some test data for entering kindergartners (presentation).
  • Sunny Spicer, Executive Director and Brittain Zimmerman, Preschool Director KidTime Childrenʻs Museum and the Learning Loft Preschool in Medford described the Preschool Promise (one of Oregonʻs state funded preschool programs) in their center. They noted that one of the benefits of the Preschool Promise program model is that it allows for programs in diverse settings. (presentation part 1) (presentation part 2)
  • The next speakers—Eva Pignotti, Program Director, Samantha Raye, parent and Kristin Hittner, teacher, from the Head Start/Early Head Start Program in Mid-Willamette Valley—addressed the value of federal and state funded Head Start programs. They discussed benefits of the Head Start program emphasizing the value of the comprehensive program model. They described the federally and state funded (Oregon Pre-K) Head Start programs (presentation) including the number of children served (12,000 statewide) and those still in need of services (7,500). They noted challenges raised by pay inequality among teachers in Head Start, Preschool Promise and kindergarten programs.
  • The next group of speakers—Amanda Manjarrez, Director of Advocacy, Latino Network; Sadie Holmes, ECE Director Latino Network; and Miriam Calderon, Director, Early Learning System, ODE—addressed the proposed Early Childhood Equity Fund, (presentation) (testimony) and the need for dedicated funding for culturally specific early childhood programs, HB 2897. They stated that Oregon does not now invest in culturally specific programs and urged investment in culturally specific organizations and expertise.
  • The final presentation, Preschool In Oregon: Gaps and Opportunities, was made by Miriam Calderon (presentation) (verbal testimony). She discussed the need to align the different kinds of programs and to develop a system for early childhood education. She also mentioned the importance of quality, the need for infrastructure, training and monitoring of teachers and aligning early childhood programs with the early grades.
  • Legislators comments and questions focused on how to use resources effectively, how to increase capacity, and how to monitor learning and gather useful data in ways that are not detrimental to children.
  • LWVOR observation: Since early education has historically been funded by tuition paid by families, systems for program delivery are not well developed or are non-existant. The Early Learning System, Oregon Department of Education proposals suggest that the first priorities for new funding should be alignment between existing early childhood programs, the development of a system and resources for developing a competent workforce.

The meeting on 2/21/2019 addressed aspects of early childhood education including Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education, programs for children ages zero to three, and parenting education.  

  • The first two speakers from Oregon Department of Education, Candace Pelt, Assistant Superintendant, Office of Student Services and Kara William, Director Early Childhod Programs, (verbal testimony) (presentation) addressed Early Intervention (EI) and Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) programs. The presentation addressed current funding, numbers of students, caseloads and adequate levels of service. The speakers emphasized that funding has not kept up with costs and expressed their concern that programs much needed by children with delays and disabilities are far from fully funded.
  • Rob Saxton, Superintendant Northwest Education Service District discussed opportunities in EI and ECSE (verbal testimony). He shared statistics about the gap between the need for special education services and the low percentage of children who receive them. He made a passionate plea for full funding for programs and services and made four recommendations. 1) find a home for ECSE in ODE, 2) fix the leaky pipeline between screening, evaluation and provision of services, 3) provide full funding, 4) braid and blend early childhood funds in order to serve more kids.
  • The next speakers from the Department of Early Learning discussed gaps and opportunities in ECE, Ages 0-3. David Mandell stated that if we want children to be ready to succeed in school we need to look at children 0-3 and their families and communities. (verbal testimony) (presentation). He addressed early brain development, the high cost of care, lack of supply and lack of quality programs.
  • Miriam Calderon, Early Learning System Director, discussed Policy Goals for infants and toddlers. The first goal, Families supported in communities, includes universal home visiting, parenting education, early intervention, supports for families experiencing stress and early learning equity funding. The second goal, High quality care and learning, includes access to high-quality child care for infants and a supported workforce with skills to promote infant toddler development.
  • The final presentation by Shauna Tominey, Professor at OSU, addressed parent education and the Oregon Parenting Education Collaborative (OPEC), (presentation) Parenting Education (policy) (handout). Tominey looked at brain development in the early years, the impact of parenting on childenʻs learning, and the positive role of parenting education programs in parenting practices and outcomes for children. She stated that 5% of families in Oregon are being reached with evidence based parenting programs and that these relatively inexpensive 10 week programs could be an important contribution to efforts to serve children and families.
  • LWVOR Comments: These speakers described many urgent and unmet family and community needs and the wish for funding to serve all eligible children and families. It continues to be apparent that determining priorities among these worthy programs will be a great challenge for legislators.

Next meeting of the Early Childhood Education (sub group meetings) Tuesday 2/26/2019 will hear testimony from Oregon’s Early Learning Workforce, Bobbie Weber, Oregon State University; Recruitment and Retention Challenges, Eva Rippeteau, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSME); and Policy Opportunities, Sara Mickelson, Early Learning Division.

A “Map” to Education Committees in the 2019 Session

To follow specific committee discussions in detail, use these links; then click on a specific date to see the agenda, meeting materials, and video recording. 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! 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 spoke to two of our elections bills in House Rules on Monday. The Governor thanked the League for championing Oregon’s vote by mail and automatic voter registration. Regional redistricting presentations continue. Read about a cybersecurity/privacy study proposal. Capitol Culture and all of our committees are working intensely… More for details

Cybersecurity and Privacy

A League committee is forming and a state study proposal is underway to provide League positions for cybersecurity and privacy. We have 43 bills filed this session that speak to different aspects of privacy, but the only reference the League has to “privacy” is in regard to reproductive health care. There is a bill filed to study cybersecurity and to develop a state cybersecurity policy. Please contact us if you’d like to participate, proposed to start next summer, if ratified at our state convention in May.

SCR 4, Declares policy of State of Oregon concerning cybersecurity risks and need for proactive cybersecurity risk management. This bill has no revenue or fiscal impact as filed.

Ethics

We are following the Capitol Culture Committee proceedings because ethics is a component of this portfolio. There are 11 bills assigned, spanning interests from campaign finance reform, transparency and public records, to harassment, among others. They made the press this week for demotion of individual legislators, partisan reaction, and former interns filing a lawsuit against a former legislator.

Initiative Reform, Tom Messenger

We are anticipating hearings in House Rules for two related bills speaking to addressing funding sources for initiatives. We have submitted League testimony in the past, anticipate further support for these.

HB 2891, modifies certain state initiative provisions that require appropriation or expenditure of $500,000 or more in public moneys over a 10-year period. Takes effect only if HJR 18 (2019) is approved at the next regular general election.

HJR 18, proposes amending the Oregon Constitution to require that any initiative petition proposing law or constitutional amendment with a fiscal impact of $500,000 or more, over a 10-year period also provide new tax or fee or increase in rate of existing tax or fee to cover immediate and future costs of that law or amendment. Refers proposed amendment to people for their approval or rejection at next regular general election.

Elections

We spoke to all three bills heard in House Rules on Monday (video). Two were generated from the challenges our League has in collecting candidate information for our voter services.

HB 2234:  This bill proposes using a unified statewide candidate filing system, online. Candidates who are unable to file online would file their forms to their elections officials on paper, as they do now. League member Mary Sinclair spoke to Rep. Pam Marsh’s program, “there oughta be a law”, for improved public access to candidate information, statewide, as it is in ORESTAR. It is not publicly visible in OCVR, the Oregon Central Voter Registration software that is used to process all local candidates below state and federal levels. We have been working on this proposal for years. See testimony for the League’s proposal, for why we need it to produce our Voters’ Guides, from the County Clerks for why they support it, and from the state Elections Director for next steps to ensure it be done appropriately.

HB 2685:  This bill clarifies requirements for appropriate and accessible candidate filing contact information. In some cases, personal information should not be publicly available for safety reasons. Oregon campaign ethics culture is widely accepted that public funds not support campaigns, for example by mailing campaign literature through public office channels with public money for postage, “franking.” Campaign information is not provided for incumbents through office email or phones. Statute, however, is not clear, so this is an opportunity to clarify it. We are engaging the Legislative Counsel with permission from our sponsor, the Secretary of State, the Oregon Judicial Dept. and the Oregon State Bar Association for special consideration of judicial and district attorney candidates. An amendment has been filed and further work is underway.

Civics Education – Voting!

Numerous recent bills have urged legislative support for enhanced civics education. We note that state social studies curriculum is well-established with age-appropriate content, developing depth for advancing grades. However, curriculum decisions, to use state materials or not, are made by local school districts. We were contacted by LWVUS this week, offering to help us, and we are refreshing contacts with the Oregon Dept of Education (DoE):

The League will continue work, on urging from the DoE biennial Social Studies Standards Conference. They unanimously called upon the League to provide content to teach Oregon students “How to Vote in Oregon”. This will be renewed and invigorated in light of the Governor’s program, “Empowering Voters and Increasing Election Participation in 2020, Using Oregon as a National Model,” presented during the National Governor’s Association meeting this week. The League is uniquely positioned for this by our foundational work partnering with several Oregon Secretaries of State for our Mock Elections. This is supported by our Civic Education curriculum, used widely by students of all ages, including citizenship classes, with materials translated to Spanish.

Pre-paid Ballot Envelopes

Legislative action is forthcoming that we can address (no bill number available yet). Both our Governor and Secretary of State urge for removing barriers to voting, calling for pre-paid ballot envelopes, noting that young voters do not usually use stamps. This could help low-income voters, for whom the current $0.55 stamp, or more for heavier ballots, may deter voting. Many ballots are deposited in dropboxes, not as nearby and not as convenient for many of our rural voters. This is in the Governor’s budget, p. 301, at $2.7 million. Washington State noted an 8% increase in voting when postage was paid last year. Oregon is discussing moving in this direction, too. Many of our established League members are reluctant to support the cost of this. It will bear another look and careful consideration.

National Popular Vote, Marge Easley

There was good news for supporters of National Popular Vote (NPV) this past week as Colorado is on track to join the Interstate Compact, adding nine electoral votes to the current total. The bill passed both legislative houses and is now on its way to the Governor, who has indicated he will sign it.  The total now stands at 181 electoral votes, with 89 more votes needed for the Compact to become binding.

HB 2704 will likely be heard in the Oregon House Rules Committee in the next couple of weeks. A Senate version of the bill is pending. 

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 18 popular educational forums throughout the state with more than 600 people attending. More forums are scheduled in March. The next forum will be 1:30 pm, Saturday, March 2 at the Astoria Public Library. 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

HB 2709: This bill tightens rules about coordination of independent expenditures with candidates. See League testimony. 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. All these improvements in Oregon campaign finance law will work together to improve the control and transparency of Oregon elections. Campaign contributions limits have historically increased independent expenditures, which are often used for “hit pieces,” dark money, and even foreign money during candidate campaigns. Candidates can lose control of their campaign messages if independent expenditures get out of control.

Save the date: The LWVOR will be supporting a small donor elections bill in the legislature. We also encourage our members to attend the Small Donor Elections Lobby Day on April 25, Room 161 in the State Capitol.

Transparency and Public Records, Josie Koehne

SB 523 authorizes Department of Revenue (DoR) to make publicly available by posting online information about delinquent tax debtors. 

We are watching this bill, but have not spoken to it. Apparently listing seriously delinquent tax debtors has brought in millions in revenue in other states. This is clearly targeting deliberate scofflaws, many of whom are millionaires. People are sent notices well before public posting so they rush to pay, to avoid embarrassment. Under this bill, if people can’t pay, they would make an arrangement with the DoR, including payment schedules. Those undergoing bankruptcy filings are excluded, and poor folks who really can’t pay can make arrangements. It’s up to DOR whether or not to post and a minimum amount will be specified so small amounts owed won’t make the list. Oregon needs that revenue.

The League would like to see corporate tax disclosure, especially for those getting Oregon tax credits, a fairness and accountability issue.

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


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Natural Resources

By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator

The Dept. of Environmental Quality budget was heard last week. They implement the federal Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, but have persistently been underfunded. Coastal bills are moving. A section of the Nehalem River is our new State Scenic Waterway. Land use and water bills continue to appear. Just a few of the issues League volunteers are following.

Budgets 

The League submitted testimony on HB 5017 and HB 5018, the Department of Environmental Quality’s budget and fee bills, to the Jt. Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources. The Oregon Lakes Association provided scientific testimony on the need to fund DEQ related to harmful algal blooms. The Dept. of Forestry budget (HB 5019) is up on Feb. 25 and 26 with public testimony due Feb. 27. The Oregon State Marine Board budget (SB 5521) will have both their presentation and public testimony on Feb. 28.

We are following HB 2672, a bill that would authorize reimbursement to the Dept. of Agriculture, Dept. of Energy and Water Resources Dept. for administrative and enforcement costs around activities related to the cannabis industry. 

Air Quality, Susan Mates

In addition to the DEQ budget bills, which provide staff for the Air Quality programs and move forward with rulemaking to set new more permanent fees to implement the programs, HB 2309, which directs the Department of Transportation to develop and implement a program to lend moneys to school districts for incremental costs of purchasing electric-powered school buses, has been moved to the Transportation Committee. It will work in conjunction with HB 2063, which amends earlier legislation concerning the use of moneys received by the state from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Agreement. The League is awaiting a new “Dirty Diesel” bill to more directly focus on cleaning up diesel emissions. Susan will be attending DEQ meetings as they work to implement Cleaner Air Oregon.

Coastal Issues, Peggy Joyce

Two bills the League testified in support of relating to ocean issues and environmental impacts on Oregon’s fishing industry took another step through the legislative process this week. On Thursday the Senate Committee on Environment & Natural Resources adopted the -1 amendment to SB 260 and recommended a Do Pass on the bill, which now heads to the Ways & Means Committee due to the $1,060,000 General Fund request. This bill has links to our Climate Change priority.

The second bill moved by the committee was SB 753 which will allow the Oregon Ocean Science Trust (OOST) to use outside nonprofit organizations to raise money on their behalf to continue scientific research into ocean acidification & hypoxia issues along the Oregon coast. Although there is no money attached to this bill, it does authorize the Director of OOST to obtain money from other sources. The bill was sent to Ways and Means because the expenditure of any money must be approved.

During an informal conversation with Kassandra Rippee, Coquille Tribe Archaeologist, two issues surrounding the South Slough Reserve, relating to slough management & environmental integrity remain unresolved: funding and management of the Slough and stream degradation from clearcutting by the county on forest property that abuts the slough. The Intertribal Timber Council, working with the South Slough management staff, are in conversations with the county, hoping to swap a piece of forest area with their control for a buffer zone in Winchester Creek alongside sensitive spawning streams. So far neither issue seems to be moving toward resolution as the tribes wait for a response from the Governor’s office.

Drinking Water Advisory Committee, Amelia Nestler

The League provided testimony in support of HB 2860, a bill that establishes a process requiring testing of rental property wells. It is aligned with the requirement to test at the sale of real estate, and ensures that renters are protected and informed, just as homeowners are when their drinking water is obtained from wells. This bill addresses the need to test well water contamination by arsenic, nitrate, and coliform bacteria and would offer free or low-cost testing to ensure that all can access testing despite income levels.

Forestry

The League is reviewing HB 2222, a bill that would require the Dept. of Forestry to report on the Forestland-Urban Interface Fire Protection Act, passed a number of years ago. This bill is being heard on Feb. 28 in the House Committee on Natural Resources. 

Land Use

A new set of bills has been filed related to land use and housing: SB 8, requiring petitioners to pay attorney fees should developers of affordable housing prevail, and SB 10, establishing very high density requirements in areas adjacent to transportation corridors, will be heard Feb. 25 in the Senate Committee on Housing, a new committee this session. The League may weigh in on both.  

In the meantime, 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, is still alive with amendments expected. It sits in the House Committee on Human Services and Housing.

HB 2003, a 30-page bill related to housing, has been scheduled for a public hearing on March 5 in the House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use. 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 is expecting to see consensus amendments soon to clarify the roles of AOC, LOC, the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development, and the Oregon Housing and Community Services. 

SB 88, a bill that would allow counties to authorize accessory dwelling units in certain rural residential zones, sits in the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. A -1 amendment was included in the Jan. 31 meeting materials to create additional state-required sideboards around such a use if counties choose to allow them 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 the Willamette River Greenway and HB 2352, which creates a towed watersports program within the State Marine Board.

Scenic Waterways

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission and the Water Resources Commission each unanimously supported a recommendation to add a section of the Nehalem River as an Oregon Scenic Waterway. The League signed on to a letter with partners in support. The recommendation now goes to the Governor. For more information see State Scenic Waterway program.

Solid Waste

The Environmental Quality Commission will meet Feb. 25 to consider adopting temporary rules  (https://www.oregon.gov/deq/EQCdocs/02252019_ItemA_CompostTempRules.pdf) for composting related to the requirements and processes associated with biodigestion.

Water

A number of bills will be heard in the House Committee on Energy and Environment on Feb. 26 related to water use measurement (HB 2851), studying measurement (HB 2854) and (HB 2856) appropriating money to study ground water. In the past, the League has voiced support for these efforts. 

A League member will be participating in a rulemaking advisory committee on March 1 to consider amendments to increase water quality fees for 2019 by three percent above the 2018 fees provided in ORS 468B.051. These fees apply to National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits and Water Pollution Control Facility permits. See water quality permit fee rulemaking 2019.

The League will be meeting with water stakeholders in a discussion related to the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program on Feb. 27.

SB 756, a continuation of the on-site septic loan program, has been scheduled for a public hearing on March 5 in the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment. The League has supported this program since its inception and will support again, although at the same level as last biennium of $1 million instead of the $2 million asked in the bill. 

HB 2437, a bill on how the agricultural community deals with their need to clean ditches while protecting fish streams, is still alive in the House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use. There is still much disagreement among the varied interests on this issue, but work is being done to find some common ground. 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

The Coalition for the Common Good presented their revenue proposals to the Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Revenue, focusing on a gross receipts tax they called a commercial activity tax (CAT). 

Joint Committee on Student Success Revenue Subcommittee

The Coalition for the Common Good presented their revenue proposals to the Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Revenue. Coalition founding members include Nike and several major unions, helped by Paul Warner, former head of the Legislative Revenue Office. Though giving a nod to Oregon Business and Industry’s proposal for a business activity tax, aka a value-added tax, the coalition focused on a commercial activity tax (CAT), starting with Ohio’s CAT, a gross receipts tax. They mentioned variations including tiered rates, and including or excluding some essentials like groceries, fuel, utilities, and the multi-rate Washington Business & Occupation tax as a variation.

The Coalition for the Common Good spoke of the vast need for better education and called for $2 billion in new business tax revenue for education, plus personal income tax relief for lower-income Oregonians, clear-eyed that any new tax would likely be put on the ballot and need voter buy-in. They emphasized that continuing to wait for the perfect solution to PERS before raising revenue would only hurt students.

After the coalition spoke, the Legislative Revenue Office (LRO) presented examples of a gross receipts tax / commercial activities tax (GRT / CAT) of $250 plus 0.48% of Oregon sales above $1 million. Yes, there would be a little pyramiding, the main complaint about a GRT, but pyramiding in sales tax states is much worse because the rates are so much higher. As of 2014, only 7% of Oregon businesses had sales over $1 million; the rest would pay the minimum tax. The tax would also apply to businesses selling into Oregon that do not have nexus here and so do not pay Oregon corporate income tax. It would also apply to all business types: C and S corporations, LLCs, partnerships, and sole proprietorships.

Read the full meeting materials, watch the video, and see if CAT pins start appearing in the Capitol building. Seriously, if you rarely watch the videos on OLIS, this is one you don’t want to miss!

House Revenue and Senate Finance and Revenue

Senate Finance and Revenue heard property tax measures. SJR 21 would repeal Measure 50 from the constitution and require the legislature to pass it as statute. It could then be changed by the legislature. SJR 2 leaves Measures 5 and 50 largely intact but would make the maximum assessed value of each property at least 75% of real market value. It would also, as a carrot, exempt the first $25,000 or 25% of each homestead, whichever is less. After discussion of and slides on the inequities of the current property tax system, the Democrat chair and the two Republicans on the committee agreed that Oregon property tax is so broken and inequitable that the system may be close to collapse or revolt. One said the Republicans had polled how to repeal Measure 50, and repeal “went in the toilet.” LWVOR bets the main revenue bill this session will be $2 billion for education coming from the Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Revenue, and that much-needed property tax reform will languish for another two years.

Senate Finance and Revenue heard SB 211. It would increase the tax rate for income from many S corporations, partnerships, and sole proprietorships. Income over $415,000 would be taxed at 9.9%, previously not hit until $5 million. To get the tax break, filers would have to qualify for the new 20% IRS Sec 199A deduction, which excludes many professions. The bill got little love. Business lobbyists complained that it would raise taxes on some businesses. Progressives complained that it did too little, that a janitor could still get taxed at a higher rate than the business owner.

House Revenue heard HB 2120, which would reduce itemized deductions by 5% and increase the earned income tax credit (EITC) to 16% of the federal EITC. The hearing and meeting materials felt like a dry run for HB 3028, likely heard February 2/27, which has substantially larger increases in the EITC.

Sneak Preview: What We Know So Far about the Week of February 25

The Office of Economic Analysis will present its revenue forecast on Wednesday, February 27, in House Revenue. LWVOR’s crystal ball: a slight decrease from their previous total.

Tuesday evening 2/26 the Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Revenue will hear revenue proposals from the Revenue Roundtable, which LWVOR participated in, and start looking at rates and exclusions, presumably for a gross receipts tax / commercial activity tax such as proposed by the Coalition for the Common Good.

Senate Finance and Revenue will hear SB 212, another earned income tax credit (EITC) bill, this one increasing the Oregon EITC from 8% or 11% of the federal EITC to 15% and doubling the standard deduction, on Thursday, February 28. HB 3038 should be scheduled for a hearing in the House Human Services and Housing Committee, February 27–it is the Earned Income Tax Credit bill that LWVOR will support based on our Positions. These multiple EITC bills recognize the value of negating Oregon’s regressive tax rates on our lowest income earners. HB 3028 has other provisions to provide tax refunds for families with infants and toddlers while raising the tax credit rate somewhat comparable to other states.

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 Ways and Means Human Service Subcommittee has been reviewing the Department of Human Services Budget, HB 5026, over the past week and will wrap up Monday with Public Testimony on Tuesday. The total budget is $12.550 billion.

The Aged and People with Physical Disabilities draws the largest share at 31%, Self-Sufficiency spends 27%, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 23%, Child Welfare at 11%. Vocational Rehabilitation at 1%, and Central Services at 7%. The One Eligibility system screens all applicants for DHS and Oregon Health Authority programs.

The Self Sufficiency program for low income families offers cash payments (capped at $506 per month), job training, child care and food benefits. The Early Learning Division transfers $10.7 million to pay for Employment Related Day Care for working or training parents. Three bills have already been heard; HB 2032 on program changes in the Subcommittee, and HB 2245 and HB 2302 on TANF and APD programs in House Human Services and Housing. HB 2626 and HB 2639 are scheduled for work sessions on 2-27.

The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) served 99,875 people; Domestic Violence added 3,529. Those in Employment and Training were 75,779 and those with child care were 22,759. The food benefits, Supplemental Needs Assistance Program (SNAP), served 911,134 people, and Nutrition Education served 37,409. SNAP is a federally funded program. Medicaid covers 897,173 people.

Poverty is estimated at 14.6% in Oregon with 12.9% food insecure. Unemployment is lower, but 20% earn $12 or less per hour. 40% are part time. TANF recipients receive cash payments, SNAP food, job training and child care during work or training. Statistics show that the majority of participants go on and off this program and Medicaid as their circumstances change. 

The Governor’s Budget for DHS is a 7.6% increase from the 2019-21 legislatively approved budget. This budget and OHA have a rebalance every 6 months to adjust funds or add additional funds. The E-board added $1.7 million in December. LFO anticipates that $40 million more will be needed just to keep the program at current levels.

One internal administrative change was recommended to transfer of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program from Child Welfare to the Self Sufficiency Program. The League did a study of Runaway and Homeless Youth published in February of 2007. The Commission on Children and Families (CCF) managed grant funds to those programs, but CCF was terminated and the programs were transferred to the Early Learning Division to the new Youth Development Division in 2011. Subsequently funds for homeless youth shelters were assigned to DHS. The legislature has also assigned SHAP funds for homeless youth programs to the Oregon Housing and Community Services Agency. Since three state agencies have programs for this population, coordination or combination of programs is due.  Please see letter on DHS Budget HB 5026.

Gun Safety, Marge Easley

SB 501 is an omnibus bill brought forward by Oregon Youth for Gun Reform (OYFGP), a group created by student activists in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting. Unfortunately, since its introduction both OYFGP and sponsors Sen. Rob Wagner and Rep. Andrea Salinas have had to deal with threats and a misinformation campaign directed by the Oregon Firearms Federation. On February 18, forty of the group’s members met with eight legislators at the Capitol to discuss and clarify their ideas for gun violence prevention.

One of the bill’s provisions is the idea of “permit to purchase,” which requires a firearm buyer to be licensed and obtain a background check directly from a law enforcement official rather than a gun seller. Research results have been very positive as to its effectiveness in reducing gun violence in the states where it has been implemented. For more information, here is an article and a policy brief about “permit to purchase” from Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.

Housing

Housing activities this past week:

On February 18, SB 608, a bill to provide basic protections to people who rent their homes, received a hearing in the House Committee on Human Services and Housing. The bill moved out of Committee on February 20, on a 6-3 party line vote. The bill now heads to the House floor next week.

The Housing Alliance’s Preservation Workgroup forwarded SB 491 to its membership for consideration and support. SB 491 is being advanced by advocates for individuals experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities. When the Fairview Training Center closed, a trust was established from proceeds of the sale of the hospital to create housing opportunities. This year, advocates are asking the state legislature to move the trust to the Oregon Community Foundation. The bill is scheduled for a Work Session on 2-26 and is expected to pass.

The Senate Housing Committee held a public hearing on SB 595 on February 18. This bill would allow local communities to dedicate some of their Transient Lodging Tax revenue to affordable workforce housing. Several County Commissioners testified in support of the bill, in addition to Northwest Housing Alternatives. The bill is now scheduled for a work session on February 25.

On February 19 the Senate Workforce Committee heard SB 202, which extends the sunset on the Agricultural Workforce Housing Tax Credit until 2026.

On February 21, the Senate Human Services Committee heard SB 737, a bill to extend a property tax exemption used by Eugene, Springfield, Wilsonville, Bend, and others to support affordable housing.

Housing Activities next week: 

On February 25, the House Human Services and Housing Committee will have an informational hearing on the role of property tax exemptions for affordable housing, and then hear several other bills including HB 2700, which extends the sunset on a property tax exemption for housing used by the cities of Portland and Eugene; HB 2127, which extends the sunset on the capital gains exemption for the sale of the manufactured home park to nonprofits, public housing authorities, and resident owned cooperatives; HB 2136 and HB 2664 which extend the sunset on a tax credit for residents whose park is closed.

On February 25, the Senate Housing Committee will hold a work session on SB 595, and a public hearing on SB 8, Senator Courtney’s bill which provides prevailing party fees if an affordable housing development is appealed to LUBA, SB 10, which increases density along transit corridors, and SB 262, which extends the sunset on the property tax exemption for housing used by the cities of Portland and Eugene.

On Tuesday, February 26, the House Judiciary Committee will hear HB 2285, which makes changes to the receivership laws for housing.

On Wednesday, February 27, the House Revenue and Senate Finance and Revenue Committees will hear the Revenue forecast.

Women’s Issues, Debbie Runciman

Your help is needed! This session there are many bills dealing with sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and sexual assault/domestic violence, but not enough volunteers to follow them. Please contact Karen Nibler, niblerk@comcast.net, or Debbie Runciman, runciman@onlinemac.com, if you can to help.

The paid family leave bill will finally be introduced! HB 3031, dubbed the FAMLI Equity Act, establishes a Family and Medical Leave Insurance program so that every working Oregonian will have paid time away from work to welcome a new child, recover from a serious illness or care for a loved one. Managed by Oregon’s Department of Consumer and Business Services, workers would be able to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave. Employees and employers each contribute a maximum of 0.5% (half of one percent) of an employee’s wages through regular payroll deductions, much like unemployment insurance. Benefits will be provided on a graduated scale, with low wage workers receiving 90% of their average weekly wage. The bill is expected to be assigned to the House Business and Labor Committee.

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


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