In This Issue
By Claudia Keith, Julie Chapman, Shirley Weathers, Cathy Frischmann and Lynette Pierson
YOUR VOICE IS NEEDED! It’s critical that League members contact their legislators to ensure that the Oregon Climate Action Program (OCAP), HB 2020, (Cap and Invest) bill amendment process is productive, moves the bill forward and reflects the League’s and our coalition partner priorities. It’s time to put a PRICE on climate pollution (green house gas emissions). Let your legislator know the urgent need to address meaningful climate policy is now. Visit your legislators in the next week. If that’s not possible, then make a phone call and or write a personal email or letter.
The Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction’s six statewide public hearings ended March 2. Most of the opposition voices came from rural Oregon and relate to the fear of fuel price increases and potential job loss. It is estimated that gasoline could rise 10-16 cents per gallon in the first few years of the program. But gasoline prices fluctuate with market changes even without HB 2020. The Oregon Environmental Council (OEC) and Renew Oregon provide an overview of the program. “More than 70 Oregon Scientists and Researchers Urge Oregon Legislature to Take Strong Climate Action.”
HB 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 number 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 a maximum of 1.5º C, 2) related to that goal, consideration to the current number/size of free allowances, offsets, free credits, exemptions, temporary 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. There could be a new bill from the Senate replacing HB 2020, which would reflect all critical amendments needed for an affirmative vote. Like with Coal to Clean bill in 2016, a new bill number was used for the final move through the House and Senate.
Fracking: The League is supporting HB 2623 creating a 10-Year fracking moratorium. The League provided testimony in support. The bill moved out of the House Energy and Environment Committee March 7. It is expected to move to the House Floor for a vote this week.
Oil Rail Safety: 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 to Joint Committee on Ways and Means) and SB 99.
Climate Authority: We support the Governor’s recommendation for forming (SB 928) and funding (HB 5044), 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. We also support SB 598, which addresses changes related to the Oregon Global Warming Commission, including folding it into the new Climate Authority, renaming it “Oregon Climate Change Commission,” and providing a real budget.
Nuclear Energy and Renewable Portfolio Standard: We oppose SB 444, small scale nuclear energy, and SB 508 (League testimony posted and League verbal testimony was provided at the Senate Environment and Natural Resources public hearing on March 7), which would change the definition of the Renewable Portfolio Standard to include all hydroelectric energy. The public hearing discussion was productive and most likely a work group will form in July to consider how best to move to 100% renewable energy before 2050. (This concept is similar to a Washington State bill.)
Renewable Energy Credits: The League has agreed to join eight other organizations in opposing SB 451 and addressing this issue in HB 2020. We oppose passage of SB 451, which awards renewable energy credits for the creation of electricity from municipal solid waste (MSW) incineration.
Other League Climate Change Advocacy
Jordan Cove & Pacific Gas Pipeline: the Dept. of State Lands and Dept. of Environmental Quality permits announced a 6-month delay due to the overwhelming number of public comments submitted. The agencies are required to consider the comments and will be looking specifically at specific comments related to the permit criteria. FERC announced a 35-day delay in their decision caused by the federal government shutdown.
Our Children’s Trust (@youthvgov): In the Federal case, the 9th Circuit Court will expedite an interlocutory appeal now scheduled for the first week of June. On March 1 the LWVOR and LWVUS submitted a third amicus brief.
In the State of Oregon lawsuit, they received in Jan. 2019 an unfavorable ruling, and now OCT has appealed. On March 8, Multnomah County Supports Youth Climate Lawsuit Against the State of Oregon. LWVOR Action will be considering a request to all Oregon Leagues to ask their County local Commissioners to follow the leadership set by Multnomah and join a statewide county brief. Crag Law Center in Portland and Hutchinson, Cox, Coons Orr and Sherlock, filed the lawsuit with the help of Our Children’s Trust.
On March 3 a ‘Juliana v U.S. Gov’ television program was viewed by people across the country. The 60 Minutes segment on the Juliana v. US aired on CBS.
Previous Press Releases: March 1: Thousands Urge Ninth Circuit to Allow Juliana v. United States to Go to Trial. February 28: Over 30,000 Youth Urge U.S. Court to Allow Juliana v. United States to Go to Trial. The list of the U.S. and international organizations and individuals part of the 14 amicus briefs.
The 30,000 signatures are related to the “Zero Hour Launched 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….” 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 JoinJuliana organization includes clear platforms.
Crag Law Center in Portland Oregon has provided legal services to the Leagues. Crag teamed up with the League of Women Voters to support the youth, and filed an amicus curiae brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today. As amici, the League emphasizes the importance of the courts to act as a check and a balance to the other branches of government. You can read the League’s brief here. Please consider donating to this critical partner.
U of O Director of Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center professor Mary C. Wood provided a provocative keynote at the Corvallis Sustainability Town Hall March 7, “Immediate Action: Responding to Our Climate Emergency.” Her book, Nature’s Trust: Environmental Law for a New Ecological Age (Cambridge University Press), sets forth a new paradigm of global ecological responsibility. She originated the legal approach called Atmospheric Trust Litigation, now being used in cases brought on behalf of youth throughout the world, seeking to hold governments accountable to reduce carbon pollution within their jurisdictions.
The LWVUS Board March 1 posted the approved position on climate change (to be included in next LWVUS Issues for Action):
“The League believes that climate change is a serious threat facing our nation and planet. The League believes that an interrelated approach to combating climate change—including through energy conservation, air pollution controls, building resilience, and promotion of renewable resources—is necessary to protect public health and defend the overall integrity of the global ecosystem. The League supports climate goals and policies that are consistent with the best available climate science and that will ensure a stable climate system for future generations. Individuals, communities, and governments must continue to address this issue, while considering the ramifications of their decision, at all levels—local, state, regional, national, and global.”
See also a recent publication. Related, the ‘Kids’ Juliana lawsuit might require a legally binding ‘Climate Recovery Plan’.
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! If any of these areas interest you, please contact Claudia Keith, email@example.com
By Chris Vogel, Education Policy Coordinator with assistance from those listed below.
If you listen to only one thing this week, the discussion on HB 2074 by former Senator Devlin (at 4:00-17:00 minutes) reviews the past twenty-one years of the Oregon Education budget through economic cycles, property tax changes and other yo-yos in funding. More info can be found here about proposed changes in Current Service Level (CSL) funding: Oregon PTA, Oregon Education Association, Oregon School Boards Association, et. al (handout)
Ways and Means released the Co-Chairs’ General Fund Budget for Education (page three). $8,871.5 billion for the state school fund represents 8.1% increase between Co-Chair Target and 2017-19 Legislatively Approved Budget (LAB). It also represents 1.1% between Co-Chair Target and 2019-21 current service level (CSL).
All other education programs are targeted to receive 7.1% increase between Co-Chair Target and 2017-19 LAB, yet this is a 4.4% decrease between Co-Chair Target and 2019-21 CSL. This program area includes educational services for children, youth, and adults from early learning through postsecondary education. Major programs/agencies include: the State School Fund; the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) including funding for early learning, K-12, and youth development; and the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC), including funding for community colleges, public universities, Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), student financial assistance, and workforce development programs. Areas of Special Interest: grant-in-aid, tuition affordability, early childhood programs, Career and Technical Education, Behavioral Health and Disruptive Learning.
League observation: While all areas of the state budget took cuts in this proposed, balanced budget, the state school fund survived more than most. LWVOR Action covers the entire legislative budget and policy committees; we are aware that cuts in the 4%-5% range in other budgets can be harsh (read the other sections of this LR to learn more about those proposed cuts). In a parallel process, the Joint Committee on Student Success is anticipated to propose a new corporate tax, and reduce taxes on Oregon’s lowest-income individual filers. If approved, these tax increases may not be fully realized for two years, thus this “cut budget” will receive protests from those associated with schools as they give regional testimony over the next week. If this tax increase is specifically earmarked for education purposes, LWVOR asks how other sections of the state budget will be sustained.
Joint Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education had lively hearings on K-12 budgets on 3/7, listen to public comments on the K-12 budget, and early learning and youth development on 3/6 with parent, agency, and public comments. Written testimony was submitted by LWVOR on Early Learning and Youth Development.
The LFO Budget Review and other documents heard over the past three weeks are here. 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, based on the Governor’s Recommended Budget (GRB).
On 3/4, an informational hearing on dyslexia screening and training was on the hearing agenda. Public hearings were held on SB 16 that specifies types of licensed health care practitioners authorized to perform assessments or examinations for purposes of determining special education services eligibility; SB 486 that establishes timelines by which evaluations must be completed to determine eligibility for special education; and SB 719 that directs the Department of Education to conduct evaluation and administer a pilot program related to abbreviated school day programs.
Next week, on 3/11, some esoteric bills impacting higher education will be heard. On 3/13 the committee has invited testimony about Foster Youth and Educational Outcomes presentation from Jan McComb, Legislative Coordinator, Oregon Department of Education. Then a suite of bills on foster youth in education will have public hearings: SB 158 directs Higher Education Coordinating Commission to develop and implement a pilot program to assist foster youth transitioning from community colleges to public universities. SB 159 directs the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to establish foster youth success centers in each public university. SB 535 increases weight allotted for children in poverty, in foster homes and in certain state-recognized facilities for purposes of State School Fund distributions. SB 811 provides tuition and fee remission for a natural child of a foster parent if the natural child attends an institution of higher education. SB 828 provides for payment of program expenses of study abroad program for eligible students in foster care.
On 3/4, HB 2440 had a hearing. It would direct the Department of Education to develop and implement a statewide education plan for students in early childhood through post-secondary education who are Latino or Hispanic and have experienced disproportionate educational results. Roberto Franco, Director of the Latino Partnership Program at Oregon Community Foundation writes compelling testimony. HB 2897 establishing an Early Childhood Equity Fund providing culturally specific instruction and deepening engagement with families as a priority of the Early Childhood Coalition, the Chalk Board Project, and United for Kids. LWVOR submitted supporting testimony.
Next week, on 3/11, a suite of bills will have public hearings about supporting social, emotional, mental and physical health needs of students. HB 2023 directs the State Board of Education to ensure that academic content standards for certain subjects include sufficient instruction on histories, contributions, and perspectives of certain classifications of individuals. HB 2224 directs the Department of Education to distribute grants for improving student outcomes by supporting the social, emotional, mental and physical health needs of students. HB 2441 requires school districts to provide a coordinated comprehensive school counseling program. HB 2940 establishes a pilot program for the purpose of an increasing the number of public-school students who are served by school social workers. HJR 15 directs state agencies to follow Childhood and Early Parenting Principles as a framework for policies and programs for early parenting and early childhood development. On 3/13 public hearings will cover: HB 2029 revises types of programs considered accelerated college credit programs for purpose of the requirement that school districts provide accelerated college credit programs. HB 2389 creates Oregon Bright Futures Plan Task Force. HB 2519 requires community colleges and universities operating in this state that receive state financial aid to adopt written policy on hazing, provide on-campus policy training on hazing and annually report to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission the number of hazing incidents reported and investigated by a community college or university during the previous academic year. HB 2910 requires, for a person who completes prior educational requirements to participate in Oregon Promise program while incarcerated or detained, a six-month period to enroll in courses to participate if the program begins after the person’s period of incarceration or detention has ended. HB 2989 allows a student, enrolled in a program provided by a school district or education service district to earn General Educational Development (GED) certificate, to participate in interscholastic activities.
While this larger committee has been meeting as subcommittees for the past several weeks, they will come together next week for joint discussion and hearings on assigned measures (bills first heard in House or Senate Education committees).
See the Revenue/Tax section of this Legislative Report where we report on all tax and revenue committee action.
On 3/5 Chris Domaleski, Associate Director, New Hampshire Center for Assessment (presentation) and Angie Peterman, Executive Director, Oregon Association of School Business Officials with Jeff Carew, Managing Director, Forecast5 Analytics (presentation) discussed how to increase student achievement through appropriate assessment. They considered Five-Site data analyses that may contrast and compare school districts in a meaningful way. On 3/7 the DRAFT Accountability and Transparency Subcommittee recommendations was a focus for committee discussion.
Early Learning is followed and reported in-depth by Stephanie Feeney. This subcommittee scheduled internal discussions on 3/5 and 3/7. Doug Wilson, Principal Legislative Analyst, Legislative Fiscal Office presented early learning program costs for some programs.
The Committee held two meetings this week at which they discussed their priorities for investing in programs for children 0-5. Doug Wilson, Principal Legislative Analyst, Legislative Fiscal Office presented financial estimates at the request of committee members.
On 3/5/19 Doug Wilson began the meeting by presenting a document addressing items identified at a previous meeting with brief descriptions of each one, issues, current funding and projected cost and assumptions (Doug Wilson verbal testimony and document on early learning program cost). The programs, not in priority order, were Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education (EI/ECSE), Relief Nurseries, Oregon Pre-Kindergarten (OPK), Equity Fund for culturally specific programs, professional development, Early Head Start, Preschool Promise, Baby Promise, and early childhood facilities.
The rest of the hearing was spent trying to decide how to prioritize programs on the list and how much should be invested in each one. The difference in cost between Preschool Promise and OPK was discussed. The disparity lies in the fact that OPK is a half-day program while Preschool Promise is full-day and has higher educational requirements and salaries (equivalent to those of public school teachers).
The costs and benefits of part-day and full-day programs were discussed as well as ways to serve more children. One legislator expressed concern that it would not be fair for some children to receive full day care and transportation while others were not able to attend school at all. Another said that the public would look at how many more children are being served, not at expanded services.
Also discussed was the possibility of a tiered payment system in which families above the federal poverty level would pay on a sliding fee scale. Doug Wilson said he would explore that option and report in the next meeting.
The meeting ended with revisiting the priority list presented at the beginning of the hearing. A consensus began to emerge that priority should be given to fully funding EI/ECSE ($75 million) and funding Relief Nurseries ($5.6 million). Discussion continued about the equity fund, OPK and Preschool Promise and professional development. There was agreement that every effort should be made to provide services to as many children as possible.
Co-chair John Lively ended the meeting by pointing that all of the committee members have the same goals with regard to serving young children.
On 3/7/19 the purpose of this meeting was to decide what to pass on to the full committee including priorities and funding recommendations. It involved weighing options between program models and age groups to be served. Doug Wilson presented requested demographic information (EI/ECSE demographic information) and Co-chair Lively revisited what the committee agreed on at their last meeting. Members reiterated their support for EI/ECSE early intervention funding. These programs are federally mandated and at present, all eligible children are being served but at a reduced level.
The committee also agreed on funding for relief nurseries at the requested $5.6 million for the biennium. It was mentioned that this funding may save other costs by keeping kids out of foster care and saving them from intense trauma.
Rep. Hernandez elaborated on his support for the equity fund because it will help to serve communities of color that have culturally specific needs and involves partnerships with community organizations. Committee members agreed to include it.
Agreement on these three priorities was followed by an extensive discussion about funding for preschool programs—OPK and Preschool Promise—and how more children could be served. (OPK demographics, PreK options, Preschool Promise fact sheet, Preschool Promise options). The costs of adding wage parity, transportation, and full day care were discussed. Wilson stated that they are finding that families need full day slots. It was mentioned again that 67% of families in Oregon have both parents working. Members of the Early Childhood Coalition, who were invited to comment, stressed families need full day care, as well as the need for transportation in rural areas and raising income eligibility requirements.
After reviewing cost estimates, there was extensive discussion about whether it is preferable to provide much needed full-day programs or to serve more children. The consensus appeared to be emerging that it is better to serve more children now and reach as many kids as possible. Co-chair Lively reiterated that progress will need to be incremental since it is impossible to make full investment. Programs will need to be ramped up over time. Interest in parents paying on a sliding fee scale was discussed again.
The next item of conversation was funding for professional development. Members expressed concern about the existing system and were not sure how to prioritize the requests. They agreed to decide on a figure and let the department decide what would be most effective for raising the professional level.
The last topic discussed was programs for children aged birth-three including Early Head Start and the Baby Promise pilot program. At this time 2,300 children are served of an eligible population of 25,000 (approximately 10%). Committee members expressed their interest in providing more support to younger children (based on brain research) and the need to serve more children. The hearing ended with the decision to recommend $295 million in increased funding for early education funding.
LWVOR Comments: The hearings this week underscored the difficulty faced by legislators trying to make sensible decisions about how to fund a confusing and woefully under-resourced system. Unfortunately, early childhood education programs have evolved based on what kind of funding could be cobbled together with no clear direction and little or no funding for the development of infrastructure.
The difficult dilemma facing the committee members is how to decide what to do when there are not enough funds to serve all eligible children. They need to make the difficult decision of whether it is best to serve fewer children with high-quality programs that will make a difference, or to provide programs for more eligible children but not meet the family’s need for full day care or provide children with the quality programs that they need to thrive.
A “Map” to Education Committee 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:
- Joint Committee on Student Success (whole assembly)
- Accountability and Transparency (sub group meetings)
- Early Childhood Education (sub group meetings)
- Revenue (sub group meetings)
- Joint Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education
- Senate Committee on Education
- House Committee on Education
- Senate Committee on Workforce
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
By Rebecca Gladstone, Governance Coordinator
Thanks to our volunteers! You’re welcome to work with us, too.
Josie Koehne, Transparency, Public Records
Marge Easley, National Popular Vote
Rick Bennett, governance bills review
Ann Potter, League position review
Norman Turrill, Redistricting, Campaign Finance
We are negotiating for bill support and amendments. Schedules were cleared to bid farewell to Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, saluting with military honors for the first state funeral since Gov. Tom McCall’s in 1983. We had a strong, working relationship for elections issues and mourn his death. Governor Brown will appoint a Republican replacement, as required by statute, considering appointees who commit to not running in 2020 for Secretary of State, as she did in 2015 when selecting her own successor. A possible replacement list from Republicans:
- Katie Eyre – Former State GOP Representative
- Bill Kennemer – Former State GOP Senator and Representative
- Debra Royal – Current Chief of Staff for Secretary of State Richardson
- Lynn Snodgrass – Former State GOP House Speaker
- Gene Whisnant – Former State GOP Representative
The co-chairs budget was released, affecting all of our portfolios. We are seeing more League portfolio overlap this session, with opportunities to speak to multiple positions when we testify. See the legislative calendar for bill deadlines.
Bill Grab Bag
SB 320: This bill, up for a hearing this week, puts Oregon into the timely west coast conversation with California, Washington, and British Columbia, with calls for a consistent time for the west coast. The National Conference of State Legislatures summary points to split support nationally for either standard or daylight savings, with a consensus for the problem being the spring and fall transitions. The Washington House legislation passed this weekend to halt daylight savings, 89 to 7. We see merit with being in sync with our neighbors.
Transparency and Public Records, Josie Koehne
Several important public records bills will be coming up next week, March 11th – 13th in the House Judiciary Committee.
HB 2353 would apply penalties ($200 plus attorney fees is suggested) for an undue delay or failure to respond to a public records request, as determined by the Attorney General, District Attorney or court. Currently, a public body has five business days to acknowledge the request and not more than 10 days after that to supply the records, (with specified delays allowed for small or busy agencies), or it must provide a written statement as to when then request can be completed. Journalists have complained that some agencies fail to comply at all, and delays and litigation are costly for them.
HB 2431 A related bill, will require annual reporting by each state agency on the number of public records requests received, the number not processed on time as prescribed by law, the number of responses over 60 days late, and the number of fee reductions or waivers granted and the number denied. The Attorney General, the Records Advocate and the public records subcommittee of the Legislative Counsel Committee will review these reports.
HB 2430 would eliminate the sunset date of Public Records Advisory Council and retains the position of the Public Records Advocate. Five committee members would serve for a 3-year term and five would serve for a 4-year term.
The LWV supports all three of these bills and will provide testimony on HB 2353, at least.
HB 2866: The League does not support this bill on the use of geolocation information or audiovisual data. HB 2866 is a sweeping, overly-broad bill that would prohibit the collection, use, storage, analysis, sale, lease, transfer or even derivation of inferences of personal data by a partnership, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, professional corporation, corporation, nonprofit corporation, limited liability company, cooperative, business trust or other business organization or entity, either nonprofit or for profit, without a prior notification and written consent of the individual (living in Oregon) involved. This includes all data collected from a digital electronic device, presumably using cookies and mapping devices, that identifies an individual’s tastes, habits and traits and other specified characteristics. The purpose and use of the data collected must be spelled out in advance. Exceptions are made for parents, legal or court-appointed guardians, law enforcement or for identification/authentication purposes. Failure to get consent constitutes an “unlawful practice” and a law suit can be brought. We can imagine many scenarios where a person or TV crew might unwittingly take a video of a city crowd with geolocation turned on where this “data” could be construed as an unlawful use. While the intention to preserve personal data is a good idea, this bill could create a mess of endless litigation and could hamper beneficial data use. A far more limited use bill would be better.
National Popular Vote, Marge Easley
SB 870: Thanks to all who responded to the NPV Action Alert. Please keep the pressure on legislators to vote yes on SB 870. It’s heartening to see the nationwide momentum for election reform, which includes an acknowledgement of the flaws in our Electoral College system. It’s especially important to provide Oregon’s Republican legislators with facts (LINK to Answers to Common Questions about National Popular Vote) to counter the partisan myths about NPV.
Here’s a sampling of NPV news from around the country:
- Delaware, 3 electoral votes. On March 7, the NPV bill passed the Delaware Senate on a bipartisan vote and is now headed to the House for likely passage. The governor has indicated he will sign it.
- New Mexico, (5 electoral votes. We await news from where the bill sits in the Senate Rules Committee after passage in the House.
- Maine, 4 electoral votes. We have high hopes for as the legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee recently voted 6-3 to endorse NPV on a party line vote.
- Colorado, 9 electoral votes. The NPV bill awaits the governor’s signature . Opponents have threatened to put a popular referendum on the ballot to attempt a reversal.
Check the National Popular Vote website for the latest updates.
With the death of Secretary Richardson, we are on watch for elections issues particularly, with some of these benefitting from his energetic support.
SB 779: We may yet address this bill to move Oregon’s presidential primary election date from the third Tuesday in May to first Tuesday in March. Amendments are anticipated. This would add a dedicated presidential race election, at some expense, with Oregon’s local race voting schedule unchanged,. We do want Oregon to have a voice. As sponsor, Sen Knopp says it feels like the die has been cast by the time we get to May. California, our most populous state, and Texas, will both vote on March 3rd in 2020, now a very “Super Tuesday”, along with 29% of Americans that day. Local election schedules are extremely tight for local elections, considering the December holidays and the 2020 legislative short session. Possible decreased voter turn-out and down ticket voting are a concern, may be less so with our vote by mail ballots.
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 in Legislative Counsel. We have oral commitments for bi- partisan support for the bill. The League has held 19 popular educational forums throughout the state with more than 600 people attending. 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
Wednesday 3/13, both the Senate Campaign Finance and House Rules committees will hold a rare joint meeting. These four bills, with HB 3004 would revolutionize Oregon’s campaign finance system:
SJR 18 is a constitutional amendment referral that would enable limits on campaign contributions.
HJR 13 would do the same but is more expansive in allowing requiring disclosures of contributions or expenditures made in connection with political campaigns and disclosure of who paid for political advertisements. HJR 13 further specifies that it applies only to laws or regulations made after December 3, 2020; this would preclude the Measure 47 statutory limits on campaign contributions passed by the voters in 2006 that has been dormant ever since the voters turned also down the Measure 46 constitutional amendment; and it would also preclude the laws adopted at great effort by Multnomah County and Portland voters.
HB 2716 would depend on the passage by the voters of HJR 13 and would require communications made in support of or opposition to candidate or measure to identify whether candidate, petition committee or political committee authorized communication.
HB 2983 would require specified “dark money” nonprofit organizations to file donor identification lists that identify donors that made donations above specified amount to the nonprofit if the nonprofit makes aggregate political expenditures above specified amount.
There are many ethics-related bills being discussed and brought to hearings. We need help; please let us know if you can observe committee hearings by video, follow particular bills that interest you.
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! If any of these areas interest you, please contact Becky Gladstone, 541.510.9387, firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator
The Water Resources budget includes a request to continue “place-based planning” and funding for at least one more groundwater basin study. But the Co-Chairs austerity budget means we’ll have to work hard to make our case for funding any new programs. Their tentative budget has our natural resource agencies cutting over 2% out of their Current Service Level—the services and programs these agencies currently provide. The housing folks want more planning money, too. Much of the week was focused on land use and housing bills. Air Quality issues are emerging.
The League submitted written testimony on the Water Resources Dept. budget (HB 5043). The League has strong positions in support of water issues, and we have worked during the interim to help develop the budget. We support the “place-based planning” program that engages multiple interests in specific geographic areas to plan for abundant clean water for all. We also support an additional groundwater basin study so we don’t over allocate groundwater as has been done in the past. Areas of the state are now regulated. We also support addressing dam safety and provided testimony in the House Natural Resources Committee on HB 2085 to update dam safety policies.
Coming up this week is the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) budget (SB 5510). The League has joined with others to support POP 123 in their Water Quality/Water Quantity Program to fund staff to conduct instream demand forecasts needed to plan for climate change resiliency, continue to implement the Integrated Water Resources Strategy and work with landowners on instream projects. Public testimony is due March 13.
We testified in support of 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.
As the state continues to bond for projects, the debt service paid for these projects continues to eat into our General Fund, leaving less for on-going service needs. SB 614 and SB 616 will have a hearing on March 12 in the Senate Committee on Business and General Government. Both bills, sponsored by Capital Construction Co-Chair Senator Girod, would simply put into statute the current practice of maximum amount of General Fund and Lottery Bonds to be issued each biennium. These bills may provide an opportunity for a discussion on whether or not these limits are jeopardizing our future funding needs.
Air Quality, Susan Mates
Inadvertent changes were made in prior legislation that limited how the state can proceed on egregious air pollution violations. HB 2271 provides a technical fix that would allow officers to investigate environmental complaints without being direct witnesses to those offenses. This is particularly applicable to situations in which, for example, asbestos is unlawfully released into the environment. The second section of this bill would give the DEQ the ability to pursue civil administrative enforcement against motor vehicle manufacturers and others that cheat vehicle emission standards, but would shield owners and lessees. This would give the DEQ clout in future situations such as the VW emission cheating scandal. Public hearings occurred in late February. This week it was expected to be sent to the floor with a “do pass” recommendation. Instead, it was delayed to a further work session on March 14.
HB 2007 addresses diesel engine emission standards. Besides degrading air quality from particulate matter and ozone, diesel exhaust is responsible for over 70% of the cancer risk from all air toxics, an effect that is two to three times worse for minority communities. This bill would direct the Environmental Quality Commission to adopt diesel engine emission standards for medium-duty trucks and heavy-duty trucks, help school districts replace old school buses with clean-running buses, and ensure that certain public improvement contracts require use of motor vehicles and equipment with newer diesel engines. These measures would bring us more in alignment with California and Washington. This bill has been referred to Energy and Environment with subsequent referral to Ways and Means. Expect the League to weigh in in support.
Drinking Water, Amelia Nestler
The House Committee on Energy and Environment held an informational hearing on Harmful Algal Blooms and Drinking Water Quality on March 7. HB 3326 and HB 3340 will be heard on March 12 to address this important health issue with subsequent referrals to Ways and Means to fund both the Dept. of Environmental Quality and Oregon Health Authority. The Oregon Lakes Association and professors from Oregon State University are taking a lead on this important issue. Another bill to be heard that same day, HB 2656, addresses the link between certain forest practices and drinking water sources.
The League provided testimony in opposition to SB 8, requiring petitioners to pay attorney fees should developers of affordable housing prevail. This bill will have a chilling effect on public participation. We expressed concerns on SB 10, establishing very high-density requirements in areas adjacent to transportation corridors. We have provided input on amendments to SB 10 to President Courtney’s office.
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. Speaker Kotek’s office has a work group seeking consensus on addressing this issue. It sits in the House Committee on Human Services and Housing.
HB 2003, a 30-page bill related to housing, had 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 extensive. The intrusion into local jurisdictions and reduction of Goal 1 obligations are just a few of the reasons that, as filed, the League will express concerns in our testimony. We understand that this bill will be rewritten so we expect a “gut and stuff”. As such, we will limit our comments until we see the new version. We shared that the League continues to focus on housing for those most in need and are concerned about the potential fiscal impact of this broad bill.
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 pleased by proposed amendments that 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 new bill has been dropped (LC 3680) that includes language from SB 88, that bill’s -1 amendments, and additional state-required sideboards around such a use if counties choose to allow in their development codes. The League is reviewing the new proposal.
HB 2225, related to certain forest dwellings, had a hearing in the House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use on Feb. 5th. The League will continue to follow this bill that attempts to reduce the number of new dwellings in forest zones, a position we support.
The Senate Committee on Housing will have a series of bills up for public hearings on March 11: SB 331 addresses gentrification and seems to require local governments to consider the range of housing needed for their communities. SB 334 requires a city to expand its urban growth boundary under certain circumstances, and SB 534 is the Senate version of HB 3018 (below). The League’s capacity to address the plethora of land use and housing bills is waning.
HB 3018 relates to the building of single-family dwellings within urban growth boundaries except for certain conditions. There is a misunderstanding among legislators about the function of urban growth boundaries and how they differ from city boundaries. The bill is in the Committee on House Agriculture and Land Use and is scheduled for a hearing March 12. The League will likely oppose.
SB 2, as amended in the Senate, has been assigned to the House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use. The bill allows some Eastern Oregon counties to designate no more than 10 parcels region-wide up to 50 acres outside of urban growth boundaries for industrial or other employment. Because of the sideboards on this bill, the League is neutral.
HB 2055 and HB 2056 will have a Work Session on March 13 in the House Committee on Human Services and Housing. They establish a workforce housing program that would work in conjunction with employers. The League followed the pilot program through the Governor’s Office and believes this is a good example of public/private partnerships addressing a very real economic problem as well as a housing need.
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. HB 2080, the bill to increase fees to help pay for administering the state boating program, will have a Work Session on March 12 in the House Committee on Natural Resources.
The League supports SB 756, a bill that continues the onsite septic grant and loan program for low income Oregonians. It had a public hearing on March 5 in the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment and is set for a Work Session on March 14; it will then go to Ways and Means.
The Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is considering a 3% increase in their water quality permitting program. This increase will be billed in Sept. 2019. This is separate from the proposed significant increase in the 2019-21 DEQ budget that would take effect in 2020. 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. It is important that these Clean Water Plans are accurate and clear before issuing water quality permits.
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. We expect to see amendments soon. 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”. Amendments have been requested that will require a work group discussion with an expectation that a bill would be filed in 2020 to begin this process. The League continues to be engaged in discussions around this issue. At this point, we are opposed because of the request to fund one employee to work on this project. We expect a hearing on March 19. 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). There are new provisions expected under amendments. This bill also requests staff assistance and General Fund monies to work on this pilot. A part of the requirements for getting the state assistance would be to provide a manual for others who might want to follow this lead in the future. The League is likely to support the third bill depending on the actual amendments. A hearing is expected on March 21.
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, email@example.com
Revenue and Tax Reform
By Maud Naroll and Chris Vogel, Revenue and Tax Reform Co-Coordinators
Ways and Means released the Co-Chairs’ Budget with a challengingly small $40 million budget for tax credits. The Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Revenue heard more detail on the two possible new business taxes under discussion, a gross receipts CAT and a value-added BAT. The Department of Revenue discussed the work required to set up and administer a new tax, which is easier the simpler the tax. Senate Finance and Revenue sent SB 543, authorizing children’s service districts, to the floor.
Co-Chairs Budget for Tax Credits
Ways and Means released the Co-Chairs’ General Fund Budget, allowing only $40 million for tax credits, whether extended, expanded, new, or reached by changing other tax credits or policies. That budget goes to the Joint Committee on Tax Expenditures, which has its work cut out for it. There are 86 bills expanding existing tax expenditures or proposing new ones, not to mention all the bills extending existing credits that would otherwise sunset. Just renewing the current earned income tax credit (EITC) benefiting low-income workers, would cost more than the total $40 million budgeted for all tax credits. LWVOR and others support HB 3028, which would more than double Oregon’s EITC payments, and more than double the cost. The League is generally skeptical of most tax credits, believing that the market economy and/or direct legislative funding of priority programs through the Ways and Means process is preferable to creating a leaky sieve of tax-credits that take away revenue from the budgeting process.
Joint Committee on Student Success Revenue Subcommittee
The Legislative Revenue Office (LRO) presented more details on two possible new business taxes to the Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Revenue. A Commercial Activity Tax (CAT), a gross receipts tax, could charge each business $250 plus 0.48% of Oregon sales over $1 million. A Business Activity Tax (BAT), a value-added tax, could start with a business’s US gross receipts less inventory and a few other costs, its US value-added; apportion that to Oregon based on the percent of US sales made in Oregon to get Oregon value-added; and multiply by a 1.4% tax rate. LRO chose rates for both taxes that would raise about $1.5 billion a year. LRO has shown these paired these with cuts to all but the highest personal income tax rates, so the net addition to revenue would be smaller. Since some inputs are subtracted from gross receipts in the BAT, its base is smaller than the CAT’s, and the BAT rate must be higher to yield the same revenue.
A gross receipts CAT is much simpler to understand. With a broader base, it can have a much lower rate for the same revenue yield as a value-added BAT. On the other hand, a gross receipts tax can pyramid: the vineyard taxed on its receipts for selling grapes, the winemaker taxed on its receipts for selling bottles of wine, the distributor taxed on its total receipts, and the wine store taxed on its receipts as well. A CAT can be harder on a business with slim margins, like many grocery stores, than on a high-profit company.
Since some inputs are subtracted from gross receipts in the value-added BAT, its base is smaller than the CAT’s, and the BAT rate must be higher to yield the same revenue. It is also a more complicated tax to understand. On the other hand, it takes into account businesses, like many grocery stores, that have thin margins between the cost of goods they buy and the prices at which they can sell. It also avoids pyramiding.
LRO looked at four hypothetical businesses: a manufacturer, a restaurant, a consultant, and an agricultural producer. The CAT and BAT would produce similar tax bills for the restaurant and agricultural producer. A manufacturer would pay gross receipts CAT on its full receipts but pay value-added BAT only on the difference between gross receipts and the cost of inputs and capital. Even with the higher BAT rate, the hypothetical manufacturer pays less tax under a BAT. The consultant has much less purchased inputs to subtract with a value-added BAT, so fares better with a lower-rate gross receipts CAT.
LRO developed the Oregon Tax Incidence Model (OTIM) model in 2000-01 to look at how potential tax changes would ripple through the state economy, both in the medium term, roughly five years, and the longer term, roughly a decade. They ran the gross receipts CAT, plus a trim to all but the highest personal income tax rates, through the OTIM model. As with hundreds of other OTIM runs through the years, the effects are tiny: nothing, over a medium-term range, changes by more than half a percent. Not prices, investment, employment, wages, or per capita personal income.
On March 7, LRO presented results from running the value-added BAT through the OTIM model, with the same cuts to personal income tax rates. Again, the effects are tiny percentages on a range of variables: prices, investment, employment, wages, and per capita personal income. Not too surprising: although $1.5 billion is a lot of money, it’s less than 0.7% of total personal income in the state.
Also, on March 7, the Department of Revenue (DOR) discussed implementing a gross receipts CAT and a value-added BAT. Generally, DOR needs about 12 months to implement a tax, longer if the tax is more complicated with more deductions and exemptions. For a new tax it will need an addition to its tax system, administrative rule-making, outreach to all businesses, compliance and audit work – all needing staff and money. The simpler the tax, the fewer exemptions, deductions, exemptions, and different rates, the easier for taxpayers to comply and the easier for DOR to implement. They are more than willing to work with the committee as the committee decides on details and bill language to help make the new tax easier for taxpayers and DOR to implement. A value-added BAT has more subtractions, so even the simplest BAT is more complex than the simplest gross receipts CAT, though DOR will implement whatever language the legislature passes.
Does LWVOR have a preference between the two types of tax? Both CATs and BATs have advantages and disadvantages. Either one, with few to no exemptions and thus a relatively low rate, combined with tax relief for low-income Oregonians, could be a more stable addition to Oregon’s tax system and provide needed additional revenue.
Revenue hearings are not known for comedy, but a small spot of dry humor awaits those who watch the March 5 meeting, rather than just reading the meeting materials. March 7 meeting materials are here.
House Revenue and Senate Finance and Revenue
SB 543 authorizes the formation of children’s service districts, which by local choice could form additional local governments to provide out-of-school services. See earlier coverage on support for serving children but concern over compressing local governments’ tax receipts. Senate Finance and Revenue unanimously sent it to the floor, do pass.
House Revenue heard HB 2130, renewing sunsets on exemptions on some golf courses used for sewage discharge; real and personal property, equipment, and machinery of a food processor; nonprofit’s land on which will be built homes for sale to low-income households; low-income rental housing; cargo containers; and historic property.
Currently, some veterans with disabilities can exempt $15,000 of their home or personal property from tax. As home prices rose, the relief has become relatively small. SB 500, with its -2 amendment, increases that to $45,000 and allows exemption of up to $100,000 for some veterans with disabilities of 100%. Senate Finance and Revenue sent the amended bill to the floor recommending due pass.
Sneak Preview: What We Know So Far about the Week of March 11
That was likely the last meeting of the Joint Committee on Student Success Revenue Subcommittee for a bit. The other two subcommittees have finished, and the full committee will take the evening slots March 12 and 14.
On Monday, House Revenue hears HB 2144, which would plug the hole in Oregon’s corporate income tax base made by opportunity zones created through the 2017 federal tax bill. LWVOR’s written testimony should be posted with other meeting materials. Later in the week, they’ll hear bills including HB 2122, defining groceries; HB 2823, $250 in tax credits for teachers buying classroom supplies; and HB 2868, a $250 tax credit per child for foster parents. Senate Finance and Revenue bills will include SB 784, allowing farmers to subtract from income the potential harvest value of crop lost to fire less any insurance payout.
Also on Monday, House Committee on Human Services and Housing was scheduled to hear HB 3349, which reduces the mortgage interest deduction, phasing it out starting at incomes of $200,000, and ending it where income exceeds $250,000 and for second homes. The additional revenue would go to housing, including helping those homeless or at risk of homelessness. LWVOR written testimony, much of it from our Housing Team, should be posted.
By Karen Nibler, Social Policy Coordinator
The significant news on Health Care this week is the proposed Co-Chairs Balanced Budget for 2019-2021, which prioritizes K-12 Education and the Oregon Health Plan. OHP will be funded without cuts to eligibility or benefits. The federal share will decrease according to the original plan approval, so the state will have to make up the difference. But these priorities reflect the importance of schools and health care services to legislators and constituents.
The Oregon Health Authority Budget SB 5525 continues to be heard in the Human Services Subcommittee this week. HB 2339, on Sobering Facilities as an option to jails or hospitals, passed the House Health Care Committee 11-0 and was referred to Ways and Means. The Sobering Centers would be funded by grants from the OHA.
An alternative to hospitalization for mental health treatment was presented in HB 2831, which proposed Peer Respite Centers in communities. Disability Rights Oregon spoke in favor of local facilities with peer support workers. Many hospitals have limited mental health beds and this is a less expensive option and may be reimbursed by insurance companies.
SB 52 A requires school districts to have a Youth Suicide Prevention Plan, which passed the Senate floor with a vote of 29 to 1 excused. SB 138 proposed a clinical advisory committee on medical treatments in mental health. The bill was heard but not passed. A Youth Suicide Intervention and Prevention Advisory Committee (SB 707) was proposed in the Senate Human Services Committee on March 5.
The Senate has passed 4 bills, 167 A, 184 A, 375 A and 388 A and all are waiting for scheduling in House Committees SB 167 A is the Mental Health Bill of Rights for patients at OSH. SB 184 A is on commitment to the Oregon State Hospital if patients cannot participate in court process. SB 375 A is on notification of possible term of commitment, and SB 388 A is on notification of pardon by the Governor.
SB 24 and 25 have been discussed in Senate Judiciary this past week. SB 24 modifies procedures related to the criminal defendant lacking fitness to proceed. SB 25 amends statute to order the release of records to the OSH for the forensic evaluation. House Judiciary heard HB 2625 regarding police investigation of crimes against indigenous women. The League supported this bill. HB 2631 A proposed a pilot program at Coffee Creek to provide legal assistance to inmates before release. The bill was estimated to cost $800,000 and was referred to Ways and Means. Rep. Sanchez sponsored both bills.
Public Safety Ways and Means heard an Oregon Youth Authority presentation on its biennial budget. The Ways and Means Committee anticipates a 5% reduction in agency budgets. HB 5541 was supported by the League.The decisions will be made after Public Safety hears all budgets.
Housing, Debbie Aiona and Nancy Donovan
Homeownership and Housing Opportunities Bill: A hearing on HB 3349 is scheduled before the Housing and Human Services Committee on Monday afternoon (3/11). This bill would phase out the mortgage income deduction for wealthy Oregonians who earn between $200,000 and $250,000. Oregonians earning above $250,000 would no longer be allowed to claim the state deduction, and people with second homes would not be allowed to claim the deduction on those homes. The savings from this reform would be spent on affordable homeownership, and addressing homelessness for children and families. Please consider emailing the Committee testimony in support. Read the League’s testimony here.
Manufactured Housing: Issues around manufactured housing parks and aging homes are of concern to affordable housing advocates. The House Committee on Human Services and Housing held an informational hearing on manufactured housing. They also held a public hearing on HB 2893, HB 2894, HB 2895, and HB 2896. HB 2894 and HB 2895 would help provide assistance to homeowners with low incomes to replace their aging manufactured homes. HB 2896 would help preserve parks by creating a loan fund.
Agricultural Workforce Housing Tax Credit: SB 202 would extend the sunset on the Agricultural Workforce Housing Tax Credit. The bill moved out of Committee unanimously, and now moves to the Joint Committee on Tax Expenditures.
Transient Lodging Tax: SB 595 would give local jurisdictions the authority to use up to 30 percent of their lodging tax revenue for affordable workforce housing. High tourist cities report a shortage of housing affordable to people working in restaurant, lodging, and other tourist-related jobs. This bill passed out of committee and is headed to the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee.
211Info: This service is available for people seeking information on housing and other services helpful to low-income households. The funding increase included in HB 2650 would make the service available seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and hire regional staff.
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! If any of these areas interest you, please contact Karen Nibler, firstname.lastname@example.org