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Legislative Report, Volume 29, Number 9 – March 2019


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

YOUR VOICE IS STILL NEEDED! Please consider taking just a few minutes this week and engage in your citizenship rights and responsibilities. This Wednesday, March 20, HB 2020 amendments are expected to be published and 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 greenhouse gas emissions! Let your legislators 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.

Since ending public hearings on March 2, the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction (JCCR) has conducted a few ‘invitation only’ panel presentations. One was on ‘Energy Efficiency and Assistance for Low Income Oregonians’ and Oregon Forest Ecosystem Carbon Report. The Natural Working Lands Incentive Program will have a committee hearing on March 18. Additionally, it’s important to note, Citizens Utility Board analysis of HB 2020.

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. There is talk this amended Bill could be signed by the Governor on Earth Day.

Other Bills

Fracking: The League is supporting HB 2623 creating a 10-Year fracking moratorium. The League provided testimony in support. The bill is expected to be voted on the House Floor this coming week. The League will be joining 10+ groups in a House floor letter.

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. (The Governor will brief the Senate Energy and Environment Committee on the bill March 21. 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. Until nuclear waste issues are resolved, its very doubtful this technology/industry will be expanded. We oppose 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 2040-2050 timeframe. (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 bills we may support: HB 2209, HB 2064 and SB 45.

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. A number of recent  Our Children’s Trust Press Releases. See also a recent publication. Related, the ‘Kids’ Juliana lawsuit might require a legally binding ‘Climate Recovery Plan’.

Crag Law Center:  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 Coalition (CSC) 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. You can find the CSC Town Hall slides and other important information HERE.

The LWVUS Board on March 1 posted the approved position on climate change (to be included in next LWVUS Impact on Issues):“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.”

LWVUS Engagement with the Green New Deal Letter to Congress – Recent published Talking Points: On March 14, LWVUS provided these talking points to Leagues about our engagement with a possible “Green New Deal” and climate change policy more generally. These points are meant to inform Leagues of the activities of LWVUS and can be used by individual Leagues in their messaging on this subject.

  • LWVUS joined a January 10 letter with more than 600 organizations urging Congress to hold hearings and openly debate legislation about climate change in response to the momentum across the country to address this important issue.
  • LWV This letter is a request to hold hearings that will help educate the public on the subject, a process that is critical to democracy and aligns with the League’s longstanding support for a transparent process.
  • As with any omnibus legislation, we will work to elevate and protect the components that align with our positions. On the parts that do not align, we will work to negotiate separately and in a way that supports the League’s work.
  • It is important for LWVUS to be at the table as this process begins to make sure the important work we have done for many decades is included in any comprehensive climate change package that is developed. 
  • Being part of this initial conversation around the subject positions us to influence the outcome of the potential legislation on this issue.
  • Being at the table is the only way we can advance the work our organization has done on climate change. We can’t stand by silently and wait for the legislation to be crafted.
  • Currently there is no bill, but LWVUS stands ready to negotiate when the time comes.
  • As with all legislation, we will examine final language before supporting or opposing a bill publicly.
  • LWVUS staff continues to consult the LWVUS Climate Change Taskforce, a group of dedicated and trusted League leaders, regarding legislation around climate change issues. We will continue to look to our long-standing positions to guide our engagement on this topic. 

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 just one hearing this week, you may elect to follow the 3/14 Joint Committee on Student Success committee discussion on School Improvement Categories and New Investments in Education.

While the Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Revenue has yet to propose a definitive way to raise revenue for school improvement while still funding other essential state services; the committee is moving forward to meld all of their “listening sessions” statewide into legislation governing schools into the future.

Joint Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education

An overview from the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) 3/11 HB 5015 ODE – DAS Slide Deck, HB 5016 SSF- DAS Slide Deck and verbal presentations (starting at about 43 minutes) were yet another way to consider budgets and spending.

From 3/12 to 3/21 the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) along with universities and community colleges will be presenting budgets. Some of the presentation materials of interest may be: LFO Budget Review (Community Colleges), LFO Budget Review (OHSU), LFO Budget Review (Operations), LFO Budget Review (Opportunity Grant), LFO Budget Review (Public Universities), HB 5024 HECC Presentation (Part 1), and HB 5024 HECC – Governor’s Budget.

Senate Committee on Education

On 3/13 the committee heard testimony about Foster Youth and Educational Outcomes from Deborah Lange, Director, Federal Systems, Office of Teaching & Learning and Jan McComb, Legislative Coordinator, Oregon Department of Education. Top reasons children enter foster care are neglect, abuse, parent drug abuse, and inadequate housing. About 7,700 children/youth are in foster care at any given point in time. Recent changes in federal law allow foster students to remain in the same school/school district when entering foster care and when their foster home placements change.

Then a suite of bills on foster youth in education had public hearings: SB 158 directs the 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.

House Committee on Education

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 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 covered: HB 2029, which 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.

Joint Committee on Student Success

On 3/14 the whole committee met to discuss how to best implement and measure Student Success. School Improvement Categories could allow individual school districts to target one or more.

Alleviate Chronic Absenteeism:

  • Support efforts to reduce chronic absenteeism: provide mental health services, accessible transportation, etc.
  • Establish district- and school-level attendance teams to work with ODE on a chronic absenteeism plan.

Intervention Programs:

  • District-wide 8th-grade intervention program for students at risk
  • Require districts to adopt an intervention strategy
  • Equip every district with an early warning system
  • Implement dropout prevention strategies in high schools
  • Implement pilot reengagement program
  • Targeted assistance for alternative schools/programs

Increase class time:

  • Increase learning time by adding days to the school year – possibly only in specific age groups.

Less testing, more class time:

  • Formative assessments
  • Find ways to mitigate school disruption from testing

Providing extra support for students:

  • Implement before and after school tutoring for struggling students
  • Implement summer learning programs potentially starting with low-income students and students that have fallen behind academically

District-operated Early Learning Programs

  • Increased access to preschool – especially for children from low-income households
  • Implement or support currently existing culturally appropriate preschools

New Investments in Education are tentatively target as:

Districts allowed to spend money for certain purposes:

  • Expanded learning time
  • Reduced class sizes
  • Student health and safety
  • Well-rounded education

Districts might be awarded for achieving certain growth targets on the following metrics:

  • On-time graduation rate
  • 9th Grade students on-track
  • 3rd Grade reading proficiency
  • Regular attendance

Statewide initiatives administered through the Department of Education might include:

  • Extend school year statewide to 1,080 hours
  • Caps on class size for core classes at each grade level
  • Teacher mentorship and professional development
  • Increasing diversity of the workforce
  • Maximum nurse/librarian/counselor ratios
  • TAG program
  • Universal free meals
  • Accountability/oversight
  • Full funding of Measure 98
  • Title IX Coordinator positions
  • Reengagement pilot program
  • Accountability redesign/strategic planning task force
  • Statewide student information system or statewide data warehouse
  • Student Success Teams: intensive interventions for targeted school districts

This larger committee came together 3/12 for joint discussion and hearings. Because the subcommittees reported on their conclusions and recommendations, we’ve elected to summarize by those subcommittees.

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 Accountability and Transparency

Accountability and Transparency (summary of recommendations) (presentation list) were reviewed on 3/12. Listen to the discussion.

Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Early Childhood Education

(Early Learning is followed and reported in-depth by Stephanie Feeney.)

The first presentation on 3/12 was made by the Subcommittee on Early Childhood Education (link to verbal presentation and handout “Recommended Investments”). In his introductory remarks, Sub-committee Co-Chair Rep. John Lively stated that early learning consists of a number of different programs that operate independently and that the state has begun the process of developing a more formal system. He went on to say that the ECE sub-committee had the choice of whether to invest in building out this system or to focus on services. Though they knew that both were needed, they decided that the needs of children who are currently not being served had to be their first priority.

Co-chair Senator Lew Frederick explained that members of the sub-committee looked at a number of programs that are already in place and identified those, that if better supported, would make a difference for very young children in our state. The programs listed in order of priority were:

  1. Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education (EI/ECSE). He said that we are good at identifying children who need services but are not providing full services to 98% of those who need them.
  2. Relief nurseries (31 statewide) are remarkable in their effectiveness in keeping kids out of foster care.
  3. Equity Fund for culturally specific programs in partnership with culturally specific community organizations.
  4. Oregon Pre-Kindergarten (OPK) companion to Head Start.
  5. Professional Development-scholarships and mentorships for those working in the early childhood field.
  6. Early Head Start and Baby Promise—needed programs for children 0-3.
  7. Preschool Promise—the possibility of co-pay will be explored.

Rep. Lively pointed out that these are investments that will have an impact over the long term and that these priorities reflect the legislative strategy of mixed delivery.

On 3/14 Co-chair Sen. Roblan stated that tonight’s meeting would explore next steps and determine how to best invest funds. Three areas of recommendations were addressed: school improvement, early learning, and statewide initiatives (committee discussion) Subcommittee Reports – Early Childhood Education (summary of recommendations). He asked if the proposal captures what the sub-committees were thinking. The ECE—Co-chairs proposal was commended as the easiest to address because it contained specific proposals.

LWVOR Comments: The case could be made the ECE, which has well demonstrated long-term benefits for children, developed from little or no infrastructure and which is woefully underfunded should receive full funding for the Sub-Committee’s requests.

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

This week (and every week) you may find value in reviewing other perspectives from within the Capitol: The Children’s Agenda, United for Kids one of the many coalitions where LWVOR participates. Read their excellent weekly updates.


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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 advocated for nine bills in hearings this week for good governance, including public records access, campaign finance, and geospatial data – how does the ambulance know where to go when you call 911? We are actively working on many others in governance.

Elections

Amendment refinements continue as we await further hearings in committee for these bills.

HB 2234 would allow online candidate filing for all Oregon candidates. We advocate for this because transparency for candidate contact information is very difficult to assemble for our Vote411 voter service. Discussion now includes improving ORESTAR rather than replacing it. City Recorders and County Clerks could file online as they currently do, for their candidates who file on paper. Concern for the cost of placing cables to areas not adequately served, in order to securely connect beyond County Clerks, is being raised, for election security.

HB 2685, for transparent and appropriate candidate filing contact information, got input last week from Senator Gelser’s bill to protect voter privacy, SB 826, being amended.

SB 861: We testified on this bill (video), supported by both the Governor and the Secretary of State, to pay for USPS postage for ballot return envelopes. The League consistently works for improved voter turnout, for vote by mail and for automatic voter registration. We would support this, hesitating for the cost. If ballots are not sent by USPS, postage costs would (still) not be incurred. The state Elections Director is negotiating, with the postal service for an optimal business process, facilitating the most expeditious delivery time, and a lower rate, in the -1 amendment. The ballpark cost, $2.7 million allotted in the Governor’s budget, was cited if all ballots were mailed. About 40% are currently put in drop boxes, so the fiscal expense would be less, further decreased by the anticipated lower mailing fee. As noted in the press, we would consider revising our testimony, from comments to support, based on predicted cost, anticipated to take several weeks to determine. (League testimony).

SB 2906 Enrolled (2017). The League was invited to submit a letter to accompany an annual report required by this bill, which we supported; see our 2017 testimony and 2019 letter of support. We have been advocating for this since 2014, specifically for the League Voter Service Vote411 use of problematic geospatial information. This large fiscal, 10-year project has been proposed for many years, to connect geospatial information data coverage for the state, now with “navigatOR”. It would affect an estimated 85% of our government data, at every level of Oregon government, and every League action portfolio, including all special and tax districts, transportation, etc. In a state report from 2006, the cost to reconciling incompatible file formats was estimated at $81 million – annually. Long-term negotiations have been underway. In 2016 we supported HB 4130 (our testimony), and HB 4056, pulled for work to be done by a data sharing task force. The Oregon Geographic Information Council was formed by SB 2906 for comprehensive consideration. Data sharing is complicated by concerns for privacy, confidentiality, and liability, all to be addressed.

National Popular Vote, Marge Easley

SB 870: There is still no word on a hearing date for this National Popular Vote (NPV) bill although Democratic caucus discussions are ongoing. We remain concerned that Senate leaders may try to revert to their stance from last year of adding a referral clause to the bill. Please send a quick note to your senator to say you are not in support of referring NPV to the voters, find your district and legislator. A referral would undoubtedly be challenged in court, since the U.S Constitution specifically gives state legislatures the task of deciding how electors are appointed.  

Meanwhile, the good news continues from around the country. The NPV bill was signed into law by Colorado’s governor on March 15 and awaits the governors’ signatures in New Mexico and Delaware. 89 more electoral votes are needed before the NPV Interstate Compact can go into effect.

Here’s a link to an article that provides an interesting historical perspective on the Electoral College.

Citizens’ Initiative Review Commission, Marge Easley

SB 755: League testimony has been submitted in support, to be heard on March 18 in Senate Rules. The bill establishes a Citizens’ Initiative Review Commission Endowment Fund in order to create an ongoing, stable funding source for the administration of Citizens’ Initiative Reviews. The Citizens’ Initiative Review process entails bringing together a diverse group of citizens for several days to research and evaluate a selected ballot measure. The group’s findings are then printed in the Voters’ Pamphlet for the benefit of all voters. The League has strongly supported the Citizens’ Initiative Review process since 2011 and is very pleased to see that it has earned national and international recognition in the field of deliberative democracy.

Redistricting, Norman Turrill

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

Save the date: The LWVOR will be supporting HB 3004, the Small Donor Election Program. We also encourage our members to attend the Small Donor Elections Lobby Day on April 25, Room 161 in the State Capitol.

On Wednesday 3/13, both the Senate Campaign Finance and House Rules committees held a rare joint meeting to hear four bills. See the video here.

HJR 13 and SJR 18 are constitutional amendment referrals that would enable limits on campaign contributions. The League submitted testimony that we prefer HJR 13 since it is more comprehensive; allows campaign contribution limits at the county, city and district level; allows requiring disclosures of contributions or expenditures made in connection with political campaigns; and allows 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 since the voters also turned down the Measure 46 constitutional amendment; and it would also preclude the popular laws adopted by Multnomah County and Portland voters.

HB 2716 would depend on HJR 13 passage by the voters 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. See League testimony.

HB 2983 would require specified “dark money” nonprofit organizations to file donor lists to identify donors making donations above a specified amount to the nonprofit if the nonprofit makes aggregate political expenditures above specified amount. See League testimony.

These bills taken together with HB 3004 would revolutionize Oregon’s campaign finance system.

Transparency and Public Records, Josie Koehne

Last week was Sunshine Week, most fittingly, a very busy for public records. See “Public Record Bills Shine Spotlight on Transparency” about three bills that the LWVOR supports. We shall continue to watch them.

HB 2430 would eliminate the 2021 sunset date of the office of the Public Records Advocate and Records Advisory Council, whose job is to identify issues and recommend public records request process improvements. All testimony supported continuing the committee. The Public Records Advocate handles records disputes and develops training for the public, state and local agencies on public records request laws and procedures. Advocate Ginger McCall also spoke in support.

HB 2431: Each state agency would report to the Attorney General, the Public Records Advocate and the Legislative Counsel Public Records subcommittee annually, with the number of record requests:

  1. received
  2. not completed within 15 days as required by law
  3. overdue by more than 60 days
  4. granted a fee waiver or reduction
  5. denied

A few testified that reports would be burdensome to state agencies, but most testified that the data was valuable and necessary for process improvement and better compliance.

HB 2353 would assess a penalty if an agency failed to respond to a public records request within 15 business days. The -1 amendment specifies a $200 fee. Some testified that this would be too burdensome for state and local agencies, but most said there had been enough time for agencies to learn legal obligations in effect since January 2018. Further, without a threat of a small penalty, agencies might continue to deny legal requests or fail to respond as has been seen for the past 14 months. Some repercussion for non-compliance is necessary, some said, and legal action would be used only as a last resort. The law allows for a busy or understaffed agency to delay a request, so long as an estimated date is given as to when records will be available. Other states, such as Washington, assess far harsher penalties. The Oregon District Attorneys Association testified that assessing a fee would impair the candor of their relationship with agencies and could harm the informal and efficient way district attorneys currently handle public records complaints. This view did not address the press testimony that many investigative reporters’ requests still were not responded to after many repeated attempts.

On another note, also on Wednesday, March 13, West Linn resident Rory Bialostosky filed a lawsuit to “force City Councilor Teri Cummings to release the handwritten notes she takes in an official capacity, which he deems public record under ORS 192.314.” She has 30 days to respond to the lawsuit. Ironically, Cummings has been “leading the charge to persuade the City to release records from an executive session held by Council that violated state rules on allowed subjects (for which it was sanctioned) and has championed transparency throughout her time on council and during her campaign.” It will be interesting to see how this case turns out!

For this coming week, there appears to be no new progress on the other public records and transparency-related bills we are following.

*Note, we are following HB 2866, a bill addressing privacy of “PII”, personal identifying information. This is the sort of issue we hope to be poised to address with a position from a proposed LWVOR study for Cyber Security and Privacy Today, to be considered at our state convention in May.

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

As we get to the halfway mark, important bills are getting hearings. Amendments are being considered. Land use, water and air quality bills are among those being followed by League volunteers. Sadly, we lost Liz Frenkel this past week. Since coming to Oregon in 1965 she was involved in the Corvallis League and had a hand in almost all state League environmental studies and adopted positions that we all use today.

Budgets

The Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) budget (SB 5510) with public testimony was heard this week. 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.

Next week the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board budget and Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) budgets will be heard. The League has supported the hazards work of DOGAMI in past biennia. The Dept. of Environmental Quality’s Environmental Data Management System Project will get a review on March 19 in the Joint Committee on Information Management and Technology. The League strongly supports this project as it will not only assist DEQ, but also provide access to data for other agencies’ permitting processes.

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. A work session is scheduled on March 18 where we hope to see the bill moved to Ways and Means to help fund these agencies.

Air Quality, Susan Mates

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. HB 2007 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 where a public hearing is scheduled for March 19. The League has submitted testimony in support.

HB 2271 would provide a technical fix that would allow officers to investigate environmental complaints without being direct witnesses to those offenses, and would give the DEQ the ability to pursue civil administrative enforcement against motor vehicle manufacturers and others that cheat vehicle emission standards. On March 14, it was sent to the floor with a “do pass” recommendation.

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 were heard on March 14 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. HB 2656 was heard on March 12 that addresses the link between certain forest practices and drinking water sources.

Environment

HB 2250 is a bill that requires the Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Health Authority to regularly assess final changes to federal environment laws to determine whether changes are significantly less protective of public health, environment or natural resources than standards and requirements contained in those federal environmental laws, as in effect on January 19, 2017. If so, Oregon will uphold the previous requirements.

Forestry

The Governor has announced the membership of the Oregon Wildfire Council established by Executive Order 19-01. The first meeting of the Council will be held March 18 at the World Forestry Center.

Land Use

The League provided testimony in opposition to SB 8, requiring petitioners to pay attorney fees should developers of affordable housing prevail. A second hearing is scheduled in the Senate Housing Committee on April 1 with a subsequent referral to Senate Judiciary. 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 and have received a draft “gut and stuff” proposal that addresses some of our concerns. We will review and provide additional comments. A second public hearing is set for April 1 in the Senate Housing Committee.

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 -10 amendments proposed that address some of the League’s concerns. It will receive another hearing in the House Committee on Human Services and Housing on March 18.

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 expressed concerns in our testimony. A second public hearing is set for March 21 at which time we expect to see a complete rewrite of the bill. Amendments should be posted before the hearing.

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. A possible work session is set for March 18 in the House Housing and Human Services Committee.

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 where a work session is scheduled for March 19 to consider the -2 amendments. With the amendments, the League may be neutral on the bill.

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.

The Senate Committee on Housing heard a series of bills on March 11: SB 331, SB 334, and SB 534. 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, but these bills have a number of deficiencies.

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 was heard March 12. The League again has concerns.

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 18 in the House Committee on Human Services and Housing. HB 2055 has a number of amendments being considered to clarify the program. The bills 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.

Marine Board

The League continues to 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. A public hearing was held in the House Committee on Natural Resources and an informational hearing was held March 7 on both bills. HB 2080, the bill to increase fees to help pay for administering the state boating program, had a Work Session on March 12 in the House Committee on Natural Resources where it was moved to support “do pass” with a subsequent referral to Ways and Means.

Water

The League supports SB 756, a bill that continues the onsite septic grant and loan program for low income Oregonians. It had a work session in the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment on March 14 where it was moved “do pass” and referred 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. Here is water quality permit fee rulemaking 2019.

The League participated in a 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.

Wetlands

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 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”. The proposed amendments will be considered at a public hearing on March 19. Although the amendments are focused on preparing for substantial work in 2020, we remain opposed because of the request to fund one employee to work on this project. 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.

Regional Solutions

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

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


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Revenue and Tax Reform

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

The Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Revenue reported back to the full committee. Not only did they skim the two new possible business taxes that the subcommittee heard much about, the gross receipts CAT and the value-added BAT, but they also made equal mention of possible changes to existing taxes.

Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Revenue

The Joint Committee on Student Success Subcommittee on Revenue reported back to the full committee. They walked through advantages and disadvantages of the two new possible business taxes, the two the Legislative Revenue Office (LRO) had given  them much information on. They also talked about changing current taxes.

The value-added BAT calculates receipts minus purchases from other businesses at the national level, then taxes the amount apportioned to Oregon. It is more stable, catches businesses selling into Oregon missed by the current corporate income tax, and was recommended by Oregon Business & Industry. However, increased complexity means it is more vulnerable to tax avoidance plus no state currently uses a value-added tax.

The gross receipts CAT is one of the options recommended by the Coalition for the Common Good, the coalition including some unions and Nike. The subcommittee looked at a $250 minimum payment per business plus a small tax rate on Oregon sales over $1 million. It’s simple, transparent and catches fly-over businesses, as the BAT does, but a CAT pyramids as one business sells to another.

Although the subcommittee has heard very little on potential changes to existing taxes, they reported out on that option as well, citing proposals from the Revenue Roundtable, which LWVOR participated in. The subcommittee said both the corporate and personal income taxes could change, as well as treatment of pass-through income.

The subcommittee is looking for $1 billion a year and might not get there with one tax. One subcommittee member mentioned implementation time without specifying the 12 months or so the Department of Revenue (DOR) had testified it would take to bring up a new tax computer system, regulations, and forms; or that DOR could likely handle changes to existing taxes much more quickly. He also pointed out that Oregon could increase taxes on other things besides business, without increasing our dependence on personal income tax. LWVOR note: The Revenue Roundtable proposals included raising wine, beer, tobacco, and marijuana taxes, though this session a tobacco tax hike might help plug the Medicaid budget hole.

One subcommittee co-chair pointed out that even after they pick a tax, rates and exemption discussions will take work. Ohio’s gross receipts tax exempts chemotherapy, a worthy cause. But other needed items are also worthy, and then where should they stop?

The revenue subcommittee took the week off while LRO crunched more numbers.

Joint Committee on Student Success

After hearing from the subcommittees, the Joint Committee on Student Success met to walk through recommendations for improving education (see Education LR). Revenue came up briefly, with one member saying she knew there was not enough money and would be open to increasing rates on existing taxes other than topped-out personal income taxes.

House Revenue

The federal 2017 tax bill allowed opportunity zones, areas that, in theory, need tax breaks to catch up. Oregon’s opportunity zones include downtown Portland, an area already booming. LWVOR’s supportive testimony on HB 2144 said if Oregon’s tax law stays connected to federal opportunity zones, the state will give tax breaks to developers wealthy enough to build high-rises in downtown Portland. HB 2144 would disconnect Oregon from the federal tax breaks for opportunity zones.

LRO walked House Revenue through how Oregon connects to federal personal income tax. Currently, Oregon’s income tax computation starts with federal taxable income, what income remains after subtracting all federal deductions. Thus, by default we include all federal deductions, including for the new opportunity zones. LRO then briefed the committee on opportunity zones. Communities qualified as opportunity zones based on income or poverty rates. Oregon’s zones are all over the state. Investors put capital gains into a fund which then invests in a zone. If investments in the zone are held at least 10 years, then capital gains made on investments within the zone are exempt from tax. Because of the way Oregon connects to federal taxes, these breaks automatically occur against Oregon taxes as well. Business interests testified that 80 of Oregon’s 86 opportunity zones are outside Portland, with a number in Salem and Eugene and most rural; that Oregon doesn’t have many economic development tools; and that decoupling from the federal tax break would make accounting more complicated for the investment funds, possibly leading them to avoid Oregon. The Oregon Women’s Rights Coalition pointed out that 31 of the 86 zones are in Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas Counties and asked support for HB 2144’s decoupling on these zones. Written testimony supporting this decoupling bill far outweighed support for the zones. Committee reaction was decidedly mixed.

Last fall, Ballot Measure 103 asked voters to ban taxes on groceries. The measure failed after much discussion over how it did or did not define groceries. HB 2122 would define groceries, for all taxes imposed with respect to groceries, as raw food or processed food, including prepackaged food, sold at retail in retail grocery stores and at some other stores. LRO firmly confirmed that the bill does not impose a tax on groceries, said food can be raw, processed, or prepared. This bill says raw or processed foods are groceries, prepared foods are not, and defines retail grocery stores for purpose of any taxation – taxation that doesn’t yet exist. The Northwest Grocers Association supported using the definition of food in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP, as did a committee member who had worked in a grocery. The League of Oregon Cities opposed the bill, saying the legislature should not interfere in definitions for local taxes such as Ashland’s prepared food tax. LRO will look at whether HB 2122 would conflict with local prepared food taxes.

HB 2823 would provide $250 in tax credits for teachers buying classroom supplies. Currently teachers can get a $250 deduction from federal income for spending on classroom supplies. That also makes it an Oregon deduction. As a deduction, teachers in the wide 9% bracket essentially get back from Oregon 9% of the first $250 they spend on supplies, or $22.50. HB 2823 would change that to a credit, so they would get the full $250. It would also expand eligibility to adjunct faculty in public higher education. One Republican declared it one of the best concepts in his years as a legislator. No surprise that Tax Fairness Oregon opposed the bill, saying the Ways and Means Co-Chairs’ budget of $40 million for tax credits is not enough to extend the earned income tax credit (EITC), much less add any other tax expenditures. But the Oregon Education Association (OEA) opposed the bill, saying that a quarter of students are from low-income households and 20,000 are homeless, and the Co-Chairs’ budget won’t even extend the EITC. Pressed by the same legislator asking if there are going to be tax credits, shouldn’t teachers be at the front of the line, OEA responded that low-income children should be at the front of the line, followed by fully funding schools.

House Committee on Human Services and Housing

House Committee on Human Services and Housing heard HB 3349, which reduces the mortgage interest deduction (MID), phasing it out starting at incomes of $200,000, and ending it where income exceeds $250,000 and for second homes at any income. The additional revenue would go to housing, including helping those homeless or at risk of homelessness. One homeowner who would lose his deduction cried foul and the Oregon Association of Realtors was shocked that the committee would consider reducing the MID. All other speakers strongly supported how the bill would help the homeless and help those at the lower ends of the ladder become stable homeowners.

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

The Joint Committee on Student Success Revenue Subcommittee resumes meeting Tuesday March 19.

Senate Finance and Revenue will hear SJR 23. It proposes amending the constitution to send the personal income tax kicker to a new Personal Investment in Education fund, to be used for K-12, prioritizing a seismic rehabilitation grant program and student behavioral health counseling. Appropriations out of the fund would require a three-fifths vote.

They will also hear SB 214, which would change Oregon’s connection point to federal personal income tax. Currently, Oregon’s income tax computation starts with federal taxable income, what income remains after subtracting all federal deductions. Thus, we automatically include all federal deductions. SB 214 would start Oregon’s computation with federal adjusted gross income, so Oregon would explicitly decide on which federal deductions to allow on the state form. LWVOR note: Federal adjusted gross income is larger than the base Oregon currently starts with, so if SB 214 passes and Oregon keeps only some of the federal deductions and keeps current rates and brackets, personal income tax payments could increase for some.

Senate Finance and Revenue will hold a work session on SB 523, which authorizes the Department of Revenue (DOR) to post information about delinquent tax debtors online. When heard, DOR explained that a delinquent payer would be posted only after multiple attempts to contact and at least one payment plan had fallen through.

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 Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Budget SB 5525 continued to be heard in the Human Services Subcommittee this week. Behavioral Health Programs were discussed Monday, the Oregon State Hospital Programs Tuesday and the Psychiatric Review Board on Wednesday. Public Testimony will be heard on Thursday. The League is most concerned about funding

Behavioral Health Services are provided through community mental health programs in counties or regions. Mobile Crisis Units are called to deal with local incidents and reduce emergency room costs. Local clinics provide intervention and treatment for mental health and substance abuse disorders. Peer support aides and supported housing options provide stability.

OHA provides expertise on Mental Health for children and families and substance abuse prevention. Several POPS are included in the budget for resources for adult and youth suicide prevention, in home services for children and families, Aid and Assist evaluations in the community for misdemeanor crimes, support for clinical advisory groups and behavioral health data information system.

The Oregon State Hospital (OSH) presentation included the number of people (1,565) committed by the courts to the OSH facilities in 2018. The Salem facility has capacity for 513 and Junction City has capacity for 80 patients. The largest number of commitments are for Aid and Assist evaluations for the courts, 64% of admissions. The composition of population at any one time are at Aid & Assist (38.5%), Guilty Except for Insanity patients (35.5%), and civil mental health danger to themselves or others are 25.9%. If Aid and Assist patients are not able to assist in their own defense, they are civilly committed to OSH.

Guilty Except for Insanity patients are supervised by the Psychiatric Safety Review Board (PSRB) while they are committed to OSH. There are 575 clients with 205 in OSH and 364 on conditional release to a less secure facility. There are also 7 clients charged as juveniles, but 6 are now over 18. They may be held until age 25 but have to be released even if they may be dangerous. Guilty Except for Insanity patients have the longest stays at an average of 895 days.

Senate Judiciary heard companion bills for mental health. SB 24 considered OSH evaluations and the right to a completed evaluation within 14 days. A forensic psychologist said 14 days were insufficient for getting records, testing, interviewing others and writing a report to the court. It was also insufficient time to get illegal meds out of the accused’s system. Timely admissions within 7 days of the court order were not being met. SB 25 requires the court to send orders within a day, although jails must hold until OSH has an opening. The hospital time limit on misdemeanor holds is 30 days so they are often discharged without a plan to treat. Community mental health evaluations would decrease the overpopulation. Only SB 25 A was passed out of Senate Judiciary.

House Judiciary passed HB 2750 on trauma informed training grants from the Department of Justice on an 11-0 vote. The bill goes to Ways and Means. HB 2614 A on repeal of driver’s license suspension in cases where the fines were not payable passed 10 – 1. The House Judiciary schedule was packed and most bills are still in play.

House Judiciary heard HB 3064, the Accountability and Equity Act, a follow-up to the HB 3194 (2013) Justice Reinvestment Act. The Committee celebrated the success of the Criminal Justice Commission programs in the county corrections programs which have decreased the need for more prison beds and a new women’s prison. The new act measures crime statistics and grant outcomes and expands the grant committee. An Equity Advisory Committee will also be appointed and a research staff will be hired.

Gun Safety, Marge Easley

SB 801, the first gun safety bill to be heard this session, is on the Senate Education Committee agenda for March 27. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Beyer and Rep. Sprenger, authorizes public schools to provide a firearm safety and accident prevention class to all first-grade students. The curriculum of the thirty-minute class must include proper steps to take upon encountering an unsecured firearm, the differences between video games violence and real-life violence, and the dangers of confusing toy guns and real guns. No real firearms or live ammunition are to be present, and students will be given the choice to opt-out. The bill also stipulates that the class must be nonpolitical and not encourage or discourage the ownership of firearms.

The League has concerns that this bill, although well intentioned, will have little impact on actual gun safety, since a recent Rutgers School of Nursing study points out that children who participate in gun safety programs do not retain the skills they learn and most will still approach a firearm in an unsupervised setting. We believe the onus should be on adult gunowners to store weapons responsibly and take necessary steps to prevent access by children.

Paid Family Leave, Debbie Runciman

HB 3031, the Family and Medical Leave Insurance bill, has been tentatively scheduled for a special hearing on Monday March 25 in the evening, before the House Business and Labor Committee.

HB 3031 assures that workers can take paid time off to welcome a new baby, recover from a serious illness, or care for a seriously ill family member. It establishes a mechanism, much like unemployment insurance, where employees and employers each contribute a small amount from each paycheck to cover benefits. Such a program is especially important for low wage earners, women, and people of color. LWVOR will be submitting testimony in support of this measure.

Several other paid family leave bills have also been introduced: Both HB 3140 and SB 947 build on the existing unpaid family leave act by requiring that leave would be paid, but doesn’t include specific provisions about how such leave is financed, leaving each employer to cover those benefits as befits their own business, whether through juggling employee responsibilities, purchasing private insurance, etc. SB 121 would have BOLI, the Bureau of Labor and Industries, continue to study the paid family leave issue, and report back to the 2021 legislature. Neither of these three has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.

Housing, Debbie Aiona and Nancy Donovan

This Past Week at the Legislature

Oregon Housing Alliance held its annual Housing Opportunity Day last Thursday at the State Capitol in Salem. LWVOR Debbie Aiona and Nancy Donovan attended along with over a 100 Housing Alliance members. Our group met with Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer, Representative Barbara Smith-Warner, and Senator Michael Dembrow to discuss Oregon Housing and Community Services’ (OHCS) Emergency Housing Assistance and Supportive Housing Assistance Program bills, and the Local Innovation and Fast Track Housing (LIFT), a rental housing and homeownership bill.

Bills HB 2893, HB 2894, HB 2895 and HB 2896 include manufactured home replacement, manufactured home preservation and establishing an OHCS manufactured housing advisory committee. All four bills unanimously moved out of the House Human Services and Housing Committee and are headed to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means. The Committee also heard HB 2802, the Critical Repair and Healthy Homes recording fee proposal from Representative Marsh and the Community Action Partnership of Oregon. Finally, the Committee heard HB 3349, the Housing Alliance’s proposal to reform the Mortgage Interest Deduction. The League provided testimony on HB 3349.

Next Week at the Legislature

Please refer to the League’s Natural Resources Report on Land Use for the status of some of the Housing bills. The House Human Services and Housing Committee will have a packed agenda on Monday, 3/18 at its work session on several of the Housing Alliance’s endorsed or priority bills, including:

HB 2812 to expand OHCS’s use of its Home Ownership Assistance Account to support households with below area median income and support homeownership programs with home construction or rehabilitation costs.

HB 2802 to establish a Homeownership Repair and Rehabilitation Program Fund at OHCS. Fifty percent of the fund would be administered by the community action agency network. The bill would establish a Healthy Homes Program within the department to research housing health hazards and to provide revolving funds for organizations addressing housing health hazards. Funds from the General Fund would be appropriated to OHCS for deposit into both funds. The program will start January 1, 2020. An emergency will be declared starting July 1, 2019.

HB 3349 would disallow (for purposes of personal income taxation), mortgage interest deduction for second homes, as well as deductions for principal residences above the threshold amount. The estimated increase in revenue will be transferred to the Oregon Housing Fund administered by OHCS, as follows: (a) 50% to the Home Ownership Assistance Account; (b) 25% to the General Housing Account; and (c) 25% to the Emergency Housing Account, with priority given to assisting children who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The bill is required to move to Housing Revenue for further work.

HB 2055 to establish a Workforce Housing Accelerator Program within OHCS to assist local government efforts to increase workforce housing through technical assistance and direct funding. Amendments will be considered.

After the work session, the Committee will hold public hearings on several bills including, HB 2001, Speaker Kotek’s proposal to address the state’s missing middle housing. Ten amendments to the bill will be heard on Monday, including some provisions suggested by the League.

On Tuesday, March 19, the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee will hear SB 595, which would allow local communities to dedicate a portion of their transient Lodging Taxes currently spent on tourism to affordable workforce housing.

Also on Tuesday, the Joint Ways and Means Transportation and Economic Development Subcommittee will hear the OHCS Budget, SB 5512. The budget presentation from the agency will be heard on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. On Monday, March 25, it is expected that there will be an opportunity for public testimony. OHCS and the Housing Alliance and other partners are coordinating panels for this hearing.

On Thursday, the Senate Human Services Committee is expected to hold a work session on SB 491, which would move the Fairview Trust to the Oregon Community Foundation to better provide housing opportunity for people experiencing intellectual and development disabilities.

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


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