Legislative Report, Volume 30, Number 3 – February 2020

 

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In This Issue

Climate Change

Education

Governance

Natural Resources

Revenue and Tax Reform

Social Policy


 

Climate Change

By Claudia Keith, Julie Chapman, Shirley Weathers, Cathy Frischmann and Lynette Pierson

Carbon Cap & Invest (Julie Chapman)

The Oregon Greenhouse Gas Initiative (SB 1530 -35) passed out of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (SENR) on February 13, by a 3-2 partisan vote.  The -35 amendment (summarized) is a distillation of requested amendments, compatible with the intentions of the bill. All amendments adopted (including -2, -27) will be integrated into a single document (not yet available on-line).

Over the course of the political process, compromises were incorporated reflecting the interests of industry, utilities, trucking, transportation fuels, etc. Advocacy by climate and environmental justice activists resulted in the requirement that the seven voting members on the Oregon Greenhouse Gas Reduction Board be well informed on energy and climate issues, one of whom must represent impacted communities. Representatives for impacted communities are also required in broad areas of decision-making as policy is developed. As the session progressed, LWVOR discussed the bill with committee members and climate advocates in both chambers; we also submitted written testimony. We worked with Renew coalition partners to further protect pollution-impacted communities – with a provision added in the -35 amendment in the last days.

“Pens-Down” for the Senate Environment & Natural Resource Committee

SB 1530 -35 now moves to Ways and Means for a financial assessment of costs and revenue from the bill; this must be completed for the bill to move to the full Senate and House votes. Rumors are circulating about the strategies and repercussions of possible walk-outs by opponents to climate legislation. W&M Sub NR is scheduled for Monday 2/17 and Full W&M Tues 2/18. It is possible the Senate may vote on this bill next week. The fiscal was just posted with both agency budget figures and loan details. According to the fiscal posted, the startup costs are around $11 million to agencies and $10 million for a revolving loan fund.

Jordan Cove Energy Project (JCEP) (Shirley Weathers)

As a refresher, while a significant number of key specifics about the JCEP project suggest FERC could issue Denials for the pipeline and terminal as in 2016, most observers expect approvals conditioned on receipt of certain other federal and state authorizations (please see the last issue for a summary). Such an Approval Order could include a number of other issues, making it impossible to predict all of the results and next steps. We expect a flurry of filings of Requests for Rehearing—from landowners who will then be subject to eminent domain proceedings for 90-foot easements across their properties, but also from hundreds of other individual and organizational “intervenors” on the two dockets. For example, the 4 local Leagues (Coos, Klamath, Umpqua Valley and Rogue Valley) that have been jointly opposing the project since 2017 are ready to start drafting.

It is also important to note that the State of Oregon is standing firmly against one very real possibility the FERC order may bring: one or more attempts to override state authority. Congress gave states and certain Tribes authority to protect their air, water, and coastal regions. The state permits designed to allow them to do that require input on other important matters, as well. Governor Brown has consistently maintained that all involved state agencies will exercise their permitting authority diligently and in accordance with the law. We have seen throughout this process that they have done so, despite intense pressure from project proponents and mountains of work. The Governor declared in no uncertain terms last week that Oregon will consider all available options to resist unlawful federal attempts to preempt state authority.

Our Children’s Trust (Claudia Keith)

On February 10, North Carolina Youth File Petition Demanding State Address Carbon Dioxide Emissions. Michael Gerrad tweeted recently, related to Supreme Court of Ireland finds states “exceptional circumstances” warrant immediately taking up the question of whether country’s climate plan is so weak it violates the Irish Constitution, European Convention on Human Rights, and Ireland’s international obligations. This could be related to “exceptional circumstances” sounds a lot like “exceptional importance,” the standard for U.S legal ‘en banc review’. (see last week’s Legislative Report). We understand the ‘Juliana vs U.S. gov’ case is on its way to the full Ninth Circuit. As written on Caltothebar.org: “The Plaintiffs and their attorneys will petition for a review en banc by the entire 9th Circuit and eventually it will likely be addressed by the Supreme Court. Stated broadly, the issue is whether judge-made standing doctrines prevent the federal judiciary from addressing the most consequential civil rights issue ever presented.”

Oregon Economic Analysis (Claudia Keith)

“All business and policy decisions need to be examined through the lens of climate change, researchers at McKinsey said.“

The League continues to be concerned that the Oregon Economic Analysis Quarterly Report, presented to House and Senate policy committees, each quarter lacks a Climate reality fiduciary perspective. The most recent OEA report dated Feb 12  continues to avoid climate change risk. The League will continue to encourage DAS/OEA and the Governor’s office to address this critical issue. The League is concerned that this issue needs broader consideration related to future costs to the state, the effect on future revenue and applicable future bond rating stress tests. (The Biggest Threat to Financial Stability Is the Climate – The American Prospect.) Here are additional recent articles related to Climate fiduciary issues: PBS,”Why climate change means new risks for U.S. financial markets, Insurance JournalForbes, NYT, P&IYahooFinanceForbesWater Finance&ManagementLSE, JDSupraForbes and IMF stress Testing.

Fossil Fuel Restriction Bill (Shirley Weathers)

HB 4105 was designed to address two issues related to safety and environmental protection related to fossil fuel activities and infrastructure.

The bill has two main thrusts: 1) prohibiting state agencies from allowing new fossil fuel infrastructure on or across state lands and 2) upgrading Oregon’s oil train standards to reduce risks of explosion and fire in the event of derailments like the one that took place in Mosier in 2016. The public hearing in the House Energy and Environment Committee on 2/11 brought testimony primarily from bill supporters, including LWVOR. The sponsor indicated that no further action would take place during this session, but concepts would receive more concerted attention between this session and 2021.

Waste Combustion as Renewable Energy

The League is following HB 4049, a bill that could provide energy credits for Covanta, a waste treatment plant outside of Salem. The League is a member of Oregon Conservation Network, an Environmental Lobby group categorizing this bill as a major threat. The League will most likely join a coalition and testify at the next public hearing to provide opposition support… OPB/NPR ‘think out loud’ program included this ‘burning trash’ topic on Feb 13th.

Climate Emergency Declaration

One of the first Oregon cities to declare a Climate Crisis Resolution was Hood River. More recently Benton County voted to approve a Climate Crisis (Emergency) resolution on February 4. The city of Milwaukie, Oregon passed a Climate Emergency Resolution in January. The City of Corvallis passed a Climate Crisis resolution in September. Ashland is aggressively moving on Climate.

A group of concerned League members from six states has sent a message to all Leagues across the country to ask them to consider adding Climate Change to their recommended League Program priorities. This group is also working on a related LWVUS Convention Caucus, June 2020 in Washington D.C. This proposal could affect LWV program education and advocacy priorities. The LWVOR Board voted on 2/14/20 to support this Climate Change proposal.

1365 Jurisdictions have declared, 83 in the U.S. Affecting 815M people in 26 countries.

LWVOR voted on this resolution during the May 2019 Convention, one of the first Leagues in the country to do so.

PIELC (Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, UO Law)

A conference, ‘MOVE: Migration on a Changing Planet’ will be held on March 5-8. The League will be tabling at this conference. Let us know if you are interested in volunteering.

The League’s CC Team will follow up on 2.5M Pounds Of Radioactive Waste Illegally Dumped In Oregon Landfill and how there initially appears to be no accountability or state agency financial penalties. It’s unclear now if any new legislation is necessary. We are considering joining with Columbia River Keepers advocacy efforts.

(Find Ocean Acidification, Wildfire Prevention, 100 Year Water Vision, Fracking, Air Quality, Hazardous Waste/Fossil Fuel Transportation (Oil Trains) in the Natural Resource Section.)

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! It would be great to have a more dedicated volunteers. If any of these policy areas interest you: Energy DOE, Transportation DOT, State Agency Climate Adaptation Planning, LCDC, DEQ, etc.) please contact Claudia Keith, ca.keith@comcast.net or Peggy Lynch, peggylynchor@gmail.com.


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Education Policy

By Barbara Sellers-Young and Chris Vogel

Education Bills 

Education bills this session that LWVOR Action provided testimony on SB 1566 – the section that extends eligibility for Oregon Promise to certain Oregon foster children who attain their highest level of education while in out-of-state placement – SupportHB 4132 – Student Health Surveys – Support and HB 4127-1 – School Dental Pilot – Support all passed from their initial committees to Joint Ways and Means, (J W&Ms) awaiting funding priority. Bills in J W&Ms are not subject to the required deadline to move to the other chamber for hearings.

SB 1572 that establishes subject-matter credit requirements students must satisfy in order to a receive high school diploma created some angst and disagreements as reported in the LR last week.  So, not having enough time in a short session to reach consensus, a -3 amendment proposes to establish a short-term 19 member Task Force on High School Diploma Requirements to iron out required class credits and the Essential Learning Skills test. This will form the basis for a bill in 2020.

House Committee On Education and Senate Committee On Education moved through work sessions as the timeline for first chamber action quickly approached. The bills originally introduced in the first chamber and then passing floor votes in chambers will be heard in second-chamber committees starting next week.  For the short session, senate members were able to introduce one bill, representatives introduced two priority bills, and committees provided bills. In a whirlwind to get through the first chamber, some bills assigned to committees had no public hearings nor work sessions and “died”. Some will reappear in the 2020 session. Senate-Education assigned bills all had hearings and work sessions, moving to the floor. House Education assigned bills were more numerous. Some bills not making it out of the House committee were: HB 4059 home school diplomas, HB 4094 class size and caseload limits as mandatory collective bargaining subjects for school districts, and HB 4137 to authorizes all public universities in Oregon to offer doctoral degrees, subject to approval by Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

Education Ways and Means

The J W & Ms is arguably a major focus in oversight for all funding bills each session. Listen to legislators’ questions on future audits Education Reports and Discussion 2/14 (time 6:50 to 17:00) and here for 2/7 (time 5:38-10:00). The Secretary of State (page 13) has an audit scheduled in 2020 for the rollout of the Student Success Act (SSA). 
“This will be a real-time audit of enhancement of education funds passed by the 2019 Legislature through the SSA. The audit will focus on ODE and selected districts’ initial strategies for implementing elements of the SSA and accounting for SSA spending. The audit will assess the department’s implementation strategy for the SSA, including staffing, communication, performance data collection, and improvement efforts for districts, contractors, and grantees.”
The legislature is also continuing to monitor the development of Education programs in summaries of Ways and Means reports submitted this session: ODE Student Success Act Report – Subcommittee Recommendation, ODE Child Care Resources Consolidation Report – Subcommittee Recommendation, ODE Educator Advancement Council Report – Subcommittee Recommendation, and ODE Preschool Promise Program Report – Subcommittee Recommendation.

In the short legislative session, the very limited funding allocations aren’t in specific W&M subcommittees but will be combined in omnibus bills for operating expenses. We are watching HB 5204, sections 33, 34, and 35 that address cost-shifting of education funding. More items will be added to the expanding HB 5204 as the session continues. Also in play, the new funding stream for elements of the Student Success Act (SSA) won’t start generating cash flow until the first payments under the modified Corporate Activities Tax are made by businesses in April of this year, so a “hold back” by W&M tri-chairs may assure timely transfers by the ODE to districts as grants roll-out.

If you want to read more rather than the above “Cliff Notes” then dig-in to these—or just know that the details are fully documented by the departments and reviewed by the able Doug Wilson in the Legislative Fiscal Office (LFO).

Higher Education Bills

The following House bills (except the first, HB 4137) have been voted out of committee to J W&Ms or to the legislative floor. You will note that the House has passed forward more bills than the Senate since representatives introduced two priority bills and senators only one. (Barbara Sellers-Young follows higher education).

House:

  • HB 4137 authorizes all public universities in Oregon to offer doctoral degrees, subject to approval by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC). Testimony by HECC indicated this was not ready for implementation and had scholarship and university turf implications. It died in committee.
  • HB 4099 provides that a student who legally entered United States under Compact of Free Association treaty between United States and Republic of Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, or Federated States of Micronesia and who has not previously established residence in any state or territory of United States other than Oregon qualifies for exemption from nonresident tuition and fees at public universities and is eligible to receive state and university scholarships or other financial aid.
  • HB 4055 requires the HECC to conduct a study and develop recommendations on how Oregon’s community colleges and public universities can best combat food and housing insecurity among their students.
  • HB 4128 requires each public post-secondary institution of education to develop and use an assessment system to determine student eligibility to enroll in lower-division collegiate coursework in English or mathematics.
  • HB 4146 provides that part-time faculty member at a public institution of higher education who qualifies for health care benefits will pay 10 percent of insurance premiums for employee coverage.
  • HB 4055 requires HECC to conduct study and develop recommendations on how Oregon’s community colleges and public universities can best combat food and housing insecurity among their students.

Senate:

  • SB 1544 requires the HECC to adopt by rule additional minimum standards regarding source of tuition revenue for licensing of career schools and schools authorized to confer degrees.
  • SB 1501 Permits students participating in intercollegiate sports to earn compensation for certain services and for name, image or likeness and to retain professional representation or athlete agent.
  • SB 1539 designates the Oregon Institute of Technology as Oregon’s Polytechnic University.
  • SB 1544 requires the HECC to adopt by rule additional minimum standards regarding the source of tuition revenue for licensing of career schools and schools authorized to confer degrees.

Preview for February 17-21, Education Hearings

It is a relatively light week for committee hearings as the bills move to the second chamber. House Education will hear SB 1520 that would expand the definition of the term “eligible student” for school reimbursement rates for purposes of schools that provide free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program. Education will hear HB 4140 to require the Department of Education to develop a standardized form for public education programs to use when a student has been diagnosed with a concussion or other brain injury. More bills will be posted as the week continues.

To get more details on testimony, bills, meeting materials on education issues look here: House Committee On Education, Senate Committee On Education, and Joint Committee On Ways and Means Subcommittee On Education.

If you are willing and able to follow education issues, we need you! You determine your own level of volunteered time. Work on bills relating to early learning, schools K-12 or P-21, career technical training, community colleges, or universities. Will you work from home to read and analyze bills, watch committee hearings recorded on OLIS, or write summaries on bills for this Legislative Report? chrisvogelvolunteerlwvor@gmail.com


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Governance

By Norman Turrill, Governance Coordinator

Campaign Finance

Task Force proposed on Political Campaign Contribution Limits

HB 4124 that would establish a Task Force on Political Campaign Contribution Limits, is now scheduled for a work session in House Rules 2/18. In the House Rules hearing 2/4/20, the League and others could not support the bill in its current form because it would likely delay or repeal all of Measure 47 adopted by the voters in 2006. The task force would also be composed largely of legislators and others with an interest in higher contribution limits.

Additions proposed to SEIs and campaign spending limits

HB 4123 would require statements of economic interest (SEI) to include certain information about sources of income for businesses in which a public official or candidate, or member of household of a public official or candidate, is an officer or holds a directorship if the source of income has legislative or administrative interest and 10 percent or more of the total gross annual income of business comes from that source of income. The bill would also prohibit a candidate from expending campaign moneys for professional services rendered by certain businesses required to be listed on the candidate’s SEI. The League supported this bill in its 2/4/20 hearing, and it is now scheduled for a work session 2/18 in House Rules.

Quick fix for minor political parties

HB 4026 reduces the number of electors who must be registered as members of a minor political party in order for the minor political party to retain political party status from one-half of one percent to one-quarter of one percent of total number of registered electors in the state. This bill is a quick fix for a rather narrow problem caused by the Motor Voter law greatly increasing the number of non-affiliated voters (NAVs). The House passed this bill 43-15, and it is now in the Senate.

Elections and Resilience (Rebecca Gladstone)

HCR 204: We supported this bill commemorating the centennial of the passage of the 19th amendment. The bill passed out of committee by unanimous vote in the work session immediately following testimony.
See the video of our testimony and unanimous committee vote here.

HB 4144, SB 1508: Our Governance and Natural Resources advocates met with the State Resilience Officer and the Director of Emergency Management to discuss funding for these bills, respectively to catalog necessary urban search and rescue equipment, and to create and maintain a coordinated database of community emergency response teams. Our positions support these bills, and we need to negotiate funding.

Oregon Taxing Districts Workgroup (Peggy Bengry)

The League was invited to a new Oregon Department of Revenue Taxing District’s Work Group based on our Vote411 work: Peggy Bengry for technical applications and Becky Gladstone for policy. The group is led by Tom York, Oregon Department of Revenue and Cy Smith, State Geospatial Information Officer, to standardize tax district geographical information submitted to the state by counties so that it is consistent and accessible to users and to applications like Vote411. Stakeholders are many: county assessors, county and state GIS departments, the taxing districts themselves, and users like LWV, to address concerns like ours for inadequate Vote411 information.

Jordan Cove Project proponents wanted to know what taxing districts their pipeline would cross throughout the state, to estimate their tax liability. Emergency services dispatchers want better, quicker ways to decide which department should respond to calls for ambulances, for example.

The policy discussion centers on presenting to the legislature for budget approval, submission and expected approval dates. Grant funding is available now for a feasibility study and a pilot program. The consensus was to focus on one type of district, important to both rural and urban counties. Becky’s Community College districting suggestion was well received.

The technical work group discussed the different formats that counties use to submit data to the state now, how that data can be used with the least modification by the counties, with the least work for initial input and long term maintenance. The Department of Revenue, ORMAP, or another entity will eventually be responsible for it, to be addressed in the next meetings.

Public Records

Senate Committee on General Government considered the Public Records Advocate

SB 1506 would establish the Public Records Advocate as an independent office within the executive department; authorize the Public Records Advisory Council to appoint the advocate; authorize the Council to support or oppose legislation relating to public records law and to request legislators to introduce legislation relating to public records law. This bill comes after controversy around the resignation of the first Public Records Advocate last year. The bill now awaits third reading on the Senate floor for 2/17.

Redistricting

Redistricting initiatives certified ballot titles appealed to Oregon Supreme Court

Redistricting reform has pointedly not been discussed in the legislature. However, the three initiative petitions filed by a diverse coalition, People Not Politicians led by the League, have now received certified ballot titles from the Attorney General. However, not unexpectedly, opponents have now appealed the ballot titles to the Oregon Supreme Court, to delay petitioning. It is unknown how long the court will take to consider the appeals. These initiatives propose to amend the state constitution to institute a 12-member independent citizens commission to redistrict the state for both congressional and legislative districts. These proposals are aimed at 2020 general election ballots.

Immigration (Claudia Keith)

The League provided testimony on February 5 for HB 4121, a bipartisan bill which, if funded, would eliminate Federal detainees at NORCOR (Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility) and create needed space for a number of Oregon counties. Because this bill did not move from its policy committee last week, it died in committee. It’s unclear if, near the end of the session, the W&M budget-balancing bill will address this topic. Several news articles have been published: OPB, KATU and Corvallis Advocate.

We are following HB 4099 which passed out of committee with a do-pass recommendation and an amendment. It would change the Oregon tuition residence status of students from three Pacific island countries. See the Education LR for SB 1572. The League will most likely testify in support of these two education-related bills in the Senate.

The League is considering a letter supporting an IMIRJ (Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice) and ACLU request specific to the Uniform Trial Court Rule (UTCR ) 3.190. The UTCR committee meets in April and the deadline for testimony is March 20. This advocacy is related to Oregon’s trial court rule prohibiting warrantless ICE arrests in and around Oregon courthouses.

LWV Oregon will submit a proposal for an Immigration/Refugee caucus at theJune 2020 LWVUS Convention in D.C.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! If any of these areas interest you, please contact Norman Turrill at n.turrill@lwvor.org.


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Natural Resources

By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator 

Budgets (Peggy Lynch)

Bills with a cost that survived Policy Committees will begin to show up in Ways and Means (W&Ms) Subcommittees. The League is meeting with agencies on 2021 budget requests.

Air Quality (Susan Mates)

The intent of HB 4024 is to curb the use of certain products that use or contain hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs have high global warming potential – thousands of times larger than that of carbon dioxide – and continue to emit for the entirety of their useful life. The major emissions source of HFCs is in their use as refrigerants. The League provided testimony in support. It passed unanimously and was sent to W&Ms.

HB 4049 is a second attempt to give renewable energy certificates to facilities that generate electricity from the direct combustion of municipal solid waste. The only facility that would benefit seems to be Covanta Marion, one of the first twenty facilities the Cleaner Air Oregon program will assess to determine health risks from toxic air contaminant emissions. Burning garbage is not a renewable resource, and incentives meant to create new sources of renewable energy should not go to a plant that has been operating for three decades. The League is adamantly opposed and we are part of a coalition to defeat this bill again this session. Covanta’s last quarter earnings were 150% above shareholder expectations, and Covanta is a global corporation, but the problem is a local one. The Committee decided that additional time for discussion might help the county get out of the tight spot in which it currently finds itself. It passed without recommendation and was sent to the Committee on Rules.

The DEQ is asking for a modest fee increase for their Vehicle Inspection Program (VIP) in SB 5702. The VIP is an important tool in keeping our state’s air pollution in check, as poorly maintained cars emit 3 to 4 times the emissions of a properly functioning car. The VIP program has been running in the red since 2013, so this bill will provide funds to keep the program afloat. The League provided testimony in support.

Approximately 40% of Oregon’s greenhouse gases come from the transportation sector. Dramatically increasing the use of electric vehicles (EVs) is one of the most significant steps we can take to reduce those emissions. Several bills are being considered to do just that.

Among other goals, HB 4068 would modify state building codes to require new construction of certain types of buildings to include initial electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. That would avoid the much greater costs of retrofitting in the future. The bill passed out of committee with amendments.

HB 4066 would allow electric companies to recover the costs of investing in infrastructure for EV charging. Having a broader base to pay the fixed system costs like poles, wires & substations for EV expansion will provide a real benefit to all utility customers, not just the customers that drive EVs. The bill’s Amendment -2 would require electric companies to put wildfire protection plans in place. 40% of catastrophic fires in California were caused by breakdowns in electrical transmission systems. The bill moved to the floor as amended with a Do Pass recommendation.

HB 4151 introduced by Rep. David Brock Smith, is meant to encourage the Metro-area to increase their use of electric vehicles. It would increase the privilege tax that dealers charge on the sale of motor vehicles and use that money to provide additional rebates to low-income purchasers. The bill was moved to Rules due to the new tax proposal.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality today announced the release of its 2018 Oregon Air Toxics Monitoring Summary for six locations around the state, including The Dalles, La Grande and four sites in the Portland-metro area. The goal was to determine concentrations in certain communities, including urban and rural areas, and compare the results. DEQ will use the information to track pollution and determine ways to reduce air toxins in Oregon. Data showed that no air toxins were found at levels that would pose an immediate health risk.

Coastal Issues (Peggy Joyce)

SB 1554, funding for ocean science, moves to Ways and Means while the Coastal Management Program hosts meetings on the updated Rocky Habitat Management Strategy. The bill, supporting research at the Oregon Ocean Science Fund and State Department of Fish and Wildlife, passed unanimously out of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources committee on its way to W&Ms. With a threat to the Dungeness crab economy on the horizon due to rising ocean acidification this seemed like a no-brainer to senators who were wrangling with additions to the cap & trade provisions in two other bills. It seemed ironic that the excess carbon causing rising ocean acidification could be celebrated with research money on the one hand while any serious effort to limit carbon emissions caused so much hand-wringing on the other.

The Oregon Coastal Management Program will be hosting several public meetings during the 30-day public comment period (February 1- March 1) for the updated Rocky Habitat Management Strategy. These meetings will:

  • Provide background information and updates to the ongoing process to revise Part Three of Oregon’s Territorial Sea Plan
  • Feature demonstrations of the Rocky Habitat Web Mapping Tool along with guidance on the process for proposing changes to rocky habitat site management designations

The public is welcome to attend these meetings. For more information visit www.OregonOcean.info. The League has been following this update effort, attending meetings and work session call-ins. The product is a comprehensive guide to addressing Oregon’s ocean nearshore.

Check out the Rocky Habitat Web Mapping Tool, currently live.

Rocky Shores Habitat is the launch of an online web-based tool for research, planning and collaboration. Groups, organizations, schools, researchers and the general public are encouraged to check out the dense and comprehensive site offering interactive maps, charts, data sources and other proposal tools allowing users to propose shoreline designated areas subject to management protection along the Oregon coast.

Public comments are welcome for: the ease of use, information and databases used and the ability to create proposals and collaborative efforts among interested parties and shoreline communities.

Forestry (Josie Koehne)

Good News! On February 10th, an Oregonian article “Oregon environmental groups, timber companies strike ‘extraordinary’ compromise, signaling end to November ballot fight” reported a very exciting compromise deal between 13 timber companies and 13 environmental groups that could “remake forestry on private land in Oregon.” The deal, brokered by Governor Brown, would bring conservation groups and timber groups to work together over the next 18 months on a Habitat Conservation Plan. The HCP would significantly modify the Oregon’s Forest Practices Act to “ensure logging practices on private industrial timberlands allow salmon and other species to come back from the brink of extinction.” The revision of rules for the Act is expected for the 2022 session. In exchange, ballot measures proposed for the November election initiated from both sides would be scrapped and an aerial spraying bill passed this session. The details of the agreement are to improve stream buffers in the Rogue-Siskiyou region, increase aerial pesticide spray buffers on homes, schools, and water intakes and, for the first time, put aerial spray buffers on small non-fish streams, which make up 70% of the stream network. The agreement also requires a new real-time notification system that neighbors can sign up for that will let them know the day before spray happens. The League has been involved in conversations on these issues and helped pass some legislation that helped clear the way for the actions in this compromise.

The deal could end expensive court battles and ballot petitioning for both sides. One bill (see HB 4025 below) for this short session on increasing aerial spraying buffers near schools, dwellings and streams is expected to pass as part of the deal. Read the Memorandum of Understanding here.

There are several wildfire bills under consideration this session in the Senate Committee on Wildfire Reduction and Recovery to address some of the funding crises facing the ODF before the wildfire season begins and to address the recommendations of the Governor’s Wildfire Council. The most complex and extensive bill that the Governor backs is SB 1536. The League submitted testimony on February 5th. Please read comments here.

SB 1536, Governor Brown’s bill, had a work session on February 12 and the bill was adopted by 3 to 2 vote with the -3 amendment and sent to Ways and Means. However, there are other bills that may segregate the elements of this comprehensive bill. See the bill for details but also see below for the other bills that have moved along.

HB 4054, a bill that has become the vehicle for the Land Use and Mapping concepts that were in SB 1536 as amended by the -5 amendments, provides for a new Land Use and Wildfire Policy Advisory Committee. The Department of Land Conservation and Development would oversee and coordinate the development and maintenance of a comprehensive statewide map detailed to the property-ownership level. The ODF shall collaborate with Oregon State University, the Department of Land Conservation and Development, the State Fire Marshal, other state and local governments and officials in developing these maps.

Another bill, HB 4066, with the -5 and -6 amendments, focuses on electric utility companies and actions by the Public Utility Commission.

SB 1514  The State Forestry Department shall establish not more than 15 projects designed to reduce wildfire danger on public or private forestlands and rangelands through the restoration of landscape resiliency and the reduction of hazardous fuel levels. State Forestry Department in consultation with many other stakeholders will establish test projects for reducing wildfire risk on forestlands and rangelands. A qualitative and quantitative summary of the project outcomes is required including recommendations for creating optimal working relationships with forest collaboratives and other relevant community organizations regarding design, implementation and cost recovery for future wildfire danger reduction projects. Includes prescribed burning evaluation, incentives and disincentives, as well as a description of the funding source types and amounts secured by the department as matching funds to carry out projects. OSU has demonstration projects with private-public partnerships ready to go for study. Referred to Ways and Means where budget requests range from $2 million to $25 million.

SB 1516, sponsored by Senator Baertschiger, calls for modernization of State Forestry Department structure and programs to ensure effectiveness and efficiency, including but not limited to department programs relating to wildfire and to reduce the diversion of department resources from other programs to wildfire prevention and response. Two hearings and a work session have been held this week. The -3 amendment provides $6 million from the General Fund for retention and the hiring of 35 personnel, moving some from part-time to full-time work and money for two administrative assistants (presumably to assist with billing). $1 million is to be reserved for severe wildfire prevention and mitigation. It also adds a $10.80 assessment per tax lot that goes directly into the ODF budget to fight wildfires. Calls for review every three years to see if the funding is adequate or too much. The bill with the -3 amendment was adopted and referred to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means. Senator Golden expressed concern about micromanagement of the ODF workforce (too prescriptive) and Senator Prozanski wanted to make sure procedures were improved before adding more funding to the ODF. Separately, the League is supporting funding for continuation of an accounting contractor who is examining the financial procedures of ODF so as to improve their business processes, especially around getting invoices out for reimbursement from wildfire expenses due Oregon from other agencies.

Regarding SB 1512, a public hearing was held February 11 that would allow ODF to transfer lands to other government agencies or departments that are not suitable for timber harvest with limited revenue-generation potential or that provide high-value recreational or conservation benefits, or to change the management framework applied to lands. Authorizes board to adopt rules. ODF is seeking the authority to sell conservation easements and buy other lands to optimize for recreation or timber harvest. Talking about 10,000 acres, not large tracts. A workgroup with counties, special districts ODA and other stakeholders is being set up as the bill to work through the issues. The Hug Point controversy prompted action on this bill. With the compromise on the Forest Practices Act, this bill died in committee.

HB 4023 requires the State Board of Forestry to obtain concurrence of Environmental Quality Commission before adopting rules related to commission water quality standards. The bill is sitting in Rules.

HB 4025 imposes prohibitions, restrictions, and requirements regarding clearcutting and other forest operations near forest waters has been referred to the Rules committee. Reduces share of revenue from timber harvest privilege tax appropriated to Oregon Forest Resources Institute Fund. Appropriates share of revenue from timber harvest privilege tax to State Forestry Department for administration and enforcement regarding clearcutting and other forest operations near forest waters and for infrastructure or other projects to protect forest waters. Referred to House Rules.

Land Use (Peggy Lynch)

Should the Common School Fund add more land to Bend? Discussions are underway on the amendments adopted into HB 4012. See the status of other bills reported on last week.

HB 4012 was amended by the -7 amendments in an attempt to resolve the transfer of development opportunities (TDOs) that were assigned to two developers when the Metolius was declared an Area of Critical State Concern a number of years ago. The developers had been given a number of extensions and locations to use the TDOs. Rep. Clem is now suggesting that the Department of State Lands sell 200+ acres belonging to the Common School Fund that were not included in Bend’s last urban growth boundary expansion and buy out the TDOs. The League did not provide testimony since the amendments appeared shortly before the public hearing, but the Chair requested that we join a Work Group trying to address this unusual land-use issue.

HB 4050, another of Rep. Clem’s “relating to the use of land” bills, died in Committee.

HB 4084 establishes a fund ($750,000) to pay for systems development charges for rural affordable multifamily housing. The League provided testimony in support and was pleased to see it move to Ways and Means with a modest amendment. In the same hearing, the House Committee on Human Services and Housing moved HB 4095 with the -4 amendments. The bill now simply requires the Department of Land Conservation and Development continue reporting on a pilot program for Bend and Redmond. HB 4090 was also passed that will allow Pendleton to participate in the pilot.

SB 1555, a bill that would allow a parsonage on farmland, relates to a specific issue in Douglas County, was moved to Senate Rules.

HB 4054 with the -5 amendments, a bill reported on in the Forestry section, is a significant land-use bill. If passed, it creates a new Land Use and Wildfire Policy Advisory Committee to the Department of Land Conservation and Development. This 24-member committee will begin to work out issues around high-risk fire areas and how local governments might address areas designated as such. This bill, along with others related to the Wildfire Council recommendations, was sent to Ways and Means.

Water (Peggy Lynch)

The League is working with others to continue to move the Oregon Water Vision forward by getting modest funding this session. Go to the website to view the updated Vision, an executive summary, process recommendations, and many more documents that summarize outreach and engagement efforts. State agencies recently finished an extensive outreach and engagement process to gather feedback on Oregon’s 100-Year Water Vision. After traveling across the state to hear from Oregonians, several teams worked to process and summarize nearly 4,000 individual comments about the Water Vision. Using this feedback, they have updated the 100-Year Water Vision and provided a slate of process recommendations. The Governor has sent a letter to legislative leadership on Phase II of the Vision. The Governor’s staff is scheduled to provide an update at 8 a.m. on February 18 in the House Committee on Water.

HB 4069, a bill related to water measurement and reporting, died in Committee but not before the House Water Committee Chair Rep. Ken Helm called those for and against the bill to find a compromise in the interim because measurement data is critical to the Water Vision and he expects to see a bill that can pass in 2021.

Toxics/Pesticides (Amelia Nestler)

Oregon’s timber industry and environmental groups have reached an agreement in order to avoid a series of competing petitions on the November ballot. This agreement requires legislators to immediately pass tighter restrictions on aerial spraying and commits the groups to work towards habitat preservation. Read more from the Oregonian and view the MOU. Though not specifically mentioned in the agreement, HB 4025, which restricts aerial spraying, is currently in the Rules Committee. We are expecting to see amendments OR a new bill to address the aerial spray issue. The Oregonian followed up on this story. Stay tuned!

HB 4109, banning chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxic pesticide, passed out of committee and heads to the House floor. The League supported this bill.

Drinking Water (Amelia Nestler)

HB 4077 (relating to testing of private wells) did not make it out of committee and died. This general concept has been on our list for a number of sessions. This year the labs that test the water felt there were issues with which results they should send after testing since they test many sources for the same customer. The bill was meant to send only the well test that’s done when a property sells. We’ll try again next session.

HB 4071 (on funding to test for Hazardous Algae Blooms or HABs) was amended and sent to Ways and Means for funding of equipment and additional staff. The League supported this bill.

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED YEAR ROUND! League members are engaged in rulemaking, workgroups and task forces as we prepare for the next session. We need observers, notetakers and or testifiers at natural resource agency Boards and Commissions. If you are interested in natural resource issues, please contact Natural Resources Coordinator Peggy Lynch @ peggylynchor@gmail.com.


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Revenue and Tax Reform

By Josie Koehne, Sally Garlick and Chris Vogel

HB 4010 on Opportunity Zones (Josie Koehne)

Late Thursday, we asked you to contact your representative and senator (look them up here) to let them know that you supported HB 4010 and do not want to see Oregon lose our badly needed state revenue for tax cuts on capital gains in Opportunity Zones for very wealthy Oregon investors. These zones can be anywhere in the US, not just in Oregon. These zones are for high-return real estate investments that were already planned or would have happened and will get a substantial federal tax break even without the state’s added tax break, such as the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Portland! These are not investments in poor, distressed areas that the tax break was purported to help. Rather, they are much more likely to push out local residents and small businesses in these areas.

Read our testimony here to learn more. Find the bill’s information here. Questions? Please contact Josie Koehne, josephine.koehne@gmail.com.

We are working in coalition with others to keep this bill moving. It is in Revenue so is not subject to the first house timeline rules. Your call matters!

Revenue Forecast

March 2020 Economic & Revenue Forecast report and presentation by Oregon Office of Economic Analysis economists Mark McMullen and Josh Lehner has revenue highlights in the March Revenue Outlook Summary. The Oregon Economic Forecast provides information to planners and policymakers in state agencies and private organizations for use in their decision-making processes. The Oregon Revenue Forecast opens the revenue forecasting process to public review. It is the basis for much of the budgeting in state government. The forecast reports are issued four times a year: March, June, September, and December. The economists noted in their executive summary that U.S. economic growth has settled in around its potential in recent quarters. The outlook is stable and the risk of recession is receding. The trade war deescalated with the signing of the Phase One trade deal between China and the U.S. and financial markets calmed following the Federal Reserve’s shift in policy. Local and national strength lies in the labor market where ongoing job gains are more than enough to meet labor force and population gains. Encouragingly the more-plentiful, and better-paying job opportunities are generating a supply-side response. Workers continue to come off the sidelines and join the labor force. One risk to the U.S. and global outlook is the potential human, social, and economic impacts of the coronavirus. Economically the worst-case scenario is fears over the virus are a coordinating event that serves as a recession catalyst. Other direct impact channels, however small here in the U.S., include supply chain disruptions, lower volumes of trade, reduced Chinese tourism, and increased financial market uncertainties. Oregon’s stronger long-run economic growth historically is tied to migration and faster working-age population gains. The primary risk to the local outlook is the available labor supply, particularly as recent population estimates indicate migration is slowing more than expected. To the extent Oregon’s labor force and employment gains no longer outstrip the typical state in a mature expansion, the state must rely more upon its industrial structure and productivity gains to drive faster overall economic growth. While growth has slowed across many economic indicators, the same cannot be said for Oregon’s primary sources of tax revenue. They continue to outstrip the performance of the underlying economy. The primary forecasting challenge for the current biennium is to determine what portion of the recently strong tax collections is due to temporary factors that will fade away. Even without the onset of recession, revenue growth is facing major headwinds during the current biennium. State and federal tax policies, a big kicker refund and slower economic growth will all weigh on General Fund revenues in the near term. The longer the revenue boom persists, the more likely it becomes that permanent factors are playing a significant role in boosting tax collections. As such, revenue estimates for the current biennium have been steadily revised upward over the past two years. Even so, given that job gains and population growth have both taken a step back, some moderation in state revenue growth is likely going forward. It is also likely that the unprecedented surge in collections that occurred during the last tax filing season was due in part to taxpayers shifting their payments response to federal tax law changes, and other temporary factors. Together with state and federal tax law changes, the uncertain economic outlook is currently injecting a considerable amount of risk into the revenue forecast. Both April tax filing seasons are yet to come this biennium, leading to a wide range of possible outcomes. Despite this uncertainty, this forecast reflects a relatively stable outlook, with General Fund collections increasing by just over one percentage point. Fortunately, Oregon is better positioned than ever before to weather a revenue downturn. Automatic deposits into the Rainy Day Fund and Education Stability Fund have added up over the decade-long economic expansion. Oregon is expected to end the biennium with nearly $3 billion in reserves set aside, nearly 14% of the budget. If you are compelled to dig deeper the Entire document is 61 pages!

Estate Tax Modifications 

The League of Women Voters of Oregon believes any tax proposal should be evaluated with regard to its effect on the entire tax structure and that it should be based on ability to pay. The estate tax is one of the very few mechanisms designed to reduce acute inequality by taxing those most able to pay. SB 1560 would increase the exemption depending on the value of the taxable estate for estates of less than $6.5 million. The tiered tax rates would be the same as we have now. Although we applaud the progressivity of some elements of the bill, overall it would reduce taxes for those most able to pay and make our overall tax structure less progressive. Currently, the estate tax is a tax on the transfer of wealth at death only on estates worth over a million dollars after deductions for funeral expenses, debts, mortgages and liens, bequests and gifts to charities, and bequests to a surviving spouse, and other tax planning options available to high-income Oregonians. For estates worth $1 to $2 million, the tax rate ranges from 10 to 10.3% on the amount over the one-million-dollar exemption. Taxes in this range averaged from $15,300 to $66,800 in the years from 2012-17. Heirs receive the rest of the $900,000+ worth of the estate. In addition, there is also the Natural Resource Credit enacted in 2011 (HB 2541) for family-owned farms, fishing business and small forest owners that increases the threshold for these kinds of estates to $7.5 million. 50 estates claimed this deduction in 2017. About 96% of all Oregon estates in 2017 were worth less than one million and paid no estate tax. But the estates that did qualify (1,791), brought in $192,597,186 revenue that year. This past year, according to LRO 2020 Oregon Public Finance; Basic Facts $204,700,000 of revenue was generated from the few estates that had to pay the tax, which accounts for 2% of the General Fund. The League feels that the current system already provides good options for reducing the estate tax, which is badly needed for services for the neediest Oregonians. When we are facing extreme economic inequality, a strong estate tax is vital. The revenue from these fortunate few wealthy Oregonians could go a long way towards the programs for unaccompanied youth, the homeless or the EITC. The League cannot support SB 1560.

If you are willing and able to follow tax issues, we need you! You determine your own level of volunteered time. Will you work from home to read and analyze bills, watch committee hearings recorded on OLIS, or write summaries on bills for this Legislative Report? chrisvogelvolunteerlwvor@gmail.com


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Social Policy 

By Karen Nibler, Social Policy Coordinator

Senate Human Services passes SB 1566 A, which made changes to child welfare laws, and will move to House Human Services next week.

House Human Services passed Housing bills: HB 4002 A, 4003 A, 4014, 4080, 4084, 4090, and 4095. HB 4001 with 12 amendments was sent to Rules. Nancy Donovan will report on these bills, which will move to the Senate committee.

HB 4039 A was gut and stuffed to provide grants for a study on homeless youth needs, payments to existing homeless youth shelters, and funds for a new host home program. HB 4112 changes allocations for grants to Children’s Advocacy Centers.  These bills will be sent to Human Services W&Ms for allocation of funds for the stipulated programs

Senate Behavioral Health moved SB 1552 A and SB 1553 A last Monday. The first bill continues to operate community behavioral health clinics until 6-30-2021, when the federal grant expires. SB 1553 A seeks to remove barriers that limit the behavioral health workforce and access to treatment. SB 1535 on Pharmacy Benefit Managers was passed on 2-13. The bill requires the Department of Consumer and Business Services to monitor PBMs practices in selling products to pharmacies.

House Behavioral Health Committee members discussed The Alcohol and Drug Commission and proposed funding for HB 4149 A; $10 Million for 2 years. The concept of funding prevention programs was approved but the financing was dependent on the Oregon Liquor Control Commission Budget process.

HB 4082 proposed an Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Road Map Commission to work on Behavioral Health issues. Rep Hayden has been appointed to the new group, one of 42 members. HB 4137 (2018) funded an analyst to pull data from OHA files. The Director of Behavioral Health requested 3 positions. HB 4082 A was passed and sent to Human Services W&Ms by prior reference.

Public Safety

Public Safety W&Ms did not escape this topic. SB 973 (2019) had been passed last session to set up an Impact Grants Program for Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice treatment, supports and services. The Criminal Justice Commission will manage this program. A Grants Review Committee had been set up and was reviewing applications in the current process.

Judiciary Committees

Senate Judiciary passed SB 1567 A with police arbitration rules with a 4 – 3 vote. SB 1538 on possession of firearms in public buildings was sent to Senate Rules also by a 4-3 vote.  SB 1546 A passed 7 – 0 for convictions in domestic violence cases that could result in firearm prohibition. SB 1568 A granted vulnerable youth 18 -21 with guardianships if they were not citizens or lawful residents. Vote 7-0.

Both SB 1573 A and 1575 A passed unanimously. SB 1573 A was the bill on Juvenile Expunction of records if there was no court custody which was sent to W&Ms for a decision on funding for staff doing the expunctions. SB 1575 A further clarified the process on determinations of fitness to proceed with community restoration services or commitment to the Oregon State Hospital. The OSH procedures were stipulated in timing of reports to the court and timing of stay at the hospital.

House Judiciary did not pass HB 4121 on the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility so it died in committee. HB 4005 on firearm safety and HB 4126 on riots were sent to Senate Rules.

Bills supported by the League did pass in HB 4040, 4131, 4148. HB 4040 asked the Oregon Judicial Department to establish Family Treatment Courts. HB 4131 supported the Family Preservation Program at Coffee Creek, and HB 4148 Codified the federal Indian Child Welfare Act into Oregon law.

HB 4145 proposed a new crime of unlawfully threatening a school or place of worship, which drew many comments. The committee chairs appointed a work group to report to the 2021 session.

Physical Health Care (Bill Walsh)

The Senate Health Care Committee took the following action this week:

SB 1550, allowing dental hygienists to perform interim therapeutic restorations, passed the Committee 5-0 and passed the Senate 28-2. It was sent to the House.

SB 1549, relating to dental hygienist licensure, will be sent to an Interim Work Group.

SB 1535 requires the Department of Consumer and Business Services to seek information about rebates and markups in the pharmaceutical supply chain and report to Interim committees and the Task Force on the Pricing of Prescription Drugs. The bill passed 3-2 and will be sent to W&Ms. The League supports.

SB 1551 requires Community Care Organizations (CCOs) to provide additional financial information to the Oregon Health Authority for more transparency. It passed out of Committee and was sent to the Senate Floor.

SB 1577 is the Senate version of the vaping ban (see HB 4078 just below). It prohibits distributing, selling, or allowing to be sold flavored inhalant delivery system products. It generated controversy but received a Do Pass recommendation and was sent to W&Ms.

The House passed HB 4078, their version of the vaping bill, 48-18. It prohibits the sale of inhalant delivery systems by mail, telephone, or the Internet. Next it goes to the Senate Health Care Committee.

The House also passed HB 4029 that prohibits non-profit hospitals from requiring patients to apply for medical assistance (Medicaid) before screening for or providing financial assistance. The bill protects people seeking a pathway to citizenship. The vote was 42-10 and goes to the Senate for consideration.

The House Health Care Committee voted out a dozen bills with a Do Pass this week.

HB 4161 requires the Oregon Health Authority to provide grants to Regional Health Equity Coalitions and CCOs throughout rural parts of the state. It passed and was referred to W&Ms.

HB 4081 cleans up language allowing physician assistants to practice under “collaboration agreements” statewide. It passed and goes to the House Floor.

HB 4016, at the request of Speaker Kotek, requires the Oregon Health Authority to do studies and report to Interim committees. This was referred without recommendations to Rules and W&Ms.

HB 4073 limits cost-sharing for insurance plans covering insulin prescribed for treatment of diabetes. It passed and was sent to the House Floor.

HB 4101 directs the Oregon Health Authority and CCOs to pay Medicaid dollars for telemedicine reimbursements. It passed and goes to the House Floor, then to W&Ms.

HB 4109 prohibits aerial pesticide applicators from spraying or otherwise applying by aircraft pesticide products containing chlorpyrifos and directs the Department of Agriculture to revoke existing rules that allow such spraying by January 1, 2022. The committee debated who should have the authority in this matter and voted to retain it in the Health Committee rather than the Agriculture Committee. Passed. The League supports this bill.

HB 4115 requires health care providers and CCOs to provide health care interpreters who are OHA qualified. It passed and is going to the House Floor.

HB 4074 authorizes the Health Licensing Office to issue licenses to practice genetic counseling to qualified applicants. It passed and is headed for the House Floor.

HJR 202 proposes to add an amendment to the Oregon Constitution that obligates the state to provide access to health care as a fundamental right and to balance this with the funding of public education and other essential health services. This would become a ballot measure for voters to decide. The vote was 7-4 to send it to the House Floor.

Additionally, in the House Health Committee:

HB 4114 would require medical assistance and health benefit plan coverage of renal dialysis. This bill was not voted on and will be worked on over the next year.

HB 4116 would require insurance plans to pay pharmacists to administer certain urgent drugs, e.g. HIV drugs, not now allowed. This bill was left on the table because the fiscal paperwork was not available for the last meeting.

The Committee did not take up HB 4147. This bill would have required the Oregon Health Authority to design a program to import wholesale prescription drugs from Canada.

Gun Safety (Marge Easley)

On February 10, an informational session was held on the safe storage bill (HB 4005) to answer the many questions that Republican committee members had about the effects of such a law on gun owners. The bill requires a firearm to be secured by a lock or container when not under the control of the gun owner and sets civil penalties for noncompliance. At a work session the following day, there was a discussion on four out of eight amendments, and the bill was sent to House Rules, without a recommendation on passage, to allow more time to work the bill. The League strongly supports HB 4005 and will continue to advocate for its passage.

On February 12, a work session was held on SB 1538, a bill sponsored by Sen. Burdick to give local governments the ability to restrict the carrying of firearms in public buildings, including by those with concealed handgun licenses. There was no public hearing, and the sole purpose of the work session was to move the bill to Senate Rules, which has longer to hear bills than other committees. The League has submitted testimony in support.

Housing (Nancy Donovan and Debbie Aiona)

Last Week at the Legislature

We are now two-fifths of the way through the Legislative session and bills are moving quickly. The statewide housing crisis is uppermost in many legislators’ minds. Proposed solutions are addressing the problem from a number of angles.

On Monday, the House Committee on Human Services and Housing voted unanimously to support a long-term rent assistance study, HB 4002, to be conducted by PSU’s Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative, to examine costs and benefits of providing long-term rental assistance to those who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless due to severe rent burden. This bill now moves to W&Ms. The League submitted testimony in support.

On Tuesday night, the House Revenue Committee held a public hearing on the Governor’s proposal, HJR 203. This proposal would ask voters to overturn the prohibition on state real estate transfer fees and allow the Legislature to impose them for affordable housing.

On Wednesday, the House Human Services and Housing Committee had another busy afternoon.

  • HB 4001 is the Speaker’s proposal to declare a housing emergency, including land-use changes that would allow shelters on land not zoned for that purpose and dedicate financial resources for emergency shelters. The -2 amendments replace the -1 amendments and contents of the bill. The Speaker indicated in her testimony that she plans to increase her request from $120 million to $140 million in light of the positive revenue forecast. She asked that the committee move the bill to the House Committee on Rules for an additional policy amendment. Two issues need to be addressed as this bill moves forward. The bill requires cities to site local shelters anywhere, including areas outside of urban growth boundaries. Both of these land-use policies received major push back.
  • A work session was held on HB 4003, the proposal to address racial disparities in homeownership. The committee heard and adopted -6 amendments that made several changes, including the definition of people of color. Representative Sanchez had serious concerns about the erasure of specific language related to tribes, and there was a commitment from the task force chair to try to address those concerns through an amendment in Ways and Means.
  • The committee unanimously approved HB 4084, which creates a Rural System Development Charge Fund of $750,000 for affordable housing projects administered by Oregon Housing and Community Services. The bill now heads to Ways and Means. The League submitted a letter in support.
  • The committee unanimously approved HB 4039, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon’s proposal to address youth homelessness. They adopted -4 amendments.

On Thursday, the Senate Housing and Development Committee held a public hearing and work session on SB 1533, which will make a change to the Rent Well Landlord Guarantee Fund to help more tenants access rental housing. The bill was amended, passed by the committee and now heads to the floor.

On Friday, the J W&Ms Subcommittee on Capital Construction heard testimony related to bonding requests related to developing new and maintaining existing affordable housing. The Speaker’s proposal includes an additional $50 million in general obligation bonds for the LIFT program that funds the development of new low-income housing and $20 million in lottery bonds to preserve existing affordable housing. The League submitted a letter to the committee on HB 5202 in support of the lottery bonds dedicated to the preservation of existing affordable housing.

Next Week at the Legislature

Very few hearings are scheduled next week. It is expected that more committee hearings will be scheduled as well as floor sessions on bills.

On Tuesday, House Rules will hold a hearing and work session on HB 4001 (see above). Additional amendments are expected.

Also, on Tuesday, the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee will hold a work session on SB 1531 related to affordable housing and homeownership, which includes:

  • A change to the property tax exemptions for affordable housing to align with new federal flexibility;
  • A change to the Home Ownership Limited Tax Exemption to allow local governments to grant case by case extensions of the time lines; and
  • A sunset of the Oregon Individual Development Account (IDA) Initiative Tax Credit.

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


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