3/1 WEEKLY SUMMARY
Priority Bills: A list of the bills and topics our Climate Emergency Portfolio is following.
Clean Energy: In SJM 5 - 1 the Legislature recognizes “the urgent need to pursue viable solutions to the threat posed by climate change to the State of Oregon, our nation and the world.” In our letter of support, which was approved by LWVUS, we referred to the LWVUS endorsement of the Thrive Agenda and The Children’s Fundamental Rights and Climate Recovery Resolution in September 2020.
Transportation: A public hearing was held for SB 2290, which requires the State Parks and Recreation Department to develop and implement a plan for installation and service of public electric vehicle charging stations in parking spaces that are part of the state park system facilities.
Forestry: A wildfire report that was commissioned last August (HB 4304) will be released in mid to late March on wildfire costs and funding sources and will be the basis for wildfire policy discussions and funding this session.
Jordan Cove Energy Project (JCEP): There’s still no specific regulatory news on the project since the good news reported two weeks ago, but the interests and concerns of the various affected tribal communities have received long-overdue attention, both locally and nationally.
Our Children's Trust: This session Senator Jeff Golden is sponsoring SJR 5, a constitutional amendment on environmental rights that could assist the OCT state lawsuit. “ The bill is inspired by the Green Amendment movement, …the Legislature might wait on voting due to other pressing issues, and since the bill refers the matter to an election, voters would have to approve it as soon as November 2022…”
Every Student Belongs, K-12: This week we focus on equity, diversity and inclusion in Oregon’s Education system. This is a common theme impacting many aspects of this legislative session as shown, for example, by the House Bill 2167, which will codify into state law the Racial Justice Council (RJC).
Early Childhood: Public hearings expanded to two days on 2/22 and 2/24 for: HB 3073 that transfers employee related day care ERDC and additional responsibilities directed to young children to the Early Learning Authority; and HB 2503 that expands eligibility for certain child care subsidy programs. LWVOR provided both verbal and written testimony noting that the Early Learning Division created by law in 2011 has proven effective, has a more stable funding source under the Student Success Act, and this expansion of authority is congruent with governance in other states.
Looking Ahead: Partly due to the impact of Covid on education, we’ll be watching with interest, SB 744 that directs the Department of Education to review state requirements for high school diploma and to report results of review to interim committees of the Legislative Assembly related to education and to the State Board of Education.
Volunteers: Contact our team if you are interested in following education bills!
Redistricting: The House and Senate redistricting committees met concurrently this last week with a long list of organizations invited to testify and comment on their desires for the redistricting process. The Oregon League was invited to testify to the second of the two meetings. Another such hearing will be held 3/2/21.
Campaign Finance: Rep. Rayfield organized two informal work group meetings last week for legislators, lobbyists and good government groups to discuss requirements for campaign contribution limits and other CFR bills.
Election Topics: Large policy and budget bills are still a few weeks away for the Technology and Information Committee and elections. Legislative Staff from the Secretary of State (SoS) invited League input on County Clerks’ elections bills this week. We support these largely as housekeeping adjustments, not big policy change, details in our linked testimony.
Other Governance Bills: HB 2485 requires state agencies to reduce public records request fees by 50 percent if request is made in public interest, and requires state agencies to entirely waive fees if public records request is in public interest and narrowly tailored.
Rights for Incarcerated Individuals: A hearing on February 24 in the Senate Judiciary featured three bills that seek to remedy historic injustices in our criminal justice system: SJR 10, SJM 2, and SB 571. The first two, SJR 10 and SJM 2, propose amendments to the Oregon and US Constitutions, respectively, that would eliminate language granting exceptions to the prohibition of slavery and involuntary servitude in cases of criminal punishment.
Budgets: The Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) budget (SB 5531) was heard on Feb. 24. The League provided verbal testimony in support.
Air Quality: HB2814 would direct the Environmental Quality Commission to establish and implement an indirect source review program. It is scheduled for a hearing in House Energy and Environment on March 3.
Arlington Radioactive Waste: We are now waiting for SB 246-1 Radioactive Waste Disposal Definitions and Enforcement to be brought up for debate on the Senate Floor. LWVOR supports.
Coastal Issues: LWVOR provided testimony in support of SB 126 to adjust the boundary of the South Slough. The bill passed out of committee and has been sent to the Senate floor.
Emergency Preparedness: The League is pleased to see that the earthquake early warning system known as ShakeAlert that will be capable of delivering alerts directly to wireless devices in Oregon on March 11 and to Washington state in May, completing the West Coast rollout, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The ShakeAlert system, which warns of significant quakes, has been enabled in California since October 2019.
Forestry: Many forestry tax bills were up this past week in the House Committee on Agriculture and Environment. On Feb 23 an informational session was held with presentations from Tax Fairness Oregon and three other speakers supporting the reinstitution of some form of a severance tax, three speakers who represented the timber and forest industry, and four speakers representing counties and special districts.
Land Use: LWVOR supported HB 2110, a bill that updates the Land Use Board of Appeal’s fee and deposit system. The bill was heard in House Rules on Feb. 23.
Recycling: The Senate Committee on Energy and Environment heard testimony on SB 14 (establishes a stewardship program for plastic packaging and food service ware), SB 581 (prohibits sale of products making deceptive claims about recyclability) and SB 582 (modernizes Oregon’s recycling system) on February 23.
Water: The League continues to discuss HB 2142, a bill that would update water permitting fees for the Water Resources Dept. (WRD).
Wildfires: The Senate Natural Resources and Wildfire Committee heard two bills on Feb. 24 related to nonconforming uses that burned during the September wildfires in order to address how or whether they should be allowed to rebuild. See SB 465 and SB 405.
REVENUE AND TAX REFORM
Revenue Update: The much-anticipated Revenue Forecast by the Office of Economic Analysis was presented on Wednesday, Feb 24 in House Revenue. It was once again better than the December forecast and the two forecasts before that! So good in fact, that both the personal income tax kicker and the corporate tax kicker which funds the student success program, will both be activated.
Gun Safety: The League delivered testimony on February 22 in Senate Judiciary for SB 554, which allows local jurisdictions, including cities, counties, school districts, and universities, to adopt ordinances limiting possession of firearms in public buildings by holders of concealed handgun licenses (CHLs).
Health and Human Services: The Human Services and Judiciary Committees were sailing full steam ahead this past week. House Human Services covered the 211 call in information line, mandatory reporting of child abuse and domestic violence services in the Self Sufficiency program.
Housing: Our state’s existing housing crisis is exacerbated by the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, impacts from the 2020 wildfires, and recent winter storms. Resources are needed to address our housing challenges across the spectrum from homelessness to affordable rental housing to homeownership.
Healthcare: It was a good week in the Senate Health Care Committee (SHC). My prediction: the HOPE act, SJR 12, will pass both chambers (barring a walkout) and we will see it on the 2022 general election ballot. The bill is simple and meets the League’s gold standard.