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Legislative Report - Interim Week 6/10

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A League member met with the new Oregon Dept. of Agriculture Director Hanson and others to discuss work on their strategic plan and 2025 budget development as well as providing an update on the Eastern Oregon groundwater issue (Lower Umatilla Basin Groundwater Management Area—LUBGMA) where the League expressed frustration at the lack of very real action to address the needs of Oregonians who are still dealing with contaminated drinking water.



By Peggy Lynch

A Revenue Forecast was presented to the House and Senate Revenue Committees on May 29. The bottom line: Revenue was up BUT........we now temporarily have a $582 million personal kicker forecasted for 2026 because the new forecasted revenue is 2.5% over the May 2023 forecast. However, there are a number of forecasts before this becomes reality. The forecasters are saying interest rates won't drop until December so we are still in a "will we have a soft landing or a recession?" situation. While leadership will want to provide as many services as possible, the minority will be focusing on the potential negative and want to reduce spending. For the natural resource agencies, many need fee increases in order to try to maintain current services...and those may be difficult to get approved in 2025. 

Budgets 2025

By Peggy Lynch 

The Governor had asked agencies to present her with agency budget proposals by April 30. Since revenue may only cover the Current Service Levels (amount of money needed to fund current programs while also addressing expected increases in costs–CSL) of state agencies plus 1-2%, agencies are now discussing with the Governor’s office on why a particular program should exceed that amount. We should see Agency Request Budgets (ARBs) in July or August. The Governor’s Recommended Budget (GRB) is due to the legislature by Dec. 1st. The State Debt Policy Advisory Commission will provide bonding guidance in January of 2025.

Among the challenges, the Private Forest Accord cost is $36 million General Funds and was not in the CSL. 49% of the Oregon Dept. of Energy’s 2023-24 budget was one-time money. The League is engaged in potential fee increases at the Water Resources Dept., the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and others. Expect a separate budget package for housing that will include monies in a number of different budgets to implement the Governor’s requests. 

Here is a good video on property taxes in Oregon. Cities and counties rely on property taxes for the services they provide. It’s possible that there will be conversations on property tax reform in 2025. The Oregonian provides some insight into that future conversation.


By Claudia Keith and Team  

See the Climate Emergency section of this Legislative Report. There are overlaps with this Natural Resources Report. We encourage you to read both sections.

Coastal Issues

By Christine Moffitt/Peggy Lynch  

The issue of offshore wind energy is dominating conversations at the coast. Here is an Oregonian article and an OPB article to help explain the issue. The League supports the concept of renewable energy but also supports our coastal estuaries. We hope that ongoing discussions will help guide decisions on whether or not offshore wind energy is right for Oregon’s south coast. Here is the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development’s Coastal Division offshore wind website.

A new group, the Oregon Ocean Alliance, has been formed to advocate for ocean funding in multiple agencies in 2025. 


See the website for Oregon’s marine reserves. The League signed a letter in support of HB 4132 which passed and provides money for these special places. June 8 was World Oceans Day.


Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) 

By Peggy Lynch 

An article covering the Secretary of State audit notes that, in order for the agency to accomplish its mission for Oregonians, DEQ needs staff. The League’s budget letters every session reflect that need. However, the revenue forecast may hamper important investments.

DEQ’s biennial report summarizing surface water pollution across the state will include a recognition of the impact of trash on water quality per this OPB article.

Over 5,700 septic systems near the La Pine area need an upgrade—causing increases in nitrates in their well water and seeping into the Deschutes River basin system per this article in the Bend Bulletin. 

The DEQ Director reported to the Environmental Quality Commission: 

1) The Clean Fuels program renewable diesel usage is 2 years ahead of expectations and the City of Portland calculates its population will see $90 million LESS in health care costs in part due to TriMet’s use of renewable diesel

2) They have received monies for a Community Air Action Program from the Environmental Protection Agency for 4 communities and have received interest from over 100 interested parties

3) the Materials Management Division has released grants for $1 million each of the next 2 years

4) Expect rules on Toxics at their Sept. meeting

5) The 2024 Integrated Report is available

6) There will be increased beach water monitoring this year

Dept. of State Lands (DSL) 

By Peggy Lynch 

The agency will begin rulemaking to consider increasing fees for removal/fill projects. The League will participate. We are also engaged in support of an increased budget for the wetlands division. Additionally, the Governor’s office is going to ask for staffing and program dollars to help with the siting of new housing projects. We hope to see that request before the June 11th State Land Board meeting. 

DSL is responsible for managing state lands. School lands have supported public education in Oregon since statehood, when Congress provided sections 16 and 36 of every township “for use of schools.” Today, the Oregon Department of State Lands manages Oregon's 681,000 acres of school lands to generate revenue for the Common School Fund

See Elliott State Research Forest below for the agency’s role in that issue.

Drinking Water Advisory Committee (DWAC) 

By Sandra Bishop  

The League’s member was reappointed to this committee. Their next meeting is July 17.

Elliott State Research Forest (ESRF) 

By Peggy Lynch 

The interim Advisory Group met on May 30th and received an update on the proposed 2025-27 budget and federal conversations. Fire costs are up 13%. With the monies allocated in 2024, hiring for a minimal management staff and the signing of contracts are occurring at DSL. There are continuing conversations with five of Oregon’s tribes and may include official consultations at their request. 

The State Land Board will meet on June 11 to appoint the new ESRF Board and address the transition related to the new Board’s obligations. The Forest Management Plan should be ready for public comment soon with Land Board consideration at their October meeting. 

Visit DSL's Elliott webpage to learn more


ODF’s Urban and Community Forestry (UCF) Program received $26.6 million from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) through the United States Forest Service (USFS). Out of this, $10 million will be awarded to the nine Federally Recognized Tribes of Oregon, and $12.5 million will be available for all eligible entities in Oregon. This opportunity promotes equal access to the benefits of trees and aims to get more people involved in tree planting and comprehensive urban forest management. ODF's UCF Program officially issued the call for proposals for all eligible entities on May 31. The application portal and resources related to this funding opportunity can be found on the UCF subaward program webpage.

See also the Wildfire section of this report below.


The State of Washington and federal agencies agree on the future of Tank Waste Cleanup at the Hanford Site. The Hanford Board met on May 21st. LWVOR no longer has a member on the Board and there is a vacancy for “member of the public.” The application is here. Please contact Peggy Lynch at if you would like to follow  Oregon’s Hanford Cleanup Board.

Land Use & Housing

By Peggy Lynch  

The Senate Interim Committee on Housing and Development’s May 30th agenda focused on housing preservation while the House Interim Committee on Housing and Homelessness agenda included a presentation by Matthew Tschabold, the Governor’s Housing and Homelessness Initiative Director. Here is the Governor’s Homeless Response Framework and here is the DRAFT Housing Production Framework. The League has been engaged with Mr. Tschabold and will continue during the interim. The Dept. of Land Conservation and Development will continue to have a major role in helping local jurisdictions to meet the Governor’s housing goals and their 2025 budget will reflect that role. 

Follow the work of the Oregon Housing Needs Analysis (OHNA) Rulemaking Committee on the department’s Housing Rulemaking webpage. And watch their meetings on the department’s YouTube channel. 

See also the Housing Report in the Social Policy section of this Legislative Report.

Natural Resource Agencies 

The Emergency Board approved funding and submission of many federal grants at its May 31st meeting, many of them related to natural resource agencies. The Senate approved a number of executive appointments, including a new Water Resources Dept. Director (Ivan Gall, who most recently served as the interim deputy director of water management) and Sara O’Brien, who most recently served as Executive Director of Willamette Partnership, to lead the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB). Debbie Colbert was chosen by the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Commission to be the new Director of ODFW. 

During the 2024 legislative session, a massive grants program was approved using monies from a settlement with Monsanto to fund significant natural resource restoration in Oregon for at least the next 50 years. 

Northwest Energy Coalition (NWEC) 

By Robin Tokmakian 

The NWEC had its spring conference in Idaho. Here is a summary of the meeting. 


Look for a battery recycling bill in 2025—where battery manufacturers will need to pay for a recycling program in Oregon.

DEQ is conducting rulemaking to clarify and implement HB 3220 (2023), which updates and makes necessary changes to the statewide electronics recycling program, Oregon E-Cycles. To learn more about this rulemaking and the advisory committee, please visit the Oregon E-Cycles rulemaking web page.

Recycling Modernization Act of 2021 (SB 582), which the League supported, has a rulemaking advisory committee with July 27  meetings posted on the Recycling 2024 website. See the website to submit comments on the proposed rules by July 5.  


Thanks to Rep. Gomberg, here is a 5-minute video on ODOT’s funding challenge. And here’s an online interactive map that shows projects and their details throughout the state. In early February, the Joint Committee on Transportation (JCT) released a 2024-25 Beginning Conversation Draft Action Plan for the development of the expected 2025 State Transportation Funding Package. Open Houses still happening:

  • Wednesday, June 12: Burns or Ontario (Malheur County Commission Chambers)

  • Thursday, June 13: Baker City or Pendleton (Baker City Armory, Blue Mountain C.C.)

  • Friday, June 28: Eugene (University of Oregon)

  • Tuesday, July 16: Medford or Grants Pass (Medford City Hall, Medford Public Library)

  • Thursday, July 25: Bend or Redmond (Bend Senior Center, OSU Cascades, Fair & Expo Center)

  • Thursday, August 15: Beaverton or Hillsboro (Washington County Commission)

  • Other possible cities to visit as alternative / additions include: The Dalles / Hood River, Roseburg

  • Look for a 2025 conversation on how to fund multiple Oregon transportation needs. This effort was last addressed in 2017.


By Peggy Lynch

Four leading water law experts on Oregon water law presented a letter to the Governor, “An appeal for gubernatorial leadership to modernize Oregon’s water laws,” and shared it with the Senate Interim Natural Resources and the House Agriculture, Land Use, Natural Resources and Water Committees. This Oregon Capital Chronicle article explains the conversations. We now expect a “water package” in the 2025 session. As a part of this work, the Integrated Water Resources Strategy (IWRS) has been put on pause while new agency leadership is installed. (For more information about the IWRS, visit the IWRS page.) With the appointment of Ivan Gall, it’s time for work to be completed on the IWRS, the OWRD Strategic Plan and other items that have been on hold at the agency.

The League provided testimony in support of the Oregon Water Resources Dept. (OWRD) draft proposed groundwater rules. Our Deschutes League has been engaged in water issues in their region and also supports these proposed rules. According to a recent article in the Bend Bulletin, hydrologists and community leaders in Central Oregon are sounding the alarm over the decline and loss of groundwater, with the discharge at the headwaters of the Metolius River down 55 percent over the past six years, while water pumped from  underground aquifers "is far outpacing what nature can replace through precipitation."

Last year, OWRD said more than 130 people in Central Oregon were seeking financial assistance to repair wells, mainly due to the dropping aquifer, including 114 homeowners in Deschutes County. The cost to repair a well varies depending on several factors but can range from $9,000 to $55,000, said Alyssa Rash, a spokesperson for the department. That is an expense many can’t afford. The League was pleased that a $1 million General Fund was added to the Water Well Abandonment, Repair and Replacement Fund in 2024. The League was engaged in helping create this fund in 2021.

The Environmental Protection Agency is revising standards related to tribal water rights.

The Umatilla/Morrow County Groundwater (LUBGWMA) issue is still not resolved. The League has brought up this issue with WRD, DEQ and ODA quarterly meetings. 

The League continues to work to save Oregon’s wetlands and here’s why. We expect to engage with the Governor’s Office regarding housing needs while protecting wetlands. 

League members may want to check the U. S. Drought Monitor, a map that is updated every Thursday. Here is a more complete website about drought in Oregon. Jefferson County has asked for a drought emergency declaration, but that request has not yet been approved.

We all need to pay attention to the potential for harmful algal blooms and practice “when in doubt, stay out.”  Visit the Harmful Algae Bloom website or call the Oregon Public Health Division toll-free information line at 877-290-6767 to learn if an advisory has been issued or lifted for a specific water body. DEQ received funding for a six-month seasonal monitoring specialist position in the 23-25 Legislatively Adopted Budget which allowed the lab to expand the 2023 pilot scale recreational HAB network from 10 water bodies to 40 lakes and reservoirs this year. The lab will sample these 40 water bodies four times each from May 2024 through October 2024 in six regional circuits across the state.


By Carolyn Mayers 

The League monitored several informational meetings during the recent Interim Legislative Session. The House Committee on Emergency Management, General Government and Veterans met on May 29, and heard an update on the upcoming wildfire season from the Department of Oregon State Fire Marshal (OSFM) Chief Mariana Ruiz-Temple. While the early part of the season shows lower than normal risk for a large part of the State, she strongly emphasized that all indications point to above average risk during the latter part of the season. This, in the face of challenges such as reduced capacity across the Oregon Fire Mutual Aid System, reduced rural capacity among volunteer fire service, and continued record drought conditions in vulnerable parts of the state. She also outlined her department’s effort in the area of wildfire mitigation, including providing defensible space assessments to homeowners and community wildfire risk reduction grants. 

On May 30, the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Wildfire held an informational meeting, devoted primarily to wildfire. All the meeting materials may be found here. First was an update from the Department of Business and Consumer Services on the state of the Homeowners’ Insurance market in Oregon, specific to cancellations and non-renewals, which have decreased slightly. The market appears to have stabilized, at least temporarily, perhaps due to the relatively less costly wildfire events of 2021 and 2022 as compared with 2020. 

Next was a discussion of the Wildfire Funding Workgroup, which was established by HB 5701, budget note 5. Kyle Williams of the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and Chief Ruiz-Temple of OFSM were the main presenters. There was a sense of urgency expressed throughout the presentations, with the general message being how “desperate” the involved parties are for a fix to the funding system. After several attempts to address the wildfire programs funding crisis failed during the 2024 short session, the mood can best be described as grave concerned “alarm” that there is less overall funding currently than in recent years to fight or prevent this season’s fires, with no solution in sight. It was emphasized repeatedly that this was not a time to “re-litigate policy,” but to figure out funding. Doug Grafe also spoke and pointed out that the most effective tool in the wildfire mitigation toolbox, community resilience, received the biggest decrease in funding for this year, close to a 90% drop. Chief Ruiz-Temple expressed concern about competition for scarce resources among regional agencies in the face of unusually high risk developing in western Washington State, and how that could impact out-of-state assistance as well as risk in NW Oregon. Senator Golden closed that portion of the meeting by urging the work group to focus on getting to what can actually be done, and not let the discussion be dominated for too long by “ideas”. The work group’s first meeting was June 3.

Finally, the committee received an update from the Wildfire Programs Advisory Council (WPAC). Doug Grafe, the Governor’s Wildfire Programs Director, and Dave Hunnicutt, Chair, and Mary Kyle McCurdy, Vice-Chair, gave an overview of their work in the coming months. First, Doug mentioned the schedule for the community information sessions that ODF and other agencies will be holding to help communities get answers to their questions about the new wildfire hazard map and other wildfire related issues. They will be touring in the areas of highest wildfire hazard. This was followed by brief descriptions of the work the WPAC will be doing this summer, mainly focusing on prescribed fire, community risk reduction, and the wildfire funding workgroup.

There have been other items of interest recently. On May 15, Governor Kotek and members of various agencies held a press conference to discuss the 2024 wildfire season. This press release describes what was covered. Lastly, sadly the “good news” that SB 1520 passed during the short session, to ensure that recipients of settlements or judgment from wildfire losses-related lawsuits would avoid being excessively taxed in Oregon on those proceeds, is now tempered by the bad news that a similar federal tax law is “stuck”. This Oregon Live Article describes the difficulty this legislation faces in Congress.

Volunteers Needed  

What is your passion related to Natural Resources?  You can help. Volunteers are needed. The long legislative session begins in January of 2025. Natural Resource Agency Boards and Commissions meet regularly year-round and need monitoring. If any area of natural resources is of interest to you, please contact Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator, at Training will be offered.

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