Legislative Report - Sine Die
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By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator, and Team
The League’s Natural Resources Team added volunteers Paula Grisafi (Toxics) and Carolyn Mayers (Wildfire) and sadly lost a member, Kathy Moyd, who worked on both Climate and Natural Resource issues and was a valuable former NASA engineer with a variety of expertise and willingness to attend meetings virtually, provide written and verbal League testimony using League positions and personal expertise. You will see others’ names listed below under the issues they covered.
The League is a member of many coalitions. One of the most critical for Natural Resources is the Oregon Conservation Network, a group of now over 40 conservation and environmental organizations who declare "Priorities for a Healthy Oregon" each legislative session. They also provide an opportunity for the groups to share support or opposition for other legislation to legislators. Legislators saw LWVOR’s name on bills listed in the weekly Hotlist as we advocated for or against bills.
This session, the Oregon Legislature introduced an impressive 2,970 measures — more than any other session in the last decade. After months of hard work, 653 of them passed— about 22% of the measures that were introduced. (From Rep. Gomberg’s newsletter) The Legislative Policy and Research Office provided this report on Natural Resource issues and this report on Energy and Environment. The League was engaged in some of the bills listed in these reports. The Governor provided letters with some of the final decisions she made to sign or veto bills. The following bills were accompanied by signing letters: HB 2010, HB 2426, HB 2772, HB 3561, HB 5026, SB 80, SB 283, SB 488, SB 1089, SB 1095 (explanation of line-item veto for emergency clause). Additionally, HB 3440 and SB 5535 will become law without the Governor’s signature.
HCR 38 passed and sets the process for the February 2024 short session that runs Feb. 5 through March 10th. The legislative calendar is posted on the Oregon Legislature website. There will be interim legislative days in Sept., Nov., and January.
Much of the work under this section was done by the Climate Team. However, we provided a letter to the Oregon Board of Agriculture sharing our natural resource area priorities for 2023. And we provided a letter on HB 5002, the Dept. of Agriculture’s budget.
By Kathy Moyd & Peggy Lynch
LWVOR joined with others in support of HB 3229. Under the Clean Air Act, funding must be from fees on permittees for this program. Per DEQ’s own testimony, without this funding, a critical part of their Air Quality program was in jeopardy. The bill was amended by the -2 amendment, passed the legislature and was signed by the Governor. It increases fees for polluters who require Title V permits 43% in 2023 and another 40% in 2024. Fees had not been increased for 13 years. DEQ is to review its permitting methodology and how it charges fees due to complexity instead of the amount of pollution emitted and report to the legislature by Dec. 2023. The DEQ Budget (HB 5018) includes POP 110 and authorized the 11 staff for the Title V program. HB 3229 was effective as of July 13. The Governor plans additional work on this issue in 2024.
Although we did not provide written testimony on SB 488, the Medical Waste Incinerator Bill (Covanta facility in Marion County), League members did engage. The bill was amended many times and was signed by the Governor, although she is concerned about sections of the bill related to limiting medical waste disposal.
By Peggy Lynch
Each long session the Governor provides a statewide budget with individual agency budget requests. Governor Kotek’s first biennial budget is here. For natural resource agency budgets, start on page 143 of the web document. The Governor’s budget was based on the December 2022 forecast when there was still a great deal of concern around a potential recession. The Governor proposes; the Legislature disposes.
The League follows the Ways and Means Committee and Subcommittees. The Legislative Fiscal Office website provides a great deal of information on this process, the legislature’s involvement, research and reports on the state’s expenditures. They also coordinate fiscal impact statements on individual pieces of legislation as it moves through the legislature. The Ways and Means Committee always does a “rebalance” of the current (2021-23) budget after the March forecast and that was done again this year. The Office of Economic Analysis also provided sobering data on Oregon’s population. Without an increase in young people—with in-migration--our need for a variety of long-term care services will explode without the incoming revenue to pay for those services!
In late March, the Ways and Means Co-Chairs Budget Framework was provided to guide Subcommittees considering all the agency budgets. The Framework provides the amount of money each Subcommittee should expect to spend for their assigned budgets and any policy bills that might be assigned to them. A series of meetings around the state provided the public with opportunities to share their priorities with legislators.
The Treasurer’s Office reported to the legislature in March on the state’s bonding capacity: General Fund debt capacity results in $1.94 billion issuance for each biennium, or $969 million annually ($320 million greater than 2021-23). The State’s Lottery Revenue debt issuance capacity for Lottery Bonds is $506.4 million in each biennium or $253.2 million annually over the forecast period ($9 million decline from 2021-23). Governor Kotek’s office then provided their 2023-25 bond proposal list. HB 5005, the General Fund bonding bill, passed and was signed by the Governor. HB 5030 is the Lottery Bonds projects budget bill.
HB 5046 is the Continuing Resolution bill that allows agencies to continue expending funds on July 1 based on their 2021-23 budgets until their new budgets for 2023-25 are signed by the Governor passed or until Sept. 15th. The bill passed and was signed by the Governor. All agency budgets were signed by the Governor by the August 4 deadline, but some agencies needed to take advantage of HB 5046 until those budgets were signed.
The League followed HB 3349, with an amendment that would have provided $300,000 each to eight different entities to create “navigators” to help access federal funding. The League was disappointed that HB 3349, with the 3 amendment, was passed to Ways and Means. We believe there are better uses for the $2.4 million in the Higher Education budget although we supported staffing in state agencies to facilitate federal funding. The bill did not pass.
A new process around budget requests was used this session: Packages of policy bills were created to reduce the need for individual bill votes when they were sent to Ways and Means for funding. That practice also allowed controversial policies to be packaged with more benign policies to gain support and passage. (That practice may occur in the future.) Senate Republicans decided not to provide a quorum in the Senate chamber for a number of weeks so, in case they returned, it would be easier to move these packaged bills. See below under the water bills--HB 2010, HB 3409 under Climate, and HB 3395 for Housing. HB 3410-2, another “package” bill, includes a variety of economic development funds/grant programs, mostly for rural Oregon. Sen. Dembrow provided climate and drought package spreadsheets.
Expect a final 2023 session reconciliation by the end of August and the August 30 Revenue Forecast where the final “kicker” amount will be announced. (Taxpayers can use the credit on their 2024 tax returns—2023 taxes) Look for about $5.5 billion to be returned. (The 1979 Oregon Legislature passed the "Two percent kicker" law, which requires the state to refund excess revenue to taxpayers when actual General Fund revenues exceed the previous odd-year May forecast amount by more than two percent.)
The League’s Natural Resource Team not only provided testimony on many of the 14 natural resource agency budgets, but encouraged the Governor and legislature to provide staffing, create new programs and provide matching funds for the many substantial federal programs made available by federal budgets, by the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the CHIPS Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. By August 4 the natural resource budgets had all been signed by the Governor. To learn more about their content, look for the LFO Recommendation posted for each budget. More info is listed below under each agency.
The end-of-session bill had over $1.4 billion in funding items. Here is the 33-page list, called “ornaments'' as the bill, SB 5506, is also called the Christmas Tree bill. The Oregon Capital Chronicle provided a summary.
The Emergency Board met right after Sine Die to adopt rules for their work during the interim. They were provided $50 million to spend on emergencies until the next session, as well as a number of “special purpose appropriations” for expected expenses such as additional wildfire funding and salary increases. Otherwise, agency budgets are only changed by an act of the entire legislature.
By Claudia Keith and Team
One bill included in HB 3409 (Sections 82 and 83 of the climate package) and followed by Natural Resources was HB 2647 A, which the League supported to continue to address harmful algal blooms, a public health issue.
We encourage you to read both of the overlapping Climate Emergency Natural Resources sections.
By Christine Moffitt/Peggy Lynch
HB 3382 B was amended to create a new exception to Goal 16 to allow deeper and wider Coos Bay channel dredging. It passed and was signed by the Governor. The League provided testimony in opposition. A number of sideboards were placed in the bill should any dredging take place. Only the Port of Coos Bay or recognized Oregon tribes can request the exception.
The League is disappointed the bill passed, but worked hard to assure as many requirements as we could get would be in the bill. We encourage you to read the two-page bill.
Of note is $20 million bonding for the Coos Bay Channel Modification project; it was included in a bonding bill and an additional $20 million is authorized for the project in the 2025-27 biennium.
Coastal League members originally raised alarm about the bill. HB 3382 would have provided certain Ports with an exception from our land use planning system to allow dredging and other activities around these Ports without the current public process and federal consistency requirements. The League has shared our concerns with others. State agencies that administer permits that could be affected by the legislation provided information on their processes and the implications of the proposed legislation on certain state permits. See LWV Coos and LWVOR testimonies: March 14, second, third. Coalition testimony, and LWVOR testimony. On May 14, LWVOR issued an Action Alert to oppose the bill. As a result of ours and others who did the same, many opposition testimonies were filed and a second public hearing was allowed on May 16 where more League members and others testified in opposition. The -7 amendment was negotiated on May 17 and posted by noon on May 18 for the night’s work session in the Joint Committee on Transportation. League members from across the state submitted opposition testimony. It made a difference. We took the opportunity to share our 2012 Coastal Study that explains the CZMA and other coastal issues with some legislators and staff. Informative, well researched League studies are a hallmark of League expertise.
After many meetings and conversations, the League agreed to not oppose the -7 amendment to HB 3382 that limits the bill to ONLY the International Port of Coos Bay, places requirements around proof of financial viability and reporting on the number of jobs to be created, to be submitted with any actual project application. Only the Port and tribes would be qualified to submit an application. We don’t support the bill, but the votes seemed to be there so we worked to make it as narrow as we could. Any project application would be for a new Goal 16 exception and would go through the usual local land use processes for any Goal exception. Also, all the other federal and state agency permits would be required for any process. The bill was amended to clarify that no fossil fuel projects would be allowed approval. (Remember Jordan Cove?) The -7s “save” the Yaquina and Astoria estuaries, but could damage the Coos Bay estuary, even though the amendment requires no net loss of important environmental values. A major expansion of the navigation channel cannot help but do damage. To listen to the sausage making, go to the 1 hour mark here. Rumor has it that the Port of Coos Bay, on behalf of a container ship development, has again applied for federal funding. They were not approved for federal funding in 2022. Additionally, the Coos Bay Estuary Management Plan (CBEMP) is continuing to be updated. The County file for this project is AM-22-005.
SB 5524 is the Oregon Business Development Dept. budget: LFO Recommendation includes $10 million for distribution to the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay to support the continuation and final completion of the engineering and design work related to the deepening and widening of the Federal Navigation Channel at Coos Bay to support existing businesses and promote new business opportunities. The original appropriation of $15 million was provided to the agency in the 2022 legislative session.
The League provided testimony in support of HB 2903, to require Fish and Wildlife and State Lands to provide communications staff to help continue to implement and support Oregon’s marine reserves and new management areas. The bill did not pass nor were the requested staffing positions funded. League and partners will be back in 2024 or 2025. According to ODFW, “a new survey shows that coastal Oregon’s recreational industry joins more conventional, store-front businesses in believing the state’s Marine Reserves do not negatively impact their bottom lines, continuing a vast shift in what businesses feared just before the first reserves were established more than a decade ago.” Good news!
OSU’s wave energy testing facility is ready to be tested off the coast of Newport per Oregon Capital Insider. The ocean test site will be on a sandy-bottomed stretch of the Pacific Ocean away from popular commercial and recreational fishing reefs about seven miles off the coast of Newport. The site will have four test berths, which combined can accommodate up to 20 wave energy devices at any one time, per Rep. Gomberg. See the League’s 2012 Coastal Study to learn more about wave energy.
Columbia River Gorge Commission
Columbia River Treaty
By Phillip Thor
The League continues to follow the potential Treaty resolution/update. You can find a written copy of U.S. Government representatives' remarks at the top of the meeting by accessing this website: https://www.state.gov/columbia-river-treaty/. You can reach the team with comments or questions by emailing ColumbiaRiverTreaty@state.gov. The 18th round of negotiations is scheduled for August.
Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
SB 1013 would have required counties to allow RVs to be sited on certain rural properties. League engaged with the sponsor and Sen. Hayden and was assured that appropriate sewer and water connections would be required for these special cases so we did not provide written testimony. The bill was amended to “allow” and not “require” counties to provide this use. The bill passed and signed by the Governor. Also, DEQ received monies to help assure that the sewer issue was addressed. The bill takes effect Jan. 1, 2024.
The League provided testimony with concerns about SB 835, a bill that would have required that a single septic system be used for both the main home and an accessory dwelling unit placed on a lot where a septic system is used. The bill was amended addressing our concerns, was passed and signed by the Governor, also effective Jan. 1, 2024.
SB 931 allows DEQ to issue a permit to repair or replace a subsurface sewage disposal system or alternative sewage disposal system without regard to the availability of a community or areawide sewerage system under certain circumstances. Although the League did not engage, we are concerned that this bill perpetuates the use of septic systems that fail and pollute the groundwater when a sewer system is nearby. DEQ was provided funding for .88 FTE to do rulemaking for this and SB 835. The bill passed and was signed by the Governor.
A League member participated in the 2023 Water Quality Fee Rules Advisory Committee (RAC) as in past years to provide a “public” voice to the RAC. Here is the WQ Fee RAC Meeting Summary link - May 5, 2023. The EQC delegated authority to approve this rulemaking for 2023 to DEQ Director Feldon on May 19.
Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI)
By Peggy Lynch
The League provided testimony in support of SB 220 that would have provided a fee to pay for implementation of a new e-permitting system for mining interests instead of using $2 million in General Funds. However, the legislature chose to provide the $2 million in GF. We also provided testimony in support of SB 221 to provide ongoing funding for this new system and testimony on SB 222 to allow DOGAMI to accept credit cards and to add the credit card fee to the permittees choosing to use a credit card. SB 222 failed in the Senate. Another bill, SB 538 A, would have provided general authorization to agencies. That bill also died in committee. SB 221 passed and was signed by the Governor.
The League continues to follow the Grassy Mountain Gold Project in Malheur County, using a streamlined permitting process.
Dept. of the State Fire Marshal
HB 5036 is the budget bill funding and spending authority for the recently established Department of the State Fire Marshal, taking the place of the Office of the State Fire Marshal that was part of the Oregon State Police.
Dept. of State Lands (DSL)
HB 2238 allows for rulemaking to increase fees related to removal or fill permit applications, wetland delineation reports and general authorizations. We will work with the agency to increase processes for clearly identifying wetlands in urban growth boundaries to be sure lands that should be developed can be and those that can’t should be are removed from the buildable lands inventory. We support the bill which passed and was signed by the Governor with an effective date of Sept. 24, 2023. In August the League discovered that the issue of wetlands was being discussed in the Land Availability Work Group of the Governor’s Housing Production Advisory Council (HPAC). We expressed concern that no wetlands expertise had been consulted during the initial round of meetings. The League will monitor this Work Group as it considers providing unvetted proposals to the Governor. If you want to receive notices of HPAC meetings, click here.
HB 2914 establishes the Oregon Abandoned and Derelict Vessel Program in DSL LFO Recommendation The League has consistently supported funding for this program outside of the Common School Fund. Funding for this program was included in the end-of-session bill, SB 5506: $18,763,236 from the Monsanto Settlement Agreement per the Governor’s recommendation.
Elliott State Research Forest (ESRF)
By Peggy Lynch
The League continues to engage in the ESRF, including attending their prospective Board meetings. The prospective ESRF Board met July 24th. Visit DSL's Elliott webpage to learn more. Additional meetings are set for August 16 (9a-5p in-person in Winchester Bay) and Sept. 22nd 10 a.m. to 4 p.m on Zoom. They WEplan to meet again October 16, Noon to 4 p.m. and December 4, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Meeting locations TBD.
Meeting videos are posted to the Department of State Lands YouTube channel and meeting notes are posted to DSL's Elliott website here. Work is continuing on eventual adoption of a Habitat Conservation Plan and a Forest Management Plan for the forest. Of concern to the League is how their plan can be financially viable without excessive timber harvest.
SB 161 passed to change a date included in SB 1546 (2022) related to requirements in establishing the ESRF to December of 2023. The Governor signed with the bill’s effective date June 30, 2023. HB 5048 with the -2 amendment funds, starting Jan. 1, 2024, the new Elliott State Forest Research Authority Board staffing and expenses. LFO Recommendation. It is expected that the 2024 session will enhance this new agency’s budget and fiscal needs, but the 2023 funding provides for an Executive Director and two other positions. Public listening sessions on the HCP and Forest Management Plan (FMP) is scheduled for September 21: 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. Zoom links to join the listening sessions and more information about the forest management planning process can be found on the OSU College of Forestry website here.
On June 2 OSU Board of Trustees met and received a Report and a Presentation as they considered approving their engagement on the ESRF, with a decision in October or December by the OSU Board on whether or not to accept a role in the ESRF. They will receive an update at their Aug. 25 and Oct. 19-20 meetings before a special OSU Board meeting in December.
The State Land Board will meet Dec. 12 to provide a final decision on the ESRF going forward.
The Shutter Creek former Oregon Dept. of Corrections facility was transferred by the federal government to the Dept. of State Lands in anticipation of the property being the home of the ESRF staff and research team. There is also discussion around a tribal role for the property. The property currently pays a significant fee for sewer to the City of Lakeside. Conversations with the city are on-going since that infrastructure is critical to keeping effluent out of Tenmile Lake where a significant number of failing septic systems also exist.
Fish and Wildlife (ODFW)
The League had no volunteer to follow the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife so we did not comment on their budget (SB 5509) except to work with partners to assure staff for in-stream flows and water management would become permanent, in keeping with our support for water management across water agencies.
Are you a fisherperson? High mercury levels detected in Oregon waters: Health advisories issued for summer fishing season addresses higher than healthy mercury and information on fish consumption in these waters.
We provided testimony on the Oregon Dept. of Forestry budget (HB 5020), expressing concern that staffing for climate change issues around forest management and urban forestry weren’t included in the Governor’s budget. Those positions were not included in the final budget. However, HB 3409 includes a provision that directs ODF to acquire and maintain an urban tree canopy assessment tool and to develop and implement program related to loss of tree canopy. DLCD was given over $7 million and 5 staff to create and award grants under a new Community Green Infrastructure Fund.
State Forester Cal Mukumoto has decided not to renew the state’s wildfire insurance policy for 2023-24. The state would have to incur over $75 million before accessing the $25 million policy.
As the Board of Forestry makes decisions on our state forests, including potential adoption of a Habitat Conservation Plan and future harvest plans, we remind you that Oregon’s forests are managed for the greatest permanent value: “healthy, productive, and sustainable forest ecosystems that over time and across the landscape provide a full range of social, economic, and environmental benefits to the people of Oregon.”
LWVOR provided comments on the biennial Harvest Tax bill, HB 2087, expressing concerns but supporting if this bill is all that is available for helping to fund forestry programs. The bill passed and was signed by the Governor on July 31.
By Peggy Lynch
SB 42 would have required agencies to add even more factors related to business when calculating the costs of rulemaking and their consequences. The League provided testimony in opposition. SB 38 would have required certain agencies to process permits even if state or federal laws or rules changed during the permit processing. The League provided testimony in opposition. Neither bill passed this session.
Hanford Cleanup Board
By Marylou Schnoes
The Oregon Hanford Cleanup Board meeting materials are available on their website. Per OPB, we are a long way from being safe as the cleanup continues. Rep. Mark Gamba has been appointed by the Speaker to join the Board.
Oregon Department of Energy Assistant Director for Nuclear Safety and Emergency Preparedness Maxwell Woods and Hanford Hydrogeologist Tom Sicilia weigh in on the Dept of Energy blog, HISTORIC HANFORD CONTAMINATION IS WORSE THAN EXPECTED: OREGON EXPERTS WEIGH IN.
Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC)
By Peggy Lynch
Another League volunteer followed education this session but there were two areas under Natural Resources that we provided testimony. The League provided testimony on HB 5025, the omnibus higher education budget, in support of the Oregon Consensus/Oregon Solutions programs at Portland State University. It is unclear if this funding was provided but the program will continue.
The League provided testimony in support of funding for the Oregon Conservation Corps in HB 5025, the omnibus Higher Education Coordinating Commission budget bill. $10 million was provided in the end-of-session bill, SB 5506.
Land Use/Dept. of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) & Housing
By Peggy Lynch
Land use and housing were front and center this session. The Governor came out early with a Housing Executive Order 23-02. The legislature followed up quickly with HB 2001 and HB 5019. A Budget Report was provided for HB 2001 that clarifies that some monies are coming from 2021-23 with most from the 2023-25 biennium. The same is true in the Budget Report for HB 5019. Also, there is a Budget Note on pages 3-4 of the LFO Recommendation. DLCD provided a helpful press release in understanding the land use nexus. The League provided testimony on SB 534 in support of a pilot $3 million fund to provide financing for the development of infrastructure and other costs, usable only for housing to remain affordable to moderate income households for at least 30 years. SB 534 was incorporated into HB 2001, Section 51, and was passed and signed by the Governor on March 29. With the increase in staff of seven permanent positions at DLCD, they have created a new Housing Division under Senior Planner/Manager Ethan Stuckmayer.
The League provided testimony on HB 5027, the DLCD budget, and were disappointed that only the Housing Policy Option Packages were approved. Missing were positions for wildfire and climate planning. However, the agency received a number of positions related to housing and one surprise bill related to green infrastructure and another on solar siting:
While HB 2727, Early Childhood Facilities, came with funds for DLCD to convene a Work Group to examine strategies for expanding early learning and care facilities in Oregon, the bill did not include any funding for positions.
SB 5506, Climate-Friendly and Equitable Communities Program (CFEC), granted DLCD one permanent position and $2.7 million in one-time grant funds.
SB 5506, Green Infrastructure and Solar Siting (TREES), provided five limited duration positions and $6.5 million in Green Infrastructure grant funds. Four of these positions are associated with the TREES program. One is assigned work to identify ways to reduce conflicts for solar facilities in Eastern Oregon.
HB 3395 was the housing package and included sections on the Residential Use of Commercial Lands, new Approval Procedures around residential structures in Urban Growth Boundaries, Emergency Shelter Siting, and Subdividing Affordable Housing Developments as changes to our land use system.
The League provided testimony on HB 2983 in support of manufactured dwellings and dwellings parks. Although HB 2983 did not pass, there is money in the Oregon Housing and Community Services budget or other housing bills that should help with this housing issue.
SB 70 amends the definition of high-value farmlands for residential rezoning of lands within the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Region from SB 16 (2021). LWVOR provided testimony in opposition, continuing to focus on water quality and quantity; however, the bill passed and has been signed by the Governor.
SB 1013, a bill that would allow a recreational vehicle to be sited on a rural property, was amended by the -4 amendment and was signed by the Governor with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2024. The League worked behind the scenes to be sure that water and sewer would be safely provided since the RV would likely be sharing the main residence's facilities.
The League provided testimony in opposition to HB 3442, a bill that would have required local governments to allow development of affordable housing on certain lands within a 100-year floodplain or subject to property development constraints under land use regulations related to natural disasters and hazards. The bill was amended to clarify those public safety concerns and passed. The Governor has signed.
The League provided testimony with concerns on SB 835, a bill that required that a single septic system be used for both the main home and an accessory dwelling unit placed on a lot where a septic system is used. The bill was amended addressing our concerns, was passed and signed by the Governor.
The League was alerted to SB 1087, a bill to allow restaurants, 25-car parking lots, and 5,000-square-foot seating areas for 250-300 people on land designated for exclusive farm use (EFU land). It set standards for the establishment of farm cafes on lands in Lane County zoned for exclusive farm use. It required the Oregon Health Authority to review the land use compatibility statement before licensing a farm cafe. The bill also authorized OHA to revoke, deny or suspend licenses upon certain violations of land use conditions. The League is concerned with the precedent that would be set by allowing this activity in Lane County as other counties could ask for the same use on their EFU lands in the future. The League did not provide testimony, but would have provided opposition testimony had the bill received a Work Session. The bill died in the Senate Rules Committee but could well return in 2024 or 2025.
SB 4, known as the CHIPS Act, includes $200 million in grants and loans with a commitment to provide a certain number of permanent full-time jobs to help semiconductor industries and would allow the Governor to “supersite” lands for this industry many acres of farmland “just in case” the semiconductor industry might want to build a new facility in Oregon. We provided testimony in opposition only to Section 10 of the bill. The bill passed and was signed by the Governor, but many sideboards were placed around the “supersiting” provision. With tax credits and other legislation, a total of $500 million was committed to this industry. On Aug. 1, the Governor approved $90 million to a proposed expansion of Intel at current facilities in Washington County. At this time, it doesn’t seem to include any “supersiting”. A total of 15 companies have applied for Oregon’s CHIPS Act funding.
The League provided testimony in opposition to SB 1051 with the -2 amendment, a bill that would allow a property owner to request an Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) expansion of up to 200 acres outside of the current UGB process, but inside an urban reserve. The bill died in committee, but elements of the bill appeared in HB 3414 (see below) as did SB 1096, HB 3620 and HB 3616.
HB 3414 with the -1 amendment would have created a new Housing Accountability and Production Office in DLCD and also included a Section 2 that says that local governments may not deny a variance under certain circumstances. Variances are used to address exceptions to a code’s “clear and objective standards”. It is unclear how this provision would have changed a community’s control over residential development.
The insistence by the Governor to include a section in the bill that would have allowed private property owners to ask a city to add their lands (lands adjacent to current UGBs) for development was a non-starter for LWVOR and other land use advocates. Metro also had concerns that their role in the management of Metro’s UGB would be usurped by the Metro cities. The League provided verbal testimony based on our Nov. 2022 LCDC testimony, pointing out that it’s not more raw land we need; it’s funding for infrastructure and planning staff. The UGB section relates to SB 1096, a bill that would “expand development into farmland” and was similar to SB 1051 which the League vigorously opposed and has since died.
Although there are sideboards around what lands can be considered, the bill continued the false narrative that simply adding land to urban growth boundaries will solve Oregon's housing crises. HB 3414 B became the last drama of the 2023 session. OPB had a good article as did Willamette Week. Although it passed the House, it did not pass the Senate—by one vote. LWVOR appreciates that Senate members rejected the bill, but are also sad that the good portions of the bill were lost by the insistence that the UGB expansion sections be included. We look forward to a quick passage of a slimmed down version in 2024, although the Governor has indicated we will see the same bill.
There were a number of bills filed (HB 3180, HB 3181, HB 3179 and HB 2989 related to siting solar in Oregon. An Oregon Siting Table was formed to have conversations around potential conflicts among solar developers, the agricultural and environmental communities. The League engaged in meetings of the Oregon Siting Table, but did not provide testimony on any of these bills. HB 3179 was amended, passed and signed by the Governor. The bill doubles the maximum allowable acreage for solar photovoltaic power generation facility siting in the context of county land-use planning, allowing counties to approve more and larger solar projects while preserving existing protections for land use and wildlife. The amended bill now requires an applicant for a land use permit for a renewable energy facility to provide a decommissioning plan to restore the site to "a useful, nonhazardous condition," assured by bonding or other security. The Siting Table will continue and there may have been monies to continue conversations among the parties in other bills.
As HB 2003 (2019) (helpful DLCD website) is implemented by cities, you might want to read pages 3 and 4 of Monmouth’s DRAFT Housing Production Strategy. (The cities of Milwaukie and Grants Pass have also completed a DRAFT—all of which can be commented on.) As cities are required to review their Housing every 6 (Metro) or 8 years, they are required to consider how to address their housing needs. You don’t have to wait until your city is required to do this exercise. You can begin the conversation now to help address your housing shortage. As part of the information on cost of housing, in January a presentation on Systems Development Charges (SDCs) was provided. The League supports state help with SDC costs and other infrastructure costs, especially for low-income housing, but also help for cities to provide infrastructure to create buildable lots within cities and to make urban growth boundary lands buildable.
The Legislative Policy and Research Office provided this report on housing and land use.
See also the Housing Report in the Social Policy section of this Legislative Report.
Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA)
By Peggy Lynch
Northwest Energy Coalition
By Robin Tokmakian
Our League representative worked on a resolution regarding gas utility decarbonization. LWVOR signed on to support the resolution.
Oregon Dept. of Energy (ODOE)
Oregon Marine Board
Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB)
The League did not provide written testimony on the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) budget (SB 5539 & SB 5540), but engaged during budget development and behind the scenes with legislators. Here is the July Director's Report on their budget and strategic plan. OWEB worked with others to review their 20 years of providing Operating Capacity Grants to Soil and Water Conservation Districts and others.
Parks and Recreation
By Shirley Weathers
The Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) continues its work to protect Oregon from acceptance, accumulation, and storage of hazardous levels of radioactive waste. For a quick recap, the current effort now going on three years was triggered in 2020 by discovery that almost 1,300 tons of such waste generated through fracking for oil and gas out-of-state had been illegally accepted by Chemical Waste Management (CWM) at their Arlington OR landfill between 2016 and 2019. That triggered the understanding that decades-old rules and statutes needed updating.
During the interim after the 2020 Session, ODOE and the first Rulemaking Advisory Committee (RAC) worked on aspects of OAR 435.029 (Notice of Violation, Civil Penalties, Revocation or Suspension) that didn’t require statutory changes. The resultant final rules provide significantly better prevention of illegal out-of-state dumping and provide the state with enforcement authority if and when it occurs.
After successful passage in the 2021 Session of SB 246, Radioactive Waste Disposal Definitions and Enforcement, another RAC embarked on changes to ORS 469.300 (Definitions) and 469.525 (Radioactive Waste Facilities Prohibited). The bill retains in full force Oregon’s commitment to stringent restriction of radioactive waste storage and emphasis on protecting the health and safety of the public. It called for review and necessary revision of technical provisions to reflect current-day science and federal standards where there were deviations, as well as rule changes pertaining to the classification, handling, and disposal of radioactive waste generated within the state, commonly as a byproduct of other operations. Medical and manufacturing waste figure importantly in discussions, but there are a number of other sources.
Many of the technical issues arising from SB 246 are therefore beyond the expertise of many RAC members, including the League. Some member organizations have hired consultants to act on their behalf to interact on draft rules with ODOE staff.
However, there are other important issues that can and need to be addressed by laypersons. In fact, a stark division in approach that surfaced with the first draft led staff and RAC members to agree to divide pertinent subsections into two parts (more below). Part I issues have resulted in three drafts, but RAC members will provide input by August 30 and likely the Energy Facility Siting Commission (EFSC) will consider a final draft in its September meeting. If accepted, a 30-day public comment period will be opened. It is hoped that more individuals and organizations with concerns about public health and safety and environmental issues will become involved.
The Part II controversy stems from the cost of transporting out-of-state materials produced here but prohibited from disposal in Oregon. Charging that this is cost-prohibitive, some RAC members rejected the staff draft and instead collaborated with Chemical Waste Management on a proposal that would have allowed retention of bona fide radioactive waste in-state under certain conditions. However, the League was not surprised when the Oregon DOJ ruled that the proposal would violate ORS 426.525. That subsection has been shelved for now and further steps are unknown at this time.
LWVOR has supported new legislation and held a seat on the two RACs involved to date and will continue to participate.
By Kathy Moyd/Greg Martin
There were three “Zero Waste” bills related to polystyrene and plastics: SB 543, prohibits food vendors from using polystyrene foam containers in sales of prepared food. LWVOR provided Testimony. The Governor has signed the bill which takes effect Jan. 1, 2024.
SB 544, directs the Environmental Quality Commission to establish a program for source reduction of single-use plastic food ware and single-use packaging and achieve 25 percent source reductions compared to 2023 levels by 2030. LWVOR provided Testimony; however, the bill did not pass.
SB 545, directs the State Department of Agriculture and Oregon Health Authority to adopt rules allowing consumers to use their own containers for refilling with food at food establishments. The League provided testimony in support. The bill passed, was signed by the Governor on May 8 and is immediately effective.
The Right to Repair bill, SB 542, required original equipment manufacturers to make available repair information to owners of consumer electronic equipment or independent repair providers. The League provided testimony supporting the bill, but pointed out two areas where changes should be made: one dealing with clarifying what was included under the bill and the other dealing with the enforcement method. Preferred versions were included in the New York law. The bill did not pass this session but we expect a version to return in 2024 or 2025.
DEQ is proposing rules to clarify and implement the Plastic Pollution and Recycling Modernization Act of 2021. More information on this rulemaking, including the draft rules, can be found on the Recycling Updates 2023 Rulemaking Page. DEQ continues to hold Recycling Modernization Act Rulemaking Advisory Committee meetings. To learn more about this rulemaking and the advisory committee, view the rulemaking web page at: Recycling Updates 2024.
By Paula Grisafi
HB 3043, a bill that revises provisions relating to chemicals in children’s products, was signed by the Governor and is effective as of Sept. 24, 2023. As a member of the Oregon Conservation Network, we were pleased to see the OCN Letter in support of HB 3043, the Toxic Free Kids Act Modernization. LWVOR has engaged in this bill in past sessions.
SB 546 requires the Oregon Health Authority to adopt and maintain a list of designated high priority chemicals of concern used in cosmetic products and to periodically review and revise the list. The bill was amended and passed.
By Peggy Lynch
The League provided testimony in support with comments on the Oregon Water Resources Dept. (OWRD) budget (HB 5043). The budget includes a permanent staffer to follow the Integrated Water Resources Strategy (IWRS). The League has participated in the past two IWRS documents. That document is set to be updated again and OWRD is partnering with Oregon’s Kitchen Table (OKT) to provide outreach and engagement for the 2023 update to the IWRS. Here’s the latest Integrated Water Resources Strategy 2023 public engagement. Here's the agency’s full budget summary for 2023.
A major water bill, HB 3124, a $250 million Drought Relief and Water Scarcity pkg., was introduced and included some of the other bills we’ve seen this session. The League provided comments on the bill, including a list of our priorities, using our participation in the HB 5006 Work Group as our guide. The W&M Natural Resources Subcommittee used HB 2010 for the water package instead of HB 3124, the bill to which LWVOR provided comments. The -6 amendment was adopted and includes elements of:
-Place-based Planning, a concept that the League has supported since its inception in 2014. We participated in the HB 5006 Work Group where members suggested updating that planning program. HB 3163 would have created a special Fund for these regional planning efforts. The League testified in support of the Fund. The good news that the Place-Based Water Planning Fund, as described in HB 3163, will become permanent with an initial $2,000,000 appropriation. See Sections 15, 16, 44, 57, 58,59, 60 & 61 of HB 2010.
Here is the Drought Package Press Release. LFO Recommendation and the Budget Report that shares the many programs and agencies that will benefit from this bill. You might also note the amount of cross-agency cooperation and collaboration expected from this package. Sen. Dembrow provided spreadsheets for the climate and drought packages here.
The League also provided testimony in support of HB 3125 to create a new Ratepayer Fund to help low income people pay for sewer and water bills. A study of this issue was funded in the Christmas Tree bill.
The League has been a voice for the safety of domestic wells and provided testimony in support of HB 3207 , a bill that would have required reporting to DEQ the results of well water tests during a real estate transaction. The bill did not pass out of Ways and Means.
HB 3208 that expands the Environmental Quality Commission’s authority to annually adjust additional water quality fees up to 3% per year passed. The League has participated in a rules advisory committee related to 3% fees for other water quality permits and has been invited to do so again this year.
In 2021, the legislature provided funds for a contractor to provide a report on the Business Case for Oregon Water Investments. Here is the Executive Summary. There was also a requirement to engage the nine tribes. Here is the Tribal Water Task Force Summary Report.
Statement from the EPA on Waters of the U.S. rule: “EPA and Army statement regarding intent to amend WOTUS rule in wake of U.S. Supreme Court’s Sackett decision – On June 26, EPA and Army released the following statement regarding next steps for the agencies’ WOTUS rule: “The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of the Army (agencies) are in receipt of the U.S. Supreme Court's May 25, 2023, decision in the case of Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency. In light of this decision, the agencies are interpreting the phrase “waters of the United States” consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in Sackett.” Oregon is reviewing the effect of this decision on our own wetlands rules and laws.
We all need to pay attention to the potential for harmful algal blooms. HB 3409 (Sections 82 and 83 of the climate package) included HB 2647 A. The League supported HB 2647 A to continue to address harmful algal blooms., a public health issue. “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.
League members may want to check the U. S. Drought Monitor, a map that is updated every Thursday. Governor Kotek has signed drought declarations under ORS 536 for the counties of Crook, Jefferson, Grant, Deschutes, Wasco, Harney, Sherman and Lake counties. On June 27, the Governor declared a drought emergency in Jackson County through Executive Order 23-15, and directed state agencies to coordinate and prioritize assistance to the region. Gilliam County has also submitted a request for a state declaration. In addition, many counties in eastern and southern Oregon have received Secretarial Disaster Designations from the US Department of Agriculture due to continuing drought conditions.
By Carolyn Mayers
SB 80, one of the important wildfire bills passed this session, is detailed in this press release and this OPB article. LWVOR provided testimony in support of SB 80 with the -2 amendments. Senator Golden spoke at length in support of this overall bill, at one point calling it a refinement of certain aspects of SB 762, the Omnibus Wildfire Legislation of 2021. Regarding the map, which, in part, this bill improved and refined, he said “Senate Bill 80 simplifies the structure of the map and makes some changes to the way that reflects NOT the way that single homeowners maintain their property for fire readiness, but rather the hazard that wildfire presents to the wider landscape.” The League is hopeful that the new, required county collaboration on the map-making process will give Oregonians a better understanding that the map is to point out areas of fire HAZARD so that we all might help be better prepared for wildfires.
“We no longer have a fire season. We have a fire year.” - Mark Bennett, Chair, Wildfire Programs Advisory Council.
Throughout the session, the League followed closely the work of the Governor’s Wildfire Programs Advisory Council, which makes recommendations regarding wildfire legislation to the Governor and the Legislature. Among the most consequential recommendations they made was to change the name of the Statewide Wildfire RISK Map to Hazard Map (the importance of which is mentioned in the previous paragraph) as is the practice in California, and to reduce the number of Hazard Zones from the previous 5, to 3, namely High, Moderate and Low. Their year-round, ongoing work is and will continue to be pivotal in the mission to inform future wildfire preparedness and mitigation legislation for the State and its residents.
The League provided testimony in support of funding for the Oregon Conservation Corps in HB 5025, the omnibus Higher Education Coordinating Commission budget bill. $10 million was included in SB 5506, the end-of-session bill.
The League monitored SB 82, which enhances insurance carriers’ obligation to consider property owner’s efforts to reduce wildfire risk in rate-setting and policy coverage decisions and increases information available to policy-holders. It passed the Senate per this press release. State Forester Cal Mukumoto has decided not to renew the state’s wildfire insurance policy for 2023-24. The state would have to incur over $75 million before accessing the $25 million policy. This policy was for the state to help pay for the cost of fighting wildfires, not for personal fire insurance. Oregon has been the ONLY state to have this policy (Lloyds of London). The deductible of $75 million made it less useful to help the state pay for state fire fighting expenses.
We also followed SB 509, which would have required the Oregon Department of Forestry to study community-based programs for reducing wildfire risk, among other things, and would declare an emergency upon passage so that grant fundings and other program items would have begun immediately. LWVOR provided support for SB 509 A, which did not pass. However, there was some funding provided in the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s budget at the end of session.
SB 872, a bill to enable better cooperation between Federal agencies and Oregon Department of Forestry with regard to wildfire mitigation efforts during the non-wildfire months passed with the -4 amendment. It directs the Oregon Department of Forestry to endeavor toward further shared stewardship of federal forests through partnership with federal agencies to expand certain Good Neighbor Authority activities, and to request that the federal agencies fund these activities.
In addition, a number of bills passed which dealt with housekeeping elements of the change of status of the Office of the State Fire Marshal, under the Oregon State Police, to an independent Department of the State Fire Marshal, a move that gives the State Fire Marshal’s office significantly more responsibility and autonomy, especially in the area of wildfire. The department will still be referred to as OSFM, for Oregon State Fire Marshal, as opposed to “Office of” the State Fire Marshal previously. Unfortunately, the funding requested for this new office fell well short of expectations and there remains much work to be done.
Nevertheless, OFSM has launched a Defensible Space website, which provides a multitude of resources to help Oregonians make their home more resilient in the face of increasing wildfire risk, including the ability to schedule a home assessment based on entering your home address.
What is your passion related to Natural Resources? You can help. Volunteers are needed. The 2023 legislative session is over, but 2024 is just around the corner. 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 email@example.com. Training will be offered.