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Legislative Report - Sine Die 2024

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The League provided comments to the Board of Agriculture as the 2024 session began. Oregon agriculture is the second most important and most stable industry in Oregon because of the hundreds of “crops” grown here. The League will be following farm advocates to protect Oregon’s farmland and support opportunities to help these lands address climate change.


Air Quality 

The Cleaner Air Oregon (CAO) program established a prioritization protocol for calling-in existing facilities to perform their Risk Assessments. DEQ created three Prioritization Groups – with groups one and two consisting of 20 facilities each and all the remaining (about 300+) facilities in group three. DEQ began calling-in Group 1 facilities in March of 2019 and completed the call-ins for this group in March 2022. 


CAO has updated its website with information about Group 2call-ins. DEQ is proposing to call-in two facilities every other month beginning in April 2024. See the Prioritization website for details regarding Group 2 facilities including the proposed month and year call-in order. 


By Peggy Lynch

SB 5701, the 2024 omnibus budget bill was amended at the end of the session; scan for items of interest to you. Included in the amendments were eleven budget notes: instructions to agencies to collaborate on projects, to report back on how monies were spent and to study issues such as how to fund wildfire programs. 

HB 5201 and HB 5202 are the bonding bills, amended as well. Fees adopted by state agencies since the 2025 session were approved in SB 5702. HB 5203 modifies lottery and other revenue allocations within the resources predicted in the March 2024 revenue forecast. SB 1501 was the “program change bill”, used to address miscellaneous changes to agency programs. 

SB 1562 with the -1 amendment passed. It increases the limit for making contributions into the Rainy Day Fund from 7.5% to 12.5% of General Fund revenue but leaves the contribution cap unchanged at 1% of General Fund appropriations. 

Budgets 2025

By Peggy Lynch 

The 2025-27 agency budget process is beginning. The latest word is that revenue may only cover state agency Current Service Levels, the amount of money needed to fund current programs while also addressing expected cost increases, plus 1%. Look for presentations to agency Boards and Commissions. Agencies are to turn in their lists of additional funding to the Governor by April 30. The Governor’s office will consider which should be in the Agency’s Recommended Budget (ARB) by June 30. The Governor’s recommended budget is due to the legislature by Dec. 1st. The State Debt Policy Advisory Commission will provide bonding guidance in January, 2025. Below are a few of the first round of agency budget requests (Policy Option Packages—POPs) of natural resource agencies available at the publication of this report:

See this good video on Oregon property taxes. Cities and counties rely on property taxes for the services they provide. It’s possible that there will be property tax reform conversations 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/Barbara Keirnes-Young 

Included in the end of session SB 5701 was $572,019 in grant funding to the Oregon Ocean Science Trust. A League member attended the Trust meeting on March 22. The Board designed the beginning of a mission statement, linked to strategic priorities and the ranked priorities of the summit. There were areas important to the League: 

  • The work of the trust as significant to coastal communities, the state, the country, the world. 

  • Informing the public (not educating) will be important for engaging advocates and securing funding.

  • There are only two trusts of this kind in the world: Oregon and California. Working together may be a path to consider. 

The League is encouraged to engage with the Trust, including public outreach - advertising meetings, providing space, and inviting Trust members to League meetings. Intense competition for government grants will require advocacy and support so an informed public will be a critical part of the work. League advocacy at the legislature will further the quest for funding. The League has been an advocate from the formation of the Trust and continues with on-going funding support. A new group, the Oregon Ocean Alliance, has been formed to advocate for ocean funding in multiple agencies in 2025. 

The League signed a letter in support of HB 4132, Marine Reserves. The bill passed.


HB 5201 Enrolled increases the uses of the bond monies deposited in the Oregon Business Development Department Coos Bay Channel Fund in previous sessions not only to “deepen and widen the Coos Bay Federal Navigation Channel” but also “for the design, engineering, permitting and land acquisition efforts related to the Pacific Coast Intermodal Port project.“

The League provided comments on HB 4080-1 that would both address union labor IF offshore wind projects happen on our South Coast and create a robust public engagement process before project approval. The bill was amended and passed with monies to the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development to develop a “road map” with broad public engagement. The public process by the federal government Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has been lacking. Oregon Congressional members provided a letter requesting additional public comment time per this Oregon Capital Chronicle article. The Coastal Caucus and the Governor also sent letters of concern around the public process and asking for a delay.

Oregon's Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Plan was disapproved in 2015 under the federal Coastal Zone Amendments and Reauthorization Act. Since then, Oregon has been revising its plan. DEQ staff provided an update on Oregon's work to revise its plan and to resubmit it to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the fall of 2024. Although the Dept. of Forestry has also taken some steps to gain approval, it is unclear if these actions will help return federal funding to DEQ and to DLCD’s Coastal Program. 

The Oregon Capital Chronicle covered concerns around the effect of climate change on our warming oceans.

Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ)

By Peggy Lynch 

The League participated in an annual rules advisory committee meeting to consider increasing water quality program fees by 3%. The recommendation was approved by the Environmental Quality Commission.

Dept. of State Lands (DSL)

By Peggy Lynch 

Oregon’s land department received public input on its 10-year plan for managing state lands. The plan would increase the development of renewable energy and wildfire resiliency on state school lands and focus on maintaining and improving lands, rather than selling off land providing lower revenues. 

The agency’s new program on addressing Abandoned and Derelict Vessels is completing program implementation rules. On April 9, the State Land Board received an update (starting on page 112) on the work. The League has been engaged in this effort for years and was pleased by the passage of HB 2914 (2023).

See also Elliott State Research Forest below for DSL’s role in that project.

Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) 

From the Mineral Land Regulation and Reclamation Spring Newsletter: DOGAMI continues to experience an unprecedented volume of applications, inquiries, complaints, and compliance actions that has resulted in an increase in processing and response times.


Drinking Water Advisory Committee (DWAC)

By Sandra Bishop 

The League has a member on this committee.

Elliott State Research Forest (ESRF)

By Peggy Lynch 

The State Land Board approved the interim Advisory Group’s recommendation of a new structural governance on April 9. See the State Land Board’s packet starting on page 94. Appointments to the new ESRF Board are expected at their June 11tth meeting. The $4 million that had been allocated to the ESRF Authority was transferred to DSL in the omnibus budget bill, SB 5701. Work is continuing on eventual adoption of a Habitat Conservation Plan and a Forest Management Plan for the forest. Visit DSL's Elliott webpage to learn more


Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) covered the Environmental legislation considered in 2024. 

Forestry (ODF)

By Josie Koehne 

The Board of Forestry voted 4 to 3 to pass the proposed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for State Forests. You can read more in this OPB article

Part of the challenge in making this decision is that certain western Oregon counties and local jurisdictions have relied on the timber harvest income and have not increased their local property taxes or found other economic development opportunities to address this income loss. There have been discussions at the legislature around how to increase that revenue ever since the severance tax was eliminated, leaving only the Forest Products Harvest Tax, greatly reducing harvest revenue. The Governor has expressed interest in this discussion in 2025.

A number of bills this session were around funding ODF and fighting wildfire with some bills increasing timber harvest revenue without increasing the actual harvest. For information on the various bills, see the Wildfire section of this report below.

Land Use & Housing

By Peggy Lynch 

The Dept. of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) provided a summary of 2024 legislation. The League was engaged in a number of these bills. One, SB 1537, was the focus of an OPB Think Out Loud program. The bill was amended with input by the League (although we continued to oppose the urban growth boundary provision) and passed. The League supported HB 4134, providing infrastructure project monies for middle housing. SB 1530 included monies for specific infrastructure projects as well as a number of other programs supported by the League. The Governor was considering a veto of a few of the funded projects unless they will provide housing within five years.However, after a review of the housing projects and statements from the cities that housing will happen in a reasonable timeline, she provided a signing letter withdrawing her veto threat. A news release by the Senate President explains the elements of both bills. The League worked for months on housing policy and continues to do so for 2025. 

The League also provided testimony on HB 4099, a bill that would have provided a fund to help with development fees. Although this bill did not pass, a Revolving Loan Fund was provided in Section 24 of SB 1537 that will help with these costs. On Feb. 22, Rep. Hartman presented a number of housing concepts to be considered in 2025, including some water related programs, many of which the League has advocated for in the past. The Governor provided a signing letter expressing some concerns although she signed the bill. 

The Governor appointed a Housing Production Advisory Council (HPAC) in 2023. Their final report was submitted to the Governor in February and she will be reviewing which of the 59 ideas should be considered for the 2025 session. Her office is engaging with a wide variety of interested parties, including the League. We provided a number of comments to HPAC as they were considering these proposals. 

DLCD is seeking members for an Advisory Committee on Community Green Infrastructure Investment. Apply by April 28th.

HB 4026 passed. The bill determines that urban growth boundary (UGB) decisions cannot be voted on and are “administrative” in nature. The League provided testimony from a governance perspective. We are concerned that “the amendment would take away voters’ rights to the referendum process. Furthermore, changing the constitutional referendum process and making the amendment retroactive are likely to be unconstitutional and invite a lawsuit. “. A judge is allowing the North Plains vote on their UGB expansion while the issue winds through the courts.

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.


OPB provided an article on how pesticides can rid your home of cockroaches or farm fields of unwanted insects, but they also can harm fish and potentially even people.


By Camille Freitag 

The League weighed in again this year on a Right to Repair bill, SB 1596. We also joined others in support of the bill. The bill passed. Apple recently announced it will allow used parts in the repair of its products. 

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 Oregon E-Cycles rulemaking.

Recycling Modernization Act of 2021 (SB 582) which the League supported has a new rulemaking advisory committee with meetings posted on the Recycling 2024 website. You can attend these meetings.


Look for a 2025 conversation on how to fund multiple Oregon transportation needs. This effort was last addressed in 2017. The Oregon Capital Chronicle article provided some of the challenges facing legislators.


By Peggy Lynch 

The League continues to follow the concerns of Morrow and Umatilla County residents affected by nitrates in their drinking water. OPB shares the latest. KGW’s "The Story" did a series on this important public health issue the week of Nov. 13. 

The Oregon Water Resources Dept. (OWRD) has announced revised groundwater allocation rules. The department is providing multiple opportunities to engage. The League has been following this process. Read more in OPB’s article. We have not yet officially weighed in but expect to support the rules that require the Water Resources Dept. to approve only those groundwater permit applications where there are data to assure that the groundwater is available and will replenish when drawn down. For more context, please see the background information, informational flyer, and Frequently Asked Questions.

The Integrated Water Resources Strategy (IWRS) is being updated. There was a public comment on the first 2024 draft. A second draft will be available in May after incorporating comments from the April outreach. Columbia Insight did a great article about the project. The Oregon Water Resources Commission will hear public testimony and consider adoption of the 2024 IWRS at their September meeting. For more information about this process, please visit the IWRS page on their website. The League was actively involved in the first two IWRS documents and supported funding for the staffer to work on this project. 

The omnibus budget bill, SB 5701, included an allocation of $1 million General Fund added to the Water Well Abandonment, Repair and Replacement Fund. The League was engaged in helping create this fund in 2021 and supports this allocation. The legislature was provided with a report on HB 2145 (2021).

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. 

Quagga mussels continue to be a concern per an OPB article. The League agrees.

As we continue to address water shortages, it is time for each of us to take personal action per EPA's Fix a Leak Week website. “Common water leaks around your home include worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and leaking showerheads—all of which can be fixed with a little do-it-yourself effort,” said EPA Office of Wastewater Management Director Dr. Andrew Sawyers. “The average household’s leaks can account for nearly 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year—the amount of water needed to wash 300 loads of laundry—and could be adding as much as 10% to your water bill.”

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. The April 8th Water Report includes this information: The seasonal climate outlook indicates probabilities leaning towards below average precipitation for northwestern portions of the state and equal chances of above or below average precipitation for the rest of the state. The seasonal outlook also indicates probabilities favoring above average temperatures statewide.

We all need to pay attention to the potential for harmful algal blooms. “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. 


By Carolyn Mayers 

Amid welcome increased recognition this session among Legislators that the wildfire situation in Oregon is on an unsustainable trajectory in terms of funding across the board, that funding issue and the proposed solutions figured prominently, and are likely to continue to remain at the forefront in future sessions. Also, there were some notable shifts in messaging from the wildfire community. One shift was the acknowledgement that wildfires in the Western part of the State are increasing in frequency, as outlined in this KTVZ report on an OSU/U.S. Forest Service study released in February. Chief Mariana Ruiz-Temple, Oregon State Fire Marshal, throughout the session and even before it began, repeatedly stressed that Oregon is in uncharted waters with this development, calling it “alarming”, since these communities are not prepared. The other noticeable shift was more urgent language around the need for meaningful investments in funding of mitigation measures, with one expert stating, “We are not going to suppress our way out of this crisis.”

Set against that background, the 2024 Short Session saw an unusually large number of wildfire related bills, including 3 very different bills, each with a different approach to addressing the lack of adequate, sustainable wildfire program funding. HB 4133, which was supported by the Governor, SB 1593, on which the League gave testimony in favor, and HJR 201/HB 4075; however, all failed. In spite of the dire need, the right solution could not be found. This Capital Chronicle article provides a good accounting of each of the bills and their collective demise. In hindsight, perhaps a short session didn’t provide adequate time to refine any one of these very complex bills, all with good elements, to a point where any of them could garner the support needed to pass. One bit of good news is that this Budget Note was included in the SB5701 Budget Reconciliation bill, which directs the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and the Department of the State Fire Marshal to convene a facilitated workgroup to collaborate on finding sustainable wildfire funding solutions with stakeholders representing a broad swath of interests. As suggested in the opening paragraph above, this remains a high-priority, difficult problem with no simple solution. So, the work continues.

Ironically, the one bill that could have directly addressed the community wildfire mitigation issue also failed. SB 1511 would have created a Neighborhood Protection Cooperatives Grant Program, administered through the Dept. of the State Fire Marshal. It also would have directed the Dept. of Business and Consumer Services to work with insurance companies to explore the possibility of “rewarding” communities that participate in standardized risk reduction programs with more favorable rates for homeowners’ insurance. The League testified in support of this bill.

One bill that did pass, as is mentioned in the above referenced OPB article, was SB 1520. This bill provided for an income tax subtraction for settlements or judgments received by wildfire damage victims, covering payments for damages incurred as far back as 2018. The impetus for this bill was that legal settlement and judgment proceeds were being taxed at 70%, with the remaining 30% also being taxable income, and legal fees not being deductible, leaving little left with which to rebuild. California already had passed similar legislation. The passion and motivation to get this bill passed was palpable, and it did so unanimously. And in another win for wildfire victims, SB 1545 also passed, which allows counties to offer a property tax break to wildfire victims who rebuild their homes.

Another bill that passed, HB 4016, was an omnibus wildfire bill which provides some technical fixes and tweaks to a prescribed fire liability program, extends the deadline for home hardening grants to wildfire victims, and requires the Department of Consumer and Business Services and the Oregon State Fire Marshal to report to natural resources-related committees of the Legislative Assembly by September 15, 2024 on a proposal for a proactive home hardening program. This would theoretically establish a program designed to support home hardening efforts in advance of wildfire events, as opposed to the current program which only applies to rebuilds of homes destroyed by wildfire. This is one of many mitigation measures homeowners could take advantage of to help mitigate wildfire damage.

Speaking of the need to mitigate wildfire damage in communities, ODF recently announced that Oregon ranks the #2 state in the nation in the number of active Firewise USA sites. In 2023, Oregon added 39 new sites creating more fire-adapted communities. Jackson County with 75 sites and Deschutes County with 73 sites are 4th and 5th in the number of sites in a county. This type of neighborhood level cooperation is a key factor in limiting the catastrophic losses associated with the new reality of increasing size, number and severity of wildfire events.

Finally, the reworked Wildfire Hazard map has been under development, with a draft map having been shared with Counties around the State to gather feedback. Rulemaking Advisory Committee meetings were held in March. These will be followed by more public outreach, and it is anticipated the new map should be ready for release by January, 2025, at the latest. The Governor’s Wildfire Programs Advisory Council continues to meet and will follow the mapping project as well as other wildfire policy issues. 

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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