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Legislative Report - Week of 2/12

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By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator, and Team

Air Quality

The Dept. of Environmental Quality presented information on the status of our Title V air quality program fees after the significant increase adopted in 2023.


By Peggy Lynch 

The budget bills for the session have been filed. SB 5701 is the omnibus budget bill for 2024. It is currently populated with the items approved during the November and January Legislative Days. We know there are state agency adjustments that have been requested, as well as monies to be saved in case of emergencies (such as our summer wildfire season) and changing needs under the Oregon Health Authority and Dept. of Human Services before the 2025 session. Also added to this bill at the end of session will be this session’s revenue requests and adjustments. Look for bills sent to Ways and Means to be considered in the Ways and Means Subcommittees ONLY when they have been approved by the Ways and Means Co-Chairs and Senate and House Leadership. Many bills sent to Ways and Means will still be there at the end of session. 

HB 5201 and HB 5202 are the bonding bills. They had a public hearing on Feb. 16 in Ways and Means Capital Construction where a multitude of requests were shared in 2-minute testimonies. Like the budget bill, these bills will reflect changes and possible additions to the 2025 approved bonds. Bonding capacity remains the same: $65.8 million in remaining general obligation bond capacity and 27.4 million in remaining lottery bond capacity for the 2023-25 biennium.

SB 5702 will be populated with new or increased fees adopted by state agencies since the 2025 session. HB 5203 and HB 5204 were also filed. One will be the “program change bill” to address miscellaneous changes to agency programs. The other is held in case it is needed. It may be used for containing revenue requests due to Measure 110 changes. 

The Joint Committee on Ways and Means met on Feb. 16th when they approved a list of grant requests and accepted an even longer list of reports. If the grants are awarded, they will need to be approved by the legislature in order to be spent. The reports are used to help the legislature follow up on bills passed and/or agencies funded in past sessions. 

For budget wonks, the Oregon Legislative Fiscal Office has published its 2023-25 Legislatively Adopted Budget Detailed Analysis, which provides 632 pages of agency program descriptions; analysis of revenue sources and relationships; discussions of budget environment; and review of budget decisions made by the Legislative Assembly for the 2023-25 biennium. This document will be updated after the 2024 session.

The agency budget process for 2025-27 is beginning. Look for presentations to agency Boards and Commissions soon. Quarterly revenue forecasts will be provided on May 29 and August 28. Then the November 20th forecast will be the basis of the Governor’s Recommended Budget to be presented on December 1st

Personal income taxpayers can determine the amount of their kicker using a “What’s My Kicker?” calculator available on Revenue Online. To use the calculator, taxpayers will need to enter their name, Social Security Number, and filing status for 2022 and 2023. Taxpayers may also hand-calculate the amount of their credit by multiplying their 2022 tax liability before any credits—line 22 on the 2022 Form OR-40—by 44.28 percent. January 29th was the first date to file 2023 tax returns.


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   

In a surprise announcement as covered by the Oregonian, the federal government finalized two offshore wind energy areas that will allow leases to be sold off the coast of Coos Bay and Brookings. 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 any projects are approved. HB 4080 A was moved to Ways and Means on Feb. 14th. Important to the League will be financing the public engagement by the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development’s Coastal Program as required by the bill. 

The League signed on to a letter in support of HB 4132, Marine Reserves. The bill is in Ways and Means. Currently,  there is a fiscal request of just under $900 million for this biennium.

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 will be considered by the Environmental Quality Commission later this year. Among the items discussed were the efficiency of the agency’s permitting and the number of certified staff needed throughout Oregon to ensure the drinking water and wastewater permit requirements are met for the public health of all Oregonians. 

Dept. of State Lands (DSL) 

By Peggy Lynch  

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is working with DSL to identify In Lieu lands (part of the 1,400 acres of lands owed the State of Oregon on statehood that have not yet been allotted to Oregon). Click here to view the BLM Proposed Classification Decision and a public notice that two forestland properties in Linn County that have been identified to meet the criteria for some of those In Lieu lands. Learn more and provide public comment through April 9, 2024. 

Drinking Water Advisory Committee

By Sandra Bishop   

The Drinking Water Advisory Committee (DWAC) meeting was postponed to February 20th. Agenda.


Elliott State Research Forest (ESRF) 

By Peggy Lynch  

The State Land Board received a report (See information starting on page 133) on the plans for the ESRF under Dept. of State Lands (DSL) management. The Land Board approved the plan. The Ways and Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources will receive a request on Feb. 19th from DSL asking that the $4.1 million that had been set aside for the former proposed separate ESRF state agency to instead be added to the DSL budget as the managers of the ESRF. Also at the Ways and Means meeting, Oregon State University will provide context and concerns regarding their future role in the  ESRF. 

In the meantime, work is continuing on the eventual adoption of a Habitat Conservation Plan and a Forest Management Plan for the forest. Visit DSL's Elliott webpage to learn more. A recommendation with structural governance may be before the State Land Board on April 9. If approved, look for appointments to the new ESRF Board at their June 11tth meeting. 

Forestry (ODF) 

The Oregon Dept. of Forestry is holding community conversations in February as they do strategic planning. The public is encouraged to participate. On Feb. 23rd the Board of Forestry will have a special meeting on Post-Disturbance Harvest Rulemaking. Agenda.

There are several bills this session around funding wildfire. For information on the various bills, see the Wildfire section of this report below.

Land Use & Housing

By Peggy Lynch

A -9 amendment was adopted into the Governor’s land use/housing bill, SB 1537, and sent to Ways and Means. One major element of contention was that urban growth boundaries could be  expanded without using the current process. The acreage in the amendment reduced that expansion acreage by one-third. Much of the money in the original bill was removed as was the climate/housing electrification section. However, SB 1530 A also passed out of committee and included some of the money that had been included in SB 1537. A news release by the Senate President explains the elements of both bills. 

As part of the effort to provide infrastructure so housing can actually be built, the League supported HB 4134 A that includes a list of infrastructure projects in small towns around Oregon to be funded with a promise of new housing, especially for middle income Oregonians. Additionally, HB 4128 A was amended and also moved to Ways and Means. The League is concerned that HB 4128A lists monetary grant awards to certain cities for water infrastructure without clarity on what projects will be funded. We look forward to the Ways and Means recommendations on spending for specific infrastructure projects that can help housing development, especially affordable housing development. 

The Citizen Involvement Advisory Committee is recruiting for a new member from Oregon’s Third Congressional District. Applications are due by March 18, 9 a.m.

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.


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 was amended and will be on the Senate Chamber floor on Feb. 19th.


By Peggy Lynch  

The amended HB 4128 sent to Ways and Means includes an allocation of $3 million to be added to the Water Well Abandonment, Repair and Replacement Fund. The League was engaged in helping create this fund in 2021.

The Dept. of Environmental Quality updated the legislature on their Water Data Portal Project. The League is supportive of this project that will create a database of water and infrastructure from nine of our state water agencies. 

We hope Leaguers will engage with the Oregon Water Resources Dept. as they consider changes to Oregon’s groundwater rules. This slide deck was presented at their last rules advisory committee meeting. A written public comment period will open March 1st through June 1st. Regional meetings will be held April 4th in Bend, April 18 in La Grande, May 16 in Central Point and May 21st in Salem, with the Salem meeting being available virtually as well as in person. 

The Department of State Lands is creating a new statewide program, Abandoned and Derelict Vessels (ADV), to address hazardous vessels across Oregon. They want your feedback on the proposed program framework. Share your input by Friday, March 8th! See the proposed framework for the ADV program here (PDF). The League has supported the creation of this program and the funding needed to remove these hazardous vessels from Oregon’s waterways.

OWRD anticipates releasing a draft of the updated Integrated Water Resources Strategy (IWRS) for public review and comment in March. An updated draft should be available for a second public comment opportunity in May. 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 hopes members will engage since we were actively engaged in the original legislation and in the first two IWRS documents. As a result of that work, our state water agencies have been funded to a greater degree than ever before. 

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. 

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, Lake, Jackson, Gilliam, Douglas, Lincoln and Morrow counties.


By Carolyn Mayers 

The League continues to monitor several wildfire funding bills this session. A work session was held on February 13 by the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Wildfire to discuss Senator Golden’s bill, SB 1511. This bill focuses on grant funding for community resilience programs, and standardizing homeowner risk mitigation measures as part of an exploration into potentially reducing insurance rates. The League testified in support of the bill. It passed the committee unanimously with a do-pass recommendation and was referred to Ways and Means because of the $5 million General Fund request.


Shortly thereafter, the House Committee on Revenue held a Public Hearing on HB 4133, Senator Steiner and Representative Marsh’s wildfire funding bill, which proposes changes in the harvest tax and forest protection districts, and creates a Large Wildfire fund in the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF). Another of the bill’s sponsors, Senator Lynn Findley, spoke first about the difficulties of rangeland landowners being able to afford the current rates for protection. He proposed that they need a long-term solution to the funding model, not a “one-time band-aid”. Senator Steiner walked the committee through the details of how the bill evolved and why, and how what they were presenting would be contained in a forthcoming amendment (which was still not available at the time of this report). She also emphasized that she saw this as the beginning of a process and that the work would continue after the session. 

Doug Grafe, the Governor’s Wildfire Director, followed and provided general information on the wildfire crisis and the differences between the current funding structure and the proposed structure. The Committee Chair, Representative Nathanson, asked about whether a long-term solution is needed, and Senator Steiner said there would be further discussions after session addressing both, rates and policy. This was followed by public testimony, most of which was neutral. The hearing was continued to February 14, at which time Senator Golden testified. One of his points was that if any bill ends up reducing the share of the burden the timber industry pays towards addressing wildfire, the conversation with voters about a new property tax will be more difficult. 

To continue with a busy February 13, Representative Evans spoke before the House Committee on Rules at a Public Hearing on his wildfire funding bills, HJR 201 and HB 4075. The end result of these bills would be the establishment of a public safety funding authority to help fund wildfire and other public safety issues by imposing up to $.25/1,000 of property tax. Requiring a Constitutional amendment, this would have to be approved by the voters. Chief Ruiz-Temple of the Department of the State Fire Marshal, and Mike Shaw, of ODF, both testified on the bill, taking neutral positions but emphasizing the need for a funding solution. Other testimony included opposition from the  League of Oregon Cities and the Association of Oregon Counties.


A work session scheduled for February 14, for Representative Marsh’s bill on prescribed fire liability and home hardening, HB 4016-1, before the House Committee on Climate, Energy and the Environment, was moved to February 19.


Finally, Senator Golden’s wildfire funding bill, SB 1593, has an amendment to fund a STUDY on

his proposed imposition of a timber severance tax, as opposed to the actual imposition of said tax. There will be a Public Hearing before the Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue on February 20. The League will provide testimony in support of the study of changing to a severance tax to provide more money to both the state and to the counties where timber is harvested. 


The League is so concerned with wildfire funding needs that we signed on to a budget request for additional monies to the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Dept. of Forestry to address Community Wildfire Protection and Landscape Resiliency. 


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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