Legislative Report - Week of 2/13
By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator, and Team
More bills filed and more bills scheduled for public hearings. We need to decide if LWVOR should testify or stay silent. Part of the time, we listen to the hearing and provide testimony after we better understand the purpose of the bill. In some cases, bills were filed before being complete, so we are seeing substantial amendments.
The League provided testimony on HB 5027, the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development budget, on Feb. 14. Last week, we provided testimony on SB 5527, the budget bill for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept. The Dept. of Geology and Mineral Services budget (SB 5510) was up Feb. 15 with public testimony on Feb. 16. The Oregon Dept. of Energy (ODOE) budget (HB 5016) is tentatively set to be heard on Feb. 20 and 21.
We understand that tentatively the Oregon Dept. of Forestry budget (HB 5020) will be scheduled at the end of February. Oregon Fish and Wildlife budget (SB 5509) week of March 20. Dept. of State Lands (HB 5037) mid-March and Dept. of Environmental Quality (HB 5018 and HB 5019) end of March. No date has been announced for the Oregon Water Resources Dept. budget (HB 5043). The agency provided their one-pager on the Governor’s Recommended Budget with the list of Policy Option Packages included.
See Governor Kotek’s biennial budget. For natural resource agency budgets, start on page 146 of the web document. The Governor’s budget is “balanced” with the use of the ending fund balances of $765 million from 2021-23 that would have gone to the Rainy-Day Fund. Oregon’s reserves are at $2 billion and those funds are not expected to be used, nor is the kicker money that is expected to be returned to taxpayers. More information on potential kicker distribution amounts will be provided during the Feb. 22 Revenue Forecast. Kicker amounts won’t be finalized until the 2021-23 budget is closed in Sept.
By Claudia Keith and Team
See Climate Report in the Climate Emergency section of this Legislative Report which overlaps with this Natural Resources Report. We encourage you to read both sections.
Dept. of Environmental Quality
The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission Feb. 10 appointed current interim Director Leah Feldon as the new director of the Department of Environmental Quality.
The League is reviewing SB 835, a bill that seems to require 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. Although we would agree that using the same system could be a best choice, we also know that the system and drainfield must be adequate to process the waste. An inspector is required when a new residence is added to a lot. That inspection should determine the need for a new or upgraded system if the current system is not adequate. LWVOR has supported an on-site septic grant and loan program for a number of years to assure that failing systems can be addressed.
Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI)
By Peggy Lynch
The DOGAMI budget (SB 5510) was up Feb. 15 with public testimony on Feb. 16. The League provided testimony, both supporting the Geologic Survey and Services Division where science is king and acknowledging the importance of the Mined Land Regulation and Reclamation (MLRR) Division, although we have concerns about the new General Funds proposed for the MLRR program—a program once only funded by fees.
By Peggy Lynch
The League noticed a couple of bills in Senate Rules and provided testimony in opposition. LWVOR often engages in rulemaking after legislation is passed. That is especially true in the natural resources area. SB 42 would require agencies to add even more factors related to business when calculating the cost of doing rulemaking and the consequences of the same. It goes so far as to allow only a few people to file a petition to hold rules hostage. The League provided testimony in opposition.
SB 38 would require certain agencies to process permits even if state or federal laws or rules changed during the permit processing. The League will provide testimony (link when approved) in opposition.
See also in the Governance section of this report.
By Peggy Lynch
The League continues to watch the Joint Semiconductor Committee as they push for more land for industrial use as noted in this OPB article. The League notes that often lands were rezoned from industrial use or used for less than really intended industrial uses. We supported the concept of “shovel-ready” lands for industry as well as housing, but infrastructure takes investment.
During the DLCD budget hearing, many local governments requested $30 million in General Funds to help implement the Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities (CFEC) rules recently adopted by the Land Conservation and Development Commission.
See also the Housing Report in the Social Policy section of this Legislative Report.
Parks and Recreation
From the Feb. 9 Statesman Journal: The number of people visiting Oregon’s outdoors plateaued just below record numbers in 2022 during another year of packed campgrounds and busy trailheads across the state. Oregon’s state park system recorded 52.2 million day visits and 2.97 million camper nights last year, the second-highest in the agency’s 100-year history. The numbers were down slightly from the record-setting 53.6 million day visits and 3 million camper nights in 2021.
By Kathy Moyd
SB 542 requires original equipment manufacturers to make available repair information to owners of consumer electronic equipment or independent repair providers. The League provided testimony in support, but pointed out two areas where changes should be made: deal with clarifying what was included under the bill and deal with the enforcement method. Preferred versions were included in the New York law. The remaining three bills have had public hearings:
SB 543 prohibits food vendors from using polystyrene foam containers in sales of prepared food. A -1 amendment was posted three hours before the public hearing; LWVOR is in the process of evaluating the amendment and developing testimony.
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% source reductions compared to 2023 levels by 2030. A -1 amendment was posted three hours before the public hearing; LWVOR is in the process of evaluating the amendment and developing testimony.
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. Directs department and authority to adopt rules allowing food establishments to reuse take-home food containers returned to restaurants by consumers. LWVOR is in the process of checking for amendments and developing testimony.
By Paula Grisafi
LWVOR is following SB 426, the Toxics Free Schools bill. It has been assigned to Senate Education, with a hearing on Feb. 21. The League will provide testimony in support.
By Peggy Lynch
Due to widespread drought and decreasing groundwater levels, if a drought emergency is declared in Klamath County, it is unlikely that the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) will issue Emergency Use Permits for groundwater. These permits are also known as drought permits. Exceptions may be made in cases where groundwater levels are found to be less impacted. … the Klamath Project Area has declined by approximately 20-30 feet over the past three years, with some parts experiencing a decline of over 40 feet since 2001.
The League has participated in the past two Integrated Water Resources Strategy (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 IWRS 2023 update. The League has been asked to reach out to our members. Here are opportunities:
OWRD and OKT will hold two identical Zoom calls for this discussion. If you are interested, please register for the one time slot that works best for your schedule, using these links:
February 21 at 2:00-3:00 pm https://bit.ly/Feb21OKT
February 23 at 9:00-10:00 am https://bit.ly/Feb23OKT
We all need to pay attention to the potential for harmful algal blooms. “When in doubt, stay out.” We will review HB 2647, a bill that declares harmful algal blooms to be a public health and welfare menace. The bill was heard in the House Agriculture, Land Use, Natural Resources and Water on Feb. 16.
Visit the Harmful Algae Bloom website or call the Oregon Public Health Division toll-free information line: 877-290-6767 to learn if an advisory has been issued or lifted for a specific water body.
We have an on-going drought throughout Oregon and League members may want to check the U.S. Drought Monitor MAP, updated every Thursday.
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: Above you can see the names of League volunteers who covered one or more issues. Volunteers are needed. What is your passion related to Natural Resources? You can help. The 2023 legislative session is at hand with over 2,000 bills already filed. Help! Natural Resource Agency Boards and Commissions meet regularly 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.