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Legislative Report - Week of 2/19

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By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator, and Team


By Peggy Lynch

SB 5701 is the 2024 omnibus budget bill. It is currently populated with the items approved during the November and January Legislative Days. Budget requests are being considered as the Co-Chairs determine the money to be spent or saved. It has been reported that the cost for behavior health and community safety will be between $180 and $235 million. The main housing bills are expected to cost about $350 million. Legislators have shared that there may be another $1-2 billion funding requests to consider, but not enough revenue to allocate. 

Look for bills sent to Ways and Means (W&Ms) to be considered in their Subcommittees ONLY when they have been approved by the W&Ms Co-Chairs and Senate and House Leadership. We should see those bills posted to those Subcommittees this week and next. Many bills sent to W&Ms will still be there at the end of session. 

HB 5201 and HB 5202 are the bonding bills. Like General Fund requests, there are more bonding requests than money to allocate. The Feb. 16 public hearing in W&Ms Capital Construction was evidence of that fact. 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. 

SB 1562 with the -1 amendment has passed Senate Finance and Revenue. 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.

The Joint W&Ms met Feb. 23rd and approved a list of grant requests and reports. 

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. One concern is that mediocre returns and rapidly inflating payrolls are causing actuaries to predict that PERS will need about $6 billion in 2025-2027, hundreds of millions more than in the current biennium.

Personal income taxpayers can determine their kicker amount using a “What’s My Kicker?” calculator on Revenue Online.


By Claudia Keith and Team 

See the Climate Emergency section for overlaps. We encourage you to read both sections.

Coastal Issues

By Christine Moffitt/Peggy Lynch 

HB 4080 A was moved to Ways and Means on Feb. 14th related to offshore wind energy. Important to the League will be financing the public engagement in the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development’s (DLCD) Coastal Program as required by the bill. The League provided comments on HB 4080-1 and continues to advocate for funding for public engagement and staff at DLCD. On Feb. 22nd, “the Oregon Legislative Coastal Caucus has issued a resounding call for the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to address significant concerns before advancing offshore wind projects off the coast of Oregon. In a letter to BOEM Director Heidi Klein, the Caucus expressed extreme disappointment with BOEM's decision to finalize two Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) without adequately addressing the concerns of coastal communities, industries, and tribes.”

The League signed on to a letter in support of HB 4132, Marine Reserves. Currently there is a fiscal request of just under $900 M for this biennium. The bill is scheduled for a Feb. 26th work session in W&Ms Natural Resources.

Oregon’s Coos Bay Estuary is reported to be a “blue carbon”source that will help Oregon address climate change. That is no news to our local Coos Bay League who continue to advocate for this largest of Oregon’s estuaries.

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. 

Elliott State Research Forest (ESRF) 

By Peggy Lynch 

The League supports the $4.1 million that had been set aside in 2023 for the former proposed separate ESRF state agency to instead be added to the DSL budget as the managers of the ESRF. The League encourages you to listen to the one-hour Feb. 19th Ways and Means Natural Resources Subcommittee meeting where a diverse set of groups provided testimony. LWVOR has been engaged in the Elliott discussion since 2014. 

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. 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 the last of their community conversations on February 28th as they do strategic planning. The public is encouraged to participate. On Feb. 23rd the Board of Forestry had a special meeting on Post-Disturbance Harvest Rulemaking. 

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

Land Use & Housing

By Peggy Lynch 

The major housing bills, SB 1537 and SB 1530 A, have been scheduled for a Work Session in the Ways and Means SubCommittee on Transportation and Economic Development. We understand that there may be some “technical fixes” in SB 1537 in W&Mw. A news release by the Senate President explains the elements of both bills. Also on the agenda is 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. We may see elements of HB 4128 A. 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 are hopeful that, if some of those projects are added to HB 4134, the criteria in HB 4134 will apply.

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

Follow the Oregon Housing Needs Analysis (OHNA) Rulemaking Committee on the 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 joined others in support of the bill. The bill passed the Senate Chamber on Feb. 19th and is headed to the House Committee on Business and Labor for a Feb. 26th Public Hearing and Work Session.

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. DEQ is holding its first meeting for the Oregon E-Cycles Rulemaking Advisory Committee on March 7 at 9 a.m. – noon. To attend this virtual meeting, please pre-register via the Zoom online platform. To learn more about this rulemaking and the advisory committee please visit the Oregon E-Cycles rulemaking web page.


By Peggy Lynch 

The amended HB 4128 sent to Ways and Means includes a $3 million allocation to be 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. 

On Feb. 27, there will be an Informational Meeting on “Needs of Very Small Community Water Systems”. The League continues to advocate for clean, safe drinking water for all and the issues of trained staff as well as cost of repairs and upgrades are very real. On Feb. 22, in the House Committee on Housing and Homelessness, Rep. Hartman presented concepts to be considered in 2025, including a number of water related programs, many of which the League has advocated for in the past. 

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 be open March 1st - 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 available on the internet as well as in person. 

The Department of State Lands is creating a new statewide program (Abandoned and Derelict Vessels) to address hazardous vessels across Oregon. They want your feedback on the proposed program framework. Share your input by March 8th! See the proposed framework for the ADV program here (PDF). The League has supported 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 starting March 5th. An updated draft is then anticipated to 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. The League hopes members will engage since we were actively engaged in the original legislation and in the first two IWRS documents. We understand this new draft takes an entirely new slant from the current IWRS. It will be important that the original documents not be invalidated but instead enhanced by this proposal. 

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 week began with some welcome progress on at least one of the wildfire funding bills the League has been following. On February 19, the House Climate and Energy met and voted to send Rep Marsh’s omnibus wildfire bill,HB 4016-1, on home hardening and prescribed fire liability, to the floor with a do-pass recommendation. The amendment removed the portion of this bill set up to fund wildfire smoke programs, eliminating the need to refer the bill to Ways and Means. It subsequently passed the House on Feb 21, referred to Senate Natural Resources and Wildfire, for Feb. 27 public hearing and Feb. 29th work session. 


Next up was a Sen Vets, etc. mtg on emergency preparedness. Chief Mariana Ruiz-Temple, Dept of the State Fire Marshal (DFSM) gave a “State of the State” presentation on Oregon fire service and challenges faced. She referred to the fire service “crisis”. Among challenges are a decreasing volunteer pool, recruitment and retention problems, increasing homeless impacts including tent fires, growing wildfire event intensity and size, and firefighter behavioral health issues due to trauma and stress associated with job demands. A KTVZ study report recently released by Oregon State University reinforces current and future increase in wildfires, both geographically and in intensity, trending towards more fire on the “Westside”, west of the Cascades. The bad news is these fires have the capacity to become mega-fires due to the very factors that make them less frequent - seasonal moisture combined with lots of vegetative growth, which accumulates fuel for fires. Chief Ruiz-Temple was followed by the Row River Fire Response. This is a Rural Fire District established by community members in response to having NO fire protection DURING a fire that occurred in a neighborhood that burned 5 homes. They believe their successful public/private partnership could serve as a model for other communities around Oregon. A slide show describing their inspiring journey is worth a look, revealing a fire protection system gap.


The League is following two bills, SB 1520-2 and HB 4007, relating to an income tax subtraction for settlements or judgments received by wildfire damage victims. Subtle differences between the two bills are being worked out in Sen Finance and Revenue and House Revenue. The impetus is that legal settlement and judgment proceeds are taxed at 70%, with the remaining 30% also being taxable income, and legal fees paid are not deductible. This results in homeowners hoping to rebuild being left with a small fraction of the initial reward, sometimes a little as 15%. California has passed similar legislation. To complicate things, Federal tax law in this area is also under review and the outcome will affect the final details of how these bills are implemented, since there is some overlap. On February 22, Sen Finance and Revenue adopted the SB 1520-2 amendment, which fixed some problems identified during public testimony, and sent it to the floor with a do pass recommendation. At this meeting, a SB 1545 work session was held, which would allow counties to offer a property tax break (using assessment from ’20-21) to owners of destroyed homes rebuilt after the 2020 wildfires. A Feb 26 work session is scheduled before the same Committee.


The League has also observed some limited movement on the various wildfire funding bills. A good summary of their various stages may be found in this excellent Capital Chronicle Feb 22nd overview. Rep Evans’ public safety and wildfire funding bills, HJR 201 and HB 4075 , are “effectively dead”, according to the article, having received over 1,400 written comments, 99% opposing. Sen Golden’s wildfire funding bill, SB 1593 with amendment, would fund a study of the use of a severance tax to fund wildfire programs. (A severance tax applies to the value of trees harvested. A forest products harvest tax which Oregon currently has is levied on the volume of harvested timber.) That bill has a Feb. 28th public hearing before Sen Finance and Revenue. The League will provide testimony in support of the proposed amendment. Sen. Steiner is also scheduled to share “Funding Wildfire Mitigation and Suppression” information. We can assume she will be discussing her HB 4133-3 bill, still in House Revenue. 

Last but certainly not least, the latest version of Rep Marsh and Sen Steiner’s bill, HB 4133-3, was heard on Feb 22 before House Revenue. Sen Steiner and Doug Grafe, the Governor’s Wildfire and Military Advisor explained explained several bill changes. The first change relates to a split of funds raised by the measure between the General Fund and the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) Large Fire Fund, which this bill would establish. The second, in a needed attempt to broaden the conversation, directs ODF and DSFM to work with stakeholders to develop options for sustainable funding for wildfire suppression and mitigation. It was noted that Rep Marsh and SenGolden, and various fire agencies, would most likely be at the table. This is, at least in part, in response to opposition/reservations voiced by several State firefighter organizations. Toward that end, Senator Steiner submitted this letter to presiding officers. The final change relates to a land reclassification moratorium which affects the rates landowners pay for fire protection while details continue to be ironed out. Ironically, several members of the Committee expressed their difficulties in understanding this complex bill which was, in theory, designed to make the wildfire funding model less complex. A Work Session was scheduled for February 26 before this Committee.


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. 


On Feb 28, there will be an informational meeting on the Wildfire Hazard Map in the House Committee on Climate, Energy and Environment.


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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