Legislative Report - Week of 2/20
By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator, and Team
The Feb. 22 (quarterly) Revenue Forecast provided guidance to legislators as they consider bills for the next few months. Of course, it will be the May 17 forecast that will be used to balance the state 2-year budget for 2023-25. We now have a list of most of the bills to be heard this session—with the exception of some “priority” bills that take the permission from the Senate President or Speaker of the House. The next important date is March 17 when policy bills will need to be scheduled for a Work Session or they are dead for the session.
The quarterlyRevenue Forecast was shared on Feb. 22 in House Revenue. The Oregon Dept. of Energy (ODOE) budget (HB 5016) was heard on Feb. 21-23. The Oregon Marine Board agency presentation and public hearing will be 2/27. The Oregon Dept. of Forestry (ODF) budget (HB 5020) will be scheduled Feb. 28 & Mar. 1 & 2, with public testimony on March 2.
We understand that tentatively the Oregon Dept. of Agriculture (ODA) budget (HB 5002 and HB 5003) is scheduled for the week of March 13. Oregon Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) budget (SB 5509) week of March 20. Dept. of State Lands (HB 5037) mid-March and Dept. of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) (HB 5018 and HB 5019) week of March 27. No date has been announced for the Oregon Water Resources Dept. (OWRD) 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 $3.9 billion kicker money that is expected to be returned to taxpayers. 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. There are overlaps with this Natural Resources Report. We encourage you to read both sections.
Dept. Of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
The League provided testimony with concerns on SB 835. In listening to the bill sponsor, the concern is that DEQ is not equally administering permits. The bill seemed 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. The sponsor and DEQ are to clarify the concerns of the sponsor to assure that permits are being considered consistently. LWVOR agrees but wants to be sure that permits are given to use the same system ONLY if it is adequate and in good condition and able to handle the increased waste. This is a public health and safety issue.
Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI)
By Peggy Lynch
The DOGAMI budget (SB 5510) was heard. 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. SB 42 would require agencies to add even more factors related to business when calculating the cost of doing the rulemaking and those consequences. 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.
By Peggy Lynch
HB 2001 is being “stuffed” with the -8 amendment that includes a number of bills LWVOR supported. Section 11 would provide “financing, including refinancing, to local governments or housing developers for predevelopment costs, including infrastructure, site acquisition, planning, reports, surveys and consultants.” LWVOR testified in favor of SB 534 which is now incorporated into this bill as well as some other provisions, including HB 2889, the Oregon Housing Needs Analysis bill. A news release issued Feb. 22 announced that HB 5019 will be amended and will be the vehicle for funding the policies in HB 2001-8.
The Joint Semiconductor Committee Co-Chairs have introduced SB 4 that includes monies to help semiconductor industries and would allow the Governor to “supersite” industrial lands for this industry. The League is concerned with the land use provision. Some of the lands being considered are prime farmland. And some were promised as “rural reserves” in a “grand bargain” from about 10 years ago—so that farmers could plan for investments on that land for 40-50 years. We have supported the concept of “shovel-ready” lands for industry as well as housing, but infrastructure takes investment and it’s unclear if the monies requested in the bill will help pay for servicing any raw land. The need for infrastructure within our Urban Growth Boundaries should be addressed for these lands to be used for any need.
See also the Housing Report in the Social Policy section of this Legislative Report.
By Shirley Weathers
On February 13, the RAC member representing Waste Management proposed a number of changes to the schedule ODOE has put forward to address proposed rules for Division 050 of OAR 345 relating to radioactive waste. They requested that ODOE 1) grant an extension of the March 1 deadline for members of the RAC to submit informal input on the initial draft of proposed rules on radioactive waste for Division 050 of OAR 345 provided by ODOE to RAC members in December; 2) agree on a “new more protective approach” that “. . . will be designed to incorporate the most current radiological science;” 3) convene a series of RAC meetings beginning in April designed to obtain consensus on the new approach; and 4) accept a draft rule package of their own on the basis of their new proposed approach in lieu of submitting comments to the draft concepts currently before the RAC as developed by ODOE. On February 15, ODOE agreed to an extension and to explore possible April meeting dates with RAC members.
By Kathy Moyd
The League provided testimony on three recycling bills after doing research:
SB 542 requires original equipment manufacturers to make repair information available to consumer electronic equipment owners or independent repair providers. The League provided testimony in support, but pointed out two areas where changes should be made: clarify what was included under the bill and deal with the enforcement method. Preferred versions were included in the New York law.
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 provided written testimony after the public hearing.
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 provided written Testimony after the public hearing.
By Paula Grisafi
By Peggy Lynch
On Feb. 15, Governor Tina Kotek declared the first drought declaration of 2023, in Crook and Jefferson counties through Executive Order 23-05, and directed state agencies to coordinate and prioritize assistance to the region. All or a portion of Crook County has been classified as having exceptional drought (D4) conditions since early July 2021. The data indicates the 36-month average ending in January 2023 is by far the worst on record. Current conditions in the Crooked River watershed are less than 30% of the average and reservoir storage is only 10% full.
The Klamath and Harney basins may have groundwater restrictions in the future. The two Oregon regions are grappling with water shortages and could soon have new groundwater restrictions as a mega-drought continues to parch the U.S. West. The Water Resources Department may create new critical groundwater areas in Harney Basin in eastern Oregon and the Klamath Basin in southern Oregon, according to agency spokesperson Alyssa Rash. The decision would give the agency wide latitude to mandate groundwater use cuts by setting pumping limits or by denying new permits to pump from underground aquifers. The Oregon Capital Chronicle provided a good article on this important issue.
Place-based Planning is 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 create a special Fund for these regional planning efforts. The League testified in support of the Fund. We will work with others on the specific criteria listed for qualifying for access to the Fund.
The League participated in a meeting by Oregon Kitchen Table as the Integrated Water Resources Strategy is being updated. The meeting was to consider how to reach out to more Oregonians and what issues might be of interest. An LWV Deschutes member also attended and shared some of the Deschutes basin concerns.
We all need to pay attention to the potential for harmful algal blooms. “When in doubt, stay out.” We provided testimony in support of HB 2647, a bill that declares harmful algal blooms to be a menace to public health and welfare. An amendment will be considered to narrow the bill since some issues were addressed in previous sessions. 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.
We have an on-going drought throughout Oregon and League members may want to check the U.S. Drought Monitor, a map that is updated every Thursday.
What is your passion related to Natural Resources? You can help. The 2023 legislative session is almost halfway over. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Training will be offered.