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Legislative Report - Week of 2/5

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The 2024 short session runs Feb. 5 through March 10th. Bills in most committees must be scheduled for a work session by Feb. 12 and acted on by Feb. 19th in the first chamber. The legislative calendar is posted on the Oregon Legislature website.

Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) 

Lisa Charpolliz Hanson was confirmed by the Oregon Senate on Feb. 9th as the permanent Dept. of Agriculture Director

Air Quality 

The 2022 Air Quality Monitoring Report is now available on Oregon DEQ’s website.


By Peggy Lynch

On Feb. 7th, the House and Senate Revenue Committees heard the latest Revenue Forecast. The revenue from December was only up $76 million, but in closing the books for the 2021-23 session, an additional $446 million was returned to the General Fund unspent. There is about $1.656 billion total to be allocated. However, some legislators have shared that, because much of that money will need to be used for housing (the Governor asked for $600 million), Measure 110 costs (both behavior health and community safety), childcare ($78 million or more) and other priorities, there may be only $100 million for other legislator requests. Peter Wong of the Portland Tribune reports “Steiner said she wants to maintain the transfer of 1% of the budget’s ending balance to the state’s general reserve, known as the rainy-day fund, which is required by law. She also said an additional amount should be reserved for the full two-year cost of new programs started in this budget cycle.” “The economists have trimmed their outlook for revenue growth later this decade.”

LC 305 was filed on Feb. 7th as the beginning omnibus budget bill for 2024. (It will become a Senate Bill.) You will see items approved during the November and January Legislative Days in LC 305. Then there are state agency adjustments that have been requested. And monies to be saved in case of emergencies (such as our summer wildfire season) before the 2025 session and changing needs under the Oregon Health Authority and Dept. of Human Services. Currently there are concerns about revenue for that 2025-27 session so budget writers will want to keep money to cover those expected costs. 

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. See LC 308 and LC 309 that will be filled with bonding requests. These will be House bills and will show up in the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Capital Construction at the end of session. 

Every policy bill that is sent to Ways and Means will be considered with the recognition of this limited revenue and if there will be “roll-up” costs for 2025-27 or are they one-time expenditures. Look for those bills 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. 

As part of the 2025-27 costs, the average for PERS contributions is expected to go up from 18.6% to 19.7%, according to a Milliman projection at a PERS meeting on Feb. 2nd. That is slightly better than the 1.7% increase estimated last fall when the cost to the 2025-27 budget was estimated at $13 billion additional employer contributions. The official rate will be announced Oct. 4th.

The agency budget process for 2025-27 is beginning. Look for presentations to agency Boards and Commissions soon. More quarterly revenue forecasts will be provided before the Governor presents her budget by Dec. 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. Your 2023 tax returns could be filed starting January 29. 

Here is a good video on property taxes in Oregon. Cities and counties rely on property taxes for the services they provide. It’s possible that there will be conversations on property tax reform 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 

The League signed a letter in support of HB 4132, Marine Reserves. The bill passed the House Committee on Agriculture, Land Use, Natural Resources and Water on Feb. 8th and was sent to Ways and Means. Currently there is a fiscal request of just under $900 million for this biennium. The League adopted our position on Marine Reserves after doing our Coastal study in 2012. This bill recognizes the first ten years of this program, creates more specific requirements on its management and on-going public engagement. Those who were concerned about this program have, for the most part, joined us in celebrating its success. Dr. Sarah Klain will be the Oregon Marine Reserves Program’s new human dimensions project leader. 

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. It is expected that the federal government may approve leasing parts of federal waters for offshore wind projects as early as this fall. A Dept. of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) letter provides more information. 

Dept. of State Lands (DSL)

By Peggy Lynch 

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is working with DSL to identify In Lieu lands (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 

A Dept. of State Lands interim advisory group on the ESRF met on Jan. 18 and again on Feb. 7, Feb. meeting materials. 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. The State Land Board will receive a report at their Feb. 13th meeting. A recommendation with structural governance may be before the Land Board on April 9. If approved, look for appointments to the new ESRF Board at their June 11th 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 a number of bills this session around funding wildfire. For information on the various bills, see the Wildfire section of this report below.

Land Use & Housing/Dept. of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) 

By Peggy Lynch 

The League has been engaged in discussions for months on the Governor’s land use/housing bill, SB 1537. A -4 amendment has been filed that reflects many of the changes as a result of multiple work groups engaged in this important bill. This bill and others may see additional amendments and be worked in the Senate Committee on Housing and Development on Feb. 13. As part of the effort to provide infrastructure so housing can actually be built, the League supported HB 4134 with testimony. The bill that will have a Work Session on Feb. 13th. The bill 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.

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. 

The Department of Land Conservation and Development is recruiting committee members for rulemaking for Goal 9 and certain Economic Opportunities Analyses processes. Applications to serve on the Rulemaking Advisory Committee (RAC) must be submitted by midnight on February 13th.

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. There will be another public hearing on Feb. 13 in the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment ONLY for those who had signed up last week and didn’t get to speak. Then a work session is also scheduled for that same day. There are a number of amendments listed on OLIS. We understand that the fiscal (cost) of administering the bill has been removed because the Dept. of Justice has an existing fund for enforcement that is adequately resourced to meet the need.

Meeting materials for the fifth Recycling Modernization Act Rulemaking Advisory Committee have been posted on the Recycling 2024 website. The meeting will be held on Feb. 14 on Zoom. The next meetings are scheduled for March 14th and April 3rd. To attend please Register via Zoom. To learn more about this rulemaking and the advisory committee, view the rulemaking web page at: Recycling Updates 2024.


By Peggy Lynch

The Oregon Water Resources Dept. is considering recommending changes to Oregon’s groundwater rules to the Water Resources Commission. This slide deck was presented at their last rules advisory committee meeting. A written public comment period will open from 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 on the internet as well as in person. It is expected that the Oregon Water Resources Commission will consider and may adopt the new rules at their Sept. meeting. The League is watching this work closely as is LWV Deschutes County and looks forward to the Water Resources Commission's adoption of this first set of updated rules which can then lead to updated Critical Groundwater designations as the data determines is necessary. In the meantime, many Oregonians are experiencing dry household wells. 

Updates on the Lower Umatilla Groundwater Management Area (LUGWMA) and our fellow Oregonians who are suffering from dangerous nitrates in their domestic wells: OPB and the Oregon Capital Chronicle provided articles as we follow this serious public health issue. 

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 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 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 the 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. 

Quagga mussels, a serious invasive species that can raise havoc with water infrastructure, were discovered on a boat coming into Oregon from Lake Mead. Oregon needs to consider funding to address this invasive problem as Idaho is doing. Look for this issue to be addressed in 2025. It is a current license program at the Oregon State Marine Board with transfer of funds to the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife who use that money for an inspection program at Oregon’s borders that found those invasives. The League assisted in support of these programs. 

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 short session is underway, and things in the wildfire arena are, pardon me for this, heating up!


Leading up to the short session was a meeting of the Governor’s Wildfire Programs Advisory Council (WPAC) on Jan. 19. Doug Grafe, the Governor’s Wildfire Director, started things off with an overview of the bills the Council will be tracking and working on with legislators.


Much time was spent on two upcoming bills from Senator Golden. The first, SB 1511, would create a Neighborhood Protection Cooperatives Grant Program, administered through the Dept. of the State Fire Marshal. It would also direct the Dept. of Business and Consumer Services to work with insurance companies to explore the possibility of “rewarding” communities that participate in these standardized risk reduction programs with more favorable rates for homeowners’ insurance. The League testified in support of this bill at a public hearing on Feb. 8 before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Wildfire.


The second bill discussed at the WPAC meeting was Senator Golden’s funding bill, SB 1593, which would repeal the current forest products harvest tax regime and impose a new version of the timber severance tax, which was repealed in the 1990s with devastating consequences for wildfire program funding. The new tax would apply to private lands with larger than 500 acres of timber and would provide funding to counties and to programs to protect homes, neighborhoods and water supplies from wildfire damage. This bill would be a referral to the voters. Two other funding bills were presented, and details of those can be found later in this report.


There was also discussion of HB 4016, which provides some technical fixes and tweaks to a prescribed fire liability program and establishes funds related to responding to wildfire smoke and home hardening. The League also monitored a public hearing on this bill on Feb. 5 before the House Committee on Climate, Energy and Environment.


Closing out the WPAC meeting there was a presentation from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) on “The 20-Year Strategy – The Future of Landscape Resiliency in Oregon” and highlights of past and ongoing work to address fuels on the landscape, especially around communities. There appears to be a growing focus on the needed strengthening of the partnership and coordination between federal and state agencies with regard to our wildfire crisis. This is evidenced by these same organizations giving similar, expanded presentations to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Wildfire on Feb. 6th which was followed by the League.


As previously mentioned, the League is following two other wildfire funding bills that have been introduced this session. The first, HB 4133, chiefly sponsored by Reps. Marsh and Owens and Sens. Steiner and Findley, makes changes related to the forest products harvest tax, establishes a State Forestry Dept. Large Wildfire Fund, and makes changes related to forest protection districts. That bill’s original iteration had a $10 tax on each property in Oregon, but that provision has since been dropped. 


Finally, Rep. Paul Evans has introduced HJR 201 and HB 4075. HB 4075 would set up a task force to develop a plan for the legislature to establish a statewide public safety funding authority in Oregon. The Authority would have taxing power of up to $0.25/$1,000 property tax value. The establishment of this body requires a constitutional amendment which would have to be referred to the voters in the next general election in Nov. 2024. HB 4075 only takes effect if HJR 201 is approved by the voters. This article outlines some of the pros and cons of each bill. 


Update: The League will be signing 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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