Legislative Report - Week of 2/6
By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator, and Team
LWVOR has a statutory seat on the OHA’s Drinking Water Advisory Committee and we need a volunteer! Bills are being heard quickly as the session moves toward the first deadline: Feb 21 is the last date to file new bills, with a few exceptions. Then March 17 is the deadline for bills to get a Work Session (to be considered to vote on, in committee) with April 4 the last day for those bills to be voted on by the committee in the first chamber. With only 1.5-hour hearings twice a week, committees are struggling to hear bills assigned to them. One committee chair stated that they will only get to about one third of all the bills assigned to them.
SB 530, the Natural Climate Solutions bill, will be heard Feb. 15 in Senate Natural Resources. See more info in the Climate section of this legislative report.
Natural Resource agency budgets are beginning to be heard. This week SB 5527, the budget bill for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept. was heard. Meeting materials will help explain the agency’s budget. The League may provide testimony on the budget on Feb. 9.
See below in Land Use on the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development budget (HB 5027) up for hearing Feb. 13 with public testimony Feb. 14. The Dept. of Geology and Mineral Services budget (SB 5510) is up Feb. 15 with public testimony on Feb. 16. They have yet to provide a formal informational sheet, but see below under DOGAMI info on policy option packages in the Governor’s budget.
See below in Water information on the Oregon Water Resources Dept. budget (HB 5043). No hearing dates have been announced.
We understand that tentatively the Oregon Dept. of Forestry budget (HB 5020) will be scheduled for the end of February. Oregon Fish and Wildlife (SB 5509) will be the week of March 20. Dept. of State Lands (HB 5037 ) will be held mid-March and Dept. of Environmental Quality (HB 5018 and HB 5019) at the end of March.
Governor Kotek’s first biennial budget is here. 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 use of those funds is not expected, nor is the kicker money 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. There are overlaps with this Natural Resources Report. We encourage you to read both sections.
By Christine Moffitt
The League has provided testimony in support of HB 2903, to require Fish and Wildlife and State Lands to implement a program around Oregon’s marine reserves and new management areas. For more information on this issue, please review the Surfrider Foundation testimony.
Department Of Environmental Quality
The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission met February 9 and 10, for a special meeting to interview the two DEQ Director position finalists (Leah Feldon and Jamie McLeod-Skinner). League members engage in this agency’s multiple missions and will be interested in the Commission’s decision. We will share results in our next report.
Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI)
By Peggy Lynch
The DOGAMI budget (SB 5510) is up Feb. 15 with public testimony on Feb. 16. They have yet to provide an informational sheet, but see below info on policy option packages in the Governor’s budget:
Package 101, MLRR ePermitting, has been approved in full (2 positions),
Package 104, Consolidated Mining Permit Lead 0.75 FTE retained, and 0.25 FTE added,
Package 106, Infrastructure Permit Support, has been approved in full, (2 positions),
Package 107, Unpermitted Surface Mining Program, has been adjusted to provide two Limited Duration positions (half of original proposal request).
Package 104 is a cost recovery position and paid for entirely by Paramount Gold Nevada (also known as the Calico Gold Mine project out of Vale, OR) under a budget line that is labeled Other Fund. Packages 101, 106, and 107 are General Fund Positions in 2023-25.
Elliott State Research Forest
By Peggy Lynch
The Elliott State Research Forest (ESRF) Authority Provisional Board of Directors met February 8 in Roseburg. Here is the Elliott website for more information. It was the first meeting of the new Board—a group that will be responsible for our new Elliott State Research Forest Authority—a new Oregon public agency as of Jan. 1, 2024. Topics discussed included brief project updates, review of a draft 2023 Elliott Work Plan, and discussion of the roles and responsibilities of the Board. Meeting materials. Meeting video will be posted to the Department of State Lands YouTube channel and meeting notes are posted to DSL's Elliott website here.
There is still much to be done. A contract needs to be written that will have OSU manage the Forest. We are still awaiting a clear financial plan, something LWVOR wants. The Shutter Creek facility is still being considered for the Forest, but again finances need to be clear. DSL is formally consulting with one of Oregon’s tribes on Feb. 23. DSL needs to decide to officially request the facility by March 1 and may have to pay for 12-months of maintenance (@ $30,000 per month) until all decisions are made about who owns what. The League did point out the importance of the Shutter Creek sewer system to the City of Lakeside. Lastly, the new public agency will need to go through the official state budget process in the 2024 legislative session.
By Peggy Lynch
The Dept. of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) Governor’s Budget bill (HB 5027) will be up for a hearing Feb. 13 with public testimony Feb. 14. The Governor invests heavily in the Oregon Housing Needs Analysis program (See HB 2889 below). But the wildfire and climate positions, among others, are not in the Governor’s budget.
SB 70 was heard Feb. 8 in the Senate Natural Resources. The bill amends the definition of high-value farmlands for residential rezoning of lands within the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Region from SB 16 (2021). LWVOR opposed SB 16 due to conversion of EFU lands and the need for water and septic systems for rural housing; however, it did pass in 2021. Because Malheur County has concerns about implementing SB 16 EFU definitions, SB 70 has been filed this session. LWVOR provided testimony in opposition, continuing to focus on water quality and quantity. It is unclear whether SB 70 significantly changes a definition of high value farmland such that others might be able to apply to build on land in irrigation districts.
More land requests are being considered by the Semiconductor Committee. Here is a KGW article on the land use requests.
HB 2889: Establishes Oregon Housing Needs Analysis within the Housing and Community Services Department. LWVOR supports. This is a Priority housing bill for LWVOR this session. We understand the bill will have amendments and may have another public hearing next week.
See also the Housing Report in the Social Policy section of this Legislative Report.
By Shirley Weathers
The Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) has indicated that it will publish its initial draft proposed rules after processing informal input from RAC members (deadline March 1) and will then convene an additional RAC meeting to review the draft rule language and outstanding policy issues sometime this spring.
By Kathy Moyd
The Right to Repair bill, SB 542, was heard in Senate Energy and Environment (SEE) Feb. 9. We have written testimony in support.
The remaining three “Zero Waste” bills related to polystyrene and plastics, SB 543, SB 544, and SB 545, will be considered during a public hearing in the SEE Feb 14th. We are preparing written testimony.
By Peggy Lynch
HB 2238 would allow for rulemaking to increase fees related to removal or fill permit applications, wetland delineation reports and general authorizations. The League supports this work to more fairly fund the removal/fill program among users while keeping some costs for the public because these are public lands.
By Paula Grisafi
LWVOR is following SB 426, the Toxics Free Schools bill. It has been assigned to Senate Education. We understand the hearing will be Feb. 23 and League testimony will support.
By Peggy Lynch
LWVOR has a statutory seat on the OHA’s Drinking Water Advisory Committee and we need a volunteer!
HB 2813, the Safe Drinking Water bill, was heard on Feb. 2. Here is the introductory presentation by Dylan Kruse of Sustainable Northwest and here is our testimony in support.
The League also provided testimony in support of HB 3125 to create a new Ratepayer Fund to help low income people pay for sewer and water bills.
The Oregon Water Resources Dept. (OWRD) provided their one-pager on the Governor’s Recommended Budget with the list of Policy Option Packages included. We will need to compare this document with the Agency Request Budget to determine what testimony LWVOR will provide when their budget is heard in Ways and Means.
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 2023 IWRS 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 the links below.
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 menace to public health and welfare. The bill is set to be heard in the House Committee on 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 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.
By Carolyn Mayers
The League monitored the Senate Natural Resources February 6 public hearing on SB 82, which prohibits insurance companies from using statewide map of wildfire risk as the basis for canceling policy or increasing premium, and SB 509, which requires the Oregon Department of Forestry to study community-based programs for reducing wildfire risk, among other things, and would declare an emergency upon passage so that grant funding and other program items can begin immediately. See Meeting materials. LWVOR provided testimony in support of the -1 amendment while expecting more amendments to continue to improve the bill. The updated January 2023 Annual Report of the Wildfire Programs Advisory Council was referenced as an extremely valuable and informative publication repeatedly throughout the hearing on SB 509.
An additional SB 505-1scheduled Public Hearing was delayed due to time constraint. It directs the Department of Consumer and Business Services to adopt wildfire hazard mitigation building code standards that apply to new dwellings and the accessory structures of dwellings.
In a new study (source), we found a 246% increase in the number of homes and structures destroyed by wildfires in the contiguous Western U.S. between the past two decades, 1999-2009 and 2010-2020.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Training will be offered.