Legislative Report - Week of 3/13
By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator, and Team
St. Patrick’s Day has passed. And so has the chance for many of the more than 2,800 bills and resolutions introduced to pass this session. Bills in most policy committees needed to be scheduled for a Work Session by end of day on March 17 unless they are in Revenue, Rules or a Joint Committee. Their next important date is April 4 when they must pass out of the policy committee. One last tip: Watch for the “relating clause” on bills. Any bill can be amended or proposed to be amended if the content of the amendment fits within the relating clause. That’s why LWVOR gets nervous when we see “relating to land use” or “relating to water”! Of course, whatever the content, it must pass both the Senate and House and be signed by the Governor before becoming law.
The Dept. of Agriculture (ODA) budget (HB 5002 and HB 5003 ) was heard this week. The Ways and Means ODA presentation provides a great deal of data around Oregon agriculture. Note on page 37 where our nursery and cattle industries continue to vie for top commodity.
Look for the Ways and Means Co-Chairs Budget Framework to be provided this week to guide the Subcommittees as they consider all the agency budgets. That Framework will provide the amount of money each Subcommittee should expect to spend for their assigned budgets and any policy bills that might be assigned to them. Of course, the May 17 Revenue Forecast will provide the final guide.
The Columbia River Gorge Commission budget (HB 5008) was heard March 13. The League provided testimony in support. The Oregon Dept. of Agriculture (ODA) budget (HB 5002 and HB 5003 ) was heard March 14-15. Public testimony was due on March 16. Oregon Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) budget (SB 5509) is set for March 20-21 with public testimony on March 22. Dept. of Agriculture grant requests will be heard March 23. Dept. of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) (HB 5018 and HB 5019) budgets the week of March 27. Here’s the DEQ one-pager. Tentative date for the Oregon Water Resources Dept. (OWRD) budget (HB 5043) is early April. Here is their one-pager. The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) budget (SB 5539 & SB 5540 ) is tentatively scheduled the week of April 10. Legislators will need to assure that General Fund monies allocated in 2021-2022 drought and wildfire packages and awarded will be available for reimbursement if the projects go into 2023-25. That funding continuation was not included in the Governor’s budget for OWEB.
On March 15, the biennial Harvest Tax bill, HB 2087, had a public hearing. LWVOR provided comments expressing concerns but supporting if this bill is all that is available for helping fund forestry programs.
A Budget Report was provided for HB 2001 that clarifies that some monies are coming from 2021-23 while most from the 2023-25 biennium. The same is true in the Budget Report for HB 5019. Also, there is a Budget Note on pages 3-4 of the LFO Recommendation.
SB 4, semiconductor funding requests, has amendments and more public hearings and possible Work Sessions. SB 4 currently has a $210 million price tag but amendments could require sessions in House Revenue related to tax credits.
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.
By Christine Moffitt/Peggy Lynch
HB 3382, a bill that would provide certain Ports with an exception from our land use planning system to allow dredging and other activities around these Ports without the current public process and federal consistency requirements had a public hearing in the Joint Committee on Transportation. State agencies that administer permits that could be affected by the legislation provided information on their processes and implications of the proposed legislation on certain state permits. The League provided testimony in opposition. This bill is a serious threat to our Coastal Zone Management Plan and we have joined with other coastal advocates to oppose this bill. The only filed testimony in support came from the bill’s sponsor, the Oregon Ports Association, although a number of legislators testified in favor as did former State Rep. Brian Clem who is an investor in a container ship proposal at Coos Bay. The League expects to be engaged in discussions around the main reason for the bill (Coos Bay) as the sponsors seek to find a solution to their wish to deepen and widen the Coos Bay channel.
The Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) is considering the adoption of amendments to Part Three of the Oregon Territorial Sea Plan (TSP), the Rocky Habitat Management Strategy. A draft of the proposed rules and fiscal statements is available on DLCD’s website. A first public hearing for this rulemaking is set for March 22 in Newport at 12:00PM at the Guin Library on the Hatfield Marine Science Campus. LCDC is scheduled to consider adoption of the new amendments during their April 20-21 meeting. Please contact Casaria Taylor, Casaria.email@example.com for further information. Address written comments to the Chair LCDC, care of Casaria Taylor via email. If you have questions about the proposed rules, contact Andy Lanier at 503-206-2291, or email: Andy.Lanier@dlcd.oregon.gov. The agenda for LCDC’s April 20 meeting will be available on DLCD’s website. LWVOR has supported this work and may provide testimony before LCDC in April.
The Oregon Ocean Science Trust (OOST) has scheduled its next meeting for April 5 from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, in-person only but open to the public at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, Library Seminar Room – Guin Library,2030 SE Marine Science Drive, Newport. The meeting will focus exclusively on Strategic Planning. Oregon Ocean Science Trust/Oregon Department of State Lands webpage and Oregon Ocean Science Trust website.
Dept. of Environmental Quality
By Peggy Lynch
SB 835, a bill that seemed to require that DEQ or county public health, whichever is responsible for septic system permits, to approve the use of the septic system currently used by the primary residence to also allow an accessory dwelling unit to be connected to the same system. LWVOR provided testimony with concerns that seem to be addressed by the -1 amendment. The bill will have a Work Session on March 20.
Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI)
By Peggy Lynch
Elliott State Research Forest (ESRF)
By Peggy Lynch
The prospective Board for the ESRF met on March 13 and heard a draft budget presentation. The League continues to follow the transition to a separate state agency, the ESRF Authority, but has concerns regarding the funding for this new agency. It is supposed to survive on minimum timber harvests, grants, federal funds and philanthropic donations. Right now the budget doesn’t pencil out. A new bill, SB 161 with the -1 amendment has been filed to address work to be done and changing a date from July to November. The ESRF website notes a next prospective Board meeting on April 10.
By Peggy Lynch
The League provided testimony in opposition to HB 3442, a bill that would require local governments to allow development of certain affordable housing on certain lands within 100-year floodplain or subject to property development constraints under land use regulations related to natural disasters and hazards. Local governments have development codes that should address these issues and the state should not REQUIRE this action. Local governments have a better understanding of the hazards and mitigation that might be needed so housing is placed in safe places. A public hearing was held on March 16 with a Work Session scheduled for March 23.
A new bill popped up that would create a new Housing Accountability and Production Office in DLCD: HB 3414. A public hearing will be held March 23. The bill, filed late, has Speaker Rayfield’s name as one of the sponsors so we are certain that it will continue to be discussed.
SB 4 that includes “supersiting” authority by the Governor for many acres of farmland “just in case” the semiconductor industry might want to build a new facility in Oregon is still alive. In the Joint Committee on Semiconductors, the committee can continue the work throughout the session. We provided testimony in opposition only to Section 10 of the bill. A number of amendments have been proposed and public hearings and possible work sessions continue.
See above in the Budget/Revenue section of this Report for the status of last week’s housing bills and also the Housing Report in the Social Policy section of this Legislative Report for details.
By Kathy Moyd
HB 3220: Modifies provisions of the electronics recycling program. Expands definition of covered electronic device. Establishes criteria for electronics producer responsibility programs. Directs Environmental Quality Commission to establish fee calculated to cover costs to department of carrying out program. Passed the House Climate, Energy, and Environment Committee with a unanimous vote.
SB 545-1 Directs Oregon Health Authority to adopt rules allowing restaurants to allow consumers to fill consumer-owned containers with food. Requires authority to adopt rules that take effect no later than June 30, 2024. The bill passed the Senate on March 15 per this press release.
By Peggy Lynch
The continued scarcity of water in Oregon is the focus of many bills being considered this session. It is unclear which bills listed in our last report will receive a Work Session and stay alive. At the writing of this report, we can share only one: HB 3208 that would expand the Environmental Quality Commission’s authority to annually adjust additional water quality fees up to 3% per year was heard and a work session on this bill is scheduled for March 16.
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.
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. California is beginning to look much better, but Oregon continues to have concerns.
By Carolyn Mayers
SB 509-2, the community wildfire risk reduction bill, was amended to remove elements related to home hardening against wildfire risk, and move them to another bill, SB 80 (notice that it’s “relating to wildfire” and may well be moved to another committee since there is no hearing nor work session scheduled for this bill); and add a 20-year Strategic Plan to holistically address wildfire risk and mitigation. SB 509-2 was forwarded to W&Ms. Meeting details, including all supporting materials, may be found here.
Discussing SB 509-2, Chief Mariana Ruiz-Temple of the State Fire Marshal’s office (OSFM) outlined the tasks assigned to their office with this bill, which will include improved communications with the public and developing the 20-year Strategic plan to address wildfire risk mentioned above. In addition, a Neighborhood Protection Cooperative program will be developed, building on an existing Fire Protection Program, designed to help Oregonians reduce their risk, and focusing on communities, where previously the focus has been more on individual parcels. This was in response to having received much feedback from the public that artificial lines between areas hinder progress on resiliency. Also, Senator Golden pointed out the utility/necessity of setting standards for homeowner and community education on defensible space measures that will be recommended by future consultants who will receive training as part of this effort to reduce risk. OSFM is also directed to create a central consolidated website so the public, which has been vocal in its frustration with navigating the over-abundance of online wildfire information sites, may more easily access wildfire information of all types, including grant and educational opportunities, in one place.
SB 82-3 addresses wildfire risk and how insurers operate in that space, was amended and forwarded to the chamber floor. Andrew Stolfi, Director/Insurance Commissioner, Department of Consumer Services, gave an overview of the amended bill. The bill gives definitions of terms to provide clarity and outlines a number of consumer protections.
Among those, insurers will be required to improve notices they send to consumers that relate to cancellation, non-renewal or increase of premium on their homeowners’ policies, giving them more information about the data behind their decision, and actions homeowners might take to improve their risk and possibly reduce their premiums. In addition, insurers will be required to extend the timeframe in which homeowners must rebuild after wildfire, after much public outcry. Finally, the bill prohibits insurers from using any Wildfire Map created by the State as grounds for cancellation, non-renewal or increase of premium on homeowners’ policies. He mentioned that the insurance companies are in agreement with the measures outlined in the bill.
On March 15, Senate Natural Resources held a Work Session on SB 644-4, which removes certain requirements relating to wildfire risk maps, in light of the current absence of a map, for development of accessory dwelling units on lands zoned for rural residential use. The bill was adopted and sent to the chamber floor.
A Public Hearing was held on SB 1012, which provides for a homestead rebuilt by the same owner on the same lot to replace a homestead destroyed by September 2020 wildfires to temporarily have frozen assessed value equal to destroyed homestead assessed value for 2020-2021 property tax year. HB 3446 was mentioned as a bill with similar aims.
Next up was SB 839 which directs the State Forestry Department to establish a pilot grant program for the purpose of managing wildfire risk by promoting use of air curtains by persons that make biochar. This method could reduce smoke and particulates related to disposing of removed fuel by 80% according to Senator Brock Smith.
The final wildfire bill related hearing was on SB 928 which instructs State Forester, or forest protective association or agency that is under contract or agreement with State Board of Forestry for protection of forestland against fire, and whose protection area is or may be affected by fire on nearby federal lands, to take certain actions to address fire. The aim of this bill is to bolster and improve wildfire response, by leveraging and improving upon existing processes for cooperation and collaboration between Federal and State Departments and Agencies, with direct actions and areas of cooperation outlined more clearly.
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: What is your passion related to Natural Resources? You can help. Volunteers are needed. 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.