Legislative Report - Week of 3/20
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By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator, and Team
Usually we see lots of bills “die” after the Work Session scheduling deadline, but this session, many bills are still available to move by April 4. Some were scheduled to move to Revenue, Rules or a Joint Committee if they wanted to keep them alive. Now is the time to watch for amendments to bills before knowing for sure what the true purpose of the bill may be.
By Peggy Lynch
HB 3229-1 has a Work Session April 3. Under the Clean Air Act, funding must be by fees on permittees for this program. Per DEQ’s own testimony, without this funding, a critical part of their Air Quality program is in jeopardy. Consider contacting the House Committee on Climate, Energy and Environment members directly and ask for their support. Starting March 27, the DEQ Budget (HB 5018 and HB 5019) will be heard and support for POP 110 of their budget would also be helpful.
The W&Ms Co-Chairs Budget Framework has been provided to guide the Subcommittees as they consider all the agency budgets. That Framework provides 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. A series of public meetings will provide Oregonians with an opportunity to share their priorities for the state budget. Plan on no more than 2 minutes each!
Separately, a subgroup of the semiconductor committee will work on the tax credit proposal, Senate Bill 669. In its current form, the proposal would restore a research and development tax credit that allowed corporate taxpayers to claim a credit of up to $1 million a year before it expired in 2017. However, it isn’t clear that the Legislature will approve a tax credit. The U.S. Commerce Department guidelines released last month put much less weight on tax credits than other incentives, indicating that states that build incentive packages based on tax credits may have to change their policies.
Besides SB 4, the committee considered an agency report and a number of agency grant applications.
The JW&Ms Subcommittee on Capital Construction met on March 24 to receive reports from the State Treasurer - Debt Capacity Overview and the Department of Administrative Services Capital Finance - 2023-25 Governor's Budget Capital Projects
The W&Ms Co-Chairs Budget Framework is to be provided soon 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. A series of public meetings will provide Oregonians with an opportunity to share their priorities for the state budget. Plan on no more than 2 minutes each!
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) budget (SB 5509) was heard 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 to be heard March 27-28 with public testimony on March 29. 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.
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 on March 14. State agencies that administer permits that could be affected by the legislation provided information on their processes and the implications of the proposed legislation on certain state permits. The League provided testimony in opposition. This bill is a serious threat to our coastal planning and could reduce or remove the opportunity for coastal NOAA grants in the future.
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. LCDC is scheduled to consider adoption of the new amendments during their April 20-21 meeting. Please contact Casaria Taylor, Casaria.firstname.lastname@example.org 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 to LCDC in April.
The Oregon Ocean Science Trust (OOST) has scheduled its next meeting for April 5 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.
Two years ago, the Oregon Legislature made a $1.9 million investment to fund research to help understand our changing ocean. Now, you can hear research progress and findings funded by HB 3114 at a free event in Newport on Friday, April 14.
The first Oregon Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia (OAH) Symposium runs 8:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. at the Hatfield Marine Science Center auditorium, 2030 SE Marine Science Dr. Space is limited and registration is required. ODFW's Jenny Koester says scientists and researchers will report on shellfish and estuary habitat surveys and mapping, and OAH monitoring in Oregon's Marine Reserves and in Yaquina Bay. Attendees also will learn about best management practices and outreach and education funded by the bill. Oregon is an epicenter for OAH and was one of the first places in the world to observe direct impacts of ocean change when oyster hatchery production collapsed in 2007 from ocean acidification. OAH are two forms of ocean climate change that Oregon continues to experience. The passage of HB 3114 was an historic Oregon first in the fight against OAH and showed Oregon leaders' awareness of the importance of healthy oceans. LWVOR supported HB 3114 (2021) and have requested that monies not yet spent in this biennium be rolled over for 2023-25.
Dept. of Environmental Quality
By Peggy Lynch
SB 835 with the -1 amendment passed out of committee on March 20 and goes to the Senate floor for a vote. LWVOR provided testimony with concerns that are now addressed by the amended bill. SB 1013 had a work session and was passed by the committee to the Senate floor. The bill requires counties to allow rvs to be sited on certain rural properties. The League engaged with the sponsor and Sen. Hayden and was assured that appropriate sewer and water connections would be required for these special cases so we did not provide written testimony.
HB 3208 A passed out of committee to the floor March 16 in a partisan vote even though some who voted no agreed that having regular updates of fees made more sense than waiting until a significant fee increase was needed.
Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI)
By Peggy Lynch
The League provided testimony on a suite of bills: SB 220, SB 221 and SB 222. All three passed out of committee on March 20. SB 222 will allow DOGAMI to accept credit cards as payment, but the payer must pay the additional charge for use of the card. The bill goes to the Senate chamber for a vote. SB 221, establishing an e-permitting program, passed and went to W&Ms for funding. SB 220 passed without recommendation and with a party line vote to W&Ms because it would require additional permit fees to pay for the e-permitting system. The Governor has put General Fund money in her budget to pay for the system. W&Ms will need to decide how to fund the new system. You can find our testimony on the bills’ websites.
Elliott State Research Forest (ESRF)
By Peggy Lynch
SB 161 with the -1 amendment had a public hearing on March 20 and a Work Session on March 22. It provides some additional time to complete work assigned. Questions by the committee were centered around gaining assurance that there would be some harvest in the forest. (The answer is yes.) The committee sent the bill to the Senate floor with a do pass recommendation. The ESRF website notes a next prospective Board meeting on April 10.
By Josie Koehne
HB 2087, the Forest Products Harvest Tax bill had a hearing in House Revenue. LWVOR provided comments expressing concerns but supporting if this bill is all that is available for helping fund forestry programs. See below for information on wildfire bills.
By Peggy Lynch
The League provided testimony in opposition to SB 1051 with the -2 amendment, to allow a property owner to request an Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) expansion of up to 200 acres outside of the current UGB process. The bill, brought by the realtors and homebuilders and sponsored by Sens. Anderson and Meek, had an incredible amount of testimony filed, both pro and con. However, the committee chair did ask if there had been any discussion with all sides before the filing of this bill, so we are hoping that the bill, which has a Work Session scheduled for April 3, ,will die in committee.
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. A Work Session was scheduled for March 23. A -2 amendment was provided and may address our concerns.
SB 70 had a public hearing on Feb. 8 where the League provided testimony in opposition. A possible Work Session has been scheduled for April 3 where a -1 amendment has been posted. LWVOR still opposes it.
There are a number of bills related to siting solar in Oregon. An Oregon Siting Table was formed to have conversations around potential conflicts among solar developers, the agricultural and environmental communities. HB 3180 and HB 3179 each had an informational hearing on March 16 and are scheduled for a public hearing on March 28 with a Work Session on March 30. Rep. Marsh also filed bills on this issue. HB 3181 has a public hearing on March 28 and a Work Session on March 30 or April 4. HB 2989 has a public hearing on March 27 with a Work Session on March 29. We are uncertain which, if any, will move this session.
HB 3414 would create a new Housing Accountability and Production Office in DLCD. A public hearing was held March 23. The bill, filed late, has Speaker Rayfield’s name as one of the sponsors so we are certain it will continue to be discussed. A Work Session is scheduled for March 28.
See also the Housing Report in the Social Policy section of this Legislative Report.
By Kathy Moyd
SB 444 with a referral to Joint W&Ms directs DEQ to establish a Recycling Innovators Grant Program and seeds the grant fund with a $20 million GF appropriation for 2023-25.
SB 543 prohibits food vendors from using polystyrene foam containers in sales of prepared food. It had a Work Session March 23.
Meeting materials from the fifth Recycling Modernization Act Rulemaking Advisory Committee meeting held on March 10, 2023 have been posted. The sixth RAC meeting will be held on April 11, 2023 from 9am to 2pm (PST). Register to attend this meeting via Zoom. To learn more about this rulemaking and the advisory committee, view the rulemaking web page at: Recycling Updates 2023.
HB 3220: Modifies provisions of the electronics recycling program. Expands definition of covered electronic device. Establishes criteria for electronics producer responsibility programs. Directs the Environmental Quality Commission to establish a fee calculated to cover costs to the department of carrying out the program. Passed the House on March 22.
By Paula Grisafi
As a member of the Oregon Conservation Network, we were pleased to see the OCN Letter in support of HB 3043, the Toxic Free Kids Act Modernization. LWVOR has engaged in this bill in past sessions. On March 22, it passed the House. On to the Senate!
SB 546 requires the Oregon Health Authority to adopt and maintain a list of designated high priority chemicals of concern used in cosmetic products and to periodically review and revise the list. It had a Work Session on March 23.
By Peggy Lynch
A major water bill, HB 3124, was introduced on March 16 with a public hearing and Work Session set for March 30. The bill is a $250 million Drought Relief and Water Scarcity package. and includes some of the other bills we’ve seen this session. You can view the committee presentation here and Drought Relief and Water Security Slides and comprehensive explanations: Bipartisan Drought Relief and Water Security Package (BiDRAWS).
HB 3100 had public hearings on March 9 and 14 with a Work Session March 23 where a -3 amendment was considered. LWVOR testified on the original bill. Most of the content of the proposed amendment addressed our original comments.
We understand that HB 3349 will get substantial amendments to provide water navigators to help small communities and tribes access federal infrastructure funds. As written, LWVOR would oppose it. A public hearing is set for March 30 with a Work Session April 4.
Drought will worsen or develop in Oregon, Idaho and Washington over the next three months, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's spring outlook issued March 16.
Want to fix a water leak and save water? The EPA provides a link: Learn more about finding and fixing leaks.
We all need to pay attention to the potential for harmful algal blooms. “When in doubt, stay out.” HB 2647, addressing harmful algal blooms, passed to W&Ms of March 21. LWVOR supports. 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 looking better, but Oregon continues to have concerns.
By Carolyn Mayers
The Senate Committee on Natural Resources held a public hearing March 20 on SB 872. The purpose of this bill is to enable better cooperation between Federal agencies and Oregon Department of Forestry with regard to wildfire mitigation efforts during the non-wildfire months. The proposed -1 amendment expands the number of State entities with which those agencies will be compelled to collaborate. The bill is scheduled for a possible work session on April 3.
At the end of the same meeting, the Committee heard Doug Grafe, Wildfire and Emergency
Response Advisor to the Governor, describe recommendations of the Wildfire Programs Advisory Council (WCAP) relating to how to proceed with the State Wildfire Risk Map, which was released and subsequently withdrawn last year. Mark Bennett, the Council Chair, was also in attendance. These recommendations will inform a forthcoming SB 80 amendment. Key points include renaming the map to Wildfire Hazard Map. The reasoning used was summarized by Doug Grafe, illustrating how a Tsunami Hazard Zone, for example, and the measures used to help residents in that zone to be better prepared for disasters, would be a good model for preparedness efforts and outreach for wildfires.
Another important recommended map adjustment was to reduce the current 5 risk (or hazard) zones (Extreme, High, Moderate, Low and no risk), to 3 zones (Extreme, High and Moderate). This was in recognition of the fact that wildfires happen anywhere, and are not simply limited to forested lands, not to places traditionally considered at higher risk, as evidenced by the devastating events in Talent and Phoenix, which were NOT considered high risk zones. This language is in alignment with the International Wildland Urban Interface Code. He also mentioned the role housing density can play in light of “home to home ignition” being a major factor in catastrophic events. Another key highlight was to establish a Wildfire Home Preparedness grant program to help not only those who lost their homes in wildfire events to rebuild with more fire-resistant materials, but also to offer this help to existing homeowners who wish to retrofit their homes. Senator Golden commented on this aspect, saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” More details may be found in the link above. Public Hearing was scheduled for 3/27 and Work Session 3/29.
On March 21, the House Committee On Emergency Management, General Government, and Veterans, held Public Hearings on HB 3484 and HB 3485, both relating to housekeeping items such as securing the appropriate and necessary funding and discretionary authority for the Office of the State Fire Marshal, which has been empowered with new authority to better enable its work, particularly with regard to wildfire and emergency response. It will become the Department of the State Fire Marshal. The funding portion largely focused on the Department’s ability to pay Rural Fire Protection District (RFPD) and other wildfire response agencies / personnel for their work in a more timely manner for Governor declared mobilizations. According to Chief Ruiz-Temple, amendments are forthcoming.
Finally, a Work Session was held on HB 2522. The bill was described by Rep. Pam Marsh, and
would require counties that contain at-risk land and populations to develop, or solicit proposals
for development of fire-response plans or wildfire response plans. It is designed to address
gaps in wildfire protection for very small, isolated communities throughout the State, most of
which have inadequate coverage currently. The topic of under-staffed and funded RFPDs and
the “erosion of capabilities” was described by Chief Turnbull of the Rogue Valley Fire Chiefs
Association, who pointed out that 64% of Oregon Fire Departments are RFPDs with many of
them serving both rural and, increasingly, city areas. One aspect of this bill is to analyze the
RFPD protection policy and improve their ability to staff and respond. A proposed -4 amendment will, in part, clarify that his bill addresses structural fire response. Another Work Session was held March 23.
SB 82 enhances insurance carriers’ obligation to consider property owner’s efforts to reduce wildfire risk in rate-setting and policy coverage decisions and increases information available to policy-holders. It passed the Senate per this press release.
SB 502 has a -3 amendment related to funding. Interestingly there is no public hearing, but a Work Session set for March 27.
During a visit to Central Point Sunday, Deb Haaland, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, announced $21 million was on its way to Oregon to help reduce the risk of wildfire.
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 email@example.com. Training will be offered.