Legislative Report - Week of 3/27
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By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator, and Team
April 4 looms large. Many bills have significant amendments, including totally changing their original filing—often called being “gutted and stuffed”. Bills will either move forward or “die” on April 4. A few will move to Revenue, Rules or a Joint Committee to try to keep them alive. Many legislators will take a short breath as surviving bills move to the next chamber or head to Ways and Means for budgeting consideration after the May 17 Revenue Forecast.
By Peggy Lynch
HB 3229-1 had a Work Session March 29 where the bill was moved to Ways and Means without recommendation as to passage. Under the Clean Air Act, funding for Title V (large pollution emitters) must be by fees paid by permittees for this program. Per DEQ’s own testimony, without this funding, a critical part of their Air Quality program is in jeopardy. Because DEQ was delegated this permitting authority, the EPA could decertify the program and take it over, which would cost Oregon businesses a great deal more. The DEQ Budget (HB 5018) was heard and support for POP 110 of their budget would be helpful.
As part of ongoing efforts to improve air quality and public health, on March 28, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality announced $13.3 million in funding for 14 projects helping to establish a network of new and leading-edge zero-emission charging stations. Funds from the Oregon Zero-Emission Fueling Grant program will bring more charging infrastructure to the growing medium- and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicle sector, which includes trucks, buses, delivery vans, and more. The Oregon Legislature established the pilot program in 2022 through HB 5202 and HB 4139. It is one of the first large-scale ventures into medium- and heavy-duty charging in the state. Here is the full news release.
The Ways and Means Co-Chairs Budget Framework was provided to guide Subcommittees as they consider all agency budgets. The 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. “This is a very uncertain time for Oregon’s economy. Oregonians deserve to know their tax dollars are funding the state’s highest priorities,” said Senator Elizabeth Steiner (D-Portland), Co-Chair of Joint Ways and Means. “Our framework budget focuses on maintaining critical services for Oregonians while also protecting our reserves in case of economic downturn. The last few years have been good for Oregon, but rain clouds could still be on the horizon.” 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 and HB 5006, Emergency Board funding and other funding for 2023-25. A virtual public meeting session has been added for Friday, May 5, 5-7 p.m. All oral and written testimony will become part of the legislative record and be made publicly available on the Oregon State Legislature website. Plan on no more than 2 minutes each!
JW&Ms Capital Construction met on March 24 to hear a report from the Treasurer’s Office on the state’s bonding capacity: General Fund debt capacity results in $1.94 billion issuance for each biennium, or $969 million annually ($320 million greater than 2021-23). Lottery bonds: The State’s Lottery Revenue debt issuance capacity is $506.4 million in each biennium or $253.2 million annually over the forecast period ($9 million decline from 2021-23).
Governor Kotek’s office provided their 2023-25 bond proposal list. The Subcommittee began public hearings on bond requests starting March 31. Here is the agenda that asks for testimony on HB 5005. Besides the items listed, expect other “asks'' to be heard during these meetings. Look for additional meetings with different topics for each meeting.
Dept. of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) (HB 5018) budget was heard March 27- 29 with public testimony on March 30. Here’s the DEQ one-pager. Note that POP 110 relates to an increase in fees for the Air Quality Title V program. HB 3229, the policy bill for these fees, has been sent to W&Ms without recommendation.
The Oregon Water Resources Dept. (OWRD) budget (HB 5043) will be heard April 4-6, with public testimony on the 6th. 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.
The League is following HB 3349, scheduled for a public hearing March 30. Although amendments are expected that would replace the bill, as of this writing they are not posted on OLIS. Neither the original bill that would have created another Council and Committee related to Regional Solutions, nor the expected amendment that would instead provide $300,000 each to eight different entities to create “navigators” to help access federal funding is a concept we can support.
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, to provide certain Ports with an exception from our land use planning program to allow dredging and other activities around these Ports without the current public process and federal consistency requirement,s had a public hearing in J 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. LWVOR is working with partners to explain the harm this bill would cause. Underlying this bill is a potential development proposal at the Port of Coos Bay where an “intermodal” container ship facility would be built with transport of those containers to and from the Port by rail. The first 140 miles of that railroad would need $1.8 billion in investment.
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 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.email@example.com, for further information. Address written comments to the Chair LCDC, care of Casaria Taylor via email. If you have questions, 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 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. See Oregon Ocean Science Trust/Oregon Department of State Lands and Oregon Ocean Science Trust.
Two years ago, the Oregon Legislature made a $1.9 million investment to fund research to help understand our changing ocean. You can hear research progress and findings funded by House Bill 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) answer have requested that monies not yet spent this biennium be rolled over for 2023-25.
Dept. of Environmental Quality
By Peggy Lynch
Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) (HB 5018) budget was heard March 27- 29 with public testimony on March 30. Here’s the DEQ one-pager. Note that POP 110 relates to an increase in fees for the Air Quality Title V program. Also HB 3229, the policy bill for these fees, has been sent to W&Ms without recommendation.
Elliott State Research Forest (ESRF)
By Peggy Lynch
The ESRF website notes a next prospective Board meeting on April 10.
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. We are hoping that the bill, which does have a Work Session scheduled for April 3, will die in committee.
Governor Kotek is serious about increasing housing so look for a number of bills this session that change the land use program currently in your jurisdiction. We will all have to wait until the end of session to understand the wide variety of proposed changes and ones which actually pass and are signed by the Governor. While we all look for success in addressing homelessness and new housing, especially for middle income Oregonians, we are concerned by the increasing lack of local input in the development of our communities.
HB 3414 with the -1 amendment would create a new Housing Accountability and Production Office in DLCD and also include a Section 2 that says that local governments may not deny a variance under certain circumstances. Variances are used to address exceptions to a code’s “clear and objective standards”. It is unclear how this provision will change a community’s control over residential development. A Work Session is scheduled for April 4.
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, a public hearing on March 28 with a Work Session scheduled for April 3. Rep. Rep Marsh also filed bills on this issue. HB 3181 had a public hearing on March 28 and a Work Session scheduled for April 3. We are uncertain which, if any, will move this session:
The League provided testimony in opposition to HB 3442, to 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. The -2 amendment was adopted and addressed most of our concerns.
See the Housing Report in the Social Policy section of this Legislative Report also.
Is Smith Rock State Park a favorite destination? Read about potential changes.
By Kathy Moyd
DEQ will hold the fifth Recycling Modernization Act Rulemaking Advisory Committee meeting from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. on April 11. DEQ will present the draft local government and producer responsibility organization obligation rules, the draft fiscal and racial equity statements, and will provide follow-up information regarding the topics presented during the previous meeting. To attend the meeting, please register via Zoom. To learn more about this rulemaking and the advisory committee, view the rulemaking web page at: Recycling Updates 2023.
By Paula Grisafi
Great news—HB 3043 (toxic free kids modernization) passed out of the full House, 42-14. SB 546 (toxic free cosmetics) passed out of committee unanimously after adoption of the -7 amendment. SB 426 (toxic free schools) had a Work Session scheduled March 30.
By Peggy Lynch
The League has been a voice for the safety of domestic wells and provided testimony in support of HB 3207,to require reporting the results of well water tests during a real estate transaction to DEQ. A public hearing was held March 30 with a Work Session April 3.
HB 3124 A major water bill, had a Work Session March 30. The bill is a $250 million Drought Relief and Water Scarcity pkg. and includes some of the other bills we’ve seen this session. View the committee presentation here and Drought Relief and Water Security Slides and comprehensive explanations: Bipartisan Drought Relief and Water Security Package (BiDRAWS). The League may engage when the bill and its various elements move to W&Ms.
EPA threatens action in Umatilla and Morrow counties related to nitrates in groundwater per March 22 OPB article. The Oregon Health Authority has set up a testing program, but it seems cumbersome for these low-income and often non-English speaking residents per this article in the Oregon Capitol Chronicle.
In honor of World Water Day, please take literally two minutes and watch this video starring the tiny but mighty hummingbird. Then consider what you can do.
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.
On March 24, Governor Tina Kotek declared a drought in Grant and Deschutes counties through Executive Order 23-08, and directed state agencies to coordinate and prioritize assistance to the region. Both counties have portions of extreme drought (D3) and are experiencing well below average water year precipitation. Streamflow has also been well below average in both counties over the water year, with Deschutes at 78% and Grant at 44% of its average streamflow. Likewise, streamflow at their respective basins have been below average, with Deschutes at 71% and John Day at 39%.
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. Governor Kotek has also signed drought declarations for the counties of Crook and Jefferson.
By Carolyn Mayers
A number of Work Sessions and Public Hearings were held during the Senate Natural Resources March 27 meeting. The first Work Session, on SB 928-3, instructs the 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, such as coordinating off-season mitigation efforts. It was adopted with a do-pass recommendation and sent to W&Ms.
Next up was SB 839, directing the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) to establish a pilot grant program to help manage wildfire risk by promoting the use of air curtains by persons who make biochar, and appropriate $1 million from the General Fund to ODF for grant program implementation. It was also adopted with a do-pass recommendation and sent to W&Ms.
SB 1012 had a work Session, to provide for homesteads rebuilt by the same owner on the same lot to replace their homestead destroyed by the September 2020 wildfires, to temporarily have frozen assessed value equal to the destroyed homestead’s assessed value for 2020-2021 property tax year. This was deferred to the 3/29 meeting of the Committee, at which it was adopted with the -2 amendment, and moved to the floor with a do-pass recommendation.
A Public Hearing was held on SB 502-2, to require ODF to study establishing a permanent trust fund for wildfire programs. The intent of this bill is to provide an alternate funding mechanism for wildfire-programs implementation. It was adopted and referred to Senate Finance and Revenue.
A Public Hearing on SB 80-2, to outline in greater detail, corrections to and improvements on the original State Wildfire Risk Map described in last week’s Legislative Report, including recommendations it be renamed Wildfire Hazard Map, and reduce the number of risk zones to 4 from 5. It also places a much needed, greater emphasis on public input in the process. There was opposition to the prospect of using 4 zones, rather than the 3 recommended by the Wildfire Programs Advisory Council’s Dave Hunnicutt, who otherwise strongly supports it. This and other items were ironed out at the 4/3 Work Session. Other items included in the -2 Amendment are detailed in this Staff Measure Summary. LWVOR provided testimony in support of SB 80 with these -2 amendments.
Senate Natural Resources held a public hearing March 20 on SB 872. The bill’s purposeis to enable better cooperation between Federal agencies and the 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 was scheduled for a possible work session on April 3.
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.