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Legislative Report - Week of 3/4

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By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator, and Team


By Peggy Lynch

SB 5701, the omnibus budget bill for 2024 was amended at the end of the session. The League was pleased with the breadth of programs funded as well as the policy bills that were also funded. But there were disappointments, too. Scan the amended bill for items of interest to you. Included in the amendments were eleven budget notes: instructions to agencies to collaborate on projects, to report back on how monies were spent and to study issues such as how to fund wildfire programs. 

HB 5201 and HB 5202 are the bonding bills and were amended as well. Fees adopted by state agencies since the 2025 session were approved in SB 5702. SB 1501 was the “program change bill”, used to address miscellaneous changes to agency programs. 

The agency budget process for 2025-27 is beginning. Look for presentations to agency Boards and Commissions soon. Quarterly revenue forecasts will be provided on May 29 and August 28. Then the November 20th forecast will be the basis of the Governor’s Recommended Budget to be presented on December 1st.


By Claudia Keith and Team 

The Climate Emergency section of this Legislative Report overlaps with this Natural Resources Report. We encourage you to read both sections.

Coastal Issues

By Christine Moffitt/Peggy Lynch 

HB 5201 as amended in Section 5 (2) increases the uses of the bond monies that have been deposited in the Oregon Business Development Department Coos Bay Channel Fund in previous sessions not only to “deepen and widen the Coos Bay Federal Navigation Channel” but also “for the design, engineering, permitting and land acquisition efforts related to the Pacific Coast Intermodal Port project.“

Oregon has a pilot mapping tool to better understand carbon storage in Oregon estuaries, in hope of supporting long-term goals to preserve them.

Dept. of State Lands (DSL)

By Peggy Lynch 

DSL has a new website:

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is working with DSL to identify In Lieu lands (part of the 1,400 acres of land still owed Oregon on statehood). Click here to view the BLM Proposed Classification Decision, and a public notice that two forestland properties in Linn County have been identified for some of those In Lieu lands. Learn more. Provide public comment through April 9th

Elliott State Research Forest (ESRF) 

By Peggy Lynch

Work is continuing on eventual adoption of a Habitat Conservation Plan and a Forest Management Plan for ESRF. Visit DSL's Elliott webpage to learn more. A recommendation with structural governance may be before the State Land Board on April 9. If approved, look for appointments to the new ESRF Board at their June 11tth meeting. The $4 million that had been allocated to the ESRF Authority was transferred to DSL in the omnibus budget bill, SB 5701. 

Forestry (ODF)

By Josie Koehne 

The Board of Forestry met March 6 and 7. State Forester Cal Mukumoto has recommended staying the course on the Habitat Conservation Plan per Board packet.pages 116-118. 

On Thursday, March 7, State Forester Cal Mukumoto proposed passage of the recommended state Western Habitation Conservation Plan (HCP). Everyone acknowledged the great amount of passionate public testimony that has already been heard on both sides - in support and in opposition - to the plan over the past five years. Public comments were made about the harm that will be done to the logging community with less timber harvest on western state forest land and stated that more mills will close. Arguments in support centered on the necessity to meet the federal requirement to preserve habitat for endangered species and avoid potential lawsuits. Delay in starting over (up to 4 years) and evaluating other HCP options will further endanger protected species and other wildlife. You can watch the meeting and read more in this OPB article

Part of the challenge in making this decision is that certain western Oregon counties and local jurisdictions have relied on the timber harvest income and have not increased their local property taxes or found other economic development opportunities to plan for this income loss. There have been discussions at the legislature around how to increase that revenue ever since the severance tax was eliminated, leaving only the Forest Products Harvest Tax and greatly reducing harvest revenue. We can expect this discussion to continue in 2025.

There are a number of bills this session around funding ODF and fighting wildfire with some bills increasing timber harvest revenue without increasing the actual harvest. For information on the various bills, see the Wildfire section of this report below.

Land Use & Housing

By Peggy Lynch 

The Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities rules adopted by the Land Conservation and Development Commission were appealed to the Oregon Court of Appeals and a ruling was handed down on March 6th. Most elements of the rules were upheld. 

HB 4026 passed and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. The bill determines that urban growth boundary decisions cannot be voted on and are “administrative” in nature. The bill is retroactive, so the measure will stop a vote in North Plains this May, although we expect that it is possible this legislation may be challenged in court. The “relating to elections” clause of the bill allowed the legislature to “gut and stuff” the bill with this provision. The League provided testimony and is concerned that “the amendment would take away voters’ rights to the referendum process. Furthermore, changing the constitutional referendum process and making the amendment retroactive are likely to be unconstitutional and invite a lawsuit. “ 

The Citizen Involvement Advisory Committee is recruiting for a new member from Oregon’s Third Congressional District. Applications are due by March 18, 9 a.m.

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. 

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. The bill passed both chambers and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. 

DEQ is conducting rulemaking to clarify and implement HB 3220 (2023), which updates and makes necessary changes to the statewide electronics recycling program, Oregon E-Cycles. To learn more about this rulemaking and the advisory committee please visit the Oregon E-Cycles rulemaking web page.

The meeting agenda and materials for the sixth Recycling Modernization Act Rulemaking Advisory Committee has been posted on the Recycling 2024 website. The meeting will be held 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., March 14. To attend please Register via Zoom. DEQ staff will be providing updates about previously- presented rule concepts and will be introducing new topics about: defining limited-sort facilities, commingled materials and reload facilities, outbound contamination rates and certification for out-of-state commingled recycling processing facilities.


By Peggy Lynch 

The Oregon Water Resources Dept. (OWRD) announced that the draft of Oregon’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy (IWRS) is accepting initial public review and comment, March 5 through April 5. 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 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 2012 and 2017 IWRS documents. This new draft takes an entirely new slant from the current IWRS. It will be important that the original documents not be invalidated but instead enhanced by this proposal. 

OWRD has announced revised groundwater allocation rules. The department is providing multiple opportunities to engage. OWRD will be hosting informational sessions before each public hearing where staff will review the proposed rules. Public comments will not be accepted at the information sessions but will be accepted at the public hearings following each session. For more context, please see the background information, informational flyer, and Frequently Asked Questions.

The omnibus budget bill, SB 5701, included an allocation of $1 million General Fund added to the Water Well Abandonment, Repair and Replacement Fund. The League was engaged in helping create this fund in 2021 and supports this allocation.


By Carolyn Mayers 

Things have wound down for the 2024 Short Session of the Legislature, during which hopes for a solution to the lack of sustainable funding for wildfire programs were officially dashed.

The League continued following Representative Marsh/Senator Steiner’s HB 4133, the last of the three bills which attempted to address the wildfire funding issue. It had been scheduled for a Work Session before the Joint Subcommittee on Capital Construction, but was pulled at the 11th hour due to a technical issue with the funding structure, and is dead. The Capital Chronicle published this article on March 7, with a summary of the fates of most of the wildfire-related bills, including the other two funding bills which had already failed.

OPB also covered this story. For the Oregon Dept. of Forestry, a major issue is cash flow since, when they fight fires, the money for contractors goes out, but reimbursement from FEMA and others often takes months or years. 

Some other wildfire-related bills succeeded. Representative Marsh’s Prescribed Fire Liability and Home Hardening Grant Program bill passed. Also, two bills which address taxes on wildfire victims both passed. The first, SB 1520, allows wildfire victims to take income tax subtractions for settlements and judgements related to wildfire damages, as well as attorneys’ fees. SB 1545 allows counties to offer a property tax break to wildfire victims who rebuild their homes.

Among highlights in SB5701, the Budget Reconciliation Bill, $8 million was allocated for the Department of the State Fire Marshal to support prepositioning, readiness response, and cash flow constraints for the 2024 fire season. Also, a Budget Note was included, which directs the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and the Department of the State Fire Marshal to convene a facilitated workgroup to collaborative on finding sustainable wildfire funding solutions with stakeholders representing a broad swath of interests, in a clear recognition that this remains a high-priority, difficult issue. The money ODF received was really a fund shift, so there is $10 million from the General Fund for landscape resilience, but it was just money allocated in 2023 that had been placed in a different fund. 

SB 1552, Sections 40-42, allocated $300, 000 for a study of forestry workforce. Advocated by the Association of Oregon Loggers, the study is to be inclusive of many groups, including youth groups, currently involved in workforce training and forestry experiences. 

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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