Legislative Report - Week of 3/6
By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator, and Team
Policy bills that are priorities for committees are seeing public hearings—even work sessions—and going to chambers for votes or to Ways and Means to be funded by end of session--maybe. For now, most bills are bipartisan. But the session is beginning to heat up. All this amidst the very real limited revenue for anything other than current programs and a few Leadership and Governor priorities such as housing. The next important session date is March 17 when policy bills will need to be scheduled for a Work Session or they are dead for the session unless they are in Revenue, Rules, or a Joint Committee.
We provided testimony on the Oregon Dept. of Forestry (ODF) budget (HB 5020), expressing concern that staffing for climate change issues around forest management and urban forestry weren’t included in the Governor’s budget. We also provided testimony on the Oregon Dept. of Energy (ODOE) budget (HB 5016), requesting additional agency programs that were not included in the Governor’s budget. The League provided support for the Land Use Board of Appeals budget (HB 2028) that was heard March 6. The Dept. of State Lands budget (HB 5037) was heard Mar. 7 with public testimony on the 9th. The League provided testimony in support.
The Columbia River Gorge Commission budget will be heard March 13—both agency presentation and public testimony. The Oregon Dept. of Agriculture (ODA) budget (HB 5002 and HB 5003) is scheduled for March 14-16. Public testimony on the 16th. Oregon Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) budget (SB 5509) week of March 20. Dept. of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) (HB 5018 and HB 5019) 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.
SB 5543-1 Bond Authorization, SB 5544-1 Capital Construction, SB 5545-1 2021-23 Allocations Bill and HB 5045-3, Budget Rebalance were all heard in Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Capital Construction March 3. Funding for housing/homeless needs (HB 2001 A) with the A14 amendment and HB 5019 with the -3 amendment were heard in the JW&Ms Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development on March 7. SB 4, semiconductor funding requests, has a -3 amendment posted and was heard on March 6 and 8. A -2 amendment by Sen. Knopp requests that the funding come from the General Fund while the -3 has money coming from the Rainy Day Fund. SB 4 is meant to help Oregon access federal CHIPS Act monies. The Full W&Ms met March 10 to address most of the bills above. SB 4 was not included in this meeting, but currently has a $210 million price tag.
Lastly, the Office of Economic Forecast provided sobering data on Oregon’s population. Without an increase in young people—with in-migration--our need for a variety of long term care services will explode without the incoming revenue to pay for those services!
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
Last week we reported on HB 3382, a bill to 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. The bill has been assigned to the Joint Committee on Transportation. We understand that the reason the bill has been filed by the Ports Association is in response to a Land Use Board of Appeals decision around the Jordan Cove project. Here is an article about that case. Currently the Coos Bay/North Bend area is in the process of updating their management plans for the Bay. (See past Legislative Reports on this issue.) State agencies that administer permits that could be affected by the legislation are discussing the implications of the proposed legislation.
HB 2903-1, a bill that directs certain state agencies to implement the recommendations of the Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC) around marine reserves, protected areas and other management areas and provides $800,000 for that work. The League also supported this bill as a continuation of previous testimony on OPAC’s recommendations.
By Peggy Lynch
Last week we expressed concern around provisions in 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. We provided testimony in opposition only to Section 10 of the bill. Since our testimony, a number of amendments have been proposed and two public hearings have taken place. At this time no amendments have been adopted.
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
A Work Session was conducted on March 7 in Senate Energy and Environment for SB 545, one of our priority Zero Waste bills. A -1 Amendment had been posted. The original bill directed the State Department of Agriculture and Oregon Health Authority to adopt rules allowing consumers to use their own containers for refilling with food at a food establishment. Because the amendment had been posted just before the start of the Public Hearing, the League’s written testimony dealt only with the original bill.
The -1 Amendment is a complete replacement of the original bill. It removes the State Department of Agriculture and limits the bill to restaurants, not all food establishments. It removes the administrative details, leaving them up to the Oregon Health Authority, although the following statement may leave too much ambiguity: “The Oregon Health Authority shall adopt rules allowing for a restaurant to allow a consumer to fill a consumer-owned container with food.” The amendment was adopted on a unanimous vote; the amended bill, SB 545-1, was passed by a vote of 4 - 1. No referral was made to Ways and Means.
HB 2531 prohibits the sale or distribution in this state of new screw- or bayonet-base type compact fluorescent lamps on or after January 1, 2024. It prohibits the sale or distribution in this state of new pin-base type compact fluorescent lamps and linear fluorescent lamps on or after January 1, 2025. Repeals statutes related to mercury in lighting products. It was passed on March 6 with no amendment and goes to the chamber floor.
By Peggy Lynch
It’s been a busy week for water bills for which the League provided testimony or followed with others. HB 3163 would create a special Fund for place-based planning efforts. The League testified in support of the Fund. We are working with others on the specific criteria listed for qualifying for access to the Fund.
The League has strong positions on water quality and the importance of wetlands so it was easy for us to support HB 2238, allowing for rulemaking to increase removal/fill fees. The bill was pulled from the March 7 committee agenda and no new hearing date has been set.
HB 3207 was scheduled for a public hearing on March 7 related to domestic water well testing but was pulled from the agenda. We understand it may not get a public hearing this session. 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 9.
HB 2813 A, a bill that directs OWEB to provide grants to protect drinking water sources and for which the League provided testimony in support was sent to W&Ms. The fiscal impact statement has a $5 million price tag. This money might also be able to be used as a match for federal grant opportunities.
The Integrated Water Resources Strategy (IWRS) is being updated. Go to the website for opportunities to participate. The League is engaged in discussions on HB 3100 related to the IWRS. A public hearing was set for March 9 . The League supports the IWRS but has concerns about the current bill.
Lastly, we are aware of a newly filed bill, HB 3368, that would stop all future water permitting applications until Oregon determines the amount of surface and groundwater water available for use that has not already been appropriated. We have no idea where this bill might go this session, but here’s a helpful Oregon Capitol Chronicle article that explains the reasoning behind Reps. Helm and Owens’ filing this bill.
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.
By Carolyn Mayers
The League monitored the March 3 meeting of the Wildfire Programs Advisory Council. The meeting purpose was to review a letter to the Legislature, the composition of which was assigned to a task force of the Council at their January 2023 meeting. The purpose of the letter is to advise the Legislature on a number of recommended adjustments to the Wildfire Risk Map to help ensure a successful next roll-out. Recall the original Map associated with SB 762, the 2021 wildfire bill, was withdrawn after widespread opposition to a number of its components, and work is underway to determine the best path forward. This is part of that effort.
Among the recommendations made were to change the name to Wildfire HAZARD Map, which it was noted is the language California uses. Also, while emphasizing the importance of the integrity of the eventual final product, the group decided to eliminate hard deadline dates for completion of the new map that were in the original letter. It was determined there were too many variables beyond their control to set firm dates, including a number of wildfire related bills that could influence the final version of the Map. It was speculated that Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) could be used as a platform to keep work moving forward in the interim. In addition, the Council felt it was important to allow sufficient time for the community engagement process which was not successful the first time around. The final letter can be found here.
On March 8, Senate Natural Resources amended SB 509 on defensible space and the CWPPS mentioned above and the Oregon State Fire Marshall’s responsibilities and sent it to W&Ms. They also amended SB 82 related to fire insurance and sent it to the chamber floor. More on these bills next week.
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.