Legislative Report - Week of 4/10
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By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator, and Team
Fun and games at the Capitol—and some bills passing out of chambers. After the Senate decided to hold all day sessions on April 10 and 11, that was extended to the entire week and the House joined in the marathon sessions. Bills were getting backed up and needed to get to the second chamber if they were to stay alive. The next deadlines are May 5 to schedule a Work Session and May 19 for the bill to move out of committee.
The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) budget (SB 5539 & SB 5540 ) wastentatively scheduled for April 17 and 18 with public testimony on the 18th. Expect agency budgets for small agencies to see Work Sessions next: Marine Board, LUBA, Columbia River Gorge Commission (Washington State legislative session ends April 23 and the Oregon budget allocation needs to match equal funding for the Gorge Commission.).
As we await the May 17 Revenue Forecast, here’s some food for thought from the U.S. Federal Reserve: “Staff members at the central bank, who brief policymakers before interest rate decisions, had long expected GDP growth to slow this year in the wake of the Fed’s fight against inflation. But last month they upped the odds of a downturn, according to the minutes of the Fed’s March 21-22 meeting. Their projection was for “a mild recession starting later this year, with a recovery over the subsequent two years,” according to the minutes, released Wednesday…. They estimated the economy would fully recover by 2025.”
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, including a virtual public meeting session on Friday, May 5, 5-7 p.m. Plan on no more than 2 minutes each! We await the May 17 Revenue Forecast that will be the guide for the final balanced budgets for 2023-25.
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
The League joined other groups concerned with HB 3382 policy and submitted a letter explaining the serious threat to our coastal planning that could reduce or remove the opportunity for future coastal NOAA grants. We need your voices to tell your legislators to Just Say NO!
A newly updated DLCD Coastal Grants webpage now highlights the new Coastal Zone Management Habitat Protection and Restoration Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding program being administered by OCMP/DLCD. The next solicitation for projects will be in May, 2023.
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 in the past.
Elliott State Research Forest (ESRF)
By Peggy Lynch
A League member attended the ESRF prospective Board meeting on April 10. There was extensive discussion on the financial viability modeling by both the Dept. of State Lands (DSL) staff and separately Oregon State University staff. Work on the Habitat Conservation Plan has hit a bump around protection of riparian areas for the marbled murrelet, making the harvest levels less than expected. Timber harvesting in certain areas is where the funding for this new Authority gets its revenue. We may see an increase in a funding request from DSL for the 2023-25 session to address transition expenses. The group will meet in a retreat, April 17-18, to try to resolve these challenging issues. The website may provide more detailed information soon. The League did remind the Board of our continuing concern related to financial viability and hopes the Board can resolve the issue.
By Peggy Lynch
The League watched the hearing on SB 1087, a bill that “appeared” unexpectedly in Senate Rules on April 8. The bill was filed on behalf of a farm in Lane County where they want to add a “café” on their Exclusive Farm Use (EFU)-zoned property. League members might want to read the testimony from 1,000 Friends since the request was to develop a 5,000-square-foot facility with outside seating and 25 parking spaces. The bill would set standards for the establishment of farm cafes on lands in Lane County zoned for exclusive farm use. It requires the Oregon Health Authority to review the land use compatibility statement before licensing a farm cafe. The bill also authorizes OHA to revoke, deny or suspend licenses upon certain violations of land use conditions. The overwhelming testimony filed was opposed to this bill. The League is concerned with the precedent that would be set by allowing this activity in Lane County as other counties could ask for the same use on their EFU lands in the future. LWVOR will wait to see if the bill has legs and may want to send opposition testimony to Rules Committee members if a Work Session is scheduled.
Another bill of interest is HB 2659, brought “at the request of Cities of Springfield, Happy Valley, Troutdale, Medford, Hillsboro and League of Oregon Cities”. The bill seeks relief from the Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities rules adopted by the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC). The bill now sits in House Rules while, on April 20, LCDC will consider new temporary rules meant to address at least some of the concerns of those cities. A lawsuit is also pending on the adopted rules. We will see after April 20 if the parties can come to an agreement. You can read more about this issue on the LCDC website.
HB 3414 with the -4 amendment would create a new Housing Accountability and Production Office in DLCD and also includes a Section 2 related to processing of variances 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. The bill was moved without recommendation as to passage, referred to House Rules, and then to Ways and Means.
SB 70A would allow housing on acreage in Malheur County. The League provided testimony in opposition on Feb. 8. On April 3, the bill was moved without recommendation as to passage to Senate Rules. LWVOR still opposes it.
There are a number of bills related to siting solar in Oregon. HB 3179A was sent “do pass” to the House chamber.
See also the Housing Report in the Social Policy section of this Legislative Report.
By Shirley Weathers
Oregon Dept. of Energy staff has set the meeting of the RAC requested by the member representing Waste Management for 9a-12 noon on April 24. No details about what Waste Management will present at the meeting are available at this time beyond their initial request for the meeting back in February. In that, they indicated that they will seek consensus acceptance of a draft rule package of their own on the basis of their new proposed approach in lieu of submitting comments to the draft concepts currently before the RAC as developed by ODOE. The League will attend the virtual meeting.
By Kathy Moyd/Greg Martin
SB 543A will have a public hearing on April 17 in House Climate, Energy and Environment and a Work Session on April 19. The bill would prohibit the use of polystyrene foam containers and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in sales of prepared food. The League provided testimony in support on Feb. 17.
The House Climate, Energy and Environment Committee held a Work Session on SB 545A on April 17. The amended bill simply requires OHA to "adopt rules allowing for a restaurant to allow a consumer to fill a consumer-owned container with food." It also gives OHA an additional 6 months to adopt the rules (by June 30, 2024). (ODA was removed from the rulemaking mandate since the department adopted changes to the Retail Food Code in February.) The League provided testimony in support when it was heard in the Senate.
By Paula Grisafi
HB 3043 A has a public hearing scheduled on April 20 in Senate Energy and Environment.
SB 546 A (toxic free cosmetics) was sent to W&Ms although there was NO fiscal for the 2023-25 session because, although the measure takes effect January 1, 2024, all substantive portions of the bill are not operative until January 1, 2027. SB 426 (toxic free schools) moved out of committee with the -2 amendment and was sent to W&Ms without clarity on the fiscal impact.
By Peggy Lynch
A major water bill, HB 3124, was moved to House Rules without recommendation as to passage. 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). A “public comment” opportunity has been set in House Agriculture, Land Use, Agriculture and Water on April 18. The League will provide comments on the bill and its various elements, using our participation in the HB 5006 Work Group as our guide.
A priority of the League is HB 3163A, a bill that renews the Place-Based Planning program with a Fund to help groups participate in this program, sent to W&Ms. The League participated in a Work Group last year to help develop program sideboards and provided testimony in support.
HB 2238 would have authorized rulemaking to consider an increase in fees for the removal/fill program. The League supported the original bill. Instead the bill wasamended and now just clarifies what DSL can do with personal belongings when they clean up sites on their property. The League is disappointed. We will continue to follow the bill in the Senate.
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 info 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. Governor Kotek has signed drought declarations for the counties of Crook, Jefferson, Grant and Deschutes. Wasco County has also requested a drought declaration.
By Carolyn Mayers
The House Committee on Climate, Energy and Environment, on April 5, held an informational
meeting on SB 82A, relating to insurance companies and consumer protections with regard to
homeowners’ insurance and wildfire risk. Doug Grafe, Wildfire and Emergency Response Advisor to the Governor, gave a brief history of wildfire and its spread in terms of both geography and intensity, for context. This was followed by an overview of past and current wildfire related legislation. He outlined the intersection of SB 82A with SB 80A, the omnibus Wildfire Programs bill, and how the wildfire mitigation programs for homeowners and neighborhoods outlined therein, when taken advantage of, should figure into insurance company’s ratings calculations.
The informational meeting was immediately followed by a SB 82 A Public Hearing. Andrew Stolfi, Director of the Oregon Department of Business and Consumer Service, (and State Insurance Commissioner), gave a bill overview, emphasizing it is primarily for the purpose of consumer protection and increased transparency. He also mentioned that as part of their work, an increase in payment limits under the FAIR Plan had been secured, a real win for homeowners in this high-risk pool.
Next up was Senator Golden, who reiterated the need for insurance companies to consider homeowner and neighborhood mitigation measures when rating a policy or policies. He called it a “companion” to SB 509 A , which aims to scale out neighborhood collaboratives in order to help whole neighborhoods reduce risk.
Also on April 5, there was an informational meeting before W&Ms on HB 5036, about funding and spending authority for the new recently established Department of the State Fire Marshal, taking the place of the Office of the State Fire Marshal. Previously, this office operated as part of the Oregon State Police (OSP). One negative bit of information from the meeting was that funding for the continuation of wildfire Community Risk Reduction Programs, to be continued under SB 762, the original 2021 wildfire legislation, was to be cut from $75 million to $40 million. The Governor’s budget decreases or eliminates a number of wildfire related programs.
On April 6, this same committee held a HB 5036 public hearing, with a number of speakers testifying in favor and lauding the work of the State Fire Marshal. Chair Mark Bennett, Wildfire Programs Advisory Council (WCAP), also lent his support, saying he was “…glad it’s no longer the bastard step-child…” of OSP. WCAP was scheduled to hold their next meeting on April 14 to discuss the wildfire hazard map and current legislation.
This very interesting Oregon Live article outlines circumstances before and while the 2020 wildfires broke out, where State officials had a pointed discussion with public electrical utilities about considering Public Safety Power Shutoffs in light of the developing wind and wildfire situation.
Finally, demonstrating the continuing benefits of the 2021 wildfire bill, SB 762 as “the gift that keeps on giving”, this KEZI article reports on new special, state of the art, wildfire fighting engines and tankers purchased for localities around the state by the Department of the Fire Marshal.
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: What is your passion related to Natural Resources? You can help. Volunteers are needed. The 2023 legislative session is 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.