Legislative Report - Week of 4/17
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By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator, and Team
Budgets are beginning to have Work Sessions and we are seeing a number of federal grant requests from agencies due to all the federal funds available from various federal bills passed by the U.S. Congress this last year. The League is providing fewer new testimonies since we’ve spoken on bills in the first chamber. Others are awaiting the May Revenue Forecast before being considered in Ways and Means. The next deadlines for policy bills are May 5 to schedule a Work Session and May 19 for the bill to move out of committee to the second chamber.
LWVOR joined others in support of HB 3229. The bill would modify federal air quality (Title V) operating permit program fees and authorize the Environmental Quality Commission to annually adjust federal operating permit program fees, air contaminant reporting fees, and asbestos abatement program fees by no more than three percent. By addressing fee increases regularly, there is less chance of having substantial increases in the future.
On April 24, the JW&Ms Natural Resources Subcommittee will begin with another committee orientation so that committee members understand the process for actually passing budgets to the chambers. Then they will consider the Land Use Board of Appeals budget (HB 5028). The League provided testimony in support on March 6.
On April 25, they will consider a federal grant request from DEQ on climate and the Oregon State Marine Board budget (SB 5521). The League provided testimony in support on Feb. 27. Right now, there’s a break on the 26, but on April 27 they will consider the budget for the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development. (HB 5027). The League provided comments on Feb. 14. Although we support funding for this agency, there were significant missing elements in the Governor’s budget that we advocated for inclusion.
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 2023-25 funding, including a virtual public meeting session on Friday, May 5, 5-7 p.m. Plan on no more than 2 minutes each! There was good attendance at the first meetings with a diversity of requests from Oregonians. We await the May 17 Revenue Forecast that will guide the final balanced budgets for 2023-25. But, if the testimony is heard, legislators will have a hard time providing funding for everything Oregonians said they wanted funded. The Governor has again called for use of the approximately $600 million ending-fund-balance monies that are required to be put into the already significantly full Rainy Day Fund to reduce budget cuts and provide monies for some of those requests Oregonians have asked be funded. The League has been supportive of this request to the legislature.
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 continues to discuss HB 3382 with legislators, former State Rep. Brian Clem (one of many who requested the bill) and state agencies as we continue to express concern about the importance of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) and linkage to our statewide land use planning program. We took the opportunity to share our 2012 Coastal Study that explains the CZMA and other coastal issues with some legislators and staff. Informative, well researched League studies are a hallmark of League expertise. We truly believe that this bill is a serious threat to our coastal planning and could reduce or remove the opportunity for coastal NOAA grants in the future. We need your voices to tell your legislators to Just Say NO!
A DLCD Coastal Grants webpage 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. (It is grant funding like this that could be at risk if HB 3382 passes as written!)
Columbia River Treaty
By Phillip Thor
The U.S. State Department and others provided a “listening session” on April 19 for the public on the negotiations between the U.S. and Canada on the Columbia River Treaty. Our partner, LWV of Washington’s Raelene Gold, shared our 4 State League concerns and requested that ecosystem function be part of any new Treaty. The next official negotiation session will be May 16-17.
Elliott State Research Forest (ESRF)
By Peggy Lynch
The Prospective ESRF Authority Board met in a retreat on April 17 and 18 to try to resolve a number of challenging issues. The website may provide more detailed information soon. The League continues to remind the Board of our continuing concern related to financial viability and hopes the Board can resolve that issue. Separately, SB 161 was filed by the Secretary of State (also a Land Board member) and has already passed the Senate. It has a public hearing scheduled on April 25 in the House. The bill adjusts some timelines as provided by the Dept. of State Lands’ testimony.
By Peggy Lynch
We reported on SB 1087, filed on behalf of a farm in Lane County where they want to add a “café” (with seating for 250-300 people) on their Exclusive Farm Use (EFU)-zoned property. The League opposes this overreach of our land use program. The Statesman Journal provided a great article on the bill on April 19.
On April 20, the Land Conservation and Development Commission considered new draft temporary rules on their current Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities rules. The proposal includes:
· More flexibility for cities and counties applying for alternative dates
· Clarity about review of major transportation projects
· A more direct option for climate-friendly areas
· Simplified parking reform options
If adopted, the temporary rules would take effect in May and stay in effect for 180 days.
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 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 W&Ms.
SB 70 A 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.
See also the Housing Report in the Social Policy section of this Legislative Report.
By Kathy Moyd/Greg Martin
SB 545 A was sent to the House with a do-pass recommendation. LWVOR testified in support at the Senate committee hearing. The bill directs OHA to adopt rules by June 30, 2024, allowing restaurants to let consumers fill their own containers with food.
SB 543 A moved to the House floor with a do-pass recommendation. As amended, the bill would prohibit food vendors from using polystyrene foam containers in selling prepared food, and would ban the sale or distribution of polystyrene foam containers or packaging peanuts, and food ware containers with intentionally added perfluoroalkyl substances, as of Jan.1, 2025. Civil penalties for violations would range from $100 to $500 per day. The original bill would have required DEQ to establish a certification program for compostable products and a public education and awareness campaign. The League provided testimony in support on Feb. 17.
On April 19, House Climate, Energy and Environment heard an update from DEQ on their Plastic Pollution and Recycling Modernization Act (SB 582, 2021) and other Product Stewardship Programs.
Many of us have heard of the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch. The Oregonian provided a sad article on what we are all doing to create this ocean trash pile.
SB 542-7, the Right to Repair bill passed out of Committee to the Senate floor on April 4. However, it has yet to be scheduled for a vote due to an uncertain Senate vote count. The League provided testimony in support on Feb. 14.
By Paula Grisafi
HB 3043 A was expected to have a public hearing this week in Senate Energy and Environment but none has been scheduled. SB 546A (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 A (toxic free schools) 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. A “public comment” opportunity was allowed in House Agriculture, Land Use, Agriculture and Water on April 18. The League provided comments, including a list of our priorities, using our HB 5006 Work Group participation as our guide.
HB 3163 A is a League priority, to renew the Place-Based Planning program with a Fund to help groups participate in this program. It was 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. It was amended 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 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 in many parts of Oregon and League members may want to check the U.S. Drought Monitor, a map that is updated every Thursday. Oregon’s climatologist and a variety of other Oregon scientific sources provide input into the drought map. Governor Kotek has signed drought declarations under ORS 536 for the counties of Crook, Jefferson, Grant, Deschutes, Wasco (through Executive Order 23-10) and Harney (through Executive Order 23-11) counties. In addition, many counties in eastern and southern Oregon have received Secretarial Disaster Designations from the US Department of Agriculture due to drought conditions.
SB 82A, relating to insurance companies and consumer protections with regard to homeowners' insurance and wildfire risk passed the House committee and is headed to the chamber floor.
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 email@example.com. Training will be offered.