Legislative Report - Week of 4/24
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By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator, and Team
Unless policy bills have headed to Ways and Means, we are watching them move to the second chamber. A few will see additional amendments, but most will simply have quick hearings, work sessions, and then will go to the second chamber for a vote. However, the Senate is still reading all bills and some Senators are using a number of delay tactics so the passage of bills out of the Senate chamber is very slow. The next policy bill deadline is May 5 to schedule a Work Session and May 19 for the bill to move out of committee to the second chamber.
LWVOR joined with others in support of HB 3229. The bill would modify federal air quality (Title V) operating permit program fees. The bill sits in Ways and Means without recommendation.
The budget for the Land Use Board of Appeals (HB 5028) was approved by W&Ms Natural Resources and moved to Full W&Ms. The League provided testimony in support on March 6.
The Office of the Governor’s Budget (HB 5022) was heard on April 24. The Governor’s Chief of Staff presented the Governor’s requests and vision for the Office. She is asking for 2 more staff and is committed to considering putting into her 2025 budget the “loaned” staff from other agencies now in her office. A surprise was that, instead of 9 total Regional Solutions staff, she said they were looking at 5. The current Regional Solutions Program is divided into 11 regions. Although there will continue to be 11 regions, Coordinators will need to share regions.
The Chief of Staff also provided a reorganization chart (See pages 12 and 13 of the Governor’s presentation. The Governor is going to focus on her three priorities: Housing, Behavioral Health and Education. She meets regularly with the 15 largest state agency Directors. Her Deputy Chief of Staff Chris Warner is responsible for the various policy experts.
A federal grant request from DEQ on climate for $3 million—a non-competitive grant meant to begin work to gain access to other federal funds in 2024—was approved by the Subcommittee. Rep. Levy noted how important it would be for the agency to have robust, inclusive public involvement in this program.
The Oregon State Marine Board Subcommittee approved budget (SB 5521) moved to Full W&Ms. The League provided testimony in support on Feb. 27 and was pleased to see a focus on abandoned and derelict vessels. We are hopeful to see that same focus continue when the Dept. of State Lands budget is approved.
On April 27 they considered 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. The LFO recommendation has been posted. Only the Governor’s budget (with expectation of additional staff housed in other legislation), but none of the Agency Request POPs were approved. We will report next week on the Subcommittee decision.
The League provided testimony again on HB 5025, the omnibus higher education budget, this time in support of the Oregon Consensus/Oregon Solutions programs at Portland State University.
The Oregon Conservation Network (OCN) provided a letter to Legislative and W&Ms Leadership to express the budget wishes of the 42 OCN organizations. The League was a part of that effort.
There was no Full Ways and Means meeting in the Capitol on April 28. And we learned that the W&Ms Natural Resources Subcommittee will not meet on May 1 and 2.
The last of the Ways and Means roadshows will be held Wed. May 3, 5-7 p.m. You can sign up to provide testimony virtually or attend in Salem. Plan on no more than 2 minutes each! We await the May 17 Revenue Forecast, the guide for the final balanced budgets for 2023-25.
By Claudia Keith and Team
See the Climate Emergency section for overlaps with this Natural Resources Report. We encourage you to read both sections.
By Christine Moffitt/Peggy Lynch
The Joint Transportation Committee saw a change in leadership. Due to a serious health event, Sen. Gorsek was replaced by Sen. Frederick as the Senate Co-Chair and Senate President Rob Wagner assigned himself to the committee.
We are awaiting a new proposed amendment for HB 3382 but are hopeful that time will run out without one. 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!
DLCD and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians were awarded $2.1 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Funding for Coastal Resilience. This is an example of the link between our land use planning program, the Coastal Zone Management Act and federal grant funding.
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!)
Dept. of State Lands
HB 2238, a bill that originally was filed to provide permission for robust rulemaking to increase fees for the removal/fill program is back! The bill was amended in the House to remove the fee increase and instead allows the Dept. of State Lands to get rid of personal property collected during clean up of DSL-owned property after 30 days. A new amendment has been filed to bring back the original purpose of the bill. The League continues to support.
Elliott State Research Forest (ESRF)
By Peggy Lynch
Another Prospective Board meeting is scheduled for May 2 via Zoom from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Join the meeting online. Here is the agenda.
Their website provides information. The League continues to remind the Board of our continuing concern related to financial viability and hopes the Board can resolve that issue. We will continue to monitor these Prospective Board meetings.
The Prospective ESRF Authority Board met in a retreat on April 17 and 18 to try to resolve a number of challenging issues. The retreat agenda indicates they had substantial conversations around how to respond to the Habitat Conservation Plan work and how to fund the research forest if they cannot harvest as much timber as originally considered. They are seeking more funding from the federal government as they also discover ways to use the former Shutter Creek Correctional facility as part of their ESRF work.
SB 161 had a public hearing on April 25 in the House with a new proposed amendment, increasing a deadline to Dec. 31, 2023. The bill adjusts some other timelines as provided by the Dept. of State Lands’ April 25 testimony.
By Peggy Lynch
On April 20, Oregon’s Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) adopted temporary rule amendments for the Climate-Friendly and Equitable Communities (CFEC) program. The temporary rules are available on the rulemaking web page and would take effect in May, to stay in effect for 180 days. The commission also initiated a rulemaking process to integrate the temporary rule changes, along with other clarifications and corrections, into permanent rules developed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the land use and transportation sector and increase equitable outcomes. These rules apply to eight metropolitan areas in Oregon - Albany, Bend, Corvallis, Eugene/Springfield, Grants Pass, Medford/Ashland, Portland Metro, Salem/Keizer. The commission and department staff are making these changes to aid local implementation. Local governments and community members can find a list of the temporary rule changes on the Climate-Friendly and Equitable Communities program page.
No new news 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.
A public hearing was held in House Housing and Homelessness on SB 1013. The League has worked with the sponsor and Sen. Hayden to assure that, should a recreational vehicle be allowed on a rural property, issues of sewage and clean drinking water would be addressed by the counties. A -2 amendment is being offered to change that counties “may” adopt this law vs. “shall”.
HB 3442 A, a bill that will allow coastal communities to develop in hazard areas under certain conditions, was heard in Senate Housing and Development on April 24. The amended bill responded to the League concerns in the original bill.
We noticed an interesting bill, HB 3416 A, that lists a number of projects around rural Oregon to be funded by Business Oregon. The bill awaits a verdict in Ways and Means.
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.
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.
See also the Housing Report in the Social Policy section of this Legislative Report.
Northwest Energy Coalition
By Robin Tokmakian
Our League representative worked on a resolution regarding gas utility decarbonization. LWVOR signed on to support the resolution.
By Shirley Weathers
The April 24, 2023 meeting of the Rulemaking Advisory Committee (RAC) on Radioactive Waste generated a lot of discussion and set the stage for two-part procedural consideration of recommended rules for OAR 345-050 designed to implement SB 246 (2021) with which the RAC is charged. After several RAC meetings, ODOE staff had provided draft rules for RAC members’ input. Within the draft, there were two Parts. Prior to the comment deadline, the member representing Waste Management Corporation requested the April 24 meeting to present a proposal for a significantly different approach to Part II of the draft rules. Waste Management and other members participating in the development of the alternate proposal—Oregon Business and Industry was one named—have stated their hope for RAC consensus for their approach.
During the meeting, members and ODOE staff raised a number of questions about the proposal, making it clear that much more discussion is needed. Some issues will require legal analysis. It was tentatively decided that the two Parts will proceed on separate tracks.
Part I: Staff will incorporate member input received thus far into another draft for RAC member input. That segment will then be finalized by mid- June in time to be presented as a recommendation to the July Energy Facilities Siting Committee meeting. A public comment period will follow.
Part II: Discussions and other activities related to the Waste Management proposal will proceed and likely will include more meetings. The League will seek more information about the nature of the legal analysis and participate in subsequent meetings. The meeting recording and PDF of the WMI presentation will be posted on the ODOE Rulemaking page for this RAC.
By Kathy Moyd/Greg Martin
On April 25, the Senate voted 26-3 to refer SB 542 A (Right to Repair) to the Rules Committee. There it will sit until more amendments are made or until there are enough votes to pass it in the full Senate. The League provided testimony in support on Feb. 14.
On April 26, the House passed SB 543 A by 40-18, and passed SB 545 A by 38-18, sending both bills to the Governor. SB 543 A, an OCN priority bill, prohibits a food vendor from using polystyrene foam containers in sales of prepared food, and prohibits the sale or distribution of polystyrene foam containers, packaging peanuts, and food ware containers with intentionally added polyfluoroalkyl substances. LWVOR provided supporting testimony in the Senate committee hearing. SB 545 A directs OHA to adopt rules allowing restaurants to allow consumers to fill their own containers with food. LWVOR also testified in favor of this bill in committee.
HB 3043 A was expected to have a public hearing this week in Senate Energy and Environment, but it has been unscheduled. 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 fiscal impact clarity. The bill’s advocates are working to assure that the fiscal impact statement is not over inflated by agency staff.
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. The League provided comments on the bill, including a list of our priorities, using our participation in the HB 5006 Work Group as our guide.
A League priority is HB 3163A, a bill that renews the Place-Based Planning program with a Fund to help groups participate in this program. It was sent to W&Mw. The League participated in a Work Group last year to help develop sideboards on the program, with testimony in support.
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 and Harney 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.
State Forester Cal Mukumoto has decided not to renew the state’s wildfire insurance policy for 2023-24. The state would have to incur costs over $78 million before accessing the $25 million policy. Oregon has had the policy for 51 years—the only state to have such a policy. And, over time, it has been worthwhile. But the price of the policy vs. the threshold to access the payout no longer makes good business sense. LWVOR hopes that the investment in wildfire preparedness will help reduce wildfire costs over time.
The League provided testimony in support of funding for the Oregon Conservation Corps in HB 5025, the omnibus Higher Education Coordinating Commission budget bill.
The Senate Committee on Natural Resources heard HB 2522 A on April 26. The bill would create a committee to review and make recommendations related to rural fire districts and areas in Oregon where communities exist without structural fire protection. With so many of our rural areas dependent on volunteer firefighters and new small enclaves of housing in remote areas, this bill seems a good first step to seeking resolution of these issues.
SB 80 A, the omnibus Wildfire Programs bill, is in Ways and Means as is SB 509A, which aims to scale out neighborhood collaboratives in order to help whole neighborhoods reduce risk
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.