Legislative Report - Week of 4/3
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By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator, and Team
The next policy bill deadlines are May 5 where bills in the second chamber must have a work session scheduled or the bill is dead. May 19 is when a bill must have completed its work session in its second chamber, or it is dead. Of course, the exceptions still apply: sending to Rules, Revenue, or a Joint Committee keeps the bill alive. The number of bills moved to Rules in each chamber seems extraordinary, most without recommendation from the originating policy committee.
On March 30, the League provided testimony with comments on the Dept. of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) budget (HB 5018).
The Oregon Water Resources Dept. (OWRD) budget (HB 5043) was heard April 4-6, with public testimony on the 6th. The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) budget (SB 5539 & SB 5540 ) is scheduled for April 12 and 13 with public testimony on the 13th. 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.).
The JW&Ms Capital Construction met April 7 with an agenda that included HB 5046, the Continuing Resolution bill that allows budgets adopted by the end of session (June 25) to begin being spent as of July 1! Public Universities and Community Colleges also presented their Capital Projects requests and there was another hearing on HB 5006.
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. A virtual public meeting session has been added for Friday, May 5, 5-7 p.m. All oral and written testimony will become part of the legislative record and made publicly available on the Oregon State Legislature website. 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.
The League was disappointed that HB 3349, with the -3 amendment, was passed to Ways and Means. The amendment would provide $300,000 each to eight different entities to create “navigators” to help access federal funding. We believe that there are better uses for the $2.4 million in the Higher Education budget.
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
HB 3382 is a serious threat to our coastal planning and could reduce or remove the opportunity for coastal NOAA grants in the future. LWVOR is working with partners to explain the harm this bill would cause. We need your voices to tell your legislators to Just Say NO!
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.firstname.lastname@example.org 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 and may provide testimony before LCDC in April.
Two years ago, the Oregon Legislature made a $1.9 million investment to fund research to help understand our changing ocean. Now, you can hear research progress and findings funded by House Bill 3114 at a free event in Newport on Friday, April 14. Space is limited and registration is required.
The first Oregon Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia (OAH) Symposium runs 8:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. at the Hatfield Marine Science Center auditorium, 2030 SE Marine Science Dr. The passage of HB 3114 was an historic Oregon first in the fight against OAH and showed Oregon leaders' awareness of the importance of healthy oceans. LWVOR supported HB 3114 (2021) and have requested that monies not yet spent in this biennium be rolled over for 2023-25.
Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
By Peggy Lynch
DEQ will host a community brainstorming session from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on April 12 to discuss the recently announced U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant opportunity for Wildfire Smoke Preparedness in Community Buildings. An EPA information session related to this funding opportunity is scheduled from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. PDT on April 10. More information about this funding opportunity and where to register for the EPA’s information session. The goal of this funding opportunity is to improve public health protection against smoke from wildfires by enhancing preparedness in community buildings.
Dept. Of Geology And Mineral Industries (DOGAMI)
By Peggy Lynch
The League follows this agency and supported SB 222, a simple bill to allow (not require) that permittees could pay their permit application fees with a credit card—but would have to pay the card fee also. On April 5, the bill was voted on in the Senate chamber. When the vote was 15-14, Sen. Prozanski changed his vote to Nay so he could have the bill reconsidered when Sen. Sollman returned to the Capitol. She was in Hillsboro visiting the U.S. Commerce Secretary as a leader on the semiconductor issue. With Sen. Gorsek out recovering from heart surgery, any contentious bill that one party determines they want to try to kill risks jeopardy.
Elliott State Research Forest (ESRF)
By Peggy Lynch
The ESRF website notes a next prospective Board meeting on April 10. Part of the meeting will discuss the financial viability modeling which is of interest to the League. Here is the agenda for the noon-4p zoom meeting.
By Peggy Lynch
The League provided testimony in opposition to SB 1051 with the -2 amendment, a bill to allow a property owner to request an Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) expansion of up to 200 acres outside of the current UGB process. The bill died in committee.
HB 3414 with the -4 amendment was adopted to 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 Ways and Means.
SB 70 had a public hearing on Feb. 8 where the League provided testimony in opposition. The -1 amendment was adopted and the bill was moved without recommendation as to passage to Senate Rules. LWVOR still opposes it.
The League was alerted to SB 1087 – a bill to allow restaurants, 25-car parking lots, and 5,000-square-foot seating areas on land designated for exclusive farm use (EFU land). It sets 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 bill had a hearing on April 6 in Senate Rules. 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.
There are a number of bills related to siting solar in Oregon. HB 3179 with the -4 amendment passed out of committee to the House chamber. HB 3181, a task force with specific members, with the -1 amendment, passed out of committee to Ways and Means. The measure appropriates $500,000 General Fund to ODOE and $2 million General Fund to DLCD, to provide financial and technical assistance; and also has blank General Fund appropriations for both agencies.
DLCD and the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) are collaborating on a project to upgrade Oregon’s natural hazards risk assessment. The risk assessment provides the factual foundation for establishing mitigation goals and identifying and making strategic investments to reduce risks from natural hazard events throughout the state. DLCD and OEM have established a Risk Assessment Work Group to complete the project. The Work Group will meet next on April 11, 12:30-2:30 p.m. Register here, registration required.
See also the Housing Report in the Social Policy section of this Legislative Report.
By Kathy Moyd/Greg Martin
SB 543 passed the Senate on April 3. The bill would prohibit the use of polystyrene foam containers and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in sales of prepared food.
SB 542-7, the Right to Repair bill, passed out of Committee to the Senate floor on April 4.
The House Climate, Energy and Environment Committee heard favorable testimony on SB 545A from Sen. Sollman and environmental witnesses on April 5. The Senate engrossed bill greatly simplifies the original bill, removing the detailed prescription of what the OHA rules must contain. 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.
DEQ will hold the fifth Recycling Modernization Act Rulemaking Advisory Committee meeting from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. on April 11. DEQ will present the draft local government and producer responsibility organization obligation rules, the draft fiscal and racial equity statements, and will provide follow-up information regarding the topics presented during the previous meeting. To attend the meeting please register via Zoom. To learn more about this rulemaking and the advisory committee, view the rulemaking web page at: Recycling Updates 2023.
By Paula Grisafi
HB 3043 heads to Senate Energy and Environment, as its second chamber, having passed the House. SB 546 (toxic free cosmetics) passed out of committee unanimously after adoption of the -7 amendment and 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. View the committee presentation here and Drought Relief and Water Security Slides and comprehensive explanations: Bipartisan Drought Relief and Water Security Package (BiDRAWS). The League may engage with the bill and its various elements now that it is in House Rules. It will also need to be sent to W&Ms when the elements of the bill are agreed to by the Rules Committee.
Other water bills that had action by April 4.
HB 3207, a bill that would require reporting to DEQ the results of well water tests during a real estate transaction, had a contentious hearing between DEQ and those wanting to have the data accessed by DEQ and the laboratory businesses who do the actual testing. A -2 amendment was adopted and the bill was sent to W&Ms where more clarity on the process may require further amendments. DEQ estimates that implementation of this measure will cost $306,554 in the 23-25 biennium. The League supported the bill and hopes it will pass the legislature so DEQ can access this data and determine if there are areas of the state in need of groundwater protection.
HB 3163 with the -2 amendment, to renew the Place-Based Planning program with a Fund to help groups participate in this program, was sent to W&Ms. The League participated in a Work Group over 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 was amended and now just clarifies what DSL can do with personal belongings when they cleanup sites on their property. The League is disappointed.
EPA announces $8,473,000 investment for water infrastructure upgrades in Oregon. The money is allocated to the Clean Water State Revolving Funds. In Oregon, that fund is housed at DEQ.
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. 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
A work session was held April 3 on SB 80-4, meant to improve and build on various components of SB 762, the original sweeping wildfire legislation passed in 2021. Primary issues in this bill include a focus on needed enhancements to the Statewide Wildfire Risk map, changing its name to Hazard Map, and the number of named risk zones, and the process by which it is to be completed. One major complaint with the previous map, and a large part of what led to its withdrawal shortly after release, was that it lacked public input. Initial input this time around will be coordinated with local partners, including counties, relevant state agencies, and the Wildfire Programs Advisory Council. In addition, before the final map is released there will be a public comment period. The intent is to improve the local level map accuracy by seeking said input, where it is supported by data and science. Other bill components deal with wildland urban interface (WUI) definition and direct the State Fire Marshal’s office to establish defensible space requirements in extreme and high risk zones of the WUI, establishes various funding mechanisms for defensible space in high and extreme risk zones, and a long list of other community level risk reduction and home hardening tools and programs. It was adopted and moved to the floor with a do-pass recommendation. LWVOR provided testimony in support of SB 80 with amendments.
SB 872-4 was also adopted and sent to the floor with a do-pass recommendation, instructing the State Forestry Department to endeavor to partner with federal agencies to undertake certain activities in federal forests related to fire prevention and requesting that federal agencies fund activities.
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.