Legislative Report - Week of 5/15
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By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator, and Team
We’ve got money! The May 17 Revenue Forecast declared an additional $1.96 billion available for the 2023-25 session. And the crazy “kicker” is up to about $5.5 billion!! It could be about 50% of your 2023 Oregon taxes—shown up as a credit in 2024! Now we’ll see what the legislature does with all that money! We expect a package of climate bills and a water package. The League will advocate for the slew of bills in Ways and Means we supported earlier in session.
SB 488 A, relating to the Covanta medical waste incinerator, sits in Ways and Means.
BUDGETS/REVENUE: Here it is: The May 17 Revenue Forecast. You can listen to the presentation here. $1.96 billion more to spend on Oregon’s needs! Here are the Governor’s spending requests. We’ll soon learn what our legislators decide as to their spending priorities. We hope that the bills listed in Ways and Means in this report will be among those gaining funding and we understand there will be packages for climate and water investments.
The Oregon Center for Public Policy shared: “We estimate, based on Oregon Department of Revenue data, that the richest 100 Oregonians will get kicker rebates averaging more than $800,000.” State Economist Mark McMullen said rebates will come close to a record 50% of state tax liability (for 2023).
Last week’s budgets were considered in Full Ways and Means on May 19. The Governor signed HB 5046, to allow state agencies to continue to operate until Sept. 15 at current levels. This bill is usually done every biennium, but later in the session, as some budgets aren’t always finished until the last few days. This year, if the Senate Republicans don’t provide a quorum, the bill provides a short-term extension.
SB 538 A, mentioned in last week’s report, would allow DOGAMI and other agencies to offer permittees the ability to use a credit card to pay fees and the agencies can charge for the processing costs charged by those card businesses. It passed out of committee on May 11 and is headed to the House floor.
By Claudia Keith and Team
The Climate Emergency and Natural Resources sections of this Legislative Report overlap. We encourage you to read both sections.
By Christine Moffitt and Peggy Lynch
HB 3382 moved to House Rules with the -7 amendment late in the evening of May 18. After many meetings and conversations, the League agreed to not oppose the -7 amendment to HB 3382 that limits the bill to ONLY the International Port of Coos Bay, places requirements around proof of financial viability and report on the number of jobs to be created to be submitted with any actual project application. Only the Port and tribes would be qualified to submit an application. We don’t support the bill, but the votes seemed to be there for a bill, so we worked to make it as narrow as we could. Any project application would be for a new Goal 16 exception and would go through the usual local land use processes. Also, all the other federal and state agency permits would be required for any process.
On May 14, LWVOR issued an Action Alert to oppose the bill. As a result of ours and others who did the same, there were many opposition testimonies filed and a second public hearing was allowed on May 16 where more League members and others testified in opposition. The -7 amendment was negotiated on May 17 and was posted by noon on May 18 for the night’s work session in the Joint Committee on Transportation. The bill has been amended but was moved to House Rules without an explanation. The League will continue to monitor the bill. One additional amendment that would be appreciated is clarity that no fossil fuel projects would be allowed to be approved. (Remember Jordan Cove?) The -7s “save” the Yaquina and Astoria estuaries, but could do damage to the Coos Bay estuary, even though the amendment requires no net loss of important environmental values. A major expansion of the navigation channel can not help but do damage. If you want to listen to the sausage making, go to the 1 hour mark here.
The Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC) will hold a meeting on May 23 from 9am - 3pm at the Oregon Department of State Lands in Salem. Remote participation will also be available (Zoom Registration Link) Meeting materials and the draft agenda are forthcoming. Contact: Andy Lanier, Marine Affairs Coordinator @ Andy.Lanier@dlcd.oregon.gov.
HB 2903 A, funding continuing work on marine reserves, is in Ways and Means. LWVOR supports. You might find this ODFW news release interesting about how the marine reserves program unlocks secrets of ocean temperatures and oxygen levels. This 10-year-old program now has support by a diverse set of interests in the coastal communities.
Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
The Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) met on May 18 and 19, meeting agenda. Staff reports are often valuable resources.
A League member participated in the 2023 Water Quality Fee Rules Advisory Committee (RAC) as in past years to provide a “public” voice to the RAC. Here is the WQ Fee RAC Meeting Summary link - May 5, 2023. The EQC delegated authority to approve this rulemaking for 2023 to DEQ Director Feldon on May 19.
SB 835 A, as amended, would require DEQ to adopt rules to clarify when a single septic system can be used for both a primary residence and an ADU. It sits in W&Ms. LWVOR testimony concerns were addressed by the amendment.
Dept. of State Lands
HB 2238 originally 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 cleanup 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. The bill was amended and passed out of committee on May 17. It will need to go back to the House for “concurrence”—to agree with the Senate amendment.
Elliott State Research Forest (ESRF)
By Peggy Lynch
SB 161 was amended and passed out of the House Agriculture, Land Use, Natural Resources and Water Committee. The amendment increased a deadline for work being done on the transfer of the Elliott to the new Authority to Dec. 31, 2023. The bill adjusts some timelines as provided by the Dept. of State Lands’ April 25 testimony. The League understands there is a request for some monies in the end-of-session bill to help the new ESRF Authority move forward the first 18 months of their existence since logging to provide funding will take time to plan and execute.
By Peggy Lynch
Unfortunately, there are a number of land use planning bills sitting in the Senate and House Rules Committees. Those committees are not subject to deadlines until the Leadership closes those committees so we wait and watch—holding our breath that these bills are not trade bait should the Republican Senators return to their chamber to vote before the end of session.
SB 1096 would “expand development into farmland”, referred to Senate Rules. The bill, similar to SB 1051 which the League vigorously opposed and has died, is a topic of discussion. The bill continues the false narrative that simply adding land to urban growth boundaries will solve Oregon's housing crises.
HB 3414 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 had a public hearing in House Rules where the Governor advocated for the -6 amendment while a number of cities advocated for the -5 amendment, but it was clear that more negotiations will occur, so we should look for yet another amendment. The League has concerns about the burden being placed on cities under the -6 amendment. Local governments need to provide findings to explain why they might want to deny the variance instead of the applicant proving the need for the variance. Your Oregon News has a good article on the cities’ concerns. Of note is mention of a -7 amendment that would deal with land supply advocated by the Homebuilders Association and the Oregon Realtors.
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. The bill is in Senate Rules.
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 passage recommendation to Senate Rules. LWVOR still opposes it.
SB 1013 would allow a recreational vehicle to be sited on a rural property. It was amended by the -4 amendment and passed out of committee to the House floor on May 18. The League worked with the sponsor and Sen. Hayden to assure that, should a recreational vehicle be allowed, issues of sewage and clean drinking water would be addressed by the counties. Rep. Helm also stated that for the record in committee which the League appreciated.
See also the Housing Report in the Social Policy section of this Legislative Report.
By Shirley Weathers
In accordance with the plan announced at the end of the April 24 meeting of the Rulemaking Advisory Committee (RAC) on Radioactive Waste, Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) staff distributed on May 16, a second draft of what was designated as Part I of recommended rules for OAR 345-050 designed to implement SB 246 (2021). The deadline for RAC member input is June 15, after which ODOE staff will prepare materials for a report to EFSC for a July council meeting. It is expected that a public comment period on that segment of proposed rules will follow that meeting.
Staff indicated in the transmittal email of May 16 that RAC members will be notified when a path forward for the more controversial “Part II” pathway exemption section of the rules is identified. Discussions and other activities related to the Waste Management proposal presented during the April 24 meeting will proceed and likely will include more meetings. A link to the agenda and the video of the final hour of the meeting are posted on the ODOE Rulemaking page for this RAC ; the PowerPoint presentation prepared by Waste Management outlining their alternate proposal and the video of the first half of the meeting will be posted soon, per ODOE staff. The League will follow up on the remaining meeting materials, comment on the Part I draft, and continue to participate in the proceedings.
Oregon’s Recycling Modernization Act will improve recycling systems in communities across Oregon by requiring producers of packaging, paper products, and food serviceware to share responsibility for an effective and responsible recycling system. A new Recycling Council advises DEQ and the producer responsibility organizations on key recycling system elements. Contact information is posted at RecyclingAct.Oregon.gov.
SB 542 A (Right to Repair) continues to sit in Senate Rules 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.
By Paula Grisafi
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 A (toxic free schools) was sent to W&Ms without clarity on the fiscal impact. The bill’s advocates are working to assure that the fiscal impact statement is not over inflated by agency staff.
Rural areas have something to teach the rest of the state about protecting vulnerable populations. For example, according to a 2020 report by the Portland-based Oregon Community Foundation, seven of the 11 Oregon communities where children were most likely to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty were rural and primarily in eastern Oregon.
The report also showed that growing up in northeastern Oregon had the most positive impact on future income for low-income children: “On average children who grew up in low-income families in Wallowa, Baker or Grant counties earned 26% more than children in similar families in Jefferson County and 14% more compared to children in Multnomah County”.
Growing economies and increased economic mobility for low-income children are just a few examples of the value our rural communities bring to the state. Better understanding our rural communities and their assets would help to unify Oregon.
By Peggy Lynch
It’s time to engage in the Integrated Water Resources Strategy 2023 update. See the survey link on the webpage and meetings around the state, including a new May 31 virtual meeting opportunity.
HB 3124, a major water bill, was moved to House Rules without passage recommendation. 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.
HB 3163A, a League priority, renews 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 last year to help develop sideboards on the program and provided testimony in support.
HB 3100 A, addressing the Integrated Water Resources Strategy (IWRS), is in Ways and Means. The League provided testimony when the bill had its public hearing. Then we worked behind the scenes to provide guidance as the IWRS is updated. We support the 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. The League supports HB 2647 A to continue to address this public health issue. It sits in Ways and Means.
Thanks to a substantial snowpack, our drought in many parts of Oregon has lessened. However, the recent hot weather has begun to melt that “storage”. League members may want to check the U. S. Drought Monitor, a map that is updated every Thursday. Governor Kotek has signed drought declarations under ORS 536 for the counties of Crook, Jefferson, Grant, Deschutes, Wasco and Harney counties. Lake and Sherman Counties have requested a drought declaration. In addition, many counties in eastern and southern Oregon have received Secretarial Disaster Designations from the US Department of Agriculture due to continuing drought conditions.
By Carolyn Mayers
Senate Natural Resources held a Work Session on HB 2192 A -A6, a portion of which pertains to requiring destroyed or demolished structures rebuilt in High or Extreme wildfire hazard zones having to comply with home hardening requirements in the Oregon Residential Specialty Code, whether the new wildfire hazard map is available yet, or not. It was sent to the floor with a do-pass recommendation.
This was followed by an informational session on various topics including a number of methods
used for early detection of wildfire by Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), including infrared
enabled aircraft, cameras and remote monitoring at detection centers. One interesting tidbit was
that of the 69 wildfires detected by aircraft, all 69 fires were kept below ODF’s 10 acre measure of success. This speaks to the effectiveness of this particular investment in wildfire
response, most of which came from SB 762, the sweeping 2021 wildfire legislation.
Then the Department of Human Services discussed their work, largely in collaboration with the
Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), who also presented, around their “Cleaner Air Centers” and other actions taken to help Oregonians remain safe and healthy during wildfire
smoke events, and ongoing monitoring of air quality. It was made clear that all work done
in these areas was one-time funding, and if the work was to be ongoing, as it should be, new funding would be needed.
Finally, there was an ODF presentation about prescribed fire and how they are planning on
using this mitigation tool much more extensively than in the past. This plan does have a
potential large obstacle in the form of a recent EPA study showing a higher level of harmfulness to humans from wildfire smoke than anticipated, or previously believed. See meeting materials.
Oregon’s fleet of remote fire-watching cameras has grown following passage ofSB 762 (2021). The camera program expanded from 74 cameras at 58 sites now to 110 cameras at 94 sites. Teams at detection centers watch for signs of smoke the cameras pick up. With recent lightning events, the cameras have proved their worth. A fire spotted by camera in deep forest was put out within hours and only burned ½ an acre!
SB 80 A, the omnibus Wildfire Programs bill, is in W&Ms as is SB 509 A, which aims to scale out neighborhood collaboratives to help whole neighborhoods reduce risk. LWVOR provided support for SB 509 A.
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.