Legislative Report - Week of 5/22
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By Peggy Lynch, Natural Resources Coordinator, and Team
With Policy Committees closed from moving bills out of committee (except for Rules, Revenue and Joint Committees), watch for interesting information sessions—to learn more about current issues and potential future ones. We continue to wait for a climate package and a water package, as well as most natural resource agency budgets to be scheduled. The League continues to advocate for the slew of bills in Ways and Means we supported earlier in session and listed in this report.
The Ways and Means Natural Resources Subcommittee worked on grant application requests last week. For instance, $5.9 million from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture will come to Oregon to help small farmers and underserved communities and businesses. Our Dept. of Agriculture will need to create a plan for spending the money. Among the ideas could be providing packaging machines to small farms to be able to package vegetables in individual containers for our Farm-to-School program. Other grant requests for ODFW and others were considered.
SB 488 A requires the owner or operator of a municipal solid waste incinerator (Covanta in Keizer) to develop a plan for continuous monitoring or sampling of specified emissions for 12 consecutive months. It was worked in W&M Natural Resources Subcommittee. The – A7 amendment was adopted that provides $118,537 to DEQ to implement the bill.
A couple of budgets of interest last week included HB 5022, the budget for the Office of the Governor. Three positions are being added: a new Deputy Housing Advisor, a new Behavior Health Advisor and continuing the State Wildfire Programs Director position. And SB 5502, the budget for the Dept. of Administrative Services. Here is the LFO recommendation for the DAS budget. It includes monies to increase addressing IT services and upgrades in agencies statewide. Also being heard in other Subcommittees were bills related to the Dept. of Transportation and K-12 Schools.
Last week’s budgets were considered in Full Ways and Means on May 26.
The Governor signed HB 5046, to allow state agencies to continue to operate until Sept. 15 at current levels. With the current Senate Republican walkout, this bill is increasingly important.
SB 538 A, 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 is set to be voted on the House floor.
By Claudia Keith and Team
We encourage you to read both the Climate Emergency and Natural Resources sections of this Report.
HB 3382 A sits in House Rules. It currently limits the bill to ONLY the International Port of Coos Bay, places requirements around proof of financial viability and reports 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. 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?)
Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
DEQ will hold two virtual listening sessions to discuss updating its Supplemental Environmental Project policy in which funds from violations can go towards a community project that benefits public health or the environment.
The focus of these listening sessions is to hear how community-based organizations and communities think DEQ could update the policy to be more equitable and accessible. Read more about supplemental environmental projects. Send feedback also to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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, sits in Ways and Means. LWVOR provided testimony with concerns that were addressed by the amendment.
Dept. of State Lands
HB 2238, a bill filed to provide permission for robust rulemaking to increase fees for the removal/fill program with a new amendment was passed out of the Senate Natural Resources and awaits a vote in the Senate chamber. It will need to go back to the House for “concurrence”—to agree with the Senate amendment. The League continues to support.
Elliott State Research Forest (ESRF)
By Peggy Lynch
SB 161 was amended, passed the House and is headed to the Governor. 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. The prospective Board will tentatively meet June 6 and again on July 24 (time and location TBD).
By Greg Martin/Peggy Lynch
On May 17, Senate Energy and Environment moved HB 3179-A7 to the Senate floor with a do pass recommendation. The bill would double the maximum allowable acreage for solar photovoltaic power generation facility siting in the context of county land-use planning, allowing counties to approve more and larger solar projects while preserving existing protections for land use and wildlife. The amended bill now requires an applicant for a land use permit for a renewable energy facility to provide a decommissioning plan to restore the site to "a useful, nonhazardous condition," assured by bonding or other security.
There are still a number of land use planning bills sitting in Senate and House Rules. Those committees are not subject to deadlines until Leadership closes them, so we wait and watch—holding our breath that these bills are not trade bait.
SB 1096, a bill to “expand development into farmland”, has been referred to Senate Rules. The bill, similar to SB 1051 which the League vigorously opposed 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.
HB 3442 A, to allow coastal communities to develop in hazard areas under certain conditions, passed to the Senate floor on May 10 where it sits until there is a quorum. The amended bill responded to League concerns on the original bill.
See also the Housing Report in the Social Policy section of this Legislative Report.
DEQ will hold the first Recycling Modernization Act Rulemaking Advisory Committee meeting for the second rulemaking from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on July 13. DEQ will provide an overview of the Act, the rulemaking process, and will present the Commingled Processing Facility Worker Living Wage and Supportive Benefits rule concept. 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 2024.
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. 14th.
By Paula Grisafi
HB 3043 A was amended by the A3 amendment and passed out of Senate Energy and Environment to the Senate floor where it awaits a quorum. The bill revises provisions relating to chemicals in children’s products.
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.
By Peggy Lynch
The Port of Morrow announced May 19 that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected the port’s application for a loan to cover up to 80% of the cost to upgrade the industrial wastewater reuse system. Help may eventually come to residents of the Lower Umatilla area as they continue to suffer from nitrate-laden groundwater per this East Oregonian story.
On May 22, the EPA announced $2,499,579 in research grant funding to Texas Tech University for research on the behavior of perchlorate after fireworks events near water sources. Many fireworks displays in Oregon happen over water, in part to protect from fire. But is it safe? Hopefully this research will help answer that question.
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.
A major water bill, HB 3124, was moved to W&Ms 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.
HB 3163 A, is a League priority. It renews the Place-Based Planning program with a Fund to help groups participate in this program, and was sent to W&Ms. The League participated in a Work Group last year to help develop program sideboards and we provided testimony in support.
HB 3100 A addresses the Integrated Water Resources Strategy (IWRS), now 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 and 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
SB 80 A, the omnibus Wildfire Programs bill, is in W&Ms as is SB 509 A, which aims to scale out neighborhood collaboratives in order to help whole neighborhoods reduce risk. LWVOR provided support for SB 509 A.
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: What is your passion related to Natural Resources? You can help. Volunteers are needed. The 2023 legislative session is almost 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.