OSWA End of Session Report 2019
By Roger Beyer
The legislative session began on January 14th with Democrats controlling both legislative chambers with super majorities (60% or more) and a democratic governor. The two chambers introduced nearly 1500 bills the first day and then adjourned until January 22nd when the session began in earnest. The adjournment was preplanned, in that by starting on the 22nd the constitutional end date would be June 30th which coincides with the end of the fiscal year.
The Agriculture and Natural Resources lobby groups met twice a week to identify issues and make strategic plans. This has been happening since the 2009 session and the results speak for themselves. By working together as a group, we have been much more successful than in the past. With the current leadership and attitude of the legislature, everyone was expecting a very difficult session, and we were not disappointed.
In the end, we succeeded in stopping many harmful policy bills including the proposed carbon cap and trade bill which would have been very detrimental to agriculture producers. Additionally, we protected key budgets (ODA, ODF, OWRD) from harmful cuts and successfully lobbied to have the OSU Extension budget restored to current service level plus an additional $5.2 million for specific identified programs including:
- $2 million (Extension) for fire resilience and recovery
- $2.27 million (AES) and $410K (Extension) for water quality and quantity programs
- $375K (Extension) for organic agriculture positions and $125K (one-time funding AES) for a continuing berry position.
The next session is only 7 months away and I expect to see many of the issues that did not pass introduced at that time. One we can count on for sure is the Carbon Cap and Trade as both the Governor and legislative leaders have stated it will be their highest priority for 2020.
Below is a list of bills affecting natural resource industries. The list begins with bills which passed, sorted by issue areas. Following is the list of bills which did not pass, again by issue area.
Bills of Interest That Passed
Clean Diesel (HB 2007): Creates phase-out requirements for 2007 and older on-road diesel engines in Clackamas County, Washington County, and Multnomah County by 2029. Exempts fleets of five trucks or less, low-mileage fleets, off-road engines, log trucks, f-plates, farm tractors, and implements of husbandry.
FFA Funding (HB 2444): Provides state funding to Oregon FFA. The bill provides $1.43 million to the program and $600,000 in grant funds for FAA advisors during the summer months.
Environmental and Water
Dam Safety (HB 2085): Modifies the dam safety statutes in several minor respects.
Partial Assumption (HB 2436): Allows the Department of State Lands to assume fill-and-removal permitting from the Army Corps of Engineers for development activities within the urban growth boundary, excluding agricultural and forestry activities.
Codification of Obama-Era Regulations (HB 2250): Requires Oregon’s natural resources agencies to address through agency rules any changes to federal regulations under the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, or Safe Drinking Water Act.
Navigability (HB 2835): Requires state agencies to look for opportunities for public access to waterways on public lands.
Commercial Activity Tax (HB 3427): Creates a tax on businesses with taxable receipts over $1 million. The minimum tax is $250, plus a 0.57% tax on receipts over the $1M threshold.
Income Tax Kicker Modification (HB 2975): Includes an accounting change that reduced the upcoming kicker by over $100 million by transferring this money into the next biennium.
Forest Products Harvest Tax (HB 2073): Sets harvest tax rate for upcoming biennium.
Elk Damage (SB 301): Adds elk overpopulation to the criteria of the Oregon Landowner Damage Program. Also, ODFW has committed to reviewing rules and regulations to expand opportunities to manage overpopulated elk herds that damage working lands.
Landowner Damage Program (HB 2067): Removes the sunset dates for ODFW’s Landowner Damage Program.
Second Dwelling for Forest Landowners (HB 2469): Allows landowner with at least 80 acres and home to site second home for family member under certain circumstances.
Forest Zone Template Test (HB 2225): Changed criteria for qualifying for template test home of forest land.
Extends Timeline to Exercise Building Rights (HB 2601): Allows forest landowner additional 5 years to build approved building.
Bills of Interest That Failed
Cap-and-Trade (HB 2020): Would have established a cap-and-trade program in Oregon for carbon emissions. In the end, HB 2020 had over 100 amendments. Thousands submitted written testimony. The committee held remote hearings around the state and bi-weekly meetings in Salem. HB 2020 passed the House of Representatives but died in the Senate following Senate Republicans denying quorum after significant grassroots opposition.
Immunizes Landowners from Liability Claims by Guests (HB 2468): Would have expanded liability protection for landowners who allow guests and invitees to recreate on property.
Forestry in Drinking Watersheds (HB 2656): Would have banned forestry operations in drinking watersheds.
Aerial Application Ban (HB 2493; SB 926): HB 2493 would have banned aerial applications in the Santiam and McKenzie watersheds. SB 926 would have banned aerial applications on state-owned property.
Aerial Notification (HB 3044): Would have required an unworkable notification system for aerial applications of pesticides.
Forestland Notification (SB 931): Would have required a notification and reporting program for pesticide applications on forestlands.
Pesticide Use Reporting System (HB 2980). Would have extended the sunset on the pesticide use reporting system (PURS).
Independent Contracting (HB 2498): Would have changed Oregon’s multi-part test to determine who is considered an employee versus an independent contractor. Many contractors would have lost their independent contractor status.
Workers’ Comp Rewrite (HB 3022): Would have upended Oregon’s workers’ compensation system and increased risk and costs for small employers.
SAIF Raid: Would have bought down Oregon’s PERS liability, Governor Brown proposed a raid on the SAIF reserves, anywhere from $500 million to $1.4 billion.
Private Attorneys General (SB 750 & HB 2921): SB 750 would have enabled employees and unions to act as private attorneys general to supplement enforcement actions by public agencies in Oregon. HB 2921 would have prohibited Attorney General from accepting funds from sources other than public bodies of this state to pay cost of employing assistants.
Environmental and Water
Stay of Water Rights Decisions (SB 977/HB 3420): Would have disallowed automatic stays in OWRD proceedings.
Transfer of Stored Water (SB 51; SB 903; SB 946):
SB 51 would have only allowed transfer of a storage water right in limited circumstances.
SB 903 would have allowed transfer of a storage water right more broadly.
SB 946 would have created a path for allowing transfer of stored water more broadly.
Measurement and Reporting (HB 2851). Would have required new reporting requirements for water use.
Harmful Algal Blooms (HB 2944; HB 3326; HB 3340): Would have required the Department of Environmental Quality to evaluate and respond to harmful algal blooms.
Pass Through Income (SB 211): Would have repealed the Small Business tax rates from 2013 and reduced the amount of income eligible for federal deductions.
Forest Assessment (HB 2659): Would have repealed the special assessment for working forestlands.
SB 188 – Would have excluded decedent’s primary residence from the taxable estate.
SB 304 – Would have allowed the value of interest in a family-owned business to be excluded from the taxable estate.
SB 319 – Would have repealed Oregon estate tax.
SB 701 – Would have aligned Oregon’s basic exclusion to the federal value of $11.4 million.
Sunsets Forest Land Special Assessments (HB 2152): Would have repealed 5 key property tax programs for forestland.
Increased Severance Tax on Timber Harvest (HB 2495 & HB 3080): Would have created a new severance tax for fire suppression.
Fish and Wildlife Commission Makeup (HB 2747; SB 310): Would have provided agricultural interests with a stronger voice on the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Historic Designations (SB 927): Would have removed a landowner’s ability to opt out of land use protections associated with historic designations.
Oregon Agriculture Heritage Program (HB 2729; HB 2086): Bills that would have supported the newly created Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program.