Dates of Interest
Nov. 18th – Nov. 20th Interim Days
Nov. 22nd – Bill Drafts Due for 2020
Jan. 13th – Bill Drafts Returned
Interim Days – Hearings of Interest
The Legislature returned to the Capitol for 3 days of informational hearings and 1 day of task force meetings in September. The meetings are largely treated as updates of 2019 legislation enacted and primers for policy discussions forecasted for the 2020 Session. Hearings and discussions of interest include:
The Senate Labor & Business Committee held and informational hearing on prevailing wage and enterprise zones, a continuation of the 2019 Session where proponents sought to require a prevailing wage on all private projects. Chair Taylor the Chair has indicated an interest to bring the bill back in 2020 and it is expected to be one of their 3 Committee bills.
The House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use heard from wheat, hazelnuts and cattle representatives on the impact of recent tariffs on Oregon Agriculture. OWGL was well represented by Blake! Watch discussion here.
The House Interim Committee on Healthcare held a hearing on the health impacts of extreme heat in September. Much of the discussion was focused on extreme heat being worsened by climate change—and that poor air quality also has a large negative impact. Oregon’s Farmworker Union’s political director (PCUN) then testified noting that pesticide exposure is an issue, especially when exacerbated by extreme heat. She noted the pesticide Chlorpyrifos as a concern in particular, and that pesticides poison at least 20,000 farm workers across the national annually.
The House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use held a hearing on other states’ approaches to beginning farmer and rancher incentive programs. Ivan, with Friends of Family Farmers kicked off this hearing with this presentation.
The Senate Committee on Wildfire Prevention and Recovery met for the first time and heard from the Governor’s natural resources policy advisor, as well as the Chair of the Governor’s council on wildfire response. The council was created after a dramatic fire season in 2018, and after the Department of Forestry came forward with a budget proposal containing a substantial investment in new resources. There was recognition that the policies needed vetting, so the Council was created. Since their first meeting in March, they have focused on long-term solutions, as well as a few short-term goals. The council has split into subcommittees covering the topics of: suppression, mitigation, community adaptation and recovery—health, land use and economic recovery. The findings from the subcommittees will be compiled into a report which will include recommendations for the 2020 Legislative Session.
Corporate Activity Tax Rulemaking
The Dept. of Revenue is holding a series of townhall style meetings to discuss the new tax coming online January 1, 2020. The statewide listening tour will travel to Corvallis, Beaverton, Medford, Grants Pass, Eugene, Bend, Redmond, Hermiston, Portland and Salem. View the full schedule here. Discussion items will include: who must register; when and how to register; who must file; how commercial activity is defined; how to count toward the 35% subtraction and how estimated payments will be calculated.
OR Clean Vehicle Rebate Program Expanded
The Environmental Quality Commission approved the rebate rules which allow individuals who purchased or leased eligible electric vehicles between Jan. 1 and Aug. 2, 2018 to reapply for rebates through March 30, 2020 and the new Charge Ahead Rebate which will offer $2,500 back to low or moderate income applicants. Prior to the rule change, only electric vehicle applicants who applied within 6-monhts of their purchase or lease date were eligible for rebates. The legal challenge resulted in many eligible applications not being submitted. The Legislature also added new or used plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to the Charge Ahead Vehicle Eligibility List.
Independent Contractor Work Group Convened
Rep. Paul Holvey-D, Chair of House Rules, has continued his efforts to modify the way independent contractors are treated under Oregon law. He introduced HB 2498 during the 2019 Session which would have largely led to all independent contractors being reclassified as employees. After strong and diverse opposition, the bill was tabled, and an interim workgroup designated. The group met for the first time in September with additional meetings anticipated during the 2019/2020 interim and possible legislation for 2020. The discussion in Oregon comes on the heels of California’s adoption of sweeping changes to their independent contractor law – essentially narrowing the classification only if the individual is providing services that are NOT in the regular course of business they are working with – resulting in the reclassification of 100,000’s of independent contractors. Read more here and here. Amanda is serving on the workgroup.
Candidates Continue to File for 2020 Election
This month we saw a handful of additional announcements including the filing of Speaker Tina Kotek’s filing for re-election, possibly returning her to the Speaker’s podium for a 5th term. Rep. Sherrie Sprenger-R from Scio announced she will not be returning to the Legislature and instead filed for an open Linn County Commissioner seat.
New House Republican Leader
Rep. Christine Drazan was selected by her caucus as the new Republican Leader replacing Rep. Carl Wilson-R, Grants Pass. Wilson later announced he will not return to the Legislature in 2020 and won’t seek re-election.
Timber Unity Launches Recall Effort Against Rep. Tiffiny Mitchell-D
Rep. Mitchell is a Democrat from Astoria and a freshman Legislator. Timber unity cited her support for Cap & Trade (HB 2020) during the 2019 Legislative Session as the primary driver for their recall support. Proponents of the recall must collect 4,883 verifiable signatures in 90-days to force an election. The signatures will be due December 4th. Read more.
Timber Ballot Measures – SOS Rejects
The Secretary of State has rejected three efforts by proponents that among other provisions, would have prohibited the aerial application of pesticides on certain timberland. The measures were awaiting a “certified ballot title” the 2nd to last stop prior to approval for their circulation. The Secretary of State found the measures violated the single-subject requirement. Proponents may now file an appeal or redraft and refile the measures. The draft ballot titles to-date:
Draft Ballot Title Caption
2020-035 Prohibits aerial pesticide application, "clearcuts" (defined) within specified distances of forest waterbodies, requires pesticide notice
2020-036 Prohibits "clearcuts" (defined) within specified distances of waterbodies, expands forestry board "conflict of interest" rules
2020-037 Expands forestry-related aerial pesticide prohibitions; requires notification; expands forestry board "conflict of interest" rules.