Upcoming Dates of Interest
May 22 – June 5th Legislative Committee Days– Virtual
TBD Possible Special Session (hearing late June – not yet scheduled)
ReOpening Update – Phase 2 Guidelines
The Governor has released guidelines and approved 29 Counties for Phase 2. To-date, 35 of the 36 counties in Oregon have been approved for Phase 1. Multnomah County has announced they will seek Phase 1 approval for June 12th as a target. As a prerequisite to Phase 2, a County must have been in Phase 1 for 21-days. The majority of Counties, 31, triggered that timeline on May 15th. Accordingly, those that can meet the proposed criteria are eligible for Phase 2 as soon as today, June 5th. Phase 2 will allow for gatherings up to 50 people, ease travel restrictions and allow a limited return to work along with reopening of theatres, cinemas and churches. It will also ease restrictions on bars and restaurants, allowing them to stay open until midnight and increase table space with outdoor seating. The Governor’s office has indicated much of the State will remain in Phase 2 until a cure/treatment for COVID is identified.
Counties that enter Phase 2 will be able to continue with the reopening process, following updated health and safety guidance:
- Gathering limits will be raised to 50 people indoors, and 100 people outdoors.
- Indoor and outdoor venues, including theaters and churches, with 6 feet of physical distancing and other measures in place, can reach a COVID-19 occupancy limit of up to 250.
- Offices can begin reopening and employees can return to workplaces with physical distancing and other measures in place, though remote work is still strongly recommended whenever possible.
- Increased travel will be allowed throughout Oregon, though staying local is still recommended to prevent overloading county health systems.
- Restaurants and bars will have curfews extended to midnight.
- Pools and sports courts will be allowed to reopen under new guidance.
- Indoor and outdoor activities such as bowling, batting cages, and mini golf, will be allowed to reopen under new guidance.
- Recreational sports can resume in a limited form, under strict physical distancing guidance.
Additional Statewide Guidance
For all counties, including those remaining in Phase 1 or on baseline status:
- Zoos, gardens, and museums can reopen in a limited fashion.
- Professional and collegiate sports teams can return to training in their facilities with physical distancing and health and safety measures in place.
INTERIM COMMITTEE MEETINGS
The House and Senate held Interim Committee Hearings over the past two-weeks. Part of the regular interim schedule for Oregon, these hearings are largely informational and traditionally serve as an opportunity to update on adopted legislation and talk about future bill concepts. These two weeks were dominated by the impact and response to COVID. Below are highlights of hearings of interest.
House Agriculture and Land Use
Chair Clem held an informational hearing on the impacts of COVID on agricultural markets, meat processing facilities, and the Farm to School Program. Oregon growers were well represented by Oregon Farm Bureau and Oregon Association of Nurseries, who both reiterated the need for consistency and certainty in rules and regulations as well as access to PPE. Committee members also received an overview of the emergency temporary rules from OSHA and the state agriculture financial assistance package from the Governor’s staff.
Senate Environment and Natural Resources
The Senate Committee agenda was very similar to the House with invited testimony from agencies and industry to discuss impacts of COVID. Notably, the committee also invited DEQ to present a status report on the implementation of the Governor’s Cap and Trade Executive Order. The agency reviewed their implementation plan submitted last month but did not have enough time to answer all of the Committee questions. Committee members intend to send their questions regarding the details of the EO in writing for the agency to respond.
House Natural Resources Committee
ODFW, Parks and Recreation and ODF each presented information to the committee on their response to COVID. The committee also invited industry representatives from commercial fishing and processing, forestry and forest products, ports and transportation, outdoor sports and recreation, and conservationist and environment to provide an update on impacts they’ve felt and concerns going forward.
House Business & Labor
After an hour of briefing from the Oregon Employment Department on the last of processing surrounding Unemployment Benefit Checks, the Department faced extreme criticism for not addressing the problem earlier. The Committee called the Department back for a Saturday 3.5-hour hearing where members were able to ask questions. On Sunday, the Governor announced that the Director was asked to resign. She has been replaced with David Gerstenfeld who has most recently been serving as the Paid Family & Medical Leave Insurance Division Director.
In the News:
The Committee also heard panels addressing a request by labor for a presumption or guarantee of workers compensation benefits for COVID related illnesses. View labor’s proposalhere.
House Water Committee
Director Loftsgaarden from the Oregon Water Enhancement Board presented information to the House Water Committee on existing federal programs in an effort to paint a picture for legislators of how potential stimulus dollars from a federal infrastructure package could be utilized in relation to water. She explained that if funds are made available, they would likely need to be channeled through existing funds and procreations. She also made a request to the Committee for a state match not be required due to the current budget crisis. View her full presentation hereand letter to the Committee here.
Senate Wildfire Reduction and Recovery
Committee members received updates on Oregon’s readiness for the 2020 wildfire season, the impact of severe smoketo communities and potential mitigation measures, and the utilities plans for wildfire prevention and mitigation.
Emergency Board – Additional CARES Funding Allocated
The Legislative Emergency Board (E-Board) convened this afternoon to allocate additional COVID related CARES funds. In total, the Board allocated an additional $275M from the Federal CARES act appropriation. The funding approved included:
Assistance to Individuals
$75M for assistance to individuals for housing, through mortgage assistance and rent assistance via payments to landlords
$10 million for the Oregon Worker Relief Fund to aid immigrant Oregonians providing essential services who are excluded from federal and state safety nets
$4M for Anti-Domestic Violence assistance (additional funding)
$1 million to 211 information support
$15 million for energy and water assistance programs
. $25 million for behavioral health
$3.5M to Public Utility Commission to temporarily expand access to affordable telephone and broadband service for low income houses
Assistance to Businesses
$3 million in technical assistance to minority owner businesses
$50 million for hospital support grants
$10M for PPE for small businesses
$30M for Early Learning Division for assistance for meeting increased cost for childcare providers
Adapting to Remote Work and Education
$20 million for broadband to implement Oregon Broadband Advisory Council recommendations due to distance learning, virtual health appointments and business done remotely due to COVID-19
- See testimony from industryhere.
For agricultural workers (housing, transportation requirements, other needs) $30M for Department of Administrative Services, $16M for watershed enhancement board, and $3M for OHA for community outreach activities
$237,130,000 increase of federal funds expenditure limitation to DAS (bookkeeping measure that validates the spending that E-board did today)
$2.3M for the Racing Commission(second year funding)
$2.8M to Department of Geology and Mineral Industry (second year funding)
On Thursday evening, House Minority Leader Drazan asked Speaker Kotek to delay convening the E-board due to issues around transparency. See her statementhere.The meeting proceeded as scheduled, although two items from the initial agenda were tabled for another day:
NOT passed—E-board will meet to address these issues later:
$25M to Oregon Business Development Department – Emergency Business Assistance Grant Fund
$50.2M to Oregon Business Development Department – Statewide Business and Cultural Support
Cap and Trade Update
In our last report we provided a high-level overview of key agency implementation plans for Governor Brown’s Executive Order 20-04. This week, the Oregon Department of Agriculture submitted their implementation plan, below is a brief summary:
OR Department of Agriculture
ODA intends to conduct a research study to establish baseline data on the capacity for mitigation and adaptation on Oregon’s working lands as their first step towards implementation. The agency plans to use this data to craft an internal roadmap that will be utilized in all future decision making. Additionally, ODA intends to add climate impacts to their list of considerations when distributing agency grants and awards (including specialty crop block and noxious weed grants), selecting geographically based water quality efforts, and prioritizing invasive species work. Read the full proposal from ODAhere.
Agriculture Workforce Housing Facilitation Team (AWHFT) Update
2020 workforce housing tax credits have been allocated for the year. The department was happy to announce that the credits were distributed to a mix of on and off farm projects. Next year they are hoping to significantly increase the amount of credits distributed from $7.5M to $24M via legislation they plan to introduce in the 2021 Session – we’ve added this proposal to our Session watch list. The group also discussed next steps for the ag workforce housing study. The study is now officially on hold due to COVID-19 and the group will reconvene in July to create a timeline going forward.
OR Department of Agriculture Chlorpyrifos Work Group
The Chlorpyrifos Work Group (WG) met for the third and likely final time last week to discuss mitigation measures for Chlorpyrifos use in Oregon. The meeting kicked off with a presentation from the Oregon Health Authority on the Health Effects of Chronic vs Acute Exposures. WG members representing industry asked several follow up questions to OHA on the data presented, specifically on how and why Oregon came to different conclusions than the EPA. OHA agreed to have further conversation about their conclusions and data but didn’t feel prepared to do so at that time. We anticipate receiving this follow up information in writing within the next week. Next, ODA reviewed 11 proposed mitigation measures. The agency has not yet crafted the details of each mitigation measure, however based on the WG conversations the rules we believe they will likely include: increased buffer zones of 300ft from schools, day care centers, hospitals & elder care facilities and 1,000 ft for occupied farmworker housing that will be occupied with 14 days; 7-14 day pre-harvest interval; 4 day re-entry interval; categorization of restricted use; use by only certified and licensed applicators and applicator record keeping requirements. Additionally, four WG members requested ODA to consider measures to phase out Chlorpyrifos over the next four years. Based on our conversations with agency staff, a phase out is unlikely. Next Steps: ODA intends to draft rules for public comment July 1. Once those are posted we will have an opportunity to submit detailed comments on each of the proposed measures as well as participate in a virtual public hearing.
Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Board Meeting
We monitored the EOBED meeting this week where they brainstormed potential 2021 legislative concepts. The committee agreed to four potential bills, they intend to work with Sen. Findley and Rep. Owens to develop and introduce each of them.
- Reintroduce 2020 bills – HB 4028 and HB 4165.
- Legislation to create a pilot program that requires Oregon’s border region to use a preferential point system for state residents who apply for state jobs.
- Example: 71% of Eastern Oregon State Prison employees live in Idaho. This legislation would give hiring preference to Oregonians.
- Possibly look at expanding some border initiation programs in an effort to create more jobs in the area and help deal with the statewide unemployment problem.
Recall Effort Fails – Sen. Thomsen
Efforts to recall Sen. Chuck Thomsen-R, Hood River, have failed to gather the necessary signatures required. The signature gathering effort was heavily funded by labor unions (reporting over $130,000 raised for the recall effort) and targeted Sen Thomsen for his walkout with his Republican Senate colleagues during the 2020 Session to stop the Cap & Trade legislation from passing. The campaign had until June 2nd to submit 9,025 valid signatures and faulted COVID for their failure which forced the in-person signature gathering to stop.