Thanks to Matt Jaffe and the Office of Government Relations staff for most of the following information.
State Legislative Update June 24, 2011
Legislators are now in the final few days of the session as the 76th Legislative Assembly must adjourn by next Thursday, June 30th. Earlier this week, following a lengthy debate, the legislature passed a package of bills aimed at reforming public education in Oregon.
Below is a summary of the City’s major legislative activity over the past week.
Oregon Sustainability Center (Capital Construction Budget) – Negotiations continued through the week over the Capital Construction budget, which includes bonding for the Oregon Sustainability Center.
Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC) (HB 3672A, HB 3606B) – Following 57-2 approval in the House on June 22nd, the Senate voted 26-1 on Friday, June 24, to approve an omnibus tax credit package that includes provisions to sunset and replace the BETC. HB 3672A ends the BETC for projects not already pending, but extends the deadline for pending projects to receive final certification until January 1, 2013. The bill also specifies that the deadline for final certification does not apply if a project has demonstrated evidence of construction before April 15, 2011.
HB 3672A creates new renewable energy, energy conservation, and transportation project tax credits that take effect July 1, 2011. The bill provides $3 million per biennium for renewable energy tax credits and $28 million per biennium for commercial and public energy conservation projects. Both programs would sunset January 1, 2018. The new transportation project tax credit provides a total of $20 million in funding per biennium, with transit service eligible for funding until January 1, 2016 and alternative fuel vehicle fueling stations eligible until January 1, 2018. The new tax credit does not continue funding for a wide range of other transportation projects that have previously qualified for the BETC, such as student TriMet passes in Portland. Extension of the BETC has been a City priority.
The Senate voted 27-0 on Friday, June 24th to approve HB 3606B, which provides technical clarifications to the old BETC program. The bill passed the House unanimously on June 22nd. Both HB 3672A and HB 3606B are now headed to the Governor for his consideration.
Film and Television Production Incentives (HB 3672A) – The omnibus tax credit bill approved on Friday, June 24th in the Senate and on Wednesday, June 22nd in the House, extends the Oregon Production Investment Fund (OPIF) and Greenlight Labor Rebate incentives for film and video production until January 1, 2018. HB 3672A funds the OPIF at $7.5 million for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, then at $6 million per year thereafter. Extension of both programs are City priorities.
Primary Care Workforce Package (HB 2397A) – The Senate approved this bill 27-1 on June 23rd to establish a loan forgiveness program for primary care providers in rural parts of the state. Part of the Primary Care Workforce Package, the City has supported the bill as part of it rural partnership agenda. The bill is now on its way to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
Farmworker Housing Tax Credits (HB 2154B) – This bill is now on its way to the Governor’s desk after passing the Senate unanimously on Friday, June 10th. The bill revises the definition of farmworker housing so that more Oregonians involved in agricultural and aquacultural work can benefit from affordable housing tax credits. HB 2154B is part of the rural partnership portion of the City’s legislative agenda.
Domestic Violence Confidentiality (SB 347B, HB 2244B) – On Tuesday, June 21st, the Senate voted 16-13 to not concur on House amendments to SB 347B that would exempt concealed handgun permit information from public records disclosure laws. Following the non-concurrence vote, the House appointed two members to serve on a conference committee. The Senate has not yet appointed members to serve on a conference committee.
HB 2244B continues to await concurrence in the House after passing the Senate unanimously. The bill was amended by the Senate to include the provision of SB 347B that is a City initiative, creating an exemption from state public records laws for records maintained by domestic violence service centers that are operated by a public agency. The underlying bill, which comes from the Secretary of State, updates the definition of “public record” to include electronic communication via e-mail and social networking platforms, for the purposes of records retention and archiving.
Speed Limits (HB 3150A) – This City initiative is now on its way to the Governor’s desk after the House concurred with Senate amendments by a vote of 53-5 on Monday, June 6th. The bill allows cities to set a speed limit that is 5 MPH less than the existing state limit on bike boulevards. The Senate amendment struck the word “Greenways,” from the bill.
9-1-1 Funding Military Department Budget (HB 5037A) – After the House passed HB 5037A, the budget for the Military Department, on June 22nd by a vote of 53-6, the Senate followed suit and passed the bill 26-1 on Friday, June 24th. This bill, which funds the 9-1-1 system, is now on its way to the Governor after removing a budget note that would have eliminated the funding for the last half of the biennium.
PERS (HB 2456A, HB 2113A) – The Joint Ways and Means Committee, on Friday, June 24th, voted unanimously to approve HB 2456A with technical amendments after the bill was forwarded yesterday by the Ways and Means Capital Construction Subcommittee. The bill prohibits PERS employees who retire or begin receiving PERS payments on or after January 1, 2012, and who do not pay Oregon income taxes, from receiving a certain increased benefit for purposes of state income taxes. PERS benefits were not subject to Oregon income tax before 1991. A lawsuit by Federal retirees forced the State to tax benefits, so the Legislature passed two bills in the 1990s to increase benefits for future retirees to offset Oregon income tax. HB 2456A rescinds the increase for future out-of-state retirees from one of the bills – HB 3349, passed in 1995. HB 2456A also applies to retirement plans offered in lieu of PERS, such as the City’s Fire and Police Disability and Retirement plan.
The Ways and Means Committee also approved a PERS housekeeping bill, HB 2113A, with additional amendments. The bill modifies some rules and actions by PERS. The bill would allow members who have withdrawn amounts from their Individual Account Program (IAP) to immediately contribute to the IAP, just like their PERS account, upon qualifying reemployment. HB 2456 and HB 2113 will next head to the House floor for consideration.
Transportation Funding (SB 128B) – The Senate concurred with the House amendments on June 21st and SB 128B is now on its way to the Governor. The bill requires ODOT to consult with legislative committees before it expends funds from any new federal economic stimulus laws and requires legislative approval for the expenditure of any funds remaining from the earmarked projects from the Transportation Funding Bill passed in the 2009 legislative session (HB 2001). The bill also eliminates the Congestion Pricing Pilot that was included in HB 2001, and would have funded a parking inventory study in Northwest Portland.
Research and Development Tax Credit (HB 3672A) – An extension of the Research and Development Tax Credit was yet another component of the Omnibus Tax Credit bill, which passed the House on Wednesday, June 22nd and the Senate on Friday, June 24th and is now headed to the Governor’s desk. This credit allows businesses to receive a tax credit for qualified research expenses. The amendment, while retaining the program, reduces the maximum amount of the credit from $2 million, to $1 million.
Electronic Commerce Enterprise Zones (HB 3672A) – Included in the Omnibus Tax Credit bill is an extension of the Electronic Enterprise Zone program until 2018. This program provides an income tax credit for firms that are investing in capital assets for conducting business over the internet. The company has to be located in a designated E-Commerce zone. Currently three Portland companies have qualified for the program. The program was set to expire at the end of this year.
Residential Energy Tax Credit (HB 3672A) – Extension of the Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) is included in the omnibus tax credit bill. HB 3672A continues support for residential energy efficiency, alternative energy systems and equipment for fueling alternative fuel vehicles, but no longer provides a tax credit for alternative fuel vehicles or energy efficient appliances purchased after the current calendar year. The bill also caps the amount of total potential tax credits for third-party alternative energy systems at $10 million per year.
Education Reform Package – On Wednesday the House and Senate passed a dozen education bills all of which are now before the Governor. Several of the bills were priorities of the Governor, including the establishment of the Governor as Superintendent of Public Instruction and a more unified K-12 and Postsecondary educational system. Additional legislation provides for added teacher skills development, increased career and technical education, the ability for school districts to opt out of educational Service districts (ESDs) and loosens restrictions on charter schools. Highlights of the bills in the education package include:
- SB 253A – Establishes a goal that 40 percent of adult Oregonians have at least a bachelors degree, another 40 percent, an associates degree or professional credential, and the remainder a high school degree or its equivalent;
- SB 552A – A priority of the Governor, establishes the Governor as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and lets him choose a Deputy, after the current Superintendent serves out her term;
- SB 909B – Another priority of the Governor, establishes the Oregon Educational Investment Board and Early Learning Council to create a unified approach for K-12 and post-secondary education;
- SB 5055A – Funds a $25 million increase to the $5.7 billion K-12 budget;
- HB 3362B – Allows for cooperative programs for career and technical education between school districts, charter schools and the Bureau of Labor and Industries and provides $2 million in funding; and
- HB 3681 – Grants students ability to enroll in another district, with the approval of the receiving district.
Preserve Public Subsidy During Foreclosure (SB 519B) – This bill is now on its way to the Governor after the Senate concurred with House amendments by a vote of 27-2 on June 21, 2011. The bill provides that the covenant holder has a first right of refusal to purchase a foreclosed unit that is under an affordable housing covenant.
Access Management (SB 264A) – This bill, which establishes a more consistent system for permitting driveways and other entrances onto ODOT roads, was signed into law by the Governor on Tuesday, June 14th. The bill also allows ODOT to provide ongoing, rather than one-time funding for roads that they transfer to cities and counties. PBOT participated in a workgroup that developed this legislation.
Truck Idling (HB 2081B) – The Governor signed HB 2081B into law on June 16, 2011. The bill is now Chapter 349 of the 2011 Laws. HB 2081B regulates truck idling and allows citations for violations to be written by police officers rather than just by Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) staff. The bill contains a preemption of local authority to regulate idling.