Thanks to Matt Jaffe for sending this and other updates, and to our entire Government Relations team for their good work in Salem.
State Legislative Update
March 7, 2012
On Monday, March 5th at 8:49 p.m., the 76th Legislative Assembly adjourned sine die (Latin for "without days") from the first regular even-year legislative session. Adjournment came nearly a week later than the February 29th date legislators had targeted as negotiations on final budget items and policy bills took longer than anticipated.
Prior to commencement of the session, Legislative leaders established strict guidelines for the number of bills members and committee could introduce. A total of 305 bills were introduced during the session, and the Office of Government Relations tracked 247 of the bill on behalf of the City. Many bills did not meet the deadlines that legislative leaders had set for moving through the committee process, with only 125 bills being approved by both chambers. High profile legislation included bills from the Governor, which all passed, to establish education achievement compacts, make changes to early childhood education and place greater power in the Governor’s Early Learning Council, put Medicaid clients under coordinated care organizations, and created a health care exchange.
The 2012 Legislative Assembly faced the challenge of addressing a $341.1 million General Fund revenue shortfall for the 2011-2013 budget. Ultimately, legislators approved a budget rebalance plan that confirmed 3.5 percent reductions to most state agencies that had been tentatively planned via a hold back of agency funds during the 2011 legislative session. The budget rebalance also includes a $28 million budget reduction achieved through cuts to middle-management positions and operational reforms, and the use of the funds received from a national settlement with Phillip Morris. Legislative budget writers were able to avoid any reduction to the State School Fund and restored the hold-back funding to avoid cuts to a handful of programs including some of the cuts to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program (TANF) that had originally been proposed.
Below is a summary of notable legislation that the City was engaged in throughout the course of the session.
Oregon Sustainability Center (HB 5201-A, HB 5202-A) – The City, Portland State University, Oregon University System, and private sector partners advocated for legislative reauthorization of $37 million in state bonds to support the Oregon Sustainability Center (OSC). Though the project presents clear economic benefits throughout Oregon and the state bonds would have leveraged $25.5 million in funding from other sources, the OSC was ultimately not included in end-of-session capital construction legislation.
Senior and Disabled Property Tax Deferral (HB 4039-B) – Legislative changes to the Senior and Disable Property Tax Deferral program during the 2011 session included making individuals with reverse mortgages ineligible for the program.
HB 4039-B re-qualifies these individuals for an additional two years, abates interest accrued on unpaid taxes during the time of disqualification, and orders a refund of any taxes and interest paid. The City submitted testimony in support of the bill, which passed both chambers unanimously.
Private Security Professionals at Bars and Clubs (SB 1524) – This legislation allows servers at bars to occasionally check IDs at the door without being certified by the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, while ensuring that private security staff responsible for regulating entrance to bars and clubs continue to obtain such certification. The City negotiated prior to the legislative session to ensure the bill protects the public safety interest and testified on the bill when it was in committee. SB 1524 passed both chambers unanimously.
Foreclosure Mitigation (SB 1552-B) – On the last day of the session, legislators reached agreement on foreclosure legislation that had been stalled since passing the Senate. SB 1552-B requires banks to enter into mediation with homeowners for the purpose of renegotiating the terms of a homeowner’s mortgage in order to avoid foreclosure. The bill also contains language that addresses the “dual track” problem, prohibiting the practice whereby lenders negotiate with homeowners while simultaneously preparing to foreclose. After being amended, the House voted 59-1 to approve the bill and then the Senate concurred on the House amendments. The foreclosure legislation, supported by the City, now heads to the Governor for his signature.
Sellwood Bridge and Other Transportation Project Funding (SB 1543-B) – SB 1543-B allocates $5 million to the Sellwood Bridge/Highway 43 interchange project and $9.5 million to freight improvements toCornelius Pass Road. The bill anticipates the funding for theSellwoodBridge andCornelius Pass Road projects will be funded by an increased convenience fee on DMV records requests. The bill also reallocates excess funds from two projects funded by the 2009 Jobs and Transportation Act (JTA), HB 2001, to two other projects.
Rest Area and Local Government Transportation Funding (SB 1591-B) – This bill allocates funds anticipated from an increased convenience fee on DMV records requests to management of highway rest areas by the Travel Information Council. In doing so, SB 1591-B also ends the $3 million annual State Highway Trust Fund allocation for the rest areas that had been specified in the 2009 Jobs and Transportation Act (JTA), HB 2001. The change will make an additional $3 million per year in JTA revenue subject state-local government revenue sharing beginning in 2013, resulting in $227,000 of additional annual revenue for the City.
Court Fines (SB 4167-A) – The City supported HB 4167-A, which made technical corrections to legislation passed during the 2011 session (HB 2712) that modified the fee structure for the collection of fines on various criminal offenses and violations. The provisions of the bill include clarification that parking violations collected through a court are not subject to the $60 state fee that was prescribed in HB 2712. The bill passed both chambers and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.
Human Trafficking (HB 4146-A) – Garnering unanimous support in both chambers, HB 4146-A allows for the expungement of criminal records related to prostitution if the criminal charges were incurred as a juvenile. The legislation aims to facilitate the rehabilitation of juvenile victims of human sex trafficking by removing the barrier that a criminal record can pose to securing employment and housing. City Council submitted testimony in support of the bill.
Concealed Handgun Permits (SB 1574) – This bill would have allowed individuals licensed to carry concealed handguns in certain other states to carry legally inOregon without obtaining anOregon license. At a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the City testified in opposition to the bill, which did not advance out of committee.
Oregon Department of Transportation Tree Removal (SB 1546-A) – This bill allows the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to remove trees in the state highway right of way without first obtaining a local permit, and to remove trees encroaching on the state highway right of way that pose an immediate safety hazard. In response to concerns raised by cities, ODOT submitted a letter and testimony stating its intent to only remove trees that pose an immediate hazard, and to comply with replanting and other requirements of local tree ordinances. SB 1546-A passed both chambers by wide margins.
Cash for Gold (HB 4108-A) – HB 4108-A establishes statewide record keeping requirements for business transactions involving precious metals, including a seven-day hold time before precious metals can be re-sold or disposed of, and requires dealers to make items and records available to law enforcement. The bill is a result of a workgroup that included the City’s participation. The bill also allows jurisdictions to impose local requirements on the sale of precious metals, such as those in the City ofPortland, which are substantially similar or more stringent to those in the bill.
Public Contracting (HB 4034) – HB 4034 requires prompt payment from primary contractors to subcontractors in public contracting work. The bill does not make changes to the relationship between contracting agencies and prime and subcontractors.
The bill requires all public improvement contracts to include clauses which require contractors to provide a first-tier subcontractor with either a standard form that can be used as an application for payment or as another method to claim payment from the contractor. HB 4034 passed both chambers unanimously and has been signed by the Governor.
Direct pay to 9-1-1 Jurisdictions (SB 1559-B) – SB 1559-B requires that 9-1-1 telephone tax revenue be sent directly to 9-1-1 jurisdictions instead of to municipalities, from whom 9-1-1 jurisdictions previously had to collect payment. Because the bill simplifies the administrative process for the City’s Bureau of Emergency Communication (BOEC) and other 9-1-1 service providers, the City testified in support. The bill passed both chambers and is on its way to the Governor’s desk.
Annexation and Urban Services to Unincorporated Areas (HB 4090-A) – This bill would have allowed owners of unincorporated property within the Metro Urban Growth Boundary to force a provider of sewer or water service to extend service to the property if the owner agreed to pay the cost of the extension. It also would have prevented a city from dissolving a portion of a service district within its boundaries if the city would not have become the subsequent direct provider of the service to the area. The City opposed HB 4090-A, which passed the House 31-29, then failed to advance in the Senate.
Oregon Investment Act (HB 4040-B) – HB 4040-B creates the Oregon Growth Board to oversee coordinated state economic development investments through the Oregon Growth Fund. The Portland Development Commission submitted testimony in support of the bill, which passed the House by a vote of 59-1 and the Senate 23-4.
Enterprise Zone Expansion (HB 4093-A) – This bill allows for three additional rural enterprise zones and five additional urban or rural enterprise zones to be designated in the state. HB 4093-A also allows the sponsor of a terminated enterprise zone to apply for a new enterprise zone ten years after the termination, and increases the maximum size of a rural enterprise zone to 15 square miles.
Renewable Energy in Public Buildings (SB 1533-B) – SB 1533-B modifies the existing state statute requiring that 1.5 percent of the contract price for construction or renovation of public buildings using state funds be used on solar electric or solar thermal energy systems. SB 1533-B specifies that 1.5 percent of the contract price for construction or renovation of such public buildings be spent on solar electric, solar thermal, or geothermal energy systems.
Pre-Paying Post-Employment Benefits (HB 4099) – This bill would have required that if a public body agrees to pay or provide benefits to retired employees other than the payments required by statutes, the public body must create a separate account for funding those benefits. Additionally, the bill would have required the public body to make annual contributions to the account in amounts necessary to amortize liability for benefits in 25 years or less. HB 4099 was identical to legislation heard during the 2011 session, HB 3605. The City opposed the bill, which did not receive a hearing prior to adjournment.
Ecosystem Services (SB 1511) – This bill would have expanded state policy in support of ecosystem services, specifically directing the Institute for Natural Resources to provide information to local governments and other entities to assist in the development of integrated ecosystem services methodologies. The City’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability submitted testimony in support of the bill to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, which referred SB 1511 with a “do pass” recommendation to theJoint Ways and Means Committee. The bill did not advance out of joint committee prior to adjournment.