Oregonians for Food and Shelter Legislative Update
Terry Witt, Executive
Paulette Pyle, Grass Roots
This week marks week 17 of the current
Did you know that you can access a list of bills that OFS is
to see the list which was updated on May 8th.
Did you know that you can access the text of any bill? If
you have the bill number, click
to do a search.
Have a terrific weekend!
Paulette, Terry & Sandi
OFS Legislative Report for the Week of May 4 - 8, 2009
WEEK 17 - During the week, bills started
moving more rapidly, especially those being heard by
committees in the second chamber. Bills sent to the House
floor for an "up or down" vote continued to pile up this week
requiring the House to hold a long floor session on Friday to
whittled down the backlog. The tension is building, however,
for another reason - the next revenue forecast is due out on
Friday, May 15th. The prognosis is not good, as consensus
opinion is that the size of the deficit hole in the 2009-2011
State budget will increase. So stay tuned for plenty of
One bill that did pass the House by a vote of 58-1 was
HB-2999 A-Engrossed amending certain
provisions of PURS. The A-engrossed version extends the 2009
sunset to 2016 (see more details in previous updates) but also
adds language that clearly states the program will NOT be in
operation to collect data during the 2009-2011 biennium,
necessitated by the lack of nearly $1 million in general fund
revenue required to support the program. The bill will now
move to the Senate for a committee hearing. Since NCAP and
other environmental groups are in agreement with the bill
crafted by Rep. Clem and also the key fact that it has no real
fiscal impact on the State -- OFS does not foresee any problem
with its passage in the Senate. OFS supports
We are still awaiting the printing of A-Engrossed
version of SB-637 requiring mandatory IPM in all
Oregon schools starting in 2012 and the scheduling of the bill
for a Senate floor vote. For some reason the bill seems to
have fallen into a black hole between the "Do-Pass"
recommendation from the Senate Education and General
Government Committee on April 24th and today.
OFS supports SB-637 A-Engrossed.
A number of good invasive species bills supported by OFS
continue to move through the process toward law. One such
bill is Brenda Pace's HB-2424 which modifies the
"Adopt-a-Highway" program to include invasive weed removal,
heard in Senate committee this week. Although there is a
very, very limited budget for supporting on the ground work,
bills establishing the authority and infrastructure to
control, particularly aquatic species like guaga and zebra
mussels, are moving forward. HB-2212 A-Engrossed
modifies plant quarantine and weed laws that currently only
apply to tansy ragwort to the control of all noxious weeds.
It passed the House by 55-4 vote on 3/31/09 and a 20-5 vote in
the Senate on May 7. HB-2213 moves
the Oregon Invasive Species Council under the control of the
Oregon Department of Agriculture and allows the council to
enter into contracts, agreements and accept grants. The bill
passed the House by a 58-0 vote on 2/17/09 and the Senate by a
25-0 vote on May 7.
One of the most important bills to make it to the House floor
to date for a vote was HB-2186 A-Engrossed
(see bill details in separate article). The bill was passed
by a 32-28 margin on Friday, May 8. All twenty-four House
Republicans voted "no" along with Representatives Mike
Schaufler (D-Happy Valley); Jules Bailey (D-Portland); Terry
Beyer (D-Springfield) and Deborah Boone (D-Cannon Beach). A
few days prior, the vote count indicated it would be defeated
as eight Democrats said they would vote against it. Reports
came back that not only was the Governor's office
strong-arming the Democrat caucus, but that his staff was
calling the clients of some of our coalition members and
asking them to stand down on HB 2186. The pressure
apparently worked as four of the 'yes' Democrats "went south"
and the bill passed as a result.
The floor debate on the bill carried by Rep. Ben Cannon
(D-Portland) was very interesting. Those speaking out and
urging a "no" vote included Representatives Bob Jenson
(R-Pendleton); Deborah Boone (D-Cannon Beach); Cliff Bentz
(R-Ontario); Mike Schaufler (D-Happy Valley); House Minority
Leader Bruce Hanna (R-Roseburg); and Vic Gilliam
(R-Silverton). Rep. Cannon admitted that the bill still had
areas that need fixing (i.e. off-ramps added, complete removal
of consumer products section, and sideboards on the truck
retro-fitting including a cost cap). Cannon said he was
promised by Senate members that amendments would be made in
Senate Committee, "insuring" House members that if the needed
fixes were not done as promised he would not vote for
concurrence when the bill came back across to the House.
Subsequently, Rep. Schaufler asked if Rep. Cannon could give
him a guarantee of that happening - to which he reply was
"no." The significance of this question is that should the
Senate ram the bill out of committee without an amendment and
pass it as is on the Senate floor -- it would not come back to
the House for concurrence but go to the Governor for signing
Two members commenting against passage summed up the
opposition pretty well.
Rep. Boone stated one basic problem with the bill is that it
gives DEQ/EQC total authority to devise all the details in
rule and that serious concern stems from "a lack of trust
based on prior experience with DEQ."
Rep. Gilliam made a short
speech in opposition that went like this, "...We had a
little mix-up in the endorsement floor letter thing, so
please pay no attention to this one (holding up the
coalition's letter), it's a list of signatures representing
most of Oregon's businesses, farmers, corporations,
associations and working people that implore us NOT impose
this onerous, ill-timed, short-sighted, pie-in-the-sky,
assumption-based, untested, dangerously regulatory,
insensitive, California imitating, bureaucratic nightmare,
Gubernatorial legend in his own mind, piece of
ground-breaking legislation that flies in the face of common
sense. No, don't pay attention to that letter, because I
think if you look around there's another one somewhere on
your desk from the magician lobby. And it assures us that
the passage of 2186 today, that the recession will end, all
of us will get honorary MBA's, we'll be granted all the
green jobs we could possibly count which will eclipse those
awful, icky jobs that Oregonians now have, rabbits will be
pulled out of hats, our summer wardrobes will miraculously
fit, most of us will be contestants on American Idol, and
Oregon will become a place where the skies are not cloudy
OFS continues to strongly opposes HB-2186
A-Engrossed and instead supports passage of the Boone dash-5
OFS Floor Letter to Legislators Requesting their NO Vote
on HB 2186-A. OFS asks for it to be sent it back to
Committee to Adopt dash-5 amendments.
On Monday of this week OFS distributed the following letter
There are many good reasons why Legislators should oppose HB
2186-A and other non-essential, new programs. Plain and
simple it creates an unnecessary cost to the state and an even
bigger cost to OFS members. For OFS this is a double hit, as
significant funds paid as pesticide registration fees were
swept from the base pesticide program in the Oregon Department
of Agriculture into the general fund. We were told the
purpose was to meet the State of Oregon's current vital
financial obligations, i.e. funding Education, Health and
Human Services, and Public Safety. Taking a purposeful,
accrued fund balance from its intended purpose to initiate a
new program in DEQ just adds insult to injury. There is
nothing urgent or sensible about giving DEQ broad new
authority to implement a "climate change" strategy that we
absolutely cannot afford at this time as well as create an
obligation for the State well into the future.
Oregonians for Food and Shelter's Board of Directors,
representing agricultural, forestry and businesses servicing
the natural resource communities, adamantly oppose "robbing
Peter to pay Paul" as a means to pay for these new "Climate
Change Programs!" It appears obvious that maintaining all
current programs plus adding new ones cannot be a reality
without raising taxes and fees. OFS members
have strongly expressed opposition to "new taxes and fees" for
the purpose of initiating NEW programs that should be handled
at the federal level or that can wait until the economic
climate is better suited.
Businesses and the State are both struggling
economically. Raising new taxes and fees will only delay the
Oregon business communities' ability to rebound, thereby
providing jobs and added tax revenue. A healthy business
climate without additional state tax burdens is essential to
grow Oregon's economy and enable the State to fund essential
programs in the future.
Unfortunately, some Legislators are so eager to support
"something," that many have not read the
details in HB-2186-A. "PLEASE - Read before you vote"
should be posted on the desk of every legislator.
Another worthy question any legislator should ask themselves,
agencies and legislative fiscal office is "What is the
true fiscal?" The trite answer, "NO FISCAL"
is not acceptable! There is always a cost.
And perhaps more important than what is the cost to the State,
ask what is the cost to the regulated community?
Additional details will give good reason to vote "NO"
- Truck retrofitting - Section 3 (4)(a)
on page 4 of the 4/21/09 printed bill (line 29).
Conservative cost estimates to a truck owner is $5,000
to $15,000 per truck. This section of the bill will
profoundly affect both agriculture and forestry. Heavy-
duty and medium-duty trucks are the mainstay of our natural
resource businesses. The argument by DEQ is that the
trucker will recoup this cost in fuel saving - even if that
is true, who will pay the initial cost of the retrofit?
Imagine the capital outlay for a 50 or 100 truck fleet!
- Commercial Ships at Port - Section
3(8)(a) on page 6 of the 4/21/09 printed bill (line 29). A
section most likely unnoticed by many, but again would
affect any shipper of goods impacting our natural resource
businesses that ship products through the ports. One
example that demonstrates the significance of this mode of
transportation is the fact that wheat is the Port's largest
commodity, and ships 43% of all the wheat exported from
the United States through the Port of
- Climate Change Commission - OFS Board
and members believe that Legislators should task the Climate
Change Commission with monitoring federal Climate Change and
Cap and Trade activity over the next two years with a
mandate for the Commission to report back to the Legislature
during the 2011 session. This would accomplish two
- Place the major fiscal responsibility for these very
expensive programs with the Federal Government where they
- Provide consistency with all other states, and thereby
not put Oregon at an economic
disadvantaging with other states in the NW region or the
- Adopting California's Tire Standards -
DEQ staff has stated that they want to follow California's
lead and adopt their standards once they are implemented
such as the "Green Tire Standard." Should HB-2186-6 pass,
Oregon is linked and will do likewise. The cost to Oregon
of this regulation is estimated at $18,400 for one truck
with a four-axle, 53 foot trailer. It is opposed by
Oregon's principal tire distributor. It is estimated that
there are about 48,000 heavy-duty trucks based in Oregon in
addition to nearly 254,000 more that operate in the state.
The medium-duty trucks are not figured in this number.
OFS Board and members are supportive of HB 2186 with the
dash-5 amendments, known as the Boone Amendments. This
version would go along way to hold DEQ accountable by
requiring them to work with relevant state agencies and
develop recommendations for legislation related to
greenhouse gas emissions that must consider:
- specific contribution of any recommendation toward
meeting the greenhouse gas emission reduction goals;
- economic impacts on Oregon consumers;
- economic impacts on Oregon businesses; and
- technical feasibility.
Unfortunately Rep. Boone's dash-5 amendments were defeated
in committee. As such, OFS cannot support HB-2186 as
currently amended and urges your "NO" vote on the floor.
PLEASE honor the OFS Board
and member request and VOTE "NO" on House Bill 2186
Send HB-2186 back to
committee to adopt the dash-5 amendments.
Ways and Means Committee "Road Trip" Update from Senator
The Ways and Means Committee "listening tour" is now
completed. I was able to attend all nine meetings from the
Oregon Coast to the Snake River and from Portland to Klamath
Falls. The committee heard two minute snippets of testimony
from an average of about 70 people in Lincoln city,
Portland, Salem, Pendleton, Ontario, Bend, Ashland, and
Eugene. We also stopped in Klamath Falls where we divided up
into subcommittees to meet and talk with interested citizens
and public officials. Those conversations, shared over about
two hour lunches were, in my opinion, the most productive
exchanges of the entire tour. In that forum we were able to
discuss local issues in some detail and to delve deeper into
the difference between what we must have and what is nice to
The May economic forecast is due to be published May 14, and
the Ways and Means Co-Chairs expect to roll out their
recommended budget May 15. I have little doubt that their
recommended budget will include significant increases in a
variety of taxes and fees. In the last election the Democrat
majority won sufficient voting power to pass any revenue
increase that they choose without a single Republican vote.
Senator Atkinson to eliminate taxes on unemployment
Senator Jason Atkinson (R-Central Point) has rallied other
Senate and House Republicans around legislation to end the
taxation of unemployment benefits. Senate Bill 975 would
give unemployed Oregonians their first $2400 of unemployment
benefits tax free and allow Oregon to take advantage of the
federal government's stimulus bill.
"Oregon has the second highest unemployment in America.
Today, more than 255,000 Oregonians are without work and
Oregon government is taxing them. It's like kicking someone
when they're down and it's wrong." Atkinson stated.
Senate Bill 975 would follow the federal government's lead
and end taxation of an individual's first $2400 in
unemployment compensation. A piece of the federal stimulus
package passed by Congress in February ended federal
taxation of unemployment benefits. Just days before the
federal bill was signed into law, Oregon's majority party
disconnected from the federal stimulus to ensure that Oregon
could continue taxing the unemployed.
"Oregonians need to know we are on their side," Atkinson
said. "Oregon's government can't say we are serious about
creating jobs and putting people back to work when it taxes
Currently, Oregon taxes the first $2400 of unemployment
compensation on a sliding scale, depending on an
individual's taxable income. Most Oregonians collecting
unemployment compensation are taxed at the top rate of 9%.
Senator Atkinson used one of two priorities bills each
Senator is allowed to introduce Senate Bill 975. Senate
Bill 975 is waiting for a committee referral from the Senate
Newsletter from Senator Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg
weeks ago I started a conversation on the environment, but
stopped to deal with other pressing issues before the
Legislature. We are now seeing the environmental bills coming
to the floor of both the House and Senate, so now may be a
good time to revisit the subject. As was noted in previous
newsletters I have been involved in on the ground
environmental protection for over thirty years and feel I have
earned the right to call myself an environmentalist. As also
noted, previously I have a great deal of frustration when we
take actions not based on sound science.
Many of our proposed actions come as a result of the momentum
created by Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth". The movie
had 35 points that were scientifically wrong. In my opinion,
I believe they were intentionally wrong. One example is the
prediction the oceans would rise by 20 feet by the year 2100
when the true science based worst case scenario is 23 inches.
But the most troubling one was his use of Antarctic ice core
samples to "prove" increased atmospheric carbon levels lead to
global warming. The real truth is increased temperatures lead
to increased carbon levels. This is significant because it
means carbon levels are a result, not a cause of global
warming. Al Gore has now become a billionaire off of global
carbon credits, so maybe he had a personal motivation behind
The movie also fails to mention the fact that 95% of the
greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere are water vapor. Let me
repeat, 95% of greenhouse gases are water vapor. Does that
mean water is a pollutant? A group of 31,000 United States
scientists have rejected man made global warming, and they are
being ignored by the White House and Congress. Meanwhile
President Obama's stimulus package had 3.4 billion dollars for
global warming studies. I wonder what conclusions they will
Just one more verifiable fact dealing with carbon monoxide
levels in the US. I use this because there are 137 monitoring
sites across the country and it may be the most measured air
pollutant. Between 1980 and 2007 the carbon monoxide level in
this country has been reduced by 76%. So while the number of
cars on the road has increased significantly the level of
emissions has gone dramatically in the other direction. We
are clearly doing things the right way.
THE OREGON AGENDA
The first question to be asked is what can we do? The
Governor has stated his environmental agenda is to stop global
warming, which is a ridiculous statement. Even if you believe
man made global warming is a reality the actions taken by the
state of Oregon will have no impact on the planet. Currently
there are only a handful of states in greater compliance with
both the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act than we are and
these are actually programs with scientifically measurable
standards. We are doing a good job and we should acknowledge
the fact. This would allow us to focus on real Oregon issues
such as getting our economy back on track.
However, we are still moving forward with a global warming
agenda in the Legislature. Here are some of the bills just
dealing with carbon.
SB 102: Would require a home owner to
replace their wood stove before they could sell their house
SB 104: Allows Environmental Quality
Commission to establish fees for registration of classes of
air contamination sources (a carbon fee)
SB 105: Same as SB 104 but for federally
SB 38: Creates a fossil fuel registry
(whatever that means)
HB 2072: Carbon tax on fuel supplier
HB 2185: Another carbon fee bill
HB 2186: Allows the Environmental Quality
Commission to create rules on greenhouse gases
And the big one:
SB 80: Limits the amount of carbon based energy used in the
Rather than go into detail on what each of these bills does
I want to talk about the cumulative impact on businesses and
citizens in the state. Within the next decade these bills
will cost Oregon businesses, consumers and rate payers in
excess of 20 billion dollars. For example the cost of
ethanol production is greater than the cost of petroleum.
Additionally, a study in California has shown ethanol
releases more carbon than petroleum. The other point on
ethanol is why we are taking land out of food production to
produce a less efficient fuel product.
Senate bill 80 sets up a process by which we would prohibit
carbon based energy to be used in Oregon. As 40% of our
energy grid is now carbon based it is unclear how we will
meet our energy needs. Keep in mind at the same time we are
moving to take out the Klamath River dams which generate
enough electricity to power Eugene/Springfield. Wind and
solar cannot and will not fill the gap. Furthermore, we
have a Constitutional prohibition against nuclear power.
Where is our energy going to come from and how much will it
cost? These bills seem to be unconcerned about these
For me the real issue here is the negative impact we will be
creating in our economy at a time we should be moving in the
opposite direction. We should be engaging in activities
designed to encourage business activities and job growth.
This series of bills takes us in the opposite direction.
What business is going to decide to come to Oregon or even
expand their current operation with no certainty about
access to a viable energy grid in addition to significantly
more regulation and cost to their fuel supply?
I personally could care less about "the Governor's legacy".
I am more interested in the future of Oregon. This agenda
takes us in the wrong direction and will cost us much more
than we can afford to pay. To sacrifice the future health
of our economy for an environmental myth we will have no
impact on is an action I think goes beyond the pale. We are
already good stewards of our environment; we now need to
become good stewards of our economy.
Senator Jeff Kruse
Please contact us with any questions or comments:
HAVE A TERRIFIC WEEKEND!
Terry, Paulette & Sandi