on SB 76 – Dam Demolition
First, we made a significant transcription error in our last
newsletter. The letter stated that the 2 percent surcharge
in PacifiCorp rates resulting from the demolition of the
dams on the Klamath River could be about $34 per month and
that the cost of replacement power could be about $65 per
month. The correct numbers are up to $34 per year and up to
$65 per year respectively resulting in up to a 10 percent
increase in the average annual bill. The first number was
derived by multiplying PacifiCorp’s 2007 $929 million Oregon
revenue by the 2 percent surcharge and dividing the product
by PacifiCorp’s 548,000 ratepayers. The second figure was
derived by dividing the FERC estimated $35 million annual
power replacement cost by PacifiCorp’s 548,000 Oregon
ratepayers. That $35 million estimate is widely believed to
be very conservative. In fact, if the power was replaced
with renewable energy the estimate could be an order of
magnitude low. We strive to provide you with accurate
information and I regret my typographical error.
We want to thank all those who travelled to Salem to
testify regarding the demolition of the Klamath River
Hydroelectric project, as well as all those who provided
written testimony and who emailed their thoughts to the
committee members. In a news conference held before the
committee hearing some proponents of
Senate Bill 76 suggested that there is virtually no
opposition to the Governor’s plan to destroy the dams. Your
efforts made it abundantly clear that no consensus exists,
and that in fact many Oregonians are categorically opposed
to dam removal. Your testimony introduced many issues that
the committee members had not contemplated, and highlighted
other important issues that the Agreement in Principle fails
to adequately address.
Please know that we are grateful because without your
efforts these issues would never have been heard. The
scheduled Thursday work session for SB 76 was postponed
until February 10.
SB 430 –
week the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources
Senate Bill 430. The bill states that a county may not
approve an application for siting a destination resort. The
prohibition applies to an application for siting a
destination resort that was submitted or completed on or
after January 1, 2008 without regard to the status of the
application including whether or not the county previously
purported to grant final approval of the application. In
short, the bill retroactively prohibits approval of an
Oregon destination resort until January 2, 2012. The
prohibition includes resorts that have already been approved
and where there have already been expenditures of
significant funds and resources. SB 430 will take affect
immediately upon passage.
In my opinion, this half page bill is a direct
assault on the right of Oregon counties to self
determination. It is yet another attack on economic
development in rural and small town Oregon. Destination
resorts were designed in part to help our rural economies
deal with the draconian economic losses inflicted by the
spotted owl and the adoption of the Northwest Forest Plan.
They were meant to provide a planned and controlled means to
develop certain farm and forest land to help stimulate those
SB 430 stops that process in its tracks. It prevents
the counties from growing their property tax base at a time
when our economy is in free fall and the counties are
struggling to maintain services. It thwarts the creation of
thousands of jobs in the construction and building trades.
Our rural unemployment rates are soaring in an upward spiral
well into double digits with no end in sight. Oregon’s land
use regulations and specious restrictions were instrumental
in creating Oregon’s current economic and employment crises.
This bill will certainly add more grief to that sad
reality. Our office knows of at least five destination
resorts in our own district that will be thwarted by this
measure. In their zeal to lock up our resources and prohibit
the development of our natural resources, the protectionists
are destroying our state and national economies. The
governor and other supporters of SB 430 do not seem to
understand, or to care.
SB 430 has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
– Real Estate Transfer Tax
House Bill 2436 creates a $15 “fee” for recording
documents and deeds. It would create about $17 million in
revenue during the 2009-11 budget cycle to be spent on
various affordable housing programs.
It is my understanding that a fee is a charge made to
pay for a specific related service while a tax is a charge
levied to collect revenue for unrelated purposes. If the
charge established by HB 2436 was actually a fee, it would
be levied for the purpose of paying for the service of
recording documents in the deed and mortgage record.
However, the entire revenue from this charge is to be
deposited in accounts that are unrelated to the service of
recording documents and deeds. It actually creates yet
another unfunded mandate by prohibiting the county clerks
from keeping even a portion of the revenue to pay for the
service of recording documents and deeds. The fact of the
matter is that HB 2436 creates a real estate transfer tax to
develop a revenue source to be used to subsidize affordable
While HB 2436 may address a noble cause, the time to
levy $17 million in NEW taxes is NOT when our economy is in
free fall, when our rates of unemployment are in an
uncontrolled upward spiral, and when our state faces a
projected two billion dollar shortfall to maintain current
services during the next budget cycle.
HB 2436 passed out of the House on Thursday and was
heard in Ways and Means this morning.
For the reasons stated, I voted no.
on SB 5562 & SB 338 – Stimulus Package
Thursday the Oregon House of Representatives passed
Senate Bill 5562 and
Senate Bill 338, which imposes $177 million of long term
debt on Oregonians to carry out deferred maintenance on
state owned properties.
Although these bills are well intended to help create
jobs, the methodology is fatally flawed. Many of the repairs
are actually badly needed such as the remodeling of Owens
Hall at OIT. Other projects are less pressing such as moss
removal from the roof of an ODOT building. But borrowing
money for operations and maintenance is not good fiscal
policy. Amortizing the cost of maintenance over 20 to 30
years is certainly not acceptable in the private sector and
should not be tolerated in the public sector either.
The legislature had the opportunity to thoughtfully
and prudently select infrastructure projects to invest in,
that would have provided long term benefits and employment
opportunities. For instance, the League of Oregon Cities
provided a list of much needed infrastructure projects in
virtually every town in all 30 Senate districts. The
governor’s own Economic Revitalization Team had prepared a
similar list. Sadly, these bills dedicate much of our
remaining state bonding capacity to be used for short term
projects with short term employment prospects.
This stimulus package represents an opportunity