Oregon March economic forecast was released Monday and the
news was not good.
Projected state revenue income from general fund tax
collections and lottery fund profits is projected to be down
by more than $190 million since the December 2009 forecast.
The projected reduction in state revenue since July 1, 2009 is
more than $400 million. Moreover, the 2009 fourth quarter
report was the seventh consecutive month of job losses and
After two years precipitous reductions in jobs and revenue it
might be time to ask, “Is what we are doing, working for us?”.
Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate the policies that have
created this ongoing train wreck. Perhaps it is time for
Oregonians to reconsider the wisdom of raising taxes,
enlarging fees, and expanding regulation on the business
community that sustains our private sector jobs and state
the early days of the 2010 emergency special session it does
not appear that the majority Democrats are reconsidering their
2010 EMERGENCY SPECIAL SESSION
Oregon Legislature has now completed the first week of the
February emergency special session. That first week has made
it clear, that there certainly is no emergency, and that there
is nothing special about this session.
so called “emergency” was scheduled last spring to begin on
February 1st and end on February 28th.
The entire session has been orchestrated in advance for months
even though the majority of Legislators voted to call
themselves into special session only last week. In fact, the
session limits and time frames were established well before
the June 29th end of the 2009 Legislature.
leadership adopted rules that allowed each Senator to request
two bills to be drafted, and each Representative one bill. The
leadership required that the drafting request to be made
before mid-November. The leadership also required that all
bills be introduced by January 15th. That was more
than two weeks before the members actually voted to call the
body into session. Of course, the leadership has also created
exceptions to those limits and time frames that allow
themselves to introduce any bill at just about any time.
only thing special about the emergency special session is that
it appears to be designed to virtually exclude public
participation in the law making process. That is why I voted
no when the Senate adopted the Rules for this special session.
Some in this legislative body tend to forget that we are
elected by the people and that we must listen to the people in
order to do their bidding.
Most Oregon citizens have been unable to get their concerns
addressed because they were not made aware that all bills had
to be drafted way back in November. We have been forced to
deny numerous requests to draft bills because we are limited
to only two bills and because the request came after the
Equally disturbing, from the first day of the special session
we have been on 24 hour posting for committee hearings. That
means the only public hearing and work session on a bill may
be held with only one day’s notice to the public. That
schedule serves to virtually eliminate the opportunity for
most people in Eastern, Southern, or Coastal Oregon to
participate in the law making process. By the time the people
find out what is being done to them, the opportunity to
testify at a hearing or work session has already passed. We
expect to be placed on one hour committee notice at any time
serving to essentially close the door for public
This special session is the second in the Democrat
leadership’s experiment for having annual Legislative
sessions. In fact, the Democrat leadership has introduced
Senate Joint Resolution 41 this that will refer a
constitutional amendment to the people to decide if their
Legislature should meet annually. In my opinion, the people
should be very skeptical if that leadership plans to run
future annual sessions the way that they are running the
current annual special sessions.
SENATE BILL 1060
instance, one bill of particular concern to those who live and
work in rural Oregon is SB 1060 introduced by Senator Alan
Bates of Ashland. This bill proposes to change the term
navigable stream to floatable stream. It then defines a
floatable waterway as any stream, lake, or reservoir that is
capable of floating virtually any device at any time of the
year notwithstanding shallow riffles and cobbles. The bill
prevents any obstruction across the stream that would
potentially interfere with floating devices. Any obstruction
such as a fence or diversion dam that crosses the stream would
have to be removed even if it is located on private land.
bill, as currently written, would expand state control over
the beds and banks of most of the streams in Oregon. It
provides for public access to these streams on private lands
to the extent of the normal high water mark. It also provides
for public passage on adjacent private lands for portage, for
emergency egress, and to continue the public use of the
waterway. Moreover, the bill prevents the landowners under
penalty of law from interfering with the public use of those
newly claimed public rights.
least three amendments have been proposed to SB 1060, each
making the original bill even worse in my opinion.
instance, all three amendments define a waterway as any stream
with a headwater. The dictionary definition of a headwater is
the highest point in a watershed. If these amendments were
adopted, any stream, intermittent stream, or ephemeral stream
that flows enough water to float an inner tube at any time of
the year could be defined as a floatable stream. The bed and
the banks of any floatable stream would then be claimed by the
state for public access and public use.
are working very hard with our water coalition group to get
this overt attack on private property rights stopped. A letter
signed by thirteen natural resources groups was sent to
President Courtney last Friday requesting that this bill be at
least postponed until a session when the people would have a
meaningful opportunity to weigh in. I can only imagine the
righteous public outrage if a bill of this scope is hammered
through our very special session without opportunity for
meaningful public participation.
HOUSE BILL 3661
3661 is another bill that should be of great concern to all
Oregonians. This bill proposes to exert draconian restrictions
on the construction and use of domestic wells that provide
water for families and livestock.
Landowners currently have the right to construct domestic
wells on their property that are exempt from the requirements
to obtain a water right permit or certificate. This has always
been considered an inherent property right in Oregon. The
landowner is entitled to beneficially use up to 15,000 gallons
per day from the well for family household use. In addition,
the landowner is allowed to water his livestock and to
irrigate up to one half acre of lawn and garden from the well.
Those who use group domestic wells and that have wells for
industrial uses have similar property rights. Each landowner
that accesses a group domestic well can use up to 15,000
gallons per day for family use as well as use the well to
provide water for his livestock and to irrigate up to one half
acre of lawn and garden. Industrial users are allowed up to
5,000 gallons per day for industrial use and are allowed to
irrigate up to one half acre of lawn.
3661 proposes to reduce the total amount of allowable use from
any newly constructed domestic well to 5,000 gallons per day
for individual exempt domestic wells including water needed
for garden, lawn and livestock watering. The bill would allow
15,000 gallons per day for group domestic wells for the total
of all families who use the well. It would further restrict
the group well use to only enough water to irrigate only one
half acre parcel of lawn or garden from each group domestic
well. It would restrict industrial use to only 5,000 gallons
per day including water for landscape maintenance. Finally, it
would allow the Oregon Water Resources Department to require a
water right permit for domestic wells constructed in critical
groundwater areas or in limited groundwater areas designated
by the Oregon Water Resources Commission.
my opinion this bill has too many faults to adequately
It appears to have
constitutional “takings” issues both with traditional access
to ground water and trespass. There is no need for the bill
because the actual consumption of groundwater for domestic use
is virtually irrelevant compared to other usage. The bill will
certainly reduce the opportunities for building new homes and
businesses dependent on groundwater thereby costing jobs,
hurting the economy and reducing state revenue. And most
certainly, it will not be good for rural Oregon.
Please remember that if we
fail to stand up for rural Oregon no one will.