Community, Economic & Development – March 31

​This week marks the end of week nine of the Legislative Session. Below is a review of the week.

HB 2681 – Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC)

The House Energy and Environment Committee held a public hearing and work session on House Bill 2681, which would extend the sunset for tax credits for the construction or installation of alternative energy devices until 2024. Representative Nosse opened the hearing by explaining the importance of the Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) to battling climate change and noting the strong support from homeowners for the program. Representative Nosse said he believes that the tax credit will eventually become unnecessary but it warrants extension at this time. The Oregon Solar Energy Industry Association (OSEIA) testified in support of the RETC, noting the benefits of the program to sustainability and the economy. OSEIA is currently working on amendments to clarify the parameters and goals of the program.  Representative Johnson asked whether the industry was willing to consider means testing the credit, expressing concern that the credit could subsidize energy improvements for people who can afford them. OSEIA indicated willingness to have that conversation but also noted that a third of RETC projects have been located in ZIP codes below the state median income. Several other solar energy advocates and industry participants testified in support of continuing the tax credit. Energy Trust of Oregon testified to provide information about its programs and the anticipated impacts of the expiration of the tax credit. The Northwest Renewable Energy Coalition testified in support of the bill, with amendments to emphasize support for energy improvements for low-income households.

ACTION: No action taken. Work session carried over.

 HB 2680 – Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit

The House Energy and Environment Committee held a public hearing and work session on House Bill 2680, which would extend the sunset for tax credits for renewable energy development contributions until 2024 and make systems that use waste heat to produce energy eligible for grants from the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) for installation or construction of renewable energy production systems.

ACTION: No action taken. 

SB 531 – Task Force on Rural Fire Protection District Community Development

The Senate Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee held a public hearing on Senate Bill 531, which would establish a task force to develop recommendations for developing, enhancing, or expanding the ability of rural fire protection districts to facilitate community development following a natural disaster. The bill provides for the Oregon Military Department to staff the task force. Senator Roblan, the chief sponsor, explained that the concept originated from the Toledo Rural Fire District and described the intent to bring together rural fire districts to prepare for natural disasters. Commissioner Terry Thompson of Lincoln County testified in support of the bill.

ACTION: No action taken. 

SB 333 – Oregon Industrial Site Readiness Program

The Senate Business and Transportation Committee held a public hearing on Senate Bill 333, which would remove loan forgiveness and reimbursement delays and make other clarifying changes to the Oregon Industrial Site Readiness Program. A -4 amendment has been offered that would impose eligibility criteria related to employment outcomes. The Port of Portland testified in support of SB 333, urging it would promote the market for traded-sector development in Oregon. Metro explained that the changes proposed by SB 333 would streamline the program and enhance flexibility for local jurisdictions. Tax Fairness Oregon and the Oregon Women’s Rights Coalition testified in opposition to the bill.

ACTION: No action taken.

SB 867 – Task Force on Maritime Sector Workforce Development

The Senate Business and Transportation Committee held a public hearing on Senate Bill 867, which would create the Task Force on Maritime Sector Workforce Development, to be staffed by the Association of Oregon Counties. A -1 amendment has been offered that would remove from the definition of “maritime sector” enterprises engaged in the exploration or development of offshore oil and gas resources. Senator Roblan, Representative Gomberg, and Representative Brock Smith opened the hearing by explaining the benefits of specifically defining and recognizing the maritime sector and dedicating focus to better understand the industries it includes. Several industry stakeholders also testified in support.

ACTION: No action taken.

SB 936 – Strategic Investment Program Tax Rates

The Senate Business and Transportation Committee held a public hearing on Senate Bill 936, which would increase the taxable portion of the property value of eligible projects under the strategic investment program. The bill would increase the taxable portion of property value to a specified maximum value based on the size of the project investment. It would also increase the maximum fee for business participation in the program from $2 million to $2.5 million and eliminate a smaller alternative maximum fee currently applicable to projects located in a rural area. Amendments have been offered that would limit the new minimum taxable property values to rural properties and modify the minimum property values specified. The Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) testified in support of SB 936 as amended by the -1 amendment, which confines the property value limits to properties in rural areas. Tax Fairness Oregon expressed concern that the state does not assess the same service fee that local jurisdictions may assess under the program and that this causes the state to forego revenue.

ACTION: No action taken.

3/27 – State Lottery Overview

The Joint Sub-Committee on General Government held an informational hearing on the state lottery, and had invited testimony from the Oregon Lottery Commission. Oregon Lottery Director Barry Pack gave some background of the Commission and their allocations of lottery funds in the 13-15 biennium. A bar graph was also provided to illustrate this information. Specific allocations to Oregon counties were not discussed.

Director Pack described the funding allocation process for Oregon Lottery: net proceeds, or “unobligated net lottery proceeds” are transferred on a quarterly basis to the Department of Administrative Services (DAS), which pays for lottery-backed revenue bonds (set at a 25 percent cap), replenishes reserves for lottery bonds and distributes funds to lottery beneficiaries. The Legislature allocates remaining net proceeds through DAS to various economic development, public education projects, etc.

Other issues discussed included the different types of lottery products currently offered, Oregon populations and demographics who are participating in the lottery, and video lottery modernization. The modernization program will cost $227 million and should be complete by 2018.

ACTION: No action taken.

HB 2077 – Long-Term Rural Enterprise Zone Tax Credit

The House Economic Development and Trade Committee held a public hearing on House Bill 2077, which would extend the sunset on the long-term rural enterprise zone tax credit from June 2018 to June 2024. Tax Fairness Oregon testified in opposition to the tax credit, noting the lack of information about which businesses have received the credit. Chair Lininger indicated that further conversation this session on this bill appeared unlikely at this time.

ACTION: No action taken.

HB 2078 – Qualified Research Activities Tax Credit

The House Economic Development and Trade Committee held a public hearing on House Bill 2078, which would extend the sunset on the qualified research activities tax credit from January 2018 to January 2024. Tax Fairness Oregon testified in opposition, arguing that no connection had been demonstrated between the tax credit and private sector behavior.

ACTION: No action taken.

Contributed by: Amanda Dalton | Community and Economic Development Policy Consultant

2017-04-14T03:12:20+00:00 March 31st, 2017|Categories: Community & Economic Development|Tags: |