This week marks the end of week 15 of the Legislative Session.
Week in Review
House Bill (HB) 2968 –Brownfields: The Senate Committee on Environment and Natural resources held a public hearing on HB 2968. Bruce Gillis, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) clean-up program manager, testified that there are approximately 13,000 contaminated sites in Oregon, 5,400 are hazardous substances, and 8,000 are underground storage facilities. Of the 5,400 hazardous substance sites, the federal government manages 13. Oregon has operated under one clean-up program for the last 10 years, aligning its clean-up standards with the federal government requirements, as a result, the federal government has not questioned the efficacy of state managed clean-up in those 10 years. DEQ is already granted broad protection to provide liability protections when a settlement is in the public interest or when prospective purchasers have made certain guarantees of public benefit, clean-up funding, development, or use for an important public interest. David Ashton of Port of Portland testified that the Port supports HB 2968 and the broadening of liability releases for three reasons: it will reduce front-end costs, enticing investment, the PPA program will result in enhanced brownfield redevelopment, and increases ways in which the state can control clean-up instead of the federal government increasing clean-up timeframes. Ultimately, the Port believes that HB 2968 increases efficiencies that will result in more positive outcomes in the long term.
ACTION: No action taken. Work Session scheduled for May 15.
The House Committee on Revenue held a public hearing on SB 181. Senators Riley, Boquist and Representative Kennemer presented SB 181 to the committee as a means to collate all tax exemption information for any non-profit organization or charitable entity which is exempt from certain property taxes under ORS 307.130. The argument is that under the current enforcement scheme county assessors are unable to apply a state-wide standard for determining an entity’s exempt status, and this bill will produce information that will lead to a clear-line state-wide standard.
There was significant concern regarding adverse effects on Granges and Representative Barnhart clarified that SB 181 only applies to those entities described in ORS 307.130. Craig Loughridge testified on behalf of the Oregon Grange to add that the Grange harbored concerns about clarity as to their status, because while the national Grange is an exempt fraternal organization, most local chapters are non-profit organizations organized under state laws (thus possibly subject to 307.130). Additionally, the Grange believes the filing would be redundant. Roger Martin on behalf of the Oregon Catholic Conference was disappointed in the lack of public hearings scheduled for the interim, he would like more. The Catholic Charities is primarily concerned with broad regulatory overreach by the State of Oregon in an effort to force out fake non-profit organizations. Sam Carrol of Oregon State Alliance of YMCAs echoed the concerns regarding redundancy, and lack of appeal mechanism.
Doug Schmidt of the Oregon Assessors Association testified that the Association is neutral, the information will provide clarity to assessors, but agrees that addition of an appeal process should be discussed if it is not already available in other related ORS sections. Representative Marsh asked why only the organizations in 307.130 should be included, Mr. Schmidt responded that 130 was the most confusing, and therefore was a good place to start
ACTION: No action taken.
The Senate Education Committee held a public hearing for HB 2312, which updates certain terms and references used throughout state law to conform with changes to federal law associated with enactment of federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
In 2016, the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) created the Office of Workforce Investments (OWI), which was designed to contribute oversight, resources and programming to the public workforce development system. Previously, some of those workforce functions were assigned to the Office of Community Colleges and Workforce Development (CCWD). Bill language reassigning certain workforce functions to HECC are intended to reflect that organizational change.
ACTION: No action taken. Work Session scheduled for May 16.