Today marks the end of week 5 of the Legislative Session. Below is a review of the week. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.
Week in Review
SB 145 – Reservation Enterprise Zone Tax Credit (AOC)
The committee held a work session on SB 145, which would repeal the sunset for the Reservation Enterprise Zone tax credit.
ACTION: The committee moved with the bill to the Joint Tax Credits Committee without recommendation.
SB 174 – Qualified Research Tax Credit (AOC)
The committee held a public hearing on SB 174, which would extend the sunset date for the corporate research tax credit. Current law sets the sunset at January 1, 2018, and this bill would extend that to January 1, 2024. Several people testified in opposition to extension of the credit and some committee members doubted whether it is effective in stimulating economic growth.
ACTION: No action taken.
SB 181 – Property Tax Information Returns (AOC)
The committee held a public hearing and work session on SB 181, which would require charitable institutions seeking property tax exemptions to file information returns with the state that explain the basis for the claim to exemption. The information return would include the basis for the organization’s claim to exemption (charitable objective of organization), the manner in which the organization furthers its charitable purposes, and the ways in which the organization’s performance involves giving and the percentage of organization’s total expenses that giving constitutes. The information return would also include other property-specific information about the organization’s use of the property for which it seeks exemption. The committee is considering possible amendments relating to the confidentiality of the information in the information returns, the timing of required submittal, and technical details related to the form of the return. There was testimony disputing the necessity for this bill and arguing that this information is already available in other forms to county assessors. Tax Fairness Oregon testified that some counties are receiving better information than others, and that requiring more information than a simple postcard in order to claim a property tax exemption is a reasonable requirement.
ACTION: No action taken.
SB 468 – Industrial Improvements Tax Exemption (AOC)
The committee held a work session on SB 468, which makes changes to existing law passed in 2016 to create a permissive property tax exemption for industrial improvements. The program gives counties and cities some leeway to structure program within bounds of the statute. Most of the changes are clarifying changes to the language, but substantively, it would change the definition of rural area for purposes of the program to include unincorporated areas within the urban growth boundary. Currently, the program only applies to rural areas outside the UGB. The bill has a -1 amendment, which would also expand the definition of eligible property to include property constructed or installed at a brownfield and to allow cleanup costs to count toward minimum investment for qualification.
ACTION: The committee adopted the -1 amendment to SB 468. The committee moved SB 468, as amended with the -1 amendment, to the Senate floor with a do-pass recommendation.
The committee continued its public hearing on HB 2063 and HB 2770. HB 2063 would reform the gigabit property tax exemption by placing additional parameters for eligibility on the program, while HB 2770 would repeal the gigabit property tax exemption. Legislators continued to inquire as to whether the exemption is necessary to draw investments into the state. Chair Barnhart expressed concern that the committee has not yet been presented with data that demonstrates that the exemption is essential to actually bringing in the infrastructure investments the state wants. Tax Fairness Oregon testified in support of HB 2770, the full repeal of the gigabit property tax exemption. The Oregon Women’s Rights Coalition testified in opposition to the gigabit exemption as well.
ACTION: No action taken.
SB 333 – Industrial Site Readiness
Removes loan forgiveness and reimbursement delays and makes other changes to Oregon Industrial Site Readiness Program.
ACTION: Previously scheduled for a hearing on 2/27, the bill was carried over.
HB 2214 – Expedited Housing Permitting Fund
The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee held a public hearing for HB 2214, which deals with expedited permitting. Representative Vial introduced his bill to the committee. HB 2214 would fund an existing program, and establishes the Expedited Housing Permitting Fund to help local governments pay for employee expenses to administer expedited land divisions and expenses for developing infrastructure to support the specific land division. Homebuilders Association and League of Oregon Cities also testified in support of the bill.
ACTION: No action taken.
SB 251 – Lottery Withholdings
The Senate Finance and Revenue Committee held a work session on SB 251, which decreases the threshold above which a lottery prize is subject to withholding from $5,000 to $1,500.
ACTION: Moved to the floor with do-pass recommendation. Senator Kathleen Taylor will carry it.
HB 2091 – Broadband Service Availability
The House Economic Development and Trade Committee held a public hearing on HB 2091, which would allow the PUC to use universal service funds to encourage broadband service availability and to provide support to telecommunications carriers that provide both basic telephone service and broadband service. The Oregon Telecommunication Association (OTA), representing cable telecom companies, testified that the bill would require recipients to invest funds to expand rural service. Telecom companies have applied for these funds in the past and have been rejected at least once based on DOJ’s opinion that PUC lacked authority to award the funds for such uses, so they would like an express authorization to use funds for these purposes. Oregon Citizens’ Utility Board testified in support of the bill. The Public Utility Commission testified that the agency is neutral on the bill.
ACTION: No action taken. Chair Lininger plans to hold a work session on HB 2091 next week.
HB 2458 allows nonretail facility located in low-population county to permit self-service retail sales of Class 1 flammable liquids. HB 2482 removes hours of operation restriction on self-service at filling stations, service stations, garages and other dispensaries in low-population counties.
ACTION: Previously scheduled for an additional public hearing, these bills were carried over.
The House Energy and Environment Committee and the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee held a public hearing on SB 748 and SB 557, and informational meetings on HB 2135 and HB 2468. All these bills are proposals that would require the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to adopt limits on greenhouse gas emissions and/or cap-and-trade programs. Supporters of carbon control programs testified regarding the economic, health, and infrastructure impacts that climate change portends. Witnesses included a collection of advocates from renewable energy and environmental groups, in addition to private citizens supportive of legislation to address climate change. Several witnesses emphasized that the change in federal administration requires the state to do more to address climate change. Additionally, witnesses from the Oregon Climate Trust, Northwest and Intermountain Power Producers Coalition, and the International Emissions Trading Association expressed preference for cap-and-trade programs over a stand-alone carbon tax, noting that cap-and-trade offers a more promising path to achieving carbon emissions goals and to stimulating economic activity in the process. AOI testified in opposition to the proposals, noting that these proposals would impose new costs on businesses and cause job losses to our state. With the exception of AOI, all other witnesses spoke in support of either cap and trade or carbon taxation.
ACTION: No action taken. Beginning next week, a subgroup of the energy committees, open to all legislators, will be meeting on a weekly basis to further discuss these issues and drill down into details. The first meeting of the subgroup will be Tuesday, March 7.
SB 139 – Rockwood Workforce Training Center
The Senate Workforce Committee held a public hearing for SB 139, which appropriates $2 million to DAS for a workforce training center in the Rockwood neighborhood of Gresham. Sponsors Senator Monnes Anderson and Representatives Gorske and Piluso introduced their bill to the committee. The sponsors discussed the need in their community for education, training and business services. Senator Knopp asked if they were looking for bonds or cash – as written, the bill would draw from the general fund.
The Committee also heard supportive testimony from the City of Gresham, Mount Hood Community College. Chair Taylor asked the panel where they expected funding to come from, if not the General Fund. The panel clarified that they were hoping to shift to lottery funds revenue. SB 139 has a subsequent referral to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means for consideration of lottery bonds to fill the remaining gap in funding for construction and capital equipment of the proposed center.
ACTION: No action taken.
HB 2004 – Month-to-Month Tenancy
The House Human Services held public hearings this week for the first of the Speaker’s housing bills. HB 2004 would prohibit landlords from terminating month-to-month tenancy without cause, except under certain circumstances with 90 days’ written notice and payment of relocation expenses. The hearing lasted several hours and testimony was limited to 2 minutes per person.
ACTION: No action taken
SB 310 – Vertical Housing Zones
The League of Oregon Cities requested this bill and it was introduced by Senator Hass and Senator Boquist. SB 310 authorizes cities or counties to designate areas within jurisdiction as vertical housing development zones.
ACTION: Senator Olsen carried the bill on the Senate Floor. There was no following discussion. The bill passed the Senate with 29 aye votes, and 1 excused.
HB 2689 – Veterans Housing Task Force
This bill was introduced by Representative Evans and it establishes the Task Force on Innovative Housing Strategies for Veterans.
ACTION: Previously scheduled for a public hearing on 3/2 in the House Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee, the bill was carried over.
HB 5508 – Agency Budget Rebalance
The Joint Ways and Means Committee held a work session on HB 5508, which makes various technical adjustments to agency budgets previously passed by the Legislature and finalizes some general fund components of the statewide budget. Senator Johnson said she would support the bill, but raised a concern not included in this budget rebalance –the issue of “truing up” what is due to the counties out of video lottery. Sen. Johnson said this remains an unanswered question, and has left the counties feeling as though they have not received a statutory share of the video lottery funds. The Legislative Fiscal Office (LFO) staff said there will be opportunities to revisit this issue, following the May lottery revenue forecast. The Legislature would need a separate allocation bill. Senator Hansell echoed these concerns and said the counties have actually lost millions of dollars in this program. The Senator said this was a very important program for him and that he will be watching, but would also vote in favor of the bill today. Co-Chair Devlin agreed that this would be an item of discussion in coming weeks, and he hoped to reach a resolution.
ACTION: The Committee passed the bill to the floor, without objection
Contributed by: Amanda Dalton | Community & Economic Development
March 4, 2017