In what looks to be the second to the last week in the legislative session, there was a great deal more clarity in the fates of the remaining bills tracked by the Energy, Environment and Land Use Steering Committee.
Here is a brief recap of some of those bills.
RURAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BILLS
Two bills aimed at rural economic development received public hearings last week in Senate Rules and both were moved without recommendation to the Ways and Means Committee. Senate Bill (SB) 644 would expedite the local land use process for mines meeting certain criteria in several Eastern Oregon Counties. If the mine meets both Federal and Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) requirements the county process would be a much simpler process ensuring that the mine met certain local criteria. SB 432 with the -13 amendments, creates a new exception process for the eight rural counties that have been showing no growth since the last census.
ONSITE SEPTIC LOAN PROGRAM FUNDING
AOC has been working with several other advocates to find funding for the onsite septic loan program and this week we heard very good news. The fiscal request outlined in Senate Bill (SB) 383 was added to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) budget (SB 5518) at the $1.5 million level. The DEQ budget is currently moving through the Ways and Means process.
ENERGY TAX CREDIT FIX
AOC has worked with other stakeholders to fix a technical problem with transportation tax credits. A couple of counties have been impacted by this technical problem. We were told recently that House Bill (HB) 3032-1 will not be moving forward due to lack of revenue. AOC will meet with other stakeholders after the legislative session to determine next steps.
Senate Bill (SB) 634 with the -6 amendments received a public hearing and work session last week. The bill moved unanimously out of the Rules Committee and moved on to the House for a vote. The House has bumped the vote twice, rescheduling it for Wednesday, July 5. The bill permits the use of biomass for meeting the 1.5 percent investment in renewable energy requirement for public building.
SECURE MEDICINE TAKEBACK
House Bill (HB) 2645A, the secure medicine take-back bill is still awaiting a hearing in a Ways and Means Subcommittee but at this time it looks unlikely to move for political reasons. Some members of the legislature feel like the bill goes too far to collect unused medications. However, inspired by the positive news from similar programs in California and Washington, AOC will work with other stakeholders to continue to work on getting the bill a hearing or looking forward to another legislative session.
The Natural Resources Subcommittee of the Ways and Means committee wound up their work last week with hearing on the Department of Forestry (SB 5519) and the Department of Environmental Quality (SB 5518) budgets. Both were passed an moved on to the Full Ways and Means.
Contributed by: Mark Nystrom | AOC Energy, Environment & Land Use Policy Manager