The Oregon Legislature convened January 10-12, 2018 for their final interim days before the start of the thirty-five day February session. Committees held hearings to discuss, and formally introduce, legislation certain to be debated during the session – with each committee allowed three bills during the short session. Individual bills are likely to begin being posted on the legislative website early next week; Senators are allowed just one bill this year, and Representatives are granted two bills. While the stated intent of the short session is to focus on budget re-balancing and technical fixes to previously passed legislation, this year promises to be much like previous short session years – full of ambitious and contentious concepts that will generate passionate responses from supporters and opponents alike!
On that note, far and away the most high profile issue for February will be the re-introduction of “Cap and Invest” legislation, with different versions being introduced in the House and Senate. The bills are the product of various workgroups that took place during the fall that focused on the treatment of different industry sectors such as transportation, utilities, agriculture and forestry. Even with the work during the fall, there is still no overall consensus on whether the concept is ready for prime-time in 2018, with some urging that it is critical to pass the bill now while others argue the concept is too far-reaching and impactful to be considered in a thirty-five day sprint to the finish.
Beyond “Cap and Invest,” many other issues consumed AOC legislative staff, lobbyists and legislators during January interim days, including the introduction of tweaks (large and small) to last year’s $5.3 billion transportation package, building codes legislation, and a significant document recording fee increase for affordable housing, just to name but a few!
As bills start to be formally posted to the legislative website over the next week, AOC policy staff will be sending out a list of relevant bills to the various policy committees, and should formal direction be required a Special Operations Committee meeting will take place Monday, February 5th, with the normal AOC Day to follow on Monday, February 12th.
As always, thanks to all of our commissioners, judges, affiliate and associate members for your dedication and input on legislative matters that impact counties and the citizens of Oregon!
Contributed by: Mike Eliason | AOC Legislative Director