Two bills with AOC support received their first public hearings over the past week.
SB 34 – Industrial Site Readiness
The Senate Committee on Business and General Government held a public hearing on SB 34, which in part, amends industrial site readiness program to allow Oregon Business Development Department to enter into tax reimbursement arrangements for eligible site preparation costs with private owners. The Oregon Economic Development Association testified in support of the bill, as did Business Oregon and the City of Albany. AOC has supported Industrial Lands Readiness for several season and this bill is no exception.
The current program allows for tax reimbursements of up to 50 percent of the state income taxes payed by the employer on a site each year, until the employer recoups 100 percent of its investment. The company must create at least 50 full time jobs on the employment site, and at least 25 full time employees in rural sites that are paid at least 150 percent of the county or state wage (whichever is less). The program is capped at $10M in reimbursement annually. The bill lowers the wage requirement to 130 percent– this provision was discussed at length by committee members, with most of the conversation focusing on the pros and cons of lowering the wage requirement. Sen. Girod, expressing his frustration, stated that this bill is the “saddest” bill he has ever seen, and that he is saddened that so many incentive programs have to be offered to make Oregon appealing due to the many anti-business laws that are on the books.
HCR 9 – Closed Loop Pump Storage Resolution
The House Committee on Energy & Environment held a hearing on HCR 9, the companion resolution to SCR 1, which declares legislative support for closed loop pump storage products to diversify energy source resource mixes to meet future capacity needs. The resolution was sponsored by Rep. Werner Reschke, who testified in support of the bill and declared that while he is still neutral on solar energy, he is supportive of pump storage. Rep. Reschke noted that there are two regional projects: Swan Lake Storage in Klamath County, which uses existing water rights and doesn’t interfere with the Klamath Basin Watershed. It takes 2000-acre feet of water to fill one pump and 400-acre feet per year in addition to account for evaporative losses. Another project is near The Dalles in Klickitat County, WA (Goldendale). Klamath County Commissioner Derrick DeGroot testified in favor of SCR 1, which was heard in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee on January 22nd.
Contributed by: Mike Eliason | Interim Executive Director, Legislative Director