This week marks the end of month two of the 2017 Legislative Session. The first public hearing on the ‘Rural SIP’ bill was Monday (Senate Bill 936) in Senate Business and Transportation. Click here to view the AOC amendments.

In the same committee Senate Bill 867 relating to Maritime Sector Workforce was be heard.  You can view the hearing online by clicking here (once on the page click on the video icon at 3PM on 3/27/17).


HB 2937 & HB 2938 – Rural Housing

The House Human Services and Housing Committee held public hearings last week for two bills related to rural housing zoning issues. House Bill 2937 would permit accessory dwelling units on land zoned rural residential and as conditional permitted use on land zoned for exclusive farm use. House Bill 2938 would permit the siting of a recreational vehicle for residential purposes on land zoned rural residential and as conditional permitted use on land zoned for exclusive farm use.

Rep. Parrish spoke in support of the bills and described them as an effort to find ways for increasing housing stock. The Marion County Board of Commissioners and AOC also support the bills. Oregon Farm Bureau and 1,000 Friends of Oregon testified in opposition, because this could be a misuse of agricultural land and undo protections for natural resources. Mike McCarthy of Trout Creek Orchard in Parkdale, Ore. joined in opposing the bill, and discussed existing difficulties with vacation housing in farming areas.

The Committee held work sessions on the measures this week. Chair Keny-Guyer explained that these measures both raised concerns over agricultural land use and other issues. She said additional sideboards are needed, and the bills need to be sent to the policy committee that deals with land use issues. The House Agriculture Committee Chair has agreed to work on these bills going forward.

ACTION: The Committee sent HB 2937 to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee without recommendation (Representative Gorsek voted no, because he does not want to see residential housing on farmland and worries the next committee may not resolve these issues); The committee also sent HB 2938 to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee without recommendation (Representatives Gorsek and Meek voted no, for concerns that issues will not be worked out in the next committee.)

SB 1 – Agricultural Worker Housing Tax Credit

The Senate Finance and Revenue Committee held a work session on Senate Bill 1, which would establish a refundable and transferrable tax credit for investments in farmworker housing.

ACTION: SB 1 was moved to the Joint Ways and Means Committee without recommendation.

 HB 2710 – Energy Efficiency in New Buildings

The House Energy and Environment Committee held a public hearing on House Bill 2710, which would require the Department of Consumer and Business Services to review the building code and energy conservation standards on a regular basis and to set goals for increasing energy conservation and adopt changes to the building code to increase energy efficiency in newly constructed buildings. The bill would require the Department to take all practicable actions to ensure that new construction of a building commenced on or after July 1, 2032, will result in a 35  percent reduction in energy use as compared to the current standards. A -2 amendment has been offered that would require newly constructed buildings to provide for electric vehicle (EV) charging. Specifically, the amendment would require the building code to require one- and two-family dwellings to include a 110-volt system suitable for EV charging and to require public buildings and multifamily residential buildings to include a 220-volt system suitable for EV charging for at least 20 percent of the vehicle parking spaces for the building. Drive Oregon, the City of Portland, Oregon Citizens Utility Board, the Oregon Environmental Council, and other environmental advocates submitted testimony in support of the bill. Portland-based real estate developer Gerding Edlen also testified in support of the bill and urged that significant improvements in energy efficiency are possible using technology that is currently available. A coalition including the Oregon Home Builders Association, Associated General Contractors, and Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council, and several other industry and labor groups testified in opposition to the bill and the -2 amendment.

ACTION: No action taken.

HB 2012 – Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Region

The House Economic Development and Trade Committee held an informational hearing on House Bill 2012, which would establish the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Region and the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Board, to be staffed by Business Oregon. The bill would establish a fund to be used to support the board and economic development activities in the border region, and would initially dedicate $10 million in lottery funding to the fund. Speaker Kotek opened the meeting by presenting on the bill and the need for greater support for economic development in Oregon along the Oregon-Idaho border. She noted the importance of having a board that consists of local community members and also firmly expressed the need to approve funding for the board—on this point, she argued that creating the board without providing funding would send the wrong message to the Oregon-Idaho border community. Representative Bentz described the Treasure Valley region and the barriers people in that region face with respect to economic development. Business Oregon is neutral on the bill but testified to the importance of regionally-focused economic development. The Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) testified in support of the bill and also expressed willingness to participate in staffing the new board, if legislators are interested in entertaining an amendment to that effect. Representative Brock Smith spoke in support of such an amendment if it were to be offered. 1,000 Friends of Oregon also submitted testimony in support of the bill. Malheur County community members testified remotely from Malheur County in support of HB 2012 and the positive impacts it promises to that region.

ACTION: No action taken.

HB 2752 – All-Wood High-Rise Building Grants

The House Economic Development and Trade Committee held a public hearing and work session on House Bill 2752. In its original form, HB 2752 would have established a statewide task force on economic development, but a -1 amendment was offered that would establish a grant program within Business Oregon to fund, in whole or in part, projects for construction of all-wood high-rise buildings in the state. The -1 amendment sets forth the criteria that Business Oregon would use in making grants, including an emphasis on projects that increase the affordable housing supply. The bill includes a $2 million allocation to the grant program. Len Bergstein testified in support of HB 2752 as amended by the -1 amendment on behalf of the Framework Project, an economic development project with the belief that the best economic development brings together rural and urban economies.

ACTION: The -1 amendment was adopted and the bill was moved with a do-pass recommendation to the Joint Ways and Means Committee, on motion of Representative David Brock Smith.

You can find a list of upcoming hearings of interest by clicking here.