By Oregon Farm Bureau
On Monday, March 5, 2012, the first annual even-year “short” session adjourned. While Legislative leadership limited the number of bills introduced, the scope and size of the issues were large and encompassing. This made many in and out of the Capitol wonder if 35 days is enough time to tackle policy issues. From the start, the Legislature’s pace was fast, and it proved hard for Oregonians to follow Capitol action and provide input to the elected officials.
Economic and job development were on the agenda of many including Oregon Farm Bureau; however, bills on water development and state timber harvests were unsuccessful. This was the result despite tireless efforts by Representatives Mike McLane and Andy Olson. We do believe positive ground work was done to prepare for a future water development bill.
While the big policy natural resource policy issues did not past, there were bills that should be of interest to Oregon’s farm, ranch and forest families.
HB 4005 – Wolf Depredation Tax Credit: Creates a tax credit for livestock producers for the probable loss of livestock to wolves. Caps the total amount of tax credits to $37,500 per year. OFB is disappointed by the lack of action of HB 4158, which would have allowed ODFW to take wolves when implementing the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. Due to active litigation, a judge has placed a stay on the state taking wolves that are killing livestock.
HB 4164 – Oregon Health Insurance Exchange: Creates an online marketplace for individuals and small businesses to purchase health insurance. Allows customers to compare plans and choose the one that is best for themselves or their family. Makes purchasing health care easier for individuals and for small businesses. Requires insurance companies to compete on cost and quality.
HJM 201 – O & C Lands Management: In response to federal legislation, this Memorial to Congress urges the allowance of Oregon counties to manage the Oregon and California Railroad grant lands instead of the federal government.
SB 1582 – Wetland Delineations: Creates process by which a landowner may request an independent review of wetland delineation determinations made by Department of State Lands.
HB 4095 – Land Use Regionalization: While this legislation failed, a line item was added to the Budget Reconciliation Bill (HB 5701) to fund an anticipated Governor’s directive for a pilot regional land use planning project, which may include counties petitioning LCDC to consider regional definitions of agricultural and forest lands. OFB policy supports regionalization of Oregon’s land use system, but opposes regional or county definitions of agricultural and forest lands. The details of the Governor’s Executive Order are unknown. Once it is announced, OFB is prepared to engage in the process.
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