Ag & Land-use Legislative Update 3/2

By Jim Welsh,
Oregon Cattlemen Association


Klamath Dam Removal Update
A hearing and work session was scheduled for SB 76 this week. This legislation has not passed out of committee at this time due to multiple amendments that are being proposed. Supposedly, the -2 amendments addressed the problems for PacificCorp and others but in the final analysis it will still be dam removal.

“Big Look” Land Use Legislation
The House Land Use Committee held another hearing on HB 2229.  Oregonians In Action are submitting several amendments to this omnibus land use legislation that nobody likes, including DLCD and 1000 Friends of Oregon. As the amendments are released I will report on those proposed from the familiar groups interested in land use in Oregon.

New Removal and Fill Fees
The House Environment and Water Committee held a hearing on HB 2185 which would allow the Environmental Quality Commission to establish fees for “removal of less than 500 cubic yards of material or; Involving a fill of less than two acres.”  It is not certain what the outcome to of the hearing will be as the agriculture community was not in favor of the excessive fees when there were none, in the past.  The bill deletes all reference in statute to not assessing fees to removal and fill and substitutes six new references to hours of estimated work starting at 20 or fewer hours for a fee of $1,400; more than 20 hours but not over 75 hours for a fee of $4,925; more than 75 hours but not over 125 hours for a fee of $8,443; more than 125 hours but not over 175 hours for a fee of $11,961; more than 175 hours for a fee of $15497; and for specific projects involving emerging technology, $13,672 multiplied by the number of months estimated for work on the certification.  From no fee to big fee!

Places Invasive Species Council
The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on HB 2213 which places the Invasive Species Council within the ODA.  The bill broadens statutes currently applicable to tansy ragwort to include all noxious weeds and repeals statutes regarding ragweed. The bill revises quarantine authority of State Department of Agriculture and authorizes department to adopt rules for non-quarantine regulation of plant pests. Also, makes violation of rule subject to civil penalty, not to exceed $10,000.  The bill authorizes department to conduct research for control of plant pests and prohibits possession or movement of plant pests except in compliance with federal or state permit. Also, makes violation subject to fine not to exceed $720 and civil penalty not to exceed $10,000.  The bill declares plant pests to be public nuisance and authorizes department to issue orders or adopt rules to abate public nuisance caused by plant pests. Also makes violation of order or rule for abating nuisance subject to civil penalty not to exceed $10,000.  This bill passed in committee with subsequent referral to Ways and Means be rescinded and the Subsequent referral to Ways and Means was rescinded by order of the Speaker.

Deletes Qualification for Public Members of State Board of Agriculture
The changes to public member qualifications in HB 2210 allows the appointment of individuals who want to serve without the requirement that they be a non-agriculture business associated member.  It isn’t always easy to find those who want to serve on boards and commissions when they are not vested in the industry.

Animal Abandonment
SB 304 requires an individual or business to provide minimum care of abandoned animals upon taking possession of real property.  After the public hearing this week, Chair Bonamici, asked for a work group to be scheduled to work out some concerns from the Sheriffs and other law enforcement representatives, and the Dairymen and Cattlemen.

Abandonment of Horses
SB 398 amends the present animal abandonment statute to include a crime of abandoning a horse.  A public hearing was held on Thursday of this week and there may be some amendments applied to this legislation before the scheduled work session.

State Allowed to Construct and Operate Electricity Generation Facilities
The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on SB 168 that would allow the state of Oregon to construct and operate facilities for generation of electricity.  It is extremely questionable whether or not the state should be in the business of constructing and operating electricity generation facilities when they are having a difficult time dealing with their present budget deficits.  Furthermore, it would probably be best for private business and industry to invest in construction and operation of electricity generation as has been the history in the state and have the state focus on providing incentives for private entities through expedited processes for state land use and environmental regulation.

Water and Environment
Green House Gas Emission Regulation on Trucks
The House Environment and Water Committee held another hearing on HB 2186.  The agriculture sector had a chance to give testimony against HB 2186, yesterday, and we agree with the business and trucking sectors, this legislation must be stopped.  The Oregonians for Balanced Climate Policy (OBCP), through Associated Oregon Industries, has been working against this legislation and SB 80 (Cap and Trade).  OCA, OFS, Farm Bureau and Forest Products industries are all part of OBCP and we have effectively helped stop SB 80, at this point in time, and one more vote on the House Environment and Water Committee and HB 2186 will be stopped.

State Water Resources Strategy
SB 193 directs the Water Resources Department to develop a statewide water resources strategy.  The Legislature directed the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) many years ago to establish “coordinated, integrated state water resources policy.”  SB 193 is not needed, and it does not seem necessary to require the OWRD to establish an integrated state water resources strategy that they have already been asked to do by previous legislatures.  SB 193 will probably pass out of committee but not until it has a fiscal hearing before the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources where similar bills have seen sudden death due to lack of funding.

Strategic Measurement Plan for Water

SB 194 directs the Water Resources Department to develop Strategic Measurement Plan. After review of state water statute, it is determined that SB 194 is not necessary.  ORS 542.060 has been in statute since before the last time it was amended in 1985.  If it was a priority of the Legislature why hasn’t there been the funds appropriated to accomplish the instream gauging and recording for data and decision making purposes?  Under ORS 536.300 the Commission presently holds the authority to establish a water measurement program for most purposes it so determines, basin by basin.  Why is it important, at this time, for the Legislature to apply this statewide mandate on the Commission?  There are present statutory provisions for strategic measurement to occur when needed, per individual site, multiple sites, or basin by basin and this approach is more attainable financially than a new statewide program.  Furthermore, it is evident from past Legislative history and present fiscal restraints that funding the new “Strategic Measurement Plan” will be difficult if not impossible.

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