Oregon Cattlemen Legislative Update 4/2

Oregon Cattlemen Association Update

Revisions to Fertilizer, Ag. Amendments, Ag. Mineral and Lime Products
The House Ag., N.R. and Rural Communities committee held a hearing and work session HB 2211 which revises language in statutes regulating manufacture, distribution and registration of fertilizer, agricultural amendment, agricultural mineral and lime products. The bill expands definitions of “fertilizer” and “agricultural mineral,” and changes measure for expression of nitrogen and calcium sulfate.

The bill specifies density standard for bulk liquids, revises label format and content requirements, and limits time by which product laboratory analysis may precede submission of analysis to State Department of Agriculture.  Also, the bill revises provisions regarding department access for inspections and allows withholding of licenses and product registrations if civil penalty remains unpaid.  This bill will pass out of committee soon with possible amendments.

Statutes Broadened Concerning all Noxious Weeds

The House Ag., N.R. and Rural Communities committee held a hearing and work session on HB 2212 which 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, authorizes department to adopt rules for non-quarantine regulation of plant pests, and 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, prohibits possession or movement of plant pests except in compliance with federal or state permit, and makes violation subject to fine not to exceed $720 and civil penalty not to exceed $10,000.  The bill also declares plant pests to be public nuisance, authorizes department to issue orders or adopt rules to abate public nuisance caused by plant pests and makes violation of order or rule for abating nuisance subject to civil penalty not to exceed $10,000.  This bill will be amended and some of the amendments were recommended by OCA members.

Formation of Agriculture Fuel Cooperative
The House Ag., N.R. and Rural Communities committee held a hearing on HB 2601 which allows the formation of agricultural fuel cooperatives consisting of not more than 10 agricultural commodity producers and having sole purpose of supplying motor vehicle fuel to members for use in farm vehicles or for farm-related non-highway use.  This bill will probably go through an amendment of two before passing from committee.

Program for County Grants for Noxious Weed Control
The Senate Environment and Natural Resources committee held a hearing and work session SB 629 which requires State Department of Agriculture to establish program for issuing grants to counties for noxious weed control.  Allocates and limits expenditure of lottery funds for 2009-2011 biennium for purpose of carrying out grant program.  OCA gave support testimony realizing that there probably isn’t money available for this program this biennium.

Elimination of Field Burning by 2011
The Senate Environment and Natural Resources committee held a hearing on SB 528 which prohibits certain field burning in specified Oregon counties and allows Environmental Quality Commission to adopt rules listing additional counties to be covered by prohibitions relating to field burning. The bill allows some steep terrain to be burned until 2011 and emergency field burning of specified number of acres under certain conditions. The bill modifies fees for field burning and transfers administration of certain provisions regarding field burning from State Department of Agriculture to Department of Environmental Quality.  There are two bills introduced to eliminate field burning in the Willamette Valley primarily and it is expected that one will pass this session.

Metal Theft Bill Gains Support

The Senate Judiciary Committee held two hearings on SB 570 which requires scrap metal business to create and maintain certain records of purchase or receipt of metal property or other transactions related to metal property.  The bill prohibits scrap metal business from purchasing, receiving or conducting transaction related to certain types of metal property and requires scrap metal business to produce records in response to lawful demand and to segregate, identify and hold metal property reasonably suspected to be lost or stolen.  There are other requirements of scrap metal business and consignment or secondhand store to comply with in an effort to determine authentic metal sales with civil penalties involving fines and imprisonment.  This bill has many sponsors and is supported by agriculture, forestry, utilities and multiple other individuals and industry.  There will be some amendments proposed and a work session or two and it should be ready for the Senate floor.

All-Terrain Vehicle Task Force
The Senate Business and Transportation Committee held a hearing on SB 578 which establishes a task force to study all-terrain vehicle safety and requires task force to report to interim committee of Legislative Assembly related to transportation. There are stakeholder seats at the table within the task force and an opportunity in the interim to communicate with the task force.  The Ag. and NR industries will be actively involved in the work of the task force.

ODF&W Budget Hearings
During several days of hearings, for HB 5014, the Ways & Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources heard testimony approving, and criticizing, fish and wildlife programs managed by ODF&W.  The natural resources industries asked that the Cooperative Wildlife Services Program funded by USDA-APHIS, Oregon Department of Agriculture, ODF&W and the cooperating counties be funded at the 2007 levels if possible.  Also, there were numerous individuals and organizations that lobbied for a better hatcheries program to support returning salmon and the sport fisheries in Oregon.  Numerous organizations also supported the Cougar Plan and big game programs.  It is all up hill when asking for General Fund support but if you we must ask, and support the agency and programs that enhance our natural resource industries.

Animal Welfare
The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee held two hearings on SB 391 which expands the definition of “exotic animal” to include member of order Crocodylia. The bill also Removes from definition “any wolf,” and prohibits breeding of exotic animals except for small exotic felines.  The bill exempts certain organizations, institutions and facilities from permit requirement or from prohibition against breeding of exotic animal and allows possession of exotic animal if person applies for permit by certain date or possessed permit on certain date.  The bill also allows State Department of Agriculture to charge fee for permit.  The issue was the inclusion of animals that should be defined as “exotic.”  The wolf was involved due to ORS 609.305 defining exotic animals and SB 391 was intending to include Crocodylia as exotic animal.  Wolves (Canis Lupus) were defined as exotic animals but they are now removed from the bill.  So, the only opportunity we would enjoy in the bill was the language change to include wolves as Canis Familiaris (domestic dog) and that wasn’t going to happen.

Climate Change

Electric Industry Green House Gas Regulation
The Senate Business and Transportation Committee held a hearing on SB 101 which makes legislative findings regarding global warming and electricity and requires State Department of Energy to establish greenhouse gas emissions performance standard for generating facilities that produce baseload electricity.  The bill prohibits electricity provider from entering into long-term financial commitment unless generating facility complies with greenhouse gas emissions performance standard and prohibits Public Utility Commission from approving long-term financial commitment by electric company unless generating facility complies with greenhouse gas emissions performance standard.  The bill also requires State Department of Energy to ensure consumer-owned utility complies with greenhouse gas emissions performance standard and modifies definition of “energy facility” for purposes of regulation of energy facilities.  This legislation along with other climate change legislation propose is sure to increase our electricity rates dramatically in the future.

Economic Development

Revisions to Destination Resort Siting
The House Committee on Land Use heard HB 2227 which modifies provisions for siting destination resorts. The bill directs Land Conservation and Development Commission to evaluate destination resort policies and update key requirements.  The bill also limits legal basis for claiming compensation for regulations restricting use of property by declaring that destination resort is not residential use of private real property.  There has been plenty of press on this subject and it is too bad that the state won’t give the counties the decision whether or not they want to allow a destination resort.

Energy Grant Account and Tax Credits for Recycling and Energy Projects

The House Sustainability and Economic Development Committee held a hearing on HB 2180 which establishes Oregon Renewable Energy Grant Account and allows credit against income taxes for contributions to account. Authorizes State Department of Energy to award grants for renewable energy projects and modifies business energy tax credit to include certain recycling facilities. The bill allows taxpayer to claim residential energy tax credit for hydroelectric generating system and modifies provisions for claiming biomass tax credit and also revises biomass credit transfer provisions.  The bill limits eligibility to biofuels that have been converted into fuels ready for use as energy in Oregon. Allows credit where biofuel producer is also agricultural producer or biomass collector.  Not a bad tax credit idea and it has a good chance of  passing, but the Revenue Committee is entertaining ideas of reducing and eliminating most other allowable tax credits established over the past years.

Alternative Fuel Loan Funds
The House Sustainability and Economic Development Committee held a hearing on HB 2182 which broadens definition of alternative fuel projects eligible for loan funds as small scale local energy project.  The bill also increases term of service for members of Small Scale Local Energy Project Advisory Committee.  This bill has had several work sessions and will include some amendments but looks like it will pass out of committee soon.

Government Regulation

Oregon Constitutional Convention!
The House Rules Committee heard HB 2620 which provides for constitutional convention in 2011.  The bill establishes qualifications for delegates, number of delegates and manner of electing delegates.  The bill requires that chairperson of convention certify proposed Constitution to Secretary of State no later than August 26, 2011 and requires that Secretary of State submit proposed Constitution to people for approval or rejection at special election to be held on November 8, 2011.  The bill also creates Constitutional Commission to make recommendations to constitutional convention and serve as resource for advice and consultation to constitutional convention.  Beware!  This legislation is dangerous to say the least.  Are we in need of a Constitutional Convention that opens up our Oregon Constitution to unprecedented revisions by anyone and everyone?  The changes we have endured over the past 150 years have been voted on by the people, issue by issue, without a Constitutional Convention.  Beware, be very aware, the revisionists of this state are very hard at work!  Fortunately, the voters get the last word as any revisions will have to gain their approval but multiple revisions through a Constitutional Convention would allow special interests time and money to deliver their message of needed changes.  And, who says there are needed changes and what are the needed changes?

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