Oregonians for Food and Shelter Capitol Update

Oregonians for Food and Shelter,
Legislative Update 3/27,
To read full update, donate or support OFS
ADDITIONAL ODA BUDGET CUTS: Many thanks to Chairman of the Board of Agriculture and cherry grower Ken Bailey from The Dalles, and Board of Agriculture member Tom Fessler from Woodburn Nursery for joining Lisa Hansen, Governmental Affairs & Assistant Director of Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), and Lauren Henderson, Assistant Director of ODA to review the departments additional 10% budget cuts.

Before the legislature convened state agencies were directed by the Governor to cut 20% from their budgets.  Recently the agencies were asked to cut an additional 10%.   The cuts are many and VERY deep.   The bottom line is no program is sacred and will NOT survive without reductions.  Some will be totally eliminated.

Pesticide Bill heard in committee week of 3-27-09:  There are three bills that are relating to PURS.   There are two Senate bills and one in the House.

HB 2999 – Amends Pesticide Reporting System (PURS). Extends sunset to January 2, 2016; changes non-urban reporting location from water basin (3rd field HUC) to watershed (4th field HUC).  Hearing held on 3-25-09 in the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Communities Committee.  OFS supports HB 2999.

Representative Clem had taken the lead during the interim to find a workable solution between Oregon’s pesticide users and the lead environmental groups on this issue.  For consistency, OFS and the natural resource coalition also support sending any PURS-related bills from the Senate to Chair Clem’s House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Communities Committee.  Thanks to Rep. Clem for introducing and those who testified in support of HB 2999.  Those testifying in support were Terry Witt of  OFS; Barry Bushue of Oregon Farm Bureau; Ray Wilkeson of OFIC; Jeff Stone of OAN;  and Ralph Saperstein of OSWA.  HB 2999 drew the attention of many state agencies.  HB 2999 will receive a Work Session on 4/2 in the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Communities Committee.

Until the legislature is over, who knows which programs will really survive, be cut or be significantly amended?  With all of the other cuts in the pesticide programs, it would be difficult to justify continuing PURS.

PURS related bills are: SB 184:  Extends sunset to 1/2/2016.  Currently in Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.  This is a placeholder bill by the Department of Agriculture to ensure the sunset was extended.  This language was also put in HB 2999 discussed above.  SB 800:  Makes PURS permanent; changes non-urban reporting location from water basin to watershed; and requires sales and distribution reporting.  Introduced by Senator Alan Bates (D-Ashland).  Currently assigned to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.  OFS opposes making PURS permanent and requiring sales reporting.  It would be very costly to set up a sales reporting mechanism and this detailed sales data is considered confidential marketing information by product manufacturers and distributors.

HB 2424 Adopt-a-highway: Expands the current program to allow a volunteer group to choose one or both of the following activities as part of Oregon’s Adopt-a-Highway Program:  (1) removal of litter and/or(2) removal of noxious weeds.    Many thanks to Brenda Pace for sheparding this concept through the process.   OFS testified in support of passage of HB 2424 on 3/24.  Rules for the noxious weed portion of the program will be adopted by ODA and will include requirements like weed identification, safe removal methods or control techniques such as clipping of seed heads.  Herbicides will not be used by volunteers.  In addition to the actual removal of specific problem weeds from our highway rights-of-ways, the bill will also increase public awareness of the problem and help educate citizens about what they can do to be a part of the solution on their own property.  Great job Terry!

HB 2534 Environmental Impact Statements: Requires state agencies to do detailed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on all major state agencies.  This bill, if passed, would mimic the federal NEPA law by creating a State Environmental Policy Act.   The bill would allow anyone (even non-Oregonians) who believes they would be impacted by a proposed action to file for a contested case hearing.    OFS testified before the House Environment and Water Committee in opposition to HB 2534.

SB 962 Third party environmental lawsuits: introduced in Senate Judiciary which authorizes private right of action to any person adversely affected by violation of environmental laws…in other words, third party lawsuits in Oregon.  No hearing scheduled yet.

Legislation of interest to OFS members scheduled for week of March 30th

SB 637:  Pesticides IPM in schools; SB 637 has been tentatively scheduled for April 1, 2009.   However, due to proposed amendments it may be pushed back.   The bill was introduced by Senator Suzanne Bonamici (D-Beaverton) following a year-long work group discussion with stakeholders that Senator Bonamici, Representative Brian Clem and Allison MacMullin from Rep. Ron Mauer’s office regularly attended.  All of the amendments to the original bill submitted by OFS to Senator Bonamici are incorporated into the dash-4 amendments to SB 637.   The bill includes all schools (public and private) and will be a requirement starting July 1, 2012.

SB 902 Pesticides and schools: Requires person exercising control over property located within one-quarter mile of school registered on State Department of Agriculture website to provide school with 48-hours written notice prior to aerial application of pesticides.  This bill modifies requirements if spraying for pest emergency.  Applies to aerial applications of pesticide made on or after July 1, 2010.  Makes violation of statute or Department rules subject to civil penalty, not to exceed $1,000 for the first violation, $2,000 for subsequent violation or $10,000 for willful misconduct or subject to criminal penalty of not more than one year’s imprisonment and fine not to exceed $1,000 for first violation or $2,000 for subsequent violation.  Requires department to create website for registration of schools wishing to receive pesticide spraying notice.

Aerial application is defined as an application from airplane or helicopter or by means of a machine-powered device from any discharge height that is more than 10 feet above the top of the highest target vegetation on a property.   (Note:  Terry’s not sure, but he thinks this could include Mike Newton when he holds a spray wand over his head!)

INVASIVE SPECIES: Several bills have been introduced to deal with aquatic species such as the quagga and zebra mussels.    HB 2583:  Prohibits launching boats with Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force.   HB 2714:  Creates Shipping Transport of Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force.

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