Oregon Cattlemen Legislative Update

Oregon Cattlemen Association,

Items reviewed in this article:
1, Brand Bill Heads for Full Senate Vote
2. Landowner Preference Passes panel
3. Wolf Control Up to ODF&W
4. Wildlife Services Budget Help!
5. Provisions for Humane Special Agents Passes Committee
6. Omnibus Land Use/Big Look Bill Passes House
7. Water Bills Still In Ways and Means Natural Resources Subcommittee
8. Klamath Dam Decommissioning Hearing May 21st.

Brand Bill Heads for Full Senate Vote
The Cattlemen’s Brand program bill HB 3417 passed the full House vote with a 57-3 vote.  The three no votes were legislators who had pledged not to vote on any tax or fee increase during the legislative session.  HB 3417 was heard in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee and passed to the full Senate for a vote this week.  After that the Governor will sign the legislation into law.

Landowner Preference Passes Senate Committee
HB 2219 has moved from a House vote of 59-0 and first hearing in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee to the full Senate for a vote this week.  The Landowner Preference will continue with the Governors signature and the Oregon Hunters have promised to work with the livestock producers and farmers on the damage issue during the interim.

Wolf Control Up to ODF&W
It seems negotiations have halted for lack of agreement on what protecting your property entails.  The Cattlemen and most livestock producers agree that in order to protect your livestock you must be able to do whatever is necessary which must include taking (killing)a wolf (coyote, bear, dog) caught in the act of “attacking, biting, chasing,   harassing.”  For most ranchers and individuals (and even some legislators connected to reality) the ability to protect your livestock is a very normal, everyday expectation.  Of course, the Defenders of Wildlife and other radical environmental groups do not see it that way.  So, they have the political power at this point in time and our normal, everyday expectations will not be met during the 2009 legislative session when it comes to protecting our livestock from the wolf.

Wildlife Services Budget Help!
The Co-Chairs Budget cuts payments to Wildllife Services for ODA by 78% (From $455,000 to $120,000) and for ODF&W it is a 50% cut (From $240,000 to $120,000).  A similar proposal occurred in 2007 and we were able to convince the Co-Chairs to increase the Wildlife Services budget and that is what we will be lobbying to do.  Your letters to the Co-Chairs of Ways and Means and members asking them to support Wildlife  Services with no more than a 18% cut will be helpful (18% is the budget cut showing overall for ODA and ODF&W in the Co-Chairs Program Budget).  Our message to Ways and Means Members should be:  Wildlife Services is taking a 78% cut in the ODA budget and 50% cut in the ODF&W budget when overall budget cuts for both agencies is only 18%? Why?  Please fund Wildlife Services in the ODA and ODF&W budgets at no more than an 18% cut.

ODA Wildlife Services budget: Full funding $455,000 X 18% cut = $373,000 we ask for
ODF&W Wildlife Service budget: Full funding $240,000 X 18% cut = $197,000 we ask for

Provisions for Humane Special Agents Passes Committee
The House Judicial Committee held a hearing and work session on SB 303 which provides Humane Special Agents (Animal Cops) the opportunity to be defined as “law enforcement unit” and receive some training.  Remember, these law enforcement units can be private, nonprofit animal care agencies that have maintained an animal welfare investigation department for at least five years and have had officers commissioned as special agents of the Governor.  OCA provided testimony once again stating that it is not good policy to not require the special agents to serve under the authority of the Sheriff or the State Police.

Omnibus Land Use/Big Look Bill Passes House

The House Land Use Committee passed HB 2229 to the House for a vote and it passed 53-1 and then on May 19th HB 2229 had it’s first hearing in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.  There are some positive provisions in the bill but it lacks the luster that many had expected especially in light of several years of work from the well appointed “Big Look” Committee. HB 2229 provides main principles for state land use system, expands authority for regional land use planning, and provides that a county may conduct legislative review of county lands to determine whether lands planned and zoned are consistent with designation definitions and for the purpose of correcting mapping errors and updating designations of farmlands and forestlands.  Planning and rezoning designations by the county will be reviewed by Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) and the bill provides that counties can collaborate for regional problem-solving purposes and include necessary public entities. HB 2229 also requires Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) produce a policy-neutral review and audit of the land use system to reduce complexities.  HB 2229 avoided most of the controversial issues in Oregon’s land use system and provided a piece of legislation that every legislator could, at not risk, vote for.

Water Bills Still In Ways and Means Natural Resources Subcommittee
The water bills, SB 193, 194, 740, and 788, needing funding from Ways & Means Natural Resources Subcommittee have not received further hearings notice.  However, HB 3369, the legislative result of the H2O interim work group is now on the third work session and very possibly will include further considerations from the 2007 SB 1169 legislation.  The other water bills hopefully will be placed in an interim work group.

Klamath Dam Decommissioning Hearing May 21st.
The Senate Environment and NR Committee will hold a work session on SB 76 on May 21st and hopefully there will not be enough votes to pass it out of committee, but so far that is probably not reality.  Some legislators believe the decommissioning is going to happen no matter what so their effort will be to mitigate the eventual cost to the state and hopefully to the rate payers.  More on this later.

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