Wheat Growers: Legislative Review 2009

By Oregon Wheat Growers League,

OWGL tracked approximately 325 pieces of legislation out of the nearly 4,000 pieces of legislation introduced. Obviously, some restraints should be created to limit the number of bills introduced by each member as the current system is unmanageable and lacks discipline. Sine Die occurred on Monday, June 29th and a Special Session will likely occur in February. Final status of the most signifi cant bills followed is provided below:

Senate Bills: SB 80 – Climate Change – OWGL worked with a large Coalition to either signifi cantly amend this bill or kill it. This bill ultimately died. However, elements of the bill were inserted into HB 2186.

SB 347 – Retroactive Inheritance Tax Issue (carry over from ’08 & ’07 Sessions) – The OWGL worked tirelessly to generate interest amongst policymakers to keep this issue in the “end game”. Unfortunately the promise to address this matter was part of the “trade” made to pass the Field Burning Bill. That was a bad deal that should never have been offered!

SB 528 – Field Burning Ban – Bill was a priority of some members as a trade off for other bills they desired passed in this Session. Unfortunately, the bill passed the fi nal hours of Session after repeated promises from House Leadership. 2009 Legislative Recap Farming practices like fi eld burning are receiving more and more attention in the Legislature. We have a great deal of education ahead of us.

SB 633 – Public Employee Funds Divestiture in Iran – OWGL met with sponsors and committee members who heard this bill to raise awareness about Iran as an emerging wheat market with more than 350,000 metric tons shipped last year. Bill died. SB 637 – Integrated Pest Management for Schools (in lieu of School buffer zone bill OFS took lead in assisting with language). OWGL offered support as needed.

SB 639 – Oregon Wheat Commission Statute
– Bill signed by Governor May 29th. This was a housekeeping bill to expand the size of the Commission to include representatives from the trade and clarify public member status should refunds be provided. Senator Nelson introduced the bill on behalf of the Industry.

House Bills:

HB 2001 – Transportation Funding Package
– Bill passed both House & Senate • F-Plate Registration to be increased by 50%; • $.06/gal. fuel tax effective January 1, 2011. HB 2186 – Greenhouse Gas Reduction (aerodynamics for on road trucks, tire infl ation, ship plug in, etc.) – OWGL worked with a large Coalition to raise awareness about the potential for increased costs of transportation being passed along to the agricultural industry. The bill as passed now directs DEQ to develop a Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Other elements of the bill were ultimately extracted or modifi ed to create “studies”.

HB 2406 – Umatilla Basin Water – Offered Testimony when bill was on the House side. Bill died. This bill was replaced by HB 3369 which passed the last day of Session. Rep. Jenson and Rep. J. Smith were the authors of the bill. The OWGL took a neutral position on HB 3369.

HB 2544 – Creates Oregon Environmental Task Force – The task force was originally intended to be comprised of only representatives from the educational and environmental sectors. The Legislature, upon the request of the Natural Resource Lobby, added representatives from production agriculture!

HB 2884 – Weighmaster Enforcement – Bill died in Committee in March. OWGL testifi ed in opposition together with Truckers Association, AAA, and State Police.

The SEIU Union representatives desire “pursuit authority” of trucks that may pass the scale for weighmasters. The AG had opined the Weighmasters do NOT have such authority and the Legislature would have to grant them authority for this action to be sanctioned. ODOT currently contracts with OSP to pursue trucks as necessary.

HB 2999 – Pesticide Use Reporting System – PURS was shelved due to budget reductions. Bill passed. OFS took lead. OWGL offered support as needed.

HB 3153 – Idaho Power Placement of Power Lines on EFU Zoned ground Bill (Malheur & Baker County specifi c) – Bill was moved out of Committee and after some minor modifi cations was passed. The League engaged the Idaho Power and other utility lobbyists in discussions about the need for utilities to engage the land owners to craft mutually agreeable contracts prior to taking land through condemnation.

HB 3405-6 (Corporate) & HB 2649 (Personal) – These are the overarching Tax bills for corporate and personal tax increases. The OWGL requested policymakers be mindful of the distinct difference between gross and net for taxable incomes relative to agricultural operations. Unfortunately Agriculture was NOT at the table during the backroom dialogue. These bills were passed and as a result growers who are incorporated will be taxed at the Gross Sales level vs. Net Receipts and the tax is permanent.

Agency Budgets – • Oregon Department of Agriculture – OWGL supported. • Oregon Department of Transportation – OWGL supported. • Dept. of Environmental Quality Budget – Opposed DEQ budget on the basis of mission creep and request for 100 new FTE. • Expansion of Authorities (Water, Air, Greenhouse Gas Reductions – 100 new FTE) • Oregon State University Funding in Ways & Means Budget – OWGL Supported. Unfortunately, the Legislature chose to further reduce this budget on the fi nal day of session. • Water Resources Department Funding – OWGL Supported the budget request.

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