2011 Legislature: What to expect on Ag issues

By Oregon cattlemen Association

2011 Legislative Session: A Time to Work Together

Organizing the leadership duties and decisions for the House of Representatives for the 2011 Legislative Session will be no small matter. There must be continuous communication and coordination with heavy doses of non-partisan humility injected. The 2003 Legislative Session saw an even split in the Senate, and with several of the Senate and House members from that era still in office, there should be plenty of experience filled recommendations to go around. With that said, there could be some political antics displayed by some members who are looking for special leadership considerations, or either political caucus could move to gain a vote advantage to exercise a majority for the Speaker of the House position. Any possibility of these actions will be met with considerable disapproval by numerous members from both caucuses and from the general public. There will also need to be full written agreements for what kind of legislation will be heard in each committee. As you can see, it is no small matter organizing a 30/30 House of Representatives.

2011 Legislative Session: What Kind of Legislation to Expect?
The House Republicans will be focused on economic development and jobs, plain and simple. If the House and Senate Democrats don’t agree this is the No. 1 issue they can expect to lose more seats in 2010, plain and simple! The agriculture and natural resources industries would prefer to expect less onerous environmental legislation and no new taxes and fees. Oh yes, there will be bills written and listed that hopefully will never get a hearing, in the House, due to the inability of the bill sponsors to guarantee enough votes to get the bill to the House or Senate floor.

Furthermore, hopefully to begin with, during the Legislative coordination the Leadership Teams will have a pre-determined list of bills they have negotiated that will get them through the session with a balanced budget before July 2011. We expect the list will not include any bills similar to the 2009 Legislative bills that gave us so much heartburn, and that may be too much to expect.

Passed Initiatives
Ballot Measure 71 (BM 71) referred to the Oregon electorate by the 2009 Legislature (SJR 41) will go into effect soon. BM 71 will require the Oregon Legislature to meet every year beginning in 2011 with the Annual Session opening in January of 2011 and lasting 160 days. The 2012 Legislative Session will open in January of 2012 and last 35 days. The Legislature is allowed to extend, by 5 days, either Session with a 2/3 vote approval. This has been said before, get prepared for another Joint Resolution from the Legislature, asking the voters in Oregon to increase the Legislators salary for fulltime, or near fulltime, Legislative work. This action could also be taken by the Legislature, itself. Providing themselves a pay increase is well within their legislative authority.

Wolves In Oregon
OCA has introduced five legislative concepts on wolf management and compensation with the help of Representatives Smith and Bentz. The OCA Wolf Committee will seek other House and Senate members to sponsor the bills once they are completed and listed as Legislative Concepts. The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife introduced, in the 2007 Legislature, HB 2295 which defined gray wolves as game mammals and directed State Fish and Wildlife Commission to establish special management regulations, and described circumstances in which gray wolf may be taken. Also, included in the bill were seven sections establishing a predation compensation plan. This predation compensation language, or some similar language, could very well be incorporated into the 2011 Wolf Predation Compensation legislation.

New Air Quality Rules Forthcoming
DEQ representatives were on hand to provide an overview of State (DEQ) and Federal (EPA) Green House Gas (GHG) and PM2.5 pollution proposed regulation. DEQ will be providing proposed rules, soon, for adjusting to EPA rules for large GHG emitters and for PM2.5 air particulate pollution. It sounds like PM2.5 particulate pollution would be ammonia and methane gases if they decide they are going to regulate cows according to numbers, and we don’t know for sure what those numbers will be. There was some information on hand that indicated that EPA is proposing to regulate 25,000 cows or more in a facility (CAFO) because they would supposedly be responsible for 100K tpy (tons per year) of polluting gas (Methane and Ammonia).
The real concern after listening to DEQ, and then Tom Woods from Stoel-Rives, could very well be the combined effect (Competing Source Modeling) of PM2.5 pollution within an area/region. When it is determined who will be regulated for what pollutant then EPA/DEQ will determine through modeling how a populations air quality and health will be affected, along with the possible effect on wilderness areas.

Some timeline considerations:
• EPA is presently facing multiple law suits on GHG and PM 2.5 rules. This will possibly slow or stop some or all of the rules.
• EPA planning permit rules for large GHG emitters (PGE and others) starting January of 2011 (DEQ has these sources listed presently in Oregon).
• New source GHG emitters are not presently under permit rules and not timeline for this from EPA yet. New rules will include 100K tpy (tons per year) permits with new rules and permitting for 75K tpy emitters later.
• New PM 2.5 rules will include all PM 10 considerations and be treated as a subset of PM 10. Presently in Oregon the only PM 10 non-attainment areas are Oakridge and K. Falls. There will be considerable testing and air quality analysis, for a while, to determine PM 2.5 non-attainment areas.

Water Users Group Update
The Water Users Group met once again on November 12 to consider further possibilities for 2011 legislation. The new proposal included a large list of rivers to be designated floatable and the designation could be appealed through a legal process. Along with floatable designation would be access to the streams banks up to the high water mark. This proposal was met with considerable opposition from the natural resources community as you would expect. This proposal and others will be discussed at the OCA Annual Meeting in Bend which will include information from an invited attorney, Jennie Bricker (Stoel-Rives) who is well versed in the Rogue River navigability challenges.

Animal Care & Welfare Update
If and when HSUS comes to Oregon to run a statewide ballot measure requiring standards for some of, or all of, the livestock industry, the livestock industry may very well have an alternative proposal. The OCA fully discussed the alternative proposal during the September Fall Quarterly Meeting with the organization membership and decided not to support the alternative proposal at this time.

Disclaimer: Articles featured on Oregon Report are the creation, responsibility and opinion of the authoring individual or organization which is featured at the top of every article.