Capitol update: GE farming, water rights, taxes


By Oregon Farm Bureau

Half Way Point At Legislature Brings Questionable Referrals

There is a point in a legislative session in which each chamber can no longer move bills out of their respective committees. For example, bills originating in the House can no longer be voted out of a House committee. You can think of each chamber “swapping” bills with the other. That point was last week and it is a good way of saying we have hit the half-way point in the legislative session.

This self-imposed deadline forces the Legislature to keep to its timeline for closing and a majority of bills will die in committee. This deadline is helpful for people to see what bills are still “alive” and have a chance of passage. However, this session has seen many bills moved to other committees that are not affected by the deadline and thus keeping the bills alive. Ways and Means, Revenue, and the Rules committees are the three committees that are not required to meet this deadline.

Many bills have been moved out of their policy committees to these two committees for a variety of reasons, but they all remain eligible to pass. This will require a watchful eye on these bills to continue to work them in their new committees. If you see a bill referred to these two committees, this could be the reason why, while some need to go to Ways and Means anyways because there is a cost associated with implementing the policy.

Status On Bills Of Interest

Below is a list of bills that OFB is monitoring. The list is grouped by subject and has a brief description and where they are in the Legislative session. Oregon Farm Bureau is tracking many bills, so if you are interested in a bill that is not on this list feel free to contact Ian Tolleson ([email protected]) for a status update.

Genetically Engineered Crops

SB 633, which preempts local governments from regulating agricultural seed and maintains the regulatory authority at the state and federal levels, is expected to be voted on early next week. This legislation is a priority for OFB to prevent a patchwork of different regulations throughout Oregon.

HB 2319, 2736, and 2715, all would create new forms of regulations on genetically engineered crops, were moved from the House Agriculture Committee to the Rules Committee by the request of the Speaker. A workgroup consisting of two House Democrats and two House Republicans has been appointed and is working to find a compromise. OFB is monitoring the work group progress.

HB 3476, which relates to genetically engineered fish, is the only other GE related bill currently alive and is in House Rules. All other bills died in their committees of origin.


SB 217, water right management fee, died this week in Senate Environment. Thank you to all OFB members that submitted comments and testified on this costly legislation. However, the discussion around water fees does not end here.

HB 2259, which raises WRD’s transaction based fees, moved out of House Agriculture this week to the Ways and Means Committee. The bill was amended to lower and phase in the requested increase. OFB is neutral on the bill, but will be engaged in this legislation and discussions around WRD’s budget.

SB 839 (water development funding) passed out the Senate Environment Committee to Ways and Means. OFB has been engaged in a four-month work group around the development of the bill. While a state focus and funding for newly developed water is needed, there continues to be discussion and debate on whether this bill will fill the gap. OFB has not yet taken a formal position on the bill.

SB 401, which originally designated rivers as scenic waterways, was amended this week to direct Department of Parks to study a list of rivers and make a recommendation regarding their qualifications as scenic waterways. OFB opposed the original bill and continues to have concerns that the legislation goes around the current statutory process for determining scenic waterways.


HB 2504 (sunsets property tax exemptions) has not yet had a hearing. Since it was assigned to the House Revenue Committee, it will remain alive until the last day of session.

HB 2555, which imposes a severance on timber exported out of the country, OFB testified in opposition to the bill. The legislation remains alive in House Revenue.

HB 2456 aims to raise taxes by $275 million. The details of the bill are below:

1. Phases out itemized deductions on incomes over $125,000 for single filers or $250,000 for joint filers.
— Home loan interest, medical expenses, etc. are included in the phase-out.
— Charitable contributions are not included in the phase-out of tax deductions.
2. Eliminates the personal exemption credit for single filers ($250,000 for joint).
3. Eliminates Measure 67’s taxation ceiling of $100,000 on corporation minimum tax earnings subject to taxation for corporations with at least $100 million in Oregon sales, and institutes payments of $100,000 plus 0.1 percent of the amount of sales above $100 million.
4. Eliminates Measure 67’s current top corporation tax rate of 7.6 percent on taxable income above $10 million and increases the corporate tax rate to 7.9 percent on taxable income above $2.5 million.
5. Applies above tax increases to tax years beginning January 1, 2013.
6. Requires taxable income of certain corporations headquartered in “tax haven” countries to be included on their Oregon tax returns beginning January 1, 2014.
To read more about this bill, click here for an article in the Oregonian.


Due to a lack of support in the Senate, SB 488, which repeals sunset on low carbon fuel standard, moved to Senate Rules to give proponents more time to try to convince legislators to votes yes. OFB oppose this legislation due to the uncertainty a low carbon fuel standard developed by DEQ would provide regarding fuel supply and cost.


SB 800 (pesticide use record keeping and reporting) originally would of required reporting of pesticide use on state and local government lands to DEQ. However before its public hearing, amendment emerged that would of added a requirement for commercial applicators to report their pesticide applications within 60 days to DEQ. OFB and other groups testified in opposition to the amendments. This week, the bill was amendment adopted to direct a work group to discuss pesticide use record keeping and reporting by public entities and report back to the legislature. While the legislation is directed at public entities, OFB expects the discussion around commercial and private applicators pesticide use record keeping and reporting to continue in the interim.

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