Legislature reviews various bills on timber taxes, funding

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Oregonians for Food and Shelter,Last week was a bit more lively in the legislature, seeing increased participation and testimony in public hearings, which are progressing at a frantic pace, while legislation movement remains at a standstill. Both the House and the Senate are scheduled to convene on the floor weekly (with the exception of the Senate this week due to anticipated inclement weather), but they have yet to hear or vote on any legislation.

The House Committee on Energy and Environment heard HB 2955, which seeks to establish a product stewardship program for household hazardous waste. Testimony in opposition was delayed until Monday. OFS will join the Household Consumer Products Association, the American Cleaning Institute, Oregon Business Industry, and others to testify in opposition of this bill, pointing out the complexity of this new approach vs improving on the current system of collection programs, and the fact that it does not guarantee new collection opportunities.
OFS has also met with several members of the House Committee on Housing regarding HB 2409, which seeks to prohibit homeowners associations from requiring pesticide applications to owners’ property. We have communicated our concerns to the bill sponsor, including the confusing definition of pesticides in the bill, as well as the arbitrary 7-day notification period.
Next week, several bills of critical importance to the forest sector will begin to receive informational hearings, with public hearings the following Tuesday. The bills take aim at two main issues: elimination of the timber industry’s commodity commission, the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, and creation of a new severance tax on harvested timber:
  • HB 2357: eliminates the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI), and its funding by re-directing the portion of the Forest Products Harvest Tax that funds OFRI to the Oregon Department of Forestry.
  • HB 2379: eliminates funding for OFRI by eliminating the Forest Products Harvest Tax and imposes a 5% severance tax on harvested timber and reallocates revenue from the tax.
  • HB 2598: maintains the Forest Products Harvest Tax but de-funds the Oregon Forest Resources Institute by redirecting the portion of the tax that funds it to the Oregon Forest Land Protection Fund AND assesses an additional 3-8% severance tax on the value of harvested timber, punishing landowners who clear cut and harvest at younger rotation age with higher taxes.
Two of the above three bills (HB 2357 and HB 2379) have been scheduled for a public hearing on Tuesday, February 23. Please helps us oppose these bills: