Environment & Rural Bills, Open Enrollment, New Fund for Rural Entrepreneurs, and More!


Senator Floyd Prozanski
South Lane and North Douglas Counties
District 4

900 Court St. NE, S-417, Salem Oregon 97301
Capitol phone: 503-986-1704
Email: sen.floydprozanski@state.or.us
Website: http://www.oregonlegilslature.com/prozanski
e-Bulletin                     November 2015

If you're having trouble viewing this message, please visit my legislative web page at http://www.oregonlegislature.com/prozanski/, click on "News" in the lower left-hand column and scroll down.

Dear friends,

    As we enter this Thanksgiving weekend, I hope you, your family and friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. Please drive safely this busy travel weekend. Remember to check ODOT's TripCheck.com for road conditions and traffic information. Winter conditions exist throughout the state.

    We met for legislative days in Salem last week. The Senate Judiciary Committee, which I chair, met to discuss criminal liability in bicycle and motor vehicle collisions, among other topics. The Joint Committee on Marijuana Legalization, which I co-vice chair, met for an informational updated on the legalization process. Finally, the Senate Committee on Environment & Natural Resources, of which I'm a member, met for an overview of the Oregon Global Warming Commission, a discussion about the Greenhouse Gas Emission Cap Program, and a recap of wildfire season. Audio recordings of these and other committee meetings held during September's legislative days can be found using the Oregon Legislative Information System: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2015I1.

    During legislative days, I also met with representatives from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission and Oregon Health Authority regarding needs and resources for Umpqua Community College (UCC) during the upcoming "short" legislative session in February. It's important that we maintain our commitment to UCC as the victims, campus and community continue to heal.

    Below you will find information on:

        - 2015 Session Accomplishments: Environment & Rural Oregon
        - The Highway 58 / Salt Creek Tunnel Project is Complete!
        - Open Enrollment for the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace
- New Fund to Support Rural Entrepreneurs
DSL permit coordinator Now Located in Roseburg

    I hope this information is helpful and informative for you or someone you know. As always, feel free to share your comments, questions or concerns with me by phone, mail or e-mail.

                                                                                   Sen. Prozanski signature

2015 Session Accomplishments: Environment & Rural Oregon

    Continuing with this e-bulletin, I'm providing in-depth summaries of bills passed during the 2015 session by subject area. A comprehensive listing of accomplishments from the 2015 session related to environment and rural Oregon issues — by Senate/House bill and in numerical order — follows:

Senate Bills

    SB 306 - Inspecting & Repairing Critical Levees: Many flood control levees in Oregon need inspection and repairs, and must be certified under the National Flood Insurance Program to maintain affordable flood insurance for area property owners. Senate Bill 306 addresses this issue by allowing existing public works funds to be used for levee inspection and repair. The Legislature also dedicated $5 million for this use.

    SB 324 - Clean Fuels Program Expansion: A significant economic and environmental victory, this legislation removes the sunset on provisions related to Oregon's low-carbon fuel standard. Commonly referred to as the Clean Fuels Program, the program requires oil companies to gradually reduce their share of carbon pollution, for a net reduction of 10 percent over 10 years. The Clean Fuels Program is expected to help drive innovation and business growth across Oregon's clean energy sector.

    SB 341 - Balanced Liability Protections for Farm and Ranch Events: Farmers and ranchers are increasingly turning to agritourism activities, including farm stays, pumpkin patches, and harvest-your-own activities, to generate extra income and sell their products directly to the public. This legislation provides balanced protection from liability for farmers and ranchers so they can continue providing these activities while preserving the public's right to sue for negligence or disregard for safety in a court of law.

    SB 439 - Outdoor School Program Account: Outdoor school programs are associated with increased graduation rates and renewed student interest in their education. This legislation directs the Oregon State University Extension Service to assist school districts in providing outdoor school programs through the creation of an Outdoor Education Account. This bill will expand access to Outdoor School Education for many districts that were previously unable to offer the program individually. The bill does not provide any direct funding.

    SB 478 - Toxic-Free Kids Act: The Oregon Toxic-Free Kids Act requires the Oregon Health Authority to establish a list of chemicals especially hazardous to children's health and requires some manufacturers to incrementally phase out the use of these chemicals in kids' products. This legislation addresses increasing concerns about exposure to toxic chemicals that are known to cause developmental disorders and other damaging health effects in children.

    SB 534 - Providing Infrastructure to Airports: This legislation allows cities to provide sewer and water services to an airport without annexing the airport through the state's land use system. This change is expected to help aviation-related business locate and expand at a handful of small airports in Oregon.

    SB 667 - Supporting Oregon's Small Schools: In the face of declining enrollment and other factors, Oregon's small and rural schools often face challenges in maintaining important classes and programs for their students. This legislation, which I co-chief sponsored, will continue an annual investment in the Small School District Supplement Fund through 2020, helping to ensure that children at small schools to have the same opportunities as students in other parts of Oregon.

    SB 705 - Asbestos Testing: This legislation requires the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to adopt rules requiring contractors to perform a survey to determine whether a residence is insulated with asbestos prior to beginning demolition. This will allow steps to be taken against exposure to asbestos when a building is demolished, protecting the health of neighboring households.

    SB 912 - Ending Legal Limbo for Oregon Property Owners: This legislation establishes a process for the Department of State Lands to clarify and finalize the ownership of historically submerged lands, which has been unclear for decades. SB 912 will end legal limbo for rural Oregonians whose property titles have long been unclear.

House Bills

    HB 2182 - Statewide Predator Management: This legislation requires the State Department of Fish and Wildlife to study developing a predator management plan for the state and to report back to interim committees of the Legislative Assembly. HB 2182 will facilitate a scientific and economically feasible statewide predator management policy, ensuring that all Oregonians have healthy populations for hunting, viewing and fishing.

    HB 2453 - Protecting our State Forests: Oregon's state forests are prized public resources. Recently, some large, unpermitted commercial social events — concerts, "raves," and festivals — have drawn hundreds of attendees and vehicles to our state forests, raising serious public safety, law enforcement, fire danger, and other natural resource damage concerns. This legislation requires certain large-scale, organized gatherings in state forestlands to be permitted by the Oregon Department of Forestry. Regulating these types of events will minimize the potential for negative impacts on sensitive timber and forest management areas, as well as risks to public health and safety.

    HB 2463 - Safety on Public Waterways: This legislation allows the Department of State Lands to remove derelict and abandoned structures — vessels, submerged docks, marine debris, etc. — from state waterways when an owner has failed to remedy the problem. HB 2463 will help ensure that our lakes, rivers, and territorial sea are safer for Oregonians who want to fish, travel, and enjoy recreation on Oregon's more than 1.2 million acres of state-owned waterways.

    HB 2509 - Encouraging Mediation for Farming Coexistence Issues: This legislation outlines a process for farmers to access low-cost mediation services through the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) to help neighboring farmers identify voluntary ways to deal with coexistence issues. HB 2509 incentivizes mediation as a first line of recourse for resolving disputes, potentially avoiding costly litigation or interventions. It will also assist ODA in tracking and understanding trends in farming coexistence conflicts to help determine how to best support all farmers in the future.

    HB 2652 - Economic Development Outside Cities: This legislation changes the criteria for the rural economic development portion of the Strategic Investment Program, which allows local governments to provide a property tax break for major development opportunities. The change will ensure that only truly rural communities use this tool, and allow more of them to do so, helping rural communities thrive.

    HB 2734 & HB 5030 - Cleaning up Polluted Sites for Business Development:  This legislation gives local governments the ability to create land bank authorities, an innovative tool to clean up brownfields — former industrial or commercial sites where development is hindered by real or perceived environmental contamination. Left untouched, these properties pose threats to human health and the environment while also undermining economic development and failing to contribute to the local and state economies. HB 5030 allocates $7 million for these efforts to help cities and
counties make better use of their land.

    HB 3011 - Rural Self-Serve Gasoline: This legislation allows gas stations in rural parts of Oregon to provide self-serve gas to customers between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. This applies to any county with a population under 40,000.

    HB 3068 - Reducing Woodstove Smoke Pollution: Woodstoves are a major source of air pollution and, since 1991, Oregon has required that new woodstoves be certified to meet air pollution standards. This legislation directs the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to form a work group to study and develop recommendations for reducing woodstove smoke and report back to the Legislature by September 2016. DEQ will involve rural and urban stakeholders in this group, and the strategies the group examines must include consideration of wood pellet and biomass fuels — two potential economic drivers for rural Oregon industry.

    HB 3148 - Relief to Low-Income Wildfire Victims: This legislation will provide critical relief to low-income victims of wildfire by creating the Wildfire Damage Housing Account within the Oregon Housing Fund. With HB 3148, qualifying households that suffer a housing loss caused by wildfire are eligible for a one-time grant distribution of $5,000.

    HB 3188 - Predator Management in Rural Oregon: Many rural Oregonians rely on effective predator management to prevent costly damage to their livestock or timber.  This legislation gives certain landowners in Coos and Douglas counties the option to petition the county to form a predator damage control district, giving these landowners the ability to voluntarily contribute to funding predator management services. As existing funding sources dwindle, this bill will help farmers protect their livestock and timber, without a cost to the general fund.

    HB 3239 - Improving Farmers' Access to Capital: Oregon's Beginning and Expanding Farm Loan Program provides a tax incentive for private lenders to provide loans to small farmers. This legislation adds certain farm lenders and finance agreements to the lenders and loans eligible for this program.

    HB 3362 - Pollinator Health: Oregon's insect-pollinated agricultural economy generates approximately $600 million per year. Pollinator populations have suffered significant losses over recent years due to complex interactions among multiple stressors, including pests, pathogens, viruses, poor nutrition, pesticide exposure, bee management practices, and a lack of genetic diversity. In 2014, the Legislature passed a measure requiring Oregon State University (OSU) and the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) to develop educational materials regarding best practices for avoiding adverse effects from pesticides on populations of bees and other pollinating insects. This legislation builds on that work, expanding the 2014 law to require OSU and ODA to develop a public outreach and education plan. The bill also directs ODA to develop a bee incident reporting system to facilitate public reporting of incidents related to pollinator health.

    HB 3396 - Healthcare Providers in Rural Oregon: This legislation requires the Oregon Health Policy Board to study and evaluate the effectiveness of existing financial incentive programs as well as address new types of programs to recruit and retain health care providers to practice in rural and medically underserved areas in Oregon. The bill will address an ongoing need to encourage qualified healthcare providers to practice in Rural Oregon.

    HB 3402 - Highway Speed in Rural Oregon: This legislation increases the speed limit to 70 miles per hour for most vehicles (65 miles per hour for heavy vehicles) on certain stretches of highway in areas of rural Oregon.

    SB 5544 - Grants for Wolf-Related Livestock Losses: The legislation provides $100,000 to the Department of Agriculture to continue the Wolf Compensation and Grant Assistance program, which supports the reduction of wolf/livestock interactions and provides compensation for wolf-related livestock losses. SB 5544 also appropriates about $200,000 for the Department of Fish and Wildlife to continue work on sage grouse habitat improvement and species preservation.

The Highway 58 / Salt Creek Tunnel Project is Complete!

     A project to rebuild two half-viaducts adjacent to the OR 58 / Salt Creek Tunnel has been completed ahead of schedule and without any complete highway closures during this construction season. Click here to watch a YouTube video of the permanent striping process, one of the final steps in the construction process, and to hear comments from an Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) inspector who spent the entire construction season on this job.

    ODOT would like to thank the traveling public for their patience during construction, when 24-hour flagging resulted in delays. While travelers may still see construction vehicles at the site, lane restriction and flagging are no longer necessary.

Open Enrollment for the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace

    Open enrollment for the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace goes through January 31, 2016. It is the time of the year to change plans and, for those who do not have insurance, time to buy a plan and avoid a potential penalty on 2016 taxes. Financial help is available for many people if they enroll through HealthCare.gov; depending on their income, individuals may qualify for tax credits to help pay their monthly premium and assistance with out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles and co-pays.

    The Department of Consumer & Business Services (DCBS) has a network of insurance agents and community organizations ready to help people enroll. To find an agent or community partner in your area, visit: http://www.oregonhealthcare.gov/get-help.html or call the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace at 1-855-268-3767 (toll-free).

    DCBS also provided grants to 24 agents to create drop-in enrollment centers during open enrollment. These centers will be open during the entire open enrollment period during normal business hours, with some extended hours. To find the list of enrollment centers, visit: http://www.oregonhealthcare.gov/get-help.html.

New Fund to Support Rural Entrepreneurs

    Governor Kate Brown and Business Oregon, the state's economic development agency, will invest $250,000 to support a new rural entrepreneurship program to drive economic opportunity for all Oregonians. The program will expand seed capital and mentor opportunities available in rural communities. The fund follows a similar state investment made in August to strengthen diversity among Oregon startups.

    Business Oregon will award grants to nonprofits and public agencies to expand Oregon's capacity for innovation, entrepreneurship, and capital in rural communities. For more information, view the request for proposals and Business Oregon’s Rural Entrepreneurs web page.

DSL Permit Coordinator Now Located in Roseburg

   The Department of State Lands (DSL) has relocated its Douglas and Josephine County Aquatic Resource Coordinator (removal/fill permit coordinator) to Roseburg. The coordinator, Melody Rudenko, can be reached by e-mail at melody.rudenko@dsl.state.or.us or by phone: 503-508-4035.

Update your subscriptions, modify your password or e-mail address, or stop subscriptions at any time on your User Profile Page. You will need to use your e-mail address to log in. If you have questions or problems with the subscription service, please contact support@govdelivery.com.