Do What You Can Do 6/10/2021

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Senator Jeff Golden

 *  “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”  
—Helen Keller


Lots of memories and sadness for many of us: the Galice Resort, a few miles upstream from the beginning of the Rogue River’s Wild & Scenic section, burned to the ground Tuesday morning.

Coming around the home stretch

There’s just over two weeks left before the final gavel drops for the 2021 session. The list of remaining policy bills is getting shorter. Two of the big ones—SB 762, the Omnibus Wildfire Bill that’s my must-have legislation, and HB 2021, aimed to give us 100% clean electricity by 2040—have critical hearings coming up.

Most of the attention is shifting to the end-of-session budget bills. The rush to get attention for key funding asks is either—depending on whether or not they happen to be in your district— advocating for crucially important causes or pork-barrel deal-making. Legislators are sharpening up their asks and trying to figure out how much they can ask for before decision-makers tune them out. I’ll be at ringside as the fiscal dramas play out because I’m one of 23 members of the full Ways and Means Committee. That’s supposed to be an influential perch, but in practice most decisions are laid out before we vote by the tri-chairs—two Senators, one Representative—with guidance from the Senate President and House Speaker.  

Here’s a good high-level view of the pending budget. Senator Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward aptly captured the theme of this odd budget year in the last sentence: “We have a lot of capacity to do a lot of really good stuff this year and there are still going to be people who are disappointed.” No doubt.

2021’s main event for in the timber arena

When this session began some thought it could be the boldest in memory for forestry reform. What teed that up was a recent series of articles from OPB, the Oregonian and Pro Publica, beginning with Polluted by Money, which detailed the impact of campaign contributions on environmental legislation.

The expectations those articles raised weren’t fulfilled. As the session progressed a variety of introduced bills—on reinstating a timber severance tax, on changing governance of the Board of Forestry, on Department of Forestry changes—dropped by the wayside. Some mix of concern for the heavy hit timber companies took in the 2020 fires, the traditional loyalty rural communities have for the industry, and its raw lobbying power, undiminished from the days when it dominated Oregon’s economy, stilled the winds of change.

But one bill did survive, and moved across the House Floor this week on a 32-27 vote. It came directly out of one of last year’s articles, What Happened When a Public Institute Became a De Facto Lobbying Arm of the Timber Industry. HB 2375B would reshape the Oregon Forest Research Institute in a few key ways, described here. I think it’s a well-reasoned way to deal with the excesses exposed last year. Based on the merits alone, the Senate should pass and the Governor should sign the bill. But...well, we’ll see.

Photo of a mobile home park

Give them a little time

I was pleased to carry HB 2364A to the Senate floor this week. This bill’s designed to give mobile and manufactured park residents a fair shot at cooperatively buying their parks when they come up for sale, so they can have the security of owning the land beneath their homes.

We have a peculiar system when it comes to these parks. They don’t reflect a free market the way that apartments or other rental housing does. If my apartment rent spikes way up, I can choose to look for another home that’s more affordable; moving’s not a lot of fun, but I can do it. But when a park levies a big increase on its spaces—and many have been very big in recent years—there’s little residents can do about it. They’re not likely to find a buyer for their home if the space rent is too high, and the cost of moving it to an affordable space, if they can find one, can be almost as high as the value of the home itself.  

That’s why I used the term “captive consumers” in this floor speech. HB 2364A modestly extends the notice that a park owner has to give tenants before selling to someone else. One of several logical things it doesn’t do is give tenants a first right of refusal to purchase at a given price. All it gives them is a short period of time to organize themselves and look for financing so that they can compete with speculative investors—corporations, holding companies, REITs—that have the resources to put deals together quickly. A modest proposal? That’s what I thought, and said. Not everyone agreed, but the measure did pass 19-9 and moved on to Governor Brown’s desk for signature.

Photo of Beverly Cleary

A life well lived

Did you grow up with Ramona Quimby and Beezus Quimby, Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy? Then you’ll appreciate our the Senate’s approval this week of House Concurrent Resolution 30 to honor the life of Portland author Beverly Cleary, who died in March just shy of her 105th birthday. Portland legislators gave speeches reminiscing about cruising their bicycles as kids down the same streets that Henry Huggins did in Cleary’s stories.

A sweet moment in the midst of a difficult session.

June's Town Hall

June Town Hall

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Take care for now...

Jeff (Signature)

Senator Jeff Golden, Oregon Senate District 3

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Bills of Interest

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SB 582

  • SB 582 has passed the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment and is currently in Ways and Means.
  • SB 582 would establish a producer responsibility program for packaging, printing and writing paper and food service-ware.

HB 2021

  • HB 2021 has passed the House Committee on Energy and Environment and is currently in Ways and Means.
  • HB 2021 would require retail electricity providers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity sold to Oregon consumers to 80 percent below baseline emissions levels by 2030, 90 percent below baseline emissions levels by 2035 and 100 percent below baseline emissions levels by 2040.

SB 8 

  • SB 8 passed the House and passed the Senate yesterday
  • SB 8 requires local governments to allow development of certain affordable housing on lands not zoned for residential uses.

HB 2607 

  • HB 2607 passed the House and passed the Senate yesterday
  • HB 2607 will make residential housing being constructed to replace housing destroyed or damaged by fire or other emergency event exempted from construction taxes.

HB 3115

  • HB 3115 passed the House and passed the Senate yesterday
  • HB 3115 requires that local law regulating sitting, lying, sleeping or keeping warm and dry outdoors on public property that is open to public be objectively reasonable as to time, place and manner.

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