Update on week 4 of the 2022 short session

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Representative Anna Scharf

Week 4 down, just 6 days left. 
The 22 Session sprint begins

Hello Friends,

This week was the calm before the storm.  I had my first Bill carry, my first Bill pull, and we all suffered a loss for agriculture and education.

Bill Carry: 

I was excited to carry my first bill to the floor for the Ag, Land Use and Water Committee.  It began as a committee bill that I had issues with.  I then worked with stakeholders from the Department of Ag, Oregonians for Food and Shelter (OFS) and Farm Bureau to make sure that we got the language we need to gain full support of the bill.  It moved off the floor with only 3 no votes.

Joint Ways and Means Sub Transportation and Economic Development passed out a bill last week that I will be carrying this week.  SB 1520 will place a redemption value on canned wine no late than July 2025, and will bring canned wine into the recycling world just like other canned beverages.  

Bill Pull: 

On Friday I made a last-ditch effort to get the bill I introduced this session a vote.  The Chair of the Revenue committee has refused to hear the bill and if it could not get to the floor for a vote, it would soon be dead. The bill, HB 4094, is intended to remove the cost of prescription drugs from the income reported by pharmacies for the purpose of paying the Corporate Activity Tax (CAT).  It is one of the drivers for pharmacies, across the state, closing their doors and thus access to thousands of Oregonians to much needed medication.  The motion to pull the bill from committee to the floor for immediate consideration failed 31 to 26.  To learn more about why the bill is necessary, please see this Oregonian opinion piece that I co-authored with Rep. E. Werner Reschke.(R - Southern Klamath & Lake Counties). (Opinion: Help struggling pharmacies with needed tax exemption - oregonlive.com)

Losses in the Ag and Education communities:

An agricultural overtime bill, HB 4002, championed by Rep. Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego) and

Rep. Paul Holvey (D-Eugene) moved out of a heavily stacked special committee this week.  The committee had 6 Democrat and 4 Republican members.  Of the 6 Democrats, none of them live in districts with any agriculture.  Four are from Portland Metro and 2 are from Eugene.  The bill passed on party line votes and will be on the House floor this week for a vote.

Republicans have been negotiating on the issue for a year, and during this legislative session we proposed several compromises, including two amendments that better addressed the needs of our farm communities. We wanted an Oregon solution that recognizes Oregon’s unique agriculture industry.  The Democrats refused to negotiate and rammed a bill through that will result in lost jobs for farm workers the loss of family farms to out of state capitol investment firms coming in to buy them out. 

On the education front, we saw the first of several bills make it over from the Senate which undermine local control of school districts.  SB 1521A  received hours of debate on the floor on Friday.  It has the potential to place school districts in a complicated legal position when laws, mandates, executive orders, directives, policies, etc. conflict with each other.  It also removes the right of a school board to fire a superintendent for failure to follow those things.  I spoke against the bill on the floor.  Here is a link to the video of the floor speech.  Press Here  

“No” votes taken this week (Vote explanations I filed).  Links to my full vote explanation can be found with each measure in OLIS.

HB 4114 – Requires School Board members to file an annual verified statement of economic interest (SEI).

The Secretary of State Audits Division recommended adding school board members to the list of public officials required to submit a SEI. The audit noted that since school board members manage a critical public function and allocate billions of dollars in revenue as part-time public officials with other employment and community connections, “it is important to provide the public with adequate information about these potential conflicts to maintain accountability and fairness”. 

This bill is intending to add to the transparency of public officials already required to submit an annual SEI.  In principle, this is a good idea.  However, I voted no because of the justification for the need for the transparency.  The staff measure summary states that, “school board members allocate billions of dollars in revenue”.  This statement is only partially true.  School board members, in partnership with their budget committees, annually establish the district budget.  Budget committee members will not be required to submit an annual SEI.  This bill also does not cover committees that a district may form such as a bond oversight committee for a capital construction project.  This committee may be in charge of millions of dollars in a calendar year, but the committee members would not be subject to an SEI filing. 

While I support transparency of publicly elected officials, I could not support this bill

SB 1558 (A-Engrossed) - Transportation omnibus measure

As such it is expected to be filled with a variety of provisions.  However, this bill moved to the floor with only a few provisions in it.  Within those provisions there was one I could not support.  Therefore, I was compelled to vote no.

What I opposed:  Increasing the annual allocation of vehicle dealer privilege tax revenues to the Zero-Emission Incentive Fund.  The bill proposed raising it from the current cap of $12 million to the greater of 45 percent of gross revenues or $12 million minimum.  

Collection of the vehicle tax began in 2018, and in 2021 the zero-emission fund was created.  The fund was created to provide rebates to help offset the cost of purchasing an electric vehicle and to help those with lower incomes the ability to purchase an electric vehicle. Goals were also set to get to 50,000 electric vehicles registered in Oregon by 2020.  To date there are only 38,482. 

My no vote is a result of this program already not meeting goals.  In addition, I was a no vote based on a program report that showed most of the electric vehicles purchased were by single family home owners, in metro areas, in higher income brackets.  These people could likely purchase these vehicles without conventional vehicle buyers subsidizing them through the vehicle privilege tax.

SB 1513 (A-Engrossed) changed the two-week notification to employees about mandatory overtime to five days’ notice. 

It also says that an employer may not take action against an employee who cannot work a mandatory overtime shift. 

This bill was passed to settle a dispute between a private business and the BCTGM Local 364 union.  The issue at hand was that bakeries and tortillerias, around the state, routinely forced overtime with little to no notice.  In addition, if the employee refused then they received a company specific disciplinary action.

While I agree with the workers and their complaint, it is not the business of the Legislature to solve labor disputes between private businesses and union members. 

SB 1521 (A-Engrossed)

Establishes job protections for school district superintendents by setting into law that superintendent contracts cannot be terminated for failure of complying with local, state, or federal law including directives having the force of law, ordinances, city or county resolutions, statutes, court decisions, administrative rules or regulations, order issued in compliance with the state's administrative procedure laws, executive order or any other directive, declaration or statement that has the force of law and is issued by local, state, or federal government entities.

Oregon has 197 public school district and no two are the same.  The Legislature should not be inserting themselves into local school board superintendent contract negotiations.  This undermines local control by voters of a school district and the school board members that they elect.

Supporters of the bill stated that Oregon School Boards Association (OSBA) and the Coalition of Oregon School Administrators (COSA) were in support of the bill.  However, I believe this to be a false statement.  School boards want local control and superintendents want the ability to work with their school boards on a fair employment contract. 

With just days left the pace of bills being voted on will take on a rapid tempo, and any transparency left in the process with go dark.  I will do my best to keep you up to date and shed light where I can.  Our office is always here to take your calls and emails.  I will be on the floor 8am-8pm every day this week looking out for the best interest of HD23. 

Yours truly,

Representative Anna Scharf

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1423
Capitol Address: 900 Court St NE, H-381, Salem, OR 97301
Email: Rep.AnnaScharf@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/scharf