WesCom News Service

The Legislature’s main focus on Monday was the epic House floor debate over the carbon cap bill. But elsewhere, committees moved legislation into place for key votes or proponents admitted time may be running out for action in 2019.

Legislative leaders who earlier forecast adjourning this Friday admitted Monday that the date was too optimistic. Though the Oregon Constitution allows them to stay through June 30, lawmakers are now hoping to gavel out in the middle of next week.

Here’s some of the legislation and other action around the Capitol.

Campaign finance resolution moves forward

Campaign finance reform legislation co-authored by Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, was approved Monday by the Senate Committee on Rules. Senate Joint Resolution 18 would put a constitutional amendment on the November 2020 ballot allowing the Legislature and other government entities to enact limits on money raised and spent in political campaigns. A 1997 state court ruling overturned earlier campaign finance limits as violating the state’s free speech guarantees.

The resolution now goes to the full Senate. It has the bipartisan support needed to speed through both chambers before time runs out.

Big bucks from
boating bill

The Legislative Revenue Office estimates that Senate Bill 47, which creates a Waterways Access Pass, will generate just under $1 million in revenue in the 2019-21 biennium and nearly $1.4 million in the 2021-23 biennium.

Starting next year, the pass will be required for nonmotorized watercraft over 10 feet long. The money will go to upgrade boating facilities, safety education, law enforcement and invasive species mitigation.

The bill is awaiting the signature of Gov. Kate Brown.

Second dwelling unit bill questionable

Legislation supported by Deschutes County commissioners that would allow counties to approve secondary housing in rural areas appears to have stalled for the 2019 session. SB 88 would allow for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in limited numbers and locations.

The bill passed the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources on April 2 and went to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means for an analysis of its budget impact. It has not moved since and there is no scheduled hearing or vote. During an earlier debate, questions arose about construction in areas where wildfire risk is high, as well as specifics about the size and type of ADUs.

OSU-Cascades waiting for final numbers

House Bill 5005, the capital construction bill for universities, will be one of the last bills to be voted on this session. Brown had requested that $225 million in bonds be set aside for unspecified construction projects that would be selected in 2020.

Public hearings were held last month by the capital construction subcommittee of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means. A date for a vote to send the bill to the full committee has not yet been set. Unlike policy bills, budget bills must be passed before the Legislature adjourns.

Under the current priority list, OSU-Cascades’ two proposed projects — a new Student Success Center and money to redevelop land for future building — are ranked near the bottom. Brown said last week she expected the Legislature would include some money for 2020 but said that it could be less than what she has requested. During a meeting last week of a subcommittee of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, officials suggested a meeting be held over the summer with the full commission, Brown and the presidents of the seven public universities.

Jim Pinkard, director of the commission’s Office of Postsecondary Finance and Capital, said the meeting could help build a consensus on how to make a case to lawmakers in the future. “We could come up with strategy for the Legislature to be more generous with higher education,” he said.

But first the commission and university presidents have to get over some bumps in their own relationship. “I am not sure they view HECC as an ally,” Pinkard said.

Loads of laws

As of Monday, the governor has signed 427 bills into law since the beginning of the Legislative session. That’s approximately 15% of the more than 2,700 bills that have been introduced this year. Brown has not vetoed any bills to date.

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