April 23, 2013
Dear Friends and Neighbors
The first deadline of this session for considering legislation passed this past week. The rules adopted by legislature to keep the legislative process moving required bills in the house of origin to have had a hearing and work session by April 18th to have further consideration this session. There will be several more deadlines which will affect bills going through the two chambers.
So far, 2,617 bills have been introduced, 38 of them have been passed by both chambers and have been signed by the Governor. The majority of the remaining 2,579 bills will probably not make the remaining deadlines. Since a lot of the measures were bills that impact the budget, it will take a while to determine which bills are still alive and those that are dead for the session.
The Democrats' budget for the 2013-2015 biennium has been set for approximately 16.5 billion dollars. Their budget is about 1.7 billion more than the state's current budget and is based upon stronger revenue collection over the next couple of years. The major increases in their spending are split between health care expenditures and school funding. To balance their budget, the Democrats are proposing to skip a payment into the PERS retirement account which would save the state about $350 million this biennium but would add $50 million dollars extra in interest when the payment is made up in 2016. Their budget also proposes $275 million in tax increases to make it balance. Their tax increase measure, HB 2456, relying upon increased taxation upon corporations and upper incomes was defeated. The defeat will require a new revenue bill with a different set of tax increases, an examination of new proposed expenditure or an examination and reduction in existing expenditures
Competing philosophies to address the funding of the Public Employee Retirement System has caused drastically different approaches to be debated in the Capitol. I urge you to look at Representative Dennis Richardson's April 12th newsletter on PERS.
There is no question that we in the legislature need to have PERS reforms to restore school days and protect other services because of the $16 billion unfunded liability facing PERS. Recently Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) announced higher contribution rates for state agencies, local governments and Oregon school districts. The 4.9 percent increase in employer rates for the 2013-2015 biennium will add approximately $900 million in increased costs to local governments including schools. The increase offsets much of the increased funding to the schools as presented in the Governor's budget.
After a hearing last week in Senate Judiciary, Sen. Floyd Prozanski moved four bills out of committee which would modify Oregon's regulations on gun control. The measures are:
• Senate Bill 700 requires a background check when a gun is transferred (excluding transfers to family members)
• Senate Bill 347 prohibits guns in K-12 school buildings unless the local district opts out of the measure.
• Senate Bill 699 prohibits openly carrying guns in the Oregon State Capitol
• Senate Bill 796 ensures those who get a license to carry a concealed weapon complete training in classroom setting.
These bills will be debated next on the Senate Floor. No date has been set.
National Popular vote
House Bill 3077, the National Popular Vote bill, is an agreement among participating states to guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The existing mechanism for selecting a president is through the Electoral College, in which states award all of their electoral votes to the candidate with the most popular votes statewide. Most presidential elections have resulted in the eventual Electoral College winner also winning the popular vote — but not always. The idea of electing U.S. presidents by national popular vote gained momentum following the presidential election in 2000, in which the losing candidate won the popular vote, but lost the Electoral College, and the winning candidate won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote.
Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution grants exclusive authority to each state legislature to determine how to award electoral votes. The agreement would remain idle until states totaling a majority of the Electoral College (270 or more electoral votes) enter into the agreement. It is only at that point that the compact states would award their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the most popular votes in all 50 states.
I supported the passage of HB 3077 which has passed the House and will be considered next in Senate Committee.
Last Thursday, the Natural Resources and Agriculture committee passed an amendment to HB 2427, the bill to ban canola in the Willamette Valley. The amendment created a three year study to have OSU determine the impacts of canola on other crops in the Willamette Valley. The study authorizes planting the necessary acreage of canola to complete the study. The bill stipulates that if the legislature fails to provide funding for the study, the rules adopted by the Agriculture Department last fall will go into effect.
I appreciate your input. Please email comments to me at Rep.email@example.com.