Oregon Legislative Update – Week 21
Time Is Ticking on 2023 Session
2023 Session – Closed for Construction?
Not Yet. Work Continues.
In spite of dueling press releases, finger-pointing, and incomplete reporting in the media, much of the normal, day-to-day work continues in the Capitol.
The House of Representatives is operating as usual, with a full contingent of Republicans participating in floor sessions each day. Committees continue to hold hearings on issues, including follow-up on earlier passed bills and informational hearings. Work sessions in the "open" committees (Ways & Means, Finance/Revenue, Rules, Joint Committees, etc.) continue. Senate Republicans are in the building, participating in hearings, work sessions, meetings with constituents, etc. However, they have boycotted the Senate floor sessions, primarily – it seems – over provisions in HB 2002 (reproductive rights and gender care) dealing with parental consent for children under 15, although other issues appear in play as well.
Is there a resolution in sight? Most observers are skeptical.
It's more likely that the session ends on or around June 16th (although it can't formally come to an end until June 25th, because without Republicans in the Senate Chamber, there is no quorum to vote to "sine die").
So, What's Next?
Can you say "Special Session"? If the full session comes to a close without passage of the state budget, it is likely that Governor Kotek will call legislators back in for a Special Session (after June 25, and before the end of July). The Governor will set the agenda of bills/topics to be heard. Most likely, she will request completion of the budget bills that Ways & Means is developing right now, and which the House will have passed before June 16. Also on the agenda: a select list of bi-partisan bills (i.e. Semiconductor incentives, housing provisions, etc.) could be included for this short 2-3 day session.
Oregon's Revenue Is Way Up; No Quorum to Spend It
On May 17, state economists announced that tax revenue is expected to be much higher than previously thought (just 3 months ago).
Projected 2021-23 Net General Fund Resources are up $1.8 billion (5.8%) from the March 2023 forecast
The "kicker" has skyrocketed: A personal kicker of $5.5 billion is projected for 2023
The "corporate kicker" is up as well: Corporate tax revenue of $1.8 billion is projected in 2023-25. This all goes to K-12 education.
Why have revenues risen so dramatically? Because "we're at an all-time high for employment in Oregon. And a full return to the Labor Force Participation Rate," according to the State Economist.
Read the complete report here.
Don't Give Up on Your Capitol Construction Budget Request
Have a Capitol Construction budget request? Don't give up! It's not too late to send an email, make a phone call, or recruit a local ally or board member to do so as well.
In the next 4-5 days, Legislators and staff are finalizing the lists of projects that will be funded, and last-minute appeals might be helpful!
Get out your pen and paper, fire up the computer, or release the carrier pigeon to take your message to Salem!
What's Going on in the Capitol?
The Ways & Means Committee staff and key members are drafting budgets for the various state agencies, picking and choosing from the hundreds of policy bills that have a "cost" and were sent to the Committee for consideration, as well as evaluating the billions of dollars in local project requests that have come in from the 90 State Senators and Representatives. Most policy bills in the Committee appear likely to die. Many small and medium state agencies have already had their budgets pass the budget committee and House floor. They are awaiting Senate action.
Don't expect any immediate feedback on your individual requests. Release of final budgets will likely come in a few days (Capitol Construction may post budget amendments next week), and often just one hour before the official "work session" for a particular agency bill or specific budget. However, the higher forecast will likely provide additional resources for these requests.
And, of course, all of this is dependent on Senate members reaching some sort of truce, or agreement that will enable/entice/convince Senate Republicans to end their walkout.
NWPA Meetings Continue
Work continues for us in the Capitol. Most lobbyists/advocates seem to have abandoned ship, and the hallways are empty many days (especially Fridays). But legislators and staff are still at work, and so are we. Meetings held and information shared now will yield benefits down the road.
I-205 Tolling on Hold – What Now?
Many stakeholders were relieved when Gov. Kotek decided to delay the I-205 tolling project until Jan. 1, 2026.
Cam Gilmour, a retired Clackamas County Director of Transportation, said, "Thank goodness the Governor delayed this," but asked why the project is delayed by more than two years when 6 months would suffice to study alternative ways to pay for it.
"This is about tolling a freeway in the wrong place with toll costs out of reach for most people. Gov. Kotek’s call for review should be carried out swiftly, direct ODOT to fund the project with existing revenue sources or with less expensive new taxes, not tolls, and take advantage of the work done to date."
Read the full article in Oregon Capital Insider.