2017 Legislative Wrap – Important Strides Made

Heading into the 2017 legislative session, we knew it would be difficult to make major strides, given the significant revenue shortfalls facing the state. We were right. It was a tough run, but fortunately we did make important strides.

Here is a quick update of the bills OEC worked on and our results.

Transportation for Oregon’s Future (HB 2017)
Our biggest success! The transportation package includes the largest statewide investment in public transit that Oregon has ever seen. It also includes Safe Routes to School, bike and pedestrian paths, electric vehicle rebates, and congestion pricing. While it’s not perfect, it’s long overdue and moves Oregon in the right direction to a cleaner transportation future.

Clean Engines, Clean Air (SB 1008 & HB 2269)
The trucking and construction industries gutted SB 1008, a bill to set deadlines for phasing-out dirty diesel engines.  While we were able to fund school districts to comply with existing law requiring them to clean up, we’ll have to try again to phase out dirty trucks and construction equipment.  OEC’s other clean air priority was funding for Cleaner Air Oregon—the rulemaking to set controls on air toxics based on health standards. Now instead of polluters paying for the program, regular Oregonians will foot the bill.

Clean & Plentiful Water (HB 2404, HB 2705, HB 2706 & HB 2707)
Our effort to ensure Oregonians have clean well water (HB 2404) didn’t pass. This year, despite having agreement among all stakeholders, the lack of revenue reform meant no funding for clean water.  

Water quantity is equally important to water quality. We worked with coalition partners WaterWatch, Wild Salmon Center and Oregon Council of Trout Unlimited to require measurement and reporting of water, a new water fee and funding for groundwater studies. We started good discussions about the best way to tackle these tough issues, but the legislations didn’t get it done in time. We look forward to making progress next year.

Clean Energy Jobs (HB 2135 & SB 570)
Climate change policy got lots of attention this year,  but unfortunately session ended without action. The House Energy and Environment Committee and the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee met jointly over the course of the session to learn about the various pieces of climate policy.  This in-depth work led to a new bill—SB 1070—that has 33 co-sponsors.  Having one-third of legislators supporting the idea, and thousands of Oregonians voicing support, including Governor Brown, we are set for a successful launch next year.

Coalition partner bills we supported and their fate

  • Healthy Schools Plan (SB 1062): Requires schools to plan to decrease toxic exposures in schools.  Passed
  • Reducing Toxics from Demolitions (SB 871): Reduces asbestos exposure during residential demolitions. Passed!
  • Suction Dredge Mining restrictions (SB 3): Places permanent restrictions on suction dredge mining. Passed!
  • Funding Cleaner Air Oregon (HB 2269): New fee on polluters to fund the program.  Failed – Cleaner Air Oregon will continue, but now taxpayers will foot the bill instead of polluters
  • Racial Profiling Bill (HB 2355): Passed! Funds implementation of an anti-profiling law passed in 2015 to ensure fair police practices regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, language, housing status, sexual orientation or gender identity. We supported this bill in solidarity with social justice groups and as a protection for our own employees and members.
  • Moratorium on fracking (HB 2711): Failed
  • Reforming the Oregon Department of Energy (HB 2020): Reforms ODOE and makes the agency in charge of meeting our state’s climate goals. Failed.
  • Residential Energy Tax Credits:  Renews tax credits for solar installations and energy efficiency projects. Failed.
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