Legislative Action Team
Lead: Mary Chaffin
6/20/21 Read here for an update by Mary Chaffin on Oregon legislature bills that we support that have passed. There is also a link to the latest version of the Bill Status Spreadsheet that tracks all the bills that A4D is following.
Breaking News on Campaign Finance Reform!
5/28/21 Rep Rayfield has just posted a new version, -12, of his bill HB2680. Though folks are still digesting it, this appears to be purely a public financing bill, presumably similar to his HB2921, though we're not certain of that. At any rate, early reads from the folks at Common Cause and Honest Elections OR suggest this is a good bill and one that we could support, perhaps with a few tweaks. It is not clear if Rep Rayfield is withdrawing the controversial -1 version, or if both will be on the table for discussion at Tuesday's working session. It's also not clear, if he pulls 2680-1, whether Rep Smith Warner will then also move forward on HB3343, the contribution limit bill we prefer. If so, she will have to schedule a working session soon. Thus it's too soon to say what this all means, but one thing is for certain...WE ARE MAKING OUR VOICES HEARD!!!
Thanks so much to everyone who has called or written or texted members of the legislator. We are clearly getting through. Now is not the time to let up, though, since we aren't certain how things will play out on Tuesday and we aren't certain what will become of contribution limits if 2680 does become purely a public financing bill.
We should continue to contact our legislators, but now with a slightly revised message:
continue to express opposition to 2680-1 and our preference for 3343 in terms of contribution limits
acknowledge posting of HB2680-12, which appears to now be a purely public financing bill that we are still reviewing but are optimistic about, and
assuming that this is the case, urge the Rules Comm to immediately push forward with HB3343 as well.
5/28/21 This Oregonian editorial highlights the loopholes in HB 2680 and calls for enactment of HB 3343.
Let's Keep the Pressure On!
5/26/21 Pressure is building on the legislature to pass real reform. Today's Oregonian published an editorial amplifying our concerns titled "Campaign finance reform bill missing the reform" (Oregonian_editorial). We have also heard from Rep Smith Warner's office (she is chair of House Rules Committee where these bills sit) that they have been getting a lot of calls and letters from COIN members expressing concern about HB2680 and support for HB3343. The women we spoke with wasn't sure if there was any chance of HB3343 being resurrected, but she did assure us that our concerns are being heard. Also, the Honest Elections OR and partner groups report they have had some additional conversations with Rep Rayfield (chief sponsor of HB2680) and other key parties. So our efforts are starting to show some impact. Let's keep it up. If you want to write letters, see the 5/25/21 post below. If you want to call Rep Smith Warner's office, see our Facebook call to action (FB_call_to_action).
With a little more than a month to go before sine die, six bills that we support have passed and one that we opposed has died. Here’s the Bill Status Spreadsheet, where the members of the Legislative Team track the current status of all of the bills we are following.
And, here is a slightly more readable, simplified version in a grid format. Please look at the spreadsheet and the grid and identify the bills that you care most about and push your legislators to do the right thing!
Campaign Finance Update
5/25/21 Despite our support for the contributions limit bill proposed by Rep Salinas, HB3343, the House Rules Committee has decided to focus on Rep Rayfield's bill, HB2680. Unfortunately HB 2680 has major flaws and it is urgent that we let our legislators know this. The first working session for this bill is on Friday, May 28, and the time to act is now! Honest Elections Oregon and its affiliated partner organizations have identified the various problems with HB2680 and proposed fixes for them. We just need to get Rep Rayfield and the House Rules Committee to work with Honest Elections Oregon to apply these fixes.
Bill Vollmer is sending letters out to various legislators on behalf of Act for Democracy and COIN. These include generic letters to the co-sponsors of HB 2680 and to the members of the House Rules Committee, as well as letters to House Speaker Kotek, Senate President Courtney, and Sen Wagner, chair of the Senate Rules Committee. The latter three individuals, due to their positions, can exert a lot of influence on pending legislation. Many of us are represented by legislators with key roles. For instance, Rep. Reynolds and Sen. Dembrow are co-sponsors of HB2680, and Rep. Barbara Smith Warner is the Chair of the Rules Committee, where the bill currently sits.
THE ASK: We need you to reach out to your legislators, as well as to Rep Rayfield, co-sponsors of the bill, members of the Rules Committee, and to Speaker Kotek, President Courtney, and Sen Wagner. At this stage, it is OK for us to contact committee chairs and legislative leadership about bills, even if these key players don’t represent us! If you have limited bandwidth, focus on the bill's sponsors and on members of the Rules Committee, especially if you are a constituent of one of them or otherwise have a relationship with them. To make this task as painless for you as possible, feel free to use Bill's letters as a template. They are located here. We just suggest that you modify the language a bit to personalize it to you. The goal is to get as many letters sent to as many legislators as possible before this Friday's work session. Let them know your concerns about the bill and encourage the active participation of Honest Elections Oregon in revising the bill.
Here are links to some additional resources to assist you:
1. By passing ballot measure 107 last fall, Oregon voters sent a clear msg that they
want campaign finance reform.
2. HB2680-1 has major loopholes in the bill as per May 13 testimony
3. Candidates receiving public matching funds for small donations should not be allowed to
also accept large money donations
5. Allows for excessively high in-kind contributions of staff time by certain organizations
Letter to the Editor Published Regarding Big Money in OR Politics
5/21/21 The Oregonian has published the following letter to the editor written by Bill Vollmer, A4D member:
In its 2019 series “Polluted by Money”, the Oregonian documented the enormous influence of Big Money in Oregon politics. By overwhelmingly passing BM107 in 2020, Oregon voters indicated this needs to stop. It was therefore troubling to read an Oregonian article on April 29 suggesting big donors are getting an outsized voice in discussions over the campaign contribution limits in bills currently being negotiated in Salem. This cannot be tolerated. Two bills addressing contribution limits, HB2680 and HB3343, are being considered by the House Rules Committee. (The Senate Rules Committee is apparently waiting for a House bill to pass before taking further action on this issue.) Various citizen-advocacy organizations, including Common Cause, Honest Elections Oregon, and the Consolidated Oregon Indivisible Network (COIN), have come out in support of the lower limits and simpler implementation structure of HB3343. These organizations and others have noted various loopholes in HB2680 that would allow donors to circumvent contribution limits. This is not acceptable, and while sponsors of HB2680 and HB3343 are reported to be working closely to reconcile these bills, it is essential that any resulting bill should avoid such loopholes and have strong enforcement provisions. Public financing, as reflected in HB2921, is another essential component of good campaign finance reform and one that has been supported by a wide coalition of citizen-advocacy organizations including those mentioned above. All Oregonians should contact their legislators to support meaningful campaign finance reform this session as called for in the passage of BM107.
William M Vollmer
Ways and Means Co-Chairs Announce Dates
for 2021 Oregon Budget Virtual Hearings: SALEM – The Co-Chairs of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means today announced the dates for the 2021 Oregon Budget Virtual Hearings to receive public feedback on how the Legislature should balance the state budget and use federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act
Response from Legislator
Here is a letter Mary received from Rep. Pam Marsh, in Jackson County, on Friday, April 16, regarding the COIN recommendation on legislation by the Consolidated Oregon Indivisible Network.
Call to Action: COIN Bill Recommendations
The Consolidated Oregon Indivisible Network (COIN) has made recommendations on 55 bills now before the Oregon legislature. Last week COIN sent out emails to House and Senate leadership and every member of both the House and the Senate about their recommendations, encouraging legislators to consider them when they vote. This document listing the 55 bill recommendations was included in the email.
To amplify COIN’s effort, we ask that you reach out to your representative and senator and remind them of the email and COIN’s recommendations. Below is a sample text you can use:
Dear [name of Senator or Representative],
I am your constituent in [insert your district]. You recently received an email from the Consolidated Oregon Indivisible Network (COIN) with recommendations on 55 bills currently before the legislature.
I strongly urge you to consider COIN’s recommendations as you cast your vote in the days and weeks ahead.
[your signature here]
Call to Action: Timber Severance Tax Bill - HB 2379
The Timber Severance Tax bill is still alive - Please write the Revenue Committee!
We are asking you for help from your organization's members and affiliates and friends to get the word out on this action alert! The timber severance tax is still alive! Act now to ensure that Big Timber pay their fair share on their timber harvests! HB 2379 had a first hearing in the Revenue Committee and some of you testified to improve it. Well, Rep. Holvey heard you and is offering the -7 Amendment, increasing the percentage of revenue returned to counties to 40% unrestricted. The tax levels are much lower on the smallest landholders, too. In addition, there is more of a break for Forest Stewardship Certification (FSC). Please use the talking points below and write to the Chair of the Revenue Committee Rep. Nathanson to hold a hearing in the coming week. Then send a similar message to the other members of the committee asking them to press for a hearing and vote for the bill. Thanks for taking action for tax fairness and our environment!
Please re-word some of the bullet points below to write Chair Nathanson:
Then write the three other Democrats on the House Revenue Committee:
Dem Member: Rep.PamMarsh@oregonlegislature.gov
Dem. Member: Rep.KhanhPham@oregonlegislature.gov
Dem. Member: Rep.AndreaValderamma@oregonlegislature.gov
[State who you are.] I am writing to ask for a hearing for HB 2379 with the -7 amendment.
It is important to pass this bill to reinstate needed revenue to rural counties at 40% that can be used for any program. My county needs improved services like fire preparedness, emergency services, and roads. (Other county needs of your choice.)
Timberland owners need to pay their fair share, especially the bigger corporations. They have low property taxes and their rapid clearcutting rotations harm local drinking water sources.
The Real Estate Investment Trusts and Timber Investment Management Operations (TIMOs) pay nothing in corporate taxes in the state. The other large corporations pay very little as well.
Fire threats are rising and need to be addressed. This bill consolidates the old Harvest tax and creates a fire management system with more accountability and allows it to address prevention measures to reduce harm to homes and communities.
This bill protects the smallest woodland owners under 500 acres with tax minimal increase at 1%.
It gives a 50% reduction in tax rate for Forest Stewardship Certification. FSC requires sustainable harvesting, protecting the largest trees, using minimal clearcuts and growing multi-species forests, thus retaining more carbon in the soil and in larger trees. Reducing clearcutting and tree plantations improves water quality and quantity especially on the coast.
[your signature here]
You can find your legislators' contact info here.
For Your Reference
Suggested text in support of SJR4:
I am writing in support of SJR4. Oregon is one of only five states to require more than a simple majority for a quorum. The recent excessive use of this tactic by the GOP is inherently anti-democratic, disrespects the will of the majority of Oregon voters, and must stop.
Go here for testimony on campaign finance reform by William Vollmer in support for campaign contribution limits and HB3343, and by David Delk, member and representative of Alliance for Democracy, and Debrah Wong, in support of HB3343.
Go here for testimony on climate, energy, and the environment by Jane Stackhouse on House Bill 2021-1,-3,-4, and HB3180, and by Mary Chaffin on HB 2021.
Debi Ferrer testified recently on behalf of SJR4, which would change the quorum rules for the Legislature. Click here.
Debi Ferrer testified recently in support of SB261, SB262, and SJR3, which also relate to the problem of certain legislators walking out of sessions. Click here.
Mary Chaffin testified recently on SJR4, SB261, SB262, and SJR3. Click here.
Mary Chaffin testified here on behalf of HB 2021, the “100% Clean Energy Bill for All, to the House Energy and Environment Committee for their hearing on the bill that occurred on 3/22/21.