On June 25th, the Oregon Legislative session closed, as dictated by the constitution – no extensions possible. As those following the legislature will know, this session was again marred by the minority party in the Senate deciding to thwart discussion, amendment and passage in the Senate, of tens, if not hundreds, of bills. Ballot Measure 113 (passed in 2022) requiring that legislators taking ten or more unexcused absences would be ineligible for re-election did not have the desired effect. This measure passed by a thumping majority across the state; but the minority party didn’t get the message. They plan to challenge it in court
As a result of the walk-out, many critical bills were threatened. As a result, the majority party members produced a series of packages representing sets of critical bills that has been approved by the Joint Ways and Means Committee and thus were eligible to go directly to the Senate floor for a vote. The vote finally occurred in the Senate on Saturday 14th .where both HB3409 and HB3630 passed, largely on party line votes. One oddity was that HB3409 had been amended in the Senate Rules committee and this was the version that passed. As a result, the amended version had to go back to receive concurrence from the House. That house then suspended rules and concurred with the Senate version. So, both bills are on their way to the Governor for signature.
The packages were: HB3409 & HB3630
TOP PRIORITY Bills included in HB 3409:
- Resilient, Efficient Buildings Package (SB 868, 869, 870, 871)
- Community Resilience Hubs (HB 2990)
- Natural Climate Solutions (SB 530)
- Climate Action Modernization (SB 522)
- Community Green Infrastructure Act AKA TREES Act (HB 3016)
- Climate Protection Program Fee Bill (HB 3196)
- Medium and Heavy-Duty EV Incentives (HB 2714)
- Renewable Energy Siting (HB 3181)
- Harmful Algal Blooms (HB 2647)
- Woody Biomass for Low-Carbon Fuels (HB 3590)
Bills included in HB 3630:
- Environmental Justice and Tribal Navigator (SB 852)
- ODOE One Stop Shop (Resilient, Efficient Buildings) (HB 3166)
- State Energy Strategy and Resilience Planning (HB 2534 & 3378)
- Solar + Storage Rebate Program Extension (HB 3418)
- Residential Heat Pump Program Extension (HB 3056)
- Community Renewable Energy Grant Program (HB 2021, 2021)
We are somewhat disturbed by the inclusion of HB3590 in HB3409, but felt this concern was insufficient to negate the package. Thus, we report this outcome enthusiastically.
The minority party in Oregon has long claimed to represent rural Oregon against the excesses of the majority party. The 2023 session represents the year after which this claim becomes no longer credible. The reasoning is as follows: Rural Oregonians live on the frontlines of the climate crisis and desperately need the state to assist in both adaptation to the inevitable climate change that is happening and will happen and mitigation to reduce the impact. We appreciate that the majority party has addressed the needs of rural Oregonians over the resistance and objections of the minority party.