Another confirmed COVID-19 infection caused the cancellation of the Oregon House Floor session on Monday, but we continued our remote committee work, and resumed floor sessions on Tuesday.
Bills are still being read in their entirety, and a computer program is now being used to read hundreds of pages of legislation. On Tuesday, the reading of HB 2111, a housekeeping measure to change the name of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, to reflect its administrative authority, took the entire day and continued on Wednesday. There are nearly 100 bills waiting for their third reading in the House Chamber.
House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee
We had a very productive committee meeting on Tuesday as chair of this committee, I’m happy to report we continue to work in a bipartisan manner to move some legislation through the process.
HB 3173 removes the requirement that Oregon Lottery proceeds for Oregon County Fairs be capped at $1.53 million annually. I signed on as a regular sponsor because county fairs play an important role in the community, providing a social framework, but also as an economic driver bringing in over $80 million in a normal year.
This past year typical events like fairs, trade shows, concerts, fundraisers, and festivals were not held due to the pandemic. Instead fairgrounds throughout the state filled many important functions, including emergency centers, sanctuary for people and animals escaping wildfires, mass testing centers, makeshift hospitals, and mass vaccination sites.
Support for HB 3173 came from County fairs from all parts of Oregon, the Oregon Fairs Association, 4-H, FFA, the Oregon Agriculture Teachers Association and many individuals. This bill received unanimous support and now moves to the Joint Ways and Means Committee by prior referral.
HB 2068 makes the provisions regarding issuance and use of landowner tags permanent by removing the sunset on the legislation. The landowner preference program provides a means for landowners experiencing damage from deer to use these tags to address the damage. This well-established program has been successfully implemented by ODFW for the past 38 years, and while this legislation makes it permanent, it will continue to be reviewed by the legislative assembly in the future on an as needed basis.
This bill is supported by The Rocky Mt. Elk Foundation, the Oregon Hunters Association, County Commissioners from Wallowa and Jefferson, and many individual landowners. HB 2068 received unanimous support from the committee members and moves to the House Floor with a “Do-Pass” recommendation.
HB 3163 changes the definition of residency for wildlife licensing and tags. This legislation came from an anti-poaching workgroup through discussion with law enforcement officials. Poaching in Oregon has become an epidemic and district attorneys find it difficult to prosecute wildlife offenders with dual state residency. HB 3163 requires that an individual physically reside in Oregon not less than 6 months prior to applying for a resident hunting or fishing license and tag. The person cannot merely own property or pay property taxes in Oregon, or claim resident privileges in another state or country for any purpose.
As chief sponsor of this bill, I was pleased to have it receive unanimous support from committee members and have it move out of committee with a “Do-Pass” recommendation.
House Bill 3305
I’ve heard from many constituents about HB 3305, which isn’t a bill that I’m supporting. The bill would phase out the sale of petroleum diesel (with an exemption for agriculture equipment) over the next few years, to be replaced with renewable diesel. Additionally, the bill would require the Oregon DEQ and the State Department of Agriculture to determine if there is an adequate supply of renewable diesel.
The idea for the legislation came from the owner of a trucking company that successfully replaced their petroleum diesel with renewable fuel, with no need for retrofits. The company saved money and got better performance from the trucking fleet after making the switch. While I applaud the goal of cheaper, renewable fuel that works well with existing equipment, I believe the study should be completed first, along with data that shows emission results and a market analysis to ensure there is adequate renewable diesel available at a reasonable cost.
As always, please remember that I can best serve your interests when I hear from you. If you have a comment or concern about pending legislation, please reach out to my office. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, email is probably the best way to have your opinions recorded. If I can help you navigate an issue or problem with a state agency, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Rep. Brad Witt serves House District 31. He may be reached at: