The Intertwine Alliance is tracking this year's rapidly moving Oregon State Legislative session. Let's mobilize for policy that benefits nature and our communities!
We're keeping an eye on other bills not listed here, but so far, The Intertwine Alliance SUPPORTS the following. (Bills in bold are still advancing.)
Senate Bill 530, Natural Climate Solutions
Senate Bill 775, Equitable Representation on Soil & Water Conservation Districts Boards
House Bill 3016, Community Green Infrastructure
House Bill 3159, Recovering Oregon's Wildlife Fund
House Bill 3515, Regarding Park and Recreation Special Districts
We OPPOSE the following:
House Bill 3414, unless Section 2 is fixed - Major rollback of environmental protections
Please read on for info and emerging action alerts for each.
NATURAL CLIMATE SOLUTIONS
Senate Bill 530
SB 530 advances natural climate solutions critical for fighting climate change and protecting our forests, farms, grasslands and wetlands.
Natural climate solutions include:
- Planting more trees in urban areas
- Protecting and recovering watersheds and wetlands
- Planting cover crops on agricultural lands
- Lengthened logging rotations on private lands
- Protecting mature and old-growth forests on public lands
- Protecting coastal communities from storm surge and flooding
These practices offer proven solutions for reducing climate change impacts by keeping carbon stored in our living ecosystems instead of the atmosphere. As we contend with increasing drought, heatwaves, flooding and fires, these solutions will be critical in offsetting climate impacts. Important co-benefits include protecting fish and wildlife habitat, as well as clean and abundant water for communities.
Portland Audubon provides additional information, advocacy talking/writing points, and more here.
EQUITABLE REPRESENTATION on Soil & Water Conservation District boards
Senate Bill 775
UPDATE: Thank you for the many letters supporting SB 775 at the May 23 hearing. For now, this legislation is still moving forward. As one of our colleagues said, "This is just good, plain democracy." We'll let you know when there's another opportunity to support it as organizations and individuals.
More info about the bill
SB 775 relates to urban Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) zone director eligibility. Current requirements for SWCD zone directors are inequitable because they are tied to requirements of land ownership.
Currently, state law limits the eligibility of SWCD zone directors to those who own or manage at least 10 acres of land. This severely limits the pool of viable candidates for this important work.
This requirement is a barrier to leadership opportunities for urban residents, tenants, conservationists who don’t own land, and people of color who continue to be burdened by a legacy of exclusionary laws.
Several SWCDs in Oregon with urban populations are funded through local property tax levies, but the majority of taxpayers in these settings are not eligible to run for SWCD zone director positions. Zone directors represent the majority of the board for most SWCDs, and these positions set policy, and make budgetary and financial decisions governing millions of dollars per year.
This bill will allow anyone who wants to run for a director seat to do so within soil & water conservation districts with at least 250,000 people. In 2019, a parallel bill was introduced by Rep Rob Nosse (D - Portland), but it died in committee due to opposition, in part because it applied to all SWCDs statewide. This bill focuses on six districts with larger urban populations.
Please consider other individuals, groups and advocates who may be interested in supporting this bill and send them this information.
COMMUNITY GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE
House Bill 3016
HB 3016 allocates funding to support green infrastructure projects and workforce development to address climate change and build community resilience. Developed by the Oregon Department of Forestry and urban tree canopy expert Dr. Vivek Shandas at Portland State University, the legislation is modeled after Washington State's Evergreen Communities Act.
Intertwine Alliance partner Urban Greenspaces Institute is working with a broad coalition of urban tree canopy advocates to help develop and advance this important legislation.
RECOVERING OREGON'S WILDLIFE FUND
House Bill 3159
April 11 Update: In this overcrowded legislative session, this bill has not gotten enough support to move it forward. The good news is that the coalition advancing it has developed great momentum to carry into next session.
HB 3159, Recovering Oregon’s Wildlife Fund, secures dedicated, sustainable funding for the implementation of Oregon’s Conservation
and Nearshore Strategy. Recovering Oregon’s Wildlife Fund utilizes a 1.5% increase to Oregon’s state transient lodging tax, one of the lowest state lodging taxes in the nation, to offset impacts from tourism and other natural and manmade impacts to Oregon’s landscapes, wildlife, and fish.
At the request of Congress, Oregon developed a State Wildlife Action Plan in 2005 to assess the health of Oregon’s fish, wildlife, and habitat and create a roadmap of conservation actions needed to sustain them. Known as the Oregon Conservation Strategy and Nearshore Strategy, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has identified at least 294 species of greatest conservation need and 11 native habitats needing proactive restoration actions. However, the current funds available for implementing the Oregon Conservation Strategy and Nearshore Strategy is only a small fraction of what is required to recover our state’s most at-risk fish and wildlife.
ODFW estimates it would cost $25 million per year to implement just 50% of the identified conservation actions in the Oregon Conservation and Nearshore Strategy. The Recovering Oregon’s Wildlife Fund would generate approximately $30 million a year. It's a bold, proactive solution that will directly help at-risk species.
A small governance change with BIG POSSIBILITIES FOR PARKS
House Bill 3515
April 10 UPDATE: Unfortunately, this bill did not advance from committee. We will continue working with the City of Portland and other partners on long-term funding strategies for Portland parks. Rest assured you will hear more on this topic in the months to come!
Our region sorely needs more flexible and stable funding options for parks and recreation. One such funding mechanism is the park and recreation special district. These districts can be an effective governance option to provide critical park and recreation services, but under current law, a city council is not allowed to be the governing body.
HB 3515 would amend ORS 266 to allow a city governance option for a park and recreation special district in cities with populations over 600,000.
This bill would lay the foundation for the City of Portland and other larger cities in our region to pursue park and recreation special districts -- which we think are an important strategy to stabilize parks over the long haul.
ACTION ALERT: A public hearing is scheduled for Thur, March 30, at 1 p.m. The Intertwine Alliance will be there with a City of Portland panel. Please submit written testimony indicating support now and up until 48 hours after the hearing. The message can be simple: We support HB 3515 as a critical step toward the long-term health and vitality of Portland parks!
Major rollback of environmental protections
House Bill 3414
We strongly oppose HB 3414 unless Section 2 is remedied.
The Intertwine Alliance supports the Governor and Democratic leadership’s efforts to increase housing affordability and supply across the state. But we strongly oppose the strategy they’ve laid out in Section 2 of HB 3414, which would facilitate the biggest rollback of urban environmental protections that Oregon has ever seen.
As written, Section 2 of HB 3414 would require municipalities to grant variances (exemptions) to housing developers for a wide array of land-use regulations that were put in place to protect natural resources, community resiliency and livability. This could include protections for trees, wetlands, environmental zones, floodplains, and the Willamette River Greenway - among thousands of other land-use regulations in communities throughout our region.
The number of variances requested from a developer would not be capped, and there is no requirement that they demonstrate their projects will include a public benefit, like including affordable housing or even additional units. Instead, the bill paves the way for greater profits for housing developers and throws urban conservation protections out the window, including 40+ years of work to integrate nature into the built landscape. It would decrease the resiliency of our future housing stock by allowing for full removal of urban tree canopy - only exacerbating environmental justice issues for urban communities.
Please contact your representative today, and urge them to vote No on HB 3414 unless section 2 is fixed.
Lookup Your Representative
Please send the message that if Section 2 remains, we must use the -5 Amendments as a starting point for a future amendment to mitigate the environmental harm and ensure the policy actually increases housing affordability.
Please ask legislators to:
- Strengthen -5 to prohibit developers from seeking variances for resources protected under a Goal 5 natural resource program.
- Strengthen -5 to prohibit developers from seeking variance from local tree codes.
- Strengthen -5 to prohibit developers from seeking variance related to remediation of contaminated sites.
- Strengthen -5 to prohibit developers from seeking variances from the Willamette River Greenway (Goal 5).
- Strengthen -5 by limiting Section 2 to apply only to Middle and Affordable Housing, which will incentivize these much needed housing types.