2017 Legislative Session Update

June 9, 2017

On June 1st, Governor Brown signed HB 2005, the Equal Pay Act, and it will go into effect on the 91st day following the close of legislative session. To learn more, please read this article by HR Answers.  

April 28, 2017 

One of SDAO's legislative priorities for this session is fixing a recent Supreme Court decision related to recreational immunity. SB 327 would fix the court's decision by extending the immunity to employees, agents and volunteers. This bill passed the Senate floor unanimously with a 30-0 vote. It has now been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Even though we expect a positive outcome for this bill, we are still encouraging members to reach out to legislators.

SB 481 is the culmination of a year and a half of work by the Attorney General's Public Records Task Force. Mark Landauer with the SDAO Government Affairs Department is a member of that task force and has worked very hard to ensure that this proposal will work for both large and small districts alike. SB 481 will require public bodies to acknowledge a written public records request within five business days and require the public body to fulfill the public records request within ten business days after the end of the acknowledgment period (the five business days). If the public body cannot fulfill the records request within that time period, it will be required to provide the requestor with an estimate of when the records will be ready. However, there are several exceptions to the timelines. Mark worked very hard to include a "safety valve" that eliminates the need to abide by the timelines; for example, if a district does not have the necessary personnel to fulfill the request within the required time frame, or if the request would demonstrably impede the district’s ability to conduct other services. Furthermore, the timelines are placed on hold if the public body needs clarification about the public records request or if the request will cost more than $25 and the public body is awaiting a response from the requestor on whether they are willing to pay for the records to be produced. We are pleased to report that SB 481 has passed the Senate with a 29-0 vote.

Another priority of the association is the passage of HB 2186. Hasina Squires worked diligently to ensure the movement of this bill as it would allow the SDIS workers’ compensation program to certify as a self-insured program using the resolutions districts have already adopted. Currently, only intergovernmental entities can self-insure for purposes of workers’ compensation; SDIS cannot comply with those requirements because intergovernmental entities must adopt ordinances in order to form (not all districts have ordinance authority). HB 2186 has passed the vote in the House and is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate on April 26th.

HB 3203 was referred to the House Rules Committee on April 21st. As currently drafted, it would fundamentally change the way public entities conduct public improvements with "inhouse" staff and would make it very difficult for public bodies to conduct these types of improvements in the future. SDAO is opposed to the bill in its current form, but is working with a coalition of other impacted parties to modify into a product our members can live with.

SB 123 would have created a new kind of special district called a Children's Special District. This bill would permit citizens to petition their county to put on the ballot the creation of a children's special district along with a permanent tax rate to support programs outside of school hours for civics, culture, arts and music, physical recreation, health and well-being, technology, and the development of skills. SDAO was in opposition of this measure and testified against it alongside several other local government entities due to its duplicative nature and the potential for compression. SB 123 passed out of committee on a 4-1 vote but was sent back to the committee from the floor after concerns were raised about the bill’s potential impact on the $5 measure 5/50 cap.

SB 202 was introduced by SDAO and the Association of Oregon Counties to prohibit cities from imposing charges on other public bodies for the use of city’s rights of way (franchise fees) that exceed cities’ actual costs. During the testimonies, the committee was highly engaged and interested. The bill, however, did not make it out of committee. SDAO plans to reintroduce the bill during the next session using feedback provided from the hearing.

Hasina testified against HB 2363 which would have authorized counties to withhold costs of assessing property and collecting property taxes from taxing districts. This bill would allow counties to collect two percent of each taxing district’s tax distribution in order to cover costs of assessment and taxation. The bill is still alive in committee but is not scheduled for future hearings at this time.

SDAO’s legislative tracking and summary reports are updated on a weekly basis. If you are interested about some of these measures and how they are progressing, please visit SDAO's website where you can see all the bills that are being tracked, what they propose to do, and where they are in the legislative process. If you have any questions, please contact us at sdao@sdao.com.