By Darrell W. Fuller
The U.S House Agricultural Committee held a “listening session” in Albany on Friday, June 2nd, to take testimony on the 2023 Farm Bill. Two Oregon members of Congress – Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-5th) and Andrea Salinas (D-6th) sit on the Agriculture Committee.
Working with NSPS Lobbyist JB Byrd and PLSO Lobbyist Darrell Fuller, local Professional Land Surveyor Tony Brooks provided testimony on behalf of surveyors during the hearing. NSPS is lobbying members of the Agricultural Committee to include the BASE Mapping Act as an amendment to the 2023 Farm Bureau. Both before and after the hearing, Brooks and Fuller met with members of the Congress attending the hearing (including Chair Glenn “GT” Thompson from Pennsylvania, and two visiting Members from California, Doug LaMalfa and David Valadao) to answer questions.
PLSO members also lobbied for the BASE Mapping Act and FEMA NFIP during a trip to Washington, DC in late March. NSPS Director from Oregon, Pat Gaylord, joined Brenton Griffin, Ben Stacy and Fuller to visit Oregon’s delegation of Senate and House Members. It was a very productive trip.
The 82nd Assembly of the Oregon Legislature began on January 9, 2023. The Constitution requires them to finish by June 25th. But the session appears to have ended in early May when Senate Republicans started a “work stoppage” or strike. By refusing to attend the daily floor sessions to vote on potential legislation, Senate Republicans have brought the Capitol to a screeching halt. Democrats, who have a commanding majority in the Senate (and the House), do not have enough members to constitute a quorum to do business. So, when the Republicans walk out, the Democrats can’t do anything.
At this point, it appears the Republicans will stay until, forcing the session to end with no budget and hundreds of bills dying without final action on the Senate floor. Lacking a budget, the Legislature will need to return at some point to pass a budget – the only constitutional obligation of the Assembly. Earlier this year, the Legislature did pass a Continuing Resolution which allows the government to continue operating without a new budget (the fiscal year begins July 1st) until September 30th.
Without getting into the reasons for the walkout, which have nothing to do with land surveying or business-related issues, the walkout does impact issues of import to surveyors. It is best to categorize it as “good news/bad news”.
The good news is the walkout has effective killed House Bill 3187 (see below), which would have allowed someone who is not a surveyor, engineer or geologist sit for the CWRE test. This is bad public policy and PLSO and ACEC were in the pitched battle to stop the bill from becoming law.
The bad news is the walkout has also frozen Senate Bill 848 (also see below), which PLSO has been working on for years. SB848 would have protected design professionals from some so-called Duty to Defend provisions in contracts. SB848 was carefully negotiated and no opposition. It is in the queue to pass without opposition, but only if Republicans return before the June 25th deadline.
I don’t have any special “insider” information, but my prediction at this point is the session ends June 25th, the politicians all go home to celebrater Independence Day and after a cooling off period (tensions are pretty high at the Capitol right now), staff and leadership will begin looking for a path forward. Then, they will return in late August or early September to adopt a consensus budget (before the September 15 shut down deadline). The special session may also include a small number of bills. But this is truly just a guess. It is possible an agreement will be reached before the June 25th deadline.
PLSO PRIORITY BILLS
On behalf of PLSO, I follow bills which will, or may, have an impact on land surveyors. I also track bills with a general impact on business in Oregon. Below are links to both the industry-specific bills I am tracking, and the general businesses bills I am tracking. Here is some information on just a couple of the major bills of interest:
House Bill 3187 / Bill Information
Summary: Makes individuals who possess relevant technical experience and are employed seven or more years by certain types of districts, and certain types of registered professionals, eligible to apply for
certification as water right examiners. (Bold added by amendment, italic deleted by amendment from original bill)
Relating To: Relating to water right examiners; amending ORS 537.797 and 537.798.
5/30/23 S Recommendation: Do pass with amendments to the A-Eng. bill. (Printed B-End.)
5/17/23 S Work Session held (bill amended and passed out of committee)
4/19/23 S Public Hearing held (PLSO testified against the bill).
3/31/23 S Referred to Natural Resources.
3/28/23 S First reading. Referred to President's desk.
3/27/23 H Third reading. Carried by Owens. Passed.
3/23/23 H Rules suspended. Carried over to March 27, 2023 Calendar.
3/22/23 H Second reading.
3/21/23 H Recommendation: Do pass with amendments and be printed A-Engrossed.
3/14/23 H Work Session held.
2/14/23 H Public Hearing held.
2/2/23 H Referred to Agriculture, Land Use, Natural Resources, and Water.
2/2/23 H First reading. Referred to Speaker's desk.
Senate Bill 848 / Bill Information
Summary: Extends provision relating to indemnification provisions in construction agreements to all types of damages. Provides that extent of obligation of person providing certain services to defend, indemnify or hold harmless another may be determined only after person's liability or fault is determined by adjudication or alternative dispute resolution or otherwise resolved by mutual agreement.
Relating To: Relating to construction agreements; creating new provisions; and amending ORS 30.140.
4/12/23 S Referred to Ways & Means by order of the President.
4/12/23 S Recommendation: Do pass with amendments and be referred to Ways & Means.
4/3/23 S Work Session held.
3/1/23 S Public Hearing held.
2/23/23 S Public Hearing Cancelled.
2/3/23 S Referred to Judiciary.
2/2/23 S Introduction and first reading. Referred to President's desk.
Darrell Fuller has been a lobbyist in Salem since 1996. He can be reached by phone at 971-388-1786 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.