By Representative Rob Nosse
Those of you that read this column regularly or have run into me at a neighborhood association or a PTA meeting know that the main concern of the state legislature is raising enough revenue to fund our state’s budget properly.
We are short $1.6 billion with regard to the revenue we need to fund state government and schools at current service levels.
I was a big proponent of Measure 97, but unfortunately it did not pass. Stay tuned — as we are still trying to find another way to raise revenue from business. Post-election, we are attempting to do it in a way that makes sense to business and raises enough revenue albeit maybe not as aggressively as Measure 97.
While we are working on our budget we are working to address environmental issues. Hopefully by the time you read this column, these bills are still alive.
• Oregon has the dirtiest diesel gas on the west coast. SB 1008 has been introduced to address this problem.
This bill would require certain public improvement contracts to reserve one percent of their total contract price for performing retrofits of diesel engines. The money raised could then be used by the state via the Clean Diesel Engine Fund to help diesel engine owners adopt cleaner diesel engine technology.
The Department of Environmental Quality would be required to establish and a maintain statewide inventory of non-road diesel engines and set up diesel engine emission standards for medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks and non-road diesel engines.
Senator Michael Dembrow introduced this bill after convening a work group on the topic for over a year. I am signed on as a co-sponsor and testified during its public hearing. It was passed out of committee and sent to ways and means.
• A year and half ago Bullseye Glass was found to be emitting harmful heavy metals. This was discovered because of a moss study done by the US Department of Forestry.
The Governor requested that the Oregon Health Authority and Department of Environmental Quality work together to clean up our air which lead to the Cleaner Air Oregon initiative.
HB 2269 stands up the Clearer Air Oregon initiative and allows our state to spend money we will get from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Agreement. The bill had a hearing and a work session and was sent to Ways and Means – the Legislature’s budget committee for further work.
• HB 2669 is a bill I drafted to improve the local toxics reporting process currently only used in Eugene. The bill modified requirements for the local community right to know regulatory programs for toxic and harmful substances. Under current law, a community can require toxics reporting. If this program had been in place in Portland, we might have found out about Bullseye’s glass emissions sooner.
• Global warming and reducing carbon emissions remains the most important issue of our time even if for the moment our state’s budget challenges seem more urgent. There are multiple bills introduced to address this issue. One is HB 2135.
California, currently has a carbon pricing system and ideally Oregon would consider this approach. HB 2135 requires the Environmental Quality Commission to adopt statewide greenhouse gas emissions goal for 2025, and carbon limits for years 2035 and 2050. It requires them to create a carbon pollution market.
The money raised would be deposited into Oregon Climate Investments Fund and redistributed back to our state’s residents in grants and programs. HB 2135 requires registration and reporting by certain sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and it changes name of Oregon Global Warming Commission to Oregon Commission on Climate Change.
I think passing bills that protect our environment are harder to pass than tax increases. Too many people worry that protecting our environment means the cost of doing business increases and hits to jobs and profitability. That is too bad.
We know that in the long term protecting our air and water and using our natural resources in a sustainable way is better for human health and our economy.
Thank you for reading and make sure to look for a notice about a Town Hall I will be holding on May 24 at SEIU Local 49, 3536 SE 26th Ave. starting at 7 pm to update you on these and many other issues.