Oregon Revenue Package Due Thursday

The Oregon Senate is working on a revenue package that will be able to pass both chambers. This Thursday, May 16, is the day the state will receive the final revenue forecast on which the 2013-15 budget will be built. It is expected that the forecast will be somewhat higher than earlier forecasts, but not enough to trigger the corporate kicker one last time. Once the forecast comes out, allocation decisions for the different state agencies will become more clear.

The final major task is the budget of the 77th Legislative Session. It will be negotiated by the leadership involving the “triangulation” of PERS reform, the K-12 Budget, and possible new revenue. Those major issues loom with less than 60 days remaining in the session. In accordance with the Oregon Constitution, the session must end by July 13 and Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) legislative affairs advisor Pamela Leavitt reports the goal is to end the session by June 28 or July 3. The good news, Leavitt said, is that the Senate Democrats and Republicans are working to seek a negotiated agreement on the three major budget issues. They have invited the House Democrat and Republican leadership to participate. On Thursday, the Governor invited the legislative leaders to his office “in hopes of breaking through a partisan impasse over taxes and pension reforms.

House Bill Address Bankruptcy Exemption Issue

In other news of interest to financial institutions, the House Rules Committee passed HB 3520, allowing an Oregon resident filing for bankruptcy to claim either exemptions established by federal law, or exemptions established by state law. It outlines that Oregon residents filing for bankruptcy can use federal exemptions for purposes of bankruptcy petition, but not exemptions under state law. The legislation specifies that Oregon residents filing for bankruptcy can use state exemptions for purposes of bankruptcy petition, but not exemptions under federal law.

Existing statute prohibits the use of federal exemptions for property in a bankruptcy filing by an Oregon resident of at least two years. The federal Bankruptcy Code, in 11 U.S.C. § 522, allows different exemptions from those specified in ORS Chapter 18. Federal law allows use of the federal exemptions by anyone, unless the individual is a resident of a state that has specifically prohibited their use. House Bill 3520-A permits a debtor to utilize the state exemptions or the federal exemptions, but prohibits a debtor from utilizing or claiming both federal and state exemptions in a bankruptcy proceeding.

Freshman Oregon Legislator Talks About Bill Review Process

Rep. John Davis (R-Wilsonville) shares an insider’s view of getting legislation passed. Rep. Davis allowed us to reprint some insight he offered to his constituents in his recent newsletter.

The American (and Oregonian) legislative process is purposefully designed to be difficult. A bill will take no fewer than 12 steps and four votes of Legislators (in committee and on the House and Senate floors) before it reaches the Governor for signature or veto. Many bills take three or four legislative sessions of tries and re-tries before making it through the entire process. This is why only around 10 percent of the 2,500+ bills introduced each session will actually be signed into law.

As an individual legislator, the sheer volume of bills means that my top priority is carefully reviewing the measures I hear in my committees (Revenue, Tax Credits, Transportation & Economic Development, and Land Use). Typically, a bill is given a public hearing days or even weeks before it is scheduled for a work session wherein the committee will vote to pass or not pass the bill. How do I determine what my vote will be?

Step 1: Read the Bill?

This may sound elementary, but the sad fact is that some legislators seem to forget the actual language of the measure and focus instead on the idea or “intent” behind the bill. The language of the bill is what will become law—not the great (or bad) idea behind the bill, and not the so-called “intent” of what the committee or Legislature wanted the bill to say. In fact, I find errors and substantial ambiguities in a decent percentage of the bills heard in committee, and do my best to make sure Legislature Counsel re-drafts the language so it says what it should.

Step 2: Attend the Public Hearing, Ask Questions, and Take Note?

Having a good grasp of the bill before a public hearing makes all the difference—it allows me to ask questions of the drafter, clarify the language, and get an idea of the subject matter before learning about the area of the law in question during committee. Due to the sheer volume of bills I digest every day, careful due-diligence beforehand allows me to focus my attention during a hearing. In addition, I usually have one of my legislative interns take notes during the hearing so I have an outline of what was discussed. This is important because it may be weeks—or even months—before the committee “works” the bill, and creating a substantive “bill file” with notes, handouts from committee, and answers to my questions is vital.

Step 3: Call and Meet with Those Affected By the Bill?

Sometimes a good idea is clear from the get-go. The bill’s sponsors will have done a nice job of bringing affected individuals to the hearing, and opponents articulated their arguments well. Most of the time, additional work is necessary. I will often have my staff reach out to local businesses, law enforcement, community leaders, and neighbors to determine the impact a bill will have on constituents. Active citizens will call, email, or write to me. Sometimes I will have my staff conduct additional substantive research into the bill—particularly if it involves an area of the law about which I am unfamiliar.?

Step 4: Stop, Look, Listen, Think?

After reading the bill, participating in the hearing, researching the measure, and talking to those affected, I try to take time to stop, step back and consider my principles, listen to my conscience, and decide which way I am leaning. I avoid knee-jerk reactions for or against—since most measures aren’t as utopian wonderful or devilishly horrible as they may at first seem.

 

Questions or comments about the Oregon Legislative session? Please contact Pam Leavitt: pleavitt@nwcua.org.

 

Posted in Advocacy News, Compliance, Compliance News, Federal.