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Meeting February 18, 2021
Agenda attached https://docs.google.com/document/d/1yYDXB4sXxIfSjDpCRLlj62LCFCQGH66aJ5yPHY5GEAU/edit
We will be planning voter service for the May special district election.  Our questions for Vote411 are due soon after our meeting.  In the agenda are links to the positions that will be on the ballot and generic questions that will appear on Vote411 if we don’t write different ones.   
If you have any specific questions for positions that will be on the ballot, please bring them or send them to me (k.hersh@lwvor.org) before the meeting.  Note that there will be a Beaverton City Council position on the ballot for which there are not generic questions, so we should develop at least three.  We have been asked to co-sponsor a candidate forum that will include the Beaverton City Council position and Tualatin Valley Park and Recreation Directors.  If we choose to co-sponsor, we should develop some further questions but we can do that later.


 
SB 299 Children’s Service Districts
 
by Katie Riley
SB 299 would allow citizens to petition their county to place a measure on the ballot to form a Children’s Service District that would be funded by local property taxes.  The geographic area and amount of the property tax would be proposed on the petition.  Currently, only County Commissioners and city councilors can place such an initiative on the ballot.  This bill would simply allow citizens to initiate and sign such a measure.  It would not enact any measure by itself; that would require a vote of the people in that jurisdiction.
 
Children’s services for out of school time (OST) programs (early childhood, after school, and summer) are underfunded in Oregon.  Oregon’s General Fund is not able to adequately fund K-12 schools or other human services, let alone additional services.  Some State and federal funding is available for early learning.  The recently passed Student Success Act provides for funding after school and summer programs; however, it is unlikely that funding these programs will be prioritized over decreasing class sizes and funding more counselors.  SB299 provides a mechanism for funding these programs locally and sustainably without relying on the General Fund. 
 
A public hearing on SB 299 was held in the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee on Monday, February 8th.  Supportive testimony was provided by a total of 29 individuals and organizations, including the League of Women Voters. Opposing testimony was provided by lobbyists representing a coalition of the League of Oregon Cities, the Association of Oregon Counties, Special Districts, Metro, and several mayors.  Two lobbyists for the group testified that they supported the idea of helping kids but they believed that the bill would cause problems with tax compression.  They did not suggest any alternatives to raising the money needed to support OST programs. Compression occurs when the tax limit has been reached for education (more than $5/$1,000 of assessed value) or all other levy categories combined ($10/$1,000 of assessed value).  SB 299 would be in the “other” category.  While property tax compression for educational purposes is a problem, it is not a problem for the $10 limit for most of the state. No citizens testified against the bill. 
 
The next steps will be for the committee to have a “work session to vote on passing it out of committee for a vote of the full Senate.  If it passes the Senate, it will go to the House and be assigned to a committee which will decide whether to have a hearing before passing it out for a full vote of the House.  This is the 5th time the bill (with different bill numbers) has been introduced.  Last session, the bill made it to the full House for a vote and was voted down, largely due to the lobbying efforts of the same opponents with their argument about compression.  This session, the bill has a good chance of passing--  the COVID pandemic has made it readily apparent that child care and after school, and summer programs are essential for the economy to work.  This is particularly true for women and members of communities of color who have been affected the most by unemployment and will not be able to work without care for their children.
 
Talking with State Representatives will be particularly helpful to support this bill.  Submitting testimony and/or testifying orally will also be helpful.
 
For further information, contact Katie@katieriley.org and/or Sen.ChuckRiley@oregonlegislature.gov
 
 
Request for Action Help
Hillsboro Home Energy Assessment

 
The Washington County Team of 350.org (an environmental organization addressing the climate crisis) has requested help from us.  The city of Hillsboro is currently considering a Home Energy Score Policy.  If adopted, the Policy will require sellers of residential, single-family homes in Hillsboro to obtain and disclose a Home Energy Score Report before listing the home for sale. (Information here) The Home Energy Score allows buyers to assess what the energy costs would be of a potential home purchase.  It would also give recent home buyers information on what upgrades to consider to reduce their energy use and cost. 
Portland set up a similar program in 2016 and it became effective in 2018. Here is an evaluation report issued October, 2020 with an assessment of the program.
Currently the city of Hillsboro is asking for public feedback and 350.org has asked us to help “boost positive community input numbers on a public survey form *that does not require participants to live in Hillsboro* in advance of the February 22 deadline. The home address fields are not required to fill out, so a wider audience of folks can participate with just name and email address.”
Much of the single-family homes in Washington County are in urban unincorporated areas under the jurisdiction of the County Board of Commissioners.  This policy has been fielded with Washington County staff.  There was not much enthusiasm.  But if Hillsboro successfully implements this policy, it could give us leverage to cover more housing in Washington County.
If you would like to add comments to the Hillsboro survey by February 22, here is a link to the form.
 
 

Washington County Strategic Plan
 
I watched a part of the Washington County Board of Commissioners round table work session of February 4th, 2021.
The Board of Commissioners is embarking on a strategic plan process.  It has been more than 30 years since the Washington County has developed such a plan. And much has changed in the County (and the world) since then. The Board is at the very beginning.  They intend to take this year to frame the approach—set up the process that will be used to develop the plan. They figure that it will take a couple more years to go through the process and they are aiming to complete the plan in 2023.  According to the Tanya Ange, the County Administrator, a strategic plan will inform policy making, budget, and department operational plans in the future.
The Board wants to make the process inclusive and transparent.  They intend to develop a process that will engage all communities in the county.
I hope that the League will follow the development of the process and be involved in input using our positions to lead to a plan  for the Washington County we wish to see in the future.

Kathleen Hersh
 
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