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A look back on Oregon’s 2019 legislative session

Photo Credit: PFT staff

A climate walkout and farmland progress stalled

Almost two weeks after Oregon’s tumultuous 80th legislative session came to a close, the dust is starting to settle. While there was significant policy action on bills relating to housing benefits, health care, PERS and education funding, conservation did not fare as well in the process as we had hoped.

For a complete summary, see our full 2019 session wrap up report.

A quick reflection:

  • OAHP: stalled. One of COLT’s top policy priorities was the passage of HB 2729, a bill that would have allocated $10M to fund the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program (OAHP). Despite a huge upwelling of support for the bill and a rapid loss of farmland across Oregon, HB 2729 stalled out after it was passed unanimously out of the House Committee On Agriculture and Land Use. We are grateful to the sponsors of the bill and we will keep this funding item as a priority for COLT for future sessions.
  • Cap and trade: walkout. The legislature, in dramatic fashion, failed to pass HB 2020. The climate bill, as you might have heard, petered out at the end of the session when the Senate could not gather enough votes to guarantee its passage and the Republican Senators allegedly left the state.
  • There were also several negative wetland bills that gained momentum this session and a few that ended up passing.
  • On a few positive notes, COLT was successful in activating dozens of landowners and land trust advocates from across the state to advocate on behalf of the issues we care about. We were also successful in amending HB 2020 to include a dedicated investment for natural and working lands and we supported the OWEB budget by making a strong case for continued investments in land protection.

After the past six months, we have a lot to reflect on and learn from, and COLT’s Government Relations Committee will soon start to develop the strategies and approaches we need to advance future policy priorities. We welcome your perspective and appreciate all of our members for their individual engagement and their role in sharing the positive impacts of land conservation in Oregon.

–Kelley Beamer

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