For legislative information on ACCOs latest activities please contact Kelly Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2011 Legislative Report
By all accounts the 2011 Oregon Legislative Session tackled some major issues in a spirit of cooperation. With an equally divided House of Representatives and a State Senate with the barest of majorities for Democrats, legislative leaders generally succeeded in maintaining civility while passing landmark legislation. And in a sharp departure from his previous stint as governor, Governor Kitzhaber vetoed only one bill this session, testimony to the close working relationship developed between the Governor and legislators of both parties. The Legislature meets again for a 35–day session beginning February 1, 2012.
ACCO's bill, HB 2565, to correct the way Oregon's corporate minimum tax applies to cooperatives was replaced with HB 3058 to accomplish our goal. The bill passed without a negative vote despite a lot of drama at the end of the session. HB 3058 says that "Oregon sales" does not include sales representing business done with or for members of the agricultural cooperative. Those sales, then, are not subject to the minimum tax..
Thanks to all the ACCO members who contacted their legislators explaining the importance of this legislation. And a special thanks to David Buck at AKT in Salem who testified on the bill in both the House and Senate and generally provided expert tax counsel throughout the process. In addition I'm grateful for Sharon Appelt from Darigold who came to the Capitol to provide vital input to the bill drafter in Legislative Counsel and to legislators. I also appreciate the guidance of Jack Sebastian of Norpac Foods and Lisanne Currin of Morrow County Grain Growers who provided advice as the bill struggled to overcome roadblocks..
We also had broad support in the agriculture community especially from the Oregon Wheatgrowers League. Of the many efforts this session, HB 3058 was the only bill to pass that amended the corporate minimum tax law..
Other bills related to ORS Chapter 62, the cooperative statute, were more technical in nature. Among those were a bill to prohibit a corporation or cooperative from denying director indemnification if the corporation or cooperative previously granted indemnification and a measure related to conversion from one type of business entity to another. My thanks to Bill Hutchison at Lane Powell who was also available to review bills and note any potential dangers for cooperatives..
What follows is a summary of the other key agricultural legislative issues.
• $3.5 billion shortfall to maintain current level of services
• Balanced budget w/o general tax increases + $475 million ending balance
• OSU Statewide programs – budget cut reduced from 20% to 8%
• ODA budget – overall 2.4% decrease; 3.1% GF decrease; increase fees – CAFO, seed dealers, shellfish rejected pet food license fee general fund increases for marketing, predator control, wolf compensation, hen cages
• Oregon Cattlemen's Association successful
• Wolf compensation program in conjunction with interested counties
• Grants to counties – compensate for loss from wolves; financial assistance to implement management techniques and nonlethal methods
• Bill to allow killing of wolves did not pass
• Allow license applicant to make a voluntary contribution for predatory animal control
• No extension of tax credit for crop donation, riparian land set aside, reforestation or diesel engine retrofit
• Sunset on Farmworker Housing Tax Credit – January 1, 2014
• Reconnected Oregon tax code with federal including depreciation and expensing
• Provides a tax credit for natural resources estates on inheritance taxes
• Allow farmers to remove up to 100 cubic yards of material from a waterway, for the purpose of maintaining drainage and protecting agricultural land
• Create outright permitted use of irrigation reservoirs, canals, delivery lines, and accessory operational facilities associated with an irrigation district
• Clarifies grass seed contract requirements, payment terms and dates, and dealer licensing
• Requires license for ag, vegetable and flower seed wholesaler
• Exempts from licensing and inspection farmers whose annual sales at farmers markets and direct sales to the public total less than $20,000.
• Allows the slaughter of up to 1,000 poultry annually w/o license.
• Expand opportunities for farmers to supplement with agri-tourism activities incidental to farming activities.
• Expand allowable activities at wineries including food service
• Extend "sunset" authorizing guest ranches from 2012 to 2018. Prohibits in certain federally designated areas
• Authorize expansion of an existing guest ranch in Grant County to include 575 units of overnight accommodations and commercial uses.
• Declares noxious weeds a threat to Oregon economy; establishes grant program to assist county weed control districts
• Establishes standards of identity, quality, and labeling for honey sold in Oregon
• $200,000 support for schools to purchase foods produced or processed in Oregon.
• Phases in through December 31, 2025, American Humane Association's farm animal welfare program standards for certification of "enriched colony facility systems".
• Expand criteria to satisfy the income standard to establish addition dwelling on a farm.
• Allow modification of biodiesel in order to address winter temperature issues.
• Abolishes Oregon Grains and Highland Bentgrass Commissions. Transfers records and property to the Wheat Commission and Fine Fescue Commission.
• Exempt from construction contractor license ag drainage, ag tiling, irrigation and livestock fencing businesses
• Prohibits sale of gift card that cannot be redeemed for cash when face value declines to less than $5 and card has been used for at least one purchase.
Key bills that did not pass
• Consolidation of natural resource agencies
• Reservation of certain positions on State Board of Agriculture
• All immigration–related bills
• Creation of a state bank
• Provides ODA regulations and water quality management plans are exclusive agriculture water quality protection requirements
• Ban plastic bags