With the legislative session set to start February 1, we are reading bills and meeting with legislators, including two new members of the Senate Finance Committee.

Among the bills we’ll be working on:

Film industry subsidies. Tucked in an otherwise routine Senate omnibus bill, SB 1524, is a provision to increase Oregon taxpayers’ payments for qualifying film and TV productions. One item would double, to 20%, the taxpayer subsidy for payments made for employee wages, salaries and benefits for work in Oregon. The subsidy for “all other actual Oregon expenses” would be increased from 20% to 25%.

Timber. One bill would reinstate the harvest tax and increase it consistent with the governor’s “Private Forest Accord,” providing increased revenue for Oregon Department of Forestry and for forestry research at Oregon StateThe second bill would provide funding to small woodland owners who incorporate increased protections to streams and rivers required of industrial timberland owners. 

Cannabis. Two bills would change marijuana taxes. HB 4056 would index for inflation the amount of marijuana revenue going to treatment. SB 1506 would allow cities or counties to increase the tax for purchases made within their counties from 3% to 10%. The increase would draw Oregon taxes toward those of other states and help localities make up for the reductions resulting from Measure 110.

Low-income housing. A bill intended help retain low-income housing has us meeting with the bill sponsors to get it fixed. As drafted, it would give the seller of rental housing an Oregon tax credit equal to the entire profit on the sale if the housing units met low-income standards.

Tax committee changes.

The Finance Committee’s chair this year is Lee Beyer (D-Springfield), succeeding Ginny Burdick, who resigned last fall to take a seat on the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. Beyer, who is retiring at the end of his term this year, was long-time chair of the Business and Transportation Committee. Independent gubernatorial candidate Betsy Johnson lists him as an endorser. TFO knows him, and he knows us.

Two newly appointed senators are joining the Finance Committee.

Rachel Armitage (D-Warren) was appointed to succeed Johnson in the 5th district, predominantly in GOP-leaning Columbia and Clatsop counties. Armitage has staffed two Democratic legislators in Salem. She told county commissioners that she would not seek election in her own right when the term ends with the 2024 election.

Janeen Sollman (D-Hillsboro) was appointed to succeed Chuck Riley, who served on Finance and retired December 31. Sollman had represented House District 30 since her election in 2016; she ran opposed in 2018 and 2020. She’s known to us, and we’ve an appointment to speak with her soon.

Also departing the Finance Committee is Majority Leader Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego).

The House Revenue Committee has no membership changes.