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2013 Legislative Recap
state_capitol_250px.jpgThe Department of State Lands’ four agency-sponsored bills and the Governor’s Balanced Budget for the agency fared well in the 2013 legislative session. All four pieces of legislation passed, and the agency’s 2013-15 budget will allow us to continue our core programs: building the Common School Fund, regulating Oregon’s wetlands and waterways, administering the state’s unclaimed property and estates laws, and serving as the state partner for the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve.
 
The Legislature approved a $41.6 million two-year budget, which is about 8 percent higher than the Governor’s Balanced Budget proposal. New or enhanced program funding was allocated for the Portland Harbor Superfund cleanup process; upgrading the HVAC system in the DSL headquarters building; converting rangeland in southeast Oregon to agricultural uses; allowing the department to accept grant funding from the Environmental Protection Agency; and establishing a watershed stewardship coordinator position at the South Slough.
 
In addition to DSL’s bills, several pieces of legislation will affect programs and services, and involve staff in a variety of work groups.
 
Agency bills
 
House Bill 2031: Delegates authority to the Department of State Lands for releasing mineral and geothermal rights in low-potential real property transactions.
 
House Bill 2032: Modifies the method of calculating payments for off-site compensatory mitigation, using regional pricing estimates.
 
House Bill 2033: Removes the statutory requirement that DSL administer monies in two small university loan accounts, and returns those funds to the universities.
 
Senate Bill 24: Amends statutes to allow the Common School Fund to be managed like an endowment fund. 
 
Other bills affecting DSL
 
House Bill 2233: Relates to removing abandoned vessels, and will involve coordination with the State Marine Board.
 
House Bill 2396: Adds large woody debris to the definition of material regulated by Oregon’s removal-fill laws, and will involve agency rulemaking.
 
House Bill 2620 and Senate Bill 253: Both bills relate to better coordination among agencies involved in Regional Solutions economic development projects, and direct an interim work group to provide a report to the 2014 Legislature.  
 
House Bill 5008: Supports the establishment of the Network for Quality Teaching and Learning within the Department of Education, funded with $12 million from the State School Fund. The funding is contingent upon State Land Board approval of an additional $12 million distribution to school districts in 2013-15 from the Common School Fund.
 
Senate Bill 606: Establishes timelines and financial processes for removal of wave energy facilities and equipment; will involve rulemaking and meetings with stakeholders.
 
Senate Bill 737: Establishes the Ocean Science Trust to oversee a competitive grant program for ocean and coastal research. The State Land Board will appoint members to the trust, and DSL will provide administrative support.
 
Senate Bill 838: Imposes a moratorium from Jan. 2, 2016 – Jan. 2, 2021 on suction dredging and other forms of motorized mining on approximately 85 percent of Oregon’s stream miles. Directs the Governor’s Office to lead a work group on better coordinating and regulating the activity; and establishes certain conditions on placer mining from Jan. 1, 2014 – Jan. 2, 2016, including a limit of 850 placer mining permits per year. The changes will require rulemaking.
 
The Department of State Lands also will manage a work group on historically filled lands, which resulted from deliberations on Senate Bill 479. Historically filled lands are uplands created before 1963 – mostly the result of navigation channel dredging and maintenance – where land ownership is unclear.