2013 Environmental Scorecard for the Oregon Legislature

The Bill Graveyard

The Scorecard shows how legislators voted on bills that made it to the House or Senate floor. But many other bills – good and bad – never make it out of committee. Others fail on the floor, while still others are sent back to committee before all legislators can be held accountable by a vote. We highlight the best of the best and worst of the worst here in our Bill Graveyard.

Session after session, it seems we can point to a suite of bills and say: “it could have been worse.” That’s true. But, this session, we need to start with “it could have been so much better.” Bills that would have once more made Oregon an environmental leader died in the Senate – in one case even despite strong bipartisan support in the House.


OCN PrioritySB 488 Would have removed sunset on Clean Fuels Program. In 2009, Oregon signaled an intention to become a clean fuels leader with the passage of HB 2186, which established a low carbon fuel standard that would reduce the carbon intensity of Oregon’s transportation fuels by 10% over 10 years. But, a sunset placed on the program has been a barrier to the economic development potential – up to 29,000 new jobs – predicted by an independent analysis. The bill died 15-15 on the Senate floor after misinformation about the program was spread by Big Oil. We are not giving up – climate change is just too important. Visit www.olcv.org/climate to tell your legislators that climate change matters deeply to you, and that you support moving forward with the Clean Fuels Program.

OCN Priority SB 217 An effort to charge a modest fee on water rights holders to fund crucial water management and monitoring programs. There’s a saying, a cliché in the Oregon Legislature, that “whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting.” Water bills are always contentious. User groups argue for more water, while environmental groups fight for water quality, adequate flows, and critical habitat for key endangered species. As the population grows – and as climate change leaves us with less water storage in the form of snowpack – we know that we need more information in order to better plan for water use in the future. This attempt to provide more dollars in order to get that information fell short, although an interim work group will continue the conversation.

Special FocusHB 3162 Would have required disclosure and phase out of harmful chemicals in children’s products. There is a lack of oversight of toxic chemicals added to children's products. This bill sought to address that glaring problem by mirroring an existing disclosure policy in Washington state, and then took the next step by requiring those chemicals be phased out of certain children’s products. This bill passed the House with strong bipartisan support, but was sent back to committee from the Senate floor on the very last day of session. This was perhaps the least favorite bill of the corporate lobby this year, but conservation groups and legislative champions aren’t giving up. How about you? Visit www.olcv.org/toxics to tell your legislators that you support the Toxics Disclosure for Healthy Kids Act.

OCN PrioritySB 401A Required the State Parks and Recreation Department to comply with current law by undertaking a study of Oregon waterways for possible designation as State Scenic Waterways. A State Scenic Waterway designation protects the natural, free flowing qualities of rivers, allowing for the responsible use and development of neighboring lands and prioritizing scenic, ecological, and recreational resources. The bill died in the Ways and Means Committee, but the Governor's office promised to direct the State Parks and Recreation Department to undertake a similar study.

HB 3492 Adds air toxics to DEQ’s Toxic Use Reduction Program. Died in the Ways and Means Committee after polluters said it would take too much work – and cost too much money - to track their air emissions. Meanwhile, Oregon has some of the dirtiest air in the country.


OCN Major ThreatHB 2255 Would have allowed super-siting of industrial development outside any urban growth boundary in certain circumstances, including on farm and forest lands. It also would have limited the ability of citizens and others to participate in siting decisions or to appeal them.

OCN Major ThreatHB 3437 Would have required members of the Fish and Wildlife Commission to hold a hunting, fishing, or shellfish license for at least ten consecutive years prior to their appointment. Such a requirement would exclude the vast majority of Oregonians from serving on the Commission.

OCN Major ThreatSB 846An attempt to undermine key river protection laws in order to increase withdrawals from the Columbia and tributaries. Just before the Legislature convened, a diverse set of stakeholders reached a historic agreement on water in the Umatilla basin that provided a path forward for new water for farmers in a manner that protected instream flows needed for Columbia River fish. Luckily, this bill did not pass and the agreement can move forward.

SB 845An end-run around our land use planning system for a secret potential “big fish” employer in Western Washington County, especially worrisome given the rich farmland of that region and the recent contentious local land use process that left various groups appealing the final outcome.

SJM 10 Urged Congress to adopt federal forest policy that would strip crucial protections for water quality, wildlife, and habitat. While memorials generally do not generate significant attention because they express a sentiment without establishing policy, SJM 10 would have sent a confusing message to our federal delegation as they wrangle with tough choices regarding federal O&C lands.

HB 2624 Would have allowed counties to exempt themselves from a statewide ban on using dogs to hunt cougars and bears, overturning the will of Oregon voters who have twice voted to ban such inhumane hunting tactics.

“OLCV and OCN are in the Capitol every day, standing up for the environmental values that Oregonians hold dear. They don’t give up, no matter what obstacles are thrown their way.”
Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer (D-Portland), part of OLCV’s 2013 Dynamic Duo

Fighting for Our Land Use System

In the last ten days of the 2013 session, four bills that would have rolled back our state’s land use system came up for consideration. “Horsetrading” is a phenomenon in any legislative body, but this year, the trend became especially disturbing. One bill – HB 2898 – initially allowed recent high school graduates with special needs to gain access to higher education opportunities. It was amended to include an unrelated end-run around land use laws for a police training facility at Scappoose Airport. HB 2898 was signed into law despite veto threats from the Governor. Another, HB 3267, passed the House without a public hearing in committee and with rule suspensions that allowed it to move from committee to the House floor with little notice. That bill died in the Senate. Read more about HB 3267.

About OLCV

The Oregon League of Conservation Voters is a non-partisan organization with a simple mission: to pass laws that protect Oregon's environmental legacy, elect pro-environment candidates to office, and hold all of our elected officials accountable.

For more information about OLCV, visit our website at olcv.org.

About the Scorecard

For more than 40 years, OLCV has protected Oregon's natural legacy. An essential part of our work is holding our elected officials accountable. The OLCV Environmental Scorecard is not only one of our most important accountability tools, but also a tradition. The first scorecard was published in 1973.

By sharing how each member of the Legislature voted on the most critical conservation bills, we help Oregonians understand whether legislators listened to their constituents, or if they listened to special interest groups instead. It also serves as a summary of environmental bills and includes special recognition of the legislative champions.