Legislative Committee Report
As the saying goes, “It is always calmest before the storm” and that sums up the current Grange year for your Legislative Committee. We did not have a lot of activity from June to December, but then the legislative session began after the first of the year and things got interesting! For the first few weeks of the session the Oregon State Grange did not have a lobbyist in Salem. Several district chairpersons, notably District 4 Don Kingsborough and District 5 Dean High, followed issues and forwarded information on proposed legislation that could affect the Grange. Brother Dean took note of several bills early in the session that needed to be followed, and he also drafted Brother Phil Van Buren to attend a Klamath regional meeting about the wolf issue. This meeting turned out to be rather contentious, as you might imagine. Dean also referred us to HB 2006, which would disallow mortgage interest deduction for residences other than taxpayer’s principal residence, and HB 2771, which would phase out the itemized deduction for property taxes based on income. Both of these bills have not moved from committee since March.
Agriculture Director Jay Sexton communicated with us regarding several bills that would impact farmers and agriculture issues, including HB 3249, which would create an Oregon Agricultural Heritage Fund for the purpose of obtaining grants to assist owners of working land with succession planning or conservation management planning. Based on existing OSG policy we were able to submit written testimony in support of this bill to the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The Legislative Committee returned the favor of Ag Director Jay Sexton’s legislative involvement by helping with the Ag Luncheon at the Legislature. This event is held during each full session of the Legislature and is a big hit with legislators, staff members and visitors! Legislative Committee members Don Kingsborough and Mark Noah helped carve and serve delicious BBQ tri-tip to the appreciative crowd.
SB 181 would require non-profit organizations to file for property tax exemption every year, with stiff penalties for failure to file. It passed almost unnoticed in the Senate, and was on the House Revenue Committee schedule when we heard of it. Many members wrote to their legislators or to the members of that committee, and several testified at the public hearing on May 9. The committee chair interpreted the bill in present form as being aimed at 501c3 organizations, not 501c8 fraternal organizations like the Grange (however, the Grange Foundation is a 501c3). We continue to monitor the bill’s progress.
Grange Legislative Day was a success, with attendees from around the state gathering in Room 50 of the State Capitol. A highlight was the introduction of our new Grange Lobbyist Craig Loughridge, who also will be the featured speaker at our Legislative Conference on Thursday morning of the State Grange Convention. Both houses of the legislature were in session at 11am, so members had time to observe the action and then meet again for lunch. We were joined at lunch by Senator Betsy Johnson, a member of Warren Grange in Columbia County (and an affiliate member at Brownsmead in Clatsop Co). Senator Johnson was generous with her time and very informative. SB 181 was discussed extensively at this meeting and after lunch several members, including Jeff Dehne, went directly to the offices of their senator and representative to express concern about the bill.
I’d like to thank the members of the Legislative Committee for their support and participation: District 1 Harold Johnson, District 3 Orrin Schnetzky, District 4 Don Kingsborough, District 5 Dean High. Our District 2 director was unable to continue in the position and Brother Martin McClure recently agreed to accept the appointment in her place. We hope to be able to announce a new District 6 director at this convention.
We lost an important voice with the untimely passing of Brother Scott Colony, our District 6 director. He was actively engaged in political issues in and around Wallowa County. The Grange will miss his influence and support, and Grange members will miss a friend.
Once again the Oregon State Grange has an official lobbyist, but we must all continue to focus on the activities of our state legislature and our federal government. Thomas Jefferson said, “Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.” Thus informed voters are part of the checks and balances of our system of government, and Grangers are setting an example of informed involvement. I’m proud to be a Granger!
Mark Noah, Director, Oregon State Grange Legislative Committee
- Resolutions Adopted at 2017 State Grange Convention
- Policies that were scheduled to sunset and reaffirmed by delegates
The Capitol Granger
This is the August issue of a newsletter written by our Lobbyist, Craig Loughridge. Craig published weekly newsletters during the legislative session and plans monthly issues between sessions. You can contact Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- twelfth issue 07/12/2017
- eleventh issue 07/05/2017
- tenth issue 06/28/2017
- ninth issue 06/21/2017
- eighth issue 06/14/2017
- seventh issue 06/07/2017
- sixth issue 05-31-2017
- fifth issue 5-23-2017
- fourth issue 5-16-2017
- third issue 5-9-2017
- second issue 5-1-2017
- first issue 4-21-2017
Grange members are educated on the importance of civic engagement and advocacy and empowered to serve their state and communities in a variety of ways.
- Community Granges are a place where members can discuss ballot measures and local state, and national issues.
- Current issues of interest include rural high-speed internet, water rights, public safety, school funding and more.
- Any member can propose a resolution that addresses local, state, or federal concerns.
- Grange Day at the Capitol brings members to Salem to experience our legislature in action.
- Host a candidates’ forum: The Grange is non-partisan, which means that Subordinate/Community, Pomona, State, and National Granges do not support or oppose a candidate or party. However, your Grange can invite all candidates for an office to speak at an event. Invite your members, friends, relatives, and neighbors to attend and learn.
- Organize an issue forum
- Research and distribute information
- Involve all Grangers
- Publicize your Grange’s position on an issue
- Recruit new members
- Write a resolution to change Grange policy
- Write a lawmaker your views on legislation in Salem or Washington, DC
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