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Timber Tax Testimony requested

Published February 23rd, 2021 in Conservation, News, UW Blogs

Dear Douglas County Water and Forest Advocates:

It is time to testify and lobby for improved timber tax fairness.  SIGN UP TODAY (LINKS BELOW)

We are calling on you to participate in a public hearing (or written testimony) on the Severance Timber tax bills on Thursday, Feb 25th and the bill getting rid of the OR Forest Resources Institute is on Tue, March 2nd both at 3:15 pm.

Please testify to markedly improve HB 2379—The Timber Tax Severance bill currently in the Committee is not the Citizens bill. It provides 50% to firefighting, 25% to counties for fire preparedness and firefighting. The rest goes to other Harvest Tax items (Dept. of Forestry and OSU dept of Forestry and Research as it phases out the existing Harvest Tax).

Please testify to improve the severance tax bill for the following reasons:

  1. Rural counties need revenue from timber harvest like they used to get. It is time to reinstate the tax and return 60% to counties as property tax where the harvest occurred.  Then explain what you would fund in your county. (read the OPB article on this topic for Tax Fairness). (Note: Douglas County received $4,627,000 in severance tax in 1997. The taxation rate on the westside was about 3.2% at the time during its phase out. Assuming a similar level of logging, in 2020 dollars and applying 60% return of a 6.5% tax rate proposed by results in Douglas County receiving about $9,248,000 based solely on timber volume.  The bill calls for tax on the “value” of the logs not volume alone. Current value of logs is quite high.
  2. Drinking water is not being protected from logging roads, steep slope erosion and pesticide runoff.  We need to provide Department of Environmental Quality the power to enforce and improve regulations in logging to protect drinking water.  If a community doesn’t have drinking water it can’t exist.   (see more specific talking points below)
  3. Specific funding for watershed and water system improvements
  4. Funding for all counties to prepare and direct protections from wildfire.

Please state who you are and why you care.  If you have a personal story or community story about the threat to water or loss of county services, please include it. Oral testimony is only 2 minutes spoken. Written can be longer. Pick 1 or 2 major points for the spoken testimony. You can address all the issues in the written version. (Skip below for the links)

Here are more specific talking points you can speak to: (The links are to OPB/Oregonian stories)

Address Threats and actual harm to a community water system. These include:

  • Erosion from steep slope logging, inadequate stream buffers, landslides.
  • High cost of water systems and repairs (i.e. the community needs access to more grant funding to meet upgrade water infrastructure such as filtration plants or wells).
  • Inability to have control over the threats due to laxity in forest practices
  • Help with purchasing watershed land or even water intake area due to high cost.
  • Refusal by some private timber company to allow purchase or payment for lost opportunity to not cut a larger buffer zone
  • Loss of water quantity in summer due to tree plantations growth from 10-50yo taking up water.
  • Higher water temperature and fertilizers promote algae growth.

Tax Fairness and Lost Revenuehttps://projects.oregonlive.com/timber/

  • The severance tax was phased out in the 1990’s with no rise in property tax to cover county services.
  • Some revenue should be returned to counties as property tax
  • This bill calls for property tax to return to counties only for fire preparedness.  All counties need help to support improved structure and space around buildings to protect from fire, so part of the revenue should be set aside to fund this for all
  • Wall Street corporations like Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) or Timber Investment Management Operations (TIMO’s) don’t pay corporate income tax in the state. Their investors get paid individually around the world. They are cutting more quickly for short term gain with increased harm to water.
  • We need public land timber cuts to pay taxes too.
  • What is your county not able to fund? County jail, sheriff dept, libraries, etc.

Incentives for more sustainable logging and longer rotations:

  • Lower taxes to reward longer rotations. (this improves water quantity and quality)
  • Call for no tax on land cut to Forest Stewardship Council certification. (no significant clearcut and selective logging increases jobs on the land, but costs more)

Wildfire preparedness—is the best use of money to prevent loss of homes/businesses close to forestland when wildfire occurs compared to proposals for extensive thinning. These include:

    • Emergency planning,
    • Smoke protection for at risk communities
    • Home hardening: increasing retrofits on homes for vent screens to keep embers out; fire resistant roof or siding, cleaning gutters/roofs
    • Defensible space up to 100 feet around buildings in the wild-Urban interface.

For the hearing on March 2nd, there is only one bill to remove HB 2356.  the Oregon Forest Resources Institute-(OFRI)—(read the Oregonian story)

    • They’ve lobbied and misrepresented climate science.
    • Lack of concern for the harms caused to drinking water. (downplayed all the water issues that were covered in the big study-Trees to Tap-in their summary report).
    • Public funding for industry self-promotion should not occur at the state.
    • K-12 education should be provided to all schools on forests. Fund separately.

For Thursday 2/25:

Oral Testimony (Live Remotely)
Registration is required to testify by phone or video link. You will receive a confirmation
email. If you do not, please contact the committee assistant. To sign up, either use the online
form at https://survey.sjc1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bswRll8xn2gWP0a
OR register by calling 833-588-4500.

Written Testimony on Severance tax
Written testimony should be submitted via the Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS) testimony portal. Testimony must be received within 24 hours after the start time of the meeting in which the public hearing is held. Testimony is uploaded to OLIS as part of the legislative record and made publicly available at https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2021R1/Committees/HAGNR/Overview.
o Electronic: https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2021R1/Testimony/HAGNR
o Mail: House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources, 900 Court Street NE, Room
453, Salem, OR 97301

For OFRI testimony on March 2nd, Tuesday 3:15pm

https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2021R1/Committees/HAGNR/2021-03-02-15-15/Agenda

Reply to this email or CALL with any questions or support! Short is good!

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