May 31, 2017

Day at the Capitol Brings Lawyers to Salem in Support of Judicial Branch Funding

On May 23, members of the Bar traveled from all over the state to participate in the Bar’s Day at the Capitol. Fifty Bar members took time out of their schedules to meet with 23 legislators throughout the day to discuss the Bar’s legislative priorities: funding for the court system, legal aid, and indigent defense, and the Bar’s law improvement proposals.

Over the lunch hour, legislators, as well as representatives from the Oregon Judicial Department, Public Defense Services Commission, and legal aid, discussed the challenges the judicial system is facing. Justices Martha Walters and David Brewer, introduced by Senate President Peter Courtney, focused on the need to fund Oregon eCourt and the state’s courthouses, and on ensuring that the court system stays at the current funding level. John Potter, vice chair of the Public Defense Services Commission, discussed the need for pay parity between public defenders and deputy district attorneys and the need for consistent and stable funding, while Amy Edwards, president of the Oregon Law Center board, spoke about the importance of funding legal aid services in Oregon. In addition, Senator Floyd Prozanski and Representatives Phil Barnhart, Duane Stark, Karin Power and Richard Vial all discussed the importance of stable funding for the judicial system. Thank you to our speakers, legislators, and to each of the volunteers who traveled to Salem to share the Bar’s support of judicial funding with legislators.

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Bills of Interest in the Joint Ways and Means Committee

The Joint Ways and Means Committee reviews and votes on legislation that needs state funding as well as the budgets of state agencies, boards, commissions, the judicial branch, and the legislative branch. Including the agency budget bills, there are approximately 400 bills assigned to the committee. Below are some of the bills the Bar is tracking. A full list of measures assigned to the Ways and Means Committee is posted here.

      • HB 2191 – Authorizes Secretary of State to investigate alleged or potential violations of business entity statutes and to require business entity to provide list of shareholders and respond to interrogatories
      • HB 2171 – Requires the Oregon Volunteers Commission for Voluntary Action and Service to maintain a volunteer staff of court appointed special advocates sufficient to meet the statutory requirement to appoint a court appointed special advocate in every juvenile dependency proceeding.
      • HB 2356 – Establishes requirements under which a debt buyer may bring legal action to collect a debt.
      • HB 2561 – Directs the Public Defense Services Commission to adopt policies providing for compensation of appointed counsel at a rate commensurate with compensation of the equivalent position within the office of the district attorney.
      • HB 2605 – Increases the number of circuit court judges in several judicial districts.
      • HB 2636 – Modifies annual salaries of judges of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Oregon Tax Court, and circuit courts.
      • HB 2795 – Increases certain filing fees, motion fees, settlement conference fees, trial fees, fees for writs of garnishment, and marriage solemnization fees.
      • HB 2797 – Increases the presumptive fine for violations, including traffic violations occurring in certain locations.
      • HB 5013 – Appropriates moneys from the General Fund to the Judicial Department for biennial expenses.
      • HB 5033 – Appropriates moneys from the General Fund to the Public Defense Services Commission for certain biennial expenses.
      • SB 11 – Modifies annual salaries of judges of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Oregon Tax Court, and circuit courts.
      • SB 106  – Creates the Public Records Advocate and Public Records Advisory Council.
      • SB 503 – Directs the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to establish uniform visitor policies.
      • SB 5535 – Appropriates moneys from the General Fund to the Department of Revenue for biennial expenses.

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      Senate and House Propose Modifications to Corporate Taxation in Oregon

      This year both the Senate and the House have developed legislation to modify the corporate taxation system in Oregon. Both proposals would move away from the current corporate income tax and replace the tax with a corporate activities tax.

      The proposal from the House, championed by House Speaker Tina Kotek, Representative Nancy Nathanson, and Representative Phil Barnhart, is called the Oregon Education Investment Initiative. Like the Senate proposal, the House proposal would eliminate the corporate income tax. In its place would be a 0.95 percent corporate activities tax on Oregon sales above $5 million. The proposal also includes personal income tax reductions to low- and middle-income households, which have not yet been finalized.

      The proposal from the Senate, championed by Senator Mark Hass, would also eliminate the corporate income tax. In its place would also be a corporate activities tax on all businesses. Those businesses with annual gross receipts of less than $150,000 would not be required to file a corporate activities tax return. Businesses with gross receipts greater than $150,000 but less than $1 million would be required to file a return and pay a $250 flat amount. Those businesses with annual Oregon gross receipts greater than $1 million would be subject to a corporate activities tax equal to $250 plus an undetermined percentage of gross receipts greater than $1 million.

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      What’s New with the OJD /eCourt?

      • The circuit court eFiling system (OJD eFiling) now accepts electronic checks (eCheck) as a payment method. You can setup an eCheck payment account through your OJD eFiling account. Using eCheck will help keep costs down and limit future increases in filing fees.
      • The Oregon Judicial Department now offers interview-based forms (iForms) to file and respond to dissolution, separation, and child support/custody cases. A new parenting plan iForm is also available. These forms help self-represented litigants ensure that complete and legible information is provided in their cases. For more information go to
      • New website incoming! The Oregon Judicial Department is redesigning its website to be mobile friendly, have a consistent appearance, and be easier to navigate. More information coming soon.

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      Legislative Schedule Approaches Second Major Deadline

      June 2, 2017, is the second major deadline in the Oregon Legislature’s 2017 session. All bills currently in policy committees must have moved out of the committee in the second chamber by the end of the day on June 2. Bills that have not moved out of committee and to the floor, or to Rules, Revenue, a joint committee, or the Ways and Means Committee will be dead.

      Before the beginning of the session, House and Senate leadership identified June 23 as their goal for completing the legislative session. The constitutional close of session is July 10.

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      Senate Announces One-Hour Notice for Committee Meetings

      As of May 31, 2017, the Senate requires, at a minimum, one-hour notice prior to a committee meeting. While the expectation is 24 hours notice, one hour notice is available with the Senate President’s approval.

    • Prior to May 31, committees were required to provide either 48 or 72 hours’ notice before a committee meeting. If you are currently tracking legislation, please note this new timeline.Back to top


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      2017 Public Affairs Committee Members

      Kathleen Rastetter, Chair
      John Mansfield, Vice Chair
      Guy Greco
      John Bachofner
      Chris Costantino
      Rob Gratchner
      Eric Foster
      Liani Reeves

      Public Affairs Department

      Susan Grabe, Public Affairs Director
      Amy Zubko, Public Affairs Legislative Attorney
      Matt Shields, Public Affairs Staff Attorney
      Kellie Bagnani, Public Affairs Assistant

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