SENATE COMMITTEE ON BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

 

 

March 10, 2005                                                                                                       Hearing Room B

1:00 P.M.                                                                                                                     Tapes  37 - 38

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:         Sen. Rick Metsger, Chair

Sen. Bruce Starr, Vice-Chair

Sen. Jason Atkinson

Sen. Ryan Deckert

Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson

 

GUEST MEMBER:               Sen. Vicki Walker

 

 

STAFF PRESENT:                 Theresa Van Winkle, Committee Administrator

James Goulding, Committee Assistant

 

 

MEASURES/ISSUES HEARD:

                                                SB 1008 – Public Hearing

                                                SB 579 – Public Hearing

                                                SB 574 – Public Hearing

                                                SB 212 – Public Hearing

                                               

 

These minutes are in compliance with Senate and House Rules.  Only text enclosed in quotation marks reports a speaker’s exact words.  For complete contents, please refer to the tapes.

 

TAPE/#

Speaker

Comments

TAPE 37, A

003

Chair Metsger

Calls the committee to order at 1:06 p.m.  Makes opening remarks in regards to the Oregon Public Utilities Commission (PUC) rejecting the sale of Portland General Electric (PGE) to the Texas Pacific Group (TPG).  Opens a public hearing on SB 1008.

SB 1008 – PUBLIC HEARING

020

Sen. Ryan Deckert

Senate District 14.  Begins testimony in favor of SB 1008.  Discusses the rejection of the TPG acquisition of PGE.  Feels it is time for a proposal on the table that would allow for a publicly owned PGE. 

050

Sen. Deckert

Describes the benefits of a publicly owned utility. 

060

Rep. Vicki Berger

House District 20.  Testifies in favor of SB 1008.  Feels a timely resolution is important, but that they should not rush to a solution.  Describes the proposed selection of board members and providing reliable power at a fair rate. 

090

Sen. David Nelson

Senate District 29.   Testifies in favor of SB 1008.  Talks about the importance of this process.  Offers that they don’t have all the answers, but feels this is an important solution for a complex problem.  Advocates finding and addressing the issues of the most importance.

120

Chair Metsger

Asks Sen. Deckert for the advantages of a publicly owned utility in contrast to ownership by the City of Portland.

130

Sen. Deckert

Responds that a publicly owned utility is a much better option, since the City of Portland represents only a portion of PGE’s clients.

157

Sen. Walker

Inquires about the language in the bill.  Expresses concern over the lack of oversight in regards to reporting financial matters. 

175

Sen. Nelson

Replies that is an excellent question and that they need to be careful in the crafting of the legislation.

185

Rep. Berger

States that the timing is right to get the issues on the table and look at potential solutions.

195

Sen. Deckert

Notes the board of the directors for PGE would have responsibility without too much legislative involvement.

205

Sen. Walker

Observes that there are still many questions to be answered as they work on this legislation.

210

Chair Metsger

Explains that the bill is fairly recent and the desire to get this discussion started.  Asks for careful analysis of the bill before moving the legislation forward.  Closes public hearing on SB 1008, opens a public hearing on SB 579.

SB 579 – PUBLIC HEARING

240

Julia Clark

Testifies in favor of SB 579.  Discusses the loss of her father, Mr. Chapin Clark, in a boating accident.  Advocates the need for additional safety training and equipment for boats.

290

Sen. Floyd Prozanski

Senate District 4.  Testifies in support of SB 579.  Recognizes the tragedy that occurred and the need to prevent similar accidents.

317

Rep. Phil Barnhart

House District 11.  Discusses his relationship with Mr. Clark and the shock of his death.  Testifies in support of SB 579.

337

Sen. Monnes Anderson

Talks about the difficulties with ropes and throw bags.  Asks if a knife could be included with the safety equipment if there is a need to cut a rope.

355

Clark

Offers that use of a knife as a safety tool would be included in the safety training.

360

Sen. Prozanski

States that a knife would be an essential safety tool.  Relates his experiences with white water rafting.

383

Rep. Barnhart

Notes that people often assume that guides have the necessary training and experience.   

405

Mari Anne Gest

Testifies in favor to SB 579 as a friend of the Clark family.  Describes her efforts to craft some appropriate amendments.

420

Paul Donheffner

State Marine Board.  Presents written testimony in favor of SB 579 (EXHIBIT A).  Suggests various amendments to the bill.

TAPE 38, A

005

Donheffner

Continues testimony in favor of SB 579 with some amendments.

040

Donheffner

Supports a rigorous training course for tour guide certification.   Describes certification requirements in neighboring states.

070

Donheffner

Notes some possible changes to the throw bag requirements.

090

Mari Anne Gest

Testifies in agreement to Mr. Donheffner’s proposed changes to SB 579.  Advocates comprehensive training for tour guides. 

115

Phil Donovan

Oregon Guides & Packers Association.  Submits written testimony in opposition to SB 579 (EXHIBIT B). 

150

Paul Rainey

Oregon Guides & Packers Association.  Shares the concerns for safety but opposes the current form of SB 579.  Discusses the efforts to reach a compromise in a possible amendment. 

181

Chair Metsger

Appreciates the points that have been made.  Considers that not all people use common sense, and that there is a need for a consistent level of training for tour guides.

187

Sen. Atkinson

Asks if “throw ropes” have been defined as the safety tool of choice.

190

Donovan

Notes it is currently the only one defined.

203

Sen. Atkinson

Wonders if Orange Torpedo, one-person inflatable kayaking tour company, is taken care of in the compromise language.

210

Rainey

Notes Orange Torpedo’s concern that the legislation would be unnecessary for a one person raft.

213

Gest

Offers she isn’t familiar with Orange Torpedo.

218

Sen. Atkinson

Asks the affect of the legislation on Hellgate Jetboat Excursions.

220

Rainey

Replies they would be covered if the exemption for motor boats is put into law.

221

Sen. Atkinson

Questions what requirements Alaska has in place.

225

Donovan

Replies he is not familiar with Alaska’s guiding industry.

213

Sen. Atkinson

Discusses the expense of safety certification courses in other states.

220

Donovan

Describes the variety of safety training options that have sprung up in Washington state.

225

Sen. Atkinson

Notes his concern with regulating the guide training industry in Oregon, since it is so expensive few can currently afford it.

230

Gest

Points out she is open to allowing for some form of “in house” training of guides.

235

Sen. Atkinson

Discusses the definition of “rope” and “knife”.

237

Donovan

States that adding “knife” is new to the discussion.

243

Sen. Atkinson

Offers that they need to define “rope”, “training”, and “knife”.

250

Donovan

Replies that is something new to address.

257

Chair Metsger

Comments that they consider the list of tools needed for safety.

270

Sen. Atkinson

Expresses his concern over the use of some of the tools and that safety tools can be dangerous in the wrong hands.

280

Gest

Welcomes Sen. Atkinson’s suggestions.

300

Chair Metsger

Closes public hearing on SB 579.  Opens a public hearing on SB 574.

SB 574 – PUBLIC HEARING

303

Scott Barrie

Oregon Home Builders.  Testifies in favor of SB 574.  Explains that the bill allows a builder to allow the home owner to know who constructed their home.

343

Craig Chisholm

Oregon Land Title Association.  Feels the disclosure of property information is important, testifies in opposition to SB 574.  Describes the difference between this type of information and the use of deed records. 

395

Chisholm

Continues his testimony outlining his concerns with the bill. 

420

Phil Miles

Oregon Association of County Clerks.  Observes some technical concerns with SB 574. 

TAPE 37, B

005

Miles

Notes it would be difficult to implement as written.  Feels there is a need to streamline the language in the bill.

035

Miles

Discusses the large amount of written materials included in building plans and the problems presented to recording offices.  Reiterates they do not support or oppose the measure.

047

Barrie

Responds to Mr. Chisholm’s objections to the bill.  Replies they are working to find a compromise and clarify the intent of the bill.

063

Chair Metsger

Asks if his intent was to have all the building information provided.

065

Barrie

Offers the intent was to include items such as the written contract and warrantee information on the sale of a brand new home. 

075

Chair Metsger

Wonders if it would be easier just to have a document containing all the building information.

085

Miles

Feels that it would be easier, but notes his concern on having a format that allows for easy recording of the information.

090

Chisholm

Asks how the document would be indexed.

093

Miles

Replies it would depend on the format of the document.

097

Chair Metsger

Inquires if there are other options for where this information could be recorded.

105

Miles

Points out that the document could be attached to a deed or other such record.

113

Chisholm

Relays that there is already a large volume of information recorded on every property.  Discusses potential disclosure problems.

135

Miles

Observes it could be filed with building inspectors when the permits are issued.

140

Sen. Monnes Anderson

Asks about the impact on home remodeling projects.

145

Barrie

Replies it would only apply to the initial sale of a home and not subsequent remodeling.

150

Miles

Notes that in most cases structures are not included in the recording office record.

160

Barrie

Points out that this presents a problem for homeowners.

167

Chisholm

Gives an example of a similar problem finding the historical documentation of a piece of property.

180

Chair Metsger

Clarifies the issue at hand and the need to reach a practical way to craft a solution to satisfy all parties.  Closes public hearing on SB 574.  Opens a public hearing on SB 212. 

SB 212 – PUBLIC HEARING

200

Cheryl Pellegrini

Civil Enforcement Division, Department of Justice.   Submits written testimony in favor of SB 212 (EXHIBIT C). 

245

Pellegrini

Makes remarks on the rising consumer concern over unlawful debt collection practices.

290

Pellegrini

Details the substantial increase in consumer complaints.

310

Pellegrini

Testifies that the credit collection industry is not overregulated.  Describes the measure in greater detail.  Submits a letter written by James Bennett Jr. to the Department of Justice (EXHIBIT D). 

340

Chair Metsger

Observes that they are not making new law, just increasing the ability to enforce laws already in place.

345

Pellegrini

Replies that observation is correct.

355

Sen. Monnes Anderson

Wonders if they will have the needed personnel to enforce this law.

360

Pellegrini

Responds it would be a shifting of resources they already have.

370

Sen. Deckert

Wonders how they would pursue these types of cases.

375

Pellegrini

Notes they would have the power to contact the company and hear their side of the story and take appropriate action.

400

Sen. B. Starr

Wonders how they acted in previous cases, if they didn’t have the needed authority.

407

Pellegrini

Discusses how they deal with current cases, noting the lack of enforcement ability.

425

Barbara Rodriguez

Testifies in favor of SB 212.  Notes the harassment of creditors inquiring about her son who is serving in Iraq.

TAPE 38, B

005

Rodriguez

Continues to describe the harassment she receives on behalf of her son. 

050

Amanda Grayson

Testifies neither for or against SB 212.  Details the harassment she has received from credit collectors when she had not been informed that she had missed a payment.

090

Grayson

Continues to outline the aggressive behavior of creditors and the problems they caused for her.

110

Charles Dickason

Describes that he and his wife received creditor phone calls in response to medical bills owed for her breast cancer treatment.  Details the belligerent behavior of the creditor and the constant harassment they endured. 

160

Dickason

Points out they never received a bill, but received a writ of garnishment.

175

Chair Metsger

Asks Ms. Pellegrini to return to testify.  Wonders if any of the creditor’s actions are currently considered illegal.

190

Pelligrini

Notes Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 646.639.  Offers that it is unlawful to harass or be verbally abusive. 

217

Jim Markee

Oregon Collectors Association.  Testifies in opposition SB 212.  Explains that he was involved in writing ORS 646.639 to regulate credit agency behavior.  Replies that third party debt collectors are regulated by federal law.

250

Markee

Notes the differences between state and federal laws for creditors.  Feels there are already plenty of legal options against aggressive creditors.  Observes that a third layer of legal protection is not needed.

280

Markee

Reiterates that consumers have plenty of recourses.

295

Chair Metsger

Wonders why his association would not want to take action against creditors that are acting inappropriately and hurting their reputation.

315

Markee

References the number of penalties that would be imposed for a single offense.

327

Chair Metsger

Asks how he would resolve the growing amount of consumer complaints.

340

Markee

Notes a recent decline in consumer complaints.  Replies he does not know the particulars of the complaints.

350

Sen. Deckert

Considers that the attorney general should have the ability to contact creditors.

363

Markee

Understands the issue they are trying to address.  Discusses the legal process and notifications consumers receive before they are targeted by collectors.

385

Chair Metsger

Asks Ms. Pellegrini to address Mr. Markee’s previous statement.

390

Pellegrini

Discusses the civil penalty process.

425

Pellegrini

Clarifies the application of federal, state, and civil penalties.

450

Chair Metsger

Closes public hearing on SB 212.  Adjourns the committee at 2:54 p.m.

 

 

EXHIBIT SUMMARY

 

  1. SB 579, Written testimony, Paul Donheffner, 3 pp
  2. SB 579, Written testimony, Phil Donovan, 2 pp
  3. SB 212, Written testimony, Cheryl Pellegrini, 3 pp
  4. SB 212, Written testimony of James Bennett, Cheryl Pellegrini, 2 pp