OLCA Legislative Efforts

Through maintaining a strong relationship with our legislative consultant and the Oregon Landscape Contractors Board (LCB), OLCA has assisted in protecting and enhancing local contracting laws as they impact landscape work.

Background:
The State of Oregon is relatively unique as it provides and requires a Landscape Contractors License that is managed through a semi-independent Landscape Contractors Board. This license requires passage of a formal test and allows individuals and companies to perform most landscape work without permits if licensed.

2021 Legislative Update: 

General Summary

What Happened?

That is the question being asked by all but a few who have experience with the Oregon State Legislature.

On Saturday, June 26th at 5:37p, the 81st Assembly adjourned the 2021 Legislative Session. Thousands of bills (~2400) were introduced, hundreds passed (~680). The long, 160-day Session worked and then wrapped up a day early … without a single advocate’s footstep echoing in the hallway.

It is difficult to have a clear memory of just “what happened?”. In a matter of five months the grinding work of the Legislature persisted despite covid, wildfires, ice storms, the budgetary impacts of Measure 110 passing, an unprecedented challenge to the Speaker’s reign, workplace sexual harassment charges, expulsion and armed trespassers - and who could overlook the BILLIONS of one-time federal dollars1.

Just what exactly happened is murky at best.

Fences and Screens.

This was the way that business was conducted. Behind fences and on computer screens 89 legislators, socially distanced and (mostly) wearing masks, carried out their elected duties in relative isolation from the public and the lobby.

The Republicans in both Chambers protested the insistence of the Majority Party to press ahead with the session while no other people were allowed to be present. Meanwhile, Democrats are still not “quorum proof” and so need to ensure enough of their colleagues from across the aisle remain in the building for work. This made for a delicate dance of parliamentary procedure and negotiations. For instance, the R’s employed rules of the game to slow down the pace with which bills could pass, creating a back log and playing against the clock. They leveraged these rules to create opportunities to scuttle specific pieces of legislation or to create a shift in certain power dynamics.

 1 Oh! and the September Redistricting Special Session that will add a 6th Congressional Seat and most likely shake up the House Congressional delegation in an interesting way!

The Democrats in both Chambers were not going to be deterred from producing policy that they know their base can get behind. This session has been wrapped up with a “Reform” ribbon; leadership is packaging dozens of police and criminal justice reforms, environmental and health justice measures and a funding plan that aims to push forward these programs and more. Much more.

COVID-19 kept lobbyists and their clients out of the building. It also kept Legislators in their offices and socially distanced, meaning they were not even seeing each other in the usual way. Committee meetings, public hearings - even votes were conducted online2. Missing the nuances of in person communications, however, proved to have a deleterious effect on morale, if not the advocacy itself.

Once coping with the pandemic gave way to social unrest and the armed clashing of movements, beliefs, authorities and individuals the decision was made to lock it all down. Safety for all who work in the Capitol building is paramount, so sadly - albeit rightly - all of this was happening behind chain link fences and plywood. Even those devices did not defend against a potentially dangerous moment in time, as armed and angry activists burst through Oregon’s hallowed halls.

Counter to best instincts and conventional advocacy, this entire session occurred with very little (read: nearly zero) person to person interaction. The over-arching positive to this situation is that citizens from all across the state were able to participate in the sausage making without having to take inordinate amounts of time off of work or travel for days. Politics, however, is a full- contact, team sport and requires the kind of exchanges that are best executed in close proximity.

To be sure, well before there was the threat of politically volatile rallies or insurrections there were fences put up around the capitol building. They guard the massive construction project that the building has been undergoing for years. They are the same fences that are set to be there until August of 2023 - it is not just covid that will keep us out of the building during the next couple of Sessions. You read that correctly; prepare for another unconventional session in 2022.

Save America Funds!

This budget cycle is outrageous. $29 Billion. It is double prior budgets with the help of federal funds, a crush of cannabis tax dollars and the otherwise rosy economic forecasts simply flying in the face of how the last 18 months have felt. Hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars have been dispersed to help renters, the unemployed, victims of wildfires, communities crippled by Covid and legislators’ districts with outstanding projects or deferred maintenance. Leadership also set aside $1 Billion for future spending/reserves, while celebrating fulfilled service levels and covering one-time expenses and programming needs.

Wins, Losses & Draws…

Depending on when you ask who about what, nearly each legislator will claim a successful session. All of Oregon’s districts and constituencies benefitted in some way from the advocacy of their State Representative and State Senator - click here to find your legislators webpage, latest newsletter and list of wins. No doubt, you’ll also be able to share their lament on some Microsoft Teams to be exact and it made for some amazing and amusing footage from time to time.

losses. For good or for bad, the escalating pace and breadth of these long legislative sessions is matched only by what appears to be an increasing appetite for retrieving failed packages in the short session. So, no matter whether there is work to celebrate in terms of meaningful public policy, there will always be more to do.

OLCA Priorities

The OLCA Legislative Committee, Board of Directors and advocacy team tracked approximately 40 bills of interest and continued our vigilance regarding issues of concern to the landscape contracting industry. While the COVID precautions and virtual process made direct advocacy more challenging for everyone, the voice of landscape contracting was heard! In addition, OLCA worked with other industry groups including the Oregonians for Food and Shelter on pesticide legislation and other business organizations on workforce legislation.

A summary of the bills monitored by the OLCA advocacy team is attached.

Here are the highlights of the 2021 Legislative Session:

SB 94 – Modifies Practical Skills Examination

Introduced at the request of the State Landscape Contractors Board (LCB), SB 94 allows the LCB to provide the practical skills licensure examination electronically as well as the current hands-on exam.

OLCA has historically endorsed the basic licensure, qualification and examination requirements for landscape contractors to ensure some level of minimum competency, professional standards and consumer protection. The association supported the Modified Limited License legislation several years ago as it provides a licensure program for a broader base of individuals interested in landscape work and a regulatory process for consumer protection related to this work.

However, the hands-on examination has been discontinued by the national examination owners and replaced by an electronic version. The new format continues to test on knowledge and practical skills and is available in English and Spanish. Amendments to the bill clarify that the addition of the electronic practical skills examination format would not preclude the hands-on option that would continue to be allowed.

OLCA supported the bill.

HB 3023 – Would Prohibit the Sale and Use of Gasoline-Powered Leaf Blowers

OLCA engaged early in the session with legislators regarding the HB 3023 which would have prohibited the sale or use of two-cycle gasoline-powered leaf blowers in counties with population greater than 400,000. OLCA opposed similar legislation in 2019 as it is not only a severe and unnecessary remedy but is also one that is expensive and difficult to enforce. We have recommended a more reasonable course of action which is for communities to develop ordinances that focus on permissible hours of operation, as well as safe and courteous use of equipment, while allowing landscape professionals the freedom to choose the best equipment to complete our work.

The representative sponsoring the bill who also serves as House Majority Leader agreed that this issue was not a priority this session and would not be schedule for a hearing or work session. It will undoubtedly be back in either 2022 or 2023.

OLCA opposed the bill.

HB 2409 – Homeowner Association Notification of Pesticide Applications

HB 2409 prohibits homeowner associations (HOAs) from applying or requiring an owner to apply pesticide to an owner's property, except to the extent application is necessary to prevent a pest issue that could harm ecological or public health. It requires an HOA to provide, upon owner's request, notice of dates and times of planned pesticide application to an owner's property and means by which an owner may exclude their property from application of the pesticide.

OLCA and the Oregonians for Food & Shelter worked with the chief sponsor to adjust the language around pesticides and notification. The measure clarifies that owner is responsible and subject to enforcement for maintaining reasonable landscaping standards within the community. It also clarifies that provisions in existing or new governing documents that are inconsistent with this Act are void and unenforceable on or after January 1, 2022

OLCA opposed the original bill as drafted and was neutral on the amended version.

Other Pesticide Bills

Other pesticide legislation considered in 2021 included HB 2031which passed and will result in statutory changes to align with EPA rules to maintain Oregon Department of Agriculture’s compliance in the certification, licensing and training programs for pesticide applicators. Bills that gratefully died in the session included a science review panel on pesticides (HB 2192), extreme restrictions on school pesticide use (HB 2406) and a pesticide study bill (SB 342).

SB 569 – Addresses Valid Driver License as Condition of Employment

SB 569 declares it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to require an employee or prospective employee to possess or present a valid driver license as a condition of employment or continuation of employment unless the ability to drive is an essential job junction or related to a legitimate business purpose. The measure also declares it is an unlawful employment practice for an employer to refuse to accept from an employee or prospective employee other forms of identification deemed acceptable for verifying the identity and employment authorization of employees hired in the country.

OLCA monitored this measure.

Other Issues

Other significant legislation passed during the 2019 legislative session included:

HB 2474 – Expands Eligibility for Family Leave

HB 2474 expands eligibility for protected leave under Oregon Family Leave Act to all employees of a covered employer during public health emergency unless the employee was employed for fewer than 30 days prior to commencing leave or worked an average of less than 25 hours per week in 30 days prior to commencing leave. The bill establishes the eligibility to take leave for employees who separate from employment, are eligible at time of separation and are reemployed within 180 days of separation, or for employees who are eligible at beginning of temporary cessation of scheduled hours of 180 days or less and who return to work at end of cessation period. It allows for restoration of time worked by employee when employee returns to work after separation or temporary cessation period. HB 2474 includes the closure of childcare provider or school due to public health emergency as qualifying purpose for which leave may be taken and allows employers to request verification for need for leave due to such closure.

OLCA monitored the bill.

Business Taxes

While OLCA rarely takes positions on general tax legislation unless it specifically impacts our members, we did monitor SB 139 which will impact some of the businesses. As passed, the measure will eliminate eligibility for preferential pass-through entity (PTE) tax rates for PTEs with taxable income above $5 million/year. It will also create additional employment and reinvestment hurdles for PTEs that still qualify. The amended bill is much narrower in scope than the original bill. This preferential tax treatment for pass-through taxpayers has been targeted for adjustment by lawmakers since it was crafted as part of a larger tax compromise some years ago. There will likely be other attempts to reduce PTE benefits in future sessions.

This report has been prepared by OLCA’s government affairs advocates Niki Terzieff and Bill Cross. Please feel free to contact Niki Terzieff at [email protected]. Bill Cross at [email protected]

2022 Legislative Update: 

Arriving at the Point of Inflection

The 2022 short legislative session appears to have kept the temperature relatively low. A walk out and hard ball negotiations - transactional politics that became a hallmark of the past decade in Salem - didn’t splash across the headlines or drown social media feeds. There was no breaching of thresholds, many standard divisive issues were muted and the public was allowed back in to the Capitol. We hardly even heard from the Executive Office as the final term of Governor Brown’s administration winds down.

The Senate, almost despite itself, was business as usual. President Courtney, after having announced he’ll be retiring this year, presided over the final session of a nearly 40 year career in public office. Leader Rob Wagner (D - Lake Oswego) held together a cranky caucus which had experienced something of a personality disorder as more progressive members stretched to get out from under the moderate routine. Among those Democrats that will be leaving are the noted Sen. Lee Beyer (D - Springfield) and Sen. Betsy Johnson (D - Tillamook), the latter running for Governor as a Non-Affiliated candidate (note: this is distinct from the Independent Party).

In the House, a full suite of changes took place as long time Speaker Kotek stepped away to run for Governor and stepping down in the aftermath was Leader Barbara Smith Warner (D - NE Portland), who has announced she will not run for re-election. Instead of selecting known interested party, Rep. Janelle Bynum (D- Happy Valley), to be the first Black woman to be Speaker of the House, the caucus installed Rep. Dan Rayfield (D- Corvallis) pointing to his depth of experience in leadership as the powerful Co-Chair of Ways and Means - top dog of the budget committee.

This created a shuffle of new personalities and life experiences. Now as Speaker, Rayfield left a gavel up for grabs … and a big one. Rep. Tawna Sanchez (D - North Portland) stepped up and has earned the distinction as the first Native American woman to have the power of the pen. New Majority Leader Julie Fahey (D - South Eugene) raised up a team of fresh faces for leadership, including Rep. Andrea Valderrama (D - East Portland) and Rep. Jason Kropf (D - Bend).

That delicate knit of new personalities in nearly every leadership position in the House, coupled with the sun setting on President Courtney and several of his brand of moderates in the Senate resulted in a quiet, yet driving session. Especially quiet perhaps, since they had Sen. Dallas Heard (R - Myrtle Creek) barred from the Chamber for repeatedly protesting against wearing his mask when he came to work.

Certainly there were some hot potatoes, such as a bill that requires overtime pay be paid to migrant farm workers, but most policy proposals came up short as the clock ran out within 32 days. To be sure, it was budget that took the front seat this session. Unprecedented levels of funding were doled out once more, making the biennium one of the most richly funded in history - if not the most. In the past two years billions of dollars have been spread around the state like butter on toast. $2 million for a bridge over here, $4 million for building temporary housing facilities over there, … investment funds, grant funds, agency staffing increases, inflation, taxes, the kicker !!!!!!

What will become of these new programs and positions in the long run? Oregonians may not know until it is happening, but Republicans will tell you that simple math indicates that it is not going to end well. The 2023 Legislative Session will certainly not see the infusion of federal dollars as before, yet that same influx created more items to spend money on - the presiding officers are going to have to scour the couch for nickels and dimes to maintain expectations.

The math the Republicans really hope will not end well for the Democrats is out at the doors this election cycle. They hope that this election cycle will be the inflection point. They just might be right as nearly half of the legislative seats will have a new incumbent and new district lines favor their party. Whether it is due to retirements, redistricting or a renewed interest in creating a political “middle,” dozens upon dozens of new people are running for the state legislature.

May 17th is the Primary Election, when the bulk of the open seats will be determined. Voters’ guides and ballots will be mailed out shortly - so keep your eye on the mailbox.

OLCA Priorities

Spray Sprinklers Standards Enacted

The OCLA Legislative Team worked diligently during the 2022 short session to secure legislation reducing landscape water usage will become increasingly necessary as communities across the state face greater weather extremes in a warming climate. OLCA is pleased that the Oregon Legislature swiftly passed the measure and that the Governor has signed the bill into law.

The Oregon Landscape Contractors Association (OLCA) supported HB 4057to establish water- saving and energy efficiency standards for residential and commercial spray sprinklers.

Introduced by the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources at the request of OLCA, the bill helps address the water and energy consumption issues created by the drought in Oregon, high water usage and waste and increased utility bills on low and moderate property owners using irrigation systems.

Last year, OLCA’s Board of Directors learned the Oregon was the only state on the West Coast that had not adopted energy efficiency standards for spray sprinklers. At least seven states already require that spray sprinklers sold in their states must include an integral pressure regulator and meet the Environmental Protection Agency WaterSense program product specifications. These pressure-regulated sprinklers (PRS) are designed to operate at a water pressure of 30 pounds per square inch (psi) rather than at the 60-80 psi of many water utilities.

Establishing an efficiency standard for new commercial and residential spray sprinklers will reduce irrigation system misting and overspray that is common around urban landscapes.

Current conservation studies show that PRS irrigation devices can reduce the usage of energy consumption in Oregon to the tune of approximately $74 million in 2030 and nearly $130 million in 2040. Analyses also show that PRS devices can reduce water usage in Oregon annually by 5,820,000,000 gallons in 2030 and 8,955,000,000 gallons by 2040. PRS components add $3-$4 to the cost of a sprinkler body but the cost is offset by water savings within the first year making the technology highly cost-effective over the life of the product.

HB 4057 allows the Oregon Department of Energy to adopt energy efficiency standards for commercial and residential sprinkler system devices and require that all sprinkler system devices sold in Oregon after January 1, 2023, meet those standards. The standards do not apply to products for use exclusively with agricultural irrigation systems, hose-end watering products or value-in-head devices.

Other Issues in the 2022 Legislative Session 

OLCA monitored a number of issues including taxes, pesticide regulations and workers’ overtime legislation. None of any consequence to the landscape contracting industry gained any traction with the exception of the agricultural overtime measure which could impact landscape contractors that also own and operate nurseries. HB 4002was probably the most contentious bill of the session and passed along generally partisan lines. It establishes overtime requirements at 40 hours, phased in over a number of years. The bill also creates a refundable personal and corporate income tax credit available to eligible employers that provide overtime compensation to agricultural workers.

The only other bill that OLCA weighed in on was HB 4062which establishes a new pesticide applicator license type. OLCA worked closely the Oregonians for Food and Shelter (OFS) and the House Agricultural, Land Use and Water Committee to narrow the bill to create a new "noncommercial pesticide applicator" license and "noncommercial pesticide trainee" certificate in statute and authorize ODA to administer related examinations. This will make the licensing process more practical and less burdensome to those noncommercial applicators currently required to hold a commercial applicators license in order to perform their duties.

This report has been prepared by OLCA’s government affairs advocates Niki Terzieff and Bill Cross. Please feel free to contact Niki Terzieff at [email protected] and Bill Cross at [email protected]


OLCA Legislative Reports


OLCA-PAC

To support our legislative efforts through supporting candidates who are aligned with our priorities, OLCAs has a Political Action Committee (OLCAPAC), which is administered and operated entirely at the discretion of an independent Board. It is registered with the State of Oregon and files financial reports periodically with the Secretary of State. Its Board consists of landscape contractors who determine which legislative candidates the PAC will support with a financial contribution. Financial support is provided to those legislative who believe that Oregon must have a strong business sector and are committed to the growth and well-being of the landscape industry.

Although administered separate from the OLCA board and leadership, it’s goal is to support OLCA’s legislative priorities. OLCA promotes voluntary contributions to OLCAPAC during our membership renewal and during occasional fund drives. To be relevant in the political landscape, having PAC funds to donate to legislative candidates is vital. Although voluntary, all OLCA members are encouraged to donate to the OLCAPAC.

To make a PAC pledge as an individual, click HERE.

To make a PAC pledge as company, click HERE.


OLCA's Legislative Accomplishments

In the 1997 Legislative Session, the Court of Appeals ruled that home builders could landscape residential projects without a landscape contractor’s license. 

  • OCLA responded by securing legislation that limited the exemption to a general contractor licensed under the Construction Contractors Board who performs landscaping work if the total value of the landscaping is less than $2,500 per residential dwelling and the landscaping work is performed on residential property for which the contractor is under contract for the construction of a new dwelling.

In 1999, OLCA secured passage of several bills beneficial to the industry:

  • SB 1034 which allowed licensed landscape contractors exempt from the “restricted energy electrician’s license” to install irrigation control wiring and outdoor lighting systems that do not exceed 300 volt-amperes per circuit.
  • SB 827, OLCA’s Nursery License Exemption, exempted licensed landscape contractors from having a nursery license if they purchase nursery stock for landscaping projects and not for retail resale.
  • HB 2062 which allowed licensed landscape contractors to perform certain construction activities (fences, decks, driveways, retaining walls and walkways) not in conjunction with landscaping work without registering with the Construction Contractors Board so long as the landscaping business maintained an increased bond ($10,000) with LCB.

During the 2001 Legislative Session, OLCA joined forces with the Landscape Contractors Board and scored a big victory.  The two organizations were successful in securing the passage of legislation, HB 2127, which made the State Landscape Contractors Board (LCB) a semi-independent board.  The LCB is no longer required to receive its management and support services from the Construction Contractors Board.  Instead, the LCB is able to employ a dedicated support staff to deal solely with the landscaping issues for consumers and contractors.  In other words, now the LCB controls its own destiny.

Also passed in 2001 were two other bills that OLCA supported:

  • HB 2191 which expanded the scope of work that landscape contractors can plan and construct from fountains to include “ornamental water features.”  The definition of “ornamental water features” included fountains, ponds, waterfalls, man-made streams and other decorative water-related constructions as identified by LCB rule.
  • HB 2192 which expanded the landscape contractors’ ability to install backflow prevention devices in not only irrigation systems but also ornamental water features.

In 2003, OLCA worked with LCB to successfully pass SB 919 in an effort to help regulate the use of the word “landscape” and its derivatives thereby reducing the confusion between landscape contracting businesses and landscape maintenance businesses.  The bill also clarified the terminology “casual, minor and inconsequential” work to narrow the exemption which had been misinterpreted over the years and abused by non-licensed construction contractors who have used this loophole as a means to install new landscapes without adequate training or knowledge. 

Again, in 2005, OLCA was successful in securing passage of an omnibus bill, HB 2069, to enhance the professionalism of the industry and to address a couple of other policy concerns for the industry.  The most important benefits of the bill include:

  • An exemption from the landscape contractor licensure requirements for persons employed by, and under direct supervision of, a licensed landscape contractor.  The Attorney General’s office had determined that the existing statute may not clearly preclude employees or leased employees of landscape contractors from being licensed in order to perform landscaping activities.
  • Approval for landscape contractors who employ a certified backflow assembly tester to repair and maintain irrigation backflow assemblies.
  • An amendment to the land use laws on exclusive farm use zone to explicitly allow a landscaping or landscape architecture services business when operated in conjunction with land used for the horticultural purpose of growing and marketing nursery stock to be listed as a use that may be approved as a conditional use. 
  • An increase in the bond requirements for landscape contractors based on the size of the contracts and work performed.
  • Authority for the Board to put a landscape contractor and the associated business on probation if three or more claims are filed against a business within a one-year period.
  • Establishment of an inactive status for landscape contractors not operating as a landscaping business. 
  • Clarification that the current exemption for general contractors doing certain landscaping work does not include irrigation work.

In 2007, OLCA focused much of its energy on securing passage of HB 2538 which established continuing education requirements for licensed landscape contractors.  Sponsored by OLCA, the bill required the State Landscape Contractors Board to establish continuing education requirements for landscape contractors of up to ten hours per year.

Under the measure, LCB was charged with the responsibility of approving continuing education programs, the required amount of continuing education hours or units a landscape contractor, and how many hours can be credited to an approved program.  The programs must directly contribute to landscape contractor professional competency; potential issue areas include the areas of human resources, safety, water management, and environmental protection.  Approved programs may include courses at a local community college or university, industry meetings, trade shows, and online training.  Landscape contractors could not be required to take more than 10 hours of continuing education per year, and the board was authorized to adopt rules and establish grounds for waivers of continuing education requirements to be issued, capping the waiver at two years for circumstances such as military service, inactive status, or extreme hardship. 

The following session in 2009, OLCA worked closely with the Landscape Contractors Board to help secure passage of SB 147 which added maintenance of irrigation systems using compressed air to the definition of landscaping which meant that those businesses using compressed air (winterization) would need to be licensed by LCB or be a licensed plumber.  The bill also: prohibited persons otherwise exempt from licensing as a landscape contractor form representing in any manner to be a landscape contractor; changed the definition of Landscape Construction Professional and Landscape Contracting business to reflect clearly that it is “about the work” performed rather than about the person performing the work; and, established an exemption from licensure for employees of homeowners working on behalf of the owner who contracted for landscaping work on the owners property (this had been LCB policy but was now clearly stated in law).

In 2011, OLCA supported several bills that were signed into law including:

  • HB 2156 which expanded the types of activities covered by the LCB bond or letter of credit requirements to include backflow testing and low voltage lighting work. 
  • HB 2157 which was intended to provide consistent and verifiable consumer and employee protection by requiring workers compensation coverage of all landscape contractor employees.  OLCA supported HB 2157 because it would change the workers compensation law to verify that all landscape contracting businesses cover their employees with workers compensation.  

That same session, number of bills were introduced to establish task forces to study consolidation of state government boards, commissions and agencies in an effort to consolidate functions and improve efficiencies and effectiveness.  OLCA opposed those legislative efforts that would have jeopardized the semi-independent Landscape Contractors Board and its functions.

Legislation to abolish the State Landscape Contractors Board (LCB) and to transfer its regulatory role and functions to the Construction Contractors Board (CCB) was introduced in 2013.  SB 557 would have also created a licensing exemption for landscape contracting businesses generating less than $2,000 a month or $12,000 a year.  In its original form, OLCA opposed the measure but offered amendments which deleted the original provisions of the bill so that the LCB was not abolished.  Instead, if the bill had been approved, it would have established a Landscape Construction Professional Task Force which would have:

  • Reviewed the licensure examination requirements for landscape construction professionals;
  • Made recommendations to the LCB on any changes to the Board administrative rules and to the Legislature on any changes to statutes that are necessary to ensure that licensure examinations are designed to demonstrate that the applicant has the necessary knowledge and skills to exercise the responsibilities of a landscape construction professional; and
  • Made recommendations to the Legislature on whether the LCB should have its power transferred to the CCB.
  • Directed LCB to adopt an enforcement program that puts as the primary goal – compliance.  Fines would not be assessed unless the violation involves a life safety issue or has been repeated several times. 
  • Changed the notification period for contractor change of addresses from 10 to 30 days which would allow a more reasonable reporting period.
  • Established a minimum threshold of $500 for a landscaping project under which a written contract would not be required. 

While SB 557 died, the task force concept outlined above became the topic of a more informal work group appointed by the Senate Business and Transportation Committee.  The Work Group, which included four OLCA representatives, reviewed LCB’s licensure program, examination requirements for landscape construction professionals, continuing education and enforcement program.  A number of issues that have been confronting landscape contractors the past several years were discussed.  The Work Group’s efforts resulted in SB 580 which passed unanimously in both chambers and improved the landscape contractor regulatory program.  Some of the specific changes included:

  • Clarified licensed landscape contracting business activities so they may plan, install, maintain or repair ornamental water features, drainage systems, irrigation systems, fences, decks, arbors, patios, landscape edging, driveways, walkways and retaining walls.
  • Eliminated the requirement for written contracts when the contract amount is less than $2,000.
  • Capped civil penalties against contractors not to exceed $2,000 and gave the licensing board broader discretion in dealing with compliance issues.
  • Allowed for a variety of procedural changes for the landscape licensing board including the process of filing complaints and stop work orders.
  • Increased the time allowed for address change notification to LCB from 10 days to 30 days.
  • Provided for increased bonding requirements of $20,000 for landscape jobs that exceed $50,000 which protects the licensed landscape contractor and consumer for a minimal cost.
  • Reduced the number of continuing education hours (CEH) required for license renewal to 16 hours of CEH over a two-year period for licensees with less than 5 years of experience as an active licensee and 8 hours every two years of CEH for active licensees with over 5 years of experience.  This replaced the requirement at that time of 20 hours every 2 years.
  • Permitted licensed landscape contractors to remove or prune trees and install outdoor artificial turf excluding sports fields.
  • Allowed LCB and CCB licensees to work together more cooperatively to better serve the consumer.
  • Increased the time allowed for address change notification to LCB from 10 days to 30 days.

That same session, legislation was approved to allow a person applying for a landscape construction professional license to satisfy the examination requirement by either passing a written examination or passing an eight-hour skills test and attending a six-hour business practices class.  Introduced by Rep. Dallas Heard (R-Roseburg), a licensed landscape contractor, HB 3304 required the Landscape Contractors Board to offer a practical skills test.  It directed the Board to establish an applicant fee to offset full cost of the practical skills test and business practices class.  The measure also required the current written examination to be translated to Spanish. 

Sometimes success in the legislative arena is not measured by bills getting passed but by bills not getting passed.  Because of OLCA’s lobbying efforts in 2017, a bill that would have significantly eroded the licensure requirements for landscape construction professionals was defeated.  HB 3337 would have created a new limited landscape construction professional license that would have allowed the licensee to perform up to $8,000 of work per job during a 12-month period with few restrictions.  Prior experience, education, completion of the examination testing (both knowledge of the business and landscape contracting laws), and the skills to satisfactorily perform the work would be waived.  Also, OLCA defeated a measure that would have eliminated continuing education requirements for landscape construction professionals.

In 2018, OLCA focused its time on ensuring that landscape contractors didn’t get thrown into HB 4144, a bill requested by Governor Kate Brown to make it easier for individuals in the construction industry to become licensed, obtain funding to start a sole proprietorship construction contracting business and ultimately to expand the industry workforce and availability of affordable housing. As passed by the Legislature, the bill waives licensing fees for certain construction contractors, plumbing contractors and electrical contractors but not landscape construction contractors.

However, the issue of eliminating the landscape contractor’s licensure program or removing the experience and examination requirements to become a licensed contractor will likely be the subject of future discussions as Oregon and other states consider streamlining occupational licensure programs.