SALEM -- The Oregon House, by the narrowest of margins, has voted to increase water transaction fees.
The House on June 19 voted 31-29 in favor of House Bill 2259. The bill allows the Oregon Water Resources Commission to increase fees 13 percent in 2013 and 2 percent annually beginning in 2014.
The vote was preceded by floor speeches in opposition to the bill from three members of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
"Our natural resource base ... they have been struggling for years," said Rep. Wayne Krieger, R-Gold Beach.
"They have had increased costs of electricity for irrigation that is astronomical," he said. "You saw what happened to diesel fuel.
"And we have had fertilizer prices go from $160 a ton to where urea now is between $600 and $700 a ton," he said.
"Those who use this resource, with the exception of one group, did not want any increase at all," Krieger said.
Rep. Ben Unger, D-Hillsboro, said the fee increase is needed to bring the department closer to a legislatively directed 50-50 funding split between general funds and fees.
HB2259 now goes to the Senate.
-- Mitch Lies