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New water right management fee dead


SALEM -- A bill to create a new water right management fee that could have cost some farmers as much as $1,000 a year is dead.



Senate Bill 217 was introduced at the request of Gov. John Kitzhaber as a means to generate more fee revenue for the Oregon Water Resources Department.



Under the bill, water right holders would be charged $100 a year for each water right. It capped the amount any single water right holder could pay at $1,000.



The bill was dropped after the governor's office dropped its support of the bill.



"We understand that this bill needs more work, and frankly we need more time to work with a broad set of interests to get more consensus on the need and the fairness aspect of this bill," Richard Whitman, Kitzhaber's natural resources policy advisor, said in a Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee meeting April 17.



"At this time ... Senate Bill 217 will not move forward," Sen. Jackie Dingfelder, D-Portland, chair of the committee, said after Whitman's testimony.



Whitman said Kitzhaber's office will continue to look for methods to generate a higher percentage of the department's funding from fees.



Currently, about 40 percent of the department's revenue comes from fees. The department set a goal in 2009 to generate 50 percent of its revenue from fees.



"The governor is committed to continuing to work this issue during the interim and come back to this body in 2014 with a more well-formed proposal for long-term funding for the Water Resources Department," Whitman said.



-- Mitch Lies



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