OSBA has been involved in providing testimony and/or following four proposed bills concerning beekeeping during the current legislative session. One of these bills, HB 2533A which was initiated by us will likely be adopted into law. The others have died in committee.
HB 2533A adds the definition for a nucleus colony to ORS 602 and then exempts nucleus colonies from the Department of Agricultural hive registration fees. The bill has passed the House of Representatives without a negative vote. On April 26 it was passed by the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. It now has passed the Senate and has been signed by the Governor into law.
HB 3280 proposed to eliminate registration fees for the first year that hives are established. It was intended to apply primarily to hobby or backyard beekeepers. Since it is not necessary to register less than five hives it would not be of any benefit to most beginning hobbyist or backyard beekeepers. In addition the wording was confusing and the Department of Agriculture advised it would be very difficult to implement.
SB 785 died in Committee after a public hearing. It essentially copied and added to the Federal law that restricts the use of antibiotics for prophylactic use on livestock. We initially testified against the bill because the definition of livestock included honeybees and the Oregon Health Department was the designated enforcement agency. After proposed amendment changes we took a neutral stand on the bill.
SB 929 died in Committee after two public hearings. From the start we took a neutral position. The bill would have banned the use of neonics by anyone other then licensed pesticide applicators, except in a few limited circumstances. The bill’s sponsors argued that it was necessary to protect honeybees and other pollinators. They offered no proof that homeowner use of neonics was or is a problem for beekeepers. It seemed to us that they where merely trying to use beekeeping as a means to pursue an anti-pesticide agenda.