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Oregon Trails

An Occasional Newsletter


The Association of Oregon Counties

Month, Year - Vol 1, Issue 1

Heat Wave

Sine Die - Maybe!

June 30, 2015

In This Issue
AOC Summer Summit
Governance & Marijuana
Transportation/Community & Economic Development
Speed Limits
Interoperability Funding
Water Policy
Health & Human Services
Energy, Environment & Land Use
Simon Says
Good Bye Anna!
AOC Summer Summit
Mike's Photo
NACo Annual Conference
CIS News
Join Our Mailing List!
Quick Links

Salem - In last week's edition of Oregon Trails, we speculated (expert and knowledgeable speculation!) that the end of this week would bring sine die for the 78th (2015) Oregon Legislative Assembly. We stand by that speculation, however, we reserve the right to conjecture that while this Friday could very well bring the end, there could be some mop up early next week. Ego, sine die is very close, either this Friday or early next week.  


A sure sign that the curtain is coming down is the matter of who is taking hands-on control of outstanding bills. The oxygen became rarefied on Monday as committee chairs were virtually cut out of decisions on which bills will proceed. Ignore that the subject matter experts on policy are the chairs; this is not as much about the right policy as the politics of ending the session. The results of the horse trading will appear in omnibus (ominous?) bills with broad "relating to" clauses that have been stored for just this very point in the session. We hope the sausage is eatable. If not, there is a short session in February intended to fix errors and make other adjustments required by this rush to the tape.


Most of the big issues have been settled. A transportation package is dead. Marijuana regulation has been molded. Minimum wage appears to be on life support if not dead altogether. In other words, the most contentious issues have either died or been compromised.  


Tempers are still a tad bit short in the building, as legislators work on the last minute details of a budget that will be impacted by an incorrect academic economic guess and see a kicker implemented. But the Ways and Means Committee continues to slog through the myriad of budget bills and floor action is moving at a workable pace.


This is a critical juncture in this year's Legislative Session. AOC policy staff may yet have to call on county commissioners and judges to engage their legislators at a moment's notice to ensure that what remains of this session emerges with a positive result for Oregon counties.   

Thank you.  


"Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made."

Otto Von Bismarck


AOC Summer Summit - Get Your Room Booked Now!
Save the dates - August 9-10-11 for the AOC Summer Summit, to be held this year in Deschutes County at the Bend Riverhouse Conference Center.

Time to book your room! We will have complete room registration information later in this edition of Oregon Trails. Registration for the summit will be open very soon as AOC puts the finishing touches on a new registration program. But there is more on the program in this edition of Oregon Trails.  

 See you in Deschutes County!



Tomorrow, July 1, 2015, begins the first phase of recreational marijuana legalization in Oregon, when the personal allowance provisions of Ballot Measure 91 kick in.


The legislature is also finishing up its work on marijuana legislation, which now consists of five bills winding their way through the process. AOC Legal Counsel Rob Bovett anticipates all five passing by the end of this week, and being signed by the Governor. Mr Bovett has prepared four documents that may be of some interest and use to AOC members and affiliates:

AOC Legal Counsel Rob Bovett is our resident expert on marijuana legislation.


Transportation/Community & Economic Development



Is this the real life?  Is this just fantasy?

Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality.


The first few lines of Bohemian Rhapsody, by Freddie Mercury of Queen, perfectly sum up the ride we've been on with the transportation package this session. For a visualization of this ride, click here


Transportation funding has been and continues to be a top priority for AOC. In January of 2014, representatives from AOC, LOC, and ODOT travelled to Washington, DC, with a coordinated message for our federal delegation, sharing Oregon's priorities for the reauthorization of MAP-21.   


Last September, the  2014 County Road Needs Study was completed. This study revealed counties face a $505 Million shortfall per year for 2014 -2018.  This shortfall negatively impacts maintenance, operations, pavement preservation, safety improvements, and capital projects. The failure of the federal government to produce a long term transportation package, the reduction and ultimate loss of Secure Rural Schools payments, and the failure of the State Highway Fund to keep up with inflation only exacerbate the shortfall.


For over a year, AOC worked as part of the Oregon Transportation Forum (OTF) to develop a comprehensive statewide transportation package. This was done at the behest and with the involvement of several legislators. The OTF 's recommendations were presented to the Legislature in January 2015, and were available for use as a starting point for the package developed by the Gang of Eight, the bicameral, bipartisan group of legislators who worked with the Governor over the past two months. 


As you all know by now, there will be no transportation package this session. 


To come away from the session with nothing to help improve our state's integrated transportation system is frustrating and disheartening. The connection between economic development and a highly-functioning transportation system is obvious to all.  Without well-maintained roads, goods cannot be efficiently transported to and from market; people cannot easily travel around cities, counties or the state. Without sturdy, safe bridges, those same goods and people are placed at risk. A declining transportation infrastructure system means a declining economy and a declining quality of life. Yet from all appearances, a line was drawn and sides were taken with no willingness to find a solution, except by the Gang of Eight, the Governor, and a few others. 


The line that was drawn went right through the Clean Fuels legislation, which was signed into law earlier this year. One side pronounced that no transportation package would be supported unless Clean Fuels was repealed. The other side insisted that no transportation package would be supported if Clean Fuels was repealed. There was no middle ground to be reached and the people of Oregon are the losers. There will be no improvement to our transportation system; in some areas there will be a further decline. And there will be no reduction in Green House Gas (GHG) emissions while the Clean Fuels legislation is tied up in court, during which time it will be referred to the voters -either of those avenues may eventually kill this legislation.


We all want to breathe clean air and have healthy communities. Healthy communities include thriving businesses and a transportation system with wonderful public transit, minimal congestion, and great roads upon which we can drive our vehicles that are powered by clean fuels. Unfortunately, we've made limited progress in this regard.


Meanwhile, the Washington State Legislature just passed an 11.9 cent gas tax increase to fund a $16 Billion transportation package. This occurred at the end of their second special session. Although "special session" are the two dirtiest words one can utter around Salem this time of year, perhaps we should take a lesson from our neighbors to the north. 


Community & Economic Development              

There is more to celebrate in the area of Community & Economic Development this session! The following list includes a few of the bills that have been signed by the Governor or are on their way there.


SB 129-A9 changes the manner in which Gain Share revenues are calculated and distributed as follows:

  • Calculation of Gain Share revenue changes from a current 50/50 share of total employment to a 50/50 share of new job revenue and an 80/20 share of retained job income tax revenue, with the 80% share going to the state.
  • Cap individual County Gain Share distributions at $16 million/year.
  • All other counties receiving Gain Share distributions are projected at $1 million/biennium.
  • Gain Share is extended from 2019 to 2025.
  • These changes free up an additional $53 million in revenue for statewide services, such as the OSU Statewide Services and Career Training Education

HB 2459  modestly increases Oregon State Marine Board's (OSMB) registration and titling fees of boats, floating homes,and boathouses. This will allow for more funds for marine patrol and the Maintenance Assistance Program (MAP), which provides grants to counties for the upkeep, repair, and operations of boating facilities. 


HB 2643 removes the cap on the number of Enterprise Zones allowed in the state and eases the requirements for designating and expanding EZs. Business Oregon will continue to monitor EZs. 


HB 2690 exempts from property tax land acquired and held by a nonprofit, such as Habitat for Humanity, for building residences to be sold to individuals whose income in not greater than 80% of the area median income. 


HB 2734 allows local governments to create Land Banks to deal with brownfield properties. 


 HB 3492 allows for county to enter into agreement with the owner of a solar project, for up to 20 years, which exempts owner from property taxes in exchange for a payment in lieu of taxes equal to $7,000 per megawatt generated.  


AOC Policy Manager Mary Stern navigates transportation issues along with community and economic development.


Speed Limits Legislation

Sung to: I can't drive 55..."


The subject of speed limits on rural highways is being addressed by the Oregon Legislature. House Bill 3402 cleared the Joint Ways and Means Committee Tuesday afternoon and lives to see another Legislative day. The vote in the full W&M Committee would indicate the bill is headed for passage by both chambers. It is not known if Governor Brown plans to sign it once it reaches her desk.  


WHAT HB 3402 DOES: Increases speed limit for passenger vehicles and other vehicles on segments of Interstate 84, Highway 95, Highway 20, Highway 197, Highway 198, Highway 31, Highway 78, Highway 395, Route 205 and Highway 26. Exempts portions of Highway 95, Highway 20 and Highway 197 that fall inside of city limits. Below, the new limits for cars, light trucks/all other vehicles:

  • Interstate 84 between The Dalles and Idaho State Line: 70 mph/65 mph
  • Highway 95 between Idaho and Nevada state lines: 70 mph/65 mph
  • Highway 20 between Bend and Ontario: 65 mph/60 mph
  • Highway 197 between The Dalles and Highway 97: 65 mph/60 mph
  • Highway 198 between Highway 97 and Klamath Falls: 65 mph/60 mph Highway 31 between Valley Falls and LaPine: 65 mph/60 mph
  • Highway 78 between Burns Junction and Burns: 65 mph/60 mph
  • Highway 395 between Burns and John Day: 65 mph/60 mph
  • Highway 395 between Riley and California State Line: 65 mph/60 mph
  • Route 205 between Burns and French Glen: 65 mph/60 mph
  • Highway 26 between John Day and Vale: 65 mph/60 mph
  • Exempts portions of Highway 95, Highway 20 and Highway 197 that fall inside city limits.

BACKGROUND: Establishment of speed limits on the interstate highway system was historically relegated to the states until the petroleum crisis of 1973, when Congress, in an effort to curb fuel consumption, established the National Maximum Speed Limit, effectively limiting speeds to 55 miles per hour. The law was modified in 1987/88 to allow for a maximum of 65 miles per hour in certain limited access rural corridors. Following repeal of the federal limit in 1995, most states moved to increase interstate speed limits.


AOC Executive Director Mike McArthur spends a lot of time behind the wheel. 


Editors Note: The Legislature also addressed the issue of "left lane hogs" for those Oregonians who spend a lot of time on I-5 behind the self-absorbed motorists who insist on staying in the passing lane and going 65.  The bill HB 3414, gives law enforcement the authority to ticket anyone driving too slowly in the passing lane.  

Interoperability Funding Opportunity
The State of Oregon has a unique, one-time funding opportunity for projects that advance statewide radio communications in Oregon. The State Radio Project (SRP) set aside $2.3 million for interoperability projects through the Statewide Interoperability Executive Council (SIEC). The projects that will be funded will develop interoperability between state and local public safety agencies. 

If your county is interested in learning more about this opportunity, please click on the following links for the cover letter describing the nature of the allocation process.

If you and your county are interested in applying, please contact Eric Schmidt at AOC for the application form and other needed documents. We will be sending out a seperate email later this week with all the collateral materials.

The deadline for the application submission is September 30 and the projects need to be completed by March of 2017. Please let your communications people know about this opportunity.  
Water Policy

Placed-Based planning authority progresses.  

Senate Bill 266A, which grants authority to the Waster Resources Department to award grants to communities to engage in local integrated water use planning, passed the Senate Friday on a 19-7 vote.  


A critical element in the Statewide Integrated Water Resources Strategy and strongly supported by AOC and several centrist business and stakeholder organizations, placed-based planning will lead to significant water supply development projects to provide water needed for the future and right now to combat the extended drought. SB 266 has run the gauntlet of the Senate Environment and Revenue Committee, Joint Ways & Means, and now the Senate. It is sure to be signed by the Governor, if it passes - as expected - by the House.


SB 266A is critical, because it provides initial financial capacity to cover facilitation, logistical, and technical costs associated with placed-based planning. County governing bodies have the opportunity to convene the planning, which will determine water needs for the plan area, acquire necessary information, identify and understand future scenarios, evaluate alternatives, and ultimately develop a strategy to address local water needs. SB 266 will deliver the support. This type of open, voluntary, locally driven plan will have no regulatory function.


The no votes came from Senators Herman Baertschiger, R-Grants Pass, Brian Boquist, R-Dalles, Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, Chuck Thomsen, R-Hood River. and Doug Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls. Sen. Thomsen, a former Hood River County Commissioner, spoke against the bill, because he said he could not understand the term place-based planning and feared it would replicate land-use planning. In contrast, Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, a former AOC and National Association of Counties (NACo) president, carried a floor letter of support from the coalition of which AOC is a part of and spoke eloquently on the necessity of passage of SB 266A.


AOC Policy Director Gil Riddell works on water policy issues.

Health and Human Services

Slow news week in the HHS arena.


We're slowly getting to the finish line on human services issues. HB 2936, which allows three counties to establish sobering facilities, has passed both chambers and is headed to Gov. Brown's desk.

HB 3100, the Public Health Modernization bill is up in Full Ways and Means Tuesday afternoon, as is the full Department of Human Services/Oregon Health Authority (DHS/OHA) budget. No surprises are expected here...

AOC Policy Manager Stacy Michaelson deals with health and human services issues.


Energy, Environment & Land Use

Materials Management Update

This month, the Oregon legislature adopted Senate Bill 245 and SB 263. SB 263 was signed by Governor Brown on June 22 and SB 245 will be headed to the Governor's desk for signature in the coming days.


SB 245 allows for an increase in state solid waste disposal fees (tip fee), which will fund several new services and the restoration of services recently lost during the recession (including grants). It also affirms DEQ's authority to implement the 2050 Vision and Framework for Action. 


SB 263 changes recycling and waste prevention program elements required of larger cities and their counties, and updates state and local goals.


What do these changes mean? And when will they go into effect? DEQ will host an informational webinar on July 16 from 10:30 am - noon. For more information, click here


AOC Policy Manager Mark Nystrom handles energy, environment & land use issues.


SW Oregon Mining Jobs Summit
A message from Josephine County Commissioner Simon Hare:

Dear Fellow Commissioners,


I would like to extend a personal invitation to you and anyone you think may have an interest in mining, it's rich history and the potential economic impact to Southern Oregon and the rest of the state. Details are attached, but the Summit is July 9th, 2015 at the Josephine County Fairgrounds located in Grants Pass from 1-6pm.


Thank you for your interest,


Simon Hare

Josephine County Commissioner



  Here's a link to the invitation and here's a link to the program.  



More Vets Policy Bills Being Passed in Sine Die Home Stretch

The Full Ways and Means Committee passed two veterans policy bills Monday and is poised to pass a third at Tuesday afternoon's Committee hearing. These three policy bills, along with two other bills that just passed both Chambers (HB 3479 and HB 2230) look to be the core group of significant veterans policy legislation for the 2015 Session.

Vets Bills Moving through Ways and Means This Week

HB 2539: Women Veterans Access to Healthcare Study Requires the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA) to contract for a statewide study regarding the delivery, use and barriers to healthcare/medical services for women veterans; also requires ODVA to submit a report of study findings and recommendations to an interim legislative committee no later than November 1, 2016.


HB 2838: Task Force on Incarcerated Vets Creates a Task Force on Incarcerated Veterans to be staffed by ODVA. The task force will consist of eight members: two Senators appointed by the President of the Senate; two Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House; a representative from the ODVA who has expertise in services and benefits for incarcerated veterans (appointed by the Director of ODVA); a representative from the Oregon Department of Corrections, experienced working with incarcerated veterans (appointed by the Director of the Department of Corrections); and two individuals who have been incarcerated veterans or have experience with incarcerated veterans (appointed by the Governor). The task force is required to report to an appropriate interim legislative committee by September 15, 2016.


SB 946: LGBT Coordinator Creates a permanent position of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Coordinator in the ODVA. The responsibilities of the LGBT Coordinator are to conduct outreach and provide assistance designed for the unique needs of LGBT veterans, provide assistance to LGBT veterans in applying for an upgrade to the character of discharge or a change in the narrative reason for discharge, and develop and distribute informational materials for LGBT veterans. The measure requires ODVA to report to the Legislative Assembly on the number of veterans served, the type of assistance provided, recommendations for expansion and improvement of services provided the coordinator, and recommendations for legislative changes. The bill faced some scrutiny in the Full Ways and Means hearing yesterday, but is poised to pass out of the Committee this afternoon and to floor votes later this week.

Vets Bills Already Passed in Both Chambers

HB 3479:  Creates a Women Veterans Coordinator in ODVA .

HB 2230:  Directs OHA to share basic veterans contact with ODVA, with vets consent. 


AOC Policy Manager Andrew Smith is in charge of the Veterans' portfolio. 


Deschutes County Says Good Bye
Deschutes County Spokeswoman Anna Johnson gives one last TV interview.
It is with mixed emotions that the AOC Communications Department bids Deschutes County Public Communication Coordinator Anna Johnson a fond farewell.

Anna's last day with Deschutes County is June 30. She and her husband are moving back to Arizona after 20 years in Oregon so they can be closer to family. She will be the new Communications Department Officer at the Flood Control District of Maricopa County, AZ.  

Anna joined Deschutes County in October, 2002. In the years since, she has established herself as a first rate spokeswoman for the county in times of crisis and calm. She became a valuable resource for local news media outlets and provided a friendly, knowledgeable and expert face to county issues and processes. She has a complete understanding of how the county works and provided citizens and county employees with the information needed to make informed decisions.  AOC has relied on her expertise and up to date knowledge of the latest on public information methods greatly over the years. 

Good Luck Anna! You will be missed, but we know you will continue to provide valuable information to the residents of Maricopa County. Come back and see us every now and then.

AOC Summer Summit

As we mentioned earlier in this riveting edition of Oregon Trails, the 2015 AOC Summer Summit will be held August 9 - 11 in Deschutes County at the Bend Riverhouse Hotel and Conference Center.


The 2015 theme and location was selected by AOC President Gary Thompson. The theme will be focused on communications:


Connect. Communicate. Collaborate.


The program is going to be first rate. And you need to book your room right now. The AOC room block expires July 10th, so act now!


For more information on booking a room and a look at the program, click  HERE. Registration for the Summit will be opening up soon. Watch your email for details.  


Contact Eric at AOC if you have any questions. If you have suggestions or concerns, contact Laura or McKenzie.  


Mike's Photo 

AOC President and Sherman County Judge Gary Thompson testifies before a legislative committee in the waning days of the 2015 session.  
NACo Annual Conference
The Annual NACo Conference will take place July 10 - 13 in Meklenburg County/Charlotte, North Carolina. If you are planning to attend, you need to submit your county's credentials to vote in the annual election of officers. It sounds like the race for 2nd VP is going to be very interesting. NACo would like all attending counties to submit their credential forms prior to the conference.

You can find the credentials packet and additional credential information on the NACo website.  
CIS Expands - Enhances Coverage for Counties

As a member-governed and owned organization, CIS is continuously looking for additional coverage to help meet counties' emerging needs. The CIS Board of Trustees recently authorized two important updates: Builders' Risk coverage has been added and Cyber Risk coverage has been expanded. Read more...

Have a great Fourth of July weekend. We will be back next week with a wrap up of the 2015 session and more information about the AOC Summer Summit in Deschutes County in August.  

Please feel free to contact Laura Cleland or Eric Schmidt at AOC with any questions you might have about AOC. We will make sure you are connected to the right policy manager or member services manager. We are also looking for timely stories and photos that you might want to share with our newsletter list. Please let us know.  
Laura Cleland & Eric Schmidt

Association of Oregon Counties



Have a great week.