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Oregon Trails

An Occasional Newsletter


The Association of Oregon Counties

Month, Year - Vol 1, Issue 1
2016 Legislative Session Comes to a Close
Cherry blossoms flower on the capitol mall
March 11, 2016
In This Issue
Community & Economic Development
Energy, Environment & Land Use
Health & Human Services
Public Lands & Natural Resources
Public Safety
Federal Grant Opportunities.
NACo WIR Conference
NACo 2016 Interim Resolutions
The Stepping Up Initiative
White House Rural Poverty Summit
National County Government Month
Upcoming Webinars
Founding Counties Project
The Last Word
Join Our Mailing List!
Quick Links
Capitol Cherry Blossoms
The 79th Oregon Legislative Assembly adjourned March 3, 2016. This short, one-month session was full of contention producing successes and failures. However, what is considered a success or a failure varies widely. Hot button issues included minimum wage, affordable housing, clean energy, lodging tax, corporate taxes, PERS reform, firearms background checks, and adjustments to the marijuana system. All and all, the 2016 session was fast-paced (with a fair amount of waiting thrown in) and substantive. If there was ever any doubt, we now know there is no such thing as a housekeeping session in the Oregon Legislature.

Your AOC policy managers are working to compile the positive and negative outcomes from the Legislative session for Oregon's 36 counties. A written overview of the 2016 session will be available in the coming weeks.

Community & Economic Development
Below is a recap of the bills the Community and Economic Development Steering Committee weighed in on during the 2016 Legislative session:

HB 4020 : Higher Ed/Innovation/Workforce
Provides that the Oregon Growth Board, in accordance with rules adopted by the board, may require that a management company or state agency under contract with board invest a certain amount in Oregon. AOC Position: NONE. Passed House 59-0-1, Passed Senate 29-0-1.

HB 4079 : Affordable Housing Pilot Program for Local Governments
Directs the Land Conservation and Development Commission to establish a pilot program in which local governments may site and develop affordable housing. AOC Position: NEUTRAL. Passed House 31-25-4, Passed Senate 16-11-3.

HB 4081 : Low-income Housing Property Tax Exemption Extension
Extends to 2022 the sunset of the exemption from ad valorem property taxation for property of a non-profit corporation that, for tax year beginning on July 1, 2012, was actually offered, occupied or used as low-income housing and granted exemption by the county. AOC Position: NEUTRAL: Passed House 59-0-1, Passed Senate 29-0-1.

HB 4084 : Brownfields Property Tax Incentive Programs
Authorizes certain local governments to adopt an ordinance or resolution providing property tax incentive programs that grant special assessment to brownfields or exemption to new and existing improvements and personal property on brownfields for a period of up to 10 years, with an additional period of up to five years based on locally adopted criteria. Caps the dollar amount of benefits at specified eligible costs for property. AOC Position: SUPPORT. Passed House 58-0-2, Passed Senate 29-0-1.

HB 4143 : Tenants' Rights Bill
This tenants' rights bill requires notice of rent increase (week to week tenancy = 7 days written notice; month to month = no increase during 1st year, 90 days notice after 1st year). AOC Position: SUPPORT.Passed House 48-11-1, Passed Senate 16-9-5.

SB 1533 : Inclusionary Zoning
Permits certain cities and counties to adopt land use regulations or functional plan provisions, or impose conditions for approval of permits, that effectively establish sales or rental price, or require designation for sale or rent as affordable housing, for up to 20 percent of multifamily structure in exchange for one or more developer incentives. Allows cities or counties to impose a construction tax to pay for incentives. AOC Position: SUPPORT. Passed Senate 20-8-2, Passed House 39-21.

SB 1547 : Clean Energy
The clean energy bill includes an AOC/CREA amendment, changing the eight percent goal in the RPS for small-scale, community-based renewable energy projects in Oregon to a requirement. See Info Sheet. AOC Position: SUPPORT W/ AMENDMENTS.  Passed House 38-20-2, Passed Senate 17-12-1.

SB 1565 : Property Tax Exemption or Deferral for Industrial Construction/Improvements
Authorizes a city or county to adopt an exemption for newly constructed or installed industrial improvements with a location in a rural area and that have a cost of initial investment of at least $1 million and not more than $25 million. Provides the exemption shall be granted as 100 percent exemption for any three of five consecutive years unless city or county adopts other terms. Provides that the ordinance or resolution granting the exemption may not take effect unless the rates of taxation of the taxing districts whose governing bodies agree to grant the exemption equal 75 percent or more of the total combined rate of taxation. Requires the exemption to be granted to all eligible industrial improvements on the same terms in effect on the date the application is submitted. Prohibits stacking of exemptions or special assessments other than exemption for commercial facilities under construction. If the application for exemption is otherwise eligible for approval, requires city or county and applicant to agree to the conditions related to hiring and employment and other reasonable conditions related to economic development established by the city or county. AOC Position: SUPPORT w/AMENDMENTS.  Passed Senate 27-0-3, Passed House 56-2-2.

SB 1582 : Affordable Housing for Low-income Individuals or Families
Directs the Housing and Community Services Department to develop and implement the Local Innovation and Fast Track Housing Program to expand the state's supply of affordable housing for low-income individuals or families. Provides guidance to OHCS on how to spend the $40 million allocated in 2015. AOC Position: SUPPORT. Passed Senate 21-7-2, Passed House 46-13-1.

HB 4146 : Transient Lodging Tax
Increases the state transient lodging tax rate to 1.8 percent for four years and then to 1.5 percent thereafter. Requires the Oregon Tourism Commission to spend 15 percent of the state transient lodging tax revenues rather than the current "as much as 15 percent" to implement regional cooperative tourism program. Broadens the type of programs for which appropriated state transient lodging tax moneys may be spent from "tourism marketing programs" to "tourism programs." AOC Position:  NONE. Passed Senate 18-12, Passed House 38-22

SB 1506 : Tax Exemption for Food Processing Equipment
Changes the minimum expenditure requirement for property tax exemption of qualified machinery and equipment used to process grains or bakery products from $100,000 of real market value when placed in service to $100,000 of total cost of initial investment to food processor. AOC Position: NONE. Passed Senate 29-0-1, Passed House 59-0-1.

For more information contact Mary Stern, AOC community and economic development policy manager.

Energy, Environment & Land Use
Below is a recap of the bills the Energy, Environment, and Land Use Steering Committee weighed in on during the 2016 Legislative session:

HB 4036 / SB 1547 -Renewable Portfolio Standard-Support with Amendments
HB 4036 was amended into SB 1547 and was passed by both the House and the Senate. Both the Senate Republican's and the Senate Democrat's had different reactions to the passage of this complicated and contentious bill:  Senate Republican Reaction | Senate Democrat Reaction

A couple of highlights of the county-centered amendments included:
  • The bill requires PacifiCorp and Portland General Electric to get at least eight percent of their total electrical capacity by 2025 from community sized renewable sources under 20 megawatts or biomass plants.
  • There is no cap on the size of the biomass power plants, although Sen Edwards said he plans to introduce legislation to add a 20 megawatt limit during the next legislative session. There are currently no biomass facilities over 20 megawatts.
  • Allows new and recently constructed biomass plants and the Covanta facility to generate renewable energy certificates the utilities can use to meet the renewable energy mandate immediately (rather than 2026 that was previously in statute).
SB 1563 -Low Income Onsite Septic Loan Program-Support with Amendments
SB 1563A passed the House on a 58-1 vote on Tuesday and is now headed to the Governor's desk for signing. The bill establishes a $200,000 grant for a third party lender chosen through an RFP to provide loans for repair, replacement or upgrades of septic systems. A broad coalition of supporters encouraged the Legislature to pass the bill.

SB 1517 -Oregon Farm Bureau Wetlands Bill-Support with Amendments
SB 1517B passed the House on a vote of 58-1 and then the Senate concurred with the House amendments and repassed the bill on a 29-0 vote. It is now headed to the Governor's desk for a signature. SB1517B develops a pilot program to give Tillamook County more oversight on the development of wetlands and requires the county to create a wetland inventory in the county. The pilot project will last 10 years and the county will report back to the Legislature every two years on the progress of the pilot.

HB 4101 -Greenhouse Gas Policy Impacts-Support
Pacific Power 2016 Blue Sky Funding Award Cycle
Applications are now being accepted for the Pacific Power Blue Sky funding awards. Award recipients can have up to 100 percent of the capital costs to install qualifying, new renewable energy systems at non-residential sites covered within the Pacific Power service area. Applicants must submit a completed application form along with supplemental documentation by May 31, 2016 at 5 p.m. PST.   Learn more...

For more information contact Mark Nystrom, AOC energy, environment, and land use policy manager.

Click here for a summary of the marijuana legislation from the 2016 Legislative Session.

2016 Legislative Session Update on Finance
As part of an overall strategy of public finance reform, the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee lifted a trial balloon (Senate Joint Resolution 201) that contained a potential portion of what may become a comprehensive reform package, but standing alone the property tax reform idea looked inadequate and garnered no support. The proposed resolution proposed an amendment to the Oregon Constitution repealing ad valorem property tax assessment provisions created by House Joint Resolution 85 (1997) (Ballot Measure 50 (1997)), requiring ad valorem property taxes to be assessed on real market value of property, while directing the Legislative Assembly to provide an exemption from ad valorem property taxes for owner-occupied principal dwellings and tax lots upon which dwellings are located.

Of note, HB 4146 Increased the state transient lodging tax (TLT) rate from the current one percent to 1.8 percent until the end of June 2020, then reduces the rate to 1.5 percent from that date on. In addition, the legislation changes the distribution of revenue from a discretionary amount with a ceiling of 15 percent to two categories for regional development and allocates 20 percent of revenue to the first category for regional development, and 10 percent to the second category consisting of grants to regional tourism efforts. It, however, did nothing to repair shortcomings in current statute handcuffing local TLTs (e.g., forcing 70 percent of new revenues to be used under narrow definitions of "tourism promotion" and "tourism-related facilities").

For more information contact Rob Bovett, AOC legal counsel.

Health & Human Services
Despite having been scheduled for a floor vote, SB 1559 (tobacco retail licensure), did not survive the session. In the end, it got caught up in bargaining, and was sent back to committee. The 2017 Legislative Session is likely to see a number of repeat issues, including tobacco retail licensure and an e-cigarette tax.

For more information contact Stacy Michaelson, AOC health and human services policy manager.

Public Lands & Natural Resources
The 2016 session did not focus on natural resources issues. It did address the on-going drought in the state and two wildlife issues, the one ratifying the Gray Wolf delisting being far and away the more controversial.  

HB 4113 established a short-term Task Force on Drought Emergency Response of 11 to 15 members who are charged with researching and evaluating potential tools and data to prepare for and respond to drought emergencies. It will report to the Legislature on November 1st.  And good news for Harney County!  Within the broad budget adjustment bill, the Legislature approved an increase in general funds of $705,288 to the Water Resources Department to facilitate an urgently needed groundwater study for the greater Harney Valley in coordination with the U.S. Geological Survey.

HB 4040 ratifies the November 9, 2015 decision of the State Fish & Wildlife Commission to remove the Gray Wolf from the state list of Endangered Species. The bill generated considerable opposition, but was part of an agreement between legislative caucuses. And HB 4046 Increases penalties for unlawful taking or killing of certain wildlife.  

HB 4007 , introduced at the request of Wheeler County Judge Chris Perry, establishes alternative processes to form a rangeland protection association. The legislation continued Judge Perry's remarkable string of performances in Salem: not a single vote was cast against it.

For more information contact Gil Riddell, AOC policy director.

Public Safety
The February session was successful for public safety stakeholders seeking additional funding and protecting current funding for programs. AOC's main objective entering the session was to protect the $40 million in funding for justice reinvestment programs that the 2015 legislative session allocated to counties for reentry and recidivism reduction programs. Recent forecasts on the prison usage exceeding previous forecasts had fueled rumors that the Legislature might need to divert funding from justice reinvestment to help open additional prison beds.  Fortunately, the Legislature kept its commitment to counties with the justice reinvestment program.

In addition to the protection of justice reinvestment, additional funding for public safety was provided to various programs. A $3 million allocation to the public safety academy will allow the Department of Public Safety Standards to create four additional basic police academies and two additional basic corrections academies, which will alleviate the backlog of deputies across the state waiting to go to academy. The Oregon State Police was also given an additional $3.5 million to expand its background check capacity for firearms, reduce its backlog for testing sexual assault kits sent by local agencies, and establish a statewide school safety tip line.

Various policy bills were introduced during the session, including:

  SB 1513 , which provides property tax exemption options by counties for spouses of police officers or firefighters killed in the line of duty. The bill was supported by the Oregon State Sheriffs Association. It passed unanimously in both chambers.

HB 4116 , which would have created a task force on healthcare for pre-trial jail inmates. AOC supported this bill, but the bill did not pass out of committee.

SB 1550 , which would have required grand jury proceedings to be recorded. This bill continued from the 2015 session with the Oregon District Attorneys Association opposed to the bill unless it was amended. The bill received a hearing and passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee but did not receive a hearing or pass out of the Joint Ways & Means Committee.

AOC and CIS Public Safety Road Trip
Patrick Sieng, AOC public safety policy manager, and Dave Nelson, CIS public safety and risk management officer will be hitting the road this month to discuss public safety issues in a variety of counties. Look for more information on this in the April issue of Oregon Trails.

Court Facilities Task Force
The AOC Court Facilities Task Force will meet Monday, March 14 following the AOC board of directors meeting. Task force members will be reviewing submissions and scoring sheets for counties interested in courthouse replacement projects. In addition the task force will be soliciting suggestions from counties for ideas on how to stabilize the amount of state bond funding requested for courthouse replacement projects.

Proposed FEMA Disaster Deductible
On January 20, an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) announced that FEMA is considering the establishment of a "disaster deductible," which would require recipients of FEMA Public Assistance (typically states; counties are sub-recipients) to meet a predetermined level of financial or other commitment before receiving federal disaster funds. At this juncture, FEMA is not formally proposing the implementation of a deductible, but the agency is soliciting comments on the deductible concept. These comments are due by March 21. NACo is working with its members and partner organizations to assess the potential impact of a "disaster deductible" on counties, and they plan to submit comments to FEMA. Your county may wish to weigh in as well, more information on the proposal and how to comment can be found here NACo County News has a good article here on this topic and the full NACo Resolution can be found on Page 9 by clicking here .

For more information contact Patrick Sieng, AOC public safety policy manager.

Wyden, Merkley Announce Secure Rural Schools Payments to Oregon Counties
U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley announced on March 3, 2016 that 18 Oregon counties will receive about $35.5 million in Secure Rural Schools (SRS) payments this fiscal year for local roads and schools. The counties receiving the $35.5 million in SRS funds distributed this fiscal year by the Bureau of Land Management are Benton, Clackamas, Columbia, Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Washington and Yamhill counties. For the county-by-county breakdown of the $35.5 million in BLM funds, please click here .

U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx Announces $500 Million in TIGER Funding
TIGER discretionary grants will fund capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure and will be awarded on a competitive basis. Projects should have a significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area, or a region. Applications are due by April 29.  Click here for announcement and application information .

For more information contact Mary Stern, AOC transportation policy manager.

Federal Grant Opportunities
Senator Jeff Merkley has released the February 2016 edition to the Federal Grant Opportunities Newsletter. This newsletter contains many grant opportunities for local communities ranging from transportation, community development, and many other.

For a list of the latest federal grant opportunities and deadlines, click here .

NACo WIR Conference
May 25-27, 2016 | REGISTER
Join NACo for the 2016 Western Interstate Region Conference in Teton County (Jackson Hole), Wyoming! The conference brings together county officials from western states to focus on pressing issues facing counties and our residents. Attendees interact with federal, state and regional policymakers, participate in educational sessions and take home tools to address timely challenges.

NACo 2016 Interim Resolutions
Conference attendees helped to shape NACo's policy priorities and adopted the 2016 Interim Policy Resolutions. These resolutions and many others will be considered again at NACo's Annual Conference and Exposition in Los Angeles County/Long Beach in July. Download the 2016 interim resolutions.

The Stepping Up Initiative
50 Teams Chosen to Attend National Summit to Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jails
The Association of Oregon Counties will join county leaders and local policymakers representing 50 jurisdictions in 37 states in Washington, DC, April 17-19, 2016 to address the overrepresentation of people with mental illnesses in jails across the country. 50 teams were chosen to attend the National Stepping Up Summit, a first-of-its-kind summit hosted by The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, the National Association of Counties (NACo), and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Foundation to help policymakers and other local stakeholders create and/or refine plans to reduce the prevalence of people with mental illnesses in their jails. Learn more...

White House Rural Poverty Summit & Rural Impact County Challenge
During the Legislative Conference, NACo hosted "Opportunity for All: Building a Brighter Future for Rural Families," an intergovernmental effort to combat chronic rural poverty. In coordination with the White House Rural Council and the National Governors Association, the summit brought together hundreds of key stakeholders to discuss some of the greatest challenges facing rural communities, including child poverty, substance abuse, access to healthy food and workforce training. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the Rural Impact County Challenge to help advance counties' efforts to reduce the number of rural children and families living in poverty. NACo encourages counties interested in participating to complete the pledge form here. Participants will receive regular updates from the White House Rural Council on innovative, successful programs from across the country, including resources and assistance available to counties.

National County Government Month
National County Government Month (NCGM), held each April, is an annual celebration of county government. For the past 25 years, the National Association of Counties (NACo) has encouraged counties to promote county services and programs during April. NCGM is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the vital role counties play in residents' lives every day.

NCGM's theme is consistent with NACo President Sallie Clark's presidential initiative: "Safe and Secure Counties." It focuses on counties' service in three distinct areas:

- Ensuring public safety;
- Preserving public health and well-being; and
- Promoting local economies.

The NCGM 2016 Toolkit is available now.  Download the toolkit for ideas about engaging your community and celebrating county government in action.

Upcoming Webinars
Defining Measurable Goals and Outcomes for Juvenile Justice Reform
March 21, 2016 | 2:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. EDT | REGISTER

Just as important as implementing effective juvenile justice programs and policies is tracking the results of those efforts. This webinar will address key strategies for setting measurable goals for your county's juvenile justice system improvements, identifying appropriate outcome measures and developing processes for tracking progress towards your county's desired results.

Free Online Investment Solution for Counties
March 29, 2016 | 1:00 p.m. PST | REGISTER

AOC is pleased to support eConnectDirect® as an essential online investment solution designed to help Oregon county treasurers manage their investment needs. This proprietary tool provides treasurers access to thousands of fixed-income offerings and the ability to invest county funds in a more effective and transparent way. Ask your county treasurer, finance manager or administrator to sign-up for this webinar to learn about this free tool.

Founding Counties Project
Remembering our Founding Counties
AOC in partnership with the Oregon Capitol Foundation and Oregon State Parks is proposing to place commemorative stepping stones on the Capitol mall to acknowledge the existence of the three former Oregon counties. We propose to add the names of Champoeg, Tuality and Umpqua counties to those on the mall. The cast is $1800 and the Capitol Foundation has contributed $900. AOC is asking for donations for the remaining $900. Interested in making a donation? Contact Kimi Wong at AOC.

The Last Word
What is red and smells like blue paint? Red Paint.

Please feel free to contact Laura Cleland or Mckenzie Farrell 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 & Mckenzie Farrell

Association of Oregon Counties



Have a great week.