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Oregon Trails

An Occasional Newsletter


The Association of Oregon Counties

Month, Year - Vol 1, Issue 1

Sun Shines on Salem

Legislature tries to outlaw warm weather

May 27, 2015

In This Issue
Governance & Marijuana
Natural Resources
Public Safety
Energy, Environment & Land Use
Veterans Update
WIR Elects Breidenthal 1st VP
Regards to Rural
AOC Summer Summit
NACo Presidential Appointments
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Salem -  Oregon Trails is a day late this week due to the Memorial Day holiday. Frankly, another day to report the happenings of the Legislature hasn't helped. Activity at the Capitol has slowed a bit as lawmakers work on crafting a budget and figuring out the survival rate of the legislation still pending. Your AOC policy managers and communications staff will report what news is available in this edition.  


Elections in several counties May 19th produced a mixed bag of results. Voters in Curry, Josephine and Klamath counties turned down public safety levies while Polk County voters approved one. Lane County voters said no to a vehicle registration fee request. Baker County voters turned aside a proposal to make the board of commissioners non-partisan. Benton County voters said no to a GMO measure. Columbia County voters turned down a natural resources depletion fee. The OSU Extension District request in Klamath and Marion counties passed.  


NACo's Western Interstate Region (WIR) met last week in the Great State of Hawaii.  More on that later in this newsletter.   


A potpourri of tidbits as we watch May drift into June and wait for another glorious Oregon summer.  





On Wednesday, May 20, 2015, the Joint Committee on Implementing Measure 91, commonly known as the "Joint Marijuana Committee," began its work on the second of two omnibus marijuana bills, this time addressing Measure 91 itself.  


The starting point is the Dash-1 amendment to House Bill 3400. AOC Legal Counsel Rob Bovett, after receiving feedback from members of the Oregon County Counsels Association (OCCA) and the Oregon County Planning Directors Association (OCPDA), testified before the Committee, and explained AOC proposed amendments to the bill.  


Since that time, Mr. Bovett has assisted Committee members with three amendments that reflect some of the AOC suggestions. Those  amendments  are as follows: (1) Provide for a local opt out of marijuana businesses similar to that in Senate Bill 964A, the omnibus medical marijuana bill (that is now the Dash-5 amendment to HB 3400), (2) restore the language in Measure 91 by removing the global preemption provisions of the Dash-1 amendments (that is now the Dash-6 amendment to HB 3400); and (3) fixing the land use and local regulatory language in the Dash-1 amendment (that is now the Dash-7 amendment to HB 3400). The bill comes up for another hearing Wednesday, May 27th at 5:00 PM.


In the meantime, the omnibus medical marijuana bill, Senate Bill 964A, was passed by the Senate Wednesday morning on a vote of 29 to 1. While the Senate vote was impressive, the bill still has no clear path to get to the House floor. Mr. Bovett has prepared a summary of the Senate bill and it is very informative. 


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


Natural Resources

Drought spreading 

In our May 5 issue of Oregon Trails, we described the drought conditions in the state in the context of the need for more profound investment on water supply development by the 2015 Legislature. At that time there were seven counties with state drought declarations, and Oregon Trails speculated that after the State Drought Council meets in mid-May there would be up to 12 counties with drought declarations. Well, as it turns out we guessed too low.Fifteen counties now are on the list: Baker, Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Harney, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Wasco and Wheeler.


The implications are obvious: Oregon needs to prepare now for droughts at least as long as the current one, now in its fifth year.


For assistance available to residents of counties with declared drought conditions, learn more at the Water Resources website


State Forests/County Forest Trust Lands: more flexible timber sales procedure could bring more revenues to the Department of Forestry and trust land counties

On Monday, the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee sent Senate Bill 248 to the House floor with a do-pass recommendation. Given its unanimous passage in the Senate and lack of controversy in the House Committee, adoption is all but assured. This is good news to AOC and the Council of Forest Trust Land Counties.


SB 248 clarifies that the state forester may enter into and administer contracts for activities necessary or convenient for sales of state timber. The Department of Forestry currently contracts with a single successful bidder for purchase of all timber in a sale and the associated harvest work. Auctioning to multiple buyers would likely maximize sales revenue, which provides the necessary resources to manage the state forests and is shared with forest trust land counties. 


Current timber sales are generally dominated by one species or grade. Offered as one unit likely limits the number of bidders and produces lower sale prices. Being able to divide sales by species or grade, for example, would likely maximize the price for each timber type. Selling by sorts could also increase competition. This flexibility is an advantage to buyers interested in a particular log type, who would be able to bid on the appropriate sort only. Clearly authorizing this flexibility is good for the buyers, the state, the state forests, and the stakeholder counties. 


AOC Policy Director Gil Riddell has many years experience dealing with Finance.


Public Safety

County Justice Courts on Track to Get Funding Boost From Civil Fees


AOC introduced House Bill 2355 with the Oregon Justices of the Peace Association to help reduce deficits that counties with justice courts are facing due to increased civil filings. The bill sought to increase certain filing and trial fees, but kept the fees lower than circuit court so that citizens continue to have access to local county courts.


A compromise between AOC and the Oregon Collectors Association, a frequent user of local courts, resulted in House Bill 2316, which passed both the House Judiciary Committee and House Revenue Committee this past week. The bill will bring counties approximately $85,000 in additional revenue over the next biennium.


AOC Policy Manager Patrick Sieng keeps an eye on public safety issues and carries a badge.


Energy, Environment & Land Use

WOTUS Final Rule Released Today

Later today, leaders from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will announce the final Clean Water Rule, a jurisdictional rule to protect public health and America's streams and wetlands. AOC has not yet reviewed the final Rule. Information on the jurisdictional rule, and the rule itself, will be on the EPA website today. The Final Rule can be found here.


ODOE to Offer Research and Development Funds for Energy Storage

State will partner with U.S. Department of Energy and Sandia National Laboratories to further energy storage research in Oregon


The Oregon Department of Energy will issue a Request for Proposals in June, offering up to $250,000 in federal funding for an electrical energy storage demonstration project. The funding is made possible by support from the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, with Sandia National Laboratories providing technical project management assistance to the recipient(s). ODOE, together with Oregon BEST, will also make up to $45,000 in additional funds available to the selected project.  


More information and the RFP announcement will be posted on the Oregon Department of Energy's website in June. 


LCDC Meets in Salem

The Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) met last week in Salem. There were several important issues on the agenda including sage grouse land use rulemaking and primary processing of forest products rulemaking. The sage grouse item was an update on the concurrent rulemaking that is happening with LCDC and the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW). The Department of Land Conservation & Development (DLCD) staff reported that progress is being made and that LCDC will adopt the rules during their July meeting. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) personnel stated that Oregon seemed to be moving in the right direction to avoid a listing of the greater sage grouse but no definitive answers were available.


LCDC also adopted the definition of primary processing of forest products. The definition was the product of several meetings with a rule advisory committee over the past six months. AOC requested the definition be created to clear up some inconsistencies on what processing is allowed on forest land. Like every good compromise, most people had something to complain about with this definition. Special thanks to Coos County Commissioner/LCDC Commissioner Melissa Cribbins for providing leadership on this important issue. More information can be found here.


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



U.S. Senate Passes Bill to Improve Healthcare Acess for Veterans: S. 1463

On May 22, 2015, under the leadership of Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and a bipartisan group of five other Senators, the Senate passed S. 1463, the "2015 Access to Community Care for Veterans Act." This legislation, if also passed by the House, would make two major changes to the Choice Card program that was originally created in 2014.


First, S. 1463 would make statutory changes to the original legislation clarifying that the 40-mile criteria should mean 40 miles traveled, not 40 miles "as the crow flies." The VA announced earlier this year that it would make this needed change. S. 1463 makes that VA agency decision permanent. Second, S. 1463 would also ensure that the 40-mile rule applies only in the circumstance where a veterans facility provides the service the veteran needs. So if a vet lives within 40 miles of a VA facility, but that facility does not provide the care the vet needs, then the veteran is eligible for the Choice program.


The AOC Veterans Committee has been actively advocating for these changes to the "40 mile" rules in recent months. This work included an April 13, 2015 letter to the full Oregon Congressional delegation, stating in part that "we are writing to convey our serious concerns about the failure of the Choice Card program, but more importantly, to highlight two specific and immediate opportunities to improve this program." Seven AOC commissioners signed this letter advocating for the specific changes now contained in S. 1463: commissioners Diane McKeel, Rod Runyon, Bill Hall, Stan Primozich, Ken Fahlgren, Martha Schrader and George Murdock.


The Choice program is a key component of the "2014 Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act, "which President Obama signed into law last summer. The VA began sending Choice cards to eligible veterans at the end of last year, mailing them out in three phases. But the rollout created confusion, and many vets who believed they were eligible for the Choice program were turned away. The Choice Program runs through Aug. 7, 2017, or until the  original $10 billion of funding is exhausted.


S. 1463 was cosponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). VA officials have estimated that the changes proposed in S. 1463 could cost tens of billions of dollars a year. S. 1463 now heads to the House.


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


WIR Elects Breidenthal 1st VP
WIR Officers
WIR officers l to r: Lesley Robinson, past president; Gordon Cruikshank, president; Doug Breidenthal, 1st vice president; Joel Bousman, 2nd vice president

At the annual Western Interstate Region Conference in Kauai County, Hawai'i last week, Jackson County, Oregon Commissioner Doug Breidenthal was elected the group's first vice president for 2015-16. Commissioner Breidenthal served as WIR second vice president in 2014-15. Valley County, Idaho Commissioner Gordon Cruickshank was elected WIR President for 2015-16. Sublette County, Wyoming Commissioner Joel Bousman is the new WIR second vice president and Phillips County, Montana Commissioner Lesley Robinson is now immediate past president. Congratulations Commissioner Breidenthal!


The WIR conference was packed full of useful information about pending legislation in Washington, DC, including SRS and PILT, Waters of the U.S. and an update on the transportation package (Congress kicked the can down the road, again). In addition, WIR attendees heard about what's new with FirstNet, cybersecurity, public lands management proposals, western state drought conditions, wild fire threats, mentally ill in jails, and Endangered Species Act reform. 


Commissioner Breidenthal moderated a workshop on medical and recreational marijuana legalization and its impact on counties. Brian Enslow, senior policy director at the Washington State Association of Counties and Chip Taylor, the executive director of Colorado Counties, Inc. along with Keith Kamita, chief special agent for the Hawai'i Narcotics Enforcement Division, provided an overview on how to deal with the myriad of issues legalized pot has generated. It was standing room only for the workshop on a subject that is increasingly taking up more and more time for county officials.


Deschutes County Commissioner Tammy Baney joined Agent Kamita and Hawai'i State Senator Josh Green for a workshop on heroin and prescription drug use. Commissioner Baney's message about prescription drug abuse is very powerful. Did you know that more people die every year in Oregon from prescription drug overdoses than from automobile accidents? Heroin use is growing across the nation again because the drug never went away and is now more available than ever before. Counties are on the front line in dealing with these drugs and the effects they have on all of us and our communities. 


Gratuitous Hawaii Photo
Gratuitous Hawaiian photo


Columbia County Commissioner Tony Hyde, Tillamook County Commissioner Tim Josi and Multnomah County Commissioner Judy Shiprack, attended the NACo Board of Directors meeting that was held in conjunction with WIR. AOC President Gary Thompson, Sherman County judge and AOC First Vice President Larry Givens, Umatilla County commissioner attended WIR along with AOC Executive Director Mike McArthur and AOC Road Program Manager Emily Ackland. Please feel free to contact Mike or Emily with any questions you might have about the issues discussed at WIR. AOC Communications Manager Eric Schmidt also attended, but was overloaded with so much useful information, he would be a babbling idiot if you asked him. But go ahead and try. He did take notes. 


Oregon is one of 15 western United States that make up WIR. WIR officers and board members will meet again at the NACo Annual Conference in Mecklenburg County (Charlotte), North Carolina July 10 -13. If you are planning to attend the NACo conference, registration is now open.  

Regards to Rural Conference

Regards to Rural Conference will be held June 26-27th at the Riverhouse Hotel and Convention Center in Bend.  


Presented by RDI, the Regards to Rural 2015 conference , Navigating the Rivers of Change: Rural Communities in Transition, is a gathering to inform and inspire. RDI invites you to join them to renew your energy, share practices and spark innovative ideas for strengthening the economic vitality and social vibrancy of rural communities. The conference will include over 30 effective skill-building sessions, access to rural resources and opportunities to network with others who are passionate about making sustainable changes in their rural communities.


Confirmed 2015 keynote speakers are Roger Brooks, tourism and downtown development expert, and Shanna Ratner, Principal of Yellow Wood Associates, Inc. In addition, RDI has invited U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to speak at the conference.


For questions about the conference, contact:

Stacey Stonesifer

RDI Senior Program Manager

Phone: 541.419.7000


AOC Summer Summit

Mark your calendars for the 2015 AOC Summer Summit, August 9 - 11 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. You won't want to miss it! Registration will be online in June. 


NACo Presidential Appointments

Become a NACo Leader and Make a Difference

A great deal of NACo's strength is in its committees and that strength is reflected in the commitment and active participation revealed throughout our committee structure.


These appointments are for:

  • Policy steering committee and subcommittee chairs and vice chairs
  • LUCC and RAC chairs, vice chairs and members
  • At-Large appointments to the NACo Board of Directors
  • Standing committee chairs, vice chairs and members
  • Ad Hoc committee, task force and advisory board chairs, vice chairs and members

The Presidential Appointments Application Form must be completed by everyone who wants to be considered for a leadership or committee appointment on a standing or ad hoc committee for the 2015 - 2016 presidential year. The application form is available online at NACo's web site: Presidential Appointments Application.


Please note: steering committee membership is NOT a part of this application process. State associations are responsible for nominating general policy steering committee members. To become a members of a steering committee you must fill out the steering committee nomination form and submit it to your state association, who will submit the nomination to NACo.


Please address questions to Jamie Richards at 202.942.4258. 


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.