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Oregon Trails

An Occasional Newsletter


The Association of Oregon Counties

Month, Year - Vol 1, Issue 1

Heat Wave

The Summer Season Begins

June 9, 2015

In This Issue
Governance & Marijuana
Public Safety
Natural Resources
Energy, Environment & Land Use
Health & Human Services
Transportation/Community & Economic Development
Article Headline
AOC Summer Summit
Article Headline
NACo Presidential Appointments
Article Headline
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Salem -  Temperatures soared in Salem Monday, a high of 96 according to Bob the Weather Cat. The next couple of days promise slightly cooler conditions, but under the Gold Man, the pace is heating up a little as floor sessions go longer in order to take care of the bills that have cleared committee.  


Both chambers are working dual shifts on some days, and even working over the lunch hour. Difficult days are ahead as the budget gets ironed out and some of the more controversial issues are revisited again or brought to the fore for a last ditch effort to get passed before legislators head for home, hopefully by the end of June, but certainly before July 4th if veteran observers are correct in their predictions.  


The AOC Legislative Committee met Monday, June 8th at the Local Government Center and as usual, attendance was robust as was the discussion over current and pending legislation. Your AOC policy staff has been working overtime to keep everyone informed about what impacts some of that legislation will have on Oregon counties. AOC steering committees met Monday as well. 


Our next gathering will be August 9, 10, 11 in Deschutes County at the Riverbend Conference Center for the AOC Summer Summit. Hopefully, by then, we will be able to summarize the current legislative session, not endure a lengthy extended version. 


Until then, below are the reports of your AOC policy managers and communications staff in another riveting edition of Oregon Trails.   


Thank you.  


Monday, June 8, 2015, the AOC Legislative Committee took up two matters referred to them by the AOC Governance Committee, both of which played out later on that same day in the Capitol.



On June 8, at 1:30 p.m., the Joint Marijuana Committee released the amendments that comprise the draft global marijuana package:

This is an updated summary of that package prepared by AOC Legal Counsel Rob Bovett.


As these things often go, there have been too many cooks in the kitchen. There were additional tweaks to key provisions of the package that Mr. Bovett had negotiated, some contrary to the deal he struck with the co-chairs, and what the AOC Legislative Committee had approved less than an hour before. The change of greatest concern was to the scope of the time, place and manner section related to retail marijuana businesses. The new tweak would have confined that statutory authority to retail shops. In other words, no statutory authority related to the other categories of retail OLCC licensees (specifically producers, processors, and wholesales). Mr. Bovett cried foul with both co-chairs, and legislative counsel. Hence came the HB 3400 Dash-11 amendments in short order, which restore statutory authority to all categories of retail licensees.


At the hearing Monday night, the Joint Marijuana Committee heard a review of the myriad of changes to the global package from legislative counsel, before hearing from OLCC on a number of issues.


Public Records 

House Bill 3557 came about as a result of the passage of House Bill 3037 earlier in the session, which adds additional categories of public employee personal information that is exempt from public records disclosure. The newspaper publishers pointed out that the way those new exemptions were granted leaves them immune from any public interest balancing test. They argue that recent events in the Governor's Office show how there needs to be a balancing in some cases. Hence, the introduction of HB 3557 to create such a balance by way of a relatively high "clear and convincing" standard. 


However, AOC Legal Counsel Rob Bovett had two serious concerns with the bill, so he shared the proposed legislation with the county counsels. The ensuing conversation on confirmed the serious nature of the concerns, namely: (1) Potential liability for releases later deemed to not have reached the high "clear and convincing" standard; and (2) local governments having to absorb the costs associated with responding to such a public records request when they turn down the request, as can be anticipated to occur due to the high standard.


As a result, Multnomah County secured two amendments to address those concerns.  Upon recommendation of the AOC Governance Committee, the AOC Legislative Committee voted to support HB 3557 only if the Dash-1 (immunity) and Dash-2 (cost recovery) amendments are adopted into the bill. Later that day, the House Rules Committee passed the bill with both amendments.


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


Public Safety

FirstNet to Hold Data Collection Workshops Around State 

FirstNet is a federal initiative that will provide emergency responders with the first nationwide, high-speed network dedicated to public safety. The goal is to increase collaboration and help emergency responders save more lives, solve more crimes, and keep our communities safer, according to its website. 


A series of data collection workshops will be held around the state, starting next week for the central and eastern Oregon region. On Tuesday, June 16, FirstNet will hold its first workshop in Bend at the Deschutes County 9-1-1 Service District from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Workshops will follow in Baker City on June 17 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Pendleton on June 18 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The information being collected includes data regarding number of incidents responded to, number of law enforcement personnel and first responders in the area, and what type of communications are currently in use. This is also an opportunity to get to know the folks at FirstNet, which could come in handy in the future. 


In July, FirstNet will hold workshops throughout the valley and then in August, workshops will be held along the coast and in southern Oregon. For more information on these workshops, please visit 


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


Natural Resources 

New Federal Forest Management Reform Bill Shows Promise 

A federal bill introduced on June 4, H.R. 2647, addresses federal forest management reform with provisions offered by counties. Chiefly sponsored by U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-AR-4, it is the product of months of discussions and is attempting to keep its policy improvements in the mainstream. More targeted than the last House reform bill (H.R. 1526) and founded in collaboration, it squarely addresses issues that are factors in the deterioration of the federal forest landscape. Its highlights include:

  • Forest management activity developed through collaboration, proposed by a resources advisory committee (RAC; Title II, Secure Rural Schools Act), or covered by a community wildfire protection plan (CWPP) will have only two alternatives: action/the activity proposed or no action. No action will be evaluated for its effects on forest health.
  • A categorical exclusion (exception from requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act) is available to expedite critical response actions, such as insect infestation or hazardous fuel loading. Harvest units are limited to 5,000 acres, unless the activity results from collaboration, a RAC, or a CWPP, in which event the limit is 15,000 acres. The activity must be conducted consistent with the current forest plan.
  • There is an expedited process for salvage and reforestation of large-scale catastrophic events. This also must be consistent with the forest plan in force.  Restraining orders, preliminary injunctions, and injunctions pending appeal are prohibited.
  • If the activity results from collaboration or a RAC, a plaintiff must post a bond to cover anticipated costs, expenses, and attorney fees of the Secretary as defendant. If the plaintiff prevails on the merits on every cause of action, the bond is returned plus interest. A settlement agreement, however, will result in sharing of costs, expenses, and attorney fees incurred by the parties.
  • The bill streamlines the RAC process, includes the Coos Bay Wagon Road, reinstates revenue sharing to stewardship contracts, requires consultation with the affected county before road decommissioning, and removes the "eastside screens."
  • Of particular relevance to Oregon, the bill creates a "State-Supported Forest Management Fund," a revolving fund financed out of timber sales, to cover the cost of planning, carrying out, and monitoring certain management activities of the type the state is now engaged in to increase the pace and scale of federal management activities.

H.R. 2647 will be heard by the House Natural Resources Committee June 11.   


Oregon's Federal Forest Restoration Initiative Approved With a Small Reduction 

The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) watched as the Ways & Means Natural Resources Subcommittee held its work session Tuesday on House Bill 5019, which included approving the continuation of the state's federal forest restoration initiative. The ODF package, strongly supported by AOC, reestablishes and expands funding for the initiative. 


In the 2013-2015 biennium the Legislature provided $2.885 million in Lottery Funds for the program to provide grants for collaborative groups, contracts for scientific research, and directly support activities to increase the pace and scale of forest product harvesting activities on federal forest lands. Activities funded in the 2013-15 biennium were limited to forest lands on the east side of the Cascades. This package provides a one-time only $5.0 million Lottery Fund allocation to expand the work of the program statewide. ODF had requested $6.05 million. 


The funding includes grant funding opportunities and direct technical assistance for an estimated 25 forest collaborative groups. These groups bring together multiple stakeholders to address and assist in federal forest management decisions so that forest management projects can move forward without litigation. The package also provides support for a state/federal implementation partnership that leverages federal funding, increases the pace and volume of timber and biomass sales, increases watershed health and habitat improvement, and supports restoration-related jobs. This partnership includes the implementation of a Good Neighbor Agreement with federal land-management agencies as included in the 2014 Federal Farm Bill allowing the state to perform watershed restoration and forest management services on federal lands.


The funding in the package is split between collaborative group support ($1.3 million), state/federal partnership ($3.375 million), and program management and administration ($325,000). Grants to collaborative groups will be managed by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board. Four new, limited-duration positions are established in the program; a natural resource specialist and a procurement specialist position within the Salem headquarters and two natural resource specialists placed in ODF districts. In addition, eleven existing seasonal positions will be temporarily extended by eight months this biennium for a total of 7.64 FTE.


A goal of this package is to move its eastside successes west, to different landscapes and culture. Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, received assurance that the eastside would not be abandoned, but that the work there would grow. Two members (Representatives Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, and Jodi Hack, R-Salem) voted no, because they believed that the natural state assets are being under-utilized.


Apropos to that sentiment, HB 5019 removes nine positions (8.66 FTE), and associated services and supplies totaling just under $2.0 million Other Funds. The reduction is due to an actual and projected reduction in workload on Common School Fund Lands resulting from a change in the management of the Elliott State Forest. In addition to the reduction in positions, the package includes a reduction of $563,801 Other Funds for professional service contracts. As reported earlier in Oregon Trails, the Elliott State Forest has been virtually closed to harvesting due to lawsuits.


AOC Policy Director Gil Riddell has been searching the forest for the trees for many decades.


Energy, Environment & Land Use

Many of the policy bills that the AOC Energy, Environment and Land Use Committee weighed in on are either moving smoothly along or are stuck in the waiting game of Ways and Means.


DEQ Bills

Last week SB 263, the DEQ "Opportunity to Recycle" bill passed the House and is on its way to becoming law. The funding bill for materials management, SB 245, passed the full Ways and Means Committee and will be voted on in the Senate on Wednesday.


Juniper Update

The two Juniper bills, HB 2997 and HB 2998, passed the Full Joint Ways and Means Committee with unanimous support. The funding levels in the bills also remain at their full original request levels ($250K and $900K, respectively). Both bills now go to the House for a vote on Wednesday. HB 2997 and HB 2998 are complementary bills that encourage sustainable harvest and utilization of Western Juniper for ecological benefit and economic development in rural communities, as well as provide locally produced wood products to the urban marketplace and green building sector. The bills provide competitive working capital, business and technical assistance, and workforce training for juniper businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as funds to advance juniper supply chain and market development.


A new marketing video that profiles A to Z Wineworks switching out their old vineyard trellis posts and replacing them with new juniper posts can be found here.


SB 246-Onsite Septic Revolving Loan Program

SB 246 establishes the Onsite Septic System Loan Fund and authorizes DEQ to provide grants or loans to implement the program at the state, local or regional level. The program would be structured as a revolving loan fund to maximize the use of limited start-up funds and ensure this resource is available for the long term: as loans are repaid, they are immediately available for lending to other homeowners. The purpose would be to help homeowners in need of septic repair or replacement which can often cost as much as some homes are worth.


After speaking with the co-chairs of the Ways and Means Committee, it is clear that the policy has broad bipartisan support but the question is how much money will be available to establish the loan fund. If this is a pressing issue for your county we urge you to contact your legislators to describe the importance of supporting SB 246.


Biomass Blog Entry

Here is an interesting blog entry from the USDA Chief Economist stating that a study confirms wood pellet industry promotes forest stewardship, helps create jobs and cuts greenhouse gasses.


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


Health and Human Services

Well, it's that point in session where anything can happen. Despite the Department of Human Services (DHS) including in their budget a funding increase in developmental disability (DD) to transition to a workload model (from caseload) and to maintain the 95 percent reimbursement rate to counties -- and despite pretty much no objection all session - we are now hearing whispers that the 95 percent rate is in question. Unconfirmed, the figure that's been tossed around is 90 percent reimbursement rate. This is now becoming a hotter topic that your AOC policy team will be working much harder in the coming days.


And in a similar change of circumstance, the bill to create a statewide program for licensure of tobacco retailers appears to be headed nowhere good. We've been supportive of the concept all session, but the latest drafts of amendments have included concerning language around preemption, enforcement and timeline for implementation. Amendments were drafted to address the concerns of local public health, but they haven't gained much traction. The latest amendments do not include any of the changes requested by local government, and advocates have generally agreed that unless there is some concession to these changes, we'd be happy to see this version of the bill remain in committee. 


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


Transportation/Community & Economic Development


. . .  roll down the window

And let the wind blow back your hair

Well the night's busting open

These two lanes will take us anywhere

We got one last chance to make it real . . .


As the session draws to a close, the words of Bruce Springsteen's Thunder Road seem to be playing continuously. After weeks of meetings between leaders of both parties and both chambers with the Governor, the chances of a transportation package have gone from optimistic to nil and back again several times. We still remain hopeful that the Legislature can pull out a win for the people of Oregon. But with the clock ticking, as the Boss would say, "we've got one last chance to make it real."


Continuing down an optimistic path, IF a package passes, the members of AOC have agreed to seek a revised distribution formula for up to $30 million of any new funds that come to the counties from the State Highway Fund. Currently, funds are distributed based only upon vehicle registration. The new formula would be divided into three parts: 1/3 would be equally distributed to all counties; 1/3 would be based upon county road miles; and 1/3 would be based on vehicle registration. This change would enable more rural, less-populated counties to receive a base level of funding necessary to adequately address local needs.   


It appears that HB 2275 will now be the home (fourth bill's a charm?) for a funding source to cover the cost of the DMV's Service Transformation Program (STP) and the DMV Debit/Credit Acceptance program. These two programs would take an estimated $39 million off the top of the State Highway Fund in the 2015-17 biennium, potentially resulting in the loss of nearly $9 Million to counties. An amended version of HB 2275 will allow for DMV to recover the cost of services on certain functions, such as issuing Class C driver licenses. This would raise approximately $28 million per biennium, which would cover the costs of the two new DMV programs over the long term. The bill, which the AOC Legislative Committee voted to support Monday, is currently in the House Rules Committee. We are asking for a hearing and a referral to the Joint Ways & Means Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development. 


The Legislative Committee also voted to support, with amendments, House Bill 2274. HB 2274-2 makes changes to the Connect Oregon program, including adding to the criteria for consideration of projects a requirement that a proposed project have a useful life expectancy that offers maximum benefit to the state. This additional language should help alleviate some of the concerns voiced by AOC's members regarding the short term nature of some of the bike/ped projects previously funded through ConnectOR. The bill also seeks to increase the match requirement from 20 percent to 30 percent.  


At an Informational Hearing on June 1 in the House Transportation & Economic Development Committee, AOC Policy Manager Mary Stern raised concerns about the increase in the match, calling it unnecessary due to the fact that one of the criteria already considered in the amount of match. By increasing the match to 30 percent, local jurisdictions, particularly those in rural areas, may not be able to meet the higher level of match, thereby potentially excluding some important and necessary projects. The bill is now in the Ways & Means Committee. Please contact the members of that committee if you have concerns about the increase in the required match.


USDA Seeks Applications to Expand Economic Development in Rural Communities

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking applications for grants to support rural community economic development. Approximately $4 million is being made available nationwide under the Rural Community Development Intiative (RCDI) program.  

Eligible applicants include public, private and nonprofit intermediaries, as well as federally recognized tribes.


RCDI grants can be used to provide training or technical assistance. Training may be focused on home ownership education, minority business entrepreneurship, strategic community planning or accessing alternative funding sources. Intermediary organizations must provide matching funds at least equal to the RCDI grant. USDA has invested more than $33 million through the RCDI program since 2009. Grants range from $50,000 to $250,000. 


For more details about the RCDI funding, see page 27887 of the May 22, 2015, Federal Register. Applications must be submitted by 4:00 p.m. on August 13, 2015. In Oregon, paper applications should be submitted to the following address:


USDA Rural Development
ATTN: Community Programs
1201 NE Lloyd Blvd
Suite 801
Portland, OR 97232


Questions related to USDA Community Programs in Oregon may be directed to a Community Programs specialist in the Portland State Office. 


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



SB 5539:  CVSO Funding Contained in Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs Budget Bill 

Thank you to all of the Commissioners who signed on to the support letter for SB 5539 (CVSO funding) at Monday's AOC Legislative Committee meeting. With the full Ways and Means Committee beginning their final round of decision making on the 2015-17 state general fund budget, now is the time to continue our full engagement of committee members.


Please Send ASAP:  Sample of Personal Email to Legislators




Representative/Senator ________________

Member, Joint Committee on Ways and Means  

Oregon State Capitol

900 Court Street NE

Salem, Oregon 97301


Subject: SB 5539---Funding for County Veteran Service Officers


Dear Representative/Senator ________________,


I am writing in support of a funding level of $4.7 million for County Veteran Service Officers (CVSO's) as contained in SB 5539, the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA) budget bill. 

  • According to the latest VA Expenditure data released on May 29, 2015, the level of compensation and pension benefits paid to Oregon's veterans rose to the level of $1.282 billion in 2014.  This total increased by $182 million from 2013, a 16.5% rise. 
  • The ROI (return on investment) for our investment in CVSO's is phenomenal. For a state GF investment of less than $5 million per biennium, our CVSO's help leverage $1.282 billion of federal funds each year. These funds go directly to veterans in every county in the state and stimulate local economies via payments for rent, food and basic services.  These federal dollars also save millions of state general funds on social services that would otherwise be needed. 
  • 58 County Veterans Service Officers are the front line troops who work hard to gain the trust of our veterans, help them file complicated federal VA claims, and ultimately shepard our veterans and their families through the "VA maze" and "across the benefits finish line" to access education, healthcare, disability and other earned benefits.  These CVSO's are funded jointly by counties and the state. 
  • Oregon CVSO's are top notch: they are ranked 7th nationally in the average size of the disability compensation claims they achieve for our veterans.  In 2013, the annual average amount of disability and pension payment received by 64,899 Oregon veterans amount totaled $16,953 and exceeded the national average of $14,917 by 14%. 



Commissioner ________, _______ County


Send your emails to the members of the Legislature's Ways and Means Committee.


AOC Policy Manager Andrew Smith is in charge of the Veterans' portfolio. 
Mike's Photos of the Week
AOC Executive Director Mike McArthur offers a couple of Oregon perspectives this week. The first is Detroit Reservoir on a sunny day...

The second is the first ever stop light in Sherman County...

Can't make this stuff up. If you have an interesting photo of something from your neck of the woods, please let us know.  

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 soon. 


 NACo CLI Class of 2015
The Twelfth Annual County Leadership Institute took place in Washington, D.C. May 31 to June 4 of this year. CLI is a rigorous four-day program offered in partnership with Cambridge Leadership Associations. More than 250 county officials from 42 states and 160 counties across the nation are graduates.

In this year's class was Jackson County Commissioner Doug Breidenthal who was recently elected 1st Vice President of NACo's Western Interstate Region (WIR). This year's class focused on the demands of personal leadership in a new era of government, one characterized as a "permanent crisis" by CLI Program Developer and Cambridge Leadership co-founder Marty Linsky.  

Thank you for your participation Commissioner Breidenthal!

2015 County Leadership Institute Class of 2015
Commissioner Breidenthal is pictured second from left 

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. 


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...

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.