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Oregon Trails

An Occasional Newsletter


The Association of Oregon Counties

Month, Year - Vol 1, Issue 1

Coast to Coast

It's been a busy week

March 3, 2016

In This Issue
Video Lottery Reallocation
Community & Economic Development
Health & Human Services
Energy, Environment & Land Use
NACo Legislative Conference
National County Government Month
Upcoming Webinar
Founding Counties Project
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Quick Links
It was a dark and stormy morning...

This edition of Oregon Trails has news from both coasts. The Oregon Legislature is required to wrap up its business by March 6, so that means things are heating up in Salem. And, the Oregon delegation that traveled to Washington, D.C. for the NACo Legislative Conference has returned -- a little late and ragged due to a barrage of weather-related cancelled or delayed flights, but in the end everyone made it home.


So, let's get to it!


The 2016 legislative session has seen a flurry of bills introduced that would directly or indirectly impact county governance. Many of those bills received hearings, and many had lots of problems, some of which got worked out. But the fast pace of the session meant that plenty were also left behind.  

This is an updated summary of each of the bills tracked by the AOC Governance Committee, the position of AOC on each of those bills, and their current status. The summary is organized under the following categories:  1. Elections; 2. GIS Data; 3. GMO; 4. Insurance; 5. Labor and Employment; 6. Labor and Employment - Minimum Wage; 7. Legislative Process; 8. Liquor; 9. Marijuana and Hemp; 10. Opiate Abuse; 11. PERS; 12. Public Contracting; 13. Public Records; 14. Recording; 15. Taxation; and 16. Tort Claims. 

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

Video Lottery Reallocation Temporarily Stymied
AOC took its case to the Capital Construction Subcommittee of Joint Ways & Means last week, arguing that the allocation now provided to counties for the 2015-17 biennium for 2.5 percent of net video lottery sales required an adjustment of plus $1.7 million. Gil Riddell and Mary Stern presented amendments to House Bill 5201, earlier submitted to the Ways & Means Co-Chairs Senator Richard Devlin and Representative Peter Buckley. The Co-Chairs rejected the request before the hearing/work session and it was therefore absent from the staff report of HB 5201.
Nevertheless, AOC pressed its argument at the hearing for the record.
  • Under ORS 461.547, counties receive 2.5 percent of net receipts (after payment of prizes) from video lottery games. Ninety percent of these funds are distributed to each county in proportion to gross receipts from video lottery games from each county. Ten percent are distributed in equal amounts to each county. These funds are dedicated for economic development projects.
  • Beginning in the 2005-07 biennium, 50 percent of the costs of the Governor's Office administration of the Economic Revitalization Team/Regional Solutions in the state budget has been funded from this county share.
  • For the current 2015-17 biennium, the 2015 Legislature (HB 5029A) decided to allocate a fixed dollar amount from this source to counties, rather than the percentage allocation under ORS 461.547. The fixed amount is $39,083,827, which equals 2.5 percent of video lottery proceeds projected in the May 2015 revenue forecast, minus one-half of funding for Regional Solutions.
  • For allocation/budget adjustments in the 2016 session, the Legislature is using the February 2016 forecast, released on February 10.
  • Based on the February 2016 forecast of video lottery sales for the current biennium, 2.5 percent of net sales minus one-half of funding of administration of Regional Solutions ($42,865,957 minus $2,029,209), equals $40,836,748. The adjustment to the allocation for counties would be plus $1,752,921.
  • The need for economic development resources, particularly in rural counties, is well documented.  
Ms. Stern gave a handful of specific examples of smaller counties making the most of these lottery funds. The subcommittee was fully attentive.
Co-Chair Devlin commented that the allocation technique in the past had protected counties against a downturn of lottery revenue. But he acknowledged the strength of the AOC arguments by stating the best time to "true up" the allocation to the statutory requirement will be at the end of the biennium in the final budget adjustment bill. AOC will do its best to ensure that this takes place.
During subcommittee deliberations, two state representatives exhibited their deep understanding of the commitments the state has toward the state-county working partnership. Representative John Huffman reinforced Senator Devlin's assurance of a truing up of the allocation. And Representative Greg Smith stated that the state-county partnership was critical to a working government and that at times the principle of this partnership must override circumstances.
AOC Policy Director Gil Riddell is in charge of the public finance portfolio

Community & Economic Development
Although it appeared at the beginning of the year that housing would be the major issue of this short session, only a few housing related bills are still alive at this point in time.  
  • HB 4143 , which would prohibit rent increases for tenants with month to month leases during the first year and require 90 days notice of any increase after the first year, made it through the House and the Senate rules committees.
  • SB 1533 , the Inclusionary Zoning Bill, permits cities and counties to adopt land use regulations or impose conditions for approval of permits that 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. Local jurisdictions may impose construction tax to pay for developer incentives. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 20-8 and, after a public hearing and work session in the House Rules Committee, is awaiting action on the House floor.
  • SB 1582  d irects Housing and Community Services Department (OHCS) to develop and implement the Local Innovation and Fast Track Housing Program created with the infusion of $40 million last session. The bill pass the House on Tuesday and the Senate today (3/3). It now awaits the Governor's signature that OHCS can get money out the door next year for housing projects.
  • The Omnibus Housing Bill HB 4001 went to the Rules Committee to die.  
  • HB 4043, which included a request for a document recording fee increase to fund housing programs, also died.
The issues relating to affordable, available and workforce housing will not go away any time soon. The AOC Housing Subcommittee has plans to work well beyond this short Legislative Session to gather information from all counties and attempt to find solutions to the many housing issues counties face. Due to the short session in February and Spring Break in March, the subcommittee will have one meeting for these two months on Friday, March 18, at 9:00 a.m. If you haven't done so already, please let Mary Stern know if you are interested in participating.  

Renewable Energy
After a long and tortured journey, the Clean Energy Bill, formerly known as HB 4036, has now morphed into SB 1547B. Due to lots of hard work by AOC and the Community Renewable Energy Association (CREA) advocates, our amendment is included in SB 1547B. The AOC/CREA amendment seeks to change the current goal to a requirement that 8 percent of renewable energy come from small, community-based projects. It also seeks to ensure that these community-based projects are located in Oregon. Simply put, SB 1547B means increased economic development for rural counties!

The bill passed the House on Tuesday and re-passed the Senate on Wednesday. 

AOC Policy Manager Mary Stern works on community and economic development issues.

There were very few bills relating to transportation in this short session. We will make up for that in 2017!

Governor's Transportation Vision Panel (GVTP)
The Governor's Transportation Vision Panel continues its road tour, hosting a series of regional forums across the state. These two-hour forums will provide an opportunity to seek local input and solutions to the regional needs and priorities of Oregon's transportation system. The remaining forums are scheduled in the following regions:
  • Lower John Day, Monday, March 7, 2016 - The Dalles, OR
  • Rogue Valley, Tuesday, March 8, 2016 - White City, OR
  • Northwest Oregon, Thursday, March 10, 2016 -Tillamook, OR
  • Southwest Oregon, Friday, March 11, 2016 - Coquille, OR
  • Portland/Metro, Monday, March 14, 2016 - Portland, OR
This is a great opportunity for you to remind panel members that focus needs to be given to the operations and maintenance problems throughout the entire integrated transportation system maintained by the state, counties and cities. Counties face a $505 million shortfall each year while trying to maintain, preserve and improve our roads, bridges and culverts. Check out the 2014 County Road Needs Study for more information or contact Mary Stern.

AOC Policy Manager Mary Stern 
navigates transportation issues

Health and Human Services
Tobacco bills slowly chug along
SB 1559, which would establish a statewide tobacco retail licensure program, has finally made its way to the Senate floor. Last week, the bill showed signs of sudden movement when an amendment was introduced to narrow the scope of preemption in the bill. The original version would not have allowed local governments to limit the proximity of retailers near schools or county/city property. The new bill establishes such a preemption only for retailers of 5,000 square feet or larger (think Fred Meyer); small retail shops may still be regulated in the aforementioned manner - though those currently in existence are grandfathered in. The Senate, however, voted on Wednesday to refer this bill back to the Health Care Committee.

While the e-cigarette tax bill is not moving this session, there was a great informational hearing last week. The House Health and Revenue committees met jointly on 2/24 and heard from state public health experts as well as health advocates about the issue. Topics covered included: how the amount should be calculated for maximum health impact, what other states have done, etc. The committee spent about an hour listening to the two panels, and it was a great meeting to key up more work before 2017. 
AOC Policy Manager Stacy Michaelson deals with health and human services issues.

Energy, Environment & Land Use
Rumors are flying in the capitol that session will be over before next Friday. There are a lot of issues still to be resolved so there will be a lot of work done before now and Sine Die.

Here is a recap of the action taken on the bills EELU weighed in on:

HB 4036-Renewable Portfolio Standard-Support with Amendments
HB 4036 is now SB 1547 . HB 4036 passed the Senate and when it got back to the House, it was stuffed into SB 1547 and heavily amended. The 8 percent community renewable goal that AOC, along with the Community Renewable Energy Association (CREA), have been pushing looks like it will be included. There are also amendments that have a positive impact on the biomass industry that are looking favorable. The bill passed the House on Tuesday and the Senate concurred with the House amendments and re-passed the bill on Wednesday.
SB 1563-Low Income Onsite Septic Loan Program-Support with Amendments
SB 1563A cleared the Natural Resources Subcommittee and Full Ways and Means Committee unanimously on Tuesday. It passed the Senate with a 29-0 vote last Thursday and passed the House on Wednesday. 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. Senator Roblan and Senator Dembrow both showed great persistence and leadership on this issue.
SB 1517-Oregon Farm Bureau Wetlands Bill-Support with Amendments
SB 1517A-10 was subject to an exciting hearing on Tuesday, February 23rd in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Chair Witt had heard some strong opposition to the bill and was uncertain whether it would make it out of his committee. However, after hearing impassioned testimony from Tillamook County Commissioner Labhart and other proponents the committee seemed to be at a stalemate. Chair Witt called a recess and had the conservation community sit down with Commissioner Labhart and the Farm Bureau. After a lengthy discussion a compromise was found and the committee re-convened in the evening. The bill passed out of the committee unanimously and was passed by the House on a 58-1 vote. The Senate concurred with the House amendments and re-passed the bill on Wednesday.
Commissioner Labhart and the Farm Bureau (Mary Ann Nash in particular) showed amazing persistence working this bill and a willingness to address the conservation community's concerns. Additionally, members of the conservation community were willing participants in finding a workable solution showing great faith in Tillamook County's handling of wetlands. Finally, Representative Witt showed great leadership by bringing everyone to the table and finding a compromise.
SB 1507-Tax Credits-Support Amending
This recommendation ran through Community and Economic Development.
This effort died on Thursday although we received assurances from both the Senate and the House, and from Democrats and Republicans, that they would work with us on a fix in 2017.

Other news
The Oregon Department of Energy announced 13 recipients of nearly $1.5 million in Renewable Energy Development (RED) grant funds. The RED grant program supports Oregon businesses, nonprofits and organizations investing in renewable energy systems that use biomass, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, wind, landfill gas, biogas, wave, tidal or ocean energy to produce electricity.

After a competitive review process, 13 projects were selected for this fifth round of RED grant funding, ranging from $10,000 to $165,000. Visit ODOE's website to see a full list of selected projects.

Sharing the Coast Conference
You are invited to the 8th annual Sharing the Coast Conference, coming to Coos Bay March 4-6. The public is welcome to share in the wealth of information about coastal science and natural history that the conference provides. The event takes place at Southwestern Oregon Community College (1988 Newmark).

A collaboration between the CoastWatch program of the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition and the Northwest Aquatic and Marine Educators (NAME), the conference features speakers on topics ranging from oceanography and undersea exploration to beach ecology and climate change. Workshops and field trips will introduce a wider range of subjects and skills.  You will find the full schedule online .

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

NACo Legislative Conference
County leaders converge in Washington, D.C. to discuss leadership, responsibilities, and collaboration

Last week over 30 county commissioners, judges and staff were welcomed to Washington, D.C. with mild weather for the NACo Legislative Conference, February 20-23, 2016.  County leaders attended steering committee meetings to determine how to advance county policy priorities at the federal level. From public lands to justice to public safety, to transportation to health care, members weighed in on federal policy issues that impact counties and their residents.

NACo Economic and Community Development Subcommittee Chair and Clackamas
Clackamas County Commissioner Martha Schrader addresses the NACo Economic and Community Development Subcommitee
County Commissioner Martha Schrader said, "The reason I am a member of a NACo steering committee is that the committee's work dovetails nicely into the work I am doing at the local level. Not only do you move policy forward at the local level, you have an opportunity to move policy at the national level."

Attendees also dove into issues that conveyed a broad range of county responsibilities and leadership by participating in proactive discussions on housing, next generation 911, justice reinvestment, PILT and SRS, transportation funding, land management, and community and economic development with public and private thought-leaders from across the United States.

The NACo conference featured presidential political humor and campaign analysis from Chris Wallace, host of FOX News Sunday, a thoroughly entertaining music and political satire performance from the Capitol Steps. Attendees also heard from Mitch McConnell, U.S. Senate Majority Leader (R-KY); Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture; John B. King, JR., acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education; Anthony Fox, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation; Julian Castro, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; John McCain, U.S. Senator (R-AZ), and others.

Finally, county leaders attended a variety of workshops to learn best practices and participate in vital discussions on many topics including, federal refugee admissions and resettlement programs, emergency management, the role of freight transportation as an economic engine, reducing mental illness in jails, county finances, and rural poverty, to name a few.
Wasco County Commissioner Rod Runyon addresses the NACo Veterans Affairs Committee
First-time NACo conference attendee and Wasco County Commissioner Rod Runyon shared information about why counties matter in reducing the number of people with mental health issues in local jails, stating "Wasco County is currently looking at designing a wing of the jail facility that was used in part for juveniles, and changing it into a mental health focused area by bringing in the proper people and resources so the individuals can be treated based on their needs."

To view the 2016 NACo Legislative Conference photo album, click here.

Interested in viewing recordings from NACo Legislative Conference workshops? Click here.

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 Webinar
Free Online Investment Solution for Counties
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.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 | 1:00 p.m. PST | Register

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.

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.