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Oregon Trails

An Occasional Newsletter


The Association of Oregon Counties

Month, Year - Vol 1, Issue 1

Gray Days Return

Cheech and Chong Write the Script

May 12, 2015

In This Issue
Governance & Marijuana
Transportation/Community & Economic Development
Natural Resources
AOC Legislative Committee
Health & Human Services
Public Safety
Energy, Environment & Land Use
Veterans Update
Regards to Rural
AOC Summer Summit
NACo Presidential Appointments
NACo Educational Opportunities
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Salem -  Tensions tend to surface from time to time during a legislative session, and this session is proving to be no exception.  


The joint committee that has been given the task of implementing Measure 91 -- the recreational marijuana initiative passed by Oregon voters -- has apparently reached an impasse. The committee did not schedule a meeting for today and various news reports indicate there might not be any meetings in the near future. Committee members are divided on the issue of local control over medical marijuana dispensaries but hopefully that one issue won't derail the entire effort.


AOC Legal Counsel Rob Bovett is monitoring the situation and he promises to report any salient details that will impact Oregon counties as they become available. Needless to say, the last couple of weeks have been high pressure on this particular issue and some tempers are beginning to fray.  


Marijuana isn't the only issue facing this session of the Oregon Legislature, but it does have a high profile, so to speak. Another source of frustration appears to be the upcoming revenue forecast, which could cause the personal kicker to be enacted. That would send the budget writers back to the drawing board and that's not the way the play is supposed to end.  


Be that as it may, AOC policy managers and your communications team are following developments with expert eyes and ears and offer the following items of interest for your reading pleasure.   




The Bend Bulletin report on the marijuana issue may provide the best overall explanation of the controversy swirling around the Capitol. Also, if you would like to see what the pending legislation - SB 844 and all of the proposed amendments - looks like, please click here.  The link takes you to OLIS (Oregon Legislative Information Service) and the page on SB 844 where you can click through on the history, amendments, information, testimony and overall status. OLIS is a handy tool, especially with this issue.  


Monday, May 11, the AOC Legislative Committee voted to have AOC Legal Counsel Rob Bovett continue to work with the Legislature and other stakeholders to craft the best possible legislation on marijuana. 


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


Transportation/Community & Economic Development



We're on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin' that ride to nowhere
We'll take that ride


After hearing the Talking Heads singing "The Road to Nowhere" on the radio the other day, I wondered if perhaps David Byrne had spent time at the Capitol attempting to follow the status of the transportation package!


Sunday's Op-Ed by David Sarasohn instilled a glimmer of hope that something may happen this session after all. Governor Brown has been hosting party leaders from both houses at Mahonia Hall in an attempt to salvage a transportation package. Rumor has it that the meetings continued yesterday.


Meanwhile, your AOC staff and folks from LOC and ODOT are attempting to ensure that the cost of the DMV's Service Transformation Program (STP) and the DMV Debit/Credit Acceptance won't come off the top of the State Highway Fund (SHF). These two programs would take an estimated $39 Million off the top of the SHF in the 2015-17 biennium, resulting in the loss of nearly $9 Million to counties. Although AOC agrees there are definite needs to modernize the system used by DMV and to enable customers to pay with debit/credit cards, counties cannot afford to take the hit associated with paying for these programs. It was initially thought that language drafted by legislative counsel identifying funding sources for these two programs would be placed in HB 3256.  It was learned last week that our concept will need to find a new home. We are working with several legislators to identify a bill.  



A Public Hearing will be held on House Bill 5030 this Friday, May 15, in the Joint Capitol Construction Committee. The bill authorizes the issuance of Lottery bonds for Business Oregon in order to support many of its community & economic development programs.  These programs often involve other state agencies, including Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon Housing and Community Services and Water Resources Department. It should be noted that approximately 90 percent of these funds positively impact rural Oregon. AOC supports all of the purposes listed below. Please contact your legislators in support of HB 5030.   




AMOUNT (net proceeds)

Special Public Works Fund



Regional Infrastructure Fund (Regional Solutions)



OR Infrastructure Opportunity Program



Brownfields Redevelopment Fund



Multimodal Transportation Fund



Affordable Housing Finance Fund



Water Supply Development Account



Water Conservation, Reuse & Storage Investment Fund




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



Competition wide and deep for state bonding, including water development, county courthouses, and low income housing, all supported by AOC. 

A crowded committee room in the Capitol at the Ways & Means Capital Construction Subcommittee meeting on Friday heard a stream of witnesses request a total of $1.3 billion of general obligation bonds, $2.4 billion in revenue bonds, and $800 million in private activity bonds.  


Multnomah, Tillamook and Jefferson counties reported on the conditions of their current courthouses and plans and needs for their replacements. Low-income housing advocates spoke for the Governor- and AOC-supported $100 million package. And, Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, lead off presentations of those supporting $30 million of general obligation (GO) bonds to recapitalize the Water Development Loan Fund, part of a package of four bonding requests for water development. All of these bonding requests (and others) involving general state obligation to repay are in House Bill 5005. Next Friday, the Subcommittee will hear further from advocates of GO bonding and about requests for lottery-backed bonds in HB 5030. As with HB 5005, several of the requests in HB 5030 have AOC support, including the other three parts of the water development package (planning, project feasibility, and project implementation and finance).


Oregon Trails reported last week about the coalition of moderates called the "Avengers," formed in 2012 to advance water development that is practical, available, and successful. The group (core members: AOC, Oregon Association of Nurseries, League of Oregon Cities, Special Districts Association, The Freshwater Trust, Northeast Oregon Water Association, and the Oregon Water Resources Congress) has grown, as it has in the past on particular issues. The Avengers support all four parts of the water development bonding requests, and now have been joined by the Farm Bureau, Oregon Business Council, Oregon Business Plan, Associated Oregon Industries, and the Oregon Business Association. Moreover, county judges and commissioners of counties in the districts of members of the Capital Construction Subcommittee have been contacting the members urging support for the entire water development package [AOC thanks you!].


The Water Development Loan Fund has been dormant. Added to the Oregon Constitution in 1977, it nevertheless drew opposition to its recapitalization from The Nature Conservancy, Oregon Environmental Council and WaterWatch. The environmental groups worry that the funds' implementing statutes do not include enough protections for fish and habitats. They did, however, testify in support of recapitalizing the Water Supply Development Account, created by Senate Bill 839 (2013).


The subcommittee will meet next on May 15, one day after the State Revenue Forecast, and have scheduled May 29 for those who remain to testify. 


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


 Water Policy

Proposed rules implementing Water Development Program on the road next week. 

The Water Resources Department (WRD) will take their hearings on rules to implement the State Water Development Program around the state next week. Senate Bill 839 (2013), supported and shaped by AOC and others, required rulemaking by the Water Resources Commission to fill in the details of use of funds, applications for funding, project selection, seasonally varying flows and other topics. For those who are interested -- and Oregon Trails hopes that you are, because this program could help fund big and small water projects in your county -- here is the rulemaking notice and proposed rules. The proposed rules are a result of several meetings of the rules advisory committee (RAC), made up of stakeholders (including AOC). The rules may seem a little complex, because SB 839 was complex and forced certain terms to be used. Nevertheless, the RAC did its best to simplify the language where it could to make this program accessible, practical and successful.


Look on the first page of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to find the places, dates and times of public hearings in Pendleton (May 18), Ontario (May 19), Bend (May 20), Grants Pass (May 21) and Salem (May 22). The hearings are formal -- but not stuffy -- legal affairs for the record. WRD has offered a more relaxed, informal way to ask questions, get information and engage in some give-and-take. One hour before the start of each hearing will be an open house, at the same place as the hearing. AOC urges any county official who will have business with WRD on this program to take the opportunity to attend the open houses and testify on the draft rules. Offer your suggestions for improved language; get to know the program. Counties will be playing a key role in convening community groups to plan locally for the ways and means to a future of clean, abundant water.


AOC Policy Director Gil Riddell can answer your water related questions.  


Health and Human Services

HB 2546-B, which includes e-cigarettes in the Indoor Clean Air Act and prohibits sales to minors, passed out of the Senate 22-8 on Monday. The latest version of the bill included a delayed timeline, which was necessary to move the bill out of committee. This was intended to address concerns over prohibiting sampling in vape shops by giving the businesses time to adapt their business model. Despite an unexpected attempt by the minority to re-refer the bill back to committee, the measure made it off the floor with bipartisan support. It does appear the conversation about sampling in vape shops may continue as other tobacco- and e-cigarette-related bills are worked.


HB 2936, which AOC voted to support on Monday, now appears likely to move. The bill puts a definition of sobering facilities into statute, giving law enforcement the ability to take intoxicated persons there without fear of liability, and extends a certain level of immunity to stand-alone facilities that are not part of larger treatment facilities. The bill does require a contractual relationship between stand-alone facilities and a licensed treatment provider in order to ensure that best practices from the mental health and medical fields are being followed. Despite operating for a number of years, this is the first time stand-alone sobering facilities will be called out in Oregon statute. In order to ensure this change is done right, the bill will likely be framed as a pilot project, to grandfather in existing facilities and allow limited expansion until the Legislature can do a review in a couple of years. But, it is a step in the right direction. 


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


Public Safety

AOC to join public safety, business, human services advocates for lobby day on justice reinvestment May 14th 

County judges and commissioners will join sheriffs, district attorneys, community corrections directors and other advocates for a lobby day on justice reinvestment funding on May 14.  


AOC will join public safety groups and the Oregon Coalition for Safety and Savings, which is comprised of victim services advocates, criminal defense lawyers, business leaders, and human services stakeholders. The lobby day continues these groups' efforts in continuing full funding for the justice reinvestment grant program, created by House Bill 3194 in 2013. Recent prison forecast projections and savings from prison diversion could mean up to $53 million in funding for counties for reentry and recidivism reduction programs.


Judges and commissioners are needed in full force for the May 14th event, which runs from approximately noon to 5 p.m. Please contact AOC Public Safety Policy Manager Patrick Sieng to RSVP. Appointments with legislators are already scheduled, so those signing up will be plugged into those meetings with other stakeholders.


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


Energy, Environment & Land Use

Juniper Bills

The two existing Juniper Bills, House Bill 2997 and HB 2998, had public hearings on Wednesday in the Transportation and Economic Development Subcommittee of Ways and Means. HB 2997 provides $250,000 for technical and marketing support for the juniper industry. HB 2998 provides lottery funds to the Oregon Business Development Department for the following purposes:

  • Economic development assistance for juniper harvesting or manufacturing as a loan or a grant ($500K)
  • Technical business assistance ($200K)
  • Workforce training assistance ($100K)
  • Mapping of commercially viable juniper stands to be harvested.

AOC suggests that you reach out to your legislator to express support for these two bills. The bills should help create much needed jobs in rural Oregon while tackling a difficult environmental issue.


Materials Management

SB 263, the goals and measures portion of the two materials management bills, received a public hearing last week. Despite some discussion on the term "opportunity" in "opportunity to recycle," the bill seemed to get a generally warm reception. SB 263 is scheduled for a work session on Thursday. 


Its companion bill, SB 245, which would raise tip fees to fund DEQ programs is waiting for a public hearing in Ways and Means. Another materials management bill, HB 3251, will receive an informational meeting on Thursday. This bill is Metro's first shot at a household hazardous waste product stewardship bill. Metro plans on presenting this for information only and hopes to have a more robust discussion between now and when the bill will be re-introduced in 2016 or 2017. Metro has reached out to the county solid waste directors and asked for input so that the program can enhance the existing investments in the solid waste infrastructure.


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



SB 5539: Budget Bill for ODVA and CVSO's

County Veterans Service Officers are funded jointly by counties and the state. HB 5539 is the 2015-17 Governor's Recommended Budget for the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs and includes $3.7 million of base funding for CVSO's and continuation of a $1 million "Veterans Extended Outreach Grant Program" funding that was launched last biennium. AOC is working with members of the Transportation and Economic Development Subcommittee of Ways and Means to maintain both the base level of funding and the Outreach Grant for a total of $4.7 million to support CVSO's across the state. The recent Oregon Supreme Court ruling on PERS and the pending revenue forecast are straining the amount of general funds available in 2015-17, including this funding. AOC has created the one-pager below, which highlights the very significant economic impact that CVSOs leverage by helping veterans access their disability and compensation benefits:  

GI Bill Supports Apprenticeship Programs for Counties

On-the-Job & Apprenticeship Training Programs Both on-the-job (OTJ) and apprenticeship training programs are available for veterans using their VA educational benefits, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill. These programs allow veterans to learn a trade or skill through training on the job rather than attending formal classroom instruction. A veteran generally enters into a training contract for a specific period with an employer or union, and at the end of the training period, the veteran gains job certification or journeyman status. Employers or unions generally pay a reduced OTJ/apprenticeship wage (generally 40 - 50 percent of journeyman wages). Veterans in an approved program can use their GI Bill benefit and receive a tax-free stipend. This stipend averages $17,480 a year and offers a very important resource to benefit both the veteran, and employers interested in promoting retention. To qualify for these benefits veterans must have been released from active duty within the past 15 years with an honorable discharge. Common occupations for counties include those in law enforcement and community corrections; Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) staff are also pursuing apprenticeship approval for new CVSO's who are beginning their training curriculum with ODVA. Counties are in a great position to qualify as employers for these apprenticeship programs, in both represented and non-represented workforces.


For more information contact: John Kersey, Apprenticeship and Training Division, Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.  971-673-0772    



Tours of PDX Airport USO and US Navy Ship During Rose Festival Fleet Week

Please RSVP!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Join our AOC Veterans Steering Committee

When: Friday, June 5th (9 am - 1 pm)

Where: Portland Airport/Tom McCall Waterfront Park

Please RSVP to Andy Smith


Please join us for tours of the Portland Airport's new United Service Organization (USO) and one of the US Navy ships during this year's Rose Festival/Fleet week.  


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


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. 


NACo Educational Opportunities
How One County Addresses Rx Drug Abuse

Today, more people between the ages of 25 and 64 are dying from a drug overdose than from a car crash, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of overdose deaths has created a multifaceted challenge for counties. Tune in to hear Suffolk County, N.Y. discuss how they are addressing this challenge. Listen now!



How Transportation Infrastructure Shapes Economic Development

Counties play an essential role in the development and maintenance of the nation's infrastructure. They are responsible for building and maintaining 45% of the public roads, 230,690 bridges and are involved in a third of the nation's transit and airport systems that connect residents, businesses and communities. Without a resilient and functioning transportation system, a functioning economy - and a functioning county - simply can't exist. Listen now!


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.