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Oregon Trails

An Occasional Newsletter

from

The Association of Oregon Counties

Month, Year - Vol 1, Issue 1

Second Half      

Legislative Session Moving Swiftly     

February 18, 2014

In This Issue
Public Safety
Governance and Marijuana
Veterans
Communications Policy
Energy, Environment & Land Use
Public Lands & Natural Resources
Health & Human Services
Emergency Planning Districts
NACo Leg Conference
NACo Drug Discount Program
Places to Go, Things to Do, Great Opportunities
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Salem - Annual legislative sessions are a fact of life in Oregon now. This year's short session is being played out in the shadow of an upcoming election and a very tight fiscal situation. 

A number of bills have been pronounced dead, but there are several that have been described as zombies, not dead, not alive, but still there. The zombie phenomenon could rank right up there with the ever popular legislative maneuver of gut and stuff which is why AOC policy managers are ever vigilant when they are in the Capitol. 

The short session is half done or half left depending on your point of view. What we have in this edition of Oregon Trails is the half time report. 



Legislators Looking for Green Stuff Everywhere


Public Safety
Law enforcement groups and AOC joined together to testify last week about a bill that changes the funding formula for juvenile crime prevention funds from the Youth Development Council.
The changes, proposed in House Bill 4134, are being led by Speaker of the House Tina Kotek, D-Portland. 

 

While AOC opposed the original bill, Speaker Kotek proposed amendments which would extend the timeline for the change and create a task force to study the impacts on counties during the interim leading up to the 2015 regular session.

 

AOC's Legislative Committee on Monday voted to support the amended version of the bill. In addition, AOC voiced a number of concerns and requests relating to the changes and composition of the task force. 

 

Marion County Commissioner Janet Carlson led discussions with legislative leadership, the juvenile department directors, and at the legislative committee.

Patrick Sieng is AOC's Policy Manager for Public Safety.   

 

Governance (and Marijuana) 

The 2014 legislative session continued its lightning fast pace in week number two! Public contracting, tort claims against government, and marijuana were "high" on the agenda (pun intended).

 

The AOC/LOC bill (SB 1531) to clarify local authority to regulate or opt out of medical marijuana dispensaries was watered down to remove the opt out. However, we hope to "roll" that back into the bill in the House, as well as add provisions that authorize the Oregon Health Authority to regulate marijuana-infused products marketed to kids, and add preschools to the 1,000 foot exclusion zone. The marijuana legalization referral (SB 1556) was shuffled from one committee to another, but doesn't appear to be moving at this time.

 

AOC also joined with many other local governments to halt the progress of a bill (HB 4119) designed to limit our options when contracting for engineering services on small projects. The bill was pulled from the House floor and sent back to committee.

 

We are also continuing to struggle with another bill (HB 4048) that would open up a whole new class of tort claims against government in cases where a claimant's estate received a worker's compensation death benefit. The bill stems from a tragic set of circumstances, and an unjust death benefit. But the bill provides the wrong solution. We are working closely with LOC, CIS, and others to promote an amendment to the bill that provides the better remedy to the issue, without needlessly opening up a whole new class of tort claims.

 

AOC Legal Counsel Rob Bovett takes care of Governance and Marijuana issues. 

 

Veterans

Every two years the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs partners with other state and federal organizations to host an Oregon Women Veterans Conference. This free event offers women veterans an opportunity to connect with other women veterans and learn about the benefits that they have earned as a result of their honorable service. This year's conference theme is "I am a veteran and this is my journey." THE CONFERENCE IS FREE.

REGISTER HERE   

Oregon Soldiers Slated to Deploy to Afghanistan the Summer of 2014

Approximately 950 Oregon soldiers are preparing for a new deployment to Afghanistan in the summer of 2014. The troops are scheduled to attend training in Texas for four to six weeks, then fly to their bases in Afghanistan. The units will provide security at Bagram Air Base, in Kabul and at Shindand Airbase in western Afghanistan.

Deploying troops:

*  Bend-based 1st Battalion of the 82nd Cavalry

*  Springfield-based 2nd Battalion of the 162nd Infantry Regiment

*  Ashland-based 1st Battalion of the 186th Infantry Regiment.

For more information on veterans issues contact Andy Smith.

 

Communications Policy

House Bill 4031, AOC's bill to transfer the State Interoperability Executive Council from the Department of Transportation (ODOT) to the Department of Administrative Services (DAS), Office of the Chief Information Officer, received a preliminary hearing in the Joint Ways & Means Subcommittee on Transportation & Economic Development last week.   

 

The bill faced issues during the 2013 session for not fully addressing budget issues, but is expected to pass through the committee. Tom Lauer, ODOT major projects, was present to talk about the bill, the state radio project, and FirstNet - a nationwide interoperability project.   

 

The committee voted unanimously to accept the report on HB 4031. Yamhill County Commissioner Kathy George has been the key leader on the bill.

  

Patrick Sieng is AOC Policy Manager for Communications Policy.  

 

Energy, Environment & Land Use

Energy, Environment and Land Use (EELU) Bill Update

 

Bills EELU Supports

-Alive

Allows local governments to facilitate private financing of energy improvements by property owners. After an amendment the bill passed the House and is now moving to the Senate.

HB 4126A

-Alive

This is the compromise bill on the RPS requirements. It has passed the House and should be scheduled in the Senate.

HB 4153

-Not moving

A land use bill that never received a hearing.

SB 1520A

-Alive

Another renewable energy bill. The bill passed through the Senate and has been referred to the House Business and Labor committee.

SB 1575

-Not moving

A land use bill that would have permitted processing of logs in lands zoned forest or mixed farm and forest. The bill had a hearing but likely will not be heard again. The chair of the committee suggested that there may be a workgroup on the issue.

SB 1578A

-Alive

The bill was amended to simply include a provision that would allow woody biomass to fulfill the requirement of 1.5 percent renewable energy in public buildings. The bill received a worksession on Thursday and is expected to be heard on the Senate floor on Tuesday.

 

Bills EELU Opposed

-Not Moving

This bill was the latest attempt at a State-wide Environmental Protection Act. The bill had a public hearing and there were many individuals and groups testifying on both sides of the issue. Senator Dembrow, chair of the committee, stated interest in starting a taskforce or workgroup to discuss the issue. AOC has met with Senator Dembrow and voiced our interest in participating in the workgroup.For a complete update on bills related to Energy, Environment or Land Use, please click here.

 

 

Mark Nystrom is AOC Policy Manager for Energy, Environment and Land Use.  
 
Public Lands & Natural Resources

Cap on performance bonds lowered for timber bidders.  

Senate Bill 1555 was amended and sent to the Senate floor on Thursday by the Senate Rural Communities & Economic Development Committee with a do pass recommendation. The bill is of interest to the Council of Forest Trust Land Counties (CFTLC), because it sets a cap on performance bonds for bidders of state timber at $500,000. Performance bonds are used to cover damages from defaults and to resell defaulted timber. CFTLC did not weigh in, because only 20 percent of bidders of state timber have had to post bonds of more than $500,000 and the default rate over the last five years has been a relatively insignificant 2 percent. The risks are low. Moreover, the cost of the bond is usually incorporated in the bid, so that a lower bond could mean a higher bid. SB 1555 was supported by the Department of Forestry and the forest industry.

   

Bill on no net loss of private land morphs into a study group; Judge Perry stars at hearing.

Wheeler County Judge Chris Perry spoke in favor of Senate Bill 1554 before the Senate Committee on Education and Workforce Development on Thursday, and impressed the members and the audience. SB 1554, supported by AOC, would authorize a county to adopt an ordinance intended to protect and enhance the percentage of private land within the county by requiring trade-offs of public land if more land is to be acquired for tax exemption in that county. Judge Perry described a circumstance in his county where a functioning 40,000-acre ranch was taken off the tax roll in trade for out-of-county property. As a result, he stated, the county tax rate was driven up so high that the county has trouble attracting new business investment and lost funding for a deputy sheriff and part-time deputy clerk. The story, and Judge Perry's honest delivery, impressed Committee Chair Mark Hass, D-Beaverton, to the point that, after thanking Judge Perry, he asked subsequent witnesses opposed to SB 1554 what they would do to address the Wheeler County story.

 

Opposing witnesses admitted that the problem of receding tax bases in rural counties is real, but stated that the bill was not the answer and would preclude conservation tools that permit the landowners to retain ownership. The Oregon Hunters Association worried that cooperative wildlife management would be at stake. The Coalition of Land Trusts complained that SB 1554 would limit landowners rights. On the other hand, the School Boards Association defined the issue as one of statewide school funding, and the Oregon Farm Bureau added its support.

 

In the end, the committee did not act on the bill on the announcement by the Governor's Office that he will appoint a study group staffed by state agencies to determine the scope of rural economic and tax base issues in preparation for the 2015 session.  

 

AOC Policy Director Gil Riddell handles Public Lands and Natural Resource issues.

 

Health and Human Services

The second week of the short legislative session proved to be an eventful one in the health and human services sector. A number of health and human services related bills the AOC Human Services Steering Committee (HSSC) supported and took action on, per the AOC Legislative Committee's approval, were addressed in hearings and work sessions.  

 

The bills relating to the regulation of electronic cigarettes, HB 4115 and HB 4073, which AOC supported with amendments and provided joint testimony on with the Coalition of Local Health Officials (CLHO) and the Association of Oregon Community Mental Health Programs (AOCMHP), turned into a workgroup. HB 4129, the bill that would have increased the cigarette tax by $1.50 with all revenues to go to Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs), died.

 

While a number of bills died, others are alive and worth attention, namely HB 4110A, the bill that would require private health insurance to pay for covered services provided to pre-adjudicated detainees in a county jail. It is alive and in need of your support. Currently, private health insurance companies in Oregon have exclusions in their policies for people who are up-to-date on their premiums, but are incarcerated, including those who are simply awaiting trial and have not been found guilty of anything. Legislative Counsel recently issued an opinion that would make the continuation of this practice a violation of the Affordable Care Act. The Act prohibits private health insurance discrimination against inmates who are awaiting trial. A recent survey of county jails across Oregon State found that 8 percent of inmates have private insurance, 61 percent of inmates in jail are pre-adjudicated, and the average cost per inmate for health care cost is $169. The services provided to pre-adjudicated detainees in jails are no different than the services received outside. HB 4110A would correct a cost shift from private health insurance companies to county taxpayers. We have pointed out that requiring counties to pay for health care for pre-adjudicated inmates who have private health care coverage is neither good public policy nor a good use of taxpayer dollars.

 

HB 4110A (soon to be HB 4110B) passed out of the House Health Care Committee and is now in the House Rules Committee. It is yet to be seen exactly what will happen next, but we urge all County Commissioners to reach out to their Senators about the importance of supporting this bill. This is a call to action.

 

We have included talking points here for your consideration and convenience. If you do reach out to your Senators, please let Human Services Policy Manager Ashley Horne know so that we may track your efforts. 

 

Ashley Horne is the AOC Policy Manager who deals with Human Services.

 

One other health related note: School Exclusion Day is Wednesday, February 19.  For more information about that annual rite of passage please see this release. (Our thanks to Bobby Green at OHA for the heads up.)

 

And now a word from our sponsor
Kumquat

Emergency Planning Districts

A message from the Office of State Fire Marshall: 

The Office of State Fire Marshal is proposing the adoption of an Oregon Administrative Rule that would establish Emergency Planning Districts as required by the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986 (42 U.S.C. Chapter 116, Section 11001 et seq.) and ORS 453.502. A public hearing was held December 17, 2013 to receive comment and written testimony on the proposed OAR 837-095. At that hearing there were questions and concerns regarding the proposed rule and how it would impact the planning districts.

 

We (the State Fire Marshall's Office) are asking representatives of those who may be impacted by the designation of emergency planning districts, and other interested parties, to help us address any questions and concerns by providing input and advice on the proposed rule. We have scheduled four meetings statewide. At these meetings we will provide information as to why the proposed rule is needed and what the impacts may be with the designation of emergency planning districts, and an opportunity to review the proposed rule.

 

We hope you will take this opportunity to join in the discussion and provide your input and advice. Please share this invitation with anyone who may have an interest in the adoption of this rule.

 

February 25, 2014 - 1:30 pm 3:30 pm

Jackson County Sheriff's Office

5179 Crater Lake Highway

Central Point, OR  97502

 

February 26, 2014 - 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Deschutes Co. Sheriff's Office

63333 Hwy 20 W

Bend, OR  97701

 

March 4, 2014 - 9:00 am - 11:00 am

Umatilla County Sheriff's Office

4700 NW Pioneer Place

Pendleton, OR  97801

 

March 6, 2014 - 9:00 am - 11:00

Office of State Fire Marshal

4760 Portland Rd NE

Salem, OR  97305

 

We look forward to talking with you. If you have any questions, please contact Sue Otjen at 503-934-8227, or sue.otjen@state.or.us.

 

NACo Legislative Conference
Registration is now open for the 2014 NACo Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. Complete details can be found at the NACo website.  

AOC staff has set up visits for those attending the conference with Oregon's congressional delegation. As we have done in past years, we go in ahead of the Legislative Conference so that we can take advantage of having our members of Congress in D.C.  

Plan on flying into our Nation's Capitol on February 26 (a Wednesday), visiting Capitol Hill on February 27 (Thursday), attending the AOC Capitol Hill reception on February 28 (Friday) and the Legislative Conference beginning March 1 (Saturday).  

If you have any questions, please contact our Washington, D.C. correspondent Eric Schmidt at 503-585-8351.  

NACo Drug Discount Program 

Does your county participate in the NACo Prescription Discount Card Program? If so, NACo, Caremark, and AOC can take specific action to get discount cards into the hands of residents. Tailored assistance is provided at the direction of the participating county and can include direct mailings, bill inserts, brochure stands, press releases, announcements, planning, and much more. This assistance program is easy to start, and requires very little support from the participating county. 

 

Expanding your marketing helps more people to discover and access this excellent, cost saving program. To start your marketing initiative, or to learn more, please contact Eli Justman, AOC program coordinator. You can reach Eli at AOC (503) 585-8351.   

 

NACo Discount Drug Program

 

Places To Go, Things To Do, Great Opportunities

NACo has launched a significant upgrade to the NACo Grants Clearinghouse which offers almost ten times as many grant opportunities for counties. For information on the upgrade and what it can mean for your county, please see this NACo release

 

The Oregon Transportation and Growth Management Program (TGM) is a partnership between ODOT and the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD). They want county governments to be aware that TGM planning grants will soon be available. For more information please see this release.   

 

Thanks for reading this far

Please feel free to submit your story ideas, announcements, recipes, photos and job changes to your Oregon Trails staff for inclusion in the next riveting edition.  We are not accepting any more weather related photos unless they involve puppies, kittens and small children.  

 

Your Oregon Trails staff,

 

Laura Cleland & Eric Schmidt

Association of Oregon Counties

503-585-8351

 

 

Have a great week.