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Oregon Trails

An Occasional Newsletter

from

The Association of Oregon Counties

Month, Year - Vol 1, Issue 1

Legislative Days of Winter     

Back up and running    

January 28, 2014

In This Issue
PILT Update
Marijuana
Veterans
Public Safety
Energy, Environment & Land Use
Public Lands & Natural Resources
Saying Goodbye to a Friend
NACo Leg Conference
US Communities
NACo Drug Discount Program
Places to Go, Things to Do, Great Opportunities
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Changes are afoot
Salem - Something tried, something true, something blue and something new. We have the tried and true Oregon Trails newsletter, with blue headings...now for the new. Starting with this issue, and to the extent possible, you will see the stories grouped by subject area. The subject area titles will be in the "In This Issue" box to the left. So, if you are only interested in a particular issue area, you can click on that heading to the left and go straight to those stories. Now, there will still be some stand alone stories such as the public safety summit, PILT and marijuana in this issue. There is so much information in each of these stories that your editor thought they deserved their own block. 

We welcome your feedback on this formatting change.

Other changes abound. AOC's new legal counsel, Rob Bovett, has hit the ground running since coming on board earlier this month. Interviews were held last week to fill two new positions: a member services coordinator/administrative assistant for AOC and an information and policy specialist for the county road program. We look forward to welcoming two new faces some time in the near future. 

Some things never change. Your AOC policy managers spent some hectic days while the Legislature was in town for their interim legislative days. You'll hear more about this in the stories below. The 2014 legislative session is just around the corner, so the pace is sure to remain fast and furious. And there was the public safety summit in Curry County last Friday and Saturday to keep us busy. 

PILT Update from NACo

M E M O R A N D U M

 

TO:                  PILT Receiving County Officials
FROM:            Ryan R. Yates, NACo Associate Legislative Director

RE:                   Update on PILT Funding
DATE:              January 17, 2014

 

As many of you know, much has occurred this week concerning funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program. We have been working closely with key House and Senate members and staff to find a source of funding and legislative vehicle to extend PILT payments for FY14. Your direct grassroots outreach with your congressional delegations and members of the media have had a positive impact on the overall PILT effort - THANK YOU.

 

On Sunday, January 12, congressional leadership and House and Senate appropriators made the decision to exclude PILT from the FY14 omnibus appropriations bill. The bill has since been passed by the Senate and House of Representatives and sent to the President for signature. The exclusion of PILT came as a significant disappointment to NACo, our members, governors, and countless members of Congress who had pressed for PILT funding for several months. The resulting outcry has spawned tremendous response from House and Senate leadership and numerous other members of Congress that support PILT.  

Here is what has occurred this week:

1)      Speaker Boehner met with more than 20 members of Congress on Tuesday, January 14 to discuss concerns about the PILT program. The Speaker has committed to funding PILT in the upcoming Farm Bill conference. At this point, it is unclear whether Congress will include a multi-year extension or just the FY14 funding on the bill.

2)      Following the formal commitment from Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor, a formal colloquy took place Wednesday on the House floor between Chairman Frank Lucas (House Agriculture Committee), Chairman Ken Calvert (House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee), and Chairman Rob Bishop (House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation) in which they discussed the PILT program and committed to funding the program.

Chairman Lucas stated, "I have already had preliminary conversations with Chairwoman Stabenow who is a strong supporter of PILT funding as well as Chairman Hastings of the House Natural Resources Committee whose committee oversees the program. I also have the backing of House Republican Leadership. I can assure you both that it is my intention to provide funding for PILT in the final conference agreement on the farm bill. I am very much aware of the importance of this program for rural communities across America in providing funding for necessary functions like police, education, and infrastructure." Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) was also quoted confirming an agreement to fund PILT in the Farm Bill.

3)      In the Senate, a bipartisan coalition of Senators is circulating a letter to the farm bill conference committee requesting crucial funding for public land counties. The effort led by U.S. Senators Michael Bennet, Mike Crapo, Mark Udall, and Jim Risch makes the case for including PILT in the farm bill and states, "Counties across the country, particularly those containing significant federal landholdings rely on PILT funds as sizeable percentages of their budgets.  Many of the same rural counties that rely on programs in the Farm Bill also depend on PILT to sustain their economies and serve their citizens." Further, "Without an extension of PILT, rural counties will face drastic budget cuts in June and may struggle to fund the most basic of services."

ACTION REQUESTED: The letter is still open for signatures and NACo requests counties urge their Senators to sign the letter. Currently the following senators have signed: Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Mark Udall (D-CO), Jim Risch (R-ID), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jon Tester (D-MT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Mark Warner (D-VA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Patty Murray (D-WA), Mark Pryor (D-AK), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).  Staff contacts for the letter are: Sean_Babington@bennet.senate.gov and Peter_Stegner@crapo.senate.gov.

4)      In addition to the efforts on the omnibus appropriations bill and farm bill, Senator Mark Udall this week introduced S. 1913, "A bill to make permanent the Payment in Lieu of Taxes Program." Udall's bill would permanently authorize and fund the PILT program and ensure that counties are not left in budget limbo every year due to the uncertainty of the Congressional budget process. NACo supports S. 1913 and encourages other Senators to cosponsor the legislation.  Current cosponsors include Dean Heller (R-NV) and Michael Bennet (D-CO).

5)      Thursday, January 16, Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) delivered a speech on the Senate floor to support funding for the PILT program and to make the case for continuation of the program (attached).

6)      Lastly, Senator Barrasso filed an amendment (attached) to the omnibus bill yesterday to restore funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program.  The amendment would have provided $421 million for PILT in FY 2014, which represents the amount authorized in fiscal year 2013 before sequestration.  The funding for PILT would be offset by reductions of $421 million from several  international climate change programs. The amendment was not agreed to and the omnibus appropriations bill was approved today. 

Again, thank you all for your continued efforts to send a strong message to the media, the public, and to members of Congress about the critical need to continue mandatory funding for the PILT program and the urgency of the situation. We need to continue to be vocal and vigilant on this issue. Thank you for your continued efforts.

 

Questions can be directed to Gil Riddell at AOC or Ryan Yates at NACo

 

Marijuana

Dispensaries

In 2013, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 3460, which authorizes medical marijuana dispensaries.  All sides now agree the bill itself has many significant deficiencies.  The AOC Legislative Committee has directed staff to work on fixing those deficiencies, as well as securing a local opt out for counties and cities.

 

Legalization

There are currently three initiative petitions filed with the Oregon Secretary of State that would place the question of legalizing adult recreational use of marijuana on the November 2014 ballot.  The sponsors of those petitions have told the legislature they will stand down, and not circulate the petitions, if the February 2014 legislative session refers its own legalization measure to Oregon voters in November of 2014.  The AOC Legislative Committee has given staff direction on the issues of concern to counties, as well as taken a position against any legalization measure.  Meanwhile, the legislature has recently conducted a series of informational hearings on the issue, the most recent on January 17, 2014, and featuring a presentation by Kevin Sabet, PhD, of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM).


U of O Capstone

AOC is actively working with University of Oregon graduate students, as part of the MPA Capstone Project, in order to obtain research regarding public policy issues surrounding marijuana dispensaries and legalization, especially in light of the recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington.

 

AOC position

At its meetings on December 9, 2013, and January 13, 2014, the Legislative Committee of the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) has taken the following positions:

  

Legalization

  • AOC opposes any legislation that would legalize adult recreational use of marijuana.
  • With regard to any possible legislation to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana, AOC supports:
    • Strong regulatory controls, including, but not limited to, satisfying the eight federal harms of concern.
    • A provision that allows the governing body of local jurisdictions to opt out of having marijuana businesses.
    • Substantial revenue sharing with local government, including counties.
    • Specific acknowledgement and reservation of employer rights to not be required to tolerate the use of marijuana by any employee, whether on or off the job, or whether impaired by such use or not.
    • No preemption of local taxation or licensing authority.

 (NOTE: AOC will still remain opposed to any such legislation, even if all five of the above conditions are met) 

 

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries 
  • AOC supports legislation to allow the governing bodies of local jurisdictions to opt out of having marijuana businesses.
  • AOC supports fixing the many problems with the Oregon medical marijuana dispensary law and program, including, but not limited to, inadequate program staffing and the need for licensing and regulation of dispensers, testers, and growers. 
 

 

Veterans

Wasco County field trip: AOC Veterans Committee

You're Invited!  Host: Wasco County Commissioner Rod Runyon

 

The Dalles, Oregon

Friday, February 7, 2014

10 a.m.  - 2 p.m.

 

Highlights/Visits Include:

  •      Oregon Veterans' Home**
  •      Community Based Outpatient Clinic ("CBOC", a VA funded local health clinic for veterans)
  •      County Veterans Service Office (supported by extensive volunteer program)
  •      Group Lunch
  •      Visit to Local Veterans Memorial

 

Please RSVP to Andy Smith, AOC staff

asmith@aocweb.org

971-322-8512

 

**Opened in the fall of 1997, the Oregon Veterans' Home can care for as many as 151 residents who need long-term care in a care facility that provides skilled nursing, Alzheimer's and dementia-related care, and inpatient and outpatient rehabilitative care to veterans, their spouses and parents who have lost a child to war-time service. In 2012, US News & Word Reports rated the Home as one of Oregon's "Best Nursing Homes" -- a 5-Star facility.  It's also earned a Step II Award for Quality Achievement, one of only two state veterans' homes out of 170 to achieve this level of recognition. 

 

Multnomah County Community Covenant 

Oregon's top veterans official says that it will take a broad community effort to meet the needs of four generations of military veterans who've served in five major wars. On Thursday, Nov. 14, Multnomah County pledged to lead the way.

 

Commissioner Diane McKeel

The county signed a historic  "Community Covenant with Veterans and Military Families" along with the cities of Portland, Gresham, Troutdale, Fairview and Wood Village. The pledge took place at a formal signing with Commissioner Diane McKeel and Cameron Smith, director of the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs. It came in the closing moments of a "Hiring our Heroes'' job fair at Veterans Memorial Coliseum where more than 440 unemployed veterans had come looking for work.

 

"No one organization can meet all the needs of our military and veteran population,'' said Smith, a former Marine who served three tours in Iraq. "Stronger collaboration across military, government and community partners is essential if service members, veterans and their families are to thrive in Oregon. It is all hands on deck," Smith said.

 

There are nearly 40,000 veterans of all ages living in Multnomah County, according to the state, including those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the troops are being withdrawn from Afghanistan, federal spending to support returning soldiers is expected to end, as well. In response to that looming gap, Commissioner McKeel organized a steering committee to create "a road map" for local governments to help vets find local, state and federal paths to jobs, healthcare, and other benefits.

 

It is expected to be an example for all Oregon counties as they develop their own approach. "This covenant is our commitment, as a community, to serve those who have sacrificed for our country,'' said McKeel. "This is a commitment to offer a hand up to those who are struggling with homelessness, unemployment, or mental health issues. It is an investment in our veterans who are using their leadership and work ethic to enhance our local businesses, schools, and community organizations. Above all,'' she said, "this is our community's pledge that we each have a role and responsibility to help improve the lives of our veterans and military families."

 

Smith thanked McKeel, as members of the steering committee, veterans and advocates began signing the promise.

 

Mike Morris, Commander of the American Legion in Oregon, said "this is wonderful."

"It's about helping people find a home, get a job, it's all about the American dream."

                                                                      
Public Safety

Public Safety Summit held in Curry County

Gold Beach - More than 80 elected county commissioners, county judges, sheriffs, district attorneys along with representatives of several state agencies and departments and the governor's office, the Oregon Attorney General and local citizens gathered in the Docia Sweet Hall on the Curry County Fairgrounds for the Curry County Public Safety Summit January 24th and 25th.

 

Participants in the summit began the daunting task of beginning to firmly define adequate levels of public safety, how to provide it and how to fund it.  The summit was facilitated by Steve Kent of the Results Group, LTD. 

 

Among the conclusions of the summit:

  • Information from the event will be shared with county commissioners, sheriffs and district attorneys across the state
  • The discussion will be expanded to include Oregon cities
  • Meaningful discussions will be held on a regional level on how to improve law enforcement
  • The relationship between law enforcement and county commissioners will be strengthened so that there is one voice on public safety issues
  • There will be a follow up meeting, perhaps in as little as 90 days, involving the participants of the summit and other interested persons and groups

 

AOC along with the Oregon State Sheriffs Association and the Association of Oregon District Attorneys sponsored the event.  Grants from the Ford Family Foundation and the Gordon Elwood Foundation helped underwrite the summit. 

 

If you would like more information about the summit or the materials Mr. Kent produced for and from the summit, please contact Eric Schmidt at AOC. 

 

Curry County Public Safety Summit at the Curry County Fairgrounds in Gold Beach

   

 

LC 61: Rob Libke Scholarship Act

AOC led efforts to introduce a bill dedicated to fallen Oregon City Reserve Police Officer Rob Libke.  The bill would add police/sheriff reserves and volunteer firefighters to the Deceased or Disabled Public Safety Officer Grant program administered by the Oregon Student Access Commission.

 

AOC's Public Safety Policy Manager Patrick Sieng, a reserve officer with the Portland Police Bureau, attended academy with Libke.  During the legislative committee days, Sieng gathered 70 sponsors for the bill.  There are also 12 statewide organizations supporting the bill, including the cities, sheriffs, police & fire chiefs, volunteer firefighters, reserve police officers, and union police officers.

 

The bill was unanimously approved in AOC's Public Safety and Legislative Committees.

 

 

Energy, Environment & Land Use

Alternative fuel vehicle revolving fund

Recently, the Oregon Department of Energy held a tax credit auction to generate loan funding for a new Alternative Fuel Vehicle Revolving Fund. This fund offers a competitive loan resource for public bodies and Oregon's federally recognized tribes.  Borrowers can use loan proceeds to: 

  • Purchase new alternative fuel vehicles
  • Convert existing gasoline or diesel vehicles to alternative fuels.

For more details see the ODOE announcement for an explanation and loan application. 

 

 

DEQ onsite septic budget note workgroup report

At AOC's urging the Government Efficiency Task Force analyzed DEQ's onsite septic system program in 2012. The task force produced two bills for the 2013 session addressing the issues discussed during the meetings. It was determined that these bills were written too broadly so a budget note was inserted in the the DEQ budget directing DEQ and AOC to work together to find effective and cost efficient opportunities. The DEQ Onsite Septic Budget Note Workgroup met several times between July and November 2013 and included a number of county representatives. The Legislature asked DEQ and AOC to report back to them during 2014 and it would be helpful if commissioners and judges could read the report and weigh in on the fifteen recommendations put forth. This issue will be discussed during one of the Energy, Environment and Land Use steering committee meetings in February. If you have any questions regarding the report or the recommendations, please contact AOC staff Mark Nystrom.

 

NACo 2014 Green Government Initiative Forum

Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal invites you to attend NACo's Powering County Resilience: Renewable Energy Solutions ForumMarch 20-22 in Santa Barbara. This one-and-a-half day forum will bring together county leaders and industry experts to share how they have implemented sustainable energy solutions, including geothermal heating and cooling and landfill-to-gas conversion. Through presentations, panel discussions and site visits, participants will learn new ways to help their counties reduce environmental impacts while cutting energy costs.

 

If you have any questions, contact Rob Pressly at NACo, 202-942-4224. Or, you can go here to register.

  

USDA assistance for safe, sanitary rural waste disposal

Rural communities and service providers seeking to address environmental, health and safety issues with their current waste management systems, and those looking to add service capacity to meet the needs of a growing community, should take a look at financing options through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

 

USDA Rural Development offers financial support to rural waste disposal programs unable to obtain financing at reasonable rates and terms from other sources. Through the Water and Environmental Program (WEP), USDA Rural Development finances the construction, repair, improvement or expansion of rural solid waste facilities (such as landfills and transfer stations), as well as water, wastewater, and storm water systems. In addition, the program may assist with necessary fees connected with facility development, such as legal, engineering or other costs.

 

WEP offers loans to public bodies, Native American tribes, and nonprofits serving rural communities and small towns of less than 10,000. If a system serves both rural and urban areas, WEP assistance may be provided for expenses related to serving the program-eligible portion of the service area.

 

For low-income communities, WEP loans may be supplemented with grant assistance, as determined on a case-by-case basis.

 

To learn more about the program, visit the WEP website or contact the USDA Community Programs Director for Oregon, Sam Goldstein at (503) 414-3362.

  

Public Lands & Natural Resources

Department of Forestry reports on the State's federal forest activities

The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee heard State Forester Doug Decker report on activities of the Board of Forestry to increase the pace and scale of federal forest harvesting in dry side (eastern Oregon) forests. The Department of Forestry had been appropriated $2.885 million by the 2013 Legislature to engage in this by supporting successful collaboratives, boosting scientific findings, shaping a new federal business model, and streamlining current environmental processes. The Board appointed a subcommittee-released findings in December on how to accomplish these goals.

 

The subcommittee identified four critical issues: 1) single focus federal legislation impedes holistic ecosystem conservation; 2) infrastructure and workforce need to be sustained; 3) discordant environmental and management laws create barriers for implementation; and 4) the traditional federal appropriations process does not reflect current land management needs. All four of these issues are very familiar to rural county officials.

 

Actions that the subcommittee recommends on each issue include:

  1. Amend the National Forest Management Act to require management at an ecosystem scale and engage directly in the Blue Mountains Plan Revision to advocate for balanced conservation and timber supply approach.
  2. Define and implement a streamlined level of environmental analysis for project-level management activities.
  3. Coordinate with the Federal Forestland Advisory Committee Implementation Work Group (of which AOC is a member) and local collaboratives to identify potential administrative policy changes that reward the role and input of collaboration and increase the pace and scale of forest restoration.
  4. Make explicit to Congress the amount of forest restoration and management reasonably expected at proposed funding levels, identifying the gap from "needed" and "funded."

AOC has been and will continue to be directly engaged in all these activities.

 

Commissioners testify in favor of bill to maintain percentage of private land in a county  
Commissioners Boyd Britton (Grant County) and Bob Main (Coos County) spoke to the Senate Interim Committee on Rural Communities and Economic Development in support of AOC-backed Legislative Concept 6.  LC 6 would authorize a county to adopt an ordinance restricting the acquisition of land in that county that would then become exempt from property taxes or given special property tax assessment under a list of certain programs. The intention is no net loss of private land within a county. LC 6 applies to all counties of 100,000 population or less or to those that have at least 50 percent of its land in any combination of listed programs. All counties would qualify, except Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Washington, and potentially Clackamas and Jackson.
 

 

Saying Goodbye to a Friend

It is with heavy hearts that we must inform you of the passing of former Jackson County Commissioner Jack Walker who passed away on January 17. Walker served as a county commissioner for 16 years. Details on his funeral mass, scheduled for Friday, January 31, can be found in the Medford Mail Tribune

 

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 is in the process of setting 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.  

So 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.  

US Communities 
The U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance is a government purchasing cooperative that reduces the cost of goods and services by aggregating the purchasing power of public agencies nationwide. Through the NACo partnership with US Communities, county governments have access to a broad line of competitively solicited contracts with best-in-class national suppliers. In short, counties can save thousands on everything from office supplies to auto parts. To learn how to start, contact Eli Justman at AOC or visit this page.   

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

 

 

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.

 

Your Oregon Trails staff,

 

Laura Cleland & Eric Schmidt

Association of Oregon Counties

503-585-8351

 

 

Have a great week.