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Oregon Trails

An Occasional Newsletter


The Association of Oregon Counties

Month, Year - Vol 1, Issue 1

Winter Weather Slams Salem     

What if the Legislature closed down and no one noticed?    

February 10, 2014

In This Issue
O&C Senate Bill
Governance and Marijuana
Public Safety
Energy, Environment & Land Use
Public Lands & Natural Resources
Health & Human Services
Revenue & Taxation
Communications Policy
NACo Leg Conference
NACo Drug Discount Program
Places to Go, Things to Do, Great Opportunities
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Legislature Starts - Stops
Salem - The Oregon Legislature got rolling February 3rd with opening ceremonies and a slew of committee hearings. Bills were introduced and the AOC Legislative Committee took swift action on 53 of them at last Monday's meeting. Of the 255 bills listed on BillTrackOR, AOC is tracking 193. For a list of the bills the Legislative Committee took action on a week ago, please click here.

Last Thursday's sudden blast of winter weather closed down Salem Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Legislature limped back into town Monday morning with a limited work schedule that is going to slow down the short session for a a few days while lawmakers play catch up. We will resist the temptation to make light of the situation. We will, however, offer the photos below as evidence the weather really was hampering activities at the Capitol and around Salem.  

AOC Legal Counsel Rob Bovett captures a quiet Capitol
The Local Government Center and an unusually quiet 12th St.
It will be a slushy week ahead
And now we forge ahead with the week in review and the week ahead from your State Capitol, your Nation's Capitol and all points inbetween.  
Hearing Held on O&C Bill

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-OR, conducted his last hearing as Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last Thursday with a hearing on S.1784, his bill to deal with the O&C lands in Western Oregon. Sen. Wyden told the hearing that the stakeholders involved in the legislation won't get everything they want.  


"Our legislation," he said, "ends the 'stop everything' approach that has paralyzed forest management and, at the same time it acknowledges that the days of billion-board-foot clear cuts are not coming back."


U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio, D-OR, was first to testify at the hearing. Rep. DeFazio is the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee and one of three Oregon Congressmen to sponsor forest management legislation passed by the House last year. That legislation contained provisions to deal with the O&C lands. Rep. DeFazio continues to support that legislation but acknowledged the political reality that it will not pass the Senate and is opposed by the Obama Administration. He said he looking forward to continue to work with Sen. Wyden to reach a compromise that will satisfy both chambers of Congress and the Administration.


Not everyone who testified before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee supported the Wyden legislation. Sean Stevens, the executive director of Oregon Wild, told Sen. Wyden that his legislation will undermine the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.  


Douglas County Commissioner Doug Robertson, who is President of the Association of O&C Counties said his group continues to support the House passed legislation, but sees the movement in the Senate as a positive development. Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken said he supports the Wyden bill and is looking toward a conference committee between the Senate and the House to achieve a final bill.


Timber industry representatives testified that the Wyden bill provides their industry with some certainty that has been missing for the last two decades.  


The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee took no action on S. 1784.  Sen. Wyden is slated to become chair of the Senate Finance Committee later this month, but he will retain his seat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee as senior Democratic member. He vowed to have movement on his O&C bill this session of Congress.  


Governance (and Marijuana) 


Last week started off with a BANG! On Monday morning, the Governance Committee 

reviewed 37 bills and legislative concepts, and forwarded 20 recommendations to the AOC Legislative Committee. Later that same day, the Legislature held hearings on four of those bills. AOC testified against House Bill 4048, which would open up an entire new class of tort claims against local government, and testified in favor of House Bill 4056, a County Clerks bill that would fix an unintended consequence of a vital statistics bill from last session. Later in the week there were numerous hearings on bills that would further restrict local options in public contracting, which AOC opposes.


This week the fireworks continue. Most notably, on Tuesday morning there will be a 

hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Senate Bill 1556, which proposes to refer 

a ballot measure to November of this year on legalization of marijuana, which AOC 



At that same time, there will be a hearing on Senate Bill 1531, sponsored by Senator Bill 

Hansell, R-Athena, and many others on behalf of AOC and LOC (League of Oregon Cities), which would clarify that cities and counties can regulate or prohibit marijuana dispensaries. A related story in The Oregonian can be found here.


Eighteen Senators signed a letter asking that the bill receive a hearing and work session.  With assistance from Sen. Hansell, AOC has also crafted amendments to the bill to add preschools to the list of schools for which a dispensary must not be located within 1,000 feet, and also provide for basic regulation of marijuana-infused products marketed to kids.


Take a close look at some of the products that could be marketed to our children:






We live in interesting times. If you'd like more information on these and other Governance related issues, please contact AOC Legal Counsel Rob Bovett.  




Status Update:  2014 Session Veterans Bills


HB 4021 Would grant in-state tuition to graduate students who are veterans (similar bill in 2013 Session that granted in-state tuition to undergraduates who are veterans).


Update: Public Hearing Held on 2/4; Work Session Scheduled for 2/11


HB 4023 Would direct the Oregon State Lottery Commission to establish a lottery

game to benefit veterans' education and economic development and would also direct the Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development to establish program to provide or facilitate education, training and economic opportunities that benefit veterans.


Update: Public Hearing Held on 2/4; Work Session Scheduled for 2/11


HB 4024 Authorizes Bureau of Labor and Industries to adopt rules to implement provisions of statute requiring public employer to interview each veteran who applies for civil service position or eligibility list, if veteran has skills from military education or experience that substantially relate to civil service position.


Update: In Committee; No Hearing Scheduled as of 2/9


HB 4025 Clarifies maximum amount of ODVA home or farm loan available to veterans.


Update: Update: Public Hearing Held on 2/6; Work Session Scheduled for 2/11


HB 4057 Directs state boards and agencies to report to Legislature regarding implementation of new requirements (passed by Legislature in 2012) to accept substantially equivalent military training or experience for certain education, experience or training requirements in order to obtain license, certificate or other authorization to practice profession.


Update: Public Hearing Held on 2/6; Work Session Scheduled for 2/11


HB 4091 Authorizes preference in hiring and promotions for employees of private employers who have served in uniformed services and for spouses of such employees under certain circumstances.


Update: Public Hearing Held on 2/6; Work Session Scheduled for 2/11


SB 1506 Enacts Interstate Compact on Education for Military Children


Update: Public Hearing and Possible Work Session Scheduled for 2/12 


Construction Started on WW II Memorial


February 3rd marked the beginning of construction of the Word War II Memorial on the grounds of the Capitol. The Memorial will be located at the west end of the grounds on the corner of Cottage and Court Streets. A number of county commissioners were on hand for the first shovel in the ground.  



County commissioners on the left, legislators to the right, veterans in the middle 





**Due the recent snow and dangerous driving conditions, the Veterans Committee postponed the February 7th field trip that had been scheduled to visit Wasco County. 


Highlights/visits will 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)

Visit to Local Veterans Memorial

Group Lunch


For more information on veterans issues contact Andy Smith.


Public Safety

Rep. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, was featured at the AOC Public Safety Committee meeting February 3rd where House Bill 4125 was discussed. The bill was introduced at the request of Benton County Sheriff's Office Sgt. David Peterson and a Salem Police Corporal, who were shot and injured last year. House Bill 4125 increases the sentence for attempted aggravated murder on a peace officer from 10 years to 20 years. It also adds reserve officers to aggravated murder statute. On Thursday, the bill received a hearing on the House Committee on Judiciary. Peterson and Umatilla County Sheriff's Reserve Deputy Bill Miller were there to testify in support.  



Rep. Sara Gelser, center, Salem Police Corporal Andrew Connelly, with Umatilla County Sheriff Reserve Deputy Bill Miller and Benton County Sheriff Sgt. David Peterson and his wife 


Also on Thursday, the House and Senate honored fallen Oregon City Police Reserve Officer Rob Libke. The House voted unanimously to support House Bill 4120, which adds police/sheriffs reserves and volunteer firefighters to the Oregon Student Access Commission's scholarship for dependents of deceased public safety officers. Law enforcement from a number of agencies were in attendance, including Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier, Harney County District Attorney Tim Colahan, and Oregon District Attorneys Association Executive Director Doug Harcleroad. 


The House Committee on Revenue held a hearing on 9-1-1 issues Tuesday. AOC, along with other public safety and local government advocates, were in attendance to advocate for expansion of the 9-1-1 tax to prepaid and voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phones. Wireless carriers agree with public safety and local government advocates about expanding the tax to these users, but in the past, have disagreed on the method of collection.  House Bills 4055 and 4080 are currently under consideration. A workgroup is working towards a compromise so that a deal can be reached this session.


Senate Bill 1559, introduced by the state's liquor control commission, received a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Business & Transportation last week. The bill creates a hybrid liquor privatization sale system with the expansion of liquor sales to large grocery stores. A workgroup during the interim met to discuss many issues regarding economic development, public safety, and substance abuse. Counties receive a large share of revenue from liquor taxes. Any expansion could possibly affect local law enforcement efforts to curb theft, youth drinking, and binge drinking. 


Patrick Sieng is AOC Policy Manager for Public Safety.  


Energy, Environment & Land Use

Energy, Environment and Land Use Legislative Action


Last week several bills of concern to AOC had public hearings. HB 4041 had a public hearing in the House Energy and Environment Committee. This bill provides counties the right to facilitate private financing for energy improvement projects. There were some concerns voiced by the banking industry but after some minor amendments, the bill is scheduled to be heard again on February 11th.


HB 4093 had a public hearing in the House Judiciary committee. This bill creates a public records exemption for reports of voluntary information submitted regarding sage grouse habitat. There were some concerns voiced by a few members of the committee but the bill is scheduled for a work session on Tuesday, February 11th. There were several other bills scheduled for Thursday afternoon but with the snow closure, most of these bills were rescheduled for this week.


Energy, Environment and Land Use Scheduled Legislative Action


A number of bills that AOC's Energy, Environment and Land Use steering committee weighed in on have public hearings and possible work sessions this week:

  • SB 1510-Enhanced review of projects of statewide environmental significance (AOC opposes). This bill will be heard in Senate Environment and Natural Resources on Monday, February 10th.
  • HB 4041-Financing of energy improvement loans (support.) See above. Tuesday, February 11th.
  • HB 4092-Planning and zoning of industrial land in Malheur County (no position). House Rural Communities on Tuesday, February 11th.
  • SB 1520-Renewable energy securities (support). This will be heard in Senate Business and Transportation on Tuesday, February 11th.
  • SB 1570-Removes the sunset on the low carbon fuel standards (no position). This bill will be heard on Wednesday, February 12th in Senate Environment and Natural Resources.
  • SB 1575-Allows utilizing raw logs in forest zone or mixed farm and forest zone (support). This will be held Thursday, February 13th in Senate Rural Communities and Economic Development.
  • SB 1578-Woody biomass bill (no position). In its original form, this bill had a land use component and two sections on including woody biomass to the 1.5 percent renewable energy requirement. AOC has been told that the bill is being amended to include only the sections on woody biomass (Sections 15 and 16). This hearing will be held Thursday, February 13th in Senate Rural Communities and Economic Development.
Mark Nystrom is AOC Policy Manager for Energy, Environment and Land Use.    

HB 4126 was heard and passed out of House environment and Energy committee on Thursday. The bill is the consensus agreement reached by utilities, energy associations, AOC, PUC (Public Utility Commission), Department of Energy, among others and lead by representatives of the Governor's staff along with Rep. Greg Smith, R-Hermiston. In addition to providing minor changes to the RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standards) for Umatilla Electric's unique load growth situation, the PUC will do a public study on whether a green power product can be offered to non-residents; and the sponsors of the citizen initiative to change the RPS will withdraw their effort. 


Doris Penwell is following this issue for AOC.   

Public Lands & Natural Resources

Cascadia Wildlands federal lawsuit settled by State. With no warning to intervenors, including AOC on behalf of the Council of Forest Trust Land Counties (CFTLC), the State and the plaintiffs (Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Audubon Society of Portland) filed a stipulation of dismissal to the federal District Court. AOC had intervened to protect the counties' interests in management of the sprinkling of acres of county forest trust lands in the Elliott State Forest and the counties directly affected by any management change on the Elliott. Plaintiffs claimed that the state management plan for the Elliott violated the federal Endangered Species Act regarding the marbled murrelet.


The parties conducted informal conferences facilitated by the court, but had not been able to reach a settlement. The issue that hovered in the background was how little science had been done on the murrelet. The Pacific Seabird Group had developed a protocol that was used by plaintiffs to contrast with the Department of Forestry's extensive monitoring of the bird. The State chose to rescind its timber sales in the Elliott, consider new management, and settle.


CFTLC Chair Tim Josi had this to say: "AOC/CFTLC was not notified in advance of the stipulated dismissal, even though we are an intervenor in the suit. We take no position on the State' settlement. We are disturbed, however, that forest management by litigation has temporarily carried the day. We believe that current state management is supported by adequate science. The State has a trust obligation to manage the Elliott State Forest for the benefit of the Common School Fund. If returns from the Elliott are inadequate, the State may need to consider the sale of the forest to gain higher returns. Ultimately, we all lose."


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


Health and Human Services

The AOC Human Services Steering Committee (HSSC) held an action-packed special meeting on Monday, February 3, 2014. Although the 2014 legislative session is short and primarily focused on noncontroversial and budgetary issues, AOC Human Services Policy Manager Ashley Horne noted that she is tracking approximately forty bills that are health and human services related. On Monday, the HSSC considered over ten bills of priority interest and took the following actions:

  • Support HB 4013, a technical fix that authorizes the secure electronic submissions of schedule II controlled substances;
  • Support with amendments HB 4073, HB 4115, and SB 1546, all of which pertain to the regulation of electronic cigarettes otherwise referred to as vapor products;
  • Support HB 4088, protects dependent persons receiving care by making which sexual contact between paid care providers and dependent persons a crime;
  • Support HB 4110 in concept as written in the first sentence of the bill summary. Bill prohibits private insurance coverage denial of reimbursement of services provided to a covered person in county jail; and
  • Oppose SB 1561, which if passed, would make doctors exempt from certain pharmaceutical regulatory controls.

The AOC Legislative Committee approved all of the above actions.


On Wednesday, AOC submitted joint testimony with the Coalition of Local Health Officials (CLHO) and the Association of Oregon Community Mental Health Programs (AOCMHP) at the House Human Services and Housing Committee in support of HB 4115, which is the most expansive of the electronic cigarette regulation bills. It addresses purchase and use by minors as well as all indoor use of vapor products. Please see a copy of the testimony and contact Human Services Policy Manager Ashley Horne at with any questions.   


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.)


Revenue and Taxation

Low-income housing fix moves forward. With backing from AOC and amendments agreed to, Catholic Community Charities will have its bill, House Bill 4039, head toward work session on Tuesday by the House Revenue Committee. HB 4039 is intended to protect property tax exemptions already granted by counties to low-income housing owned by non-profit corporations. The statute used by these non-profits was the charitable institution exemption statute rather than the low-income housing law. Corvallis Neighborhood Housing Service was denied an exemption by Linn County, and the dispute is now before the Tax Court. The issue is whether the landlord-tenant relationship in this housing defeats the purpose of the charitable institution statute that permits the charity to provide housing to those who have a working relationship with the charity. The residents in the case before the Tax Court do not have such a relationship.


Catholic Community Charities (CCC) sees HB 4039 as a means to temporarily protect functioning low-income housing that may have their property tax exemption threatened until the Tax Court rules. Counties realize the importance of low-incoming housing to communities. AOC agreed to support HB 4039 if it contained a sunset date long enough to permit the court to act and there were statements for the record that the bill does not affect the court action or the denial of the exemption by Marion County of a CCC property. All parties agreed to wait for the Tax Court ruling, then take a comprehensive look at the statutes related to property taxation of low-income housing.


Property tax exemption designed for Evergreen Aviation stymied. AOC opposes House Bill 4106, because it amends the charitable institution property tax exemption statute, already difficult to interpret (see article above), by broadening the exemption with more vague language to fit a specific property. The bill was designed to extend an exemption to include property that is now subject to dispute in nine appeals of denials of the exemption by Yamhill County. The county granted the exemption to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum proper, but matters of dispute include catered private events, the theater used for purposes other than presentations about history or science, and the gift shop sales of the for-profit Evergreen enterprise.


Before the House Revenue Committee AOC, Clackamas County Assessor and Tax Collector Bob Vroman, and Yamhill County Deputy Assessor Jeff Ivie argued that the dispute is fact-specific and better decided by the Tax Court, rather than more vague legislation that is specific to one property. What is needed is a comprehensive look at this exemption statute to make it clearer and more easily implemented.


The committee took no action, as Chair Phil Barnhart agreed that it makes sense to wait for the Tax Court rulings.


For more information, please contact AOC Policy Director Gil Riddell.  


Communications Policy 

The AOC Communications Policy Steering Committee welcomed Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, to its February 3rd meeting to discuss House Bill 4095, which allows internet service providers easier access to highway rights-of-way and makes it easier to expand broadband service to rural areas.


Alex Petit, the state's new chief information officer (CIO), also attended. Petit relocated from Oklahoma where he also served as that state's chief information officer. He and Barry Pack, senior policy advisor to chief operating officer Michael Jordan, were at the meeting to push for the committee's approval of House Bill 4135. The bill creates a strategic technology team within Petit's office to evaluate the efficiency of state task forces, better handle large scale technology projects, and assist small agencies in their computer-related purchases.


The committee also received an update from Oregon Emergency Management Director Dave Stuckey regarding 9-1-1 bills under consideration during the legislative session.


One of the committee's priorities, House Bill 4031, was heard in committee on Tuesday.  The bill transfers the State Interoperability Executive Council (SIEC) from the Department of Transportation to Petit's office. Yamhill County Commissioner Kathy George served on the SIEC and Sherman County Commissioner Mike Smith currently serves on the SIEC. Both have worked on this bill. HB 4031 passed the House Committee on Veterans Services & Emergency Preparedness unanimously and now heads to the Joint Ways & Means Subcommittee on General Government.


AOC Policy Manager Patrick Sieng staffs the Communications Policy Steering Committee.


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.  

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.   


Time Out

Some white space to ponder what could have been, might have been, should have been.



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




Have a great week.