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Oregon Trails

An Occasional Newsletter


The Association of Oregon Counties

Month, Year - Vol 1, Issue 1

February 16, 2016

In This Issue
Oregon County Caucus
Community & Economic Development
Energy, Environment & Land Use
Health & Human Services
Public Safety
Founding Counties
NACo Conference
Upcoming Webinar
Flood Insurance
Join Our Mailing List!
Quick Links
Nearing the Half Way Mark
Getting ready to head back east

We are nearing the halfway mark of the 2015 legislative session and, as anticipated, the pace is fast and furious. You will find many updates from your AOC policy managers below.

In other news, Harney County is breathing a sigh of relief now that the last occupiers have left the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge remains closed as law enforcement conducts an investigation, and once that is complete Refuge staff will return to begin the process of cleanup and repair. In the meantime, the county is beginning the healing process and Judge Grasty will be working hard to carry the public lands message in Washington, D.C. next week and beyond.

Judge Grasty believes that once all is said and done, the price tag of the occupation for the county alone could be as high as $500,000. Karmen Fore with the Governor's Office told the AOC Legislative Committee on Monday, February 15 that the Governor intends to cover the cost to Harney County, as well as the cost of the shooting at Umpqua Community College last October. The Governor will then work with federal officials to get reimbursement for the state.  

Oregon County Caucus

Legislators and County Commissioners form Oregon County Caucus  
19 members work to generate solutions for Oregon's diverse economy

State Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, and Douglas County Commissioner Tim Freeman announced the formation of the Oregon County Caucus. The bipartisan caucus will be co-chaired by Sen. Hansell and Commissioner Freeman. The Oregon County Caucus was formed to facilitate education and communication efforts among state and county government. Members include current Oregon state legislators who are former Oregon county commissioners and current Oregon county commissioners who are former Oregon state legislators.

To kick off the newly formed Oregon County Caucus, members met with leadership from the Oregon State Legislature on February 8 to discuss their vision and goals for the current session. In addition, priorities for the interim leading up to the 2017 legislative session were discussed.  

For more information on the Oregon County Caucus contact Patrick Sieng, AOC policy manager.

Community & Economic Development

The first meeting of the AOC Housing Sub-committee occurred on Friday, January 29, from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. at AOC. The group forwarded recommendations on many housing-related bills to the Community and Economic Development Steering Committee, which in turn forwarded recommendations to the Legislative Committee on February 1. All recommendations were supported.  

However, it appears that the Legislature may try to limit the scope of its housing focus during this short session. The Omnibus Housing Bill HB 4001, which all committees decided to watch rather than take a position, appears to be shrinking in scope to tenant notice provisions for rent increases and no cause evictions. The fate of the Inclusionary Zoning Bill, SB 1533, is also in question. And the request for a document recording fee increase to fund housing programs in HB 4043 appears to be dead. SB 1582 is moving forward. This bill d irects the Housing and Community Services Department to develop and implement the Local Innovation and Fast Track Housing Program created with the infusion of $40 million last session.

The issues relating to affordable, available and workforce housing will not go away any time soon. The Housing Subcommittee has plans to work well beyond this short legislative session to gather information from all counties and attempt to find solutions to the many housing issues we face. The subcommittee will be meeting on the last Friday of every month at AOC. If you haven't done so already, please let Mary Stern know if you are interested.  

Renewable Energy
The fate of the the AOC/Community Renewable Energy Association (CREA) amendment to HB 4036, the Clean Energy Bill, is still up in the air. AOC and CREA staff continue to work hard to ensure the current goal that 8 percent of renewable energy come from small, community-based projects becomes a requirement, and to ensure that these community-based projects are located in Oregon. It is doubtful that our amendment will make it out of the House, but work continues on the Senate side!

For more information contact Mary Stern, AOC community and economic development policy manager.

Energy, Environment & Land Use

HB 4036-Renewable Portfolio Standard-Support with Amendments
HB 4036 was voted out of the House Energy and Environment Committee on Thursday and it now heads to the House floor for a vote. AOC, along with the Community Renewable Energy Association (CREA), is attempting to amend the bill so that the 8 percent community renewable goal becomes a requirement. Efforts are ongoing to introduce this amendment on the House side but at this time it appears as if AOC/CREA will have to get it introduced on the Senate side.

SB 1563-Low Income Onsite Septic Loan Program-Support with Amendments
SB 1563-3 received a public hearing and work session late Thursday evening in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Senator Olsen joined Senator Roblan as a chief sponsor and the bill was voted out of committee on a 4-0 vote. It was encouraging to hear Senators from both parties working so well together even after an afternoon-long contentious floor vote. SB 1563 now heads to the full Ways and Means Committee for further discussion.

SB 1517-Oregon Farm Bureau Wetlands Bill-Support with Amendments
SB 1517-4 passed out of committee late Thursday night on a 3-1 vote. The dash 4 amendments narrow the scope of the bill to a pilot project for Tillamook County and encourages a collaborative process for the siting and creation of wetlands in EFU land. AOC and the Farm Bureau are still trying to get the Governor's endorsement by negotiating a couple amendments on the House side. A Senate floor vote is expected early next week.

HB 4101-Greenhouse Gas Policy Impacts-Support
HB 4101 received a public hearing Thursday in House Energy and Environment. No further action is expected.

EPA Webinar: Scientific Report Showing U.S. Coastal Waters a Mix of Good and Fair Health
Join the EPA on Thursday, February 25, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern for a Webcast presenting results from EPA's recently released  National Coastal Condition Assessment 2010  report. This report shows that more than half of the nation's coastal and Great Lakes nearshore waters are rated good for biological and sediment quality, while about one-third are rated good for water quality. In almost all coastal waters, however, contaminants in fish tissue pose a threat to sensitive predator fish, birds and wildlife. The webcast will provide a brief overview of the National Aquatic Resource Surveys that provide information on lakes, rivers and streams, coastal waters and wetlands, and will also highlight the key findings from the NCCA 2010 report.   Register now.

NACo Conference Call: EELU Update Clean Power Plan Stay - What Does it Mean for Cities and States?
The Supreme Court has put the Clean Power Plan (CPP) on hold for the time being. Tom Lorenzen Crowell & Moring , will provide background on the CPP and an overview of the legal issues.  Michael Burger Sabin Center for Climate Change Law  will discuss how the stay will work and what it means for states and local governments.

Date: February 22
Time: 1:30 EST
Dial: 888-608-3665
Code: 758-293-4439

For more information contact MarkNystrom, AOC energy, environment, and land use policy manger. 

What's Happening with Marijuana?

  HB 4014 (the Base Bill)
AOC was successful in moving HB 4014 out of committee. This bill makes changes to laws regulating production, processing, sale, use and governance of cannabis. Changes would become operative March 1, 2016 and would declare an emergency, effective on passage.

SB 1511 (the Expanded Access Bill)
AOC is hoping to get SB 1511 out of committee on Tuesday. This bill directs the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to register qualified marijuana producers, marijuana processors, marijuana wholesalers and marijuana retailers for purposes of producing, processing and selling marijuana and usable marijuana and medical grade cannabinoid products, cannabinoid concentrates and cannabinoid extracts. SB 1511 is scheduled for a work session with the Joint Committee on Marijuana Legalization today at 1:00 p.m. in Hearing Room 343.

  SB 1598 (the Marijuana Christmas Tree Bill)
The core of the third marijuana bill contains a LUCS/TPM/Farm package trade-off that AOC provided input on to deal with land use and time, place and manner (TPM) issues. As of Thursday the bill had seen its seventh draft. The bill exempts certain applicants for license to produce marijuana from the requirement that a land use compatibility statement (LUCS) be obtained, modifies certain laws related to county and city regulation of marijuana business entities, provides for expungement of marijuana-related crimes if the penalty for the crime has been reduced to a penalty for which the crime may be expunged, and declares an emergency, effective on passage. SB 1598 is scheduled for a public hearing with the Joint Committee on Marijuana Legalization today at 1:00 p.m. in Hearing Room 343.

AOC Opposes Creation of New Special District
On Tuesday, AOC explained to the Senate Finance & Revenue Committee why we are opposed to what would be newly authorized as a special district: a "children's special district." Under SB 1545, the district would have extraordinarily broad authority for a special district, with an open range of potential programs to benefit school-aged kids, e.g., civics, culture, arts, music, physical recreation, well-being and technology. In addition to levying property taxes, SB 1545 would require the county counsel of the county of location of the district to provide free advice when asked by the district board. This would be a unique role for county counsel and, given the inevitable size of the workload, would draw counsel away from needed county business. Moreover, the bill would require the county treasurer to be district bookkeeper with minimal reimbursement. Joining with AOC in opposition were Washington County, the Special Districts Association of Oregon, and the League of Cities.

For more information contact Rob Bovett, AOC legal counsel.

Health and Human Services

SB 1559 on Tobacco Retail Licensure Moves
On Thursday evening - following the Senate floor debate on the minimum wage that went until 6:00 p.m., the Senate Health Care Committee passed out the tobacco retail licensure bill without amendments allowing sampling in vape shops. The bill is now in Ways and Means per prior referral, but has not yet been scheduled.

For more information contact Stacy Michaelson, AOC health and human services policy manager.

Public Safety

Court Facilities Task Force Approves State Funding Request from Harney County
On Monday, the AOC Court Facilities Task Force approved an emergency request from Harney County to ask the state's Judicial Department for $500,000 to fund a new boiler and make necessary health and safety upgrades related to the installation. Prior to the 2015 session, AOC convened the task force to prioritize court improvement and replacement projects to the Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court so that the department could make funding requests to the Legislature. During that session, the Legislature funded many of the projects that the task force listed on its prioritization list. While Harney County was not on the list, it was important to the committee to make exceptions and additions to emergency issues that arise. Harney County's boiler was recently declared unsafe and needs immediate replacement. The county has invested approximately $500,000 so far towards repairs, but needs further assistance from the state. The task force meets again March 14 at 2:30 p.m. following the AOC Board of Directors and Legislative Committee meeting.

For more information contact Patrick Sieng, AOC public safety policy manager.


There are very few bills relating to transportation in this short session. However, work continues by the Oregon Transportation Forum (OTF) to develop a proposal for the 2017 session. Mary Stern is the co-chair of the Policy & Investment Subcommittee along with Gerick Kransky of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. The objectives of this subcommittee are to identify policy options for enhancing efficient use of transportation revenues and transportation infrastructure, and identify types/categories of projects throughout Oregon that OTF recommends be funded by a 2017 transportation package. At the March 14 meeting of AOC's Transportation Steering Committee, we will be discussing ideas to bring forward to the subcommittee. Please contact Mary Stern with your ideas.  

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

For more information contact Mary Stern, AOC transportation policy manager.


Harney and Lake Latest Counties to Take Advantage of VA's Highly Rural Transportation Grant Program
On February 9th, 2016 the Transportation and Economic Development Subcommittee of Ways and Means voted to recommend approval of a federal grant application by the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs to the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs in the amount of $50,000 each for Harney and Lake counties. These grants will help pay for medical-related transportation of veterans. Similar federal transportation grants have already been awarded to Baker, Gilliam, Grant, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Wallowa and Wheeler counties. No state or local matching funds are required and no additional positions are needed by the ODVA to administer the grant. The Highly Rural Transportation Grants (HRTG) is a grant-based U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs program that helps veterans in highly rural areas travel to VA or VA-authorized health care facilities. HRTG provides transportation programs in counties with fewer than seven people per square mile. There is no cost to participate in the program for veterans.

AOC Working with Senator Wyden's Office to Resolve Drill Pay Issue for Oregon Guard Members
About six months ago, AOC heard from the Wasco County CVSO that Oregon Guard soldiers who receive VA disability compensation often face hardships because disability compensation payments are not authorized when they are activated for Guard Duty. The VA will nonetheless continue making normal payments during Guard activation periods and then only later "claws back" these payments from veterans with no option for payments over an extended period. This often results in financial hardship as veterans. AOC's Veterans Steering Committee approached staff in Senator Wyden's office and learned that they had heard similar concerns from veterans. This conversation helped lead to the following letter from Senator Wyden to the Secretary of the VA to address this problem.

For more information contact Andy Smith, AOC veterans policy manager. 

Founding Counties Project 

Remembering our Founding Counties
AOC in partnership with the Oregon Capitol Foundation and Oregon State Parks is proposing to place commemorative stepping stones on the capitol mall to acknowledge the existence of the three former Oregon counties. We propose to add the names of Champoeg, Tuality and Umpqua counties to those on the mall. The cast is $1800 and the Capitol Foundation has contributed $900. AOC is asking for donations for the remaining $900. Interested in making a donation? Contact Kimi Wong at AOC.
NACo Legislative Conference

Commissioners and Judges head to Washington, D.C.
A delegation of 21 Oregon county commissioners and judges will arrive in Washington, D.C. this Saturday. Attendees are looking forward to discussing federal issues that affect Oregon's diverse local communities, including management of public and federal lands. Oregon's county message will continue to promote forest health, protect water quality, assure open and meaningful opportunities for participation by counties and local stakeholders in planning activities, and timely implementation of approved on the ground management activities. Other issues will also be discussed with county elected officials from across the nation, federal agencies, and Oregon's Congressional delegation including: housing authority funding, furthering the fair housing assessment tool, amending CFR 42 Part II, lift centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ban for pre-adjudicated inmates, title III search and rescue funding, and thank you messages for FAST Act.

NACo Public Lands and Western Interstate Region Joint Meeting
A bipartisan meeting with senior staff of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resrouces to discuss public lands and western priorities.

February 23, 2016 | 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. | Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 370

RSVP by February 17, 2016 to Chris Marklund, NACo associate legislative director

Opportunity for All: Building a Brighter Future for Rural Families
During the 2016 Legislative Conference, NACo will be hosting a series of events focused on combating chronic rural poverty. In coordination with the White House Rural Council and the National Governors Association, these events will bring together hundreds of key stakeholders from federal, state and local government to raise awareness of the nature and consequences of some of the biggest challenges facing rural communities, including child poverty and substance abuse. The event will also highlight evidence-informed and promising practices to ensure rural families have an opportunity to thrive.

On Monday, February 22, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will moderate a roundtable discussion with a bi-partisan panel of governors to highlight key innovative approaches to rural child poverty intervention and opportunities for state and local government collaboration on combating chronic rural poverty.

On Tuesday, February 23, from 12:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., NACo will host a rural poverty summit entitled "Opportunity for All: Building a Brighter Future for Rural Children." This session will highlight the current state of poverty in America and examine the numerous factors contributing to chronic poverty including early childhood development, drug and substance abuse, access to healthcare and workforce training. Additionally, this session will provide a look at innovative and successful initiatives designed to combat rural poverty through multi-generational service delivery models.

Have questions? Contact our Washington, D.C. correspondent Mckenzie Farrell at 503-585-8351.  

National County Government Month

National County Government Month (NCGM), held each April, is an annual celebration of county government. For the past 25 years, the National Association of Counties (NACo) has encouraged counties to promote county services and programs during April. NCGM is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the vital role counties play in residents' lives every day.

NCGM's theme is consistent with NACo Pres. Sallie Clark's presidential initiative: "Safe and Secure Counties." It focuses on counties' service in three distinct areas:

- Ensuring public safety;
- Preserving public health and well-being; and
- Promoting local economies.

The NCGM 2016 Toolkit is now available at . Download the toolkit for ideas about engaging your community and celebrating county government in action.

Upcoming Webinar

Free Online Investment Solution for Counties
A OC is pleased to support eConnectDirect® as an essential online investment solution designed to help Oregon county treasurers manage their investment needs. This proprietary tool provides treasurers access to thousands of fixed-income offerings and the ability to invest county funds in a more effective and transparent way. Ask your county treasurer, finance manager, or administrator to sign-up for this webinar to learn about this free tool.

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

A Few Words

Obstructionist: the practice of deliberately delaying or preventing a process or change
Repugnant: making opposition; averse.
Cooperate: to work or act together or jointly for a common purpose or benefit.  

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 & Mckenzie Farrell

Association of Oregon Counties




Have a great week.