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Oregon Trails

An Occasional Newsletter


The Association of Oregon Counties

Month, Year - Vol 1, Issue 1

Blowing Smoke       

Legislative Days Convene    

September 18, 2014

In This Issue
Bovett to CJC
Health & Human Services
OR DOE Application
Vets Events
Transportation Zone
Public Lands
AOC Annual Conference
LGPI Update
NACo Drug Discount Program
NACo Discount Programs
Places to Go, Things to Do, Great Opportunities
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September 12, 2014

2:45 PDT

September 15, 2014

2:43 PDT


Smoke over Salem

Salem -  What a difference a weekend can make to the air quality over our State Capitol. Smoke drifted over the gold man atop the Marble Palace as Oregon legislators convened for legislative days at the Capitol.


With an election on the smoky horizon, lawmakers heard from interested citizens and organizations about the plethora of problems plaguing Oregon and how the Legislature can and should solve the situations seething at the surface of the state. 


Several committees heard testimony about pending legislation that could be acted on when the Legislature convenes next year and several committees directed staff to produce legislative concepts that could ultimately be turned into bills for the 2015 Session. AOC policy managers used the legislative days to secure support for several legislative concepts that will be addressed next year.


The Legislature plans to have one more set of legislative days at the Capitol in December. By then, the makeup of the 2015 Legislative Assembly will be known and the script will be adjusted in terms of what bills will have a chance and those that won't based on who is serving in both chambers and who will be governor. 


In this edition of Oregon Trails, there is information on some of the activity that took place in smoky Salem this past week as well as an update on various AOC activities including must read details on the Annual Conference.  


Bovett Confirmed for CJC

Thursday, September 17 saw the only floor action by the Oregon Senate during Legislative Days at the Capitol, and AOC Legal Counsel Rob Bovett was unanimously confirmed by the Senate to the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC), having been nominated for that appointment by Governor Kitzhaber. Rob has a lengthy history of working with the commission and its staff on a variety of issues, ranging from drug policy, to specialty courts, and most recently implementation of the Justice Reinvestment Act (HB 3194).


Health and Human Services

Final Report from Task Force on the Future of Public Health

The Task Force on the Future of Public Health Services will take a vote on their final report on Tuesday, September 23rd. Under the chairmanship of Deschutes County Commissioner Tammy Baney, the task force has come a long way from the initial proposal to create eight public health regions (House Bill 2348 from 2013). The final report proposes establishing a baseline of "foundational capabilities" for public health that all counties should be able to meet - either alone, sharing some services across county lines, or in full partnership with one or more other counties. The task force has expressed that they see this being a multi-year transition, although there are differing opinions on the appropriate timeline -- Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, has suggested a 10-year plan, whereas Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham, prefers five years.


In addition to the details of the foundational capabilities and the metrics by which they will be measured, as well as the overall timeline, there are a number of issues that will need to be discussed by the Legislature. The question of funding looms large. The task force acknowledged the need for increased public health funding (Oregon ranks 46th in General Fund dollars put toward public health), and expressed a strong desire to avoid a competitive RFP process. However, there was little discussion of potential revenue sources. Further, the exact cost of this transition remains to be determined. There are also questions about how state public health may need to be restructured. Specific questions include the role of the Conference of Local Health Officials (CLHO) and the makeup and role of the Public Health Advisory Board.


AOC has been following this issue closely, and we will continue to monitor developments during the 2015 legislative session. If you would like to review the task force's final report, you can do so here.  

OHA Making Rules for Public Health Authority Changes 

In light of Douglas County's decision to relinquish responsibility for certain public health services, the Oregon Health Authority put out a notice of temporary rules on June 20th. The rules are designed to address issues of how the state ensures services continue to be available in counties where public health services may no longer be provided by the county, as well as how counties that have given up their local authority may request to have that authority reinstated. The temporary rules can be found here.    


Temporary rules do not require public comment, however, OHA is convening a Rules Advisory Committee (RAC) to establish permanent administrative rules dealing with this issue. Pending approval by the AOC board of directors, Polk County Commissioner, and AOC Treasurer, Craig Pope will represent AOC on the RAC.  


New Early Learning Director  

On August 19th, Governor Kitzhaber announced the appointment of Megan Irwin as the interim director of the Early Learning Division (ELD). She has taken over in the wake of Jada Rupley's retirement. For the past year, Ms. Irwin has been the policy director at the ELD. Previously, she worked as a journalist in Arizona, covering children and families' issues. She then moved to Stand for Children, where she worked as a senior director before joining the ELD.


Ms. Irwin has expressed an interest in better partnering with counties and we look forward to having her as a guest at future AOC meetings.   


AOC Policy Manager Stacy Michaelson handles health and human services issues.  


Energy, Environment and Land Use

Land Use Subcommittee Sets First Meeting

The Land Use Subcommittee of the AOC Energy, Environment and Land Use steering committee will hold its first meeting on October 13th at 3 p.m. (following the monthly board meeting). The draft agenda includes speakers to discuss medical marijuana and land use zoning, marine reserves and the impact on local land use laws, and the ongoing efforts with sage grouse and the intersection of land use planning and keeping the bird from being federally listed as endangered. For more information please contact AOC Policy Manager Mark Nystrom.


Product Stewardship Improvement Workgroup Sets its First Meeting  

AOC's Product Stewardship Improvement Workgroup (PSIW) will hold its first meeting on October 23rd from 10 a.m. until noon at the Local Government Center. The PSIW, chaired by Tillamook County Commissioner Tim Josi, will discuss the organization and goal of the workgroup along with providing members the basics of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). The workgroup will also provide a review of EPR programs in the state and discuss strategies for a local government response to future EPR programs. For more information please contact AOC staff Mark Nystrom.


Home Energy Performance Score (HB 2801) stakeholder panel recruitment

The Oregon Department of Energy is seeking qualified candidates for a new home energy performance score system stakeholder panel. To apply, please visit the department's website. The deadline is September 30, 2014. The stakeholder panel will review home energy performance score systems and recommend to the department whether to approve their use in Oregon. The panel may also recommend future updates to the home energy performance score rules, including new standards for home energy performance reports. 


The department seeks a variety of perspectives from home energy performance score providers, utilities, home builders, real estate professionals and others working in the residential sector. If you or someone in your community is interested in participating, use the link found above. 


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


Waters of the United States

Feedback Requested on Waters of the US

NACo staff has reached out to alert Oregon county officials and AOC to the fact that the Administration is actively working to find individual state elected officials and county governments to write letters in support of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rules.   


AOC opposes changing the definition that would expand EPA jurisdiction, as does NACo.


According to NACo analysis, counties could feel a major impact as more waters become federally protected and subject to new rules or standards. NACO has produced a document on how the proposed rule would impact counties (here). NACo has drafted a sample short letter that counties and local elected officials can use as a model. If you have any questions, please refer to NACo's information page found here and/or contact AOC Policy Manager Mark Nystrom. The AOC Energy, Environment and Land Use Steering Committee will be discussing this issue at the October 13th meeting.


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


DOE Message
A message from the Oregon Department of Energy: 

Recruitment for panel members - application deadline September 30


The Oregon Department of Energy is seeking qualified candidates for a new home energy performance score system stakeholder panel. This volunteer panel is being formed in accordance with administrative rules adopted by the department on July 1, 2014, which implemented 2013 House Bill 2801, Section 12.


To apply, please visit the department's website. The deadline is Sept. 30, 2014.


The stakeholder panel will review home energy performance score systems and recommend to the department whether to approve their use in Oregon. The panel may also recommend future updates to the home energy performance score rules, including new standards for home energy performance reports. 


The department seeks a variety of perspectives from home energy performance score providers, utilities, home builders, real estate professionals, and others working in the residential sector. Please share this with your colleagues that may be interested.


The application, background materials and contact information are on the department's website.


 Vets Events Calendar


  • 19  Mid-Willamette Valley Stand Down; Salem's Vet Center and Serving our Veterans at Home (SOVAH) host the event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Assistance includes: medical and dental services, benefits registration, military surplus, Women Veterans Workshop, counseling and a free lunch. All veterans (Guard & Reserve too) and their families are welcome. Location: Salem's Grace Baptist Church, 4197 State St. NE; Contact: Todd Londin, 503-363-4457 

  • 27  Bend Stand Down; contact Jerry Hollis for details (541) 383-2793 


  • 18   East Multnomah County Stand Down is scheduled for October 18th and will be at the Chapel in Troutdale; contact Catherine Spofford for details (971) 645-2226    

Andy Smith handles veteran's affairs for AOC.


Tribal Updates

Tribal issues were addressed during the recent Legislative Days at the Capitol.


On Wednesday, September 17, the Joint Judiciary Committees heard presentations from a number of experts on issues relating to Tribal Sovereignty, specifically with regard to intersection with state and federal government, especially in the areas of juvenile, tax, and gaming law, as well as public safety. The committees were also provided with a background regarding the development and phases of Indian law throughout United States history.


On Thursday, September 18, AOC Legal Counsel Rob Bovett also attended a tribal law enforcement conference in Grand Ronde, where a number of speakers and panels addressed the principles of successful multi-jurisdictional law enforcement in and out of Indian Country, as well as a review of implementation of SB 412, which expanded the authority of tribal law enforcement officers outside of Indian Country. 



There is so much going on in the Transportation Zone; it's hard to keep up! (author's message)


First, Congress extended funding for MAP-21 on July 31, 2014, until May 2015. Although we are grateful for this temporary measure which prevents the Highway Trust Fund from going bankrupt, this short term funding does not help the state or local governments make plans for any long term investments in our transportation system. Luckily, our federal delegation understands the difficult situation this puts us in and they will continue to seek a long term solution.


At the state level, the Oregon Transportation Forum (OTF) released a Straw Man Legislative Package with 14 proposals. On September 8, the AOC Transportation Steering Committee reviewed each proposal and made recommendations to the Legislative Committee, which voted to take action on many of the proposals. Here are the highlights:

  • Support indexing of gas taxes and vehicle registration fees to prevent loss of purchasing power.

  • Support a $300 million per year increase in funds (through possible gas tax and vehicle registration fee increases) for maintenance and preservation of state/county/city roadways. Maintain 50/30/20 split.

  • Support the addition of $75 million from general fund for elderly and disabled transit service.

  • Oppose the adoption of a 5 cent gas tax increase for enhancement projects. Half of the counties' 30 percent share would go to Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) and/or Area Commissions on Transportation (ACT). AOC wanted to retain focus on 'Fix It' priorities. If this proposal goes forward, AOC would seek retention of the 50/30/20 split.

  • Oppose 1 cent increase in gas tax to fund a program to facilitate transfers of road miles between ODOT and local jurisdictions.

  • Oppose incentivizing the co-location of ODOT and local government road maintenance facilities.

  • Support the road user charge voluntary program and advocate for legislative action to transition from a voluntary program to required road user charge.

On September 10, AOC Policy Manager Mary Stern and AOC Road Program Manager Emily Ackland attended the OTF membership meeting where each proposal was discussed among the members, who then voted by paper ballot on each item. Ballots will be compiled and analyzed before the next OTF meeting on November 6. After a discussion there, the OTF Executive Committee will finalize the recommendation for a 2015 legislative package. We'll learn more about this at the AOC Annual Conference at a session on Thursday, November 20.


The finishing touches are being put on the County Road Needs Study. A sneak preview was given to the Senate Business and Transportation Committee by Emily, Mary, Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken, and Jackson County Public Works Director John Vial on September 15. The group received a warm reception, even though the facts presented were pretty sobering. Each county will receive a copy of the study as soon as it is completed. No need to request one!  


AOC Policy Manager Mary Stern handles transportation and economic & community development issues. 


AOC Road Program Manager Emily Ackland oversees the County Road Program. 


 Public Lands and Natural Resources  

2014 wildfire season: bad news continues

The 2014 wildfire season, which has no end in sight until heavy rains arrive, has already made 2013-14 the worst back-to-back wildfire seasons in the recorded history of Oregon. A combination of low snow pack, persistent drought conditions, multiple lightning strikes, and human causes are to blame for the 1,000 wildfires thus far. The state has burnt through its insurance, so the smoke you see henceforth this year is burning taxpayer-generated general funds. One need only look at the state agencies' Policy Option Package requests and county governments' requests for state general funds, most of which are very worthy and overdue, to gauge how serious and relevant these fires are. The Department of Forestry investigates the cause of every fire, and suspects that a handful were caused by arson. Arson presents an opportunity for fire cost recovery.


State engagement in federal forest management is paying off

The 2013 legislative session, with AOC support, approved a $2.885 million package to work with the U.S. Forest Service and functioning collaboratives to increase the pace and scale of logging on dry side national forests. The Department of Forestry and the Governor's Office reported on Tuesday to the House Interim Committee on Rural Communities that the program is succeeding as planned. Three national forests have not had a single lawsuit on a forest operation in over seven years. Indeed, the USFS has funded a planning team dedicated to the Blue Mountains, which has had its first project approved to treat 90,000 acres. Boise Cascade reports that it recently added 70 jobs near LaGrande and has the capacity and markets for greater expansion. State Forester Doug Decker reported that the Good Neighbor Authority under the federal farm law reauthorization will permit his department to work on federal ground to increase logging. A Department of Forestry 2015-17 Policy Option Package supported by AOC asks for $6.55 million of lottery funding to continue momentum and implementation. 


State Land Board forced to change business model for Elliott State Forest

The Elliott State Forest is part of the constitutional trust lands overseen by the State Land Board (SLB) to generate money to the Common School Fund for Oregon public schools. In the past two years, as a result of the Cascadia Wildlands federal lawsuit, of which AOC/Council of Forest Trust Lands was a Defendant-Intervenor, timber harvest has been so reduced that the Elliott has lost $3 million in 2013 and will show another loss in 2014. The business model no longer serves the SLB fiduciary responsibility. As a consequence, the Department of State Lands (DSL) has developed five alternative plans: a new Habitat Conservation Plan, which would continue losses for a few years; public agency (federal, state, or local) buyout and invest the proceeds; community forest owned by a local collaborative and invest the proceeds; public auction and invest the proceeds; and sell a conservation easement and again invest the proceeds. DSL is working with stakeholders to evaluate the options and will report to the SLB in December.


Oregon-grown wood not adequately recognized by leading green building systems  

Governor John Kitzhaber issued executive order No. 12 - 16 (10-8-12) which directed a report on whether leading green building rating systems (such as LEED - Leadership in Energy and Environment Designs and FSC - Forest Stewardship Council)adequately recognize the environmental, social and other related benefits of Oregon wood products compared to other timber growing regions. The report by the Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon State College of Forestry was presented to a joint meeting of the Senate Committee on Rural Communities and Economic Development and House Committee on Rural Communities. The findings include that leading green building rating systems fail to fully recognize the regulatory obligations of the Oregon Forest Practices Act, statewide land use laws, and other statutes and rules relative to competing regions where less rigorous legal and voluntary standards exist. Absent certification, Oregon wood is denied market access where green building ratings systems are used.

The study group made four recommendations in light of the challenges they found: 1) Explore a state standard based on a green building rating system for public construction, renovation, and leasing practices that more fully and equitably recognizes Oregon-grown wood; 2) Identify policies and take actions that will advance market recognition for uncertified Oregon wood grown in compliance with the Oregon Forest Practices Act; 3) Advocate for transparency and portability of forest certification standards; and 4) Advocate for wood products, especially wood grown and manufactured in Oregon.


AOC Policy Director Gil Riddell handles public lands and natural resource issues.   

 PILT's Important 

The following message was sent to all NACo Public Lands Committee and WIR Board Members from Deborah Cox at NACo: 


Good morning Public Lands Committee and WIR Board Members:


Wanted to share with you the below op-ed from Chairman Ron Walter that was just featured in The Hill newspaper here in DC that is distributed to every office on Capitol Hill!  Discusses the importance of PILT and this week's fly-in.


Thanks to Commissioner Walter for his help with this.


Deborah Cox



Read the editorial here.  


AOC Annual Conference


AOC Annual Conference  - November 17 - 20, 2014

Register Now

The 2014 Annual AOC Conference will take place beginning Monday, November 17.  It will be held in Lane County at Eugene Hilton Hotel Conference Center.

   Learn more 


 LGPI Update 

The Local Government Personnel Institute (LGPI) is a membership-based organization that offers human resources and labor relations assistance to cities, counties and special districts throughout Oregon. Oregon's local governments are able to save money by employing expert advice to avert crises and to handle their everyday needs in labor relations and human resource.


Founded in 1971, LGPI is a joint venture between the League of Oregon Cities (LOC) and the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC). LGPI is governed by a five-member Board of Directors and employs 10 full- and part-time staff members.


HR experts conduct salary surveys, classification and compensation studies, write job descriptions, and answer tough HR dilemmas. LGPI can help with an employee issue, or representation in union negotiations. Experienced labor relations consultants travel across the state to assist members.


LGPI is undergoing some changes. Ten year executive director and labor attorney, Diana Moffat has resigned to work in the private sector. The LGPI Board of Directors: Chair Mike McArthur (AOC Executive Director, Vice Chair Mike McCauley (LOC Executive Director), Pete Truax (Mayor of Forest Grove), John Arens (Mid-Columbia Council of Governments Executive Director) and John Lattimer (Marion County Administrator) met on September 18 to begin the process of replacing the LGPI director.


It is expected that an interim manager will be selected to oversee the administrative affairs of LGPI until a new executive director can be hired. In the meantime LGPI is adequately staffed to continue to serve local governments. Contact: 503-588-2251


AOC Executive Director Mike McArthur serves on the LGPI Board of Directors.                     


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 AOC at (503) 585-8351.   


NACo Discount Drug Program


NACo Discount Programs

Interested in helping your county save money on their dental costs? The NACo Dental Discount Program offers a simple discount card that helps county residents save 5% to 50% on dental care, and 20% on orthodontics. The card is for people who are uninsured but can also complement health insurance plans or work with health savings accounts, flexible spending accounts and health reimbursement arrangements. Want to learn more? View this webinar to learn about the benefits.




Have you looked at the new NACo Health Discount Program?  Counties benefit from the program by being able to offer their residents an affordable alternative to paying full price for health care. If you haven't already signed up for this free program enhancement, here is the link to the information and the simple sign up form: 


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.   


Laura Cleland & Eric Schmidt

Association of Oregon Counties


If you have questions or complaints abut this newsletter, please contact McKenzie Farrell at AOC. If you have compliments, please contact Laura Cleland at AOC. If you have a monetary contribution, please contact Eric Schmidt at AOC. 
Enjoy what's left of summer.