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Oregon Trails

An Occasional Newsletter


The Association of Oregon Counties

Month, Year - Vol 1, Issue 1

Action on Both Coasts       

A Tale of Two Capitols      

March 3, 2014

In This Issue
Oregonians Storm Capitol Hill
Governance and Marijuana
Public Safety
Communications Policy
Public Lands & Natural Resources
Energy, Environment & Land Use
Health & Human Services
The Road Ahead
NACo Annual Conference
NACo Drug Discount Program
Places to Go, Things to Do, Great Opportunities
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Day 1 on Capitol Hill

Salem and Washington, D.C. - News from the Capitol Cities. Here at home, the Oregon Legislature enters what could be the last week of the so-called short session.  Back east, Congress was snowed out, again.   


The original concept of annual sessions in Oregon was that the even numbered year short session would be used to fix the budget if needed and correct any problems in legislation passed during the odd numbered year- long session. This year, that concept seems to have been tossed out the window.


Lawmakers, lobbyists, journalists and citizens are complaining that much of the legislation the Legislature is dealing with this short session is way too complicated to be considered thoughtfully or carefully. Much of the complicated legislation is designed to showcase ideological and philosophical positions. The participants on both sides of the aisle complain that a bad case of partisanship has broken out as everyone prepares for the May primaries.  


A look at the frenetic Oregon Legislature and the NACo Legislative Conference coming your way in this riveting edition of Oregon Trails.  


Day 5 from the hotel


Oregonians Storm Capitol Hill 

Washington, D.C.  -  A group of  24 Oregon county commissioners and judges, county  staff and county officials met with three Oregon House Members and both U.S. Senators this past Thursday in our Nation's Capitol. 


U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-OR, reported that a rare case of bi-partisanship has apparently broken out in the famously dysfunctional and confrontational House. Rep. Greg Walden, R- OR, and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-OR, agreed and said that the House at least is making progress on a number of bills. 


U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio had been scheduled to meet with the Oregonians but a series of votes on the House floor took priority. His Washington Chief of Staff Kathy Dedrick and Travis Joseph, a senior policy advisor for the House Natural Resources Committee pinch hit with an informative session on the public lands and transportation issues.


Among the prominent issues during the discussions was the specific  legislation impacting the O&C lands and public lands management in general. Our Members of Congress agree that this may be the best time in history to pass O&C legislation given the powerful positions of Sen. Wyden as chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Rep. DeFazio as the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee and  Rep. Walden's position in the Majority Leadership.  Sen. Wyden and Sen. Merkley believe the Senate will pass a version of the O&C bill Sen. Wyden has introduced and Rep. DeFazio's senior staff believes there will be a conference committee between the House and Senate on the legislation. However, there is a lot of legislative work remaining to be done and nothing is certain. 


Our county delegation asked thoughtful follow up questions on several issues and also brought to the attention of our Congressional delegation a number of concerns, including Medicaid payments for pre-adjudicated inmates, renewable energy and wild horses. The meetings were  informative and productive. 


Many in the county delegation remained in Washington for the annual NACo Legislative Conference that began Saturday. Oregon once again is at the forefront in bringing resolutions impacting NACo policy for the next year. Committees acted on a number of resolutions over the weekend and NACo will vote on those resolutions at the annual conference in New Orleans this summer. 


Multnomah County Commissioner Judy Shiprack has been installed as Oregon's latest addition to the NACo Board of Directors. Commissioner Shiprack joins Columbia County Commissioner Tony Hyde and Tillamook County Commissioner Tim Josi as Oregon representatives on the board.  Commissioner Josi also serves on the NACo Executive Board as Western Regional Representative.  


Oregonians were treated to what has become a somewhat familiar sight in Washington. Snow, and plenty of it, falling as this report is being written. The federal government shut down, schools closed and Congress did not meet because of the wintry conditions. The government shutdown will hopefully only last a day, but nobody really noticed that Congress wasn't meeting. 


The NACo Legislative Conference has been impacted by the winter weather as well in that a number of workshops had to be cancelled and several speakers were unable to get there. So far, the conference hotel hasn't run out of food and the heat and lights are still on. 



Governance (and Marijuana) 

There was plenty of "high" political drama and maneuvering to start week four of the 2014 legislative session, and it continued full force throughout the entire week.


Local Control of Marijuana Dispensaries

On Monday, February 24, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously added back the local "opt out" provisions for marijuana dispensaries, as well as AOC amendments to give the Oregon Health Authority the power to regulate marijuana-infused products marketed to kids. House Bill 1531 now reads exactly how AOC and LOC want it to read. However, enormous pressure has since been applied to Democratic representatives to send the bill to House Rules, or to Ways & Means, so it can be gutted or killed. AOC has been lobbying the bill hard. A number of newspaper editorial boards have also chimed in, in support of our position, most recently the Eugene Register-Guard.


On Friday, there was more high political drama behind the scenes, and the entire remaining House docket got carried over to Monday. That is because on that day the opponents of our bill will have their best chance to derail it. Two Representatives will be absent, and those two are in favor of our bill and against any motion to derail it. So there will likely be a "procedural" motion to send the bill to House Rules, or to Ways & Means, in order to gut or kill it.  Some Representatives have committed to voting for the bill, but have not necessarily committed to vote against the procedural motion supported by their party leaders, in which strict adherence is often expected. On Monday, the House vote, 31 to 27, to carry the bill over to Tuesday.


Other Updates - GASB for air - torts not tarts -  

The bill to ensure counties ability to comply with the new GASB 68 audit requirements, House Bill 4155, passed the Senate on Monday, March 3. AOC provided testimony in support of the bill.


The bill to open up a new class of tort claims against government entities, House Bill 4048, stemming from a tragic set of homicide circumstances in Columbia County, is still in Ways & Means. AOC, LOC, and CIS have been actively working on ways to remedy the root cause of the problem, without needlessly opening up governmental entities to unnecessary tort claims.


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


Public Safety

Privatizing Liquor Sales 

On Wednesday, the Joint Ways & Means Subcommittee on Transportation & Economic Development held a work session on Senate Bill 1559. The bill creates a task force on liquor privatization in anticipation of a ballot measure this November which would expand hard liquor sales to grocery stores. The ballot measure is being led by the Northwest Grocery Association.


AOC testified on the bill and relayed concerns about protecting the revenue stream to counties, making sure the resources exist for public safety, mental health, and addictions needs.


The SB 1559 task force will have one position for a local government representative.


Patrick Sieng is AOC's policy manager for Public Safety.   


Communications Policy

At long last, an SIEC bill  

House Bill 4031 was written by AOC with the leadership of Yamhill County Commissioner Kathy George. The bill was originally introduced in the 2013 session as Senate Bill 665 but did not make it through the process. The Communications Committee, chaired by Deschutes County Commissioner Tony DeBone and Sherman County Commissioner Mike Smith, identified HB 4031 as a priority for this session.


The bill transfers the State Interoperability Executive Council (SIEC) from the Department of Transportation to the Department of Administrative Services Office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO). The CIO's office is better equipped to handle federal grants for the FirstNet program that is being developed. Since September 11, 2001, the SIEC has worked to improve interoperability communication issues among public safety entities.


HB 4031 passed the Joint Ways & Means Subcommittee on Transportation & Economic Development and the full Joint Ways & Means Committee last week and is heading to both chambers for a vote. The bill ensures AOC's continued involvement in public safety communication issues.

Patrick Sieng is AOC Policy Manager for Communications Policy.  


Public Lands & Natural Resources

The 15 Forest Trust Land Counties face an historically pivotal time.  

The 15 counties represented by the Council of Forest Trust Land Counties, who made the State Forests possible with their transfers of ownership of county lands to the State, are at a pivotal period in the history of the Forest Acquisition Program. (Trust Land Counties: Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Douglas, Josephine, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Polk, Tillamook, & Washington.)


Alternative forest management planning

The Board of Forestry recently directed the Department of Forestry to initiate a process to develop an Alternative Forest Management Plan for state forest lands in northwest Oregon. Chair Tom Imeson appointed a board subcommittee that includes Gary Springer, Sybil Ackerman, Mike Rose, and himself to work with the agency and stakeholders on this process.  


To incorporate the stakeholders into this process the effort has included a small, knowledgeable stakeholder group. The stakeholder group included two representatives from the Forest Trust Land Counties (FTLAC/CFTLC Chair Tim Josi & Annabelle Jaramillo), two members from the conservation community, two members from timber interests, one recreation member, and one citizen representative.


The stakeholder group worked with facilitator Connie Lewis of the Meridian Institute toward a goal of developing one to three forest management plan approaches, including enhancements to the State Forests Business Model that can potentially achieve financial viability for the agency and improve conservation outcomes on State Forests. The stakeholder group suggested multiple management plan approaches and business model enhancements.


The next step in the process is a facilitated review (Connie Lewis) of these management plan approaches and business model enhancements by the Forest Trust Land Advisory Committee to develop input to the Board Subcommittee. Due to the importance of this effort, all commissioners of the 15 Trust Land Counties are invited to participate in the review and development of input for the Board Subcommittee.


This meeting is scheduled for April 4, 2014, at the Department of Forestry Headquarters Building C/Tillamook room, located at 2600 State Street, Salem, Oregon


If you are a Trust Land County Commissioner, please confirm your willingness to participate in this meeting at your earliest convenience to Mary Schmelz:


Federal lawsuit likely on the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests

On February 13, 2014, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) sent to the State of Oregon a 60-Day Notice of Intent (NOI) to Sue under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The target species is the Oregon coast coho salmon Evolutionarily Significant Unit.  


The NOI alleges that the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) is "planning, authorizing, and conducting logging, timber hauling, and road construction and maintenance activities in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests" that violate the ESA by causing "take" of the ESA-listed (threatened status) Oregon coast coho. The specific mechanism of "take" is alleged to be ensuing stream sedimentation and reduced input of woody debris into streams. The NOI urges the State to cooperate with CBD by allowing it to assist the State "in developing a forest management and Habitat Conservation Plan," presumably for the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests. It is no secret that the CBD would like to see the State pursue a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for at least these forests, if not also the Elliott. However, the State and forest trust land counties worked to develop an HCP from 2001-06, and found the "take avoidance" strategy more financially beneficial and discovered that an HCP would place a disproportionately heavy burden for owl protection on forests in Clatsop County. The Board of Forestry codified the decision not to pursue an HCP when the Northwest Forest Plan was revised in 2010, and instead developed strategies for Species of Concern.


The CBD was a plaintiff in the recent federal marbled murrelet lawsuit (Cascadia Wildlands v. Decker) that implicated forest practices on the Elliott State Forest, but also the Tillamook and Clatsop. That lawsuit, in which the AOC/CFTLC was a defendant-intervenor, is now resolved (stipulated dismissal in which AOC did not join was entered by the court on February 19, 2014). In light of the lawsuit, ODF cancelled or modified 28 timber sales, nearly all of which were on the Elliott. Going forward, at least for the near term, timber harvest on the Elliott is expected to yield only about 15 million board feet (mmbf) annually rather than the anticipated 40 mmbf each year - a significant loss for the Common School Fund and hence counties and schools throughout the State. With the ink not yet dry on the marbled murrelet settlement, the CBD now apparently seeks to achieve a similar reduction in timber harvests on the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests.

The CBD alleges that: (1) timber harvest and road work at high-risk/slide-prone sites on the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests lead to landslides that increase sedimentation in streams; (2) timber hauling on forest roads that are hydrologically connected to streams increases sedimentation in streams; (3) timber harvest conducted in certain areas without the use of sufficient riparian buffers increases sedimentation in streams; and (4) logging in the vicinity of streams and riparian areas removes trees that might otherwise become large woody debris in streams at some point in the future. 


Whether and how the State will engage with the CBD remains to be seen, but the stakes are exceedingly high. The Forest Trust Lands have been acquired from counties by the Oregon Board of Forestry to be managed by ODF under the authorities of ORS Chapter 530. The State has long actively promoted the FTL program to the counties with assurances that the lands acquired from the counties would be rehabilitated, reforested, and protected to produce future harvest volume to generate revenues for the FTL counties in which the lands are located. The counties were assured that their vested rights in revenue generation via a share of timber sale receipts would be preserved. 


The Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests collectively account for most of Oregon's state lands timber base. Although only about 3 percent of the timber base (acreage) in Oregon is found on State Forests, 47 percent of that amount is on the Tillamook State Forest with an additional 30 percent on the Clatsop State Forest. Even now, ODF's management of forest trust lands is yielding critically low levels of returns to Oregon's Forest Development Fund. These forests face the potential of  "forest management by litigation."


Under CFTLC bylaws, the governing body is the Board of Directors between annual membership meetings in November at the AOC Annual Conference. When necessary, as events play out, the Board will need to decide whether to take appropriate action to protect county interests. This action may well be the same as in the Cascadia suit, i.e., file with the court to intervene as a defendant. The final authorization for action would be by the AOC Board of Directors (under its bylaws, CFTLC is a "subcommittee" of AOC).


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






Wasco County field trip: AOC Veterans Committee

You're Invited! 

Host: Wasco County Commissioner Rod Runyon


The Dalles, Oregon

Friday, April 11, 2014

9:30 a.m.  - 2 p.m.


Highlights/Visits Include:

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

Please RSVP to Andy Smith, AOC staff



**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. 


From the World War II Memorial Folks: 

Salem - Nearly two years after hundreds gathered to witness the groundbreaking of Oregon's World War II Memorial, construction is now underway to complete it on the grounds of the state capitol.


The Oregon World War II Memorial Foundation is asking every Oregonian to contribute what they can to help complete the memorial and bring it alive by linking it with stories of Oregonians on the battlefield and the home front. 


"Oregon is one of only six states that did not have a memorial, and we needed to fix that.  Now Oregonians can help with this last effort by sharing this message via their social networks and help it go viral," said ODVA Director Cameron Smith.


This memorial will commemorate and honor the service of more than 152,000 Oregon men and women of the armed forces, the support of countless civilians on the home front, and the ultimate sacrifice of more than 3,750 Oregonians who gave their lives during the war.


Through the generosity of hundreds of people, the memorial committee determined they were close enough to the $1.2 million goal to break ground on the memorial site in early-February.  However, WWII Memorial Foundation President Lou Jaffe said there is still some work to be done and the fundraising isn't over. "We still need the help of every Oregonian to make this last push for funding to be successful" Jaffe said.


Watch a video about the project here


For more information on veterans issues contact Andy Smith.


Energy, Environment & Land Use

Energy Improvement Financing

This week House Bill 4041 passed the Senate and is now headed to the governor's desk for his signature. AOC supports this bill which allows local governments to facilitate private financing of energy improvements by property owners.


Woody Biomass 

There was no movement this week on Senate Bill 1578. The bill would allow woody biomass to fulfill the requirement of 1.5 percent renewable energy in new or major renovations of public buildings. The bill spent the week awaiting a hearing in the House Rules Committee.


It's not the Grand Bargain, but it's a deal 

There has continued to be a great deal of attention to House Bill 4078 which validates the urban growth boundary adopted by Metro, Washington, Clackamas, and Multnomah Counties. After a week of multiple amendments and vigorous debate the House passed the bill 59-0. The bill now heads to the Senate.


Alternative Fuel Vehicle Fund

House Bill 4107 extends the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Revolving Fund loan program to certain private entities. The bill has cleared both the House and Senate. AOC voiced a concern over whether there would be enough funds in the program to ensure public entities could access the loan program. AOC was assured that the program would be closely monitored and revisited if the funds are not available.


Sage Grouse Stuff

Another bill that made its way through both the House and the Senate was House Bill 4093. The bill creates a public record exemption for written agreements by land owners with respect to sage grouse conservation. These landowners will now have some private information exempted from the public record.


AOC/DEQ Onsite Workgroup Report

DEQ, AOC and Umatilla County Commissioner Larry Givens invite you to Umatilla County for a presentation and round table discussion of the DEQ Onsite Budget Note Workgroup Report. The Onsite Budget Note Workgroup was convened in July 2013 and held a total of nine meetings through October 2013. The written report was distributed to the 2014 Legislature and will be discussed at AOC's April EELU and Legislative Committee meetings. DEQ and AOC will be presenting to the House and Senate Energy and Environment Committees in May and AOC needs your input.


One of the many recommendations is to have the counties take over the local onsite septic programs statewide and have DEQ in an oversight role only. DEQ will come prepared to discuss what a "county only" model may look like and what it has planned if the status quo continues and DEQ continues to provide the onsite program.


AOC's primary goal for the meeting is to get feedback from counties that currently do not have an on-site program and would be required to do so if the report recommendations were implemented. Specifically, how can the affected counties work together to alleviate the burden of assuming a new program and what message should these counties send to the Legislature and DEQ?


We invite you to join DEQ Onsite program managers and AOC staff at Umatilla County's Justice Center Media Room from 9:30 am until Noon on Friday, April 4th. Please feel free to bring along any interested staff including planners, public/environmental health officials or others who may be interested.


If you cannot attend in person there will be a call in option as well.


Please RSVP or contact Mark Nystrom with any questions.


Mark Nystrom is AOC Policy Manager for Energy, Environment and Land Use.  

Health and Human Services

House Bill 4110B - Private Health Insurance Coverage of Pre-adjudicated Detainees

HB 4110B was expected to be heard by the Ways & Means Subcommittee on Human Services last week. On Thursday, it was moved to the Ways & Means Subcommittee on Capitol Construction. The Bill is expected to be heard today, though no agenda has been posted. We are on one hour notice, so things may move forward quickly. In general, we are hopeful about the underlying bill. A special thanks goes out to Umatilla Commissioner Bill Elfering for inspiring and contributing substantially to a supplemental letter in support of HB 4110B from AOC. We thought it was important to share his articulation of the realities of rate setting in the insurance industry. Additionally, we want to thank all commissioners who contacted their legislators about the importance of supporting HB 4110B. We heard from legislators that they had been contacted by their commissioners and that these conversations helped shape their understanding of the issues and decision making about the bill.


Community Developmental Disabilities Programs (CDDPs) Gap Funding Request

AOC and AOCMHP continue to advocate jointly for bridge funding for CDDPs. We held additional meetings with leadership from the full Ways & Means Committee, the Ways & Means Subcommittee on Human Services, as well as other legislators about the issue and our request. A more substantive update regarding the outcome of this will be provided once it is available. 


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


Restrictions on Political Campaigning by Public Employees

With election season upon us it seems a good time to review the do's and don'ts of the use of county staff and county resources on election matters (both people and initiatives). In short, county staff/resources cannot have anything to do with any candidate race, initiative petition, or legislative referral. Restrictions on public employee activities begin:

  1. For initiative, referendum and recall petition efforts, as soon as a prospective petition is filed with the appropriate elections filing officer;
  2. For a ballot measure referred to the ballot by a governing body (district, city, county, state) as soon as the measure is certified to the ballot. A county, city or district measure is certified to the ballot when the elections official files the referral with the county election office;
  3. For a candidate, as soon as the person becomes a candidate under the definition in ORS 260.005(1)(a); and
  4. For political committees, whenever the political committee is active.

It is, theoretically possible for your county to take a position on a ballot measure, but you must take extraordinary precautions to make sure that elected officials are the only people participating in that process. Even the act of processing the agenda item by staff, using county resources, could violate this provision. 


If you have questions you may find the answer in this publication from the Secretary of State's office, Restrictions on Political Campaigning by Public Employees, or consult your county counsel.


The Road Ahead

NACo has produced a research document that is an analysis of county transportation (roads and bridges) funding sources, challenges and solutions across the lower 48 states. Three states are highlighted in the report and Oregon is one of the three states (see page 13). It is must reading for county officials about a very important topic.  


NACo Annual Conference
Registration is now open for the 2014 NACo Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA. Complete details can be found at the NACo website.  

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


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.   


Your newsletter, your chance

Ever wanted to see your name in print the way you wanted it to appear?  Here's your chance. 

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 will accept interesting photos as long as everyone in them has their clothes on.  Just send your stuff to Laura and/or Eric at AOC.     


Your Oregon Trails staff,


Laura Cleland & Eric Schmidt

Association of Oregon Counties




Have a great week.