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Oregon Trails

An Occasional Newsletter


The Association of Oregon Counties

Month, Year - Vol 1, Issue 1

It Ain't Over Til It's Over       

or how do you know      

March 13, 2014

In This Issue
Governance and Marijuana
Marijuana Workshop
Public Safety
Communications Policy
Public Lands & Natural Resources
Energy, Environment & Land Use
Health & Human Services
Restrictions on Political Campaigning by Public Employees
The Road Ahead
NACo Annual Conference
NACo Drug Discount Program
Places to Go, Things to Do, Great Opportunities
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Salem - The 2014 Oregon Legislature declared sine die the afternoon of March 7th. There was a lot of grumbling among legislators, lobbyists, lingerers and just plain folks that the so-called short session was just way too short and not very productive. It seems the legislative process isn't conducive to passing important and complex policy laws in a short period of time. On the other hand, several budget fixes from the previous session managed to make it through as did some housekeeping legislation. And not everyone thought the short session was a waste of time, but rather a move forward in more efficient governing.  

There were some rather sharp partisan barbs tossed about at the end of the session, evidence the election season is here. It remains to be seen if there will be an effort to return to the every other year sessions of the past.  

Be that as it may, the session is in the rear view mirror and this edition of Oregon Trails is designed to bring that exercise in representative democracy into some relative focus as far as Oregon counties are concerned.  

Governance (and Marijuana) 

The Most Boring Bill

The final week of the 2014 Legislative Session started off with the Senate passing House Bill 4155. Referred to on the Senate floor as the "most boring" bill of the session, HB 4155 permits PERS to provide public employers with information necessary to comply with the new Governmental Accounting Standards Board rule 68 (GASB 68). If this bill had not passed, bond and credit ratings would have been negatively impacted, as well as the ability to receive certain federal funds. The bill now heads to the Governor for his signature.


The Hottest Bill

Our bill to clarify local authority to regulate or opt out of medical marijuana dispensaries without having to litigate, Senate Bill 1531Bremained the hottest item of the 2014 session.  After three days of nearly unprecedented caucus and House floor fights, the bill was sent from the floor to the House Rules Committee by a vote of 30 to 28. With the session winding down, we were given a few hours to decide whether to let the bill die in House Rules, or work out a compromise. 
AOC Legal Counsel Rob Bovett participated in a small meeting at the Speaker's office that afternoon. The meeting was convened by Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, and Bovett negotiated with Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, on what became SB 1531CThe substantive difference from SB 1531B is that clarification of authority to opt out expires May 1, 2015. SB 1531B was also sent back to the House floor as a Minority Report.

However, it was SB 1531C that passed both chambers in the waning hours of the session. 

Bovett crafted a floor letter that was put into the record. LOC and AOC have also crafted a sample/model SB 1531C opt out ordinance that has been shared with the County Counsel list serve. This is what it looks like.  


The Last Bill to Die 

In the last days of the session, a final push was made by State Treasurer Ted Wheeler and his staff to pass their Investment Modernization Act, House Bill 4144. However, there was no agreement to suspend the rules, so it died on the House floor for lack of action before sine die. Rob Bovett suspects the bill will  be back in the 2015 Legislative Session. It just turned out to be too big of a bill for the short session.      


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


Marijuana Workshop

The League of Oregon Cities (LOC) is sponsoring a Marijuana Workshop for local government officials that will take place Thursday, May 1, 2014 at the DoubleTree Hilton in the Lloyd Center in Portland.  AOC is partnering with LOC for the workshop to help counties and cities navigate the new medical marijuana dispensaries legislation and concerns that have been raised by the legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington and Colorado.  We'll have more on the workshop in the coming weeks.  For more information or to register, head to the LOC website.  


Public Safety

Interim Work Ahead

As the 2014 Legislature adjourned, a number of big public safety items were left on the table for work during the interim. 


One of the big issues is a budget gap of approximately $9 million for community corrections.  Last session (2013), the 60-day revocation for technical violations (for offenders on parole/probation) sunset. Judges can now sanction up to 180 days. The Legislature only funded an additional $900,000 for these added jail intakes versus the $9 million county community corrections departments should have received under the local control rate. While the policy issue is debatable (district attorneys would like judicial discretion in sentencing up to 180 days while community corrections directors would like the 60 day limit re-established), most agree that the budget fix needs to happen. AOC along with other public safety partners will continue to work on this during the interim.


Liquor privatization was not addressed during the session, even though it was one of the top issues looked at going into February. The Northwest Grocery Association currently has a ballot measure that will be up for a vote in November. The legislative proposal from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, Senate Bill 1559, would have created a hybrid system that allows liquor at grocery stores over 10,000 sq. ft.    


A bill to change the funding formula for juvenile crime prevention dollars from the Youth Development Council did not make it through the session. AOC was involved in many of negotiations on House Bill 4134. The bill was initially opposed by AOC, then as negotiations were conducted with House Speaker Rep. Tina Kotek, D-Portland, Marion County Commissioner Janet Carlson led an effort to support the bill with some concerns. Many juvenile department directors continued to voice their concerns with the bill, leading to the bill's failure in the Senate. AOC will work to convene a study on this during the interim.


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


Communications Policy

Done Deal 

One of the final bills to pass the legislature was House Bill 4031, which transfers the State Interoperability Executive Council from the Department of Transportation to the Department of Administrative Services Office of the Chief Information Officer. While it seems like a small bill, House Bill 4031 will help streamline the process for federal FirstNet grants that will improve public safety communications. The bill, authored in 2013 by Yamhill County Commissioner Kathy George, passed the Senate unanimously and the House 48-10.


Patrick Sieng is AOC Policy Manager for Communications Policy.  


Public Lands & Natural Resources 

Budget note directs matching funds for Willamette and Deschutes Basins

With strong support from AOC and other stakeholders, the Legislature used a budget note in House Bill 5201A to direct the Water Resources Department (WRD) to dedicate up to $2.25 million of the new Water Supply Development Account as matching federal funds for ongoing federal studies in the Willamette and Deschutes Basins. The Army Corps of Engineers is studying the reallocation of stored water in Willamette Basin Project Reservoirs. The Bureau of Reclamation is conducting a comprehensive study of the Deschutes Basin. The action was supported by WRD. The Water Supply Development Account is a product of Senate Bill 839 (2013), the major water development legislation of recent years.


Fire season of 2013 costs an extra $40 million 

The Department of Forestry was appropriated $40 million under House Bill 5201A to cover the State's share of $75 million in net costs for the 2013 wildfire season. With drought conditions in much of the State, and the unhealthy condition of Oregon's federal forests, 2014 looks to be even worse.


Study of GMO labeling funded

The Governor-requested study of genetically engineered agricultural products received funding with the appropriation to the Department of Agriculture of $190,000. The funds were directed under HB 5201A to support a task force to begin to examine labeling requirements, liabilities, and other issues related to genetically engineered agricultural products. $65,000 of the funds are to pay for necessary rule making and to put a program in place. 


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


Of Note:  On a vote of 72 - 22, the U.S. Senate passed the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 March 13.  The bill has been a major priority for NACo.  U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-OR, played a major role in getting the legislation through the Senate.  The bill now awaits the President's signature.  



Southwest county assessors gain funds for pilots

Assessors of Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, and Klamath Counties created the Southwest Oregon Assessment & Taxation Coalition (SOATC) to form partnerships for delivery of assessment and taxation (A&T) services, to seek efficiencies in how A&T services are delivered, and to take advantage of economies of scale. With the help of the Department of Revenue, the Governor's office, and facilitation by the Policy Consensus Center at Portland State, SOATC won funding from the State under HB 5201A (2014) of $345,000 to implement 12-month pilot projects, such as sharing industrial and commercial appraisers, processing property tax exemption applications at one county for the seven, and compliance auditing of business personal property returns. The funding is from state general funds and has not effect on the state A&T funding account.



AOC Policy Director Gil Riddell handles finance 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. 


For more information on veterans issues contact Andy Smith.


Energy, Environment & Land Use

EELU Legislative Update 

By early last week all bills being tracked by the AOC Energy, Environment and Land Use (EELU) Steering Committee died. Senate Bill 1578, which would have added woody biomass to the 1.5 percent renewable energy requirement for new public construction was one of the casualties. Advocates vowed to bring it back next session with a larger coalition of partners. For a complete list of EELU bills, click here


There were two important budget allocations. House Bill 5201 included a one-time General Fund appropriation of $80,000 to the Department of Administrative Services for disbursement to Sustainable Northwest for completion of a Western Juniper utilization and marketing project. AOC has been actively involved in the WJUG work and this is seen as a large step to keep the project moving forward. The money will be used to help fund supply-side and demand-side contractors who will be working on developing new markets and new supplies of juniper-based products.


The second budget impact came from increased lottery fund allocations. The increased lottery revenue bond authorization provides funding for Clean Energy Works. $5.6 million of lottery revenue bonds were authorized to provide $5 million of proceeds to the Oregon Department of Energy (DOE). This increases lottery revenue bond proceeds provided to DOE this biennium to $10 million in total. The bill also directs that the $10 million in proceeds be deposited into the Jobs, Energy and Schools Fund to provide a grant to Clean Energy Works Oregon for the purposes specified in ORS 470.575, namely, the promotion of energy efficiency, renewable energy and energy conservation projects. The Ways and Means Subcommittee received testimony and concurred that this support will eliminate the need for additional operating subsidies of the organization in the future, and expects that no additional support will be requested.


DEQ Onsite Workgroup Report Meetings 

AOC is facilitating two meetings to discuss the Onsite Workgroup Report Issued in November 2013. DEQ and AOC will attend two meetings 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 input from commissioners and judges.


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?


The first meeting will be held in Pendleton at Umatilla County's Justice Center Media Room at 9:30 am until Noon on Friday, April 4th.The second meeting will be in Coos County at the North Bend Annex from 1:30 to 4:30 PM on Thursday, April 10th. Commissioners are invited 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 contact AOC staff Mark Nystrom with any questions.


Energy Storage Workshop 

Commissioners are invited to attend the Oregon Energy Storage Workshop on March 19th, 2014 from 8-4:30 at the White Stag Building on the University of Oregon's Portland campus at 70 NW Couch St. The Oregon Public Utility Commission and Oregon Department of Energy will jointly sponsor an energy storage workshop. The workshop is supported by the US Department of Energy and the University of Oregon School of Law. Registration has ended but organizers have offered an extension for interested county commissioners, judges and other county personnel. 


For more information, please see or contact Mark Nystrom, AOC staff. 


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

Health and Human Services

Win, Win

There were a couple of notable wins for human services during the tail end of the 2014 short legislative session. First, House Bill 4110C (formerly HB 4110B), the bill that would require private health care insurance to pay for eligible services provided to covered pre-adjudicated detainees in county jails passed in the House and Senate on the last day. Special thanks are owed to Claudia Black of Multnomah County and to all Oregon county commissioners who reached out to legislators about the importance of supporting this bill. 


Secondly, the 2014 budget reconciliation bill, HB 5201A, passed the House and Senate Friday as well. Commissioner Janet Carlson and Cherryl Ramirez from the Association of Oregon Community Mental Health Programs (AOCMHP) deserve recognition and gratitude for their leadership in this advocacy effort. We are very happy to report that this bill includes an additional $490,000 in general funds for our county Community Developmental Disability Programs (CDDPs). This is reflective of AOC and AOCMHP's joint minimum CDDP bridge funding ask. Considering the competing priorities and limited resources available, we are encouraged by its inclusion in the reconciliation bill.


For more information and a comprehensive legislative wrap-up on the 40 plus health and human services related bills tracked during this session, please come to this Friday's (March 14) AOC Human Services Steering Committee (HSSC) meeting at the Local Government Center in Salem. We will be considering a number of other issues as well, including the Early Learning Hub updates, timelines, and resources. Please contact policy manager Ashley Horne at AOC with any questions. 


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.