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Oregon Trails

An Occasional Newsletter


The Association of Oregon Counties

Month, Year - Vol 1, Issue 1

Critical Week       

Legislative Session Enters Home Stretch      

February 24, 2014

In This Issue
Public Safety
Governance and Marijuana
Communications Policy
Energy, Environment & Land Use
Public Lands & Natural Resources
Health & Human Services
Going to DC?
Emergency Planning Districts
NACo Leg Conference
NACo Drug Discount Program
Places to Go, Things to Do, Great Opportunities
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Salem - The 2014 Oregon legislative session enters the last week of February with plenty to do and not a lot of time left to do it. By voter approved Constitutional mandate, legislators have to have their work done by March 9 or have super majorities in both chambers vote to extend the session. The seasoned observers keeping close watch on this session doubt there will be an extension. Therefore, the Legislature has two working weeks left.

AOC policy managers have been very busy and their work continues at a frenzied pace. Did we say frenzied? Well, a very quick pace for sure. This edition of Oregon Trails is not quite frenzied, but we will settle for quick.

Public Safety

House Bill 4120, AOC's bill that adds sheriff, police reserves and volunteer firefighters to a scholarship fund for dependents of fallen public safety officers sailed through the Senate unanimously last week. The bill, known as the Rob Libke Scholarship Act, is dedicated to Libke who was shot and killed last year while serving as an Oregon City Police Reserve Officer. The bill passed out of the Senate Education & Workforce Development Committee on Tuesday at the same time Libke's widow, Wendy, was giving birth to their first child. The bill now goes to the Governor's desk for a signature.


House Bill 4134a bill focused on changes to the funding formula for juvenile crime prevention funds from the Youth Development Council, received another hearing in the House Rules Committee. The bill was amended to create a committee to work on the funding formula. A recent amendment was added at the request of AOC to include additional county representatives on the committee. Other amendments designate an independent entity to staff the committee that is created. AOC continues to support the bill while working with the Speaker's office on changes. House Bill 4134 will now to go the Joint Ways & Means Committee.

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


Governance (and Marijuana) 

Week three of the 2014 legislative session kept a brisk pace in this policy area. The week started with positive movement on the Investment Modernization Act (HB 4144), which would reorganize the Treasurer's investment managers under the Oregon Investment Council (OIC), as well as bring more investment management in house, delivering better savings and efficiencies.  AOC supports the bill, and it appears to be moving toward passage.


Tuesday and Wednesday featured hearings and other work on a slew of election bills. The bills supported by AOC and the Oregon Association of County Clerks (OACC) are moving forward.  The others appear to have died.


Wednesday afternoon also saw another hearing on a bill (HB 4048) that would open up a new class of tort claims against governments, the result of a tragic sets of facts in Columbia County. AOC opposes the bill as written, but we continue to work on amendments to provide a remedy to the problem.


Next year, new audit rules go into effect that require certain information about liabilities and surpluses in pension plans. Known as GASB 68, PERS currently does not have authority to prepare such information, thus putting over 900 Oregon governments at risk of not being able to comply with the new rules, which could affect credit and bond ratings, as well as the ability to receive federal funds. A bill to enable PERS to do the necessary work (HB 4155) had a good hearing and is moving forward. AOC testified in support of the bill.


Last, but not least, the AOC and LOC bill to clarify local authority to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries will have another hearing on Monday the  24th. AOC is asking the committee to restore clarification that local authorities can opt out, as well as give the Oregon Health Authority the power to regulate marijuana-infused products marketed to kids. The AOC testimony has already been posted. 


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


In case you missed it, Rob made a couple of key media appearances regarding the issue of marijuana in Oregon. He appeared on KATU-TV's Your Voice, Your Vote and sat down with Oregonian reporters for a  "Live Chat."  Nice work Rob!    



These Veterans Bills Are Moving!


HB 4021 Allows in-state tuition for out of state veterans in graduate student programs.


HB 4025 Clarifies maximum amount of ODVA home loan for vets ($417,000).


HB 4057 Directs state agencies to report on progress of acceptance of substantially equivalent military training/experience in order to obtain license, certificate or other authorization to practice profession.


SB 1506 Directs Oregon to enter into Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children; fiscal may be a hurdle in Ways & Means.


We Have a Zombie!


HB 4023 Creates raffle game to be operated by State Lottery with proceeds dedicated to veterans education and employment programs...stay tuned!


(Zombie - a bill that isn't dead, isn't alive, could come back, could die)


Federal Advocacy for Vets: Talking Points for County Commissioner Conversations with the Veterans Administration

  • Improve access to VA care and reduce wait times - especially for specialty care - by fully implementing an updated appointment-making policy.
  • Expand the use of connected health services like telehealth and MyHealtheVet, to provide rural veterans with well-coordinated care options.
  • Urge Congress to provide oversight of VA mental healthcare to determine whether more providers are needed, and that the care being provided is well-coordinated and effective.
  • Continue to improve gender-specific services for women veterans, to include appropriate counseling and care for those who were victims of military sexual trauma.
  • Authorize VA to receive reimbursement for care provided to Medicare eligible veterans.
  • Address the national crisis of suicide among service members and veterans by ensuring proper funding for DOD and VA suicide and crisis awareness programs.
  • Strengthen mental health, employment counseling, substance abuse, and peer support programs to provide effective treatments for those at risk of suicide and homelessness among veterans.   

For more information on veterans issues contact Andy Smith.


Communications Policy

House Bill 4055 passed the House Revenue Committee last week, marking a compromise that has taken at least two sessions to complete regarding the inclusion of prepaid cell phones in the 9-1-1 tax. 


The debate had been over the collection of the tax and whether or not it could be a tax on the carriers or a tax at the point of sale.


The amended HB 4055 creates a carrier tax starting in January 2015 and then a point of sale tax starting in October 2015. It is estimated that up to $2 million in additional revenue could be generated each biennium for the 9-1-1 fund.


Both prepaid phones and voice over internet protocol phones are included. Also, there is no preemption on local taxes. This was a concern that AOC voiced during the initial hearings.


Patrick Sieng is AOC Policy Manager for Communications Policy.  


Energy, Environment & Land Use
HB 4041A passed the Senate today and is on its way to the Governor's desk. AOC supports this bill which allows local governments to facilitate private financing of energy improvements by property owners. Currently, local governments are only allowed to make loans from county or city funds, but this bill creates a mechanism for interested governments to work with banks to fund energy improvements. This should create local jobs through green energy technologies and reduce green house gas emissions.


On Thursday Deschutes County Commissioner Tony DeBone visited Salem to testify on behalf of SB 1578A. The bill would allow woody biomass to fulfill the requirement of 1.5 percent renewable energy in new or major renovations of public buildings. Currently the only renewable energies that are permissible are solar and geothermal. The bill passed through the Senate on a 29-1 vote and received a work session in the House Energy and Environment committee. The committee felt like there was more work to be done on the bill so it was moved to the House Rules committee with a "do pass" recommendation. It is believed that there will be further amendments, possibly limiting the geographic scope of the bill.


There has been a lot of attention to HB 4078 after the Court of Appeals overturned the plan established by Washington, Clackamas and Multnomah Counties and Metro (see Oregonian story here). The bill has been moved to House Rules Committee and the concerned parties are working on a "land use grand bargain."


Mark Nystrom is AOC Policy Manager for Energy, Environment and Land Use.  
Public Lands & Natural Resources
Eastern Oregon Counties Associate

Eleven Eastern Oregon counties (Baker, Deschutes, Harney, Gilliam, Grant, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Wheeler) have formed the Eastern Oregon Counties Association to work together on eastside natural resource issues. The counties have established criteria to use when evaluating federal legislation. That criteria can be found here


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


Health and Human Services
HHS bills keep moving


A number of health and human services related bills continue to move through the legislative process. Of these, two time-sensitive issues are in need of your attention and support:. 


First, we understand that House Bill 4110B is likely to be heard by the Ways & Means Subcommittee on Human Services Tuesday, or Thursday of this week. As such it is very important that members of the Ways & Means Subcommittee on Human Services, and members of the full Ways & Means Committee hear from you immediately about the importance of supporting HB 4110B. If asked about amendments and so forth, reiterate our support of the underlying bill.


This link contains hyperlinks to each member of the Ways & Means Subcommittee on Human Services.  


And this is the link for the full Ways & Means Committee.   


Please continue to reach out to all of your representatives and senators as well. Let Ashley Horne at AOC know if you have questions.   


Second, AOC and our affiliate, the Association of Community Mental Health Programs (AOCMHP) continue to advocate for gap funding for our Community Developmental Disabilities Programs (CDDPs). If successful, our request will help CDDP programs, which are facing budget reductions and potential layoffs. We urge you to call your representatives and senators to alert them to the issue and encourage support of our ask.  


Please ask your legislators to speak with the co-chairs of the Human Services Subcommittee on Ways & Means, Representative Nancy Nathanson, D-Eugene, and Senator Alan Bates, D-Ashland, about your concerns. The two documents you will find here and here quickly summarize the problem and the requested action.


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


If you are planning to go to Washington, D.C. this week...
Take your mittens. It will get into the mid to low 20's Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. More on the NACo Legislative Conference later in this rendition of Oregon Trails.

Emergency Planning Districts

A message from the Office of State Fire Marshall: 

The Office of State Fire Marshal is proposing the adoption of an Oregon Administrative Rule that would establish Emergency Planning Districts as required by the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986 (42 U.S.C. Chapter 116, Section 11001 et seq.) and ORS 453.502. A public hearing was held December 17, 2013 to receive comment and written testimony on the proposed OAR 837-095. At that hearing there were questions and concerns regarding the proposed rule and how it would impact the planning districts.


We (the State Fire Marshall's Office) are asking representatives of those who may be impacted by the designation of emergency planning districts, and other interested parties, to help us address any questions and concerns by providing input and advice on the proposed rule. We have scheduled four meetings statewide. At these meetings we will provide information as to why the proposed rule is needed and what the impacts may be with the designation of emergency planning districts, and an opportunity to review the proposed rule.


We hope you will take this opportunity to join in the discussion and provide your input and advice. Please share this invitation with anyone who may have an interest in the adoption of this rule.


February 25, 2014 - 1:30 pm 3:30 pm

Jackson County Sheriff's Office

5179 Crater Lake Highway

Central Point, OR  97502


February 26, 2014 - 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Deschutes Co. Sheriff's Office

63333 Hwy 20 W

Bend, OR  97701


March 4, 2014 - 9:00 am - 11:00 am

Umatilla County Sheriff's Office

4700 NW Pioneer Place

Pendleton, OR  97801


March 6, 2014 - 9:00 am - 11:00

Office of State Fire Marshal

4760 Portland Rd NE

Salem, OR  97305


We look forward to talking with you. If you have any questions, please contact Sue Otjen at 503-934-8227, or


NACo Legislative Conference
Registration is now open for the 2014 NACo Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. Complete details can be found at the NACo website.  

AOC staff has set up visits for those attending the conference with Oregon's congressional delegation. As we have done in past years, we go in ahead of the Legislative Conference so that we can take advantage of having our members of Congress in D.C.  

Plan on flying into our Nation's Capitol on February 26 (a Wednesday), visiting Capitol Hill on February 27 (Thursday), attending the AOC Capitol Hill reception on February 28 (Friday) and the Legislative Conference beginning March 1 (Saturday).  

If you have any questions, please contact our Washington, D.C. correspondent Eric Schmidt at 503-585-8351.  

NACo Drug Discount Program 

Does your county participate in the NACo Prescription Discount Card Program? If so, NACo, Caremark, and AOC can take specific action to get discount cards into the hands of residents. Tailored assistance is provided at the direction of the participating county and can include direct mailings, bill inserts, brochure stands, press releases, announcements, planning, and much more. This assistance program is easy to start, and requires very little support from the participating county. 


Expanding your marketing helps more people to discover and access this excellent, cost saving program. To start your marketing initiative, or to learn more, please contact Eli Justman, AOC program coordinator. You can reach Eli at AOC (503) 585-8351.   


NACo Discount Drug Program


Places To Go, Things To Do, Great Opportunities

NACo has launched a significant upgrade to the NACo Grants Clearinghouse which offers almost ten times as many grant opportunities for counties. For information on the upgrade and what it can mean for your county, please see this NACo release


The Oregon Transportation and Growth Management Program (TGM) is a partnership between ODOT and the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD). They want county governments to be aware that TGM planning grants will soon be available. For more information please see this release.   


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.