After a tumultuous Session with twists and turns, and plenty of partisan animosity, the Legislature was able to pass final budget bills and move the Session to a close hours before the constitutionally mandated sine die of June 30 at 11:59pm.
A number of ambitious bills were passed, including a gross receipts tax on corporations for education funding (HB 3427), modest Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) reform (SB 1049), paid family leave (HB 2005), a tobacco tax being sent to voters in 2020 (HB 2270), an increase in the 9-1-1 tax (HB 2449), a first-in-the-nation statewide rent control (SB 608), limitations on single-family zoning (HB 2001), and drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants (HB 2015). And, of course, one bill that didn’t pass, cap and trade (HB 2020), died after the Senate Republicans left the state to protest the vote, but will undoubtedly return in the short session (or even potentially as an executive order from Governor Brown).
For counties, this was a hit-and-miss session. There were many successful outcomes, whether it was funding for new courthouses, increased land use opportunities in Eastern Oregon, election reforms, the last minute death of a bad court fee bill, and stopping dozens of truly bad bills, among many others. At the same time, there were also some disappointments. Budgets for community corrections and community mental health were on the low side, the Regional Infrastructure Fund within Regional Solutions received no funding at all, and priority bills on video lottery, rural Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), building codes, and housing technical assistance did not make it to the finish line.
As with any session, we know incremental change is a win, and AOC staff will be engaged in continuous education on services and needs of counties for new and incumbent legislators. We will continue to strengthen the state-county partnership and hope to see outcomes improve in 2020 and beyond.
In the pages that follow, please find an overview of the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) legislative wins for the 2019 Session. The summaries encompass not only identified priorities on AOC’s short list, but also other key policies and budgetary wins that will impact AOC members.
Contributed by: Mike Eliason | Interim Executive Director