The Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Public Safety passed the budget for district attorneys and their deputies, House Bill 5014, unanimously on May 9. House Bill 5014 will now go to the full Joint Committee on Ways and Means for further consideration.

The budget that passed contained no policy option packages (POPs), and kept to a base level budget of current service level funding for the salaries of the 36 district attorneys and tort liability insurance. The budget was reduced from the previous biennium because there was a one-time funding package that paid for staff and equipment needs of three counties subject to a pilot program that started grand jury recordation. A budget note was also included which will require counties and district attorneys offices to submit their office budgets for review. This will potentially give the Legislature information on how much counties contribute to the state prosecution function.

Grand jury recordation was mandated by the 2017 Legislature’s passage of Senate Bill 505. The one-time funding was used to pay for staff and equipment needs of Deschutes, Jackson, and Multnomah counties, all encompassed in the pilot program created under the 2017 bill. Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) did not take an official position on the bill, but had concerns about potential unfunded mandate to counties.  While the Judicial Department had the responsibility to provide equipment to counties, staffing and storage functions would rest on counties.

During the work session, Representative Duane Stark questioned where assistance would be made to help counties transition with grand jury recordation.

Legislative Fiscal Analyst John Borden clarified, “the co-chairs of Ways and Means, in their budget box have set aside some additional funding to fund the roll-out for the remaining 33 counties and ongoing costs for the first three early counties.”

As discussions on grand jury recordation continue, Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) Legislative Affairs Manager Patrick Sieng will advocate for continued funding for the three counties that participated in the pilot program and the 33 counties that will need support with equipment, staff, and trainings as they begin the transition.  

Funding is anticipated in the Christmas tree bill, which will be passed at the end of the legislative session.

Contributed by: Megan Chuinard | Public Affairs Associate