We are still knee deep in the midst of a very contentious session, and I wanted to give you a brief update on the activities at the Capitol, and thank each of you and your counties for your advocacy efforts to unite our 36 counties and strengthen our efforts.
We are on the cusp of the second chamber deadline. Tonight (Friday May 10) at 11:59pm marks the deadline where in order for bills to advance in a policy committee, they must be scheduled for a work session. What this means for AOC is that we will have some idea what bills will remain alive and what bills are truly dead. There are six short weeks left until the leadership targeted Sine Die.
The political climate at the Capitol is extremely challenging. Emotions are high and key agenda items for both parties are bundled for endgame negotiations. Among the top issues on the priority list are the education funding package, cap and trade, Medicaid funding, PERS, paid family leave, guns, diesel, and balancing the budget. In recent efforts to gain more traction on PERS reform as well as stop some larger policies, the Senate Republicans have denied quorum on the Senate floor since Tuesday.
Your legislative team is hard at work and ushering policy across the finish line. Many of our top priorities are waiting in Ways and Means until further action is viable. With the critical May revenue forecast scheduled for next Wednesday, it is anticipated that bills may start being assigned to Ways and Means subcommittees soon after.
From a health and human services perspective, Andy Smith is meeting with legislators to ensure funding is available for the behavioral health justice reinvestment initiative, public health modernization, and critical programs that help your community members access services through.
Susan Morgan is playing whack-a-mole with natural resources and revenue policy. While no key policy has advanced, rest assured, nothing harmful has come through. Susan is doing a delicate dance as some policies AOC members are concerned with still remain alive.
Patrick Sieng brought together a broad stakeholder group to emphasize the importance of justice reinvestment and advocate for the funding level counties need to make an impact. He is also engaged in courthouse modernization and grand jury recordation funding discussions.
In the wide world of governance, Rob Bovett is doing a stellar job ensuring policies that will advance cause the least harm to Oregon counties. He’s been entrenched in drug policy, employment issues, PERS, and more recently the 2020 Census.
In transportation, energy, land use and economic development discussions, we have been able to gain the ear of the Legislature on issues that matter to counties. Diesel looks like it will be more narrowly tailored, cap and trade discussions are still on-going, but a small victory for counties is a likely 50-50 split in fuel revenues and slightly broader use of the funds. Landmark legislation for rural land use is advancing. And our lottery fund equalization bill is gaining traction.
Greg Wolf is working steadily on County Solutions work and has all priorities in Ways and Means awaiting funding: Oregon Coast Trail, Sudden Oak Death, Maritime Task Force, and tidegates.
If you have any questions about policy, feel free to contact me or our legislative team.
Contributed by: Mike Eliason | Interim Executive Director