This headline is dated in an era of automatic transmissions, but it nevertheless describes the pace and mood at the Capitol. In the beginning of any legislative session, orientation to issues to be faced by each committee is essential not only to newly elected members but as a refresher to the veteran. Moreover, relations – the core of politics – need a little breathing space to begin their development. The Hello Party, held Tuesday of the second week, permitted informal discussions among legislators, retired legislators, and advocates. AOC policy staff used the opportunity to renew friendships, answer questions, set appointments, and promote local government.

Yet work was indeed underway. By Thursday of the second week 1,870 bills had been introduced, and the bill filing deadline is still more than two weeks away. As expected, your AOC policy team is tracking or monitoring most of the bills – 1,140 or 61 percent. Because of the wide and varied role played by counties in state governance, over 60 percent is the typical load carried by AOC. Policy team members and the commissioners, judges and other county officials who join us are seen at one time or another before virtually every legislative committee.

Committees were beginning to hear “housekeeping” and non-controversial bills, while holding orientation sessions with legislative staff, agency directors, and other invited testimony, including from county representatives. As you will read below, a crew of county governing body members and county staff were present last week to share their expertise on specific topics before committees, and to lend a measure of clout for our issues.

The Joint Ways & Means Committee, on Friday, began a statewide tour to hear from the public about potential measures to address the $1.8 billion shortfall in the “current service level” budget. AOC policy staff have been contacting county representatives to attend the local stops and arming them with comments on the variety of issues we face.

The tour:

Feb. 10, Salem

Feb. 11, Portland

Feb. 17, Hermiston

Feb. 18, Madras

Feb. 24, Ashland

Feb. 25, Eugene

March 3, Tillamook

For more information, contact an AOC Policy Manager.

Contributed by: Gil Riddell | AOC Policy Director