County Emergency Legislation Clears Oregon House
By State Representative Wally Hicks
Legislators voted today to pass House Bill 3453, which allows for the declaration of a fiscal emergency in counties struggling to fund law enforcement and other basic services.
Several Oregon counties had traditionally been funded by timber receipts under the mandates of the 1937 O&C Act. However, logging restrictions implemented in the 1990s limited access to such activities on federal lands. Subsequent legislation at the federal level provided payments to counties to make up for the loss of timber revenue, but counties have received the last of those funds and are now facing unprecedented budget crises.
“Although this is largely a federal issue, the inactivity at that level has prompted state officials to try and seek a solution that is workable for all involved,” said Rep. Wally Hicks (R-Grants Pass). “Through the legislative process, we have brought together various stakeholders to consider a variety of bills aimed at providing counties with the tools they need to keep their criminal justice systems functional.”
HB 3453 provides that the governor may proclaim a public safety fiscal emergency for counties where conditions compromise the ability to provide a minimally adequate level of public safety services. It requires the consent of local governing bodies and provides for equally shared funding of services by the state and the counties. The sheriff of the affected county is required to be a non-voting ex officio member of the governing body for deliberations on intergovernmental agreements, and the bill places limits on when those agreements may take effect.
HB 3453 passed the House on a 49-10 vote, and now heads to the Senate.
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