Health, public safety among priorities in county's 2014 legislative agenda

Thursday, 1/23/14 - 2:12 pm

The county’s Board of Commissioners on Thursday adopted a state and federal legislative agenda for 2014 that aims to protect community health, help vulnerable people, ensure public safety and protect taxpayers.

Nancy Bennett, co-director of the county’s Office of Government Relations, told the board at its Jan. 23 meeting that the agenda reflects the county’s values while acknowledging the realities of a short legislative session in Salem.

Commissioner Liesl Wendt lauded the strong commitment to safety net programs in both agendas because hardship remains for many residents during a slow economic recovery.

“The safety net programs are going to continue to be huge,’’ Commissioner Wendt said.

Among the key pieces of the state agenda heading into the 2014 legislative session next month are:

  • Restoring full state funding for programs supporting vulnerable populations, particularly children and families.
  • Preserving the current funding formula for juvenile crime prevention.
  • Restoring full state funding for community corrections.
  • Restoring funding for emergency housing and assistance to people experiencing homelessness.
  • Protecting and enhancing the county’s share of state liquor, lottery and tobacco revenues.
  • Monitoring legislation modifying the structure of coordinated care organizations.
  • Supporting increased tobacco taxation to reduce public health impacts.
  • Supporting restrictions on e-cigarettes that end sales to minors and establishing a tax.
  • Restoring evidence-based reductions in offender sanctions for technical violations.
  • Monitoring marijuana legalization measures to insure adequate funding for public safety and addiction services.
  • Supporting increased services to veterans.

Among the top priorities on the county’s federal agenda are:

  • Providing federal health benefits to people in county jails pending the disposition of charges against those people.
  • Supporting funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) in re-authorization of the farm bill.
  • Opposing changes to municipal bond interest tax exemption to protect taxpayers from increased costs on public projects.
  • Including stand-alone funding for bridge maintenance and operations in surface transportation reauthorization.