Legislative Session Grinds to a Halt, ClackCo Priorities In Jeopardy

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As the legislative session reaches the longest walkout in state history, the county braces for potential impacts tied to the state’s budget.

Since the Board of County Commissioners adopted its annual state legislative agenda in January, the county has been advocating in Salem on key priorities focused on funding for the replacement county courthouse, a fix to the state’s plans to toll I-205, and solutions to the housing/homelessness crisis – amongst others. 

In recent weeks, however, a walkout by Senate Republicans has created a lack of quorum in the Senate, effectively stopping work in Salem. The clock is ticking to get things back on track, as any bills that have not passed both the House and Senate by June 25 cannot become law. Hundreds of important bills are at risk because of the impasse, most notably the state budget.

The state’s biennial budget provides funding that is critical to local governments for the new Fiscal Year beginning July 1. Failure to pass the budget could have dire consequences for the delivery of vital services for the public. Clackamas County partners with the state to deliver many services at the local level, particularly in the areas of health, housing, and human services that are heavily reliant on state and federal funding.  

Clackamas County also has partnered with the Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) over the past seven years to fund the replacement county courthouse. This project is part of a state program that provides a 50% funding match from the state legislature for construction, which broke ground in October. OJD and the county are requesting a $61 million state match from the legislature this year. The state must pass a budget at some point, but the current walkout creates many unknowns and leaves the state’s commitments with a lot of uncertainty.

At the time of this writing, it remains to be seen whether the impasse in Salem can be overcome or if the Oregon legislature will be unable to complete its work by the close of session. Despite the uncertainty, Clackamas County continues to meet with legislators and other key partners to advance its priorities on behalf of county residents.