State Lobbying

Oregon Public Records Laws Strengthened

Overview

Oregon’s public records laws, enacted in 1978, were intended to allow members of the public and the press access to the inner workings of their government. The goal was increased transparency and accountability as the public had a right to information relating to government operations. Over the years, hundreds of public record exemptions have been added and the process has become convoluted, with agencies sometimes charging exorbitant fees for records, and individuals abusing the process by swamping agencies with requests.

Challenge

The Oregon Association of Broadcasters (OAB) and Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), longtime CFM clients, have a vested interest in ensuring adequate government transparency. They, and other stakeholders were frustrated with the way the public records process sometimes functioned. Entities seeking an open and transparent process often felt stonewalled by agency responses and timelines, which could make it difficult to report the news accurately and in a timely manner.

Approach

The OAB’s Keith Shipman participated in a task force convened by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum aimed at reforming the public records process. Out of that effort came three pieces of legislation: SB 106, which created a public records advocate to mediate disputes; SB 481, which established timelines for both requestors and responders to follow; and HB 2101, which created a legislative subcommittee tasking with examining both existing and new public records exemptions.

CFM took it from there, helping to shepherd the bills through the legislative process. We educated legislators, addressed stakeholder concerns and helped draft amendments to the three bills that ensured true, meaningful reform to the public records process.

Result

In a difficult budget and political environment, CFM was able to convince legislators that this was a worthwhile investment, and all three bills (at a total price tag of greater than $1 million), passed the legislature before Sine Die.

 

Cities Gain Authority on Approving Land-Use Changes

Overview

Comprehensive plans are created by local jurisdictions, through extensive public process, to set city or county transportation, utility, recreation, land-use and housing goals. Comprehensive plans traditionally have two components; maps and text. The map shows the area and intentions geographically, while the text provides overarching themes and goals for the area.

Challenge

Comprehensive plans are typically created and maintained by the governing body. However, for decades, counties and cities in Oregon believed they had the right to delegate minor comprehensive plan map changes to their planning commissions or hearings officers. In 2015, in a ruling in Housing Land Advocates v. City of Happy Valley, the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) said counties have express authority to delegate decisions, but cities didn’t. A statutory change would be needed to give that authority to cities.

Salem and Happy Valley were two cities most severely impacted by the LUBA ruling. Both cities preferred to allow minor changes to the comprehensive plan map to be decided by the city’s planning commission, with authority from the council.

Approach

CFM helped Salem achieve a statutory fix in the 2017 legislative session. Prior to and at the beginning of the session, legislators in the Salem and Happy Valley areas, as well as legislators with a background in land-use, were educated on the issue and asked to sponsor legislation. House Bill 3245 attracted bicameral, bi-partisan support by the time of its introduction.

Stakeholders were identified early and consulted with frequently. The League of Oregon Cities and the Homebuilders Association were supportive of the bills and submitted testimony in support of HB 3245. Originally, land use and environmental advocates had concerns, but CFM worked with the advocates to find common ground and spent several weeks negotiating a solution all parties could accept.

Result

The compromise permitted cities to delegate decisions on comprehensive plan maps in a more limited capacity than counties currently can. The Senate passed the final version of the bill unanimously and the House strongly approved it on a concurrence vote. The Governor signed the bill June 22, 2017 and it will go into effect January 1, 2018.

Major Transportation Funding Package Passes

Overview 

Oregon lawmakers began the 2017 legislative session with the objective of finding bipartisan agreement on a historic transportation package to address Oregon’s aging infrastructure, reduce congestion and improve transit services in the state. A 14-member bipartisan and bicameral committee was formed and met throughout 2016 and 2017 to develop comprehensive legislation, the largest ever contemplated in Oregon and the first transportation funding package since 2009.

Challenge

Any successful package needed to address concerns from myriad stakeholders, including environmental advocates, truckers, AAA and low-income and vulnerable population advocates. In addition, CFM’s client, Salem-Keizer Transit, and other transit stakeholders were concerned that transit investments, and the method for paying for them, would be seen as too controversial and left on the cutting room floor. How do you develop a package robust enough to provide transportation investments throughout the state, including Oregon’s first stable funding source for transit, while also keeping costs low enough to not anger fiscal hawks and stakeholders concerned with rising gas taxes?

Approach

Working with transit advocates and our client, CFM helped execute a comprehensive messaging and advocacy strategy that ensure transit was a key component of any package and focused on stamping down opposition based on fears of regressivity and equity. That included regular attendance at public hearings throughout Oregon during 2016 and 2017 where transit voices and riders could communicate their needs to leaders. It also included a strong legislative presence where those benefiting from future enhanced transit services resulting from the package could educate lawmakers on the dire need around Oregon. Utilizing those existing and powerful voices in a strategic manner, while also keeping up pressure on lawmakers, was an effective method of engagement.

Result

HB 2017 passed with comfortable margins in both chambers and was signed into law 30 days post session. Strategic efforts resulted in transit being one of the least controversial portions of the transportation package due to the benefits investments will bring to low-income and vulnerable populations in the decades to come. This package resulted in transit finally obtaining a dedicated statewide funding source for services – something sought after for years.

Ensuring Buyers Obtain Property Deeds

Overview

Land sale contracts, also known as installment purchase contracts or installment sale agreements, are direct agreements between a buyer and seller, which set the terms for paying off the amount owed on a property over a set amount of time. In land sale contracts, the seller keeps the deed until the buyer pays off the debt of the property. Once a contract is fulfilled and the full financial obligation met, the seller is to transfer the deed of the property to the buyer.

Challenge

CFM’s client, the Oregon Land Title Association, continued to find that every so often in land sale contracts deeds would fail to be transferred after the contract was fulfilled. When this occurs, the only recourse for the buyer to obtain the deed is to sue the seller. The Oregon Land Title Association wanted to help buyers have a different, less expensive option to claim the deed.

Approach

The proposal put forward in HB 2855 was modeled aftr the pre-existing non-judicial process for forfeiture. Forfeiture occurs when the buyer is unable to pay off the seller or the bank. The legislation set up a path for claiming ownership and legally transferring the deed without going through the courts.

The procedure for transferring the deed, established in HB 2855, required contacting the seller, submitting public notice, and recording an affidavit of fulfillment. Since this change in law was technical in nature and addressed an issue most do not encounter, lots of education was required. CFM had numerous meetings, distributed one-pagers, floor letters and presented in-person testimony to ensure legislators understood the proposed procedure.

Result

After educating legislators on this technical issue and ensuring there were no conflicts for other impacted parties and stakeholders, CFM, on behalf of the OLTA, was able to convince the legislature to pass the bill unanimously.

Opening a New Oregon Wine Marketing Channel

Overview

As demand continues to grow for Oregon’s wine, the Oregon wine industry continues to look for innovative ways to provide wine to consumers at an affordable price point and in an environmentally sustainable way. With CFM’s expert guidance, Oregon wineries now can sell their wine at retail outlets from kegs into re-usable glass growlers.

Challenge

Most Oregon wineries produce less that 50,000 cases a year, which is a small yield compared to California and Washington wineries. The growing number of small wineries has made it even more competitive to earn grocery store shelf space and appear on restaurant menus. Oregon law permitted microbreweries to sell their beer at retail outlets from kegs to growlers, but only Allowed wineries to sell wine in growlers through their tasting rooms.

Approach

At the urging of its small winery members, the Oregon Winegrowers Association asked CFM to advocate for legislation to allow wine growlers.

Given the popularity of beer growlers, CFM urged Oregon legislators to let consumers have the same affordable and sustainable access to Oregon wines. CFM lobbyists demonstrated how wine growlers work in legislative hearings and explained how this would give smaller wineries a new marketing channel to reach consumers who couldn’t go to their tasting rooms.

Result

The legislation passed unanimously, making Oregon the first state in the nation to permit wine growlers at retail outlets.

Oregon Right To Repair

Oregon Right to Repair

Cars have become more dependent on onboard computers and, as a result, increasingly complex to maintain and repair. Some car models have as many as 80 to 100 onboard computers. The electronic tools to read all those computers are expensive because every carmaker has one or more scan tools for its vehicles. 

A repair shop that works on major car brands can spend more than $200,000 for all the necessary scan tools. Many repair shops simply cannot afford to buy them all. That's why the Oregon Right to Repair Coalition has proposed legislation to require all car companies to use a universal interface their diagnostic software. 

CFM is providing a blend of services to help Right To Repair in Oregon:

Research: A survey was conducted among consumers about repair issues and who they trust the most to service their car. They like the convenience and cost of independently owned repairs shops.  

Public Affairs: CFM developed a plan to engage community groups and potential supporters that could reach out to state legislators. Consumer groups such as Economic Fairness Oregon, OSPIRG and AAA/Oregon are supporting legislation to preserve consumer choice in car repair.

Public Relations: A website ­– www.mycarmyinfo.com – was created to support outreach efforts. The site features videos and fact sheets. A media relations effort also was undertaken.  State lobbying: CFM’s Salem team met with legislators and staff members to introduce the legislative concept and build support.

State lobbying: CFM’s Salem team met with legislators and staff members to introduce the legislative concept and build support.

Oregon Winegrowers Association: A Winning Hand for Wineries

Oregon Winegrowers Association: A Winning Hand for Wineries

Overview

One of Oregon's most prominent wineries had been told to close its kitchen and stop hosting weddings. Influential legislators decided to introduce a bill in Oregon's special legislative session in February 2010. Oregon wine industry members reflected divergent views on commercial events in farm zones, and there was no time for a consensus-building process.

Challenge

Legislation would be heard during a short session in which any significant opposition could derail it.

Approach

Working with legal counsel for the Oregon Winegrowers Association, CFM developed draft legislation that struck a moderate position on the issue of commercial events held by wineries. CFM worked carefully with the OWA board, county officials and key legislators to eliminate most objections. One fear was that wine industry officials would avoid participating in interim discussions about a broader solution. CFM provided assurances the wine industry would be an active participant in those discussions.

Result

The legislation passed comfortably in both the Oregon Senate and House and was signed into law by the governor. OWA and CFM kept their word and participated constructively in interim discussions. The industry also surveyed its members and developed a consensus process to bring a more refined set of proposals to the 2011 legislative session.

Oregon Association of Broadcasters: Preserving Access to 9-1-1 Tapes

Overview

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For the Oregon Association of Broadcasters (OAB), a group of more than 200 radio and television stations around the state, CFM has worked to avoid legislation that would have banned media access to 911 tapes or limited media coverage of crime scenes.

Challenge

Broadcasters, in their role imparting news and information to viewers and listeners, believe it is important to have unfettered access to news sources and information. Often, this has put broadcasters in opposition to members of the public or law enforcement agencies.

Approach

CFM has emphasized that Oregon Association of Broadcaster member stations are well able to police themselves, without government intervention, to strike the right balance between the public's right to know and the public's right to privacy. Further, CFM has emphasized that OAB-member stations are enterprises with substantial links to communities around the state and thus are interested in preserving, not embarrassing, those communities.

Result

CFM's effort, with grassroots help from all of the broadcasters, has avoided infringements on access to 911 tapes and crime scenes.

Coalition of County Children and Families Commissions Funding County Services for Families

Overview

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The Coalition is an unusual entity -- a group of 36 very disparate county programs with a united goal: To fund local commissions adequately in each of the counties despite all of their differences. Before the 2007 legislative session, the Coalition turned to CFM to represent it in Salem. The result? In 2007, CFM worked with Coalition members to convince legislators to provide additional money for Coalition programs, especially "basic capacity and local flexible funds" that local staff use to mobilize volunteers, leverage local and federal money and serve children and their families.

Challenge

The recession in Oregon, with its resulting loss of state revenue, has made it difficult to fund important state programs -- K-12 education, higher education, public safety, general social services -- and specific services provided by the Children and Family Services enterprise. In this context, all-important state programs would have to compete against all other state programs, especially because, with only a few exceptions, taxes were not increased.

Approach

CFM capitalized on its existing relationship with legislators on the Joint Ways and Means Committee, as well as asked local Coalition members to contact their local legislators directly as constituents. In two cases, the good news was that local Coalition members had relationships with key members of the Ways and Means Committee, including the co-chairs of the full committee and the chairs of the Human Services Subcommittee. In a series of private meetings and public contacts, CFM emphasized the importance of the Children and Families system, the commitment to prevention as a hallmark of services and return on investment generated by state dollars.

Result

CFM helped to increase awareness and support among legislators while, at the same time, increasing dollars in 2007 and holding the line against cuts in 2009. 

Oregon Public Broadcasting: Restoring Public Funds to Public Broadcasting

Overview

Although it was one of the most watched and listened to public broadcasting systems in the nation, Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) received no state funding. With federally mandated transition to a digital-only transmission system looming in early 2009 – OPB faced the grim prospect of cutting programs and services throughout the state, especially in rural Oregon. During the 2007 Oregon Legislature, CFM worked successfully with OPB’s CEO Steve Bass to regain state funding for OPB for the first time in four years.

Challenge

The Federal Communications Commission set a firm deadline: In February 2009, analog transmission systems will end, replaced by new high-definition digital standards. That presented a very real challenge for OPB because the transmission system serving rural areas uses analog transmission.

OPB had successfully appealed to the 2001 Oregon Legislature for funding to create a digital transmission system in urban Oregon. But, in the 2003 and 2005, OPB was zeroed out in the state budget process. The situation was even more severe because OPB is the backbone of the state’s Emergency Alert and Amber Alert systems that go out to the entire state. If OPB went dark, so would those signals. And rural Oregonians would be left without the OPB programming they value highly.

Approach

CFM represented OPB for several sessions through both the thick and the thin of the Legislature’s budget development process. In 2007, there was a major change. Steve Bass had taken over at OPB and set a new course, as he put it, “to put the O back in OPB.” A key step was to build improved relationships with the governor and legislative leaders.

With Mr. Bass’s support, CFM led an effort to appeal to the governor to reflect money for OPB in the 2007-09 budget he recommended to the Legislature.

Kulongoski responded by proposing $2.75 million in capital spending and $1 million in operating funds for OPB in the budget he sent to the Legislature on December 1, 2006. From that base, CFM worked throughout the 2007 legislative session with leaders of the Joint Ways and Means Committee to ensure funding. A key step occurred when CFM prodded legislators to use lottery-backed bonding as a way to finance OPB capital construction needs. That was easier than finding scarce state general funds. Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, became the prime advocate for OPB and other cultural and arts funding, pushing the entire package through to final approval.

Result

In the final days of the legislative session, the omnibus lottery-backed bonding bill included $3 million for OPB, which is shared with Southern Oregon Public Television, to build a transmission system that covers the entire state. To meet the February 2009 digital deadline, about 50 transmission towers are now being sited and built, ensuring that rural Oregonians will continue to receive OPB programming. 

Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities: Opening Up Oregon's Electricity Market

Overview

Even though electricity rates in the Pacific Northwest historically have been lower than elsewhere in the nation, many of Oregon's industrial and commercial customers believed they could receive lower prices and better service if there was a competitive market to replace utility monopolies.

Challenge

CFM was hired to lobby electricity market restructuring legislation in the 1997 session, even though little political spadework had been done. Not surprisingly, the legislation was debated, but not enacted. In the interim, CFM devised an aggressive outreach effort that simplified the issue for lawmakers and the media, and made the case why a competitive market was valuable for commercial and industrial customers – as well as for advocates of renewable power resources.

Approach

CFM's Approach was to lobby electricity market restructuring legislation while coordinating an aggressive outreach program.

Result

The outreach paid off as the coalition CFM represented fended off strong opposition from one of the state's major utilities. The reform was called one of the best market restructuring measures in the nation. CFM was called on in the session to defend the restructuring bill after California's flawed re-regulation scheme backfired, sending prices in the West through the roof. Compromises, including a six-month delay in implementing Oregon's restructuring plan, helped preserve most of the 1999 legislation. 

Oregon Independent College Foundation: Investing in Students

Overview

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Oregon had one of the worst records nationally for spending on need-based student aid.

Challenge

Oregon's independent colleges retained CFM to build long-term support for higher levels of student aid. The challenge was to do it without picking a fight with state-funded public universities and community colleges.

Approach

CFM launched an Investing in Students campaign that was anchored by a series of profiles of students who attended an independent college in Oregon and received need-based financial aid. The profiles were short, first-hand accounts of why the students attended college, their life goals and the importance of student aid in making their choice of a college. The profiles were used during the 1999 and 2001 state legislative sessions.

Result

Much of the Investing in Students legislative package was adopted, including renaming need-based student aid as Opportunity Grants. In the 2001 session, the governor and the legislature boosted student aid, while enacting spending cuts for state universities. 

Port of Portland: Deepening the Columbia River Shipping Channel

Overview

When oceangoing ships make the transit up to Portland and other Portland area deepwater ports, they have to travel over 90 miles along a river, the Columbia, which is known both as a hub for commerce, as well as a tourist attraction. But, at the same time, the Port of Portland (and other Ports at Longview, Kalama, Vancouver have to compete against other deepwater Ports with no such 90-mile inland transit -- Ports such as Los Angeles, Long Beach and Seattle. The question: How to make Columbia River ports more competitive. The answer: Deepen the Columbia River channel from 40 feet to 43 feet to allow deeper-draft ships to make the transit.

Challenge

The deepening project made sense from an economic development standpoint, but it proved to be a challenge to get all financial participants -- the State of Oregon, the State of Washington and the federal government -- on the same page at the same time.

Approach

In the first session, CFM, with help from Port staff, conceived of an innovative idea to get the State of Oregon to buy in to a financing plan that would stretch over more than one two-year budget period. It was contract language in a specific bill that, in essence, committed the state to the project, even though it would have been possible for state to shelve the project later. To achieve this, CFM capitalized on its relationship with the co-chairs of the Joint Ways and Means Committee, as well as with the chair of the Economic Development Subcommittee. Early on, it was these three relationships that assured success for the project. Later, CFM worked with the Governor's Office and new leaders of the Joint Ways and Means Committee to assure approval of Oregon's full share of deepening costs.

Result

Today, the deepening project is nearing completion and the new channel will play a key role in enabling the Port of Portland, as well as other ports along the river, to maintain their competitive venture in the marketplace. The successful venture also benefitted another CFM client -- the Columbia River Pilots – the group of professionals who pilot ships up and down the Columbia to several ports, including the Port of Portland.

Providence Health & Services: Maintaining Funding for Disabled Children Center

Overview

Oregon's governor proposed significant budget cuts in 2001 for nursing homes, which includes the Providence Child Care Center in Portland that serves profoundly disabled children.

Challenge

Competition for state funds grew increasingly tough as the state began to dip into recession, tightening state tax revenue.

Approach

Representing the Providence Health System, CFM implemented a grassroots communications strategy that energized families of the children, employees at the center and other advocates to write or e-mail legislators. The cards rolled in emphasizing the importance of the center as a one-of-a-kind facility. Next, CFM invited the House Speaker and key Ways and Means Committee members to tour the center, seeing first-hand the caring, home-like setting.

Result

The strategy worked as lawmakers restored the spending cuts proposed by the governor. The outreach proved valuable a year later when plummeting state tax revenues forced more spending cuts and the governor again put nursing home payments on the chopping block. Once again, lawmakers rebalanced the budget without cutting funds for facilities such as the Providence Child Care Center.

Sallie Mae, Inc.: Loan Relief for Nursing and Education Students

Overview

When The Sallie Mae Fund came to Oregon looking for help on a new financial aid idea, the nation's largest student loan provider turned to CFM.

Challenge

The challenge was to build political credibility in Oregon for an innovative Sallie Mae program – forgiving part of the loan for any college student willing to stay in the state and work in nursing or education. Oregon was the first stop on the West Coast after Sallie Mae started the program in Maryland and Virginia.

Approach

CFM worked with Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski’s administration to gain his endorsement for the new program. CFM helped design the rollout, announcing the loan relief program at a major news conference in 2005. And, CFM continues advising the company on selling the Sallie Mae program in public and private colleges and universities around the state

Result

Students benefited as they faced higher financial aid costs. State officials developed new options to encourage students to enter two fields where there are jobs waiting – education and nursing– and, the company gained a stronger foothold in Oregon, where it hopes to do business for years.

Electronic Data Systems: Improving State Healthcare Management Systems

Overview

Managing the multi-million dollar government healthcare enterprise in Oregon always is a challenge for state managers. Especially when they have to contend with a computer system that is woefully out-of-date.

Challenge

The solution: Gain state money that, when coupled with matching federal funds, could put a new, automated medical payment system in place – the Medicaid Management Information System, or MMIS for short.

Approach

Working on behalf of Providence Health System over the last several legislative sessions, CFM lobbied the Joint Ways and Means Committee to provide state dollars to match federal funds and put the new system in place. Funds were committed by the legislature.

Separately, CFM also was hired to work with one of the potential vendors, Electronic Data Systems (EDS), a Fortune 200 company based in Texas, to bid on the substantial state contract to design and operate the new technology.

Result

With CFM's behind-the-scenes consulting, EDS won the contract, making Oregon one of 19 states where EDS runs an MMIS system. Based in part on its MMIS success, and again with CFM's help, EDS also won a contract with the State of Oregon to operate new e-government services program.

Providence Health & Services: Creating a Safe Workplace for Nurses

Overview

When a major employee union came to the Oregon Capitol in 2005 contending that nursing executives at Oregon hospitals condoned violence against nurses, leaders at Providence Health System became concerned.

Challenge

Nothing could have been further from the truth. The challenge was convincing lawmakers not to take unneeded action.

Approach

Capitalizing on the credentials of nursing executives and the long history of Providence's mission-oriented service in Oregon, CFM opposed the need for legislation, emphasizing that hospitals in Oregon have a major stake in preserving safe workplaces.

Result

The union-sponsored nurse violence bill did not pass in 2005, and CFM began working with other stakeholders to craft more reasonable legislation heading into the 2007 session – legislation that has the potential to garner support from unions and management alike.

Broadband Services Company: Preserving Competition in Telecommunications

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Overview

When a start-up broadband services company opened its doors in 1999, one of the first things it did was to hire CFM to help convince Congress and the Federal Communications Commission that laws should be kept in place to permit unfettered competition in the telecommunications sector.

Challenge

Any change in the law would have doomed this promising start-up.

Approach

CFM identified and established the necessary contacts and relationships on Capitol Hill and with the FCC. CFM crafted the start-up’s story with solid arguments, fact-based information and eye-popping presentation materials.

Result

To this day, telecommunications competition still reigns and this start-up is still going strong.