Legislature votes to let counties tap road funds

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The Legislature has passed a bill that allows cash-strapped timber counties to tap federal funds currently restricted to road maintenance in order to pay for sheriff's patrols.

The Oregonian reports (http://bit.ly/AcZ7MT ) that the Senate passed the bill (HB4175) on Monday. The House passed it Friday. Spokesman Tim Raphael says the governor will sign it.

The bill specifically targets the timber counties hardest hit by the loss of federal timber payments that have been subsidized since 2000 by the Secure Rural Schools Act.

They are Coos, Curry, Douglas, Josephine, Klamath, Lane and Linn counties.

Some, but not all of them have large road fund reserves that they are prevented by law from using for anything else.