Governor Brown yesterday extended her declaration of a state of emergency regarding COVID-19 for an additional 60 days, until September 4 due to increasing disease transmission. In addition, the statewide requirement for face coverings to be worn in indoor public spaces went into effect yesterday.
The legislative "Emergency Board" convened on July 14 to allocate another $200 million to support individuals, businesses and cultural organizations hit by the economic effects of the pandemic. Recipients include workers still waiting for unemployment checks, workers who have to quarantine but aren't eligible for other sick leave programs, the Oregon Cares Fund for Black Relief, business with fewer than 25 employees that did not receive Payroll Protection loans, cultural organizations and venues dealing with closures of their facilities.
Separately, the Ways & Means Co-Chairs released a framework of cuts and rebalances to address the State’s revenue short-fall for the remainder of the 2019-2021 biennium. Budget writers have proposed to shield state aid to schools, but to cut almost $400 million in other spending and draw down reserves to offset reduced tax collections during the coronavirus pandemic. Elements of the plan, which legislative leaders released Thursday, July 16, will undergo public hearings July 20-25. Each of the six budget subcommittees has been assigned a target for spending cuts. A second special session will be called later this summer to enact the budget changes.
Notwithstanding Republican Leader Sen Girod’s complaints regarding the majority party’s strict control of the legislative process, most bills passed by large majorities and major policy changes were largely deferred to the upcoming regular session, a welcome change. (Sen. Fred Girod, R-Stayton, a dentist who was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 1992, was elected to lead the Senate Republican caucus for the session.)
1st 2020 Special Session Bills of Interest:
Police Reform Package (6 bills):
SB 1604 – makes discipline a mandatory subject of collective bargaining. Passed the Senate (26-0-4), House (57-0-3);
HB 4201 - creates a Joint Committee on Transparent Policing and Use of Force. Passed the House (55-2-3), Senate (25-1-4);
HB 4203 – Choke holds will be banned as a means of securing custody or control of an individual and limited to incidents where deadly force is authorized. Passed the House (52-5-3), Senate (25-1-4);
HB 4205 - Officers must intervene in instances of excessive force and other serious misconduct. Passed the House (55-2-3), Senate (26-0-4);
HB 4207 - Creates an online database of officer misconduct. A city would also have immunity from civil action for releasing that information. Passed the House (54-3-3), Senate (26-1-3).
HB 4208 - bans the use of projectile fired tear gas or other irritants to disperse public disturbances, but allows their use during a declared riotPassed the House (53-4-3), Senate (25-2-3).
Liability Protection: The Legislature’s presiding officers sent the issue to a workgroup
HB 4204 enacts a moratorium on foreclosures until September 30 and gives homeowners an opportunity to roll payments plus interest to the end of their loan. Passed the House (39-18-3), Senate (19-8-3).
HB 4213 extends the moratorium on residential and commercial evictions until September 30, 2020 and provide a 6-month grace period for repayment. Passed the House (43-14-3), Senate (19-8-3).
HB 4212 Omnibus bill covering a range of issues. Passed the House (47-10-3), Senate (21-4-5).
SB 1603 - Expands the Oregon Universal Service Fund (OUSF) to include cell phone users in the fee pool to fund a broadband grant program. Senate (16-10-4), House (38-19-3).
SB 1601 - allows State Transportation Improvement Fund (STIF) monies to be used to maintain existing public services. Passed the Senate (27-0-3); House (55-2-3).
SB 1602 - requires the governor to facilitate mediation sessions between the forest industry and environmental interest representatives. Passed the Senate (24-2-4); House (57-0-3).
SB 1605 - modifies the Oregon Promise program to extend eligibility to certain Oregon foster children who attain their highest level of education while in out-of-state placements. Passed the Senate (26-0-4); House (57-0-3).
SB 1607 - extends for one-year small school district grants and school district funding for foreign exchange students. Passed the Senate (26-0-4); House (56-0-4).
SB 5711 - budget bill to implement legislation passed during the regular session. Passed the Senate (25-1-4); House (57-0-3).
HB 4202 - makes a series of technical fixes to the Commercial Activity Tax, which was passed during the 2019 session. Passed the House (25-1-4); House (55-2-3).
HB 4206 - Authorized State Department of Agriculture to adopt rules establishing program of state inspection for processing and sale of meat.
Action: Several Republican members of the House spoke in support of the bill, but there was limited discussion and it passed out of committee without objection. The bill passed out of both the House and Senate unanimously.
HB 4209 – Technical fix to Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Board regulations Passed the House (56-0-4); Senate (27-0-3).
HB 4210 - repeals driving privilege suspension and eliminates imposition of driving privilege restrictions for failure to pay fines. Passed the House (44-13-3); Senate (20-7-3).
HB 4211 – Technical fix clarifies the timing of when the Oregon Department of Education is required to make transfers from Fund for Student Success. Passed the House (52-5-3); Senate (27-0-3).
HB 4214 - declares Oregon policy regarding Native American children. Passed the House (57-0-3); Senate (26-0-4).
Finally, the federal district court allowed an extension for signature gathering from Initiative Petition 57, the effort to take redistricting out of the hands of the legislature and Secretary of State. The Court recognized the extenuating circumstances for signature gathering, but additional legal moves are in the works including an appeal from the State Attorney General’s office.