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Monday, June 29, 2020

Here’s What Happened at 2020’s First Special Legislative Session

County Commissioner Ken Humberston shares a thorough report on legislation passed during the June 24-25 special legislative session.
After three days of intensive hearings, yesterday evening the Legislature adjourned Sine Die following the passage of 23 bills relating to COVID-19, police accountability and other holdover measures. Please see below for what transpired during the Special Session, including a summary of each of the 23 bills. The information in red is of particular interest to Clackamas County and our departments.
As one would expect, the 2020 Special Session was different and exceptional. And it was anything but business as usual with only legislators and select staff allowed in the Capitol. The members of the Joint Special Session Committee participated in virtual public hearings from their Capitol offices. Then, once it was time to vote, the committee members hurried down to the basement to vote in person where they donned face coverings and maintained physical distance. And when the House met to vote on the first bill, there was considerable confusion with some members on the House floor, while others were voting with hand gestures from the House gallery. Once the seemingly simple task of taking a vote was accomplished, Speaker Tina Kotek thanked members for their efforts to “limit the viral load within the House chamber.” 
After enduring two walkouts in the past two sessions, the Oregon Legislature found ways to get along. In a moment of solidarity, Republicans symbolically made the motions to adopt meaningful “Whereas” clauses drafted by the People of Color Caucus to the police reform bills. All noted the importance of recognizing decades of harm, mistrust and discrimination. Republicans also consented to rules suspension so the Legislature could efficiently conduct business. Finally, as can be seen in the vote counts, the overwhelming majority of bills passed unanimously. 
This is not to say there were not moments of disagreement. Businesses, government entities and healthcare providers sought liability protection for their operations in this COVID-19 environment. Trial lawyers and unions objected, but a group of ten Democratic legislators joined with Republican legislators in calling for increased liability protections. After much debate, Democratic leaders held off any liability amendments, but agreed to a work group after the special session to delve more into the issue.
Following the conclusion of the session, the Governor stated that she will convene a second special session later in the summer to take up issues related to the state budget, “holding off for a few weeks to give Congress time to step in with additional federal support.” 
She went on to note: “There are some additional investments that we must make with existing federal dollars. Next week I’ll be sharing a plan with the Legislature to use Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars to support our Black communities, for investments in health equity and to provide relief for working people who need to take time off if they are sick with COVID-19.”
 COVID-Related Bills
Prior to the beginning of the session, it was announced that there would be three tracts of bills that the legislature would consider: COVID-related, police accountability and holdover measures from the 2020 session.  
HB 4212 – Omnibus COVID-19 “catch-all” bill
Summary: Authorizes governing bodies of public bodies, other than the State of Oregon, to conduct all public meetings using telephone or video conferencing technology or through other electronic or virtual means.
ActionNumerous amendments were adopted. The majority of the discussion centered on liability protections for businesses, schools and other entities. Although the Speaker announced that the bill would add the -26 (which removes certain low-income utility bill assistance and also removes OSHA infectious disease standards) and not take up the -38 (liability protections), Rep. Christine Drazan introduced the amendment in the work session. The amendment failed on a party-line vote with a plethora of discussion on the best way to address liability concerns. A workgroup will take up the matter beginning next week. It is unclear when the legislature will take up the recommendations offered by the workgroup.
 The Committee adopted the following amendments to the bill:
Dash-7: Emergency shelter siting from the 2020 session. Temporarily waives all local siting, design and zoning regulations and the land use appeals process, for approving the siting of emergency shelters for a 90-day period. 
Dash-8: Adds flexibility to allowable use of Individual Development Account (IDA) savings. 
Dash-23: Adjustment to electronic public meeting notice requirement for public bodies. 
Dash-26: Removes Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program language and OSHA infectious disease standards
Dash-27: Related to emergency shelter siting. 
Dash-30: Data collection requirement for healthcare providers during COVID.
Dash-33: Allows physicians’ assistants to practice at the top of their scope; adjusts board paperwork requirements. 
Dash-34: Protects CARES Act recovery rebate payments from garnishment.
Dash-36: Extension of allowable pretrial detention of individuals charged with a person crime during COVID.
OutcomeThe bill passed 47-10 out of the House and 21-4 out of the Senate.
HB 4213 – Residential and Commercial Eviction Extension
Summary: Prohibits residential and commercial evictions under specified conditions during emergency period.
ActionExtends the moratorium on both commercial and residential no-cause evictions through September 30, 2020, and creates a six-month repayment grace period after the moratorium ends for tenants to repay their back rent accrued during the moratorium.  Clackamas County, together with Multnomah and Washington Counties, requested this extension in a letter to legislative leadership last week.  
A -14 amendment to the bill was added to address a few concerns and make a couple of technical changes. The major change incorporates the Oregon Association of Realtors’ concern regarding landlord ownership of a residence and the ability for such landlords to evict a tenant if they choose to live in the residence themselves. 
Sen. Tim Knopp introduced Rep. Brad Witt’s -6 amendment, which would offer financial payments to landlords who are struggling to pay their mortgages and other payments. During his argument, Sen. Knopp explained that the Governor had caused the unemployment of 400,000 people. The amendment failed on a party-line vote, and the bill was moved to the floor with Sen. Fred Girod, Sen. Kim Thatcher, and Rep. Duane Stark voting against moving the bill. 
Reps. Lawrence Spence and Diego Hernandez both voiced concerns over a lack of equity pieces for tenants. Several Republican legislators voiced their opposition to the bill because they think it will drive landlords out of business. Sen. Ginny Burdick introduced the bill on the Senate floor, and several Republicans spoke in opposition. 
OutcomeThe bill passed out of the House 43-14. The bill passed off the Senate floor 18-9, with Sen. Denyc Boles voting in favor and Sen. Betsy Johnson voting against. 
HB 4214 – Indian Child Welfare Act
Summary: Declares Oregon policy regarding Indian children.
Action HB 4214 modifies Oregon’s dependency code to conform with the federal Indian Child Welfare Act and promote Indian children’s continued connection to culture, family and tribe. Corrine Sams, elected member of the Board of Trustees of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, presented powerful testimony in support, citing how the need for the preservation of native families and Tribal government, through the connection of native children to their Tribe, is critical as Tribes face another foreign disease. The bill was moved out of committee without objection. Rep. Tawna Sanchez introduced the bill and gave a passionate speech about the need to connect Indian children with tribal government supports and culture. 
OutcomeThe bill passed both the House & Senate unanimously. 
 Policy Accountability
Prior to Special Session, the People of Color Caucus demanded action on police accountability following the murder of George Floyd, including the passage of legislation to bar labor arbitrators from overturning police discipline decisions if they conform with disciplinary guidelines and to require the Attorney General to investigate deadly use of force cases in local jurisdictions. The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners supported these policy changes and sent a letter to the Clackamas Caucus noting our position. 
As the session approached, more bills were put on the table, including banning chokeholds and tear gas, creating a database of police discipline and requiring officers to intervene with other officers. In the end, leadership struck a deal to pass pared-back versions of most of this legislation and create a special Joint Committee to take on police accountability issues more deliberately after the special session. 
Black legislative leaders, Sen. Lew Frederick and Judiciary Chair Rep. Janelle Bynum, praised the work of law enforcement in coming to the table and legislators coming together across the aisle to pass the bills with broad bipartisan support, while also making it clear that much more work needs to be done and community voices need to be heard. The bills were passed on the anniversary of the first bill passed by the Oregon territory that excluded Blacks from Oregon.
HB 4201 – Joint Committee on Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform
Summary: Establishes a committee to examine policies to improve transparency in investigations and police protocols and to examine use-of-force policies.  The committee will make recommendations by December 31, 2020.
Action-1 amendment deleted the original bill and created the Joint Committee on Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform. The amendment was adopted unanimously. On the House floor, Rep. Andrea Salinas introduced the bill by announcing that on this day in 1844, Oregon passed its first Black exclusion law. Rep. Janelle Bynum also added words in support, as did retired police officers Reps. Sherrie Sprenger, Rick Lewis and Ron Noble.
OutcomeThe bill passed 55-2 out of the House and passed 24-1 out of the Senate. 
HB 4203 – Outlaw the use of respiratory restricting restraints
Summary: Declares that a peace officer may not use physical force that limits the ability of a person to breathe, including but not limited to, choke holds.
Action:  The -4 amendment prohibits use of physical force that impedes breathing except when an officer is allowed to use deadly force, as described in Oregon Revised Statutes 161.239. The amendment eliminates training of choke holds by the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. The -5 amendment is a “whereas” statement that details the experiences of Black, Indigenous and People of Color in Oregon (BIPOC) and the USA at the hands of law enforcement. Both the -4 and -5 amendments were adopted unanimously. Rep. Mark Meek gave an impassioned speech, saying “I can’t breathe,” and mentioning the names of Elijah McCLain, Eric Garner and George Floyd. Sen. James Manning introduced the bill on the Senate floor and emphasized that people should not lose their lives for walking across the street in their own area of residence. 
OutcomeThe bill passed the House 52-5 and the Senate 24-1. 
HB 4205 – Duty to report and intervene
Summary: Directs the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training to adopt rules requiring police and reserve officers to intervene to prevent or stop another officer from engaging in an act that is unethical or that violates laws, rules or policy.
ActionThe -4 amendment, which made a few changes to the language on reporting and intervening, was adopted unanimously. The -5 amendment is a “whereas” statement that details experiences that BIPOC Oregonians and US residents have faced at the hands of law enforcement. 
On the floor, Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon told the stories of George Floyd and Albert Molina, a Washington County man who suffered from police misconduct. She teared up as she provided her remarks and urged support of the bill. 
OutcomeThe bill passed out of the House 55-2 and passed the Senate unanimously.
 HB 4207 – Transparency of police discipline records
Summary: Directs the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training to establish a statewide online public database of police officer discipline records.
ActionThe -6 amendments alter the requirements and clarify that revocations and suspensions of certifications must be reported. The amendment clarifies other points that were not included in the original bill and brings the rules from DPSST from rule into statute. The -5 amendment is a “whereas” statement that details the experiences of BIPOC Oregonians and US residents with law enforcement. Both amendments were adopted unanimously. 
OutcomeThe bill passed the House 54-3 and passed the Senate unanimously. 
HB 4208 – Protecting freedom of speech and assembly from excessive force
Summary: Prohibits law enforcement agencies from using tear gas or from using long-range acoustic devices or sound cannons.
ActionThe -2 amendment, adopted unanimously, removes tribal governments from the definition of “law enforcement agency” and limits the use of tear gas to “riots” with crowd notification requirements. The -3 amendment, also adopted unanimously, is a “whereas” statement that details the experiences of BIPOC Oregonians and US residents with law enforcement. Sen. James Manning introduced the bill and discussed his experience with tear gas while serving in the US Armed Forces. Sen. Fred Girod urged support, but mentioned that he is afraid that the bills won’t go far enough, claiming that police unions will continue to be a problem until they are rolled back. 
OutcomeThe bill passed out of the House 53-4 and passed 25-1 out of the Senate. 
 SB 1604 – Discipline guidelines and arbitration decisions
Summary: Requires arbitrators to uphold a discipline decision should they agree that misconduct occurred, as long as the discipline lines up with the discipline guide.  The disciplinary guide or matrix would be a mandatory subject of collective bargaining.
ActionThe bill was widely supported by a large coalition, except by police unions. No amendments were posted to the bill and it passed out of committee unanimously. When introducing the bill, which he has introduced many times in the past, Sen. Lew Frederick gave beautiful testimony, fighting back tears, as he urged his colleagues to support the bill that he had fought so hard to pass so many times. Rep. Andrea Salinas introduced the measure on the House floor and emphasized that the bill does not go far enough. 
OutcomeThe bill passed both chambers unanimously. 
Holdover Measures
Some of these bills were holdover issues from last session; others were somewhat related to the coronavirus pandemic, and others were just measures that the state needed to get done. 
SB 1601 – Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund (STIF) fix
Summary: Upon passage, allows Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund moneys to be used to maintain existing public transportation services. The bill merges the Elderly and Disabled Transportation fund with the Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund. 
ActionThe bill incorporated the changes recommended by the work group of transit providers that met to provide recommendations to the legislature during the last session and will provide stable funding for the vulnerable populations served with STIF funds in the past. Reps. Susan McLain and Courtney Neron testified in support of the -2 amendment and the bill. The -2 amendment prohibits law enforcement from citing individuals with expired credentials (e.g. an expired handicapped pass) in various instances. The -2 amendment was adopted. Finally, a provision was included in the bill that may lead to more barriers between TriMet and small transit providers – county staff will follow up with the Oregon Dept. of Transportation on how this can be addressed through rulemaking.
OutcomeThe bill passed out of the Senate 27-0 and passed the House 55-2. 
 SB 1602 – Forestry
Summary: Requires the Governor to facilitate mediation sessions between forest industry and environmental interest representatives.
ActionTimber and environmental interests testified jointly in support of this legislation to create a pesticide spray notification system and fund mediated talks to reform the Oregon Forest Practices Act. The bill flew through the process and was moved out of committee unanimously.
OutcomeThe bill passed out of the Senate 24-2 and unanimously passed the House. 
 SB 1603 – Broadband Investment
Summary: Modifies definitions applicable for purposes of universal service surcharge.
Action: The bill establishes the Broadband Fund to support projects for planning or developing broadband service infrastructure. It expands the Oregon Universal Service Fund to include cell-phone users in the fee pool, which will create a sustainably funded, broadband grant program within the state’s newly established Broadband Office to help jurisdictions pay for broadband planning and/or infrastructure projects. Republicans on the committee argued that the first special session is not the time to take this proposition up, as federal money from the CARES Act and other state action would contribute to broadband expansion. Additionally, Republican members of the committee argued that the change is essentially a new tax and a revenue-raising bill, which would require a 3/5ths vote. Democrats on the committee pushed back against this notion. The bill did not have any amendments and moved out of committee on a party-line vote. 
OutcomeThe bill passed 16-10 on the Senate floor with Sens. Lee Beyer and Betsy Johnson voting against the bill, alongside all of their Republican colleagues. The bill passed the House 38-19.
 SB 1605 – Oregon Promise for Foster Children
Summary: Modifies Oregon Promise program to extend eligibility to certain foster children in Oregon who attain their highest level of education while in out-of-state placements.
Action:  There was limited discussion on this bill and it was moved out of committee without objection. On the Senate floor Sens. Sara Gelser and Dallas Heard both gave impassioned testimony about the problem of out-of-state placements and the facilities they had visited.
OutcomeThe bill unanimously passed the Senate and the House. 
 SB 1606 – Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Summary: Prohibits hospitals from conditioning admission or treatment, or suggesting that treatment is conditioned, on patients having Physician’s Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) or executing advance directives or other instructions regarding administration, withholding or withdrawing of life-sustaining procedures or artificially administered nutrition and hydration.
ActionSen. Sara Gelser championed this bill, which would implement various protections for individuals experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in hospitals and healthcare settings. Disability rights groups, including Disability Rights Oregon, were staunchly in support of this bill, while the hospitals and other healthcare groups raised concerns. Ultimately, the bill was amended to focus primarily on allowing individuals experiencing I/DD to have a support person with them in the hospital to help make end-of-life decisions. After a lot of public comment, it became a near-consensus bill and was moved out of committee unanimously. Sen. Gelser gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor and emphasized the importance of the bill and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on individuals experiencing I/DD. Sen. Sallas Heard offered his support of the bill, but also argued after the vote that Oregonians who cannot gather in worship and commerce are not free and are being deprived of their human rights. 
OutcomeThe bill passed the Senate 27-0 and unanimously passed the House. 
SB 1607 – School Funding for Foreign Exchange Students
Summary: Extends for one year small school district grants and school district funding for foreign exchange students.
ActionOnly one group signed up to testify, and there was no committee discussion. It was moved out of committee without objection. 
OutcomeThe bill passed both chambers unanimously. 
HB 4202 – Corporate Activities Tax (CAT) Fix
Summary: Modifies administrative provisions of corporate activity tax.
ActionAfter failing to pass in the 2020 legislative session, the Corporate Activities Tax (CAT) technical fix bill returned. Most of the changes were technical, and the bill moved out of committee without objection. 
OutcomeThe bill passed the House unanimously and passed the Senate 26-1.
 HB 4204 – Foreclosure Protections
SummaryEnacts a moratorium on residential and commercial foreclosures until September 30, 2020, and gives homeowners an opportunity to roll payments plus interest to the end of their loans.
ActionRepublicans on the committee disagreed with the premise of the bill and argued that “balloon” payments at the end of the loan-term was not the best way to proceed. Many Republican legislators spoke against the bill, with Rep. Jack Zika questioning its legality.
OutcomeThe bill passed out of the House 39-18 on a bipartisan vote and passed out of the Senate on a 19-8 bipartisan vote.
HB 4206 – Meat
Summary: Authorizes the State Department of Agriculture to adopt rules establishing a program of state inspection for the processing and sale of meat products from amenable species, including but not limited to cattle and sheep.
ActionSeveral Republican members of the House spoke in support of the bill, but there was limited discussion, and it passed out of committee without objection. 
OutcomeThe bill passed out of both the House and Senate unanimously.
 HB 4209 – Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Board
Summary: Allows the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Board to enter into an agreement with a third-party administrator to operate programs for awarding grants and making loans that enhance and expand workforce development and economic development in the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Region.
Action:  This was mostly a minor fix bill that was supported by the legislators from Eastern Oregon. There was limited discussion in committee, and the bill was moved unanimously. 
OutcomeThe bill passed out of both the House and Senate unanimously. 
HB 4210 – Driving Privilege Suspensions
SummaryRepeals driving-privilege suspensions and eliminates impositions of driving-privilege restrictions for failures to pay fines.
Action:  This bill was a reprisal of the same legislation introduced in the 2020 session and intended to end the practice of suspending people’s drivers’ licenses due to their inability to pay fines. At the hearing Rep. Chris Gorsek, representatives from the Oregon Law Center, the Community Action Partnership of Oregon, the Oregon Foodbank and others testified in support. The Debt Collectors Association, Lane County and several judges testified in opposition. Though the bill had strong bipartisan sponsorship and substantial Republican support in 2020, many House and Senate Republicans expressed concerns with the bill during its public hearing, and the bill moved out on a 8-6 party-line vote. As was the case in committee, Senate Republicans voiced their concerns on the Senate floor, but Sens. Kim Thatcher, Denyc Boles and Tim Knopp joined with Democrats in supporting the bill.
OutcomeThe bill ultimately passed out of the House 44-13 and out of the Senate 20-7.
HB 4211 – Student Success Fix
Summary: Clarifies timing of when the Department of Education is required to make transfers from the Fund for Student Success.
ActionThe bill was a technical fix to ensure that money could still be put into Student Success Accounts if money was available. There was limited discussion, and the bill was moved out of committee unanimously. 
OutcomeThe bill passed out of the House 52-5 and passed the Senate unanimously. 
SB 5711 – Appropriations
Summary: Appropriates funds from the General Fund for biennial expenses.
ActionThis bill funds the Forestry Memorandum of Undertanding, new meat inspections at Dept. of Agriculture and licensing and monitoring of out-of-state child-caring agencies at the Dept. of Human Services.

OutcomeThe bill passed 25-1 out of the Senate and unanimously passed the House.