Legislature Takes Action on Police Accountability, Evictions, and Foreclosures in Special Session; Second Special Session Later this Summer to Address Budget

(Salem, OR) — Governor Kate Brown today commended legislators for taking action during the 2020 First Special Session on a number of priority pieces of legislation, including bills for police accountability and reform, as well as bills extending protections for Oregonian families against residential and commercial evictions and foreclosures.
Governor Brown convened the special session to improve police accountability and address issues impacting Oregonian families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I called the Oregon Legislature together because I have been concerned that Oregon needs to take further action in response to two crises unfolding across the country,” said Governor Brown. “The first is related to the ongoing and urgent concerns caused by the COVID-19 crisis and the economic threat the pandemic poses to people who were already struggling to get by.
“The moratoriums on evictions and foreclosure will go a long way to ensuring working families can stay in their homes and small businesses can continue operating amidst the pandemic.
“I also called lawmakers into this special session in order to respond to the clarion call for police reform. Across the state, tens of thousands of Oregonians have taken to the streets to demand racial justice and police accountability.
“It will take far more work to set our state on a path toward racial justice, but these are very important steps forward.”

A second special session will be convened later in the summer to take up issues related to the state budget.

“We are holding off on the next session for a few weeks to give Congress time to take action,” said Governor Brown. “And I hope Congressional leaders will hear the call from states across the country and step in with additional federal support.
“In the meantime, 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.
“It is incredibly important that we get dollars to the communities most impacted by the pandemic. And that we help working people when they need to stay home from work due to the disease.”

Key legislation passed during the 2020 First Special Session include:

Police Accountability
SB 1604 – Limits the ability of an arbitrator to overturn police discipline when a law enforcement agency uses a discipline guide.
HB 4201 – Establishes a legislative joint committee to examine use of force and transparency.
HB 4205 – Directs the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) to adopt rules requiring police officers to intervene to stop certain acts of misconduct such as excessive force or acts of discrimination. Officers who report misconduct should not face retaliation.
HB 4207 – Directs DPPST to establish a statewide database for police officers whose state certification have been suspended or revoked.
HB 4208 – Limits the use of tear gas by law enforcement for crowd control, unless event has been declared a riot.
HB 4203 – Limits the use of force by police officers that would impede breathing or blood circulation, unless circumstances would justify deadly force.

Evictions and Foreclosures
HB 4213 – Codifying the moratorium on residential and commercial evictions the Governor first put in place through executive order, allowing working families to stay in their apartments and homes and small businesses to continue operating. The bill also creates a payback period to give Oregonians time to catch back up on payments they’ve missed.
HB 4204 – Creating a moratorium on foreclosures so people and small businesses who are late on their mortgage payments don’t lose their home or place of business while they are working to get back on track.

Rural Broadband Access
SB 1603 – Makes a significant investment in rural broadband internet access, a critical investment for rural Oregon schools.

COVID-19 Response: Safe Local Government, CARES Act Payment Protection
HB 4212 – Implements a number of COVID-19 response measures, including protecting CARES Act payments from garnishment so federal dollars go directly into people’s pockets and allowing local governments to continue operating while providing public access through remote and virtual meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill also allows for online notarization to protect public health.

Forest Management
SB 1602 – Includes provisions for responsible forest management agreed to by the timber industry and environmental groups.

A video message from Governor Brown on the special session is available here.