On Friday afternoon, the Oregon legislature concluded a 3-day special session to address various policy issues including policing reforms, COVID-response, and various other items which that included some bills that failed during the 2020 short session.
With respect to policing reforms, the legislature passed bills to: (1) ban the use of chokeholds, except when the use of deadly force is justified; (2) restrict the use of tear gas, and require police to give people time to disperse before using it; (3) make it more difficult for third-party arbitrators to overturn or reduce disciplinary action taken against police officers; (4) create a public online database of disciplinary actions of police officers that must be checked as part of the hiring process; and (5) require officers to intervene to prevent or stop another officer engaged in misconduct.
With respect to COVID response, the legislature passed bills to: (1) direct both residential and commercial lenders to defer mortgage payments until after September 30th (HB 4204); (2) extend the residential and commercial moratorium on no-cause evictions until September 30th (HB 4213); (3) grant temporary emergency shelter siting authority for local governments to develop low-barrier shelters for unsheltered homeless who are at high-risk of virus transmission; and (4) protect federal CARES Act payments from garnishments.
Other bills included (1) HB 4210 which prevents a court from suspending a drivers license for failure to pay court fines; (2) SB 1601 which prevents citations from being issues for expired drivers licences, permits and registrations through December 31st; (3) SB 1603 which levies a cell phone tax to support projects for planning or developing broadband service infrastructure in Oregon; and (4) HB 4202 which makes clarifications and business- supported "fixes" to the new Corporate Activity Tax.
In a development sought by the business community, a workgroup will be convened to discuss and craft liability exemptions for employers and organizations that are in compliance with the Governor's COVID-related executive orders and guidance.
We are expecting legislative discussions to pivot toward liability issues and budget re-balancing in preparation of a 2nd special session to be held in late July or early August.