OSCC Legislative Update: November 19, 2020

November 19, 2020 3:12 PM | Anonymous

Three significant issues that need to be brought to your attention:. 

1.    State Revenue Forecast. The quarterly revenue forecast issued Wednesday morning provided a little bit of good news for legislators - the state now has $97 million more in its coffers since the last quarterly forecast in September. This completes a near-unbelievable total comeback from the $2+ billion revenue loss that was forecast in the midst of the pandemic in May.

A cautious note was struck by the state economist, however, as these projections were finalized before Governor Brown’s 2-week economic “pause” that will largely close restaurants, gyms and other businesses through December 2nd.  The economists predicted that the “pause” would largely be felt through declines in lottery revenues, but would only amount to about $26 million in losses if the restaurant closures were limited to only two weeks.

2.      House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) calls for emergency special session in December. The Speaker called out the unlikelihood of a Federal relief package in 2020 and indicated that she would like to spend state reserve funds to assist businesses and the unemployed. Specifically, she called out her desire to spend $100 million “to keep Oregonians housed and stabilize the rental market” as her primary objective.

We are not surprised at the prospect of another special session prior to 2021. Before the Speaker’s announcement, we believed a special session was likely next week. We will keep you apprised as we gain more information on a prospective December session.

3.      Legislative Election Results are now finalized. The last race to be called was House District 52 which saw Democrat incumbent Anna Williams hold off challenger Jeff Helfrich by 84 votes. The race was in doubt until yesterday’s final numbers at 4pm.

The final count in the Senate: 18 Democrats, 12 Republicans. No change.

The final count in the House: 37 Democrats, 23 Republicans. Republicans gained one seat, but Democrats retained their “supermajority.”

 The last bit of intrigue will come from a fight for the Speakership of the House. Representative Janelle Bynum (D-Clackamas) is looking to forge a coalition to unseat current House Speaker Tina Kotek. 

Although Kotek won a majority of support from her caucus for a 4th term as Speaker, the challenge will spill out onto the House floor on the first day of the 2021 session when the entire House, including 23 Republicans, will cast their vote for Speaker. 31 votes are needed to secure the position of House Speaker. 


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