Yesterday, the Oregon legislature met for a one-day special session to consider a handful of bills aimed at getting more state money for COVID relief and wildfire recovery. The legislature also considered a handful of policy bills, the primary bill being a major relief package for residential landlords combined with an extension of the eviction moratorium.
HB 4401 - Housing/Landlord Relief. Provides $150 million in grants directly to landlords on behalf of financially distressed tenants for up to 80 percent of unpaid rent between April 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. Requires landlords to forgive the remaining unpaid rent for tenants who show inability to pay due to COVID. Distributes rent assistance to recipients of the CARES Act Emergency Solution Grants, which will make payments directly to landlords. Extends eviction moratorium until June 30, 2021.
HB 4402 - Liability Protections for Schools. Prohibits claims against schools from damages due to COVID-19 infections if the school is in compliance with the Governor’s Executive Orders during the COVID-19 emergency. In one of the surprises of the session, Rep Shelley Boshart Davis (R-Albany) won support for an amendment to include private schools with liability protections. The original version of HB 4402 excluded private schools.
SB 1801 - Cocktails-to-Go. Allows restaurants during the pandemic emergency to sell and deliver mixed drinks in sealed containers to-go. Rules will limit the sale to two drinks per substantial food item ordered. The bill also limits the fees that a third-party food platform (eg Grub Hub, etc.) may charge a restaurant to facilitate to-go orders.
SB 5731 - $800 million COVID/Wildfire Relief Appropriations. SB 5731 made five distinct appropriations - $100 million to the Emergency Board for appropriations, $400 million for the state’s response to the COVID-19 emergency, $100 million for wildfire recovery and prevention activities, $150 million for the housing relief fund created under HB 4401, and $50 million for Housing and Community Services Department for rental assistance programs.
One bill did fail in committee in the run-up to the special session: SB 1803 would have created medical liability protections for hospitals, HMO’s, health care providers and clinics for certain claims arising during the COVID-19 emergency period. This legislation was a negotiated product in a workgroup convened by Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene). However, 11th hour demands from SEIU caused the bill to fail as House Democrats voted ‘no’ in committee and killed the bill.