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OJD Budget Receives Weeklong Review in Ways and Means Public Safety Subcommittee
Beginning on April 1, 2019 Ways and Means Public Safety Subcommittee held a week of hearings focused on the Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) 2019-2021 requested budget. SB 5513, is the OJD budget bill. The proposed legislative budget, released in March by the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, calls for a 5% reduction across state government with the exception of healthcare and education. This translates into more than a 6% cut to OJD operations, since certain constitutionally mandated functions, such as judicial salaries, interpretive services, and juror payments may not be reduced.
Because of these challenges to court funding, the Oregon State Bar has reinvigorated its Citizens’ Campaign for Court Funding. This campaign supports the statewide coalition of citizens and business and community groups formed to ensure adequate and stable court funding.
Fully funding Oregon’s courts will allow the courts to meet service goals that have been unattainable for most of the last decade:
- Fill 80 staff positions that have been held vacant due to budget reductions,
- Create 14 new judicial positions in order to meet timeline standards for children in foster care, and focus on family courts and dependency cases.
- Create 78 new staff positions to allow the courts to improve public access. This includes ensuring that staff are available to answer phones, that counters are open 8 hours a day, and that judgments are entered within 72 hours of filing.
On April 4, 2019 the Citizens’ Campaign for Court Funding arranged for Christine Costantino from the OSB Board of Governors, as well as representatives from the Oregon Association of Defense Counsel, the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, the Oregon District Attorneys Association, Oregon’s legal aid providers, the Oregon Public Defense Services Commission, and the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association to testify in support of the OJD budget. In addition, business, nonprofit, and community leaders submitted testimony identifying the need for a healthy judicial department and shared their support for adequate funding for Oregon’s court system.
Over the upcoming months, members of the Ways and Means Committee will continue their discussions about this and other public safety budgets in order to craft a statewide budget.
Bar Bills Move Through Legislative Process
Another three Oregon State Bar bills moved through the first chamber.
SB 358 is an update to ORS chapter 9, which provides statutory guidance to the Oregon State Bar. On January 30 OSB President, Christine Costantino, and OSB General Counsel, Amber Hollister, testified in support of the bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill received a work session on March 26, was amended, and was voted unanimously out of committee. SB 358, as amended, is an omnibus bill that makes a number of changes to ORS chapter 9 including the following: updates reporting timelines for IOLTA accounts, removes the prohibition on 50-year licensing fees, allows the Department of Revenue to share information with the Oregon State Bar, acknowledges the authority of the Oregon Supreme Court over the Oregon State Bar, and explicitly states the Bar’s mission.
The bill passed the Senate on a 27-0-3 vote on April 2, 2019. It is scheduled for a public hearing and work session in House Judiciary on April 23, 2019.
House Bill 2459A allows a lien holder to request an itemized statement of the amount necessary to pay off a lien from another lien holder. The bill came from the Oregon State Bar’s Debtor-Creditor section. On February 2, 2019, Erich Paetsch from the Oregon State Bar’s Debtor Creditor Section testified in support of the bill in the House Judiciary Committee. The bill received a work session on April 4, 2019 was amended, and was voted unanimously out of committee.
The bill passed the House on a 58-0-2 vote on April 17, 2019.
The third OSB bill, HB 2462, was discussed in the previous Capitol Insider. The bill came from the OSB Military and Veterans Law Section. The bill passed the House unanimously on April 8, 2019. It is scheduled for a public hearing and work session on April 22, 2019 in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Bills of Interest
HB 2244 – Establishes CourtCare Fund and appropriates moneys in fund to Department of Education for distribution to counties to operate CourtCare programs.
HB 3164 – Directs Public Defense Services Commission to distribute moneys to Metropolitan Public Defender Services for establishment and administration of pilot program according to specifications, collection of certain program data and submission of data to commission.
HB 3145 – Directs Public Defense Services Commission to conduct study on improving provision of public defense services and present report on findings to interim committees of Legislative Assembly related to judiciary on or before September 15, 2020.
HB 3201 – Provides that agreement for deferred resolution of criminal cases may not contain requirement that defendant enter plea of guilty or no contest.
HB 3388 – Modifies annual salaries of judges of Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, circuit courts and Oregon Tax Court.
SB 186 – Changes index for determining cost of living adjustments to limitations on damages under Oregon Tort Claims Act.
SB 279 – Requires certain persons that service student loans in this state to obtain or renew license.
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ABA Day in Washington DC
The Oregon delegation met with members of Congress to support funding for the Legal Services Corporation and the Public Service Loan Repayment program.
From left to right:
Maya Crawford Peacock, Campaign for Equal Justice; Edwin A Harnden, Barran Liebman LLP; Christine Costantino, Oregon State Bar President; Susan Grabe, Oregon State Bar Public Affairs Department Director; Monica Goracke, Oregon Law Center. April 2019.
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2019 Public Affairs Committee Members
Eric Foster, Chair
Eddie Medina, Vice Chair
Public Affairs Department
Susan Grabe, Public Affairs Director
Amy Zubko, Public Affairs Legislative Attorney
Matt Shields, Public Affairs Staff Attorney
Kellie Baumann, Public Affairs Assistant