July 13, 2017

Oregon Judicial Department Receives Funding for Courthouse Construction, Renovation, and Security

This session the legislature funded courthouse upgrades in Lane and Multnomah counties, as well as the Oregon Supreme Court building in Salem for seismic retrofitting. In addition, the legislature allocated funding for security in state and county courts.

Funding for Oregon’s courthouses came through two bills this session. Senate Bill (SB) 5505, which identifies and limits the maximum amount of bond and third-party financing agreements that the state may issue, and SB 5506 establishing an expenditure limitation for capital construction projects.

SB 5505 allows the Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) to issue $5.1 million for the Lane County Courthouse, $102.5 million for the completion of the Multnomah County Courthouse, and $6.1 million for the seismic upgrade to the Oregon Supreme Court building in Salem. Under SB 5506, OJD received authority to spend $8.9 million on courthouse equipment and furnishings for the Multnomah County Courthouse and $6 million on the Oregon Supreme Court building renovations.

SB 5529 allocated $6.4 million from the Criminal Fine Account towards state-court security as well as distributions to county-court security accounts. In addition, the bill allocated $3.1 million to the State Court Technology Fund to partially fund the Oregon eCourt system from the Criminal Fine Account (see next article for additional information on Oregon eCourt).

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Filing Fees and Criminal Fines increased to fund Oregon eCourt

In 2016, the Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) completed its implementation of Oregon eCourt. The eCourt system is funded through three funding sources: civil filing fees, criminal fines and assessments, and user fees. At the beginning of the legislative session, the OJD identified an $8.3 million shortfall in funding for the Oregon eCourt program and identified four possible funding sources.

HB 2795 increases civil-court filing fees by five percent as of October 1, 2017. This will raise an additional $2.9 million for OJD to fund Oregon eCourt. HB 2797 increases presumptive criminal fines by $5 beginning on January 1, 2018 and will raise an additional $3.1 million to fund Oregon eCourt. In addition, eCourt user fees were increased on July 1 to raise $1.5 million as well.

The fourth proposed funding source is an assessment on governmental entities. Currently, 60% of the total users are public subscribers such as law-enforcement entities, the Oregon Department of Justice, public-defense providers, district attorneys, and legal aid. These entities do not pay to access the Oregon eCourt system. Though the proposal was discussed this session, it was not implemented.

SB 505 passed the Senate by 21-7 and the House by 34-26.

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Legislature Addresses Increase in Women’s Prison Population with HB 3078

At the end of last year, the Oregon Department of Corrections faced a bed shortage for female prisoners. For a number of years, this lack of capacity has been an area of concern for public-safety stakeholders. In response, a variety of solutions were considered including building a second women’s prison in Oregon, sending female prisoners to be incarcerated out of state or working with counties to release county holds so prisoners may be transferred.

Prior to the 2017 legislative session, a work group—chaired by Lane Shetterly and Greg MacPherson and including elected officials, representatives from the District Attorneys, law enforcement, the Partnership for Safety & Justice, the Criminal Justice Commission, and community corrections—met to discuss possible changes to the public-safety system with the goal of reducing the number of prison beds by 880 by the year 2025. Their proposed solutions, HB 3078, instead invests in local communities for accountability and supervision, treatment, rehabilitation, and victim services. The bill includes the proposed changes from the work group to manage the growth of the women’s prison population:

      • Increases the limit for short-term transitional leave from prison from 90 to 120 days
      • Modifies theft in the first degree and identity theft (Measure 57 crimes) to permit shorter presumptive sentences with stricter supervision
      • Expands the number of offenders that may be eligible to participate in the Family Sentencing Alternative Pilot Program

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      When Does a Bill Really Become a Law?

      On Friday, July 7, 2017, the House and Senate adjorned sine die and the legislative session closed after. After the legislature adjourns, there are still a few steps each piece of legislation needs to complete before being published in an updated copy of the Oregon Revised Statutes.

      Governor’s signature. During the legislative session, the Governor has five business days to veto whole bills or “single items in appropriation bills.” For bills that are passed in the last five days of session, the Governor has 30 days to veto a bill. A bill may pass without the Governor’s signature. If 30 days have passed and the Governor has not vetoed the bill, it is presumed signed.

      Effective Date. In Oregon, the default effective date for a bill is January 1 of the following year. This session, a bill without a specifically noted effective date in the text of the legislation will have an effective date of January 1, 2018. Some bills, many of them from the legislature’s budget committee, the Joint Ways and Means Committee, will have an emergency clause. An emergency clause makes the bill effective on passage, that is, when the Governor either proactively signs the bill or 30 days have passed and the bill was not vetoed. Other bills, for example, bills that raise revenue, can have an effective date of 91 days after sine die. The fourth option is to have a specific effective date identified within the text of the bill. Please note that in some circumstances, different sections of a bill will have different effective dates.

      Resources. Information on a bill can also be found in the Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS). For bills passed during the 2017 legislative session, click on the “Bills” icon on the upper right hand corner and enter the bill number. For a quick analysis of legislation tracked by the Oregon State Bar, look for the 2017 issue of Legislation Highlights which will be published this Fall.

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      2017 – 2018 Interim Schedule

      August 23, Revenue Forecast

      September 18 – 20, Legislative Days
      September 21, Task Force Day

      November 7, Election Day
      November 13 – 15, Legislative Days
      November 16, Task Force Day
      November 29, Revenue Forecast

      January 9, Task Force Day
      January 10 – 12, Legislative Days
      January 16, Bills submitted to Secretary of Senate/Clerk of House for 2018 Legislative Session

      February 5, 2018 Legislative Session Begins
      February 16, Revenue Forecast

      March 11, 2018 Legislative Session Ends, Constitutional Sine Die

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      2017 Public Affairs Committee Members

      Kathleen Rastetter, Chair
      John Mansfield, Vice Chair
      Guy Greco
      John Bachofner
      Chris Costantino
      Rob Gratchner
      Eric Foster
      Liani Reeves

      Public Affairs Department

      Susan Grabe, Public Affairs Director
      Amy Zubko, Public Affairs Legislative Attorney
      Matt Shields, Public Affairs Staff Attorney
      Kellie Bagnani, Public Affairs Assistant

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