February 26, 2020

Public Safety Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Additional Funding for Public Defense Services Commission

On February 18, 2020, the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Public Safety held an informational hearing on additional funding for the Public Defense Services Commission (PDSC). In the last days of the 2019 legislative session, the Joint Committee on Ways and Means reserved $20 million in a special-purpose appropriation (SPA) through House Bill 5050 (2019) to be distributed to the PDSC during the 2020 legislative session pending certain requirements being met.

Last year, the Sixth Amendment Center released a report on Oregon’s public-defense system identifying areas of improvement. During the presentation, PDSC staff shared changes already made by the Office of Public Defense Services and the PDSC in response to the report. These include adding 30 new public defense attorneys, eliminating the flat-fee payment system, increasing data collection for an ongoing caseload study, and partnering with the Oregon Judicial Department to increase data collection, analysis, and general IT support.

The PDSC indicated during the hearing that if the funding was released, the $20 million would be used to strengthen data-collection programs, monitor and support attorneys, increase compensation, increase the number of public defenders, and reduce disparities in interpreter and investigator rates. Funding must be released before December 1, 2020, or the money will be returned to the General Fund.

Back to top

Bills of Interest

HB 4001 – Defines “emergency shelter.” Requires local governments to allow siting of qualifying emergency shelters by qualifying entities notwithstanding land use laws and regulations.

HB 4009 – Modifies administrative provisions of corporate activity tax.

HB 4015 – Authorizes Housing and Community Services Department to grant moneys to nonprofit organization for ADU community pilot programs that develop accessory dwelling units that are for income-eligible homeowners or available for rent by income-eligible tenants.

HB 4164 – Increases rates metropolitan service district is authorized to tax to rates up to two percent.

SB 1528 – Updates connection date to federal Internal Revenue Code and other provisions of federal tax law.

Back to top

Update on Grand-Jury Recording Provided to Legislature

On February 20, 2020, the Ways and Means Subcommittee received an update on grand-jury recording in Oregon. During the 2017 session, the legislature passed Senate Bill 505 (2017). The bill created an electronic recording process for grand juries and required all audio recordings to be maintained and stored. The program began in three counties, Multnomah, Deschutes, and Jackson in 2018, and rolled out to the remaining 33 counties in 2019. Responsibility and funding for the program was split between the district attorneys, the counties, and the Oregon Judicial Department.

House Bill 5050 (2019) was passed during the 2019 legislative session. The bill required the three groups to report back to the legislature on implementation and a joint plan for “the most efficient, consistent, and cost effective delivery of grand jury recordation across the state.” In addition, the 2019 legislature set aside an additional $3 million for further costs related to statewide implementation. This additional funding must be released before December 1, 2020, or the money will be returned to the General Fund.

In the group report, the district attorneys and the counties suggested improvements to the grand-jury recording process including maintenance of recording equipment as well as storage of audio recordings and retention periods. After discussion, the three groups clarified roles, responsibilities, and further areas of investigation. Future areas of interest include additional training for DA and county staff in the operation of the recording devices, and the possibility of setting up a centralized location for transcription and storage of audio recordings.

Back to top

Oregon State Bar’s 2021 Law-Improvement Program

Is your section or committee interested in participating in the Bar’s legislative activities? If a Bar group would like to propose legislation for the 2019 legislative session, proposals should be submitted to the Board of Governors Public Affairs Committee through the Public Affairs Department by April 1, 2020, for approval by the Public Affairs Committee and Board of Governors.

Proposals from sections and committees are commonly referred to as law-improvement legislation, which includes proposals to clarify statutory ambiguities, to modify unforeseen “glitches” in major legislation passed in previous sessions, and to codify case law as necessary. To ensure that groups are able to devote adequate time to the bills they propose, each Bar group may propose no more than three law-improvement bills. Public Affairs staff provide lobbying assistance to section and committee members for law-improvement proposals.

The Public Affairs Committee will host a legislative forum in May during which Bar groups that have proposed legislation will have an opportunity to present their proposals, and stakeholders will have an opportunity to comment. The Public Affairs Committee will take these comments into account when deciding whether to recommend to the Board of Governors approval of Bar sponsorship of the proposed legislative concepts.

If your section or committee is interested in submitting proposed legislation for consideration to the Public Affairs Committee, please contact the Public Affairs Department for assistance.

Back to top

Small-Estate Affidavit — Form Available

The Oregon Judicial Department has created a new Small-Estate Affidavit, with instructions, for statewide use in small-estate probate cases, following enactment of House Bill 3007 (2019), Or Laws 2019, ch 165. The new form is available as a printable PDF on the OJD’s online Forms Center: https://www.courts.oregon.gov/forms/Pages/small-estate.aspx.

Back to top

Bills on Hold – Senate and House Republicans Leave Capitol

On February 24 and 25 most of the Senate and House Republicans left the Capitol in response to Senate Bill 1530 and House Bill 4167 which modify statewide greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. Oregon’s constitution requires a 2/3 majority of members be present in the chamber to constitute a quorum to vote on legislation. With the departure of 11 Senate Republicans and 21 House Republicans, the legislature can not meet the quorum requirement in either chamber and bills that have not passed both chambers will be on hold until a quorum is met or the session ends. The 2020 legislative session is scheduled to end on March 8, 2020 at midnight.

Back to top


Thank you for reading the Oregon State Bar’s CAPITOL INSIDER.
The archives are available here.

2020 Public Affairs Committee Members

Eric Foster, Chair
Katherine Denning, Vice Chair
Kyra Rohner
Ryan Hunt
Michael Rondeau
Joseph Hesbrook
Joe Piucci
Rob Milesnick

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

Back to top