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First Special Session of 2020 Held in Late June
On June 24, 2020, the Governor called the Legislature into special session to address COVID-19, police accountability legislation, and legislative concepts addressed in the 2020 regular legislative session in February. The special session, called the First Special Session of 2020, focused on policy issues. A second special session is expected later this summer to address state budget shortfalls.
Legislation during the special session was roughly broken out into the three groups. COVID-19 legislation included everything from foreclosure and eviction moratoriums (HB 4204, HB 4213) to tracking race and ethnicity data of patients. HB 4212, which included many of the provisions, also addressed the Chief Justice’s authority to extend deadlines, the extension of statutory deadlines, and remote online notarization (see article below). The third group of legislation addressed police accountability (see article below).
Residential and Commercial Eviction and Foreclosure Protections
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Brown issued executive orders addressing commercial and residential evictions. Those orders were scheduled to end as of July 1, 2020. Last week, the Legislature passed two bills to extend rental protections and defer mortgage payments. HB 4204 directs lenders to defer both residential and commercial mortgage payments until September 30, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. HB 4213 extends the moratorium on commercial and residential no-cause evictions through September 30, 2020.
Police Accountability Legislation Passes Legislature
At the urging of the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Caucus, the Legislature considered six police accountability legislative proposals. The following six proposals passed during the June special session, with additional legislation expected in the 2021 legislative session.
- HB 4201: Establishes a Joint Committee on Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform to continue making progress on police reform. The committee will make recommendations to the Judiciary Committees by December 31, 2020, prior to the 2021 legislative session.
- HB 4203: Declares that a peace officer is not justified or reasonable in any circumstance to use physical force that impedes “the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of another person by applying pressure on the throat or neck of the other person” unless it is a circumstance in which an officer may use deadly force as provided by ORS 161.239.s
- HB 4205: Requires police and reserve officers to intervene to prevent or stop another officer from engaging in an act they know, or should reasonably know is misconduct.
- HB 4207: Requires the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) to establish a statewide online public database of records for officers whose certification has been revoked or suspended and specifies the information to be provided as well as timeline for posting.
- HB 4208: Prohibits law enforcement agencies from using tear gas for crowd control, except for circumstances that meet the definition of a riot in ORS 166.015.
- SB 1604: Under current processes, when an internal investigation finds misconduct of a police officer, the chief of police would apply a discipline guide that has been agreed to by the public employer and the collective bargaining unit. In response, the officer has the option to grieve the decision all the way to arbitration. The arbitrator has the power to either disagree with the finding, agree with the finding and uphold the discipline, or agree with the decision but substitute a different discipline. Under this measure, if the arbitrator agrees misconduct occurred, the arbitrator must impose the discipline required by the discipline guide.
On June 30, 2020, the Legislature announced the formation of the Joint Committee on Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform. The committee will be co-chaired by Senator James Manning (D-Eugene) and Representative Janelle Bynum (D-Happy Valley). Senator Manning also serves as the Senate co-chair of the Joint Ways and Means Public Safety Subcommittee and on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Representative Bynum serves as the chair of the House Judiciary Committee and on the Joint Ways and Means Public Safety Committee.
Legislature Implements Safe Courts Provisions and Remote Online Notarization
During the First Special Session of 2020, the Legislature passed HB 4212. This omnibus bill implemented a number of changes in state law in response to COVID-19, from emergency shelter siting to CARES Act payment protection. In addition, the Legislature made statutory changes, with sunsets, to provide the court with greater authority in certain circumstances to extend statutory deadlines, both civil and criminal, if COVID-19 delays court proceedings. In addition, the bill extends pre-filing statutory timelines for specific cases. The bill also authorizes a pilot project to allow for remote online notarization. To find the statutory language of the three concepts, go to the following sections:
- Court authority (sections 6, 8)
- Statute of limitations (sections 7, 8)
- Remote online notarization (sections 19–35)
Thank you to the many practitioners who volunteered with the Oregon Judicial Department and the Oregon Law Commission to develop statutory language in a rapidly changing environment.
Indian Child Welfare Act Bill Passes Oregon Legislature
During the 2020 legislative session, Representative Tawna Sanchez (D-Portland), along with Senator Bill Hansell (R-Pendleton), Senator Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay), Representative Rick Lewis (R-Silverton) and Representative Ron Noble (R-McMinnville), introduced HB 4148. A workgroup of policymakers, attorneys, legislators, and tribal representatives developed consensus language that modified Oregon’s Dependency Code to align with the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). While the bill did not pass before the end of the 2020 legislative session due to the Republican walkout, there was strong bipartisan and bicameral support for the legislation.
During the First Special Session of 2020, the concept was reintroduced by Representative Sanchez and Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) as HB 4214. The bill overwhelmingly passed both chambers and was signed by the Governor on June 30, 2020.
Oregon Supreme Court Allows Diploma Privilege
Last month the deans of the three Oregon law schools requested the Oregon Supreme Court allow diploma privilege for recent law school graduates due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday afternoon, June 29, 2020, the Oregon Supreme Court met to discuss the request and options for the July 2020 bar exam. After discussion, the Court approved several temporary measures related to the ability to practice law in Oregon, including a one-time Oregon diploma privilege option.
One-time modifications to the July 2020 bar exam process include the following options:
1) Take the bar exam as planned in July;
2) Choose a one-time diploma privilege; or
3) Choose to take an online-only Oregon bar exam in October.
Applicants had to select an option and notify the Board of Bar Examiners of their decision on or before July 6, 2020. Those who did not notify the Board of their choice, and who had signed up for the July 2020 bar exam, will default to the July 2020 bar exam.
For more information, please visit the Oregon State Bar Admissions website or the Oregon OJD website. The court has issued an order which can be found here.
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2020 Oregon State Bar Officers and Public Affairs Chair
Liani Reeves, President, Oregon State Bar
David Wade, President Elect, Oregon State Bar
Christine Costantino, Immediate Past President, Oregon State Bar
Eric Foster, Chair, Public Affairs Committee, Oregon State Bar Board of Governors
For questions about articles, legislation, or the legislative process, please contact:
Susan Grabe, Public Affairs Director
Amy Zubko, Public Affairs Legislative Attorney