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Second Special Session of the Oregon Legislature Held on August 10, 2020
On August 10, 2020, Oregon legislators returned to the state capitol for a one-day special session called by Governor Brown. The focus of the Second Special Session was a rebalance of the state’s 2019–2021 biennial budget. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic contraction, Oregon was facing a $1 billion budgetary shortfall. In addition, the Legislature considered five policy bills addressing unemployment claims and police accountability.
Of the 12 bills considered by the Legislature, 11 bills passed out of committee and through the Legislature. The bills will now be sent to the Governor for her review and signature. The legislative special session opened at 8:00 a.m. and sine die was declared at 10:47 p.m.
- HB 4301 – Provides that peace officer or corrections officer may not use force that impedes normal breathing or circulation of blood of another person by applying pressure on throat or neck except in specified circumstances.
- HB 4302 – Establishes and modifies fees and requirements relating to permits for mineral exploration, mining operations, exclusion certificates, gas and oil drilling and exploration, and geothermal well drilling operation.
- HB 4303 – Directs State Treasurer to transfer moneys from Education Stability Fund to State School Fund.
- HB 4304 – Modifies requirements relating to certain fiscal reports.
- HB 5221 – Modifies amounts of lottery funds allocated from Administrative Services Economic Development Fund to state agencies.
Senate Bills and Resolutions
- SB 1701 – Provides that unemployed individual receiving unemployment insurance benefits who has earnings from less than full-time employment may earn greater of $300 or one-third of individual’s weekly benefit amount before individual’s weekly benefit amount is reduced.
- SB 1702 – Temporarily authorizes payment of unemployment insurance benefits to individuals performing services in other than instructional, research, or principal administrative capacity for educational institution or institution of higher education in circumstances in which payment is currently denied. (Did not pass.)
- SB 1703 – Provides temporarily that during statutorily declared emergency Governor may authorize Director of Department of Revenue to disclose certain information set forth in tax report or return to Director of Employment Department if Director of Department of Revenue determines that administration of any federal or state law or program requires disclosure to enable Employment Department to verify identity or income level of any person for purposes related to emergency or any consequences of emergency.
- SB 5721 – Modifies amounts and purposes authorized for issuance of general obligation bonds and revenue bonds for biennium.
- SB 5722 – Modifies limits on payment of expenses from specified funds by certain state agencies for capital construction.
- SB 5723 – Appropriates moneys from General Fund to Emergency Board for allocations during biennium
- SCR 221 – Adjourns sine die 2020 second special session of Eightieth Legislative Assembly.
Rebalancing Oregon’s Public Safety Budgets
The budgets of the Oregon Judicial Department, the Oregon Department of Justice, and the Public Defense Services Commission, not to mention other public safety agencies and commissions, are overseen by the Joint Committee of Ways and Means Subcommittee on Public Safety Subcommittee. The committee, led by Senator James Manning Jr. (D-Eugene) and Representative Janeen Sollman (D-Hillsboro), met on July 24, 2020, to receive public testimony on the rebalance plan proposed by the Joint Co-Chairs of Ways and Means, Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose), Senator Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward (D-Portland), and Representative Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis). Proposed public safety budget cuts can be found here.
The Oregon Judicial Department, anticipating budget cuts, scheduled three furlough days prior to the legislative session. Savings from the furlough days, coupled with vacancy savings as well as savings from the reduced number of jury trials, among other modifications, resulted in approximately $11 million in reductions to help rebalance the state budget.
The Department of Justice had cuts as well, including to the defense of criminal convictions, prosecution support services, and the closure of the Portland child support office.
The Public Defense Services Commission had almost $2 million in cuts, including savings from general operations and a reduction in services and supplies for the appellate division.
Chief Justice Continues COVID-19 Response Efforts
Since March, the Oregon Judicial Department has worked closely with judges, stakeholders, judicial staff, and the public to ensure access to justice for Oregonians. On July 21, 2020, the Chief Justice issued CJO 20-016, to identify and implement best practices for courthouse activities. In addition courts continue to use remote access, either web-based or telephonically, when appropriate.
Moving forward, the Chief Justice has created a number of workgroups, organized by case type, to identify additional steps the court may take to streamline and simplify court processes. Groups have already begun to meet, and if you have any suggestions for any of the workgroups, please submit them to [email protected]. Feedback is requested before September 1, 2020.
Request for Comments on UTCR Out-of-Cycle Amendment Addressing Electronic Signatures
The Oregon Judicial Department is seeking comment on out-of-cycle amendment of Uniform Trial Court Rule (UTCR) 21.090(4). Amendment of UTCR 21.090(4) was adopted out-of-cycle by Chief Justice Order 20-029, effective July 21, 2020.
You may view the amendment and additional information at http://www.courts.oregon.gov/programs/utcr/Pages/currentrules.aspx.
You may submit your comments by
Please submit your comments so that the Judicial Department receives them by 5:00 p.m. on September 28, 2020.
Comments will be reviewed by the UTCR Committee at its next meeting on October 2, 2020.
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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