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Ways and Means Public Safety Subcommittee Holds First Public Hearings on Oregon Judicial Department 2021–2023 Budget
Over the last few weeks, the Ways and Means Public Safety Subcommittee, chaired by Senator Chris Gorsek (D – 25) and Representative Janeen Sollman (D – 30) held three public hearings on the Oregon Judicial Department’s proposed budget for the next biennium. Over the course of the hearings, Chief Justice Martha Walters and others shared their request to maintain consistent funding and highlighted legislation and specific funding requests for programs moving forward. On the third day, the subcommittee opened the hearing for public testimony. Over the course of two hours, 31 representatives from across the public safety sphere testified in support of funding for the OJD, with many more organizations submitting written testimony in support.
This year, Oregon State Bar President David Wade and OSB President-Elect Kamron Graham both testified in support of the OJD budget. Mr. Wade represented the bar and the Oregon Campaign for Court Funding, a group of business and nonprofit leaders focused on increasing state funding for the OJD.
Ms. Graham, along with past-president Liani Reeves who submitted written testimony, shared the bar’s support of one-time funding for the Oregon Civil Legal Access Portal Pilot Project. The portal was developed by a partnership between the OSB, the OJD, and Oregon’s civil legal aid providers. The portal project is intended to create an online, centralized, professionally staffed, legal information and navigation portal. The project will allow Oregonians to more seamlessly access legal information and assistance in key high-needs areas such as housing, domestic violence prevention, health care, and employment in a culturally specific, user-designed format.
The legislature’s budget process will be finalized after the May revenue forecast, which will be released on May 19, 2021.
Bills of Interest
The first deadline for this year’s legislative session occurred on April 13, 2021. Policy bills that were not voted out of a policy committee by the end of the day on the 13th will not move forward this legislative session. In addition, this is often a time when legislative concepts are amended into another bill. Please find below a list of some of the bills the bar has been tracking that died on Tuesday, as well as a list of placeholder bills that were amended in the last days before the deadline.
Bills that were in committee after April 13, 2021
House Bill 2177 – Authorizes Chief Justice of Supreme Court to collect fees from certain public bodies for use of certain state court technology services.
House Bill 2208 – Directs Oregon State Bar to report to Supreme Court with recommendations of alternative means of admission to bar.
House Bill 2998 – Provides that party or attorney may not move to disqualify judge in judicial district with three or fewer circuit court judges.
Senate Bill 666 – Modifies public meeting notice requirements for meetings held in executive session.
Bills that were amended and moved out of committee before April 13, 2021
Senate Bill 193 – Makes statutory modifications based on holdings in Busch v McInnis Waste Sys., 366, OR 628 (2020) and Ramos v Louisiana, 140 S.Ct. 1390 (2020).(-4 Amendment Adopted and Minority Report issued).
Senate Bill 780 – Limits liability of health care providers, health maintenance organizations and hospitals for certain claims arising during COVID-19 emergency period. (-4 Amendment Adopted)
Senate Bill 813 – Modifies statute of limitation provisions of Section 7 of House Bill 4212 (First Special Session,2020).(-1 Amendment Adopted).
Paraprofessional Licensure Implementation Committee
Several years ago, the Oregon State Bar formed a Futures Task Force to allow for an in-depth discussion about the future legal needs of Oregonians, and how the bar would need to evolve to meet those legal needs. One of the major recommendations of the task force was for the bar to create a committee to develop a detailed plan for licensing legal providers. These providers would offer limited services at a lower cost in specific issue areas in which there is significant unmet need. The Futures Task Force referred to these legal providers paraprofessionals.
Last fall the bar formed a Paraprofessional Licensure Implementation Committee to address the concept of licensing paraprofessionals who would provide limited legal assistance in two of the largest subject areas in which Oregonians end up representing themselves: landlord-tenant law and family law.
The committee’s goal is to develop educational requirements, ethics rules, and an identified scope of practice for these paraprofessionals. Paraprofessionals are not attorneys; therefore, determining what tasks they can assist clients with and which tasks they can perform is extremely important. The committee’s recommendations will ultimately be presented to the Oregon Supreme Court for consideration.
Public Comment Period for Annual Adjustment to the Oregon Tort Claims Act
The Office of the State Court Administrator (OSCA) has calculated the annual adjustment to the limitations on liability of state and local public bodies for personal injury, death, and property damage or destruction. The OSCA proposes to adjust the limitations as follows:
The public comment period on the proposed adjustments closes at 5:00 p.m. on May 24, 2021. The OSCA will then finalize the adjustments, and the new limitations will become effective on July 1, 2021. They will apply to all causes of action arising on or after July 1, 2021, and before July 1, 2022. The OSCA makes these adjustments annually, as required by statute.
A list of past and current limitations on liability of public bodies can be found on the Oregon Judicial Department website at: http://www.courts.oregon.gov/Pages/tort.aspx.
Public comment can be posted on that web page or sent to:
Office of the State Court Administrator
Supreme Court Building
1163 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97301-2563
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2021 Oregon State Bar Officers and Public Affairs Chair
David Wade, President, Oregon State Bar
Kamron Graham, President Elect, Oregon State Bar
Liani Reeves, Immediate Past President, Oregon State Bar
Katherine Denning, Chair, Public Affairs Committee, Oregon State Bar Board of Governors