June 23, 2021

Oregon Judicial Department Budget Passes the Full Ways and Means Committee

On June 18, 2021, the Ways and Means Committee passed the Oregon Judicial Department’s budget, found in House Bill 5012, out of committee and sent the bill to the House and Senate Floors. The budget contains funding not only for the Oregon Judicial Department but also for the Council on Court Procedures, the Oregon Law Commission, and the Legal Services Program.

The 2021–2023 legislatively approved budget for Oregon’s court system includes a General Fund increase of 12.7% from last biennium’s legislatively approved budget. General Fund dollars are used primarily for the administration and operations of Oregon’s court system. While the overall budget is a 2.2% decrease from the 2019–2021 legislatively approved budget, this is due to the wrap-up of the Oregon Courthouse Capitol Construction and Improvement Fund, which was used for the seismic retrofitting of the Oregon Supreme Court building.

The legislature highlighted funding for a number of new or continued investments, including:

“(1) data tracking and analysis related to disparate outcomes;
(2) Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion human resources support;
(3) behavior health;
(4) juvenile delinquency improvement project;
(5) centralized support for child support and self-represented litigants;
(6) collaborative grants and agreements;
(7) capital improvement funding for Josephine and Klamath County Courthouses; and
(8) information technology staff and hardware, including a General Fund backfill of a revenue shortfall.” (Legislative Fiscal Office Recommendation for the Oregon Judicial Department Budget)

In addition to court funding, OJD also provides a funding structure for a number of pass-through entities. This biennium, the overall pass-through budget for the the Oregon Law Commission the Council on Court Procedures, and civil legal aid providers was fully funded at the current service level.

In the coming week, the legislature will make final changes to the state budget, and additional funding for OJD may be add. Any updates will be included in future issues of the Capitol Insider.

Thank you to the members of the Campaign for Court Funding for all of your outreach in support of court funding this biennium! We look forward to continuing to work with you on this important project.

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Public Defense Services Commission Budget passes the House and Senate

Last week, the Ways and Means Committee passed the two-year budget for the Public Defense Services Commission (PDSC) out of committee. House Bill 5030 has passed the House unanimously and is on the way to the Senate floor for consideration. The budget is a decrease in funding of 4.5% from the 2019–2021 legislatively approved budget.

The 2021–2023 legislatively recommended budget, unlike in previous biennium, includes a holdback of $100 million. These funds have been earmarked for PDSC, and the decision to release the funds by the legislature will be based on PDSC’s progress in the eight areas listed below, as well as more clarity and certainty on procurement costs. If the $100 million is released to PDSC, Oregon’s public defense system will see a 23.6% increase over its 2019–2021 legislatively approved budget.

This biennium, the recommendation for Oregon’s public defense system is to restructure the program with a focus on the following areas:

“(1) re-structuring the agency’s appropriation measure along cost centers to increase the transparency of budgeted activities and to impose a heightened level of financial discipline and accountability on the agency;
(2) reorganizing the agency’s budget structure along lines of business;
(3) augmenting operational staffing in key areas of the agency, including agency leadership, financial management, and procurement;
(4) adding compliance, audit, and Performance Management functionality to the agency;
(5) in-sourcing base level information technology services;
(6) directing an independent financial and performance audit of the agency, including reviews of agency operations, procurement, human resources, information technology, accounting, budget, performance management, and auditing;
(7) converting three existing permanent full-time positions to limited duration so as to assess the long-term need for the positions; and
(8) provides General Fund to resolve material current service level deficits across the agency.” (Legislative Fiscal Office Recommendations for the Public Defense Services Commission)

This restructuring follows the Sixth Amendment Center’s recommendations from its 2019 report on Oregon’s public defense system.

In addition, PDSC received a $3.7 million supplemental increase for the 2019–2021 biennium to cover end-of-biennium costs.

In the coming week, the legislature will make final changes to the state budget, and additional funding for PDSC may be added. Any updates will be included in future issues of the Capitol Insider.

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Oregon State Bar Bills on the Way to the Governor’s Desk

Congratulations to the bar’s sections and committees for the successful passage of the 2021 Law Improvement Package. This year the Oregon State Bar put forward eight legislative concepts for consideration by the legislature. The eight OSB Law Improvement bills have passed both legislative chambers.

While some of these bills address bar governance, most of the bills were championed by section and committee volunteers. Beginning in April of 2020, these volunteers have been reviewing draft statutory language, meeting with stakeholders, attending public hearings and work sessions remotely, and answering questions from legislators in an effort to clarify statutory ambiguities, modify unforeseen “glitches” in major legislation passed in previous sessions, and codify case law as necessary.

Thank you to all of our legislative volunteers!

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2021 Legislation Highlights to be Published this Fall

This fall the Oregon State Bar will release the 2021 Oregon Legislation Highlights. Each year the bar produces a book detailing many of the more significant bills passed by the legislature during the recently completed session. Bill summaries are arranged by topic, allowing lawyers to easily review those that may be relevant to their practice. Summaries are authored by other attorneys who are experienced in the area of law on which they are writing, and often include useful practice tips for lawyers who are working with the new laws. Legislation Highlights is available free online for bar members through BarBooks If you have any questions or need more information about the 2021 Legislation Highlights, please contact OSB Public Affairs.

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

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

For questions about articles, legislation, or the legislative process, please contact:

Susan Grabe, Public Affairs Director
Amy Zubko, Public Affairs Legislative Attorney

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