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Justice System Funding Update from the 2022 Legislative Session
One of the last bills to pass through a legislative session is the budget rebalance bill. In a short session, the budget rebalance bill is used not only to make budget adjustments halfway through the two-year budget cycle, but also to fund projects and programs that were either left over from the previous long session or proposed after the current budget cycle began.
Due to a significant increase in revenue as well as federal funds, the Oregon Legislature had approximately $2.5 billion to distribute this year. While legislators ultimately held on to approximately $750 million as a cushion in the ending fund balance, a number of policy bills, as well as the en of session budget bills, distributed approximately $1.7 billion. This year, the budget rebalance bill, House Bill 5202 was almost 200 pages long and included funding for programs across the state, including a variety of programs and projects housed at the Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) and the Public Defense Services Commission (PDSC).
For those interested in a full review of the projects funded through HB 5202, the legislature provides a budget summary that can be found here.
Oregon Judicial Department Receives Funding for Projects Throughout State
During the 2021 legislative session, the legislature directed the OJD in Senate Bill 48 (2021) to modify the pretrial release program. This included the removal of minimum bail amounts and the establishment of pretrial release guidelines.
This session, the OJD received $3.9 million to expand the program. Not only will the funding allow for the expansion of established programs in Josephine and Washington Counties, it will also add staffing in 17 counties that do not currently have programs.
Family Treatment Courts
During the 2021 legislative session, the legislature directed the OJD to work with the PDSC, the Department of Justice, the Department of Human Services, the Criminal Justice Commission, and the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department to develop and strengthen a statewide family treatment court system. This session, the legislature approved approximately $760,000 to the OJD to increase staffing, create a statewide family treatment court governance committee, increase the number of existing staff in Columbia County, and add a new treatment court in Clatsop County.
This session, the legislature continued its commitment to updating and replacing Oregon’s state and county courthouses. The Oregon Supreme Court and Benton, Crook, Deschutes, Columbia, and Clackamas Counties all received state support in their efforts to either replace or update their existing courthouses.
Legislature Continues Focus on Indigent Defense
During the 2021 session, the legislature earmarked $100 million for the PDSC based on caseload and financial projections. This session, the PDSC returned to the legislature to share that based on its projections, it would need approximately $76 million of those earmarked funds. However, the PDSC is also projecting an additional $50 million is necessary for non-routine expenses. These issues are expected to be addressed through the legislature’s Emergency Board in spring 2022.
While a more robust conversation about the structure and funding of the Office of Public Defense Services is expected this spring, the PDSC did receive a 5.1% increase ($16.2 million) in funding during the 2022 legislative session. The legislature directed $12.8 million to Multnomah, Washington, Marion, and Lane Counties for the procurement of indigent defense counsel, while approximately $743,000 was appropriated to begin the planning phase for a financial and case management upgrade. In addition, new positions were approved for guardianship and juvenile representation.
Bills of Interest
Unlike the 2020 legislative session, which ended early with only three bills passed out of both chambers, the 2022 legislative session resulted in a significant number of policy bills sent to the Governor for her signature. Below are a few bills that generated a significant amount of interest throughout the legislative session.
HB 4002 – Prohibits employers from permitting or requiring agricultural workers to work in excess of maximum allowable hours unless workers are compensated for overtime hours worked.
SB 1501 – Directs State Board of Forestry to adopt single rule package on or before November 30, 2022, to implement Private Forest Accord Report.
SB 1510 – Requires police officer to inform stopped person of right to refuse consent to search.
SB 1536 – Limits restrictions on portable cooling devices in residences by landlords, homeowners associations, condominium associations and local governments.
Chief Justice Walters Issues New Mask and Vaccination Orders
On March 9, 2022, Chief Justice Martha Walters issues two new chief justice orders. The first, CJO 22-002, with a few exceptions, lifts the masking requirement in state court facilities as of March 12, 2022. One exception to note is that the masking requirement in the Multnomah County courthouse will be continued by presiding judge order. For the text of the Chief Justice’s order, please review CJO 22-002, found on the OJD’s website.
The second, CJO 22-003, goes into effect on April 1, 2022, and removes the vaccine requirement for OJD employees. Currently over 94% of OJD judges and staff have already been vaccinated. This CJO mirrors the executive order issued by Governor Brown that lifts the vaccine requirement for executive agency staff (EO 21-29).
Many judicial districts continue to have local orders in place. Lawyers and litigants should check local court sites for current requirements.
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2022 Oregon State Bar Officers and Public Affairs Chair
Kamron Graham, President, Oregon State Bar
Lee Ann Donaldson, President Elect, Oregon State Bar
David Wade, Immediate Past President, Oregon State Bar
Joseph Piucci, Chair, Public Affairs Committee, Oregon State Bar Board of Governors