Brown to convene special session to tackle police reforms, COVID-19

Gov. Kate Brown will convene a special session of the Oregon Legislature June 24 to discuss police reforms and address the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are at a unique moment in America,” Brown said in a statement Tuesday. “I am calling a special session to take up two urgent issues facing our state: the COVID-19 pandemic and police accountability. Several pandemic-related policies that I have implemented via executive order, including the temporary eviction moratorium and protecting CARES Act payments from garnishment, should be codified in statute. And the public’s call for significant police reform is too urgent to wait until the next regular legislative session. It’s imperative that the Legislature take action on these issues right away.”

Brown said she also expects to call a second special session this summer to rebalance the state budget.

“In the meantime, I will continue pressing Congress to support the state and local governments that are reeling from the economic downturn,” she said. “Unless the federal government takes action, states like Oregon could be forced to make significant cuts to schools, health care, and senior services.”

Brown has warned state agencies to prepare for a shortfall of $3 billion and directed them to cut their 2-year budgets by 17%  due to declining tax revenues because of the coronavirus outbreak.

She plans to release a list of $150 million in general fund budget cuts “to put Oregon’s budget on better footing.”

Bend GOP Rep. Cheri Helt said in a statement she supported the special session.

“I support a special session to accomplish three things: 1) strengthen police accountability starting with outdated union contracts that protect bad cops and give our many good cops a bad name, 2) fix the broken unemployment insurance system still denying vital benefits to thousands in need and 3) protect workers, businesses and non-profits from costly opportunistic lawsuits as they seek to safely re-open from COVID-19 restrictions,” she said.

Redmond GOP Rep. Jack Zika issued a statement as well, saying Oregonians. needed the Legislature to convene.

“Through a pandemic and the Governor’s shut down of our economy, 18% unemployment in Deschutes County, the failure to process unemployment claims, and failure in distributing federal aid to local government, it’s shocking the legislature has not been allowed to convene,” he said. “However, this being said, there are concerns around the policy bills that have been released by Salem democrats so far as none seems to address budget concerns but add taxes and inhibit the ability to chose an online school for our kids.

“This special session should be for prioritizing our economic recovery efforts while maintaining public health guidelines and funding core government functions.”

 

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