Brown, waiting on federal stimulus, declines special session for now

Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday said she will not call a special legislative session until there’s “sufficient clarity about the federal stimulus” heading Oregon’s way to deal with COVID-19.

She said she was grateful for the work of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Coronavirus Response, but she said the top priority now was the health and safety of all Oregonians and protecting their livelihoods.

“Right now, the state is focused on expanding hospital bed capacity, increasing testing capacity, and procuring personal protective equipment so we can safely treat those who fall ill,” she said in a statement. “We are also working together to ensure Oregonians can economically survive during these difficult times.”

The committee had been working for weeks on an emergency relief package for the state. But with Oregon waiting an expected $1 billion from the federal CARES Act, Brown hit pause on convening lawmakers, saying the state’s funding should focus on filling in the gaps left behind by the CARES Act and not duplicating efforts.

The CARES Act will help the state pay for necessary resources including investments in medical supplies, expanded unemployment insurance and increased support for small businesses, she said.

“Once we have sufficient clarity about the federal stimulus, I will call a special session and ask lawmakers to take further action,” she said. “In the meantime, my team is reviewing the policy changes recommended by the legislative committee to determine which are the most urgent and which can be accomplished through other means.”

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