Police brutality, coronavirus on agenda for Oregon lawmakers

By ANDREW SELSKY

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon lawmakers will be voting on bills, including ones banning police from using chokeholds and mandating rent protections during the coronavirus emergency, during a special session of the Legislature that begins Wednesday.

They’ll be doing so under restricted circumstances in hopes of preventing spread of the coronavirus. The session was to convene, for an undetermined number of days, less than four months after the regular 2020 session ended acrimoniously.

Back then, Republican lawmakers, who are the minority in both the House and Senate, staged a boycott to block a bill aimed at reducing Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions, preventing a quorum and leaving many other bills to wither and die.

This time, lawmakers are meeting mainly to consider issues — the pandemic and police brutality — that have moved to the forefront, in both Oregon and the rest of the nation, since the regular session imploded on March 5.

One draft measure says law enforcement officers “may not use force that limits ability of person to breathe, including but not limited to choke holds.”

Other proposals would create a statewide online database of discipline records for officers, prevent an arbitrator from reducing punishments for officers, ban the use of tear gas on protesters and allow the state attorney general to investigate and prosecute when officers kill or seriously injure a person.

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