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“I support a special session to accomplish three things: 1) strengthen police accountability starting with outdated union contracts that protect bad cops and give our many good cops a bad name, 2) fix the broken unemployment insurance system still denying vital benefits to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.”


Forecast: Oregonians to See Record Tax Refund Credit

SALEM, Ore. (AP) Oregon taxpayers will see the largest-ever state income tax refund next year, thanks to state revenue coming in at more than 9% above projections, state economists said Wednesday.

They say the top 1% of taxpayers can expect refunds of $15,214, while the median refund will be $346.

The average payout to all taxpayers is expected to be $739.

A total of more than $1.57 billion is expected to flow back to personal income taxpayers after they file their 2019 returns.

That compares to a refund projection in May of a little more than $1.4 billion.

The latest tally given to lawmakers continues a trend over the past two years, as state tax revenue outpaces expectations, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported .

Prineville Businesswoman Officially Sworn in as District 55 Rep.

Oregon’s newest lawmaker was sworn in during a ceremony in Salem Tuesday.

State Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson, from Prineville, replaces Mike Mclane, who resigned his District 55 seat to become a circuit court judge.

Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno administered the oath of office in the House chamber.

Breese-Iverson and her husband own several small businesses in Prineville.

She has experience in Salem, having worked for two former lawmakers and several campaigns.

District 55 includes Crook County and parts of Deschutes, Klamath, Lake and Jackson counties.


Statewide Rent Control Bill Passes in the Oregon House

In Salem the democrat controlled house passed the nation’s first ever statewide rent control laws. The new law is meant to help protect renters by ending no-cause evictions and capping rent hikes.

Central Oregon Daily’s Curtis Vogel has reactions from Central Oregon’s state representatives.

Oregon Senate Passes Rent Control Bill

Oregon is facing a housing crisis and lawmakers are scrambling to try and find solutions. One bill that could help was approved by the Oregon State Senate on Tuesday. The bill enhances protections for tenants and prohibits landlords from implementing high rent increases. SB 608 is now heading to the Oregon State House where it is also expected to pass. If passed it would be the country’s first state-wide rent control measure.

Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan has more on how the bill could affect tenants and landlords across the state.

Proposed Bill Could Bar Zoning for Single Family Homes

Today in Salem the House Committee on Human Services and Housing held its first hearing on HB-2001. The bill would allow for what is called “middle housing” on land currently zoned for single family homes. Middle housing is those housing types that fall between single family housing and large scale apartment complexes.
Central Oregon Daily’s Curtis Vogel has more on the bill and what communities it could affect.

2019 Oregon Legislature Will Consider Law For Kaylee Sawyer

The law, named for Bend resident Kaylee Sawyer, who was killed by a Central Oregon Community College Security Guard, would put provisions on campus security guards to help restrict some of their power. The law, which has been put forward by Kaylee’s family, would require things like required background checks for security officers and clear distinction between campus security and law enforcement.
Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan has more on how Kaylee’s family is stepping up to create positive change in her memory.

Election 2018: Oregonians Vote Down Most State Ballot Measures

Oregonians had no problem voting no during this year’s midterm election. All but one of the ballot measures on this month’s ballot failed.

The only measure that passed, Measure 102, gives local governments more flexibility when it comes to funding affordable housing projects.

Other than that Oregonians said no to…

  • Measure 103, which would’ve changed the state constitution to ban any tax on groceries despite there being no push for such a tax;
  • Measure 104, which would’ve changed the requirements for any bills that would raise state revenue;
  • Measure 105, which would’ve repealed Oregon’s long-standing sanctuary state status;
  • and Measure 106, which would’ve banned public funds for abortion.