Special Session Wrap-up

Kim Wallan


Below is an advanced copy of my Special Session bulletin. I will also be sending out a printed copy for review by all of my constituents, but because you have subscribed to my email list, you are receiving this sneak peek. Please do feel free to forward this message.

If you have any questions about measures that passed the legislature during this special session, or if you have comments or concerns about the upcoming special session in July, you can email me at Rep.KimWallan@oregonlegislature.gov. My staff is still working with the Employment Department to resolve unpaid UI/PUA claims. You can reach them at the same email address. 



Forest Management

While it wasn't Covid-related, I'm very pleased that we passed Senate Bill 1602, which codifies an agreement forged earlier this year between the timber industry and environmental groups. 

The new law requires all sides to participate in a mediated process to pursue changes to Oregon Forest Practices Act. Interest groups including environmental groups and the timber industry have agreed to stand down from pursuing initiative petitions and filing lawsuits against each other. This law will provide more certainty and a durable framework for future disputes.

This is a good first step in mending the relationship between foresters and environmental activists who have been warring about forestry best practices for decades. I will be watching the mediation process very carefully and working with both sides to make sure that Oregon can move on from the timber wars to creating balance so that we can enjoy truly healthy forests and benefit from our most abundant natural resource.

Police Reform

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, the Oregon legislature worked with law enforcement to adopt policing best practices into statute. Several members of both the Republican and Democrat caucuses are former law enforcement officers, and they, along with the Oregon Chiefs of Police, the Oregon Sheriffs Association and the District Attorneys Association crafted legislation that received strong bipartisan support. 

Among the changes are standard mental health evaluations for officers, a statewide database to track complaints of ethics violations, and clarification for appropriate use of tear gas and choke-holds. I joined my colleagues in supporting these measures.

Protections for Schools & Businesses

A bipartisan group of legislators requested that schools & businesses be granted protection under House Bill 4212.This multifaceted bill was written to help deal with some of the issues facing Oregonians in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The amendment would have protected schools and businesses from lawsuits as long as they follow CDC and OHA safety measures. Most insurance policies carried by schools and businesses specifically exclude coverage for viral outbreaks of any kind. With our economy reeling from the effects of statewide shutdowns, a single lawsuit could spell the end for not only both essential and non essential businesses, but our schools. 

It was disappointing that a majority of the Joint Committee voted against these protections for our schools and businesses. 

Eviction Moratorium

Governor Brown issued an executive order early in the COVID-19 shutdowns barring evictions for nonpayment of rent. Under this executive order, tenants were not required to prove inability to pay due to loss of income, nor did they have to notify landlords of their intent not to pay. 

The legislature drafted a bill that extends the governor's executive order from three months to six, with an additional three-month grace period. The bill does not require proof of loss of income or notification of nonpayment. This means that no tenant in Oregon can be served an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent until December 30, 2020. 

The bill did not provide any relief for landlords who rely on rent for their daily expenses. A supplemental bill aimed to provide foreclosure protection, but it cannot be applied to any mortgages granted by federally-backed banks. Only credit unions and state banks are affected by the foreclosure moratorium. 

The pandemic left many Oregonians in dire financial situations--tenants, homeowners, and landlords.The incredible failings of the Oregon Employment Department worsened the problem. Tens of thousands of Oregonians have gone months without receiving the financial relief to which they are entitled. Sadly, none of the bills written for this special session addressed any of OED's failings. The Speaker of the House and Senate President, who introduced all the bills for the special session, had the opportunity to effect change at OED and open the flow of relief dollars, but they did not take that chance. 

Improved Care for Vulnerable Oregonians

Coronavirus restrictions have left vulnerable patients without loved ones or support providers to advocate for their care. Thankfully, this will change with the passage of SB 1606, which requires support persons to be present for end-of-life decisions and next steps in care. We must balance precautions with unintended consequences during this health crisis. We all depend on our loved ones and support systems, and SB 1606 ensures they will be there when we need them most. 

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1406
Capitol Address: 900 Court St NE, H-376, Salem, OR 97301
Email: Rep.KimWallan@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/wallan