Update: Third Special Session of 2020

Kim Wallan


Yesterday, the legislature convened as the governor called her third Special Session this year. The bills dealt with the ongoing consequences of COVID-19 related shutdowns, eviction moratoria, and took the first step in reopening Oregon's schools. 

If you have any questions about this session or are having difficulty collecting unemployment benefits, please email my office at Rep.KimWallan@oregonlegislature.gov.


Evictions and Landlord Relief

The residential eviction moratorium is extended through June 30, 2020, for tenants who sign a declaration stating that they experienced a financial hardship that impacted their ability to pay rent. Tenants who qualify have until July 1, 2021, to pay all back rent. Tenants who do not qualify could be eligible for eviction at the beginning of the year and have until March 31, 2021, to pay back any rent debt acquired before December 31, 2020. During the extended moratorium, no-cause evictions will be restored if the landlord intends to sell the unit, demolish or convert the unit, conduct major repairs, or move themselves or a member of their family into the unit.

Landlords who are owed back rent have the option to apply to Oregon Housing and Community Services for rent assistance grants on behalf of all of their tenants who owe rent payments. Landlords can receive up to 80% of their total unpaid back rent if they agree to forgive the remaining 20%. The estimated need for rental assistance is around $250 million after applying prior rent assistance. The Legislature only allocated $150 million to this fund, however, so landlords who decide to access this grant money will need to apply as soon as possible. Landlords must refund to HCSD any rent amounts later paid by or on behalf of the tenant, must provide notice to tenants of rent forgiven through this program, and may not evict tenants without cause or for non-payment of rent while grant applications are pending.


As Oregon restaurants and bars face the second round of closures, many are seeking creative ways to stay open until the State of Emergency is lifted. SB 1801 authorizes the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to implement rules permitting cocktails-to-go, including single servings of wine. Obvious, tamper-evident seals are required for all alcohol delivery.

This bill also caps the fees on service charges that 3rd party delivery apps, such as UberEats or Postmates, can charge, at 15% for deliveries and 5% for pick-ups. Certain municipalities with previously defined caps on delivery and pick-up service charges are grandfathered into this legislation. These fees are charged to the restaurants, and the cap is designed to provide a measure of relief for restaurants struggling to stay open. Unfortunately, no funding was allocated for Restaurant Industry relief, and many of these businesses in our community continue to struggle. Both elements of this bill sunset when the State of Emergency is lifted. 

School Liability Protection

HB 4402 provides school districts, public charters, private K-12 schools, ESDs and community colleges limited liability protections for civil damages related to COVID-19 as long as a school is operating in compliance with COVID-19 rules. A court may strike a plaintiff’s claim if the school can show they complied with the rules. Individuals engaged in activities not operated by the school but take place on school property may not bring a claim against the school district for COVID-19 damages. The policy is in place for the length of the State of Emergency.

• Specifies that immunity does not apply to acts or omissions taken with gross negligence; reckless, wanton, or intentional misconduct; false claims; fraud, or deceptive acts or processes.
• Provides whistleblower protections.
• Excludes Oregon School for the Deaf, youth corrections education program, and juvenile detention education program.

Most business and school insurance policies specifically exclude coverage for viral outbreaks, so our schools cannot rely on insurance to cover the cost of potential lawsuits stemming from COVID-19 infection during in-person instruction. This layer of liability protection is an important first step in getting students back in the classroom safely. 

While there was bipartisan support to extend these same protections to hospitals, medical offices, surgery centers, and dentists, to my disappointment, House Democrats opposed the the bill and let it die in committee. 

Emergency Board Funding

The spending bill for the Third Special Session allocated $600 million to the Emergency Board and $200 million for housing assistance. If remaining special purpose appropriations are not allocated by the Emergency Board before January 18, 2021, any remaining balances become available to the 2021 Legislature for other purposes.
The allocations were distributed as follows:
Emergency Board
• $100 million for wildfire response and recovery. There were no details about how this money will be allocated. 
• $400 million for COVID Response. Again, there were no details about how these funds will be spent.
• $100 million for the general emergency fund
• $150 million for Landlord Compensation Fund (HB 4401) See above for details. Please email my office if you choose to apply for these funds and you need help with the application process.
• $50 million for rent assistance. Again, if you need information on accessing these funds, please email my office.

The Emergency Board has met repeatedly in 2020 to deal with both the COVID-19 pandemic fallout and the catastrophic fires the state experienced in September. 

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