Oregon lawmakers react to third special session

MEDFORD, Ore. – Unity was on lawmakers’ minds Monday during the third special session of the year. They passed 4 major policies focusing mainly on the pandemic.

“A lot of work happened [before] the session with the governor and leadership, so we were really clear going into the one day that we had a line up of legislation, for the most part, we would be able to move rapidly on and that we would get broad support,” said State Rep. Pam Marsh.

All legislation had both democrats and republicans support. However, Republican State Rep. Kim Wallan, who was not in attendance, said it was a rushed process.

“It was not exactly a bi-partisan love fest. The democrats did not allow republicans to make any amendments, make any motions,” Rep. Wallan.

Not all proposed policies passed through the Capitol in the Special Session.

“We believed there was going to be bipartisan support for hospital liability. To protect hospitals and other healthcare from any possibility they might get sued for COVID. That did have bi-partisan support and believed it was going to pass. It ultimately didn’t and that was very disappointing to a bi-partisan group that it didn’t pass,” said Rep. Wallan.

But Democrat State Rep. Pam Marsh said one of the most important pieces of legislation that passed Monday is something you might not see taking over headlines.

“The big-budget bill that we passed was a transfer of $8 million from the state reserves to the emergency fund. And in that $800 [million] there is $100-million to go wildfire recovery. So we’re not out of the loop,” said Rep. Marsh.

She said an emergency board meeting should take place in the coming weeks to organize the distribution of the funds.

As for the Regular Session starting in January, lawmakers are still discussing how to conduct business. They are considering a hybrid model – with some virtual meetings.¬†State Rep. Pam Marsh said her focus will be on wildfire recovery and preparedness bills. State Rep. Kim Wallan said one of her priorities will include bettering the state’s current emergency response system.

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