Oregon legislature’s tense special session wraps up late Monday

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon Governor Kate Brown is addressing the adjournment of the state legislature’s latest special session.

The tense single-day session, held until late Monday night, saw numerous bills to fix a $1 billion gap in Oregon’s budget. Bills passed through the state’s House and Senate cut over $300 million, according to The Oregonian/Oregon Live. An additional $600 million was garnered from reserves already in place to address such a shortfall. Federal relief filled the rest of the $1 billion gap.

Among the numerous budget-related bills, the legislature also passed a police reform bill. According to Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, HB 4301 requires law enforcement to use deadly force only against those who pose a genuine risk of harm or death. It also requires officers to “consider” de-escalation whenever possible, according to the state’s top attorney. The bill requires a verbal warning to be used whenever possible ahead of the expected use of force. It also bans the use of chokeholds.

Not every bill passed, as illustrated by Senate Bill 1702, which would have sped up the unemployment process so Oregonians can get benefits faster, according to House Speaker Tina Kotek. However, similar bills that streamline the process passed.

“While we may not agree on all the details, I appreciate that lawmakers protected critical state services including schools, health care, and senior services, while also taking action to tighten belts in state government,” Governor Kate Brown said. “In the coming days, I will examine closely the details of the bills and the budget the Legislature has passed. I am frustrated that the White House and Congressional Republicans have refused to pass another stimulus bill for the country and I will continue to press for Congressional action. Without direct support from Congress to fill the gap caused by COVID-19, our budget reserves will quickly run dry and we will have to make impossible choices next year when it comes time to pass a budget for the next biennium.”

Governor Brown is set to hold a press conference at 12:15 p.m. on August 11. A livestream will be available on the governor’s Facebook page.

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