PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Governor Kate Brown expressed both encouragement and disappointment Tuesday when recounting the Oregon Legislature’s second special session.
During a press conference the governor praised state lawmakers’ efforts to go the extra mile during the COVID-19 pandemic saying the virus’ threat, “has not uprooted the basis of our democracy.”
“Even while the White House has failed to take meaningful action to respond to this pandemic, Oregon lawmakers have come together to advance the public interest,” she said.
Brown applauded the passages of legislation benefitting K-12 and early childhood education funding as well as police reform. However, the governor was displeased with the handling of one of the three bills pertaining to unemployment.
“Senate Bill 1702 would have made it quicker to process unemployment benefit applications from both employees of public and private education institutions during the pandemic,” Brown said. “This would have gotten more money into people’s hands more quickly and free up agency employees to process other claims. To see this bill–which had broad bi-partisan support–voted down by three legislators was very frustrating.”
Two unemployment bills did pass. One increases the amount of money someone can make working part-time before losing their unemployment benefits. The second allows the Department of Revenue to share information with the Employment Department to help verify someone’s identity or income level.
“So instead of having to go extra weeks to verify employment for self-employed and more independent contractors, we will now be able to share that information directly from the Department of Revenue, with the Employment Department and that should speed up the PUA processing,” House Speaker Tina Kotek said.
Governor Brown was asked if she would call a third special session, and she said all options are on the table, but it depends on whether or not Congress is able to come up with a funding package.
A measure further restricting the use of choke holds by police passed by wide margins Monday as the Oregon Legislature concluded a special session aimed to fix a billion-dollar budget deficit due to COVID-19.
House Bill 4301 bans the use of choke holds by police or corrections officers except for self defense as defined by law.
Governor Kate Brown will hold a press conference Tuesday to recap the second special session.
Late Monday, Brown issued the following statement upon the adjournment of the special session sine die:
“I’d like to thank legislative leadership, and every member of the Legislature, for carrying out the serious work of the second special session I have called during this pandemic,” said Governor Brown. “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.
“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.”
“Lawmakers also passed significant legislation around the use of force by law enforcement officers, taking another step forward on the road toward racial justice. And while I am disappointed that a few legislators blocked passage of a bill to make it easier to pay out unemployment benefits (SB1702), I appreciate that they passed the other bill my administration brought forward, as well as a second policy to support unemployed Oregonians.”