Brown discusses future of police reform, COVID-19 protection

Politics

Governor eyes special second session to shape budget

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon Governor Kate Brown recapped 2020’s first special session Saturday and hinted what the state’s next moves will be in regards to police reform and combatting COVID-19.

Social unrest and the pandemic will shape the way the forthcoming budget is constructed, according to Brown, who anticipates a second special session to happen soon so lawmakers can begin planning cuts. The governor said she has already presented $150 million in cuts to trim budget expenses for the current biennium.

The state also has existing federal and “rainy day” funds Brown plans to use an investment into strengthening local communities of color.

“Next week I’ll be sharing a plan with the Oregon Legislature to use coronavirus relief fund dollars to support our black communities for investments in health equity and to provide relief for working people who need to take time off if they are sick from COVID-19,” she said. “It’s incredibly important that we get dollars to the communities most impacted by the pandemic, and that we help working people when they need to stay home from work due to the disease.”

Brown also reiterated her commitment to preventing educators from losing their jobs over a COVID-19-stricken economy by pledging to maintain her backing of a $9 billion state school fund budget for K-12 schools.

“I’m not willing to see our school districts laying teachers off just as schools are preparing to reopen,” the governor said.

Brown’s remarks come less than 24 hours after three straight days of heavy lifting for lawmakers. Since Wednesday, 24 bills were passed, more than 600 pieces of public testimony were submitted, and more than 100 people gave virtual committee testimony, according to Senate President Peter Courtney.

Bills passed during the whirlwind of legislation included restricting police use of force as well as allowing people with developmental disabilities into hospitals during the pandemic.

“When we live in a time when people are demanding police reforms and are worried about how their lives have been upended by the pandemic, it was really important for us to come in and do the work together,” said House Speaker Tina Kotek.

Ten different bills relating to police reform and COVID-19 relief will head to Brown’s desk for approval.

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