Legislative Report - Week of 5/8
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By Norman Turrill, Governance Coordinator, and Team
It appears to this reporter that the Oregon legislative session could effectively be over. Several Republican Senators will soon run out of their 9 allowed unexcused absences, but several others will alternate with them to deny a quorum in the Senate for a few more days or a week. Constitutional Sine Die is June 25, which is six and a half weeks away. However, the 25 Republican legislators in the House may now start denying a quorum in their chamber. The required House quorum is 40 members, so the absences of just 21 Republicans could stop all business in the House on a rotating basis for weeks. A deal between Democratic and Republican leaders could still allow some final budget and uncontroversial bills to be passed. We would also not rule out the Governor calling a special session.
No bills on campaign finance have yet been scheduled for a hearing. For campaign finance reform, the League wants true reform without loopholes for large special interest organizations. We hope that the negotiations that they’re working on now lead to real progress.
People Not Politicians has started collecting signatures on IP 14 petitions downloadable from its website. Thousands of signatures have been collected and more donations are needed.
Legislators’ Walkout Is Freezing Governance
By Rebecca Gladstone
The ongoing Senate Republican walkout was in the ninth day as of this writing, with leadership agreeing not to hold Senate floor sessions for the remainder of this week, to allow weekend negotiations. That could avert invoking the 10-day walkout consequences that voters passed by a wide margin in November 2022. Meanwhile, bills continue to stack up, as the clock runs out pressing this now elapsing time. We hope negotiations will drop reading bills to regain that time.
Most bills here are exempt from deadlines but are frozen by the walkout. We are especially concerned for responsible review and progress for bills that timed out in the 2022 session, for election security with new software in the SoS budget bill, the cybersecurity omnibus bill, the AG’s Data Broker bill, and the Chief Data Privacy Officer bill, all covered in earlier reports.
Here's last week’s slim progress.
HB 2490: This cybersecurity vulnerability bill passed in a May 9 Senate committee work session, on a partisan vote for 3 in favor, 1 absent (excused for illness), and 2 absent, relating to the Republican walkout. The League urges for maximum protection of public health, safety, and the environment. Defending our critical infrastructures is at stake (our testimony).
HB 2806, for public safety and cybersecurity, awaits transfer to the Senate President’s desk and scheduling for a Senate floor reading, rescheduled to May 15 and 16, with dates subject to change. See our testimony.
SB 11: This got unanimous support in a May 9 House committee, awaiting transfer to the President’s desk for signature. This access and transparency bill, with strong bipartisan support, requires virtual public state meetings to record and promptly publicize recordings. We will look for data retention rules.
SB 417: For this public records bill, we’ve attended weekly Task Force meetings since March 7, and it is forwarding findings with amendment recommendations. Intense legal discussions over careful wording distinctions had input on behalf of District Attorneys, the Society of Professional Journalists, Public Records Advocates, and others, including the League. See our testimony, predating this work.
Rights of Incarcerated People
By Marge Easley
SB 529, which enables the expansion and revamping of drug treatment programs within Oregon’s correctional system, passed the House on May 8 with a vote of 48 to 12. The bill affirms that addiction is a chronic disease, modifies program acceptance procedures, removes the old requirement that program participants engage in physical work and exercise, and includes a range of structured treatment services.
SB 529 is a complementary bill to HB 2890 A, which directs a Corrections Ombudsman to support continuous quality improvement efforts and report back to the Governor and the Legislature within six months of appointment. The Ombudsman’s task is to “ensure all persons confined in Department of Corrections institutions have access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment and services during the entire period of incarceration, including access to evidence-based medication-assisted treatment options. The bill, championed by Rep. Maxine Dexter, passed House Judiciary on April 11 and was sent to W&Ms by prior reference.
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