Legislative Report - September 2022
Back to the full Legislative Report
Gun Safety and Violence Prevention
Restrictive Housing in Prisons
By Shirley Weathers
HB 4002 passed during the 2022 Session, extending the right to overtime pay to Oregon agricultural workers guaranteed to most other workers by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. One provision of the bill designed to blunt the financial impact on agricultural producers allowed a tax credit estimated to cost the General Fund (GF) over its lifetime: $17 million during the 2023-25 biennium, $51 million in 2025-27, and $93 million in 2027-2029. The Emergency Board, as part of its activities on September 23, 2022, took the next step toward implementation by moving $10 million allocated as a Special Purpose Appropriation at the end of the session to the Oregon Business Development Department (OBDD). The OBDD and Department of Agriculture will develop a program to administer the funds and present it for enabling legislation during the 2023 Session.
By Marge Easley & Karen Nibler
Gun Safety & Violence Prevention
The issue of gun safety will have a prominent place on November’s ballot in the form of Measure 114. The measure, sponsored by Lift Every Voice Oregon and endorsed by over 54 organizations, including the League, requires a permit-to-purchase a firearm and limits magazine size to 10 rounds or under. Passage of the measure would allow Oregon to join nine other states and DC with similar permit-to-purchase laws. For more complete information on Measure 114, visit VOTE411.org.
The escalation of violence in Oregon during the pandemic prompted the allocation of $5 million during the 2022 Legislative Session for violence prevention efforts in the form of grants to Healing Hurt People, a hospital-based intervention program in Portland, and to an array of community nonprofits in Multnomah County and elsewhere in the state.
Portland’s Office of Violence Prevention also earmarked $600,000 earlier in the year to small and emerging organizations “to provide intervention case management, flexible funds for wraparound support; aftercare support funds for families of victims; and capacity building in small contractors to provide services.” However, continuing gun violence this past summer in the Portland area prompted a renewed effort by law enforcement and criminal justice leaders to deal with the issue, including the tracking and monitoring of gun shootings and the creation of the enhanced Community Safety Team and the Focused Intervention Team. There were 893 shooting incidents in Portland between January and August of this year, compared to 276 during the same period in 2019.
Governor Kate Brown recently announced that she will send $3.3 million of federal funding from the Governor’s Education Relief Fund to school districts across the state to improve and build on existing school safety and violence prevention measures. The money will be used for crisis intervention systems, student mental health services, and programs to stop bullying, harassment, cyberbullying, and intimidation. Also, the Oregon Department of Education has learned that Oregon is eligible to receive an additional $8.2 million in federal funds from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to expand school mental health and supportive services.
Measure 110 Implementation
The House and Senate Judiciary Committees received an update during the interim session on the implementation of Measure 110, which charges an E violation for possession of illegal drugs (user not dealer amounts). There is a fine with an option to call in for an evaluation, which could lead to a referral for drug treatment. It was thought that not having a criminal record would lead to better long-term outcomes. However, the Criminal Justice Commission Vice-Chair reported that the measure is not yet working as proposed. Only 137 phone calls were made for screening and referrals, with the result that none entered voluntary treatment. The predominant drugs were methamphetamines at 66%, heroin at 17%, with others less than 5%. The Oregon Judicial Department reported a 70% Failure to Appear rate on the new Class E violations with no sanctions. In comparison, Oregon Justice Department Drug Courts supervise those convicted of drug offenses in the 28 Judicial Districts for 18 months of supervision with good outcomes. The Secretary of State will review the reports and studies.
Restrictive Housing in Prisons
The practice of placing inmates in restrictive housing, otherwise known as solitary confinement, has been under increasing scrutiny in recent years. An update report from the Restrictive Housing Work Group, headed by Rep. Paul Evans and Sen. Floyd Prozanski, was presented at interim hearings in both the Senate and House Judiciary Committees. Former inmates who had firsthand experience with solitary confinement spoke to the severe effects it has on mental health and brain function. Disability Rights Oregon referred to the United Nations Report on the treatment of prisoners. The Oregon Justice Resource Center continues its observational role on this issue.
Incidents of domestic violence in Oregon dramatically increased during the pandemic. Although an allocation of $10 million for Oregon Domestic and Sexual Violence Services fund (ODSVS) was included in the final 2022 budget bill, there remains a lack of resources to deal with the number of requests for shelter and other assistance.
A number of legislative concepts related to the judiciary were introduced during the interim. We can expect to see 2023 bills on the following:
Increase in juror compensation
Increase in transcribers’ pay
Adoption of rules to protect privacy by allowing aggregate sharing of demographic information without revealing personal data
Addition of judicial positions in 6 Oregon counties (Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Lane and Washington)
Increase in judicial compensation
The Public Defense Services Commission continues to lack capacity to provide legal representation to those eligible for this service. As of September 22, there were 1,292 unrepresented indigent defendants in Oregon. A workgroup operating under the Office of the Governor is reviewing emergent needs, delivery models, and recommendations for the next session.
Other Social Policy Issues
By Karen Nibler
Behavioral and Mental Health
Behavioral Health Committee members continue to receive reports on conditions at the Oregon State Hospital, which treats a majority of forensic patients to determine ability to aid and assist in their own defense. If they are determined to be able, they return to the judicial system for trials. If not able they are referred for continued mental health services and often discharged to counties for community placements. Funding had been directed to counties for housing, treatment and mobile crisis units. This committee will continue to review state and community resources.
Behavioral Health Committee members heard reports on the impact of Ballot Measure 110. The Oregon Health Authority has funded local Behavioral Health services with 192 grants at $273 million. Services are available to voluntary clients, but there is often no follow through or sanctions.
The new Mental Health Crisis System funds the 988 call centers which overlap the 911 system for police and emergency services. The 988 call center has mobile crisis units, which seek crisis stability and referrals to medical services. Funding has been approved for 17 crisis centers across the state to provide the capacity for stabilization during the day and overnight in lieu of hospital emergency rooms. Funding has been committed for the biennium.
The Runaway and Homeless Youth Program under the Department of Human Services has increased service locations and grants. Oregon has one of highest rates of homeless youth in the country. The current program emphasis is placement in host homes in communities rather than state custody in foster homes or mental health facilities.
By Claudia Keith
On Sept 23 the Oregon DOJ updated their Bias (and Hate Crime) Response and Sanctuary Promise data, Oregon DOJ releases 2021 report. Legislature on Bias Response and Sanctuary Promise Hotlines. This reporting is included in the DOJ Civil Rights reporting section.
The number of bias hate crimes has more than doubled since 2020.
“The Oregon Department of Justice’s Civil Right Unit today updated the Oregon legislature on the work of DOJ’s Bias Response and Sanctuary Promise Hotlines, sharing with the House Judiciary Committee that in the first 8 months of 2022 there has been a 55% increase in the number of reports to the Bias Hotline.
Each year the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) releases an annual report on the Bias Incident Hotline. The most recent report, released in July 2022, showed reports to the hotline were up 53% in 2021. Even more recent data tracked by the Oregon DOJ and analyzed by the CJC shows that reports are up 55% for the first part of 2022.
[Editor’s note: LWVOR is a member of the Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crimes, attending monthly meetings with other organizations convening with the DoJ. ]
Related to funding, The legislature joint emergency board recently approved $500,000 to support licensed and indigenous health care translators with one-time payments through the Oregon Worker Relief Fund. I understand this is administered with Oregon Foundation oversight. Sept 12 Oregon worker relief fund reopens. | PamplinMedia. Sept 2, 2022. With $65 million, fund hopes to help thousands of struggling undocumented immigrants| Oregon Capital Chronicle. The Oregon Workers Relief fund Sept report. $72,018,073 OWRF has delivered over $70 million in disaster relief throughout Oregon's immigrant communities.| Worker Relief .org
In Portland, United Immigrant and Refugee Community member support
Oregon Worker Relief - Immigrant and Refugee Community Member Support
Financial Relief available to Oregon farmworkers affected by extreme climate, “A new fund is available to help fill in the gaps. The first-ever Climate Change Fund was announced this week for agricultural workers who lost wages due to extreme heat or smoke the last two summers…” | Statesman Journal.
By Nancy Donovan and Debbie Aiona
Oregon Housing Needs Analysis Draft Recommendations Report: Leading with Production
The Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) released a draft recommendations report on housing production. The recommendations are in response to HB 2003 (2019) that calls for a plan to meet Oregon’s housing needs more fully and equitably. DLCD and Oregon Housing and Community Services published the draft and are accepting public comment. The final report is due to the legislature in time for the 2023 session.
The draft report recommends increased overall housing production, increased affordable housing development, and more inclusive and integrated communities. It acknowledges that to accomplish these goals, the legislature would need to commit to reforms to the land use planning system and dedicate resources to pay for public infrastructure and affordable housing. Cities with populations over 10,000 will need to meet production targets and equity indicators. Construction should be targeted towards types of housing the market is least likely to produce without financial assistance: low-income housing, missing middle, workforce, and housing in rural and coastal communities.
Oregon Housing and Community Services Allocations from the Emergency Board
On September 23, 2022, the Emergency Board approved funding to OHCS for the following activities.
$9 million from the Special Purpose Appropriation made to the Emergency Board to fund a grant program that supports gap financing for affordable housing rental projects co-located with childcare or early learning centers.
$6.2 million increase of Federal Funds expenditure to make program payments from the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CBDG-DR) grant for wildfire recovery expenses.
$24 million increase in Federal Funds expenditure to make rental assistance payments to eligible households from the U.S. Treasury Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) reallotment grant funding.
$16.4 million increase in Federal Funds expenditure limitation to establish two permanent positions (0.76 FTE) for Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (IIJA) funding for energy and weatherization assistance to low-income households.
$310,431 increase in Other Funds expenditure to establish four permanent Compliance Specialist 2 positions (1.52 FTE) to conduct Housing and Urban Development (HUD) management occupancy reviews.
$2.0 million increase in Federal Funds expenditure for Congressionally Directed Spending for the Salem YMCA Veterans Housing.
Neighborhood Partnerships Announces the new Policy & Advocacy Director
Neighborhood Partnerships recently announced to Housing Alliance members (of which LWVOR is a member) the new Policy & Advocacy Director, Cameron Herrington. He previously worked at Living Cully coalition in northeast Portland that includes Housing Alliance members, Habitat for Humanity Portland Region, Hacienda CDC and NAYA. He has led grassroots organizing among renters and mobile home residents, as well as policy advocacy on a wide range of affordable housing, tenants' rights, land use and community development issues. He will lead NP’s housing justice work alongside a team of organizers and advocates; and support the convening and collaborative work of the Housing Alliance beginning in late October.