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Legislative Report - Week of 5/1

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By Debbie Aiona and Nancy Donovan

To address the state’s Homelessness State of Emergency Governor Kotek launched earlier this year an emergency response initiative made up of seven regional multi-agency coordinating groups (MAC). On April 28, the Governor and Oregon Housing and Community Services announced that the funding agreements have been signed and are being sent to the regional MAC groups to effectively distribute this critically needed emergency resource.

HB 3462  Emergency Housing for All. This bill would ensure that safe temporary emergency housing is provided when a state of emergency is declared in a manner consistent with nondiscrimination laws, including the Fair Housing Act of 1968. This legislation would ensure emergency housing for households regardless of their immigration status. HB 3462 passed the House on April 14 and is scheduled for a work session in the Senate Committee on Housing and Development on May 8. 

HB 3042  Renter Protections in housing with expiring affordability contracts. This would require owners of rental housing who intend to end their government affordability contract to give three years notice to tenants, increase rent no more than once a year during that three-year period, and comply with state-imposed limits on rent increases. This legislation is intended to give tenants time to seek other housing and hopefully avoid homelessness. The House passed the bill on April 5. Senate Housing and Development has a May 15 work session scheduled. 

SB 702  Adopt Training for real estate appraisers and assistants. At the present time, appraiser education requirements do not include provisions specifically covering racial bias or appraiser responsibilities under state or federal fair housing laws. The League submitted testimony in support. The House held a work session on April 27 with a do pass recommendation and a third reading on May 4. 

SB 611 A: Rental Assistance to keep Oregonians stably housed. General Fund monies would appropriate $25 million to Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) for the biennium beginning July 1, 2023. The funds would provide tenant assistance to people who are disabled, elderly, victims of domestic abuse, veterans, or members of households with incomes at 60% or less of the area median income. OHCS indicated that as of December 2022, the agency paid over $426 million in rental assistance to 67,522 Oregon households. Program funding has been exhausted but the need remains high. Senate Rules scheduled a May 4work session. 

SB 611 A  would also modify the maximum annual residential rent increase to the lesser of 10% or 5% plus the consumer price index one-year change. It applies the rent increase limit to units from which a tenant was evicted, and limits increases to no more than once in any 12-month period on tenancies other than week-to-week.

HB 2680  Screening fees charged for rental applications. HB 2680 would require the landlord to refund screening fees within 30 days if the landlord fills the unit before screening the applicant or if the application is withdrawn before the screening. If the landlord fails to return the fee, damages the applicant may recover range from $150 to $250 under the new legislation. A work session in the House is scheduled for May 15.

HB 3151 A Manufactured Home Park Modifications. This legislation builds on policies adopted in recent years to protect manufactured home park dwellers and provides legal assistance grants for low-income residents. It would limit improvements a landlord could require of tenants and prohibit requiring improvements that could not be removed at the end of the tenancy. It would also prevent charging tenants for system development charges. The House passed HB 3151 on March 22. Senate Housing and Development will hold a May 10 work session. 

Gun Safety

By Marge Easley

The big news is the May 2nd passage on the House floor of HB 2005 B, the omnibus gun bill that bans undetectable firearms (“ghost guns”), raises the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21, and allows cities and counties to create gun-free zones. Although rhetoric on gun safety bills is normally heated, it is a relief to report that representatives on both sides of the aisle remained calm and respectful throughout the debate. The bill passed with 35 ayes and 24 nays. 

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