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Social Policy

Legislative Report - Week of 6/5

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Housing


By Debbie Aiona, Nancy Donovan, Debbie Wallace, Penny York


At the urging of newly-elected Governor Kotek, the Oregon Legislature invested more than $215 million in the Early Session Housing Package. It provided Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) with a down payment to tackle the state’s housing and homeless emergency.


Now that the end of the session is near, Governor Kotek is calling on the Legislature to invest $1.3 billion in housing solutions through the End of Session Package. This investment will allow OHCS to achieve the goals in its 2023-25 budget request, SB 5511. The challenge is to balance the needs of people experiencing homelessness and to address the state’s chronic housing supply shortages. The biennial budget represents the largest request any Oregon Governor has proposed. See the full 2023-25 Governor's Recommended Budget.


The housing related budget descriptions can be found in these links.

 

The Oregon Housing and Community Services budget includes funding for a number of programs aimed at keeping people already housed in their homes, developing new affordable housing, preserving existing affordable housing, and serving people without a place to live.

 

Highlights include: $118 million for preservation of existing publicly supported housing, $415.45 million for homelessness response and prevention, $616 million to develop new affordable rental homes through the Local Innovation Fast Track (LIFT) Rental program, and $130 million to develop permanent supportive homes.

 

Housing Bill Updates

 

SB 225 Enrolled will address a problem with how private activity bond resources are used to fund low-income housing. The bill addresses this barrier and allows Oregon Housing and Community Services to move forward on affordable housing developments to avoid construction delays and cost increases. The Governor signed SB 225 on June 7.

 

SB 599 A Enrolled would allow tenants to operate home-based childcare by requiring a landlord to allow a renter to use a dwelling unit for a family childcare home if it is certified or registered with the Office of Child Care. The landlord can require a tenant to pay for improvements necessary for certification and carry some form of liability coverage. The Governor signed SB 599 A on June 1. 

 

 

Criminal Justice 


By Marge Easley and Karen Nibler


Despite the ongoing Senate shutdown, a few criminal justice bills continue to move on the House floor and in the Ways and Means Public Safety Subcommittee. 


The following bills passed out of the House from June 1 to June 7 and await a Senate vote: HB 5012 A appropriates money from the General Fund for district attorney expenses, HB 2320 B establishes the Juvenile Justice Policy Commission within the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, HB 2225 A increases fees for court transcripts, and HB 2316 A expands the offense of driving while under the influence of intoxicants to include additional substances.

SB 1052 Enrolled, establishes a training program for state agency employees concerning human trafficking and awareness, signed by the Governor June 12.


The Public Safety Subcommittee passed the following bills on June 6 and returned them to the full Ways and Means Committee:


· HB 2024 provides that district attorneys and deputy district attorneys qualify as police officers under the Public Employees Retirement System.


· SB 321 A sets up a process whereby anyone convicted as a result of a nonunanimous jury can file a petition for post-conviction relief before December 30, 2024.


· SB 5532 appropriates money from the General Fund for expenses related to the Oregon Public Defense Commission.


· SB 337 B establishes the Oregon Public Defense Commission (OPDC) within the Oregon Judicial Department with an appointed director, 9 voting members, and 4 non-voting members who are not practicing judges, district attorneys, or law enforcement employees. OPDC will present its budget to the Legislature every two years but will reimburse the State Court Administrator for personnel costs and contract with the Department of Administrative Services for forecasts for eligible adults and juveniles and cost estimates. There will be a separate Treasury Account.


The bill stipulates the transfer of duties, records, personnel, and fund balance on July 1, 2023, for the new biennium. The Chief Justice will transfer current board members or appoint members to the OPDC by November 1, 2023 and appoint an Executive Director by January 1, 2024. The Commission will officially transfer to the Executive Branch on January 1, 2025.

Further directions were to establish an hourly rate payment for defense attorneys with no flat fee cases. The hourly rate is to be calculated by January 1, 2025, with an increasing number of attorneys employed by the Commission. 


Behavioral Health 


By Karen Nibler


The last hearing of the House Behavioral Health Committee on June 7 featured the Oregon State Hospital staffing crisis. The State Employee Union, SEIU focused on staff overtime, which was mandatory due to state injuries. The injuries affected 1 out of 4 hospital staff and caused high turnover with 800 staff still at work at the hospital. As a result, HB 2701 A was passed, acknowledging the high risk of harm and the benefits in the state employee’s system. The bill was referred to Ways and Means, and the outcome is not yet known. 



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