A rundown of COVID-19 legislation in Oregon’s special session

Oregon’s 2020 Special Session convened this morning to consider policies related to COVID-19 and police accountability. On Tuesday afternoon, the Legislature published a series of bills up for consideration that touch on a broad range of issues including use of force by police, state school fund distributions, teleconference meetings, and protections for Oregonians impacted by COVID-19.

 

 

One such bill, HB 4213, would prohibit residential and commercial evictions due to nonpayment, beginning March 22 and ending 90 days after Gov. Kate Brown’s eviction moratorium through executive order ends. Brown’s current moratorium is set to expire on June 30. The bill is scheduled for a public hearing and possible work session on Wednesday afternoon.

An extension of the eviction moratorium was also part of a comprehensive COVID-related legislative concept (LC 45) discussed during a joint interim committee meeting on Monday. LC 45 included 50 different sections focused on topics related to the public health emergency.

During Monday’s meeting, several individuals offered public testimony in support of extending the eviction moratorium, including Oregon residents struggling to pay rent due to COVID. The committee also heard landlords and property owners testify in opposition to the extension as they too are struggling to pay their bills.

Several of the provisions in LC 45 were incorporated into HB 4212, which is scheduled for a public hearing Thursday morning.

HB 4212 also contains a provision that would establish the Low-Income Utility Payment Fund to provide energy bill payment assistance. Money from the fund would be appropriated to the Housing and Community Services Department through which it would be distributed to subgrantees to provide program services under the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Act of 1981.

According to the bill, priority will be given to “low-income households affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic through impacts that include but are not limited to reduced work hours, medical conditions, loss of work or dependents in the home.”

Sections 40-42 of the bill focus on race and ethnicity data collection for COVID-19 testing. HB 4212 would require a broad range of health care providers to collect data on “race, ethnicity, preferred spoken and written languages, English proficiency, interpreter needs and disability status.” The bill directs the Oregon Health Authority to adopt rules to establish the frequency and manner of reporting.

Details on HB 4212’s public hearing are available here.