Legislature Holds Special Session: Pandemic Budget, Police Reforms

State lawmakers returned to the Capitol Monday morning to address a budget gap largely due to the coronavirus pandemic. Oregon revenue dropped by $1.2 billion, according to reporting by the Statesman-Journal.  

A budget proposal to cut $387 million in state spending also draws on $400 million in emergency funding to keep K-12 schools operational. The closure of two prison is part of the proposal.  

House Speaker Tina Kotek, a Portland Democrat, wants legislators to discuss bills regarding access to unemployment payments and law enforcement accountability, work that began during the prior special session.  

Gov. Kate Brown indicated her support for passing bills outside of the budget crisis, but Republican leadership as well as Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) urged a session focused on the budget alone. 

Bills that could be seen Monday include police reform legislation that has been under committee consideration for the past month, according to the Statesman-Journal. One strengthens the new statewide ban on chokeholds by including corrections officers and removing the provision that allows the technique’s use during circumstances requiring deadly physical force. The other speaks to the use of tear gas and less-lethal projectiles used by police in crowd control situations.  

By Cody Mann