2020 First Special Session, Unemployment Insurance Update, Statewide Face Covering Requirement and More!
The 2020 Special Session (perhaps the 1st of several) ended Friday. In less than a week legislative concepts were drafted, amended, debated, and passed. A lot was accomplished in a relatively brief amount of time. The Legislature took bipartisan action on extending rental and mortgage assistance, law enforcement reform, expansion of broadband access, and a host of technical fixes that allow state agencies greater ability to respond to the challenges we face. Given the parameters, I believe it was a “win” for Oregonians everywhere.
Unfortunately, the Governor was not agreeable to a budget rebalance – suggesting that another Special Session (or more) will be necessary. There was also apparent disagreement about the necessity of considering legislation focused on the emergency response elements associated with our COVID-19 response. Lessons learned have been put into legislative concepts awaiting the attention of the Executive Branch.
I believe the Legislature has a critical role to play in combatting COVID-19. It is my hope that in the near future we can advance legislation accomplishing the following: 1) securing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in sufficient amounts for real-world requirements; 2) reforming the structures and systems of our response/recovery effort; 3) eliminating needless bureaucratic obstacles for a more efficient, more effective delivery of essential services; and 4) permanent funding for equipment stockpiles throughout the State of Oregon.
We are navigating uncharted waters. Thus far, Oregon has been relatively fortunate. We cannot allow ourselves to relax; we need sound policy – and passionate engagement – to confront the COVID-19 pandemic. Together we have accomplished much, but much more remains to be done.
Representative Paul Evans
House District 20
Highlights of Legislation Passed During the 2020 First Special Session:
- Extending COVID-19 Foreclosure protections – HB 4204A Directs lenders to defer both residential and commercial mortgage payments until September 30, 2020, if a borrower is unable to pay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Deferred payments will be due at the end of the loan unless the borrower and lenders determine alternate, agreeable terms.
- COVID-19 Response Omnibus – HB 4212A This bill provides a variety of support for public health, individuals, local governments, courts, and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Emergency shelter siting - Temporarily waives all siting, design, and regulations for local governments to develop low-barrier shelters and navigation centers for 90 days. This will help local governments (including Salem) provide support for Oregonians experiencing unsheltered homelessness at a high risk of COVID-19 transmission.
- Remote notary provisions - Creates a pilot program to allow notaries to perform work using electronic technology to accommodate public health guidelines.
- Enterprise zone deadline extension - Extends the expiration date of enterprise zones in the state by six months, preventing a June 30 expiration.
Individual development account funds for pandemic relief - Provides flexibility for individual development accounts to be used for emergency expenses.
- COVID-19 race and ethnicity data- Requires health care providers to collect data on race, ethnicity, preferred spoken and written languages, English proficiency, interpreter needs, and disability status when administering health services related to COVID-19. This data will be confidential and used for public health purposes.
- Safe public meetings - Allows local governments and other public bodies to hold virtual meetings to continue providing essential services and making decisions in a public and transparent manner while following public health guidelines.
- CARES Act payment protection - Prevents CARES Act Recovery Rebate payments from being subject to garnishment to ensure that all relief money can be used to pay for essential needs. Payments are protected until September 30, 2020.
- Safe court proceedings - Gives the Chief Justice the authority in certain circumstances to extend statutory deadlines for court approaches if the COVID-19 pandemic results in a delay of court processes.
- Temporary Physician Assistant Authorization - Physician Assistances are given flexibility during the emergency period to practice at the top of their scope to aid in emergency response.
- COVID-19 Commercial and residential eviction moratorium extension – HB 4213A Extends the moratorium on commercial and residential evictions through September 30, 2020. It creates a six-month repayment grace period after the moratorium ends for tenants to repay their back rent accord during the moratorium. During the repayment period, tenants may not be evicted for failure to repay their back rent, but they must keep paying their ongoing monthly rent. Adverse credit reporting for non-payment of rent during the moratorium is prohibited, as is assessing late fees or other penalties for non-payment during the moratorium period.
Police Accountability Measures:
- Joint Committee on Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform – HB 4201A Establishes the Joint Committee on Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform. This committee will take up future police accountability measures, including use of force reform.
- Outlaw use of respiratory restricting restraints (chokeholds) – HB 4203A Declares that a peace officer is not justified or reasonable in any circumstance to use physical force that impedes "the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of another person by applying pressure on the throat or neck of the other person" except under certain circumstances as described in ORS 161.239.
- Requires police officers to report and intervene – HB 4205A Requires police officer or reserve officer to intervene to prevent or stop another officer from engaging in an act they know or should reasonably know is misconduct. The bill requires the officer to report the misconduct as soon as possible, but no later than 72 hours after the misconduct, failure to report is grounds for discipline.
- Transparency of police discipline records – HB 4207A Requires the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) to establish a statewide online public database of records for officers whose certification has been revoked or suspended. Law enforcement agencies will also be required to request and review applicants' personnel files from current or prior law enforcement agencies.
- Protecting freedom of speech and assembly from excessive force – HB 4208A Prohibits the use of tear gas by law enforcement agencies for crowd control except during riots. Requires agency using tear gas during the riot to first announce intent to use tear gas, give individuals sufficient time to evacuate the area, and then again announce their intent to use tear gas immediately before use.
- Discipline guidelines and arbitration decisions – SB 1604 When an internal investigation finds misconduct of a police officer, the officer can file grievances against the decision until it reaches arbitration. This bill requires that if the arbitrator agrees with the misconduct finding, they must uphold the same disciplinary action, as long as the discipline follows the matrix decided upon through the collective bargaining process.
Other Critical Legislation
- CAT technical fixes – HB 4202 Makes technical changes and clarifications to the commercial activity tax that the legislature approved in 2019. These changes include technical clarifications and exempting six small, Oregon dairies.
- State-run meat processing plant inspection program – HB 4206 Authorizes the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) to establish a program by rule for state inspection of the processing and sale of meat products from amenable and non-amenable species, except for equine species. Requires ODA to inspect meat products, and authorizes ODA to license establishments operating under the program.
- Debt-based drivers' license suspensions reform – HB 4210 Removes authority of courts to impose driving privilege suspensions for failure to pay traffic-related fines or comply with requirements ordered in lieu of fines.
- Indian Child Welfare Act – HB 4214A Aligns Oregon with the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). It requires the Oregon Department of Human Services to provide biennial reports about American Indian and Alaska Native children in the child welfare system.
- Drivers' license immunity and Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund – SB 1601A Prevents citations from being issued for expired driver licenses, permits, and vehicle registration and further directs courts to dismiss any citation for specified offenses between March 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020. SB 1601A provides flexibility for transit providers by allowing Oregon's Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund (STIF) to be used to maintain existing services. Previously, the STIF was reserved for transit expansion or improvement. Additionally. SB 1601A merges the Elderly and Disabled Transportation Fund with the STIF and requires the Oregon Transportation Commission to dedicate a portion of the fund to transit for older adults and individuals with disabilities.
- Forestry Memorandum Of Understanding – SB 1602A Requires the Governor to facilitate mediation sessions between the forestry industry and environmental interests representatives to develop an approach to evaluate and jointly recommend changes to the Oregon Forestry Practices Act laws.
- Broadband – The Rural Telecommunications Act – SB 1603 The Rural Telecommunications Act establishes a fund to support projects for the planning or development of broadband service infrastructure. This bill also creates a surcharge on all retail telecommunication services, retail commercial mobile radio services, and retail interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol services to support broadband projects
There has been a massive increase in reports of price gouging on essential items such as hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and gasoline. In Oregon, it is unlawful to offer or sell essential consumer goods or services at an "unconscionable excessive price" (15 percent or higher of normal price) after the Governor declares that an abnormal disruption of the market exists. Governor Brown made that declaration in on Monday March 16th. If you have been charged an excessive price for a product or service under normal circumstances, please file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline by calling 503-378-8442, or using the online Consumer Complaint Form ». For more information please go to the Oregon Department of Justice Price Gouging Page.
Business Oregon, alongside the Oregon Employment Department, the Oregon Secretary of State, and the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, compiled the below information to assist Oregon small businesses dealing with the impacts of COVID-19. A Small Business Navigator Hotline has been launched and can be reached at 833-604-0880. For more information, please go to www.oregon4biz.com.
In an effort to answer your questions around regular unemployment benefits, the Oregon Employment Department will be hosting another Zoom webinar with program experts on Thursday July 2nd at 12:30 pm. They will talk through the key parts of filing regular unemployment claims in COVID-19 situations. They will also discuss the most common reasons some regular unemployment claims have longer delays before payment. Experts will also take some questions from attendees.
Please register in advance by clicking here. Once registered, you should receive a confirmation email. Please note that only 500 spots are available for this webinar. If you are unable to attend, a recording of the webinar will be posted on the Oregon Employment Department social media as well as their website after the event.
On Monday, June 29th, Governor Kate Brown announced that she was extending the face-covering requirement in indoor public spaces from the seven counties, including Marion and Polk County, to statewide beginning Wednesday, July 1st. Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) will take the lead, along with other state and local agencies, in enforcing face-covering requirements for all covered Oregon businesses. For more information, please click here. To access a robust face-covering fact sheet, please click here.
Throughout this crisis, I have heard from many constituents from both the provider perspective as well as the patient perspective of the positive benefits of Telehealth and how essential it has become. There was some concern that insurance companies would reduce Telehealth services as our economy reopened. However, the State of Oregon has reached an agreement with several health insurance companies to continue providing expanded Telehealth options through at lease December 31st, 2020.
The following insurance companies have agreed to provide expanded Telehealth services through the end of the year:
- Health Net
- Kaiser Permanente
- United Healthcare
In addition to these companies, the Oregon Health Plan will continue to offer pay parity and other allowances for many Telehealth services, offering the same rate as an in-person visit for physical health services, behavioral health services, and some dental and long-term care services.
It is important to note that this agreement does not apply to self-insured plans. Oregonians are encouraged to contact their insurance company or health care provider if they have questions about using Telehealth services.
For more information as well as FAQs about Telehealth regulations in Oregon, please click here.
Starting Monday July 6th, the Oregon DMV will begin offering a new online appointment scheduling tool. This online service allows you to schedule your appointment yourself at a DMV office and time that works for you.. You do not need to wait for a call back from DMV. You will also be able to use the online tool to change or cancel an appointment. DMV will send you a conformation email with your scheduled appointment information.
Through the summer the DMV will continue acceptation appointments only for these services.
- Driver license, permit and ID card issuances;
- Driver knowledge tests;
- Disabled parking permits;
- Farm endorsements, and
- VIN inspections at some offices
For more information, and to watch a video of the new online appointment portal click here
General Coronavirus Response
Resources for Families During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Domestic Violence Resources
As Oregonians are being told to stay at home to prevent the spread of COIV-19, it is heavy on our minds that “home” might not be a safe place for survivors and their children. It is important to know that there are services available during this difficult time.
- Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Division has an online form for workerswho have a concern or complaint about an employer’s compliance with COVID-19 workplace restrictions.
Food Assistance Programs:
During these difficult times it is even more important to ensure that every Oregonian across the state knows that food is available for all who need it.
Health Care Coverage:Have you or a loved one lost health care coverage due to a job loss? The Oregon Health Plan is available all year around. Individuals can learn about their eligibility and what benefits might be available here.
Mental Health Resources During Social Distancing
- Make sure to stay connected (off of Facebook which is linked to increases in sadness and feelings of isolation). A great online community is the Mighty, which allows participants to share about mental illness, common misconceptions and uplifting stories. https://themighty.com/topic/mental-health/
- Psychology Today article on managing stress during the pandemic - https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-now/202003/staying-calm-during-covid-19
- Stress management. During this demanding times, take a few minutes for self and use self-care. The calm app is a great free resource for meditations, breathing exercises and guided calming exercise.
Small Business Assistance
- The Office of Small Business Assistance is standing by to help businesses connect with resources
Correspondences regarding Coronavirus Reponse
We will continue to provide updates with the most current information available via newsletters and our social media pages.
Please remember that we are all in this together, and together we will demonstrate the character of our people and our place. Please take the time to check in on your neighbors, and thank you for all you do to mahhke the Mid-Valley a wonderful place to live.
Representative Paul Evans
House District 20
email: Rep.PaulEvans@oregonlegislature.gov I phone: 503-986-1420
address: 900 Court St NE, H-281, Salem, OR 97301