The Oregon Legislature will soon meet for a special session to address police accountability and the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday morning, Gov. Kate Brown announced that she plans to convene the special session, which has been in the works since the early days of the pandemic, starting on June 24. Brown said in a press release that she wants to make sure recent COVID-19 restrictions she’s enacted using executive orders are “codified” in state law. Brown also referenced the protests against police violence and racism taking place across Oregon in the last few weeks.
“The public’s call for significant police reform is too urgent to wait until the next regular legislative session,” Brown said. “It’s imperative that the Legislature take action on these issues right away.”
One piece of legislation that will likely be considered during the special session is a bill long championed by Portland Sen. Lew Frederick, which would aim to remove hurdles in how police accused of misconduct are disciplined in Oregon. The Legislature’s People of Color Caucus has introduced additional police accountability bills.
Another item probably on the table: economic relief for undocumented Oregonians who are financially unstable because of COVID-19, and do not qualify for unemployment because of their citizenship status.
Oregon lawmakers originally called for a special session to start in March, just after Brown’s stay-at-home orders went into effect. But Brown delayed the session, saying she wanted to wait and see how much federal aid Oregon received.
In the press release, Brown added that she plans to “call a second special session later in the summer to rebalance our state’s budget.” Oregon economists predict that the state could lose $10.5 billion in revenue over the next five years because of the coronavirus.