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The Upcoming Legislative Session
Snipe Hunt the 2021 Session

We are the target of a prank. The 2021 Oregon Legislative Session is again a Snipe Hunt. Taking clues from past actions is the best we have to anticipate what the 2021 session will be like in less than a month away.

The three Special Sessions held behind closed doors, blocking citizens from the Capitol, continues to be Governor Brown’s model for the 2021 session. Why else would she continue the lockdown when there is overwhelming science and evidence that lockdowns aren’t effective? Transparency and constitutional rights are being swept under the rug to stifle dialog on issues. Representative Raquel Moore-Green is adamant, “The lack of inclusiveness in discussion and dialog must be addressed prior to the regular session convening in 2021.”

A rumor is spreading that the 2021 Legislature will organize on January 19 and then stop until the State Capitol can be open to the public. The constitution does not set a start date – a start day is set in statute, which can be changed. However, it wasn’t addressed in the Special Session. The concept may not be to the Governor’s liking, pressuring her to terminate her emergency declaration.

A number of the bills passed in the Special Sessions will terminate in some fashion, and some have already been determined to be insufficient and being discussed for revision. That means all the bills from the Special Sessions are up to be revisited.

The Governor’s budget recommendations set a tone that is materializing in concepts. Governor Brown played the race card to get the emotional attachment she’ll need to appease her party in the legislature. Her priority budget item is $280 million to undo systemic racism. And who is behind that “systemic racism” that we seemingly need to undo? Who has been in power in Oregon for the past 32 years allowing such a decline?

The House Interim Committee on Health Care have prioritized their concepts to address equity in health care, the social determinants of health, and health care affordability. Oregon State Public Interest Research Group presented a public option that is being draft by Representative Andrea Salinas in a bill. Also, LC 1701 will be a hot topic addressing vaccinations.

The Joint Committee on Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform is looking to beef up the six police reform bills passed in the first Special Session. In addition, some new concepts include requirements for disclosing the identity, disciplinary standards, modify use of deadly physical force and create a data base of use of physical force, bans choke holds and tear-gas, protection for whistleblowers, and disciplinary alternatives.

According to the Governor, another $685 million is needed for pandemic reasons. Several Committees such as Affordable Housing and Quality Affordable Child Care have not revealed their concepts. However, Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) issued this statement that also needs to be resolved during the 2021 session: “Governor Brown demands Congress send Oregon money, however, millions of funds from the first federal coronavirus relief package have gone unspent. Money from the federal government has limitations, and there is no guarantee that federal money will go towards the holes left in the Governor’s budget. Clearly, the Governor has been asleep at the wheel.”



The Governor’s Recommended Budget for 2021-23 proposes $100.2 billion in total spending, including $25.6 billion in General Fund and Lottery Funds. The budget includes over $293.8 million in increased revenues and leaves $243.3 million in the General Fund. In addition, by the end of the 2019-21 biennium, the Rainy-Day Fund is projected to have a balance of $942.3 million.

Oregon is on the list of the five top states with the largest rainy-day funds. That should be a factor against the pursuit of a carbon tax pursuit of an Extended Producer Responsibility program, or any other tax or economy killer.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2020-12-31 13:04:50Last Update: 2021-01-01 23:24:01

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