SALEM, Ore. — Gov. Kate Brown on Saturday said she would call a second special legislative session this summer to fix a state budget wrecked by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis and wants to use coronavirus relief funds to help support the Black community and working people.
Brown spoke after the Oregon Legislature wrapped up the first special session Friday after passing bills, most dealing with police accountability and the coronavirus pandemic.
At a news conference, Brown said she would wait to call another special session to see if federal lawmakers approve assistance for local governments.
“States are struggling to balance their budgets because of the economic depression caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Brown said, adding that she expected to call lawmakers back to Salem in late July or early August.
Brown said she has already identified $150 million in state cuts through things like layoffs and keeping state positions open.
State economists said Oregon will likely take in about $2.7 billion in the current two-year budget cycle.
The Democratic governor praised the Legislature for putting aside partisanship and quickly passing bills focused on mitigating the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis and dealing with police accountability during the recently completed special session.
Senate President Peter Courtney said 24 bills passed, more than 600 pieces of public testimony were submitted, and more than 100 people gave virtual committee testimony, in only three days.
Police reform bills include measures that limit the use of chokeholds, require officers to intervene if their colleague is being unjust or unethical and creating a statewide police discipline database. Another bill that passed prohibits law enforcement agencies from using tear gas for crowd control, except for circumstances that meet the definition of a riot.
House Bill 4204 was one of the most debated measures in the Legislature — passing in the House 39-18 and passing in the Senate 19-8. The bill would enact new foreclosure protections during the coronavirus pandemic.