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Gov. Brown calls 1-day special session next Monday on $800 million in relief

Oregon Capitol building
KTVZ file

(Update: Adding releases from lawmakers, Stable Homes for Oregon Families)

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) — Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday she will convene a special session of the Oregon Legislature at 8 a.m. next Monday "to address Oregonians’ most pressing needs given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which have only been compounded by Oregon’s horrific wildfires."

The governor said she is asking lawmakers to consider both critical policies and $800 million in relief to support Oregonians during the one-day special session on COVID-19 and wildfires.

“Oregonians are making tremendous sacrifices to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Brown said.

“While the risk reduction measures we have put in place are working to slow the spread, many Oregon families are struggling with unemployment, housing, food insecurity, and paying their bills — and those most impacted are the same people who are often left behind, including rural, Black, Indigenous, Latino/Latina/Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Tribal communities.

“I continue to call on Congress to pass another robust coronavirus relief bill to bring support to the American people. But these calls have not yet been heeded. It is clear that states must act on their own to provide a bridge until federal help arrives. This is why I am calling on legislators from both sides of the aisle to come together in the best interests of the state.

“We must protect Oregonians now, as we face some of our hardest days, whether by getting critical resources into the hands of those most in need, keeping a roof over people’s heads, or recognizing the incredible toll of this virus on our small businesses and restaurants. Oregon must act to bridge the gap as we continue to wait to see federal relief. I thank legislators for their work in addressing these critical issues next week, and I look forward to our progress,” the governor added

Included in the governor’s budget priorities is aid for tenants and landlords, funding for vaccine distribution and contact tracing, wildfire prevention and community preparedness, and support for reopening schools.

To help ensure a healthy and safe environment for conducting session, legislative officials are consulting the state epidemiologist, Dr. Dean Sidelinger.

Senate Majority Leader Wagner Statement on
Third Special Session to Address Oregonians’ Needs

SALEM – Today, Governor Kate Brown announced that she will call an emergency Special Session of the Legislative Assembly on December 21, 2020. Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego) released the following statement:

“Senate Democrats will answer the Governor’s call for action. We will work together to aid Oregonians as our state faces the most challenging months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We must act now to provide shelter and safety for countless Oregonians by extending the moratorium on tenant evictions into next year. We will vote to provide economic relief for small businesses and restaurants. We will allocate funds for the Emergency Board to authorize payments for urgent services and respond to the ongoing public health and economic crises caused by COVID-19.

“It is inexcusable and reprehensible that the federal government has not passed COVID-19 support – or any relief funds – since March. Federal action is long overdue, and I renew my consistent calls to action for the Republican-led U.S. Senate to find whatever motivation it needs to simply do its job and come to the assistance of Oregonians and people across our great nation.”

House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner Statement on Third Special Session 
SALEM, Ore. – Oregon House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner (D-Portland) issued the following statement after Gov. Kate Brown called a third special session:

“I want to thank Gov. Brown, House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney for their work to pull this special session together. Extending the eviction moratorium and providing support for small landlords, helping independent restaurants throughout our state, passing protections for our local school districts and adding $600 million for urgent COVID-19 and wildfire relief are all important steps in ensuring struggling families can weather this ongoing crisis until the legislature convenes in January.

“It is no secret that House Democrats have proposed a number of other urgently needed COVID relief bills. While I’m disappointed we won’t be able to consider them all in this special session, we stand ready to pass these supports quickly during the 2021 legislative session.

“Furthermore, while our preference would have been to have a remote session, we acknowledge that like so many Oregonians who are working through this pandemic, legislators have an essential duty to show up when our neighbors need it most. I am confident that robust safety protocols will be in place to ensure the health and wellbeing of everyone.”

House Republican Leader Statement on Third Special Session

Salem, ORE. – Today, House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) released the following statement on the upcoming December 21st special session:

“A third special session will provide needed relief for Oregonians who have been impacted by COVID-19 and the governor’s executive orders. Proposed legislation prioritizes families and kids, restores jobs and takes our first steps to prevent frivolous lawsuits, while setting aside resources to balance our budget, fund wildfire recovery and support public health.

This special session is an opportunity for us to come together to support Oregonians. Our work remains incomplete until we successfully provide access to COVID-19 vaccines to Oregonians who want it, get our students back in the classroom, provide critical liability protections for businesses and our essential health care system, rebuild communities impacted by wildfires and recover jobs."

News release from Stable Homes for Oregon Families:

Hope for Oregon renters: Statement on announcement of December Special Session

Gov. Brown’s announcement today about next Monday’s special session gives hope to Oregon renting families that they will not be evicted in January.  

“We want to thank the Governor for calling the special session and we hope that lawmakers are planning to take action to extend the eviction moratorium and create a landlord compensation fund to ensure that COVID doesn’t bring a lifelong economic setback for Oregon working families,” says Alison McIntosh of the Oregon Housing Alliance. “All Oregonians - White, Black or Brown, rural or urban - need safety and stability for their families through the end of the school year and there needs to be rental assistance available for tenants and landlords to help.”

Between 20,000 and 40,000 Oregon households will be at risk for eviction if Oregon doesn’t take action. As the pandemic rages on it is getting more difficult for families and individuals to keep up with rent in the face of lost or reduced wages. Ryan Bowser and his Corvallis family are facing that reality. He says if it wasn’t for the eviction moratorium, he and his family would have lost their home. He has had to leave work to care for their children and manage their remote schooling. 

“We have been doing everything we can to keep up, selling personal belongings, scrimping on essential items. But this pandemic has gone on longer than our financial resources and we started falling behind,” says Bowser. “While the current eviction moratorium is ending on December 31, COVID-19 isn’t and I hope state lawmakers do the right thing next week and extend the eviction moratorium and approve a landlord compensation fund to help families like mine.”

Jimmy Jones, executive director of the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency. He says extending the moratorium combined with the landlord compensation fund will provide much needed relief to the people he serves in Marion and Polk County. 

“Governor Brown and state lawmakers are doing the right thing by coming together to head off evictions in January. The COVID-19 pandemic will long be remembered as a crisis of the working poor, and tragically it has affected our Latinx, Black, elderly and disabled populations the most. With an extension of the moratorium and financial assistance, people in our community would be able to stave off displacement and stay safe at home as the vaccines arrive and are distributed,” says Jones. 

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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