For the third time this year, Governor Kate Brown will convene a Special Session of the Oregon Legislature. Governor Brown has asked the legislature to consider $800 million in relief to address the needs of Oregon communities stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s wildfires.
In a press release announcing the special session, Governor Brown acknowledged that the current COVID-19 risk reduction measures, while working to slow the spread, have a significant impact on Oregon families, “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.”
The governor cited the lack of federal assistance as a main driver behind her decision to call the special session, which will hopefully bridge the gap until additional federal help arrives. The governor’s budget priorities for the special session include aid for tenants and landlords, funding for vaccine distribution and contact tracing, wildfire prevention and community preparedness, and support for reopening schools.
Legislators will meet in Salem for the one-day special session on Monday, December 21, 2020. A structure similar to the June 2020 and August 2020 special sessions, during which lawmakers passed 26 and 11 pieces of legislation respectively.
One notable difference for the upcoming special session is the climbing rate of COVID-19 cases and test positivity in Marion County, where Salem is located. With the county at “extreme” risk levels of COVID-19, legislative officials are said to be consulting with the state epidemiologist, Dr. Dean Sidelinger, to ensure appropriate precautions and safety measures are in place.
The regular legislative session is scheduled to begin in less than five weeks, on January 19, 2021.