Oregon Legislature Readies for First Short Session

The Oregon Legislature met for three days last week on the last of their scheduled legislative hearing dates prior to the February legislative session, giving the Northwest Credit Union Association’s (NWCUA) legislative affairs team an opportunity to catch up with legislators and discuss their priorities for the coming weeks. Most of the hearings focused on legislative drafts. Since this is the first “short session” as part of Oregon’s new constitutional annual session, all the deadlines and limits are new.

February Session

The Oregon Legislature will convene on Feb. 1, 2012, with a projected sine die of Feb. 29. The session may not exceed 35 days in even-numbered years, putting this year’s deadline at March 6. Five-day extensions are allowed by a two-thirds vote in each chamber. Key dates this session include:

  • Feb. 6 – Deadline for bills to be posted on an agenda in their chamber of origin
  • Feb. 8 – Revenue forecast released
  • Feb. 14 – Last day for committees to hold work sessions on bills in their chamber of origin
  • Feb. 21 – Deadline for bills to be posted on an agenda in the second chamber
  • Feb. 23 – Last day for work sessions in all committees

*All committee deadlines exclude: Rules, Revenue, and Ways & Means.
With all measures subject to the deadlines noted in the calendar, the following measure limits have been established for both the House and the Senate for the 2012 legislative session:

  • Two measures per member
  • Five measures per interim committee
  • Five measures by the executive branch (at the request of the Governor)
  • Five measures by the judicial branch (at the request of the Chief Justice)

Elections

Ballots have been mailed out for the 1st Congressional District special election race between Republican Rob Cornilles and Democrat Suzanne Bonamici. The winner will be announced shortly after the ballot deadline on Jan. 31.

Katherine Heekin is now the third candidate filed to run for Oregon attorney general. Heekin runs her own law firm in Portland focused on representing fraud victims and joins Ellen Rosenblum, a former state judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Dwight Holton, a Portland attorney who was recently with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in seeking the Democratic nomination.

Republican Karen Bowerman has filed to run in the race for the Oregon House seat currently held by Democrat Kurt Schrader. Bowerman is a former California State University business school dean who moved to Lake Oswego last year. Republican Fred Thompson, a Salem businessman, has stated he will also run for the seat but has yet to file. The filing deadline is March 6.


Elder Abuse

The NWCUA participated in a work group on elder abuse. No specific action came out of the workgroup on financial institutions, though the Department of Human Services (DHS) requested some language to be put in the final bill to allow them. After reviewing several proposed drafts, credit unions and banks have agreed to language that will allow DHS to request information from financial institutions during an investigation of elder abuse.

“Upon the request of a law enforcement agency, the Department of Human Services or a designee of the Department of Human Services, and the receipt of the certification required under subsection (2) of this section, a financial institution shall disclose and provide copies of the financial records of the person who is the alleged victim in an investigation under ORS 124.070 or 441.650 to the law enforcement agency, the department or the department’s designee without the consent of the person or of the person’s caretaker, fiduciary or other legal representative.”

Financial institutions may be reimbursed for costs incurred and are protected for sharing the information.

“A financial institution that supplies copies of financial records under this section shall be reimbursed for actual costs incurred. (5) A financial institution that supplies copies of financial records under to this section is not liable to any person for any loss, damage or injury arising out of or in any way pertaining to the disclosure of the copies under this section.”

The NWCUA is reviewing the final draft and will be asked to testify in February.


Foreclosure and Mortgage Issues

Last week the House and Senate Democratic leaders held a press conference to discuss their February issues, and foreclosure legislation was on top of their list. Democrats want to bring bills to the floor in February so that Republicans have to vote on them and want to use this as their No. 1 campaign issue. Here is part of their press release:

“Senator Diane Rosenbaum and Representative Tina Kotek, the Democratic Leaders of the Oregon Senate and House, announced their priorities for the 2012 February session this morning during a press conference at the state capitol. They outlined agendas that focus on helping middle class families and small businesses in Oregon that continue to struggle with economic recovery.

“Democrats have a plan for the February session to address the needs of Oregonians,” said Rosenbaum, whose constituency includes Portland and Milwaukie. “We are committed to protecting middle-class families and supporting small businesses from all corners of the state. These Oregonians are counting on us to fight for them in these tough times.”

Rosenbaum and Kotek were joined by Ginny Real of Salem, who lost her home to foreclosure after her bank refused to work with her to renegotiate her loan, and James Vander Meide of McMinnville, a small-business owner who has struggled to get access to the capital he needs to launch and grow his business. Both Oregonians called on the legislature to take action on these critical issues.

House and Senate Democrats’ agendas for the February session include concepts addressing the foreclosure crisis that has hit hard across the state and proposals that will spur job growth by making it easier to own and grow a business in Oregon. Democratic leaders also focused on proposals to improve accountability in the public contracting process and increase oversight of the health insurance industry to make sure that Oregonians get the greatest value out of every dollar.

While the NWCUA has not yet received a copy of the bill, the legislative affairs team last week reviewed a bill that Democratic Senator Lee Beyer and Senator Brian Boquist are working on related to mandatory mediation prior to foreclosure. Beyer is the chair of the Senate Business Committee and serves on the board of directors for Oregon Community Credit Union.

This issue promises to be one of the most controversial of the February session.

Questions or Concerns? Contact Matt Halvorson, Anthem Editor: mhalvorson@nwcua.org.

Posted in Advocacy News.