Oregon Legislature Heads into Special Session

Coping with COVID-19 and police accountability are the two key reasons Governor Kate Brown is convening the special session.

6/23/2020Salem, Oregon state capitol

In the summers that follow typical “short sessions” in the Oregon legislature, elected officials can generally count on some down time for a vacation and can spend quality time with their constituents.

Perhaps not so this summer — this is no ordinary year.

COVID-19 dealt blunt force trauma to public health, the economy, and to the state budget. The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police raised an unprecedented call for social justice and police accountability that’s been heard in every state.

Those are the two key reasons Oregon Governor Kate Brown is convening a special session of the legislature, beginning June. 24.

“Several pandemic-related policies that I have implemented via executive order, including the temporary eviction moratorium and protecting CARES Act payments from garnishment, should be codified in statute,” Brown said. “And the public’s call for significant police reform is too urgent to wait until the next regular session.”

Many issues of importance to credit unions will be discussed.

“The Northwest Credit Union Association has been in regular contact with legislators and with the Governor’s team to provide input on concepts such as eviction and foreclosure protections, protections from garnishment for CARES Act payments, and remote notarization,” said Pamela Leavitt, Policy Advisor, Oregon State Advocacy and Grassroots.

Remote online notarization could benefit credit unions and their members. It allows notaries to electronically and remotely notarize documents, providing a tamper-proof electronic version of the document. It also would eliminate physical distancing concerns for consumers and would eliminate the need for rural residents to travel.

The Washington legislature passed remote online notarization legislation last year, with an effective date of Oct. 1, 2020. However, because it’s such a relevant tool amid the pandemic, Governor Jay Inslee issued a proclamation allowing it to be used before the effective date, and the state Department of Labor issued emergency rules. Similarly, in Idaho, the legislature passed a remote notarization bill this year, and temporary rules are in place allowing for it’s use before the law officially takes effect.

COVID-19 is expected to deliver a $3 billion shortfall to Oregon state budget. Brown has not specifically put the state budget on the consideration list for this special session, as she expects Congress to pass another federal relief package.

Brown said it would make more sense to address the budget issues once it’s clear whether state governments will receive aid from the federal government. A special session to address the budget could be called later in the summer.

NWCUA will monitor all budget-related actions on how the legislature addresses the shortfall. More information in the budget reductions the governor has proposed can be found here.

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