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Special session: 15 hours, 11 bills

On Monday, at 10:19 p.m., my colleagues in the Oregon State Senate and I concluded a marathon Special Session to rebalance the state budget and address revenue shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I'm proud of what Senate Democrats accomplished, despite resistance from our colleagues across the aisle. We passed eleven bills that prioritized budgets for essential public services and providing critical relief to Oregonians right now.

Senate Democrats made our students our top priority, maintaining full funding for our State School Fund and the Student Success Act funds for early learning. Additionally, we continued to fund career and technical education programs, offer community college support, and protect the Oregon Opportunity Grant for colleges.

We made sure that Oregonians can continue collecting Unemployment Insurance benefits while we work to streamline the process of Pandemic Unemployment Insurance. The bill also includes self-employed contractors – gig workers – whom so many states have overlooked or underserved. Far too many people are hurting right now – it's of the utmost urgency that we move swiftly to ensure everyone can keep food on the table and keep their lights and water on.

Finally, we continued our progress on police reform and accountability. Led by the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Caucus, we passed a law that limited police use of deadly force and barred most uses of chokeholds. I was pleased to see bipartisan support from my colleagues who commended this bill for long-overdue updates and professionalism in law enforcement.

Oregonians are struggling, but I have confidence that we're prepared for the future and will recover from this pandemic. Thank you for your continued support – with your help we'll start changing our trajectory this election season and get on the road to recovery.


Posted on August 12, 2020.