From hate crimes to cold medicine, many new laws in Oregon go into effect January 1st
Oregon legislature passed a series of reforms, policy changes, and civil rights protection during this year’s five-month legislature, including new laws that promote affordable housing, improve police oversight, and make it explicitly illegal to intimidate others by putting a noose on them.
These new laws and many others come into effect on January 1st. While some were controversial, many were passed with overwhelming, non-partisan support.
Here’s a look at some of the changes in the store:
POLICE REFORM: The murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer sparked a national civil rights settlement. Oregon legislature responded with several bills aimed at improving police behavior and oversight. Here are some of them, which will go into effect on January 1st:
· Senate Act 204 grants civil supervisory bodies access to a database of police encounters and arrests. The bill passed House 34-22 and House 18-11.
· Senate Bill 621 gives local jurisdictions the ability to legislate for community oversight bodies to oversee police discipline. Legislators took up this bill at the request of Portland. It passed Senate 20-7 and House 37-19.
House Bill 2513 requires CPR training for police certification and requires the police to call emergency medical assistance if a person withheld has a respiratory or cardiac crisis. The bill passed House 58-2 and Senate 24-4.
House Bill 2929 requires law enforcement officers to report misconduct or fitness standards and requires an investigation into such a report within 72 hours. Investigators must report the findings of misconduct to a state committee. The House voted 58-2 for the bill; the Senate approved it 27-2.
House Bill 2936 creates a background checklist and standardized personal history questionnaire for prospective law enforcement officers and exempts law enforcement from prohibiting employer access to personal social media accounts. Although the law goes into effect on January 1, it cannot be used to recruit correctional officers until July 1, 2023. It passed House 54-4 and Senate 20-8.
House Bill 3145 requires law enforcement agencies to report officers’ disciplinary actions to the state within 10 days. The state will publish these reports in a publicly accessible online database. It passed House 58-1 and Senate 26-2.
House Bill 2932 requires Oregon law enforcement to participate in the FBI’s national database of violence and directs a state commission to analyze the data and report its findings to the legislature each year. The bill passed the House of Representatives at 58-1 and the Senate at 20-7.
House Bill 2986 requires police officers to be trained to investigate and report prejudice. It passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate unanimously.
· House Bill 3059 requires that all arrests related to “illegal gatherings” be based on crimes other than non-resolution. It also passed the House and Senate unanimously.
House Bill 3273 restricts the circumstances in which law enforcement agencies may post posting photos, commonly known as mug shots. Supporters said posting mug shots online affects people’s privacy and prevents them from getting on with their lives, regardless of whether or not they were ultimately convicted of crimes. It happened House 54-4 and Senate 17-13.
PUBLIC MEETINGS: House Bill 2560 makes pandemic-era change permanent. It requires government agencies to stream their meetings online whenever possible and allow the public to testify remotely. The bill passed the House of Representatives at 42-5 and the Senate at 25-2.
COLD MEDICINE: Oregon was one of only two states (Mississippi was the other) that required a prescription for cold medication containing pseudoephedrine, a restriction put in place to limit people’s ability to buy and make methamphetamine in bulk. However, lawmakers concluded that a state-wide system of tracking purchases and relocating meth production to laboratories outside the country made Oregon law obsolete. So House Bill 2648 lifted Oregon’s restriction. Now people can buy cold medication by asking a pharmacist who will register the transaction in the database. The bill passed House 54-4 and House 27-2.
ELECTIONS: House Bill 3291 requires Oregon to count the ballots sent on the day of the election. Previously, the districts only counted the ballot papers actually received on or before election day. It passed House 39-21 and Senate 16-13. This will slow down the speed of the election results, but it is likely to lead to a higher turnout.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Senate Bill 8 requires local governments to facilitate the development of affordable housing on non-residential land, with some exceptions for land used for heavy industry and public land near locations are intended for school or residential purposes. It also cuts the length of time for which such apartments must be considered affordable from 40 to 30 years. The bill won overwhelming legislative support and passed the Senate at 25-5 and the House 46-3.
Hate Crimes: Senate Law 398 makes it a crime to intimidate people by showing a noose. Violators face up to 364 days in prison and a fine of US $ 6,250. The bill passed the Senate 27-1 and the House of Representatives 54-0.
RACIAL EQUITY: House Bill 2935, known as the Crown Act, prohibits discrimination in schools or in the workplace “on the basis of physical characteristics historically associated with race”. The law states that hairstyle and hair structure are among these newly protected features. It passed the House of Representatives 58-0 and the Senate 28-1.
YOUTH SUSPECT: Senate Act 418 states that if a police officer intentionally uses false information to coax a testimony from someone under the age of 18, that testimony will be deemed involuntary. The bill passed Senate 24-4 and House 53-2.
TEACHERS UNIONS: Senate Bill 580 requires school districts to negotiate with teachers unions about class sizes in schools with a high concentration of low-income students. The original version of the bill would have been broader, possibly requiring schools to reduce class size in high-income schools and increase it in schools with a concentration of low-income students who have greater learning needs. Legislators narrowed the scope of the bill after The Oregonian / OregonLive reported that it could undermine the state’s efforts to achieve fairer outcomes for students of all backgrounds. The House approved Bill 36-21; the Senate voted 18:11 in favor.
HOMELESSNESS: Senate Act 850 requires that homeless people’s death reports list the person’s place of residence as “Residence unknown”. Supporters hope the law will help track the number of people dying from homelessness, which is already happening in Multnomah County. The bill passed 22-5 in the Senate and 52-0 in the House of Representatives.
MARIJUANA: House Bill 3369 allows nurses to discuss the potential medical uses of marijuana with their patients. It passed House 47-5 and Senate 21-6.