Oregon’s special sessions are a somewhat rare occurrence, but the need for relief from a global pandemic and police brutality made 2020’s first special session a pressing and especially abnormal circumstance. Even though it lasted three days, there was still the opportunity to pass several pieces of key legislation. Below are the four pieces of legislation 1000 Friends of Oregon supported.
SB 1602A | Forestry Memorandum of Understanding
Earlier this year, Governor Kate Brown announced that representatives from Oregon’s forest industry and environmental groups signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to achieve clearer business conditions for forest landowners and industries. The MOU also outlined greater environmental certainty to ensure safe drinking water for rural communities as well as protection for aquatic resources for the survival and recovery of threatened and endangered species. SB 1602A enshrined the MOU into law and established a durable framework and process to resolve future issues.
We applaud the collaborative efforts of the forestry industry, the environmental community and the governor's office to achieve a path forward for healthy working forests.
1000 Friends supports this collaborative mindset, and are heartened the legislature took the next step to ensure a sustainable environment. The safety of rural communities, species protection and recovery, and thriving working lands must all be part of the future of Oregon's forests.
HB 4206 | State-run meat processing plant inspection program
Authorizes the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) to establish a state-run program to inspect the processing and sale of meat products from species such as cattle and sheep. ODA would have authority to inspect meat products and license establishments operating under the program, so long as federal standards are met.
Passing HB 4206 kickstarted the process of addressing the current shortage of meat processing plants in Oregon staffed by federal meat inspectors. Because HB 4206 gives ODA the authority to run meat inspection programs, more opportunities for meat processing in Oregon may occur. More processing facilities means cattle ranchers, rural communities and food systems would have more stability and certainty, but long-term funding for the program is still needed.
SB 1603 | Rural Telecommunications Act
Establishes the Broadband Fund to support projects for planning or developing broadband service infrastructure, and for the administration of the Oregon Broadband Office.” Allocates up to $5 million a year toward expanding broadband service in rural areas.”
SB 1603 will boost broadband internet now and into the future for rural communities, supporting individuals and small businesses and shepherding economic development – Oregon’s Statewide Land Use Planning Goal 9.
HB 4212 | COVID Response Omnibus Bill
“Makes changes to various statutes to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including local government and special government body public meetings and operations, garnishment modifications, judicial proceeding extensions and electronic appearances, emergency shelter approval, notarial acts, enterprise zone termination extensions, individual development account modifications, race and ethnicity data collection and reporting, and physician assistant practice authorization. Declares emergency; effective on passage.”
This bill is wide-ranging in both the breadth and depth of what it covers — including the provision 1000 Friends supported on emergency shelters. HB 4212 temporarily waives zoning and design regulations to enable the siting of low-barrier shelters and navigation centers inside UGBs and rural residential areas. These provide emergency housing and support for Oregonians experiencing homelessness, many of whom are at high risk of virus transmission.