Local lawmakers react to tentative deal on Measure 110 changes

By on Monday, February 26th, 2024 in More Top Stories Northeastern Oregon News

SALEM — State lawmakers from Eastern Oregon are weighing in on a new tentative deal reached between Democrats and Republicans on how much to recriminalize possession of small amounts of drugs.

The announcement came last week after the parties were in closed-door talks about how much to change Measure 110.

The agreement involves modifying the Democratic-proposed bill. Initially, Democrats suggested making possession the least serious misdemeanor, but Republicans argued it wasn’t sufficient. The compromise now establishes a new unclassified misdemeanor.

Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp said it’s a win for Oregonians.

“That is what we were wanting to do from the very beginning, is to make sure that we had a policy that actually worked for Oregonians to get people off the streets that are doing drugs and into treatment,” he said.

Senate Democratic Leader Kate Lieber said the goal is not jail time.

“There are offramps in the system before anybody is going to go to jail that is going to offramp them into treatments,” she said.

The parties were at odds over how much to recriminalize possession of small amounts of drugs.

The disagreement centered on the degree of recriminalization for possessing small amounts of drugs. At the beginning of the legislative session, Democrats proposed a bill designating it as a class C misdemeanor, offering diversion through treatment before booking into jail. Republicans sought the most serious misdemeanor charge, with diversion only after booking into jail.

Here is what the two parties settled on.

  • A new type of misdemeanor that previously didn’t exist in Oregon.
  • Upon sentencing, a judge would have to offer probation with no jail time, but if that’s violated, the offender could face anywhere between on to six months in jail;
  • And pre-jail diversion will only be offered in some counties that opt in.

If the bill passes, the new misdemeanor takes effect on Sept. 1.

Senator Lynn Findley, who represents Senate District 30 that encompasses all of Baker, Crook, Grant, Harney, Lake, and Malheur Counties, and parts of Deschutes & Jefferson Counties says that even if a deal is close, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

“The fact is that we have to re-stand up in most counties in rural Oregon, the parole and probation functions called community corrections. Most of those have been decimated by funding that has just gone away. So that has to be done,” says Findley. “The deflection has to be appropriate to the person. You know, there has to be some prevention measures. So they’re wanting to work with us and we want to work with them. So I think we’ll get there.”