Special session is called a bipartisan success

Salem-Legislators said they could hold a special session that would deal with a variety of emergencies facing the state and thought they could do it in one day. They succeeded. Democrats and Republicans came together over issues that needed to be addressed and worked up legislation that covered everything from rent relief to drought relief.

Senate Bill 891 extends safe harbor protections to prevent evictions who have rental assistance on the way. Meanwhile, Senate Bill 5561 includes a $215 million package to provide additional rental assistance, speed up the processing of applications, and ensure landlords are fully paid.

In response to drought relief, lawmakers put forth two bills. Senate Bill 5561 includes a $100 million drought relief package for farmers and irrigators across the state who have been impacted by drought, heat, or fire. Senate Bill 892 establishes a forgivable loan program to provide financial assistance for farmers and ranchers who lost gross income in 2021 due to a qualifying natural disaster.

Senate Bill 5561 approves $25 million to prevent the illegal cannabis operations and address the crisis impacted at illegal cannabis operations at the sites in Southern Oregon. Senate Bill 893 expands the scope of the Illegal Marijuana Market Enforcement grant program at the Criminal Justice Commission to include funding for community-based organizations to address the crisis resulting from workers that are forced into unlawful cultivation or distribution operations.

Senate Bill 5561 also includes $18 million to help Afghan refugees arriving in Oregon as they search for housing, education, language and job training, and legal assistance. In addition, there were funding measures passed by both houses that address housing insecurity, a lack of housing, and homelessness in several Central and Western Oregon communities including Bend, Portland, and Grants Pass.