LEGISLATIVE WRAP UP
The ORCOPS lobby team saw some 2018 Legislative Session successes and laid the foundation for the long 2019 Legislative Session. We continued to build support with legislators for policies that matter to our members. But there are challenges ahead and still plenty of work to do.
Families of fallen officers in Oregon are supposed to have scholarship funds available to college eligible students. But an inconsistency between the rules for the Public Safety Memorial Fund, the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, and federal benefits some families of fallen officers were missing out on assistance for higher education. HB 4056 corrects this gap. The ORCOPS lobby team worked closely with Representative Andy Olson (R-Albany) and Representative Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie), who introduced the legislation. As the bill went to committee, we visited each member multiple times to answer questions and provide clarification. The bill had strong support in the House Judiciary Committee and ultimately sailed through both chambers. It’s now on the Governor’s desk, where she is expected to sign it.
This bill was introduced by State Senator Kathleen Taylor (D-Milwaukie), It increases the penalties for the crime of strangulation. ORCOPS submitted a letter of support for this bill. It passed easily through the Senate and the House, and is now on the Governor’s desk where she is expected to sign it.
This bill corrects an oversight and allows a group of officers at OHSU the opportunity to join the Public Employees Retirement System. Right before session ended, it was on a good trajectory, having left the House Committee on Business and Labor went to the Committee on Ways & Means. Our team conducted multiple one-on-one conversations with Ways & Means committee members and we had created a good deal of support for the bill. OHSU was also in full support. However, Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) chose to end the Legislative Session a week ahead of the previously-established calendar, eliminating the possibility of passing a number of bills still in Ways & Means, including HB 4122. We had some good conversations with Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) who has expressed interest in pushing the bill in the 2019 session.
This bill was introduced by Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland), which originally would have imposed a mandate for police officers to get mental health counseling every two years. ORCOPS strongly opposed the mandatory provisions in the bill. The bill was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene). Senator Prozanski opted not to move the bill out of committee, which meant the bill stalled out during session. In lieu of the bill’s passage, ORCOPS has been working with Senator Prozanski’s office on creating a workgroup that will meet during the legislative interim. We anticipate the workgroup will develop an alternate proposal for the 2019 session that focuses on voluntary access to wellness programs for a wide range of first responders, and possibly include improvements in workers compensation protections.
On the horizon, we’re expecting a landmark ruling later this year from the U.S. Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME. The Court is widely expected to rule that labor organizations cannot require fair share dues payments from non-members. ORCOPS has had some constructive discussions with lawmakers and Legislative attorneys. We’re looking for ways to best protect fair share payments after the U.S. Supreme Court delivers its ruling. We are working with stakeholders to prepare legislation that would protect members from having to use their resources to support “free riders” who opt not to contribute to the costs of negotiating or enforcing a labor agreement. We plan to begin discussions on this concept as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court unveils its opinion.
Finally, we are sad to report that Representative Andy Olson has decided to retire from the Oregon Legislature. Rep Olson has long been a friend to law enforcement and a key ally in the House. We wish him well in his retirement.
Thank you for your continued support. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or legislative concepts.
Daryl Turner, President
Oregon Coalition of Police & Sheriffs