ORCOPS Legislative Update: Battling PERS Rollbacks And More

This past week in Salem saw ORCOPS step up to defend law enforcement officers as well as public employee pensions.

This session, several measures have been introduced that threaten to roll back existing PERS commitments already made to Oregon’s public employees. The Senate Workforce Committee held hearings on two of those bills this past week, with ORCOPS as the only law enforcement organization testifying in opposition.

In addition, for the third year in a row, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the ability of law enforcement agencies to utilize polygraphs for pre-employment screening. ORCOPS has opposed these bills year after year, and this session is no exception. This past week, ORCOPS’ testimony and face-to-face meetings with Senators helped to prevent SB 519 moving forward. But, because this is a priority of the committee’s chairman, continued success requires constant vigilance on our part.

Also this week, ORCOPS was the only law enforcement organization to support HB 2337, which increases minimum and maximum workers’ compensation benefits for permanent total disability. The measure passed the House floor and is now headed to the Senate.

ORCOPS has worked with legislators in both chambers to introduce legislation to improve working conditions for Oregon’s law enforcement officers. SB 642 would prevent law enforcement agencies from evaluating performance or disciplining officers based on a peer-to-peer comparison of citations issued. Although the Chiefs and Sheriffs are opposing the measure, ORCOPS has support from House Judiciary Chairman Jeff Barker (D – Beaverton) and Senator Lew Frederick (D – Portland). Although ORCOPS is opposing other bills sponsored by Senator Frederick, this is an opportunity to develop some common ground and establish a constructive dialogue. ORCOPS has also introduced HB 3365, which would prevent an officer from being disciplined solely due to their appearance on a DA’s Brady List. ORCOPS-endorsed Rep. Carla Piluso (D – Gresham) has sponsored this measure, and discussions are ongoing with other stakeholders as we chart a path forward.

Have a great weekend & stay safe.

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ORCOPS in the mix as the 2017 Oregon Legislative Session Ramps Up

Before the 2017 Oregon Legislative Session opened on February 1, 2017, ORCOPS was hard at work addressing key issues that affect law enforcement officers in Oregon, such as profiling legislation, attacks on PERS benefits, discussions about grand juries, and “best practices” for body worn cameras. As this long 2017 session has ramped up in the past few weeks, our preparation has paid off, with ORCOPS being the “go-to” resource when legislators inquire about how certain public policy changes may affect the working conditions for Oregon’s law enforcement officers.

Last week was a great example of our diligence paying off. Our lobbyists from Prospect PDX were active during hearings on:

SB 496 and SB 505: Grand Jury Recordings
These bills would require recording of all grand jury proceedings. While the defense attorneys and district attorneys are negotiating methods of protecting sensitive witnesses (some law enforcement protections such as those for confidential informants are already included in the measure), ORCOPS was the first organization to bring to the committee’s attention a provision that would have permitted the public release of proceedings dealing with the conduct of a law enforcement officer. For example, if an officer’s use of deadly force in the line of duty is considered by a grand jury, the recording of the proceeding would be subject to public release after the grand jury issues a not true bill. During office meetings as well as to the full committee, ORCOPS stood fast in opposing a carve-out targeting law enforcement officers. (Even as an other law enforcement organizations offered their qualified support to the public release of such materials.) ORCOPS has been defending against this and similar pieces of legislation since the 2015 Legislative Session. We have been working directly with committee members to secure a set of amendments to the measure that will protect officers’ records from public release.

HB 2355: Profiling Data
This bill is the result of a long process that started with HB 2002 in the 2015 session. Since the very beginning of that process, ORCOPS has been intricately involved in ensuring that Oregon’s anti-profiling measures don’t impede law enforcement officers’ ability to do their jobs. ORCOPS maintains constructive, respectful connections with both sides of the aisle and bargained those relationships into a key position on the policymaking Law Enforcement Profiling Work Group. ORCOPS’s selected member has been the only member of the work group representing line officers and deputies. HB 2355 is the culmination of that group. The measure focuses policy developments on training resources and data collection, and is the result of a consensus-based process led by the Attorney General’s office. ORCOPS not only played a role in guiding that policy, but also maintained a close relationship with the interested legislators and the Attorney General herself before providing a nod of approval for the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month.

Protecting Municipal Budgets
Senate Bill 840 would have placed a cap on certain fees that cities receive from utilities, thereby having a detrimental impact on city budgets. While several utilities spoke in favor of the measure, ORCOPS—alongside a number of city government representatives—was the only law enforcement organization to testify against it.

We are also actively monitoring PERS discussions, including Senate Bills 559, 560, and 913. As the largest law enforcement representative on the PERS Coalition, we are advocating tirelessly to ensure our legislators honor the pension promises made to our members. The most popular of these so-called “reform” items include capping final average salary at $100,000; changing the final average salary calculation from a high three-year to a high-five year period; and redirecting employee contributions to IAP accounts to the general pension plan. From the standpoint of our members, all three are “non-starters,” especially given the sweeping, detrimental effect to existing PERS members and future law enforcement officers. The PERS discussions will ramp up over the next two weeks, and we’ll update you as these so-called “PERS reform” bills make their way through committees. Learn more about the real effects of these proposed changes to PERS at keeporegonspromise.org.

Finally, we are actively tracking over 90 Senate and House bills, including proposed legislation on officer involved use of deadly force, issues related to workers compensation benefits, crimes against law enforcement officers, and retirement benefits for officers working at one of Oregon’s universities.

As always, we welcome any feedback from our member organizations about any legislation that may impact law enforcement officers in this State.

Stay safe.

Daryl Turner, President
Oregon Coalition of Police and Sheriffs

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Legislative Update

The Legislative Session is about half over, and ORCOPS is both making gains and defending ground. The “short” session (in even-numbered years) is limited to a little over a month by the Oregon Constitution. This means that a session that has historically been six months long is now squeezed into a month – although the number of bills that can be introduced is also limited.

This week, we’re seeing bills begin to switch chambers – that is, House bills will begin to be considered by the Senate and vice-versa. And ORCOPS is there to shepherd our bills and to protect against bad concepts.

In this session so far, ORCOPS has focused its efforts on a few offensive and defensive priorities:

HB 4087: BRADY LIST PROTECTIONS
Initially, House Bill 4087 was drafted to protect officers and deputies against discipline based solely on Brady list appearances. But despite ORCOPS reaching out to other stakeholders in October, opposition from some groups shortly before session ultimately dealt a mortal blow to HB 4087. Rep. Carla Piluso (D – Gresham), who sponsored the legislation, will continue working with ORCOPS on this issue.

HB 4087- A: PROTECTION OF OFFICERS’ NAMES
With the core concept of HB 4087 not moving, ORCOPS worked with OSP and other law enforcement stakeholders in crafting an amendment to the bill that allows law enforcement agencies to protect an officer’s personal information in the event that there is a credible threat to the officer or their family. The measure passed the House Floor on Wednesday on a 55-3 vote and now heads to the Senate.

SB 1550: GRAND JURIES
A form of SB 1550 was introduced (but not passed) in 2015, and provided that 1) all grand jury proceedings were to be recorded, and 2) in the event of a law enforcement officer being the target of a grand jury but NOT indicted, the recording could be released to the general public. ORCOPS opposed the bill last session and worked with stakeholders to fix the concept this year. The bill now has added protective order provisions for victims, witnesses, and confidential informants and allows certain hearsay testimony when appropriate, and eliminates the release provisions for law enforcement officers.

SB 1555: POLYGRAPHS
For the second session in a row, ORCOPS is fighting a bill (SB 1555) that would allow law enforcement agencies to hook prospective employees up to polygraph machines. One supporter of the bill touted the “cost savings” of simply polygraphing applicants rather than doing a complete background examination. Despite the polygraph not being admissible in court (and despite numerous reports stating that the polygraph is not a reliable employment screening device), the bill passed the Senate earlier this week. ORCOPS is committed to stopping this measure in the House.

SB 1513: PROPERTY TAX RELIEF
ORCOPS is working with the Association of Oregon Counties to support a measure that would allow counties to offer property tax relief to families of fallen officers by exempting up to $250,000 of a family’s assessed home value.

HB 4096: VETERANS PREFERENCES
Last session, Multnomah County pushed SB 87, which ORCOPS believed would erode long-standing veterans’ preferences for hiring and promotion decisions by public employers. ORCOPS worked with the Bureau of Labor and Industries in order to block those roll-backs. This session, some Legislators and employers introduced HB 4096, which again seeks to “simplify” the veterans preferences policies. Although the bill is somewhat improved over the last version, it still grants public employers an incredible amount of discretion. Again, ORCOPS was in front of committee registering our opposition and blocking the bill until it is greatly improved.
Daryl Turner
ORCOPS President

TRACK WHAT’S HAPPENING IN SALEM
In order to track what’s going on in Salem, go to https://olis.leg.state.or.us and search for bills by using the links on the right.

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2016 Oregon Legislative Session

The 2016 Oregon Legislative Session opens today. This is a short session that runs for just a month, versus the longer sessions in odd years that run for about six months. There will be less activity in this shorter 2016 session, but we’re still hard at work.

ORCOPS is actively working to pass House Bill 4087, which would prohibit discipline based solely on Brady List appearances. We’re communicating with the associations for the Chiefs, Sheriffs, and District Attorneys to get this passed.

We’re also keeping an eye on bad bills. In particular, we’re advocating to protect ORCOPS’ members from policies that roll back veterans preferences or single out public safety officers for unfair treatment in the court system. Our lobbyists will also actively monitor bills that address PERS, DPSST, and polygraph testing, among others.

We’re proud of what we accomplished in the 2015 session, and we’ll continue our hard work through active communication with legislators in this 2016 session. It’s our mission to make this 2016 session a victory for our members.

To stay up to date, follow ORCOPS on Facebook.

Daryl Turner, President
ORCOPS
503.225.9760

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The Last Week of the 2015 Legislative Session

The Legislature is looking to make this the last week of the 2015 Legislative Session.  They will work throughout the Independence Day weekend in an effort to complete their business by Sunday, July 5th.  What that means for us is that our bills are starting to pass as the Legislature tries to finish up its business.  Here are a few of the ORCOPS-supported items moving this past week:

HB 2002, the profiling bill, passed the Legislature earlier last week and is expected to be signed shortly by Governor Brown. ORCOPS was very involved in its crafting, along with other stakeholders, advocates, and lawmakers. On Thursday on the Senate Floor, ORCOPS was specifically thanked for our work on this measure.

HB 2357, to allow officers to carry weapons while off-duty, passed the Legislature unanimously last week after several technical adjustments to address concerns with another part of the bill.

HB 2463, which will facilitate the removal of derelict structures from public waterways, was briefly in limbo when the Senate and House both passed different versions of the bill. ORCOPS attended the “conference committee” hearing (where both House members and Senators try to work out a compromise), and urged legislators to come to a consensus. The House opted to adopt the Senate version and the bill is now on its way to the Governor’s desk.

And HB 2621, which authorizes the City of Portland to operate photo radar on certain high-crash corridors, passed the Senate late last week after a close House vote lastTuesday.

In terms of other bills, SB 822 (providing for recording of grand jury proceedings) is not moving this session. ORCOPS opposed this bill because there is a clause that subjects police officers’ proceedings to special release provisions that the general public is not subject to. We believe this creates a double-standard. However, this concept will probably be re-attempted next year. We have reached out to supporters of the measure in the hopes that the 2016 version will not include that double standard.

It’s been a banner first Legislative Session for ORCOPS, but there’s still a lot of ground to cover.  As the 2015 session winds down we’re already planning for 2016 and beyond!

Daryl Turner, President
ORCOPS
503.757.8401

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Oregon Legislature Wrapping Up

You can tell that the Legislature is getting closer to wrapping up session: they’ve started shutting down committees. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee both wrapped up their business and had their last meetings of the session. Other committees will follow shortly, because with a few exceptions, all bills need to be out of committee by the end of the week.

That means Senate Bill 87, which would have chipped away at veterans’ preferences, is officially dead for this session. (Even though the committee will probably continue to discuss “clarifying” the law and may have a different version introduced in 2016.)

Meanwhile, House Bill 2357, allowing off-duty officers the ability to carry their weapons, is on its way to the Senate floor with a unanimous recommendation from Senate Judiciary. Also heading to the Senate floor is House Bill 2571, which establishes body camera standards – and still includes ORCOPS’ preferred amendments.

House Bill 2704 would allow individuals to record on-duty police officers and was improved earlier this week to prohibit long-range or surreptitious recording. That bill, with those amendments, is heading to the Senate floor for a vote as well.

Two bills supported by ORCOPS are on their way to Governor Brown’s desk to be signed into law: First is House Bill 2208, the public records loophole fix. Once signed, this bill will take effect immediately. Law enforcement can also contact their county to request that their personal information remain exempt from public records requests. Stop by the ORCOPS website to learn more >>> Protect Your Personal Information.

Governor Brown will also sign Senate Bill 943, which provides that a county cannot charge extra fees to a non-resident officer who registers his or her vehicle at a precinct address. However, because the Legislature did not declare an “emergency” with regard to this policy, we can expect it to take effect January 1, 2016.

ORCOPS is still working on several bills that will likely pose a threat right up until the final days. You may recall Senate Bills 822 and 871, both of which contain some acceptable and some unacceptable provisions regarding grand jury processes. These bills are in the Joint Ways & Means Committee, and as such are exempt from most deadlines. However, the Legislature must wrap up ALL business by July 11 – according to the Oregon Constitution. (Although it’s more likely to end a week or so earlier.)

Daryl Turner, President
ORCOPS
503.757.8401

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New Legislation Spearheaded by ORCOPS

HOUSE BILL 2208

Several weeks ago, ORCOPS was made aware of a concerning development regarding the disclosure of officers’ personal information. A local paper submitted a public records request for officer information, including dates of birth and social security information. Ordinarily, this material would be protected from disclosure, but the request was made to the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST), and there was ambiguity over whether the information was exempt from the request. The Department of Justice ordered (some of) the material released, but DPSST is currently fighting that order in court.

In the meantime, ORCOPS jumped into action in Salem in order to close this loophole. Because the Legislative Session was already in full swing, ORCOPS’ staff and lobbyist worked to identify several bills that could be amended with a simple fix to closing the loophole. We then worked through the State House and Senate Judiciary Committees to amend House Bill 2208.  That bill passed the Legislative process yesterday, along with our amendments. It will become effective once it is signed by Governor Brown.

ORCOPS took action immediately because this loophole would have potentially allowed individuals to obtain officer dates of birth. That information could then be used to obtain an officer’s home address and household information from the voter registration database. Our quick efforts means this loophole was closed in about a month.

ADDITIONAL WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION

Under existing laws, counties of residence shield public safety officers’ home addresses and telephone information from public records requests, but this can only be done at the request of the officer. In addition to our work in Salem, ORCOPS urges officers to use these existing tools to protect their information. Ask your local county Assessor and Clerk to protect your personal information in voter registration and property records.

To find your county contact information, go to >>> ORCOPS: Protect Your Personal Information

Daryl Turner, President
ORCOPS
503.757.8401

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Important Bills Moving Through the Legislature

With about six weeks left in the current session, we’re seeing a number of bills important to ORCOPS moving through the Legislature.

House Bill 2208
began as a way to grant public records protections to code enforcement officers, but we recently discovered a loophole in current records protections related to law enforcement officer dates of birth. ORCOPS worked with other law enforcement interests to add a provision to HB 2208 that protects officers’ personal information held by the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST).  The bill has been amended and will soon be reprinted as HB 2208-A. The bill has already been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and now heads to the Senate floor for a vote which will probably take place next week.

The Senate Judiciary Committee also considered HB 2571, related to the use of body cameras. The bill will likely get a small technical adjustment to the records retention language. Once the adjustment is made, this bill will be ready to go. The Senate Judiciary Committee is likely the last point for public comment on the measure. Once it heads to the Senate floor, no additional committee hearings are needed. When the bill passes, local law enforcement agencies will be able to decide whether they want to use body cameras and, if so, use the State legislation as a guide to develop their own rules and policy regarding body cameras.

House Bill 2357 allows honorably retired and off-duty officers to carry their weapons, and is scheduled to pass out of committee next week. Senator Burdick (D – Portland) requested an amendment to provide that retired officers would still be able to lose that privilege in the same manner as an individual would lose CHL privileges. ORCOPS is in support of the underlying bill and we’ll be monitoring it as it moves along.

Do you register your personal vehicle at your precinct rather than your home? Does the county where your precinct is charge additional fees for that registration that you wouldn’t have to pay if you registered at home? Well, if SB 943 passes, that won’t be a problem anymore. The bill recently passed unopposed out of the House Transportation Committee and is headed to the House floor.

We’ve got a very active Twitter @OregonCOPS and facebook.com/orcops page, too. If you haven’t “liked” our page, take a moment and check it out.  And follow us on Twitter as well.

Contact me if you have any questions or comments regarding our ORCOPS activities.

Daryl Turner, President
ORCOPS
503.757.8401

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Emerging Issues as the Legislative Session Soldiers On

As the Legislative session soldiers on, several emerging issues have kept us busy over the past week.

First and foremost, the Oregonian issued a public records request for officers’ dates of birth. Had they made the request directly to a law enforcement agency, it would have been denied. However, by directing their request to the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST), the Department of Justice determined that there was enough ambiguity in public records law to support the release. This is a clear and unreasonable invasion of privacy. While DPSST is fighting the release, ORCOPS is working on a legislative fix. The relationship-building work we’ve done throughout this session is allowing us to team up with other law enforcement and labor organizations to close this loophole. Senator Prozanski (D – Eugene), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has a bill in his committee that we will try to amend on Monday, May 18. Representative Jeff Barker (D – Aloha) and his staff have been busy getting these amendments drafted – as well as some backup options.

ORCOPS is also continuing our work with legislators and the Bureau of Labor and Industries to block Senate Bill 87-A, which starts dismantling veterans’ hiring and promotion practices. There has been a sense among legislators that the current law needs clarification, but also that veterans’ preference should be preserved. Representative Julie Parrish (R – West Linn) has been a strong supporter on this issue, and sits on the House Committee where the bill will be heard on Tuesday, May 19. ORCOPS is hoping to provide that clarification by adding an amendment to the bill, turning “SB 87-A” into “SB 87-B”. (So don’t be alarmed if some version of the bill passes!)

There has still been no action scheduled on Senate Bill 822 (grand jury recordings with special release provisions for police officers) or Senate Bill 871 (requiring all use of deadly force incidents to go to grand jury), but we fully expect these bills to be considered soon in the Ways & Means Committee.  Representative Jennifer Williamson (D – Portland) co-chairs the committee, and has worked well with ORCOPS on profiling and bodycam issues. We are maintaining close communications with her on these bills, but no commitments have been made yet.

Contact me if you have any questions or comments regarding our ORCOPS activities.

Daryl Turner, President
ORCOPS
503.757.8401

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3 Big Issues for ORCOPS

The second half of the Legislative Session in Salem is either picking up steam or circling the drain, depending on which bills you’re watching. Earlier this week, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 2571, which establishes minimum standards for when local agencies opt to use body cameras. There is now a provision in the bill that ensures that footage is released to the public only in very narrow circumstances, and that all faces are blurred in whatever footage is released given privacy and safety concerns for officers and their families.

In terms of ORCOPS’s priorities, there are three big issues still up in the air for us:

1.  Senate Bill 316 was a simple bill about privacy of data on electronic devices for most of the session, but was suddenly amended into a bill that allows for polygraph examinations of new police officer applicants. The bill now heads to the House Judiciary committee, and ORCOPS is confident about stopping this invasive provision.

2.  Senate Bill 822 and Senate Bill 871 attempt to address grand jury and investigation processes.  SB 822 would call for the recording of grand jury proceedings, and provide those recordings to defense attorneys. However, the bill also contains special provisions for releasing those records only when “public servants” (police officers) are not indicted. Aside from being an unproductive and sensational provision, this sets a precedent of creating a separate justice system for police officers. Along those lines SB 871 includes a provision that would remove District Attorney discretion in cases where a police officer used deadly force, and mandates such cases are presented to grand juries. Alone, these provisions in SB 822 and 871 are bad enough, but combined it creates a media circus atmosphere around police work.  ORCOPS is working hard to ensure that these provisions don’t move forward.
​ ​ ​
​ 3.  Senate Bill 87 is pitched as a “clarification,” but in reality chips away at veterans’ preferences by giving broad discretion to employers in order to apply or not apply preferences as they see fit. ORCOPS is working with ​the Bureau of Labor and Industries to lobby hard against this bill, and change it to an actual clarification of existing law by adopting the 87-1 amendments.

Other bills are moving forward – both ORCOPS’ own priorities and various compromises. House Bill 2357, allowing officers to carry their weapons when off-duty, passed the House and has its (hopefully) final hearing on Thursday May 14. Senate Bill 943 will prevent counties from charging an extra vehicle registration fee to non-residents who register their personal vehicle at a precinct address.

Additionally, many other bills that ORCOPS had strong concerns about are no longer viable. This list includes bills that would require the Attorney General to investigate use of force complaints, capping PERS final salaries at $100,000, impeding officers’ ability to conduct consent searches, and a dangerous revision of use of force standards.

Contact me if you have any questions or comments regarding our ORCOPS activities.

Daryl Turner, President
ORCOPS
503.757.8401

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