Legislature Winding Down

With the legislature winding down in Salem, many bills are beginning to get resolved one way or another. Friday June 2 was the deadline for moving most bills out of their policy committees, so we saw a flurry of activity last week.

The “Deception Detection” bill, HB 2545, had a public hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. This bill would have provided for deception tests other than polygraphs in Oregon’s regulatory scheme. ORCOPS worked with sponsors to ensure that the bill was amended in order to prevent the use of non-polygraph tests (such as pupil dilation analysis) to be used for pre-employment screening of law enforcement officers. Once in Senate Judiciary, chair Prozanski (D – Eugene) announced that he felt the bill was not ready to pass and that he would continue to work on it in the interim period.

House Bill 3242, which requires that custodial interviews with minors are recorded, was passed out of the same committee on Tuesday, over the objection of ORCOPS as well as the Chiefs and Sheriffs associations. However, the measure was at least amended per suggestions from ORCOPS to apply only to minors suspected of certain crimes, only to law enforcement departments of a certain size, and to allow for interviews to still be admitted into evidence if not recorded (but with a jury instruction that it was not recorded).

Senate Bills 505 and 496, which would require recordation of grand jury proceedings, are still in the Ways & Means Committee (and thereby not subject to session scheduling deadlines). ORCOPS is eagerly awaiting a hearing to be scheduled so as to oppose the measures (which still each have a stipulation that recordings of grand juries targeting law enforcement officers are made public record), although we would in fact prefer the measures not to be heard at all. The drop-dead deadline for all bills is July 10. A big issue around these measures is the added costs of creating a new class of public records and recording infrastructure. While a final Fiscal Impact Statement has not yet been issued, the rumor is now that the measures are looking at price tags of more than $10 million *each*, which would be untenable in this constrained budget environment. ORCOPS has been advocating funding for east count gang enforcement, which would be in front of the same subcommittee, and we would much rather those dollars get spent there.

The PERS Coalition has continued to meet and is discussing continued responses to PERS “reform” efforts. ORCOPS has been attending and scheduling meetings with various legislators in order to dampen efforts to cut into benefits. With the Governor’s recent assembly of a task force to work on pension costs, and some legislators’ insistence that PERS “reforms” be a part of this session’s endgame, this issue is as relevant as ever. However, the Governor has kept the task force’s mission relatively broad (decrease the unfunded liabilities by $5 billion) without specifying a particular course of action. This allows the Governor, and the Legislature, the flexibility to either target benefits or simply pursue passive reforms that would not affect benefits (such as restructuring the investment administration model). It will therefore be incredibly important for PERS Coalition members and ORCOPS (the only representation of local law enforcement officers in the coalition) to continuously persuade Legislators and the task force to focus on the latter.

Stay safe out there this this week!

Daryl Turner, President

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SB 519 & HB 2545

Polygraphs

April 21, 20017 UPDATE

A perennial measure to allow the use of polygraphs for screening law enforcement officers, SB 519, was stuck in committee upon Tuesday’s deadline. However, another measure in the House of Representatives, HB 2545, created a designation of “deception detection” devices separate from polygraphs and would likely have created a loophole that allowed such devices to be used in lieu of polygraphs. ORCOPS spoke with sponsor Rep. Jodi Hack (R – Salem) who agreed to an amendment with Rep. Jeff Barker (D – Aloha) to close that loophole, which was not really the intent of the measure. Additionally, Eugene Police Chief Kearns, who has been pushing the polygraph measure, has announced his retirement, so hopefully this is one perennial issue that will be put to rest.

March 18, 2017

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.

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