Legislative Deadline Week

This past week in Salem was deadline week, meaning that any measures that had not been moved by the relevant policy committee by midnight on Tuesday are now “dead” bills. And while a couple of ORCOPS-sponsored measures were caught in that trap, we had a lot more success in moving good measures along and killing bad bills.

ORCOPS’ measures to crack down on Brady list abuses and capricious citation evaluations were both left in committee. However, Senate Judiciary Chairman Floyd Prozanski (D – Eugene) has indicated a desire to work on both issues in the interim. Also left in the Judiciary Committee were several measures that ORCOPS fought against throughout session, including measures to functionally eliminate consent searches, requiring officers to undergo additional mental health sessions and drug tests after critical incidents, another measure requiring the Attorney General to investigate all use of force incidents, and others with similar themes.

One measure of concern that did make it out the Senate Judiciary Committee is SB 496, which has the primary goal of recording grand jury proceedings. However, there is a small section in the measure that would cause the records to become publicly-requestable when a law enforcement officer is the target of the grand jury. ORCOPS has been fighting against this provision for several years, and the measure now moves to the Ways & Means Committee, where ORCOPS will continue to oppose it. Senator Kim Thatcher (R – Keizer) voted with ORCOPS on the measure in the Judiciary Committee.

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.

Another interesting event happened on deadline day. SB 728 simply asks for a study from DPSST.  However, the measure’s “relating clause” was exceedingly broad: “Relating to law enforcement.” This means that with as little as one-hour notice, the measure could be amended with anything having to do with “law enforcement.” ORCOPS’ lobbyist saw that the measure was suddenly scheduled for a work session (which includes the ability to amend the measure) the morning of deadline day and immediately ran to sign up on the bill to have standing to testify. At that point, we didn’t know what might happen with the bill. As it turns out, Committee staff indicated that the measure was not meant to go anywhere and the measure was taken off the agenda. But ORCOPS was watching closely; ORCOPS and DPSST (who also noticed the measure and had a similar concern) were the only two entities to sign up for potential testimony.

Other measures that were blocked due in part to ORCOPS’ work include several promise-breaking PERS “reforms;” a measure that would have restricted officers from using “trickery” or “artifice” (their words!) in interviewing suspects; and a measure that would have prohibited minors from waiving their right to counsel. It should be noted that several measures (including a different PERS “reform” measure that would revamp how final average salary is calculated) were moved to their respective chambers’ Rules Committees “without recommendation.” This is generally a courtesy to a member who doesn’t have the votes to pass their measure, but the maneuver keeps the measure alive past the deadline date. However, the “without recommendation” designation is an indication that the measure is not likely to garner support. However, it is important to remember that in this legislative session, the Legislature is looking to strike deals on a revenue package and a transportation package, and as those negotiations occur, ORCOPS will be wary that absolutely any bill might be brought to the negotiation table. So, we will stay vigilant!

Stay safe out there,

Daryl Turner, President
Oregon Coalition of Police and Sheriffs