The Salem Machine at Work

This past week was hectic for everyone in Salem, as it was the last week to get bills scheduled to be voted on by committees in their original chamber (they must be voted on by committees by April 18).

ORCOPS started the week out by testifying with the Chiefs, Sheriffs, and other law enforcement organizations to support a measure facilitating medical screenings when an officer is exposed to another person’s bodily fluids. Senator Tim Knopp (R – Bend) expressed support for the concept, acknowledging that “peace of mind matters” to law enforcement officers in this situation.

We continue to work with the District Attorneys Association to prevent a damaging bill that would impede officers’ ability to interview minors (HB 3242), and our conversations with Rep Barker (D – Beaverton), whose committee heard the measure, have been fruitful. We’ll learn next week whether the measure is tabled or if there is enough lingering support to pass it in some form.

ORCOPS also had a fruitful meeting on PERS “reform” with Senator Steiner-Hayward (D – Portland/Beaverton), who seemed to indicate support of ORCOPS’ position on protecting and respecting the State’s pension promises. ORCOPS is the only member of the pension-defending PERS Coalition representing local law enforcement officers.

ORCOPS is pleased to report that Senate Bill 712 unanimously passed the Senate Workforce Committee this past week, with some amendments. The bill provides PERS time credit for officers who are injured on duty and receive workers’ compensation benefits, and fixes a serious inequity within Tier-3 PERS (OPSRP) where someone injured on the job and collecting workers comp currently doesn’t receive service credit for the period between the injury and their return to work.

Several other more “housekeeping” measures passed, such as HB 2987, which slightly modifies the crime of giving false information to an officer, and clarifies the language slightly. On these measures, ORCOPS tracks the legislation and works with committee members, but does not need to give testimony.

Lastly, HB 2674, which would fix an oversight in the extension of PERS to OHSU’s police officers, was not scheduled for a hearing, even after OHSU and ORCOPS came to an agreement on the policy. Although the measure was very narrow in scope and effect, the House leadership refused any and all measures that would expand PERS, even so slightly, under fear that it would impede other negotiations. ORCOPS will continue to pursue the measure as an amendment.

Stay safe out there.

Daryl Turner, President
Oregon Coalition of Police and Sheriffs