CORVALLIS, Ore. — Oregon lawmakers are working to finish up their work so they can adjourn Friday, but they still need to work on a package of bills to rebalance the budget and approve construction projects around the state.
House Bill 4125, which would have increased the minimum mandatory sentence for trying to kill a law enforcement officer, has died in the House Judiciary Committee.
State Representative Sara Gelser has been working with David Peterson on the bill, a sergeant with the Benton Sheriff’s Office who was shot in the line of duty a year and a half ago.
Though he says he is disappointed the bill failed, he says he’s not giving up.
“It was disappointing, but I’m going to take that and be more motivated to do more in the future,” Sgt. Peterson said. “I will try in another four to five years.”
Peterson says there was a bi-partisan agreement last year not to pass more minimum mandatory sentence laws for the next five years.
Despite his disappointment about the bill’s demise, Peterson says he is excited that a portion of the text was picked up by Senate Bill 1550. The bill revises the definition of reserve officers if they are the victim of a crime in the line of duty. They would be considered law enforcement officers. Peterson says if a case is for the attempted murder of a reserve officer, the definition change boils down to the difference between an attempted murder charge (minimum mandatory sentence of 7 years and 5 months) and an attempted aggravated murder charge (minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years). If the bill is signed into law, someone who now would be convicted of the attempted murder of a reserve officer would be charged with attempted aggravated murder, which has a more severe sentence. The bill, passed by both the House and the Senate, is waiting to be signed into law by the governor.
Peterson says he is also working with Rep. Gelser on something for the next session.
“What I would like to do is introduce a bill that basically says first responders have a period of two, maybe three years, where they get full pay, full benefits while they recover from those injuries they sustained in the line of duty,” he said.
Peterson says when he was recovering from his injuries, he was receiving worker’s compensation and lost more than $10,000 in benefits.