SALEM, Ore. (AP) — With the end in sight, lawmakers in face covers returned to the Capitol Friday for the special legislative session to consider more than 20 bills, most dealing with police accountability and the COVID-19 pandemic.
By early evening, the Legislature passed five police reform bills, including measures that limit the use of chokeholds, require officers to intervene if their colleague is being unjust or unethical and creating a statewide police discipline database as they hoped to be able to adjourn.
“I want to be clear, we still have much work to do,” said Sen. Lew Frederick, D-Eugene. “Much work to do to get to a place where our communities can genuinely feel safe around those who were sworn to serve and protect them.”
The police reform bills passed overwhelmingly, two passed unanimously in Senate. In addition, the Senate unanimously passed a bill making it easier to uphold discipline against police by lessening the power of arbitrators. The measure had to be considered by the House.
“This bill is a problem solving effort,” Sen. Lew Frederick, D-Portland, said on the Senate floor. “It is an effort to create trust, fairness and transparency in government. This bill goes hand in hand in the procedural justice movement in 21st century policing and restorative justice commitments that have been made to our constituents.”
The measures passed the upper chamber following the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who was handcuffed and died last month after a white Minneapolis police officer held a knee to his neck.
The reform bills were just a portion of the lengthy list the Legislature considered Friday.
In an effort to hasten the process, Republicans in the House agreed to suspend certain procedural rules.
Bills moved quickly in the Senate with limited floor debates, while the House was slower.
House Bill 4204, was one of the most debated measures in the Legislature — passing in the House 39-18 and passing in the Senate 19-8. The bill would enact new foreclosure protections during the coronavirus pandemic.