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Gov. Brown calls special session, asks for $800 million to help Oregonians

Brown, who has repeatedly called on Congress to pass another coronavirus relief bill, said states must now act on their own until federal aid arrives.
Credit: KGW
Oregon State Capitol

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown will convene a one-day special session of the state legislature on Monday, Dec. 21, during which she'll ask state lawmakers to consider $800 million in relief for Oregonians suffering financially from the COVID-19 pandemic and the state's wildfires.

The funding will go towards helping tenants and landlords, funding vaccine distribution and contact tracing, wildfire prevention and community preparedness and support for reopening Oregon's schools.

Brown said she has repeatedly called on Congress to pass another coronavirus relief bill, to no avail. She said states must act on their own until the federal government passes a new relief bill.

"We must protect Oregonians now, as we face some of our hardest days, whether by getting critical resources into the hands of those most in need, keeping a roof over people’s heads, or recognizing the incredible toll of this virus on our small businesses and restaurants," Brown said in a statement. "Oregon must act to bridge the gap as we continue to wait to see federal relief."

Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the state epidemiologist, is consulting with lawmakers to help plan the special session in a way that ensures a healthy and safe environment. The special session begins at 8 a.m. on Dec. 21.

Oregon Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod sent out a statement in support of the special session on Tuesday morning,

“The third special session will give needed relief to hurting Oregonians,” he said. “Proposed legislation includes COVID-19 liability protections for schools, a critical first step to get schools reopened, support for renters and landlords, as well as technical changes in the restaurant industry that will help hard-working Oregonians and small businesses.

“There is significant work to be done in the upcoming 2021 long session, and Republicans will continue to advocate for liability protections for our health care system in the coming weeks.”

Here's is Brown's full statement:

Oregonians are making tremendous sacrifices to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While the risk reduction measures we have put in place are working to slow the spread, many Oregon families are struggling with unemployment, housing, food insecurity, and paying their bills — and those most impacted are the same people who are often left behind, including rural, Black, Indigenous, Latino/Latina/Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Tribal communities.

I continue to call on Congress to pass another robust coronavirus relief bill to bring support to the American people. But these calls have not yet been heeded. It is clear that states must act on their own to provide a bridge until federal help arrives. This is why I am calling on legislators from both sides of the aisle to come together in the best interests of the state.

We must protect Oregonians now, as we face some of our hardest days, whether by getting critical resources into the hands of those most in need, keeping a roof over people’s heads, or recognizing the incredible toll of this virus on our small businesses and restaurants. Oregon must act to bridge the gap as we continue to wait to see federal relief. I thank legislators for their work in addressing these critical issues next week, and I look forward to our progress.