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Kotek holds signing ceremony for bills on ghost guns, fentanyl and Oregon's police training backlog

One of bills Gov. Tina Kotek highlighted on Monday, House Bill 2005, was one of the bills that Oregon Senate Republicans targeted with a six-week walkout.

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek held a symbolic signing ceremony for seven new public safety bills Monday afternoon, touting legislation aimed at cracking down on "ghost guns" and fentanyl, bolstering Oregon's overloaded public defender system and clearing a backlog at the state's sole police academy.

The deadline for Kotek to sign bills from the 2023 legislative session has already passed; all of the bills she mentioned at Monday's news conference were officially signed back in July, but the governor sought to highlight them as a group, declaring that they "represent concrete steps forward to ensure that Oregonians are safe and have trust in their justice system."

The ghost gun bill was one of two bills targeted by a six-week walkout led by Senate Republicans earlier this year, which ended when Democrats agreed to scale down both pieces of legislation before passage — something Kotek acknowledged at Monday's news conference, although she didn't mention the parts that got cut.

"Because we know House Bill 2005 did generate some controversy in the legislature, and I want to thank the legislators and the advocates for getting that bill across the finish line," she said. "It wouldn't be here without your leadership, so thank you very much."

The more expansive version of House Bill 2005 would have raised the minimum age to purchase most guns from 18 to 21 and given Oregon cities the option to ban firearms in public buildings, in addition to cracking down on untraceable firearms. The final version only maintains the ghost gun ban, establishing fines and jail time for the sale or possession of 3D printed guns with the serial numbers removed or unfinished gun frames and receivers.

Even the smaller version of HB 2005 ultimately passed the Senate on a relatively narrow vote — in terms of the legislature's quorum rules — of 17-3, with 10 lawmakers absent or excused. Most of the other bills Kotek touted on Monday passed by large margins in both chambers.

The only other relatively close vote was for Senate Bill 337, which passed the Senate 17-8 with five absences. The bill aims to overhaul Oregon's public defender system, but it made headlines during the legislative session when Kotek sent lawmakers a letter asking for amendments to the in-progress legislation.

The other five bills Kotek mentioned are:

  • Senate Bill 5533 provides new funding for training and classes at the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, Oregon's only police academy. Mayor Ted Wheeler has cited a backlog at DPSST as one of the factors slowing down Portland's efforts to fill police vacancies.
  • House Bill 2676 updates Oregon's Victims Compensation Program to expand counseling eligibility and offer compensation for additional expenses such as counseling or funeral expenses.
  • House Bill 2732 provides funding for Children Advocacy Centers statewide, which provide services when child abuse is suspected.
  • House Bill 2320 creates a Juvenile Justice Policy Commission Tasked with analyzing policy and making recommendations to the legislature about how to improve Oregon's juvenile justice system.
  • House Bill 2645 creates misdemeanor penalties for possession of a gram or more of fentanyl — or five pills — allowing violators to be sentenced to up to a year in jail or a $6,250 fine, or both. 

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