There is still talk about a special session of the Oregon Legislature ahead of next year’s regular session, but the three state lawmakers who participated in Thursday’s virtual town hall said most issues can wait until next year.
State Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, said he preferred to wait until after Thanksgiving, noting that most of the discussion would probably be centered around continued response to and recovery from the wildfires which devastated much of western Oregon this past summer and into the fall.
Findley was part of a Zoom call on Thursday night, along with Rep Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles, and Rep. Mark Owens, R-Crane. The three have been meeting for virtual town halls regularly over the year.
Findley said the legislative Emergency Board, on which he sits, recently allocated $45 million package to deal with fire recovery, some of which might be used to upgrade the state’s air-fleet.
Commenting on the issue of getting the Legislature together for a session, is that it has to be in Salem. “We cannot have a legislature virtually,” Findley said. “We have to be in chamber to vote.”
In later comments, Findley expressed his opposition to some of the proposals to buy up motels and hotels and install cooking facilities in the rooms or people who had lost their homes.
“They are not designed for that,’” he said.
All three lawmakers expressed support for the county clerks in handling the ballots for the general election, however Bonham and Owens said they would prefer to have in person voting.
All three expressed concern about “motor-voter” registration done through the Department of Motor Vehicles which move a person from being a partisan voter to one of the being non-affiliated.
“It should be the decision of the voter,” Bonham said.
Despite rise in infection number for COVID-19, Owens said Oregon still has some lower numbers, and expressed concern about the impact of current restrictions put in place to slow the virus.
“With just the status quo (no further restrictions) 40 percent of businesses will go out of business,” he said he was told.
One of their concerns with COVID-19 is providing protection for businesses from lawsuits filed by people getting the virus and blaming a business but that is not moving ahead.
“[Legislation] for liability projection has stalled,” Bonham said.