Oregon House passes bill that would allow homeless persons right to sit, lie, sleep and escape elements in public places

Ontario Police officers check out personal items left behind at an impromptu camp that was set up at the entrance doors on the north side of Ontario’s Aquatic Center in September of 2019. 

ONTARIO 

One of the bills passed by the Oregon House last week, would give people who are experiencing homelessness some leeway in using public property as a place to locate for keeping warm and sleeping, and would require law enforcement reasonable discretion in enforcing laws local laws regarding loitering and other related charges.

Sponsored by House Speaker Tina Kotek, it would provide a person who has been cited or arrested with the ability to challenge the reasonableness of a local laws if brought to court.

House Bill 3115 now heads to the Senate.

The bill comes as a result of a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld the overturning of ordinances in Boise which put in place a total ban of sleeping and camping in public.

The Oregon bill faced opposition because it focuses on cities and counties and several lawmakers felt it should have included state lands also. However, some supporters said state lands were implied. 

A motion to send the bill to the House Rules Committee for amendments failed and it was then passed. 

“Punishing people for being homeless is not in the public interest,” Rep. Karin Power, D-Milwaukie, who carried the bill to the House floor, said. Rep Winsvey Compos. Aloha, said the bill needs more work but was moving in the right direction.



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