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Illegal marijuana, drought and evictions will be the focus of the December special session | News

SALEM, Ore. — A special legislative session meeting Monday will not deal exclusively with a potential round of winter evictions as originally proposed, according to a statement from Gov. Kate Brown’s office Friday. While primarily about housing, the program also calls for funding for deeply felt issues in southern Oregon, including the proliferation of illegal marijuana grow ops and endemic drought.

Governor Brown said she met with House and Senate leaders from both parties to agree on a list of priorities for the special session, which begins at 8 a.m. Monday.

“Oregonians facing possible eviction don’t have time to wait – they need an immediate solution that keeps them in their homes. And, over the past year, Oregonians have faced unprecedented challenges due to record heat and persistent drought conditions,” Governor Brown said. “I want to thank lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who have worked with me over the past few days to put in place a set of policies and investments that meet the pressing needs of Oregonians.”

Housing will always constitute the bulk of the proposed funding. According to the program outlined by Brown’s office, the Legislature intends to consider allocating $215 million to prevent winter evictions, transition to long-term, local eviction prevention services, and extending safe harbor protections for tenants who have applied for but not yet received rental assistance. .

An additional $100 million would go to help Oregonians affected by record-breaking hot and dry conditions experienced over the summer; $25 million for a “comprehensive statewide plan” to combat the proliferation of illegal marijuana grow ops; $18 million for the resettlement of Afghan refugees in Oregon; and a list of more focused funding priorities across the state.

Senate Republicans have taken credit for much of the legislation beyond deportation protections — including money for resettling Afghan refugees.

“Special sessions are for emergencies,” said Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp. “These additional bills will address pressing issues facing Oregonians. The illegal marijuana situation in southern Oregon is absolutely an emergency. Drug cartels commit murder, steal water, assault Oregonians and engage in human trafficking. Law enforcement needs our support to stop these dangerous operations.

“Oregon’s farmers and ranchers were hit hard by the heat wave this summer. The resources included in the drought package will do a lot of good. Our economy is based on a robust agricultural sector. We must unite for them.

“Many of those seeking refuge in Afghanistan have risked their lives to help US troops. They deserve our support and help.

“Senate Republicans will be in the capital on Monday if the language of the legislation being drafted is consistent with those goals.”

Brown’s office gave the following breakdown for the two largest funding proposals, those related to evictions and drought relief:

Prevent winter evictions

As previously announced by Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS), nearly all of the remaining federal emergency housing assistance funds have been paid on behalf of or requested by Oregon tenants. The policy and funding proposal to take immediate action to prevent winter evictions includes the following:

  • Expand Safe Harbor eviction protections for each person who has applied for housing assistance and initiates Safe Harbor protections by June 30, 2022. Safe Harbor protections will remain in effect. place while applications are processed, not to last longer than September 30, 2022. (Current safe harbor protections in the law last 60 days.)
  • Ensure that landlords are paid in full for the rent owed to them.
  • Providing up to $100 million in additional emergency rent assistance to ensure access for low-income tenants in winter.
  • Providing $100 million to support partnerships with existing programs as Oregon transitions from large-scale pandemic-related emergency rental assistance to locally delivered long-term eviction prevention services.

Dryness relief

The $100 million drought relief package agreed to by the governor and lawmakers includes:

  • $40 million for a disaster repayable agricultural loan program to fill gaps in federal disaster relief for agricultural producers and provide interim relief while Oregonians wait for federal funds
  • $12 million for the Klamath Basin for household well assistance, livestock wells, drought resistance, and irrigation district assistance
  • $9.7 million to fight drought on Klamath Tribe lands
  • $10 million for farm workers who miss work due to unsafe working conditions resulting from extreme heat or smoke
  • $9.75 million for assistance to irrigation districts to offset water use costs
  • $5 million for the eradication of locusts and grasshoppers
  • $5.75 million for domestic and community well assistance
  • $3 million for an emergency soil conservation fund in Jefferson County
  • $1.5 million for the Oregon Community Food Systems Network to develop a disaster relief fund for farmers unable to access federal disaster relief funds or the Disaster Loan Program offered by the state
  • $1 million for technical assistance to BIPOC farmers and awareness raising on drought-tolerant crops
  • $1 million for drought resilience works in Jefferson County
  • $750,000 for drought resistance research and implementation
  • $300,000 for a statewide drought vulnerability assessment