The Oregon Legislature closed out 2020 with its third special session of the year, passing four bills aimed to provide relief to Oregonians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and wildfires. The contents of those bills are summarized below.
HB 4401: Residential Eviction Moratorium and Landlord Assistance
- Directs Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) to provide grants to landlords for 80 percent of unpaid rent between April 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, provided that landlords complete an application detailing all unpaid rent from qualified tenants and an agreement to forgive 20 percent of the outstanding unpaid rent.
- Directs OHCS to distribute rent assistance to recipients of CARES Act Grants, who will make payments directly to landlords upon tenant’s applications.
- Prohibits eviction without cause until June 30, 2021. Requires landlord to provide tenant with notice of their right to submit a declaration of financial hardship, which must be made under penalty of perjury. Requires court to dismiss eviction action before end of grace period based solely on nonpayment of rent if tenant declares financial hardship or landlord fails to provide tenant with notice of rights.
- For tenants declaring financial hardship:
- Extends emergency period, end of grace period, and prohibits eviction for nonpayment until June 30, 2021.
- Requires payment of past due rent by July 1, 2021.
- Prohibits landlords from charging late fees for nonpayment of rent between April 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.
- For tenants not declaring financial hardship:
- Extends emergency period to December 31, 2020 and extends grace period to March 31, 2021.
- Prohibits eviction for nonpayment until March 31, 2021.
- Requires payment of past due rent by March 31, 2021.
- Prohibits landlord from charging late fees for nonpayment of rent between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021.
HB 4402: School Liability Limitation
- Prohibits claims for damages related to COVID-19 infection suffered from acts or omission of a school district if the act or omission was performed in the course of operating an education program and the school district was in compliance with COVID-19 emergency rules in effect at the time of the act or omission.
- Excludes reckless, wanton, and intentional misconduct.
- Excludes causes of action and remedies for claims arising from laws relating to state worker safety and health, workers’ compensation, and state and federal leave and wage, discrimination or retaliation, or specialized instruction.
SB 1801: Cocktails To-Go
- Allows holders of full on-premises sales licenses to sell and deliver mixed drinks or single serving of wine for off-premises consumption, if sold in a sealed container.
- Limits number of beverages to two per substantial food item.
- Limits fees charged to restaurants by a third-party food platform based on whether the option for delivery is offered. Prohibits third-party platform from reducing rate of compensation paid to an individual making deliveries or from garnishing their gratuities as a result of the fee limitation.
- The Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s temporary administrative rules can be found at OAR 845-006-0399.
SB 5731: Budget Bill
- Appropriates $100 million to the Emergency Fund for general purposes.
- Establishes new special purpose General Fund appropriation of $400 million for COVID-19.
- Establishes new special purpose General Fund appropriation of $100 million for wildfire recovery, prevention, and preparedness.
- Appropriates $150 million to fund grant program for residential landlords and $50 million for rental assistance payments, as described in HB 4401.
The Joint Committee also considered SB 1803, which was to provide liability limitations for healthcare facilities, but the bill did not receive the requisite number of votes to move beyond the committee.
Throughout the one-day session, members of the Joint Committee expressed concerns with a number of policy aspects of the bills described above. However, given time constraints, the bills moved forward without further discussions or amendments with an understanding that amendments may be considered in the upcoming regular session beginning later this month.