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Governor Kate Brown calls special legislative session to consider COVID-19, wildfire aid
The Oregon Herald Staff
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SALEM, Oregon - On Tuesday, Governor Kate Brown called lawmakers for a special legislative session to consider COVID-19 and wildfire aid for residents in the state.

Governor Brown requested the special session meet for one day next Monday at 8 a.m. to discuss any policies and $800 million in relief for Oregonians to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and “horrific” wildfires, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

Governor Brown listed her priorities as funding for tenants and landlords, vaccine distribution and contact tracing, wildfire prevention and community preparation and reopening schools.

“We must protect Oregonians now, as we face some of our hardest days, whether by getting critical resources into the hands of those most in need, keeping a roof over people’s heads, or recognizing the incredible toll of this virus on our small businesses and restaurants,” Brown said in a statement. “Oregon must act to bridge the gap as we continue to wait to see federal relief.”

Brown called out Congress for the lack of new coronavirus relief as the party leaders have been deadlocked for months over a fifth COVID-19 spending package.

“I continue to call on Congress to pass another robust coronavirus relief bill to bring support to the American people,” she said. “But these calls have not yet been heeded.”

“It is clear that states must act on their own to provide a bridge until federal help arrives,” she added. “This is why I am calling on legislators from both sides of the aisle to come together in the best interests of the state.”

Governor Brown also directed attention to how the pandemic and its economic impacts are disproportionately affecting people “who are often left behind,” including minority communities.

Oregon House Democrats said after meeting Monday that they expect the special session to involve discussions over four bills, including one that would give $200 million in relief to landlords and tenants and another to provide aid to bars and restaurants and to legalize to-go cocktails, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

The third bill involves protecting schools from COVID-19-related lawsuits, and the fourth would move $600 million into Oregon’s emergency fund for COVID-19 and wildfire expenses.