May 17: Biden rescinds Department of Justice order to prosecute protesters in Portland
Executive Order 13933, titled “Protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Violence,” was enacted by former President Donald Trump in July 2020 in response to the Black Lives Matter protests and unrest in downtown Portland, Oregon. Current President Joe Biden issued a countermanding order nullifying E.O. 13933. Trump’s order required the United States attorney general to prosecute persons who vandalized or destroyed federal property like statues or courthouses. Trump’s order also sent hundreds of officials from the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies to Portland, costing taxpayers millions of dollars, according to a report from the Office of the Inspector General. Biden’s countermanding order also negated Trump’s plan to build a garden with hundreds of lifelike statues of historical figures, which the former president approved during his last few days in office.
May 18: Oregon Legislature officially recognizes Indigenous People’s Day
On the second Monday of every subsequent October, Oregon will acknowledge the contributions made to the U.S. by indigenous peoples. H.B. 2526 passed by a 50-5 vote in the Oregon House of Representatives in April, and in the state Senate by a vote of 22-7 on May 18. Starting October 11, 2021, Oregon will acknowledge that Christopher Columbus’s “discovery” of North and South America is factually erroneous and not laudable of celebration, because his travels created “heinous crimes against humanity,” according to the bill. Oregon is the 11th state to officially recognize Indigenous People’s Day.
May 19: Oregon considers classifying healthcare as a fundamental right
The HOPE Amendment, or Senate Joint Resolution 12, was approved by Oregon lawmakers in the House of Representatives on May 19, according to a press release from the Senate Majority Office. “SJR 12 proposes that ‘health care as a human right’ be added to the Oregon Constitution,” the briefing stated. SJR 12 embodies the legacy of the late Representative Mitch Greenlick, D-Ore., who was a staunch proponent of recognizing healthcare as a fundamental human right. Greenlick was also honored on the floor of the Senate with Senate Concurrent Resolution 3. The resolution amends the Oregon Constitution to establish healthcare as a right to all citizens, though it has a loophole. SJR 12 states the obligation “must be balanced against the public interest in funding public schools and other essential public services,” which makes SJR 12 more akin to a call to action, and not a specific legislative proposal or policy. Republicans oppose the measure, claiming that since over 90% of Oregon citizens have access to healthcare already, the action is superfluous.
May 20: Gov. Brown signs extended renter protection bill into law
Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed into law S.B. 282, which will provide renters struggling with financial problems due to the coronavirus pandemic an extension, giving them more time to pay back-due rent. “SB 282 extends residential [the] residential rent repayment period until February 28,2022…$204 million [will be] available through [the] Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program,” according to a State of Oregon Newsroom press release. The law further relaxes occupancy limits, since the pandemic has forced some Oregonians to stay with friends or family as a result of medical or financial hardships. However, the law doesn’t cover the eviction moratorium, which is scheduled to end June 30, nor does it cover any back rent.
May 21: Gov. Brown announces $1 million dollar vaccine incentive program
Any citizen of Oregon that has received at least one shot of COVID-19 and is over the age of 18 could win up to $1 million on June 28, the governor’s office announced on May 21. “My encouragement to Oregonians is take your shot now. “We have an opportunity to beat California to reopening the economy if we can get close to 250,000 Oregonians vaccinated in the next few weeks,” Brown said in a press briefing. The total amount of money available is $1.86 million pooled together. The “Take Your Shot, Oregon” campaign revealed several tiers of winners: One $1 million winner, five $100,000 Oregon College Savings Plan education scholarship winners, and 36 $10,000 winners, one in each county, according to the press release. The money is coming from Oregon’s Coronavirus Relief Act funds, and those who have received at least the first dose of the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines are automatically entered in the lottery.