Hill to Hall Nov. 17–19

Nov 17: Oregon lawmaker challenges current House Speaker for the seat


House Speaker Tina Kotek won the Democratic party’s nomination for another term as speaker, but faces a challenger for the first time since she’s held the seat. Rep. Janelle Bynum, a fellow Democrat who represents Clackamas County, is pursuing the position despite not receiving her party’s nomination, according to OPB. In order to win the seat, a candidate needs a majority of the votes. Since Democrats have the majority, they are usually able to pass their nominee without issue; However, Bynum, who is more moderate than Kotek, is seeking to build a coalition of Democrats and Republicans to help her win the seat. 


Nov 18: Oregon House Speaker calls for ‘catastrophic’ special session


House Speaker Tina Kotek released a statement Wednesday urging Oregon Governor Kate Brown to call a special session in December—declaring a “catastrophic disaster” for the first time in Oregon’s history—in order to help Oregonians who are struggling in the pandemic. Voters approved the provision that allows the governor to declare a catastrophic disaster in 2012, which at the time, was focused on the possibility of an earthquake or tsunami hitting the state, according to OPB. However, Kotek said the pandemic is a valid reason to use the provision. Brown’s office responded Wednesday, stating Brown is open to a special session if lawmakers can agree on a succinct list of policies to pursue. 

Nov 19: State lawmakers push for more COVID-19 testing


A group of 32 current and incoming legislators are calling on Governor Kate Brown to increase Oregon’s rate of COVID-19 testing—which has been consistently ranked among the country’s lowest—amid a new spike of cases in the state. According to Willamette Week, while Oregon’s approach gives local authorities authority over how to conduct testing, that leeway has resulted in numerous approaches, many lacking in resources and at varying standards. Oregon is ranked 49th in the nation for its rate of per-capita coronavirus testing, according to The Oregonian