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Legislation follows up 2018 federal court decision barring blanket restrictions by cities, counties.

PMG PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - Snow fell on homeless camps in the Cully neighborhood of Northeast Portland on Saturday, March 14, 2020.Gov. Kate Brown is the final stop for a bill requiring cities and counties to specify why they are restricting camping or loitering based on time, place or manner.

House Bill 3115 cleared the Oregon Senate without amendment on an 18-10 vote Wednesday, June 9. Its chief sponsor is House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland.

The bill sets in place a 2018 decision by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Oregon, against an anti-camping ordinance in Boise, Idaho. The court ruled that the ordinance was unconstitutional because homeless people often were left with no other options. The Supreme Court declined to hear Boise's appeal, and Boise settled the 12-year-old lawsuit in February.

The court's initial decision affected similar ordinances elsewhere. Oregon cities and counties would have until July 1, 2023, to make sure their ordinances comply.

Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, said the bill was the product of negotiations by a work group with representatives of the Oregon Law Center and local governments. Not all of them signed on to it, but Portland City Commissioner Dan Ryan and the Metropolitan Mayors Consortium, which represents about two dozen area mayors, offered qualified support during a House Judiciary Committee hearing April 9.

"This is a reasonable consensus approach to a difficult situation," Dembrow, the bill's floor manager in the Senate, said.

No other senator spoke, in contrast to the House debate April 15. The House vote also was largely along party lines.

Although people can sue a local government in court, the bill bars them from collecting monetary damages. Local governments would have 90 days from the time a suit is filed to make changes in the relevant ordinance.

One Republican, Tim Knopp of Bend, joined 17 Democrats to pass the bill in the Senate. One Democrat, Betsy Johnson of Scappoose, joined eight Republicans and the lone independent to vote against it. Two Republicans were excused.

In a related development, the House cleared a bill extending from 24 to 72 hours the advance notice that must be posted before homeless people are removed from a campsite. Removed items must be stored; they can be donated to tax-exempt charities 30 days after removal. In Multnomah County, such items must be stored within six blocks of a transit station.

The final House vote Wednesday on the amended version of House Bill 3124 was 40-18. The Senate approved it the previous day, 17-13. Its chief sponsor was Rep. John Lively, D-Springfield.

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NOTE: Adds vote on a related bill that also goes to Gov. Kate Brown.


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