State Rep. Sherrie Sprenger, R-HD 17, told Linn County commissioners Tuesday morning she is wary about the special session of the Legislature that will convene at 8 a.m. today.
Although actual bills won’t be known until the session begins, Sprenger said it’s likely the three-to-five-day session will heavily focus on bills that affect law enforcement programs.
“In my opinion, this session should be about the budget,” Sprenger said. “But to my knowledge, we aren’t going to take that up until another session in July or August.”
Sprenger, who is a former deputy sheriff, said she believes the session will include bills that “promote some of the most drastic changes in law enforcement I have ever seen.”
Sprenger said she will not support legislation that “undermines the ability of our law enforcement folks to keep people safe.”
Although the general public won’t be allowed to view the proceedings in person, they will be able to watch via the Internet at https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/Pages/session.aspx.
“I encourage people to engage in this process,” Sprenger said. “Nothing ever changes from people sitting at home and talking about something. They have to make their voices heard, expressed. You have to go on the record to sway votes."
Sprenger said there are “cops who shouldn’t be cops,” just as there are legislators, commissioners and teachers, among others, who shouldn’t hold their positions.
“But we already have systems in place to hold them accountable,” Sprenger said.
Board Chairman Roger Nyquist, who was participating by telephone, said that no matter what the Legislature does, Linn County will continue to “value public safety and be a good place to create a family. Every four years the citizens of our county approve a law enforcement levy.”
Nyquist added, “The demonization of law enforcement professionals is unconscionable. We will continue to support our law enforcement community.”
Commissioner Will Tucker added that it is also important to keep public and private property safe from vandalism.
He said it will cost millions to repair property damage in Portland.
In other action, the commissioners:
• Approved a supplemental budget that included: $12,000 more from a grant within the District Attorney’s Office; $732,765 within the health fund from the state for materials and services; $25,000 transfer within the health fund for environmental health to purchase software; $50,000 transfer within the general fund so outside inspectors can be hired in the Planning and Building Department; a $100,000 transfer within the law enforcement fund from personal services to materials and services.
• Approved a 4.66% cost of living adjustment for elected officials and management/exempt staff and a 2.75% COLA for members of the Teamsters Union.
• Were informed by Randy Porter that business continues to be slow at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center, but he is holding the line on staffing, which will reduce his budget by about $300,000. He said a couple big events are being negotiated for late September and early October.
• Were informed by Juvenile Director Torri Lynn that the number of referrals is down. The commissioners approved a rate of $265.66 per day to house youth from Benton County for the coming year. Commissioner Tucker praised Lynn and his staff for implementing health measures that have so far resulted in no COVID-19 infections.
• Approved writing off unpaid health service accounts totaling about $27,000 for mental health, alcohol and drug treatment and general public health services.
• Approved spending about $114,000 to purchase software for the Assessment and Taxation Office.
• Agreed to move forward with awarding a $174,620 contract to roof the General Services Building to ABC Roof Co. The bid is about $65,000 over the original budget.
• Approved a memorandum of understanding with the city of Lebanon. Linn County purchased a camping trailer for $23,000 and it will be sited at Gills Landing in Lebanon if a COVID-19 quarantine space is needed for homeless people. In the future, the trailer will likely be placed in a county campground as a rental unit.
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