Oregon lawmakers pass bill restricting police choke holds


SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A measure further restricting the use of choke holds by police passed the Oregon Legislature by Monday night as lawmakers worked late to try to conclude a special session called to fix a billion-dollar budget deficit due to COVID-19.

House Bill 4301 prohibits the use of choke holds by police or corrections officers except for self defense as defined by law.

“It’s long past time we disallowed officers from using chokeholds,” Sen. James Manning, D-Eugene, said. “It’s wrong and it can be lethal. It is not a tool to deescalate. It’s a tool to take a life.”

The measure passed the House 55 to 2 and the Senate 22 to 5.

Some leading lawmakers had hoped to focus the special session, which began Monday, only on budget matters.

There were complaints throughout the day that Oregon’s second special session of the year, held under coronavirus restrictions, didn’t allow lawmakers and others enough time to debate or voice concerns about legislation.

“(Lawmakers in the Capitol) are grumpy and they’re getting grumpier,” Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, said during a joint committee work session.

In an effort to place bills on the Oregon Legislature floor Monday evening, Courtney urged lawmakers in the joint committee to only ask pressing questions.

“Either let’s get (the lawmakers) home or let’s vote on bills,” Courtney said. He said previously he was trying to keep the session short because of pandemic concerns.

House Speaker Tina Kotek also announced the Legislature would not take public testimony on bills during the special session, but the public can submit written testimony.

The Legislature has been tasked with filling a $1.2 billion budget hole. Leading lawmakers have proposed cuts totaling $387 million across state agencies and using $400 million in emergency funds from the Education Stability Fund.

The total adopted state budget for the 2019-21 biennium is nearly $86 billion, about a 10% increase from the 2017-19 legislatively approved budget.

Sara Cline reported for the Associated Press.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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