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In response to new shutdown orders from Governor Kate Brown to slow the pandemic, House Republicans said they are considering legislative proposals with sponsors from both parties that would roll back COVID-19 executive orders or require additional accountability.

COVID Restrictions Debate

The Oregon House Republican Caucus charges the latest round of business shutdowns highlights 'unbalanced government authority.

The announcement follows the bipartisan actions of Legislatures in New York, Texas and Michigan, where state lawmakers seek to restore balance to government decision-making, according to a release from the Oregon House Republican Caucus.

Governor Brown has exercised emergency powers which grant authority to enact widespread restrictions on commerce, education and public gatherings without any checks and balances, the Republican Caucus said in the release.

"The newest shutdown orders do not reflect the current situation, according to the Oregon House Republican Caucus, which said today the personal protective equipment supply situation is different, the vaccination situation is different, and the treatment of patients has evolved as well.

The Republican Caucus added that the regional collaboration among hospitals has been developed over the course of the pandemic. Severe cases of COVID-19 are also less common now because nearly 70 percent of Oregon’s at-risk population is fully vaccinated.

Hospital rates for parts of the state like Southern Oregon are also not increasing, yet the new shutdowns impact businesses in those communities.

House Republicans point out that despite these changing circumstances, the response from the Governor’s office has not changed.

“The Legislature is in session and we have a duty to engage," Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) said. "Oregonians need to have a balance of power between the separate branches of government again. The decision to shut down businesses this week contradicts the newest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations by not accounting for vaccinated individuals in Oregon."

Drazan said businesses allow people to gather in places with standardized safety measures.

"There is no evidence that shutting them down will have an impact on transmission rates," Drazan said. "If COVID guidelines in Oregon continue to ignore CDC guidelines to the detriment of families, kids and our main street businesses, we must restore the Legislature’s ability to hold the executive branch accountable.”

Marion County Commissioner Colm Willis said there is no evidence that Marion County is close to running out of hospital capacity from COVID-19 cases.

“We have plenty of PPE and because of vaccinations we aren’t seeing the same high level of severity in overall cases who need hospitalization," Willis said. "On top of that, there is zero data to suggest that restaurants have ever been a top contributor to COVID-19 transmissions.Shutting businesses down won’t change the numbers.”

This week the CDC released new guidance that lifted many restrictions for vaccinated individuals, including dining at the same table without masks and social distancing.

The newest shutdowns from the Governor’s office does not account for the fact that nearly a third of Oregonians have received both vaccination doses, the Republican Caucus releases states.

The following is a listing of the proposed legislation under consideration by the Oregon House Republican Caucus:

  • HJR 18(sponsors Rep. Reschke, Nearman, Post) -Terminating state of emergency relating to COVID-19.
  • HB 2243(sponsors Rep. Wilde, Lewis, Evans, Owens) -Requires that declarations and extensions of states of emergency under certain statutes be accompanied by written explanations.
  • HB 3177(sponsor Rep. David Brock Smith) -Limits types of restrictions that Governor may impose on certain businesses during state of emergency related to COVID-19 pandemic.
  • HB 3350(sponsor Rep. Witt, Owens)-Prescribes requirements for providing education to students with disability during COVID-19 emergency.
  • HB 3243(sponsor Rep. Reschke) -Provides that civil penalty imposed as result of violation of COVID-19 emergency rule becomes due and payable 50 years after order imposing penalty becomes final.
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