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Southern Oregon lawmaker introduces bill that would bar Governor Brown from shutting down businesses during COVID-19

Representative David Brock Smith introduced a bill that would prevent Governor Brown from closing restaurants or gyms through the COVID-19 state of emergency.

Posted: Feb 9, 2021 5:55 PM
Updated: Feb 9, 2021 6:11 PM

SALEM, Ore. — A state lawmaker representing part of southern Oregon has introduced a bill designed to limit Governor Kate Brown's power to shut down businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

Representative David Brock Smith's district covers parts of Curry, Coos, Douglas, and Josephine counties. House Bill 3177, the "Covid Business Equity Act," would explicitly limit the Governor's power to impose restrictions on restaurants, bars, gyms, and other fitness establishments — unless those restrictions apply to all businesses broadly.

Rep. Brock Smith highlighted the job losses in the hospitality sector as the major impetus for the bill.

"These business owners, their hardworking employees and their families have faced extreme hardships with devastating delays in business relief, unemployment insurance payments, with little to no income and no relief in sight," Brock Smith said in a statement. "Many of these restaurants and hospitality industry businesses will close their doors forever, taking these jobs with them. Further, the majority of these impacted Oregonians are the most vulnerable working families across our state."

In Oregon counties at the higher end of the state's risk level guidance, restaurants and gyms face significant restrictions on indoor activities. For restaurants and bars, this means no indoor service in "Extreme Risk" counties.

HB 3177 carves out space for the Governor to continue requiring masking, physical distancing, physical barriers, and other restrictions that are "generally applicable to all types of businesses." However, it would prevent Governor Brown from establishing restrictions on these sectors that don't apply across all sectors.

Though restaurants and gyms have certainly seen the toughest restrictions of any businesses in the state, the guidance produced by Governor Brown's office and the Oregon Health Authority includes tailored rules for a number of sectors, both private and public. As a result, it's unclear how Brock Smith's bill — if passed — would interact with a complex system of restrictions that doesn't neatly break down into eating establishments, fitness centers, and everything else.

“Us legislators have been telling our constituents that while not in session, we have no authority to intervene on the Governor’s Executive Orders related to the Covid-19 emergency, subsequent mandates and their closures. We have now begun the ’21 Legislative Session and it is past time for the legislative branch to assert our responsibility; and I would argue the obligation, in guiding policy and lead in this work for the residents that put us here to do so,” said Brock Smith.

The lawmaker urged people to email their legislators in support of the bill. HB 3177 is currently on the House Speaker's desk, awaiting referral.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 357526

Reported Deaths: 4284
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah55810707
Washington38782324
Marion36837455
Clackamas29779309
Lane27744302
Jackson23059310
Deschutes20336125
Umatilla14492150
Linn12911131
Douglas12118243
Josephine9384196
Yamhill8715113
Klamath8020119
Polk737381
Malheur563677
Benton549431
Coos503794
Columbia382644
Jefferson376052
Lincoln319939
Union319549
Crook291846
Wasco288841
Clatsop244328
Baker203529
Tillamook196932
Hood River192837
Morrow185023
Curry180625
Harney113927
Grant100013
Lake93912
Wallowa68612
Gilliam1544
Sherman1523
Wheeler1121
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4848946

Reported Deaths: 71328
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles148303126527
Riverside3716705041
San Diego3666614183
San Bernardino3586775692
Orange3242885562
Sacramento1596362309
Kern1463481648
Fresno1463182094
Santa Clara1455431897
Alameda1206921400
San Joaquin1027761721
Ventura1010381167
Contra Costa1000181008
Stanislaus862991335
Tulare80375978
San Francisco54440649
San Mateo54168623
Monterey50911586
Solano46063341
Santa Barbara45223523
Merced42422581
Sonoma40997404
Placer39435429
Imperial36071766
Kings32938325
San Luis Obispo29973333
Madera23955285
Shasta23924352
Butte23818273
Santa Cruz21034221
Yolo20397248
Marin17706244
El Dorado17207149
Sutter13937175
Napa12898100
Yuba1011582
Tehama9534110
Humboldt9269109
Nevada916790
Mendocino766787
Lassen754347
San Benito744972
Tuolumne691790
Lake6631105
Amador547364
Siskiyou451246
Glenn438433
Calaveras391481
Del Norte358742
Colusa307618
Inyo214241
Mono16723
Plumas16607
Mariposa133916
Trinity88011
Modoc6895
Sierra1880
Unassigned1460
Alpine1050
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