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Tenant protections bill in peril in Senate

Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick is working to further amend the bill to garner enough support.

PARIS ACHEN/CAPITAL BUREAU - A flier distributed at a housing event in Portland earlier this yearSALEM — A tenant protections bill that would outlaw no-cause evictions may be in peril in the Senate.

Despite several changes to address the most controversial aspects of the bill, the legislation lacks enough votes in the Senate to pass, according to several people familiar with the issue.

"We are still working on it. We are meeting with the no votes and seeing what can be changed in the bill to get it off the floor," said Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham, a chief sponsor of the bill.

The bill, championed by House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, passed the House of Representatives 31-to-27 April 4, with no votes from all Republicans and a handful of Democrats.

The Senate Committee on Human Services last month stripped away some of the most controversial provisions of the bill — including lifting a ban on local rent control ordinances — in an attempt to garner support for the legislation.

The bill still calls for outlawing no-cause evictions and requiring landlords with more than five units to pay a month's rent to a tenant when the tenant is forced to move out because the landlord is changing the property's use, renovating, demolishing or moving in.

Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, has been spearheading negotiations on the bill, which is in front of the Senate Rules Committee.

"This is an important issue in Portland. At this point, I believe there still is a pathway to get a bill to protect tenants," Burdick said.

The Senate majority leader said reasons for opposing the bill vary from person to person.

"A lot of it is fully understanding what is being talked about. That is part of challenge here. There have been compelling arguments on behalf of tenants and also compelling arguments on other side. It's our job as the Legislature is to work through those."

All of the Republicans in the Senate are opposed to the bill, according to the Senate Republicans Office.

At least two Senate Democrats also have indicated they plan to vote no. Sen. Rod Monroe, D-Portland, still opposes the bill, according to his office.

"I think we are just focusing on the symptoms and not really the problem. I am trying to focus the Legislature on the real issues, which is supply and demand issues," said Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend.

Knopp said the legislation already has had a negative effect on the rental supply. He said he knows of landlords who have advertised their properties for sale after hearing about the bill.

"Almost all of the sales will put rentals in the owner-occupied market," he said.

Some of the sticking points in the bill are no cause eviction and how to address landlord abuses without penalizing all landlords.

"We are struggling with how to prevent the abuses that have occurred. Really my goal is to focus on the abuses and try to deal with those in a way that is least disruptive of responsible landlords," Burdick said.

Paris Achen
Portland Tribune Capital Burea
email: pachen@portlandtribune.com
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