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Oregon Democrats backpedal after massive public outcry against bill allowing homeless to sue over encampments

After a massive backlash, Oregon lawmakers canceled a public hearing on a bill that would allow homeless people to camp in public places and sue if told to leave.

House Bill 3501, known as the Right to Rest Act, would have granted homeless individuals a “reasonable expectation of privacy in any property belonging to the person, regardless of whether the property is located in a public space.”

Tents cover a sidewalk in Portland next to a brightly-colored mural

A bill that would have decriminalized homeless camping in public places and allow individuals to sue if told to leave is effectively dead this legislative session, according to the Oregon House Majority Leader. (Hannah Ray Lambert/Fox News Digital)

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The bill also would have allowed homeless individuals to sue for up to $1,000 if they were told to move.

House Bill 3501 had missed key deadlines and would not have been able to advance this legislative session anyway, according to House Majority Leader Julie Fahey. Thursday’s now-canceled hearing was to be purely for public input, Fahey wrote in a statement

“The fact that the bill is dead and can’t become law hasn’t been made clear in press reports, leading to an enormous amount of confusion and consternation among many,” the Democrat wrote, adding that she does not support the policy in the bill.

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The bill received more than 2,000 written opposition statements on the legislature’s website, along with a handful of statements of support.

Fahey said the bill became a “significant distraction” from representatives’ work, leading the Committee on Housing to cancel the hearing.

“I think that it’s getting to a point where we’re literally going to have to reach this level of lunacy for people to wake up,” Damian Bunting, who works as a security guard in Portland, told “Fox & Friends” earlier this week.

Outreach worker Kevin Dahlgren speaks with Josh, 33, about his experience with addiction and living on the streets of Portland. (Hannah Ray Lambert/Fox News Digital)

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Oregon’s homeless population grew about 22.5% from 2020 to 2022. The crisis has become a focal point for Gov. Tina Kotek, legislators and local officials.

Homeless outreach worker Kevin Dahlgren told “Jesse Watters Primetime” the bill was “madness.”

“Explain to me how this serves any meaningful purpose to end this humanitarian crisis. This is backwards thinking,” said Dahlgren, a longtime critic of what he calls Oregon’s “Band-Aid” approach to homelessness.

Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this report.

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