UPDATE — 22 May 2020: I wanted to start my newsletter with this quote of encouragement from first lady Abigail Adams:
These are the times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties.
Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised, and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant, wake into life and form the character of the hero and the statesman.
This period of time is stretching us all in different ways. We are learning lessons that will last a lifetime.
Clackamas County Reopening May 23
Clackamas County has been approved to move into Phase 1. Starting May 23rd, we must remain in Phase 1 for a minimum of 21 days, reopening no earlier than June 13th, before we can apply to move into Phase 2. I am eager for our county's businesses to reopen safely.
See the infographic below for a breakdown of what each phase means for our community.
You can also feel free to review my legislative "COVID Initiative" page, HERE. This page is updated regularly with the latest press releases and reopening guideline drafts.
On May 20th, the Office of Economic Analysis (OEA) released the June 2020 revenue forecast. The leisure and hospitality was the industry notably hit the hardest, which is no surprise considering that the Stay Home order focused on enforcing social distancing and restricted movement due to public health protocols. The Forecast estimates that by the fall, over 1/3 of Oregon's jobs will be back to what they were pre-closure.
Oregon families are hurting and have been forced to make significant budget cuts. Now the state must take reasonable actions to bring the budget in line with declining revenues. The best approach going forward is for the legislature to do all we can to support a full economic recovery for hardworking Oregon families across this state, who were disproportionately harmed by the governor’s executive shutdown orders.
For the 2019-2021 biennium, revenue is $2.69 billion under the previous projections. As far as reserves, Oregon's reserves amount to 8.1% of the General Fund. We have close to $1.6 billion in reserves available, however as costs for state programs go up, they will become more difficult to cover. The OEA reported that the last biennium's ending balance would be enough to help cushion the blow, at $1 billion.
You can read more about the forecast at these links:
Link to the Slide Presentation
Link to Forecast Document
Link to Forecast Video Presentation
We are a country forged of war; committed to peace; and ever-indebted to the sacrifice of generations of servicemen and women who fought to uphold the ideals of a just and free nation; one war, one conflict and one firefight at a time.
We remember those who died in service to our country, and in remembering we resolve to honor them, not just with our words, but with our actions. To stand fast for those same ideals, to require of ourselves a tireless commitment to freedom, liberty and equality.
In remembering we honor their faithfulness to country. We honor their courage in battle. And we remember their place in the hearts and lives of the families and communities they left behind; who love and miss them still.
A people’s liberty, a nation’s freedom, cannot simply be observed and certainly cannot be preserved without cost, to governments, to soldiers and families in every generation.
We enjoy the sweet, gentle breezes of a nation at peace because of the sacrifice of those we honor on Memorial Day. We must remember that the relentless battle for true peace must be continually fought at home and abroad.
UPDATE — 15 May 2020: It was another full week. We have moved to statewide retail reopening starting today (stand alone retail guidelines HERE). Most counties are able to move into phase 1 reopening, however, there are still 5 counties who aren't there yet. It was a busy week talking to business owners, local pastors and constituents all working hard for their businesses, congregations and families. I hosted a statewide town hall to invite Oregonians to share their questions and concerns with the Governor's staff. Today, was an Emergency Board meeting — which is a legislative committee that spends money when the legislature is not in session. I continue to advocate for the many, many constituents who are still waiting for their unemployment insurance to be issued. Please contact my office if you need help getting your benefits.
Thank you for all the feedback this week. Every time the Governor's office released reopening draft plans for the different sectors, I got those out to you immediately and submitted back every bit of your feedback. Last week's newsletter included a survey. A big thank you to those who shared their opinions. You'll find the results below.
Counties Moving to Phase 1 Reopening
As you know, those of us in Clackamas County and most of our neighboring counties have not yet begun phase 1 reopening. Clackamas County Commissioners will review a draft application at a work session next Tuesday, May 19 at 10:00. The public and interested parties can watch this meeting over Zoom. If you'd like to follow along, please sign up HERE.
Thank you to everyone who took the survey and forwarded it on. The over 550 responses were very informative. The summaries are below:
Help for Local Businesses and Farmers Amid COVID Crisis
Families won't have jobs to return to when Governor Brown opens the state back up for business - unless the state stops harming local businesses and farmers and starts helping them. It is critical that any new rule continue to be fully funded, only apply during this emergency and maintain consistency across competing states.
Oregonians Deserve to be Heard Virtual Town Hall - Features Governor's Key Staff Answering Questions from over 500 Oregonians
The House Republican Office's virtual town hall to discuss safely reopening Oregon and our economy was an overwhelming success. Dr. Dana Hargunani, the state's Chief Medical Officer, Elana Pirtle-Guiney, Legislative Director and Leah Horner, Regional Solutions Director answered questions from Oregonians all over the state. Thank you to the hundreds of participants who pre-registered, logged on and submitted more questions than we could answer in the 90 minutes we were meeting. We are working on getting responses out to every question that was asked. The feedback was positive and we look forward to our next town hall.
UPDATE — 8 May 2020:
Over the course of the last few weeks I have received numerous emails urging the reopening of Oregon’s shuttered businesses, parks, and outdoor recreation spaces. Much of this is in light of the fact that Oregon’s hospitals demonstrated they could handle a public health crisis. Not without sacrificing non-emergency surgeries and seeing a decrease in emergency room visits, which negatively affected the health of thousands of Oregonians, but also placed many of our rural hospitals in dire financial situations.
Many sectors of our business community have continued to operate successfully during this public health crisis with adjusted physical spacing, enhanced hygiene regiments, and in some cases additional gloves and other protections. We have experienced these new disciplines as we have gone about our routines during this stay home – stay healthy environment.
The most recent statistical information from OHA has shown that “The data show that nearly 6 in 10 of the victims of COVID-19 suffered from heart disease. Nearly 1 in 3 had diabetes. Almost a quarter of the deaths are of former smokers, but just one out of the 73 cases the OHA reviewed was a current smoker at the time they contracted the virus.” (Willamette Week full article here)
Today, if you would please take a moment to complete this online survey it would be sincerely appreciated. I remain committed to listening, responding, and leading. Your participation in this survey will help me to better serve you. Thank you for being engaged with your state government.
Click here to link to Your District - Your Voice Survey
Re-Opening Oregon Town Hall
If you would like to participate in this Town Hall, please email [email protected] and you will be sent a link to join the zoom meeting. If you have any specific questions you'd like answered, please send them in your RSVP email.
UPDATE — 30 April 2020: Reopening Oregon is what is on everyone's minds. Including mine. The Stay Home, Save Lives order has been working and Oregon's infection rate is one of the lowest in the nation. People are eager to ease restrictions and get back into their communities and back to work. As a first step, the state is going to be allowing non-emergency medical procedures to resume May 1st. While this is one small step, it's an important one. The Governor's office has developed reopening draft documents by sector. Please review these drafts on my district webpage and send substantive comments and suggestions to the Governor's office or my email address: [email protected]. I will continue to share feedback with the Governor.
COVID-19 Testing at Oregon City High School
COVID-19 drive thru testing will be held in Oregon City this Friday, May 1, 10:00-3:00. This testing is by appointment only, so make sure you sign up before you show up. Get more information and a time slot HERE.
Employment Update for Self Employed Workers
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program is open and accepting applications. Self-employed, contract, and gig workers not eligible for regular unemployment benefits who are filing for the first time should use the instructions and initial application form here on the top of the CARES Act Page to complete your first claim.
Those of you who have already filed initial and weekly claims and have an established PIN, you should complete the PUA application and certification process at http://workinginoregon.org/pua/en/ (English) or the http://workinginoregon.org/pua/sp/ (Spanish).
CAT Tax Technical Adjustment
The Oregon Department of Revenue is adjusting requirements of businesses making estimated payments of the Corporate Activity Tax. Beginning immediately, the ODR has revised OAR 150-317-1300, dated April 27, 2020, to reflect a change in the threshold for making estimated tax payments from $5,000 of annual tax liability to $10,000 of annual tax liability for the first year of the tax. This means businesses that will owe less than $10,000 are not required to make quarterly estimated tax payments during 2020.
The DOR also won't assess penalties for underestimated quarterly payments or for not making a quarterly payment, if businesses don't have the financial ability to make the estimated payment. Read the full press release HERE.
Visit www.oregon.gov/dor to get forms, check the status of your refund, or make payments. You can call 503-378-4988 or 800-356-4222 (toll-free) or email [email protected] for additional assistance. For TTY for hearing- or speech-impaired, call 800-886-7204.
Additional Federal Business Relief Available
Late last week, Congress put another $310 billion toward the Paycheck Protection Program. As of April 24th Oregon had received 423 forgivable SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans totaling $91,249,100 and 18,732 Paycheck Protection Program loans totaling $3,806,104,476.
Emergency Board Approves over $30 Million
In my last newsletter, I shared that the Emergency Board would meet to consider various funding requests. Last Thursday, the Emergency Board allocated funds that prioritized frontline workers, domestic abuse survivors, and small business owners.
Some of the highlights of the funding passed includes:
- Housing – safe shelter and rental assistance
- Small Business Assistance
- Domestic and Sexual Violence Resources
- Oregon Worker Relief Fund
- Long Term Care Worker Testing and Training
- Coronavirus Relief Fund - $300 million federal funds authorization
While the funds available to the Emergency Board are limited, these actions are a good first step to help Oregonians and fill in gaps in the federal relief while we wait to be called into a special session.
If you would like to receive daily text updates on how our work at a state level against COVID-19 is progressing, you can sign up HERE.
UPDATE — 22 April 2020: It has been a busy week of working with constituents, legislative leadership and local officials as we move toward reopening our state. CDC social distancing guidelines are working in Oregon. We can protect public health by continuing to follow these guidelines as we work together to reopen Oregon's economy regionally. Sunday, I spoke about this on KATU's Your Voice Your Vote. Carefully and incrementally reopening our state brings Oregonians back to jobs that keep a roof over their heads, restores stability in their lives and supports families and communities.
Starting TODAY from McDonald's..........
Inspired by the heroes we continue to serve, starting Wednesday, April 22, through Tuesday, May 5, all first responders and healthcare workers are eligible for a free “Thank You Meal" via drive-thru and carry-out at participating McDonald’s locations by simply showing a work badge. Each meal will be served in the iconic Happy Meal Box with breakfast and daytime options available.
The number one constituent concern I am hearing is about Unemployment Insurance claims. This agency is falling behind and must do better. Turnaround time for these claims is still around 2-3 weeks. But, depending on the complexity of your claim, it could take longer. I will continue to keep you updated as they hire additional staff and work to improve turn around time.
If you are experiencing issues with your claims or need to file, here are some things you can do to get things moving:
NEW CLAIM FILERS https://secure.emp.state.or.us/ocs4/index.cfm?u=F20200413A143729B75039469.7934&lang=E
HAVING ANY ISSUES WITH YOUR OPEN CLAIM OR HAVEN’T HEARD ANYTHING BACK FROM OED: Send claim information to: [email protected] OR [email protected] - To get into the cue. They will respond within a week.
CAUGHT UP IN THE RECENT 'RE-START YOUR CLAIM' GLITCH AND NOTHING HAS CHANGED? Send claim information to: [email protected] OR[email protected] - To get into the cue. They will respond within a week.
DENIED BENEFITS, you believe to be incorrect? You can reach out to OED directly to appeal the decision, with your claim information, to: [email protected] – The resolution time is approximately 30 days.
SELF-EMPLOYED or INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS: You CAN apply for unemployment right now. THE OED is currently working to process these claims. If you have already submitted a claim and have been denied, please refer to the step above on appealing your claim.
MAKING MORE ON UNEMPLOYMENT AND REFUSING TO ACCEPT AND RETURN TO YOUR FORMER JOB POSITION, IF OFFERED? This is a BIG NO-NO. Best not to chance it because the result will not be in your favor.
SIGN UP FOR EMPLOYMENT DEPARTMENT UPDATES HERE:https://govstatus.egov.com/ORUnemployment_COVID19
Please reach out to my office if you have done these steps and still can't get a response. Send an email with your information to: [email protected].
Assistance for Farmers
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), an immediate relief program that provides $19 billion in support to farmers and ranchers, maintains the integrity of our food supply chain, and ensures access to food for those in need. This includes $16 billion in direct support to farmers and ranchers based on actual losses for agricultural producers. Read more here.
Upcoming Emergency Board Meeting
The Emergency Board is one of the Legislative Committees that I have the honor of serving on. This Thursday, April 23rd, the Joint Emergency Board will be meeting virtually. I am committed to serving the needs of Oregonians, ensuring that we maintain transparency and accountability with all spending of taxpayer funds in these difficult days. The funding topics include:
• Housing and Community Services Department – Safe Shelter and Rental Assistance
• Oregon Business Development Department – COVID-19 Emergency Business Assistance
• Department of Justice – Emergency Housing for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence
• Department of Administrative Services – Oregon Worker Relief Fund
• Bureau of Labor and Industries – Human Resource Position
• Department of Human Services – Long Term Care Worker COVID-19 Testing and Training
• Oregon Business Development Department – Critical Access Hospital Stabilization Loans
• Department of Administrative Services – Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund
• Department of Forestry – 2019 and 2020 Fire Seasons Costs
• Department of Human Services and Oregon Health Authority – Non-State Employee Collective Bargaining
• Public Defense Services Commission – Public Defense System Improvements
The agenda can be found here. Meeting materials can be found here. Additionally, the committee will be live for viewers to watch from home.
Local Food Pantries
UPDATE — 16 April 2020: I have heard from many of you over these past several weeks with questions, concerns and suggestions and I appreciate the opportunity to help you find answers. It is my hope, as we move forward through the COVID-19 crisis, we will see an effort made to work with our health care professionals and businesses across the state to carefully craft a plan that allows us to continue to fight the pandemic while supporting hard working Oregonians and their families.
Small Business Update
We learned today that the Payroll Protection Program funds have run out. We need congress to respond to the unmet needs and provide additional funding to this important program. The good news, however, is that estimates are that 9,508 loans were approved in Oregon for a total of $2.4 billion dollars. Many local businesses have already received these funds. For businesses that have not had their PPP or EIDL loans processed yet, you are advised by the Small Business Development Center to contact your lender as soon as possible to understand the status of your application. Our hope is that the federal government will extend this program. Visit Bizcenter.org for more information.
Employment Department Update
I spoke with the Director of the Oregon Employment Department yesterday. While it has been a bumpy road to this point, I am hearing from some constituents that their claims are being received and processed. Here is the most recent update from the OED. Particularly helpful this week to my constituents has been #4.
1. $600 weekly payments are retroactive and are in addition to your state benefit
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 was signed into law on March 27. The CARES Act allows payment of Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). The Oregon Employment Department has started issuing these payments to eligible individuals. Oregonians who are already eligible for regular Unemployment Insurance benefits and eligible for FPUC will receive two weekly payments; one for regular UI benefits, and an additional $600 payment. Individuals will be receiving FPUC benefits using the same payment method as their regular UI benefits for the week. FPUC payments will be paid for each week someone is eligible from March 29, 2020 through the week ending July 25, 2020. The $600 payments will be retroactive for those eligible for payments.
2. OED has addressed error messages
We had a re-start claim error for a portion of claims received during the week of April 5 and again on April 12. We made an automatic fix for this issue last week, and nearly all affected should be able to continue to file weekly claims online. For those who have completed their initial claim, and continued to file weekly claims, your re-start error has been identified and fixed. If you tried Sunday the 12th, and got the re-start error for the first time, you can re-try now and it should work. You will not lose out on a week of benefits that you were eligible to receive because of a difficulty either getting through on our phone, or because of an online claim error.
We know misinformation, especially coming from us, is frustrating and scary. We also know that as we rework our systems to keep pace with eligibility rules rewritten at the federal level, we will continue to face challenges with the system.
Bottom line, if a benefits seeker or employer receives a message that doesn't seem right, we ask them to email us – allowing an Employment staffer to run the message to ground.
- 3. Updated websites have dashboards and links to information, instructional videos and a way to sign up for updates electronically:
- 4. These new email addresses have been created to answer your unemployment questions. A dedicated Employment Department team member will email back or call within the week:
- 5. Help for independent contractors
We are working on implementing the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for people who are not usually eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. We may be able to start taking applications before all of the computer programming is done, but we do not yet know if that is the case. PUA benefits will be retroactive to February 2, 2020. As soon as we know how the program will work in Oregon, we will be getting the information out as quickly as we can. It will take us time to take the federal legislation, and the guidance from the US Department of Labor, and from that create and start implementing the programs. Our UI application process really is geared towards employees, as that is who the unemployment insurance program was designed to assist. We are advising that people not apply for this program until we create it. As soon as we know how the PUA program will work, we will be putting information on the COVID-19 page. Sign up for our email updates
Sign up for daily COVID-19 updates
Local Letter Writing Campaign
A bright spot for me has been the support for our local letter writing campaign for senior citizens. The facilities are handling distribution so safety protocols are followed. Can you take a minute to send an encouraging note to a neighbor? We are all in this together.
How to schedule a blood or plasma donation appointment
UPDATE — 8 April 2020: You are making a difference
I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. I want to thank all of our front line workers and first responders for putting themselves out there so the rest of us can stay home and stay healthy. I am thankful for each and every one of you. It appears that we are "flattening the curve" and our efforts to stay home and save lives are working. It is important for us to remember, however, we need to flattening the curve, not the economy. I am eager to get back to our normal day to day contact which will allow events and activities to resume, through the reopening of businesses that were impacted by the governor's executive order, to support jobs and families.
Employment Department Update
The Oregon Employment Department has begun ramping up staffing to meet Oregon's current need for Unemployment Insurance. Claims are being processed four times faster than normal as claims have jumped from 4,900 for the week of March 8th to 76,500 for the week of March 15th.
What you need to know:
- File online and you do not need to call in to check on its status;
- They will contact you to complete the process;
- Email at [email protected] if you have a question, but if the question is about the status of your claim, please know that they will contact you to complete the process;
- The U.S. Department of Labor and the Oregon Employment Department have relaxed SOME of the criteria to address COVID-19 related unemployment and this will be part of processing claims.
Help is on the way:
- They have doubled the number and will continue to add more people to process claims;
- They are adding more workspaces and shifts as we add people to create safe social distancing work environments;
- They added a Saturday shift;
- They filed emergency rules to allow us to process COVID-19 related unemployment insurance claims.
What you can do:
If you can file the initial claim online, please do. You are helping to free up the phone lines for someone else to get through. If you filed a claim online and received a confirmation number, it means the department received it, and you do not need to call. It will take the department longer than normal to contact you, and you might even find that when you go to make your weekly claim on the second week, the first one has not been processed yet. If that happens – you could get a notice that it's not a valid claim, which would of course be concerning. It's okay though. You can still keep filing claims online and you don't need to call in for that. The department has your claim – even the error message one – and they're just catching up.
To begin an Unemployment claim, go to: https://secure.emp.state.or.us/ocs4/index.cfm?u=F20200324A152211B60880938.0174&lang=E
A helpful "how-to" video produced by the Employment Department: https://youtu.be/1JTPHuRlxyQ
Schools closed for remainder of academic school year in support of "Stay Home, Save Lives"
Using masks the proper way
Assistance for small businesses
I have been answering a lot of questions from borrowers and lenders alike about the Paycheck Protection Program. This program ensures that small businesses can continue to pay and cover certain costs during this health crisis. For up to eight weeks after the loan is made, this program can be used to cover the cost of payroll and other eligible expenses. Small businesses, eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they meet program size standards.
- For an overview of the program CLICK HERE
- If you are a lender, more information can be found HERE
- If you are a borrower, more information can be found HERE
- The application for borrowers can be found HERE
- More answers from the SBA can be found HERE.
Sign up for daily COVID-19 updates
As always, it is my pleasure to serve my community, Please reach out to my office any time.
UPDATE — 23 March 2020: I hope you and your families are all doing well and taking the necessary precautions to stay healthy. This morning, Governor Brown issued an executive order in which she made a request of all Oregonians: Stay Home. Save lives. Our public health experts and experts across the state and country believe this week is a critical week to try and bend the curve of COVID-19 in our communities. Every single one of us, no matter our age, plays a crucial roll in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and our state. Please look out for your neighbors too. We are all in this together.
Help for small businesses
Many businesses are reducing employee hours or laying off staff. Business owners want to know what can be done for employees who are wondering how to pay rent and utilities. The following list of resources is from Oregon’s Secretary of State's Office.The fastest way to get in touch with the SOS team is by emailing [email protected], using the "Need Help?" button found on most state agency websites or visiting www.oregon.gov/smallbusiness.
✦ Unemployment options http://www.oregon.gov/employ, including the WorkShare program atwww.oregonworkshare.com.
✦ The Oregon Labor and Industries Technical Assistance for Employers page athttps://www.oregon.gov/BOLI/TA/pages/index.aspx has information about employer obligations and responsibilities.
✦ Business Oregon has a robust list of financial resources including non-bank lenders athttps://www.oregon4biz.com/Coronavirus-Information/.
✦ The US Small Business Administration offers disaster assistance in the form of SBA loans to designated states. Information about these loans is available at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Information/Index.
✦ The latest COVID-19/Coronavirus information on resources for workers and business owners is available at https://www.oregon.gov/gov/Pages/coronavirus2020.aspx.
Editor's Note: The resources listed here focus on Clackamas County since the majority of Rep. Drazan's district encompasses much of the rural portions of the county.
Will your family face a food shortage during this time? Here are some local resources to help:
Estacada Food Bank — http://estacadafoodbank.org/
Canby Center — https://www.thecanbycenter.org/
St. Patrick's — https://stpatcanby.org/st-vincent-de-paul-food-bank
Oregon food bank food finder — https://www.oregonfoodbank.org/find-help/find-food/
Resources for your students
The Oregon Department of Education filed a request last week to waive state standardized tests this year. If approved, the waiver would free Oregon schools from testing students this spring. Each school district around the state is working hard to make a plan for our students' success as we navigate through this COVID-19 crisis. Be sure to check your district's website often once spring break is over as they provide different resources for your students. Here is a great link from the Canby School District that offers some at home activities for your students while they work from home.
Need insurance help?
If your work situation has changed, you may qualify for health insurance through the Oregon Health Plan (OHP). Eligibility for OHP is based on monthly income and other requirements. That means you may qualify for OHP now, even if you've been denied in the past. The best way to see if you qualify is to apply. Visit OHP.Oregon.gov for more information. Other options for health insurance include: https://www.healthcare.gov/unemployed/cobra-coverage/ and https://www.healthcare.gov/apply-and-enroll/health-insurance-plans-estimator-overview/
10 March 2020
Keeping yourself and others safe from COVID-19
As of today, there are 15 total confirmed cases of coronavirus COVID-19 in 7 Oregon counties. Sunday, Governor Brown declared a state of emergency. Monday, the Emergency Board approved $5 million for the state's response to combating the virus as well as $20 million in spending authority when federal funds become available. These actions release valuable resources to the Oregon Health Authority and local public health authorities. Below is a link for you to sign up for the Oregon Health Authority daily email newsletter. You can also call 211 to speak to a specialist and have your questions answered.
I know there is a lot of interest in staying up-to-date on the coronavirus situation in Oregon. Here is the link to deliver this information right to your inbox or phone. Sign up for email or text here: http://ow.ly/Q2Wd50yzUam
As always, it is my pleasure to serve my community. Please reach out to my office anytime.
State Representative House District 39
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1439
Capitol Address: 900 Court St NE, H-388, Salem, OR 97301
Email: [email protected]