Read all newsletters from Rep. Lewis regarding the Wuhan virus
July 27, 2020 Newsletter
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Oregon's beautiful summer is in full swing and the welcome sunshine certainly has a way to lift our spirits.These past several months have been difficult as we continue to navigate the many issues and challenges impacting our communities, our country, and our world.There is much work to be done and important decisions to be made in the weeks ahead as legislators prepare to return to Salem for a second special session.
Although a session date has not been officially announced, the wheels were set in motion following the release of the Co-Chairs budget rebalance framework and subsequent public hearings that were held by the Joint Ways and Means subcommittees last week. This session's focus will likely include re-balancing the budget and additional police-related bills. It is my continued hope that legislators embrace the voices and collective wisdom from leaders on both sides of the aisle to move our state forward toward a safe, bright, and prosperous future.
This newsletter contains a brief update on legislative issues and current information you may find helpful.
Joint Committee On Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform
The newly-formed Joint Committee On Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform, of which I am a member, began meeting earlier this month. To date, six meetings have taken place and three more committee meetings are scheduled this week beginning on Wednesday, July 29th. The committee is tasked with developing policy suggestions to continue the conversation around policing in Oregon and present its recommendations in December for consideration in the 2021 Legislative Session. Meetings, agendas and materials are available online here and will take place remotely. Public engagement and stakeholder involvement in these discussions is critical. To participate and provide testimony on any of the meeting agenda items, there are several options as follows:
Written Testimony:: You may submit written testimony via email to JTPUFR.email@example.com, or by regular mail addressed to the Joint Committee On Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform, 900 Court Street NE, Room 453, Salem, Oregon, 97301. Written testimony received by the meeting start time will be uploaded promptly for committee members and the public on the Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS), available at https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2019I1/Committees/JTPUFR/Overview
Remote Oral Testimony: Anyone wishing to speak to the committee during this meeting must either register in advance to call in, or use the public access station at the State Street entrance to the Capitol building during the designated meeting time. The committee meeting times are as follows, but are subject to change. For the latest information check OLIS: here.
Wednesday, 7/29/2020 10:00 am Meeting
To register, go to https://survey.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6swyMCDZriKaF37
*Pre-registration will close Tuesday, July 28, at 5:00 p.m.
Thursday, 7/30/2020 10:00 am Meeting
To register, go to https://survey.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_ezAE5mlNz1BJw1L
*Pre-registration will close Wednesday, July 29, at 5:00 p.m.
Friday, 7/31/2020 10:00 am Meeting
To register, go to https://survey.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_7X4EuFV1ar5b6lL
*Pre-registration will close Thursday, July 30, at 5:00 p.m.
If you do not have access to a computer, call 833-588-4500 to sign up. If you do not have access to a computer or a phone, you may use the public testimony access station at the State Street entrance of the Capitol at the designated meeting time.
Please Note: Neither registration nor use of the public access terminal is a guarantee that you will be able to testify during the meeting. The committee chair may determine that public testimony must be limited. For this reason, written testimony is encouraged even if you plan to speak.
New Statewide Rules — Expanded Face Covering Requirements
In response to the reported increase in COVID-19 cases throughout Oregon, the Governor expanded face covering requirements effective Friday, July 24th. The expansion requires face coverings for children ages 5 and up. Face coverings are also now required when exercising indoors, and outdoors when you can't physically distance. Additionally, restaurants and bars must close at 10:00 pm statewide and the capacity limit for restaurants, gyms, and other venues is reduced to 100 people indoors. Further details about the statewide rules can be found here.
Oregon Department of Education Update
Undoubtedly, schools will look much different this fall as district officials continue to evaluate the best learning model for students in their communities. Last week, the Oregon Department of Education released an update to the Ready Schools Safe Learners guidance for reopening schools in 2020-2021.
All public school districts, private schools, and state sponsored charter schools are required to make Operational Blueprint(s) for their schools available on their website. Each school is required to submit their website link to ODE no later than August 15, 2020. Those links will be available online here.
Various education models being considered include on-site learning, hybrid learning, and comprehensive distance-learning. As the Governor's response to the virus continues to evolve, so will the need to be flexible to take necessary measures to meet the health and safety needs of our students, teachers, and communities. An updated article published by the Oregonian (here) provides a great deal of information about what we know today. Stay tuned for more information in the weeks ahead.
Employment Director's Message and New Online Form
The Oregon Employment Department launched a new online form for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims and weekly certifications. The new online PUA claim form offers several improvements:
Speeding up weekly benefit processing. Reducing application errors and automating the application upload process will help get claims processed faster and PUA benefits out to more Oregonians sooner.
Preventing uploading blank PDFs. Many of the PDF forms came to OED blank. The chance that someone would accidentally upload a blank PDF form is also gone when using the new online form.
Preventing incomplete claims. Important information, like the COVID-19 reason that makes an applicant eligible for PUA, is required, but has often been missing or left blank on the PDF forms. The online PUA application or weekly certification will give a warning notifying customers that the information is required. This change will help OED process claims faster and reduce delays in Oregonians receiving benefits due to missing information.
If you have filed weekly claims via PDF and have not yet received payment,, you are encouraged to re-file weekly certifications through this new online claim form. You can continue submitting initial application and weekly certifications by PDF upload, mail, fax or phone if you wish. However, these will take longer to process than the online claim form.
In addition to the new form, OED's new informational site, unemployment.oregon.gov has answers to frequently asked PUA questions.
Last week, OED's Acting Director, David Gerstenfeld, released the following message relating to the expiration of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program (FPUC).
We know that many Oregonians have been counting on the extra $600 per week through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program. Since the program began on March 29, we have paid out more than $2 billion in FPUC benefits, so this is going to have a significant impact on Oregon families and communities. Just last week, the Department paid the extra $600 to more than 130,000 Oregonians, and that doesn't include some Oregonians whose claims have not yet been processed.
We want to be sure Oregonians know what to expect, and also want them to know about additional resources available to them to supplement the $600 weekly loss in benefits. Here is what you need to know if you have already been receiving those benefits or are waiting for your benefits to be paid:
- Every Oregonian who was eligible for regular unemployment benefits or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits between March 29 and July 25 is also eligible for the extra $600 per week during that period.
- When you file a claim after July 25, you will still get your regular unemployment benefits or PUA benefits for each week you are eligible, if you file a weekly claim. You will no longer get the extra $600 each week.
- If you haven't yet been paid for weeks between March 29 and July 25, you will still get the extra $600 per week for those weeks once your claim is processed, for all weeks you were eligible.
We want every Oregonian to know about all benefits available to them. Unemployed Oregonians may also qualify for help paying for rent, utilities, food, healthcare, and more — especially now that the extra $600 per week is ending. We encourage you to visit 211info.org or call 211 to learn what benefits might be available to you. Free interpretation is provided.
We are grateful to our Congressional delegation for pushing hard to bring this extra relief to so many Oregonians. We know it has helped thousands of Oregon families who haven’t been able to return to work. We are frustrated that getting Oregonians the benefits they deserve has not been easy. We are making progress, and we know there’s a lot more work to do.
We hope that Congress will quickly pass additional measures to extend the program or come up with a solution that is able to be easily implemented so Oregonians can get more relief — and quickly. If they do, we will see how the legislation will impact Oregonians and share that information with you as quickly as we can.
Acting Director of the Oregon Employment Department
The Employment Department continues to struggle in processing claims and many are still waiting for their first check. My office will continue to assist those in House District 18 in getting their claims processed. For more information on unemployment benefits in Oregon, visit Unemployment.Oregon.gov. Oregonians can also call 211 or go to 211info.org to find additional resources to help cover the cost of housing, health care, food, utility bills and other costs.
As always, thank you for remaining engaged. Your feedback and ideas are valued and your voice is a vital part of the legislative process. Throughout our state's history, Oregonians have shown we are strong, resilient, and pioneers by spirit. Working together, embracing what we have in common, and honoring our unique differences, we will find a path forward to a brighter tomorrow.
Stay safe and stay well.
State Representative House
Oregon's Christmas Tree District
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1418
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-484, Salem, OR 97301