UPDATE — 1 April 2020: What Will You Do With Your $1,200 Check?
In the coming days every taxpayer in Oregon (and the US) will receive a check from the Federal Government. That check amount will vary depending on your 2019 tax return but for the most part if you made under $75,000 last year as an individual, you'll be receiving $1,200.
My question is: what will you do with that money?
If you are currently unemployed or you are struggling financially in any way, this check is really a blessing from God right now and I want you to use it to do whatever is necessary to help you and your family! Pay those bills, buy food, gas...whatever you need, use it! That's what it's intended for!
BUT..... have you thought about what you'd do with it if you are currently working, getting a regular paycheck, not really in a financially stressful period right now, what could you do with that $1200?
Imagine 100's if not 1000's of us giving to a charity of our choice that is helping people right now all over Oregon? Imagine the "shot in the arm" that would be for them! My wife and I are in the fortunate situation of not needing the help right now so we are choosing to "forward this" to a charity. Here are the places that I suggest (just my opinion):
Your church first! The local churches usually have all kinds of programs for the needy. If your church doesn't, I can assure you that mine does. Salem Evangelical Church gives food to the hungry, clothes people and houses people.
After a local church here are other suggestions:
Union Gospel Mission
Marion-Polk Food Share
Catholic Community Services
American Red Cross
Now for even more fun how about YOU come up with your own list as you "bunker down" with your family. Where could your $1200 get the most "bang for the buck!"
I hope you'll consider this in the spirit it's intended. We are all in this thing together. With God's blessing, we will come out stronger than ever before! Let's all pitch in!
UPDATE — 26 March 2020: An Inspirational Story
I wanted to tell you a story of a businessman in a neighboring House District to mine who has an amazing story of his business doing what it takes to help Oregon.
Robert Eakle is the CEO of Bell Foods in Gervais (here is their website: http://www.bellfoodsintl.com/) Bell Foods has been around for a long time with a normal operation of 4 production lines for blueberries, salsas, spaghetti sauces, cocktail mixes and other liquids. With over 100,000 square feet it's quite a facility. When the Covid-19 hit Oregon, Robert was forced to make a decision: let his 30 employees go or do something radical. He went radical and started producing hand sanitizer! Here is the product and information:
Read the full story by clicking here.
I wanted to send a quick update with useful information you may or may not be aware of. You can also sign up for daily text updates by clicking here or follow my Facebook page for the quickest updates.
As always, please let me know if my office can be of any assistance. We will get through this together.
Small Business Centers
Oregon’s Small Business Development Centers remain committed in every community throughout our state to supporting small business recovery efforts. Get more information here!
- We will not disconnect or charge late fees for customers who can’t make a payment due to impacts caused by the coronavirus. Customers will continue to receive bills and past-due notices. But NW Natural will not send a final shut-off notice and disconnect service.
- NW Natural will donate $1 million to children and families at risk. In response to COVID-19, we are focusing these contributions to community organizations that support those in need, including food banks, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, emergency responders and community action partners and have made these unrestricted grants.
Read more here
- OnPoint Community Credit Union is helping members by allowing them to skip their April and May payments on eligible loans and will not charge penalties for early withdrawals from certificates of deposit. Sound investment and retirement advice is available from experienced financial advisors. The credit union has also contributed $100,000 to Meals on Wheels People to ensure vulnerable seniors have access to fresh food throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Moreover, to support local businesses, OnPoint is ordering lunch for employees every day.
- Mid Oregon Credit Union is refunding foreign ATM fees when members use a machine not owned by Mid Oregon, up to $10 per month through the end of April, waiving fees for online and phone payments, eliminating fees for loan modifications until further notice, and communicating to members that help is available as they navigate their financial difficulties.
- Rivermark Credit Union is waiving fees for skip-a-pay and financial counselors are on staff ready to assist.
- Central Willamette Credit Union is working with their community to provide funds for the local food bank.
- Advantis Credit Union has notified members that they can skip an Advantis loan payment, even if they have already skipped one payment in the last 12 months -- and pay no processing fee. The credit union is offering an emergency loan with simple terms no payment due until 60 days after funding. Advantis has advised its members to reach out to discuss other options that might fit the member’s unique circumstances.
- Wauna Credit Union is offering members credit card limit increases and easy cash loans up to $1,100.
- Northwest Community CU reported 51 loan modifications and 194 payment extensions in just one week.
Oregon Health Authority
REMINDER: Stay informed with daily updates by subscribing here!
Delay of Corporate Activities Tax
||Today, 49 business organizations all signed on to a letter urging the Governor and the legislature to do one of the following:
- Delay the implementation of the Corporate Activities Tax for the first two quarters of 2020 to allow employers to rebound and rebuild.
- Continue a partial assessment of the CAT that builds on the priorities of the tax, while acknowledging the unprecedented time we are in. Provide employers a temporary option of filing under a reduced rate for the first two quarters of 2020.
Department of Business and Consumer Services
The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services issued a temporary emergency order yesterday in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. It requires all insurance companies to extend grace periods for premium payments, postpone policy cancellations and nonrenewals, and extend deadlines for reporting claims. Click here to learn more.
The Oregon State Police has answered your questions regarding the enforcement of the Governor's most recent Emergency Order.
Read more here.
Click here to read the entire report!
UPDATE — 19 March 2020: Resources
Below are a few different links for resources for businesses and employees, as well as health information:
Federal guidance for small businesses, including information on the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.
Small Business Administration Guidance
Work Share allows employers to leverage Partial Unemployment Insurance benefits for employers whose workforce is impacted by COVID-19
Work Share Oregon
Information for employers, workers, and job seekers.
Oregon Employment Department
State guidance for Oregon businesses.
Business Oregon Interim Guidance for Businesses
A comprehensive list of food resources from how to apply for SNAP (or report a decrease in income) to food pantries to school meal replacements.
Accessing Food During the COVID-19 Outbreak
Information on personal hygiene, social distancing, and what to do if you are sick:
OHA Coronavirus Page
How to protect yourself:
What to do if you're sick:
OHA reported 10 additional cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the states to total up to 75. There have also been two new COVID-19 related deaths, one in Washington County and one in Lane County. This brings the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon to 3.
The Joint Special Committee on Coronavirus Response met today for about four and a half hours. You can watch today's committee meeting here. The committee is planning to meet again on Friday the 20th, but a time has not been set yet.
- The Joint Taskforce on Health Care System Response is working to manage demand and grow health care capacity.
- A mobile hospital facility is being set up at the State Fairgrounds to act as a location for step down, hospital diversion or recovery care.
- Oregon Health Authority is looking into how many currently unlicensed hospital beds we can put into use.
- OHA is also exploring the possibility of converting places such as hotels or dorm rooms into health care capacity.
- The health care system may require a staffing lift and new resources to hire people to staff necessary jobs.
- Taskforces are meeting today, tomorrow and Friday and will come back with recommendations for building new health care capacity, particularly for ICU beds.
- Projections are that we will need 1000 additional beds to meet the surge.
- Non-emergency medical visits, including many dental procedures, are being put off to save on personal protective equipment and to free up facilities and staff.
- Oregon is accessing local Medical Reserve Corps and ServeOR, groups comprised of former health care professionals to bolster the workforce.
- As part of the new guidance for school districts, the Governor is asking schools to come up with plans to offer childcare for the children of health care workers and first responders.
Emergency Management Command Structure
- A Unified Command Structure has been established utilizing the All Hazards organizational structure.
- This is the same structure that would be utilized during a Cascadia event.
- 60 people are working in the Emergency Coordination Center.
Testing and Supplies
- Commercial Labs began reporting on COVID-19 tests on Monday. Oregon now can conduct between 1000-1500 tests per week. Director Allen is hoping that capacity could rise to 2000 test per week soon.
- Supplies of Personal Protective Equipment are still critical.
- Oregon has received 10% of our request for PPE from the Federal Government. Another 15% of that request should be on its way.
- Oregon has already used 28 percent of our supply of N95 Masks, 66% of our supply of surgical masks, and 83% of our supply of gowns.
- Steps are being taken to reduce the use of PPE as well as find additional sources of PPE.
- The Coronavirus Economic Recovery Council met for the first time yesterday. You can find the council's charter and membership here.
- The Council will be addressing immediate, short term and long term needs. They will be working on an ongoing needs assessment and identifying gaps.
- Regional Recovery Teams will be deployed through the state's Regional Solutions structure.
- According to the Governor's Office, it is still too early to determine the full economic damages Oregon will face during this crisis.
- The Governor's Office believes general fund tax receipts will drop significantly and this it is important that we be careful regarding state finances until we know more of the economic impacts
- A coordinated group including financial experts from both the legislative and executive branches will be established to focus on the statewide financial impacts faced by Oregon as a result of the Coronavirus crisis.
- May 20th is when the next revenue forecast is planned.
- Department of Revenue has posted guidance for taxpayers for seeking exemptions and relief.
Relief for Business
- Businesses are saying that cash flow is their biggest issue. Businesses need money to pay employees and keep their doors open.
- Businesses are asking to delay the implementation of the Corporate Activities Tax to ensure businesses can pay employees and bills.
- Easing up on several state regulations would go a long way in assisting Oregon businesses.
- The Small Business Administration has modified its requirements for a statewide declaration. A request has been submitted and Oregon should hear back from the SBA tomorrow. All counties in Oregon should then have access to funds through the SBA.
- The Governor's Office believes that we should explore the possibility of providing rental assistance and maybe even mortgage assistance in tandem with a moratorium on evictions to help keep people housed during the crisis.
- It will be necessary to look up the entire chain to ensure that landlords who rely on rent to pay their mortgages are protected.
Unemployment Insurance and Workers Comp
- In expanding and extending Unemployment Insurance, we have to ensure that whatever changes are made do not have an impact on the matching funds Oregon receives from the federal government.
- Many employers are now seeking unemployment benefits, some for the first time. The website is facing issues due to the federal database being overloaded, but that is being worked on.
- Guidance is being worked on for health care workers and first responders to have workers' compensation layered into their benefit structure.
- Oregon is working with SAIF and self-insured employers to move the market into a presumption of industrial exposure for health care workers and first responders for COVID-19.
- Several groups fall through the cracks for UI coverage. Looking into protection for Independent Contractors and LLC owners who do not have UI insurance coverage withheld.
- Businesses have suggested diverting the Corporate Kicker into bolstering the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Be safe.
[17 March 2020]
Governor Kate Brown has enacted new rules in regards to the coronavirus. All that is posted below is effective from today (3/17/2020) for four weeks:
- The practice of social distancing is now 25 persons (most stores including grocers and pharmacies will be exempt).
- Restaurants must do carry out or delivery only with NO dine in or on site consumption (non compliance will lead to a Class C Misdemeanor).
- All businesses should evaluate social distancing practices.
- A committee/group will be formed for mitigation of economic impact of these decisions. Gov. Brown says she's convening a council on economic relief for those affected by covid19: "We want to make sure Oregon families have the resources they need to pay rent/mortgage, and purchase essentials."
- Metro area hospitals will act as a unified health system to increase bed capacity and private entities will be opened for bed capacity
- As for schools: Gov. Brown previously ordered schools closed through March 31. She now says she's "reevaluating" the length of that, considering her cancellation of gatherings of 25+ for four weeks.
Also Gov. Brown says she'll likely call a special session in the next few weeks to address economic impacts already hitting Oregonians. As a legislator that concerns me with "social distancing" measures in effect so if we do meet, I would hope it's by teleconference or otherwise remotely. I do not know anymore than that, and what is on the video posted for replay below. This is significant. I absolutely realize the impact this will have on ALL Oregonians but especially those in the food services industry. I have hope that this group that will be formed will look to help those who will be hurt by this action. I have sent emails to those whom I believe can answer best, asking many questions.I will continue to do my best to keep you up to date as I learn more. President Trump today said "10" was the social distancing that the CDC recommends and that he believes this will not be over until July or August. So my friends, get used to spending time with your immediate family, stay home, when out stay 6 feet away from everyone, wash your hands, sterilize everything....be safe! It was also brought up "what about casinos" and as I answered earlier, they are on tribal land so not affected by these orders though the governor asked tribal leaders to consider them. Here is replay of live video from earlier: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jQndXECPSc
Here are further bits of information that I thought might be of help to you...
Here are links to each city page in House District 25 (Keizer, St. Paul and Newberg) specifically dealing with coronavirus updates:
St. Paul: https://www.stpauloregon.org/administration/page/city-st-paul-covid-19-information?fbclid=IwAR3t-ubrKz3oE-E3fFQaX67RHHaUevhSbF3waVecEv_x1nCJzK2E5ZNKQKY
Important Info From Comcast:
Comcast is taking steps to implement the following new policies for the next 60 days, and other important initiatives:
Xfinity WiFi Free For Everyone: Xfinity WiFi hotspots across the country will be available to anyone who needs them for free – including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers. For a map of Xfinity WiFi hotspots, visit www.xfinity.com/wifi. Once at a hotspot, consumers should select the “xfinitywifi” network name in the list of available hotspots, and then launch a browser.
Pausing Our Data Plan: With so many people working and educating from home, we want our customers to access the internet without thinking about data plans. While the vast majority of our customers do not come close to using 1TB of data in a month, we are pausing our data plans for 60 days giving all customers Unlimited data for no additional charge.
No Disconnects or Late Fees: We will not disconnect a customer’s internet service or assess late fees if they contact us and let us know that they can’t pay their bills during this period. Our care teams will be available to offer flexible payment options and can help find other solutions.
Internet Essentials Free to New Customers: It’s even easier for low-income families who live in a Comcast service area to sign-up for Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program. New customers will receive 60 days of complimentary Internet Essentials service, which is normally available to all qualified low-income households for $9.95/month. Additionally, for all new and existing Internet Essentials customers, the speed of the program’s Internet service was increased to 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream. That increase will go into effect for no additional fee and it will become the new base speed for the program going forward. Below is info on how/where to sign up for IE:
For more information and updates from Comcast related to Coronavirus, visit: http://www.comcastcorporation.com/COVID-19/
Joint Special Committee on Coronavirus:
The agenda for the Joint Special Committee on Coronavirus Response is on OLIS: https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2019I1/Committees/JSCVR/2020-03-18-10-00/Agenda. The meeting is set to begin on Wednesday, March 18, at 10AM.
The committee, which House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney formed last week, will follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to protect the legislators and staff participating in the meeting.
Committee members will receive online and remote public testimony. The committee will only hear invited testimony during the meeting. Members of the public can submit ideas, feedback and testimony via email to email@example.com by 5 p.m. Wednesday. Written testimony will be posted on OLIS and the committee meeting will be livestreamed on OLIS
The committee is charged with the following tasks:
- Identify actions to support low-income and vulnerable Oregonians and small businesses as they comply with public health guidance. These actions could include short-term economic relief, protection from housing instability, support for those not eligible for state programs (such as sick leave and unemployment insurance) and more.
- Monitor public health strategies and response for COVID-19 and consider additional statutory changes to assist with the public health emergency.
- Make timely budget and policy recommendations to the Legislature.
I invite you to "follow" my Facebook page as that is the best way to get information out quickly to you and I update it multiple times per day. It's www.facebook.com/billpostfororegon
Please let my office know if you have any questions or concerns.
State Representative - HD 25
email: Rep.BillPost@oregonlegislature.gov I phone: 503-986-1425
address: 900 Court St NE, H-479, Salem, OR 97301