April 14, 2020 - District 15 Update

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Representative Shelly Boshart Davis


Hot Off The Press


This important update just came in today, from the Oregon Employment Department:

The Oregon Employment Department continues work to address both the historic spike in unemployment insurance claims, and the dramatic expansion of eligibility criteria. We have some new information and can use your help to spread the word.

  1. Oregon turned Federal law into real dollars in two weeks!

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.

More information about the upcoming PUA program and all benefits associated with the CARES Act can be found on the Employment Department’s COVID-19 page.

  1. We’ve addressed the error message reported to us.

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.

  1. Employers reported receiving notices of unemployment for their employees that look like bills.

Good news, it is not a bill. We provide this information to employers because we are required to; most likely, the information is part of the calculation of an employer’s future “experience rating.”  Ratings are computed annually, and look at the time period of July 1 – June 30.

Because of the timing of the coronavirus, the impact of this is likely to be spread across multiple tax years, minimizing any sudden or drastic changes. The thinking right now is that it is not an indicator that employer “experience rating” will drastically change in the coming years!

  1. Updated websites have dashboards and links to information, instructional videos, and a way to sign up for updates electronically:
  1. Thank you for continuing to advise your constituents to use one of the following email boxes with Employment Department team members dedicated to responding. Someone will email back or phone the person within the week.
  1. Employment Department employees can’t all telework? What are you doing for their safety?

The Employment Department promotes telework when possible. Privacy and security are very important to us, the Oregonians we serve, and is critical to our federal and state partnership. This work is essential and we maintain a safe workplace with that security at the forefront of helping Oregonians when they need us most, which has truly never been at a greater level than now.

When people speak to us about their claims, they are providing private information, including their social security number, their earnings information, and when we get the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program up and running, new/private tax documentation we do not usually handle. We have to protect the private information of the people who need unemployment benefits from us. Using unsecured phone lines or allowing inadvertent access to those pieces of private information poses quite a risk.

As early as March 4th, we provided Employment Department team members with information and resources about best practices to stay healthy and safe. Our efforts have continued as the best practices and advice has evolved including:

  • Cleaning building per CDC protocols daily
  • Soap and water for handwashing, disinfecting wipes, and hand sanitizer are available
  • Signage for social distancing
  • Individual staff seated at least 6 feet away
  • Worksource centers remained open to the public by appointment only to promote social distancing and later went to providing services virtually through email, phones, and skype
  • Workspaces that weren’t six feet apart were organized into split shifts; no sharing of work spaces (so the people on different shifts are not using the same space as another employee)
  • All staff, including the team members in the contact centers have the use of Skype and email to message each other instead of having to ask each other questions face to face
  • Our contact centers do not accept walk-ins. The only way to file a claim is online or by phone. 
  • We have also been opening up vacant spaces in our existing contact centers and other buildings to make additional, socially distanced spaces for taking claims as we bring in new staff
  • Through the letters of agreement for represented state employees, which includes employees in contact centers, the Oregon Employment Department also has the same leave options available as all state agencies.

We are continuously adjusting our protocols to keep our workspaces and team members safe and we count on one another to help us do that.

  1. We’ve dramatically increased our staffing levels in response to the wave of claims.

We started with 106 employees dedicated to taking claims during the week starting March 8. In two weeks’ time, we doubled the number of employees taking claims, primarily by switching existing OED staff from their area of expertise to taking claims. That means we could use existing work spaces.

As we have continued to hire employees, we have been utilizing spaces that were vacant so we can bring them into a properly distanced environment. Of the initial, record-shattering surge of claims we received, our talented and amazing employees have processed more than half of them. So far, on average, we’re still processing claims in about the same timeframe of a few weeks from initial filing to payment as would be the standard in non-pandemic times. That is truly impressive.

As of today, we have 450 team members dedicated to processing claims and we are continually recruiting.

  1.           We are prioritizing COBOL programming

Oregonians are already getting enhanced unemployment benefits under the CARES Act, which Congress passed two weeks ago. Where provisions of the CARES Act call for additional coding or computer work, the department is working to implement those changes in its mainframe COBOL system.

  • The top priority has been to get the supplemental $600 payments out the door as quickly as possible, and the first payments began late last week.
  • The second priority is to prepare Oregon’s unemployment system to provide benefits to those not usually eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, such as self-employed Oregonians. The department is already preparing its systems for this significant expansion of benefits.
  • The third priority is implementing the numerous other programs outlined in the CARES Act, including the new federal extension program called the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, the federal-state shared Extended Benefits program, the Workshare program allotting federal reimbursements (instead of employers reimbursing the trust fund), and the coding necessary to eliminate the “waiting week.”

There is significant work required to make changes in our mainframe systems, and making these changes will impact how quickly we can get benefits to people. Therefore, we prioritize by looking at both the feasibility and risk of the changes compared to the impact of the changes.

  1.            And the independent contractor (PUA) progress?

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 March 29, 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. page. Sign up for our email updates

Many of the questions we are getting are asking for a confirmation of a claim going through. We ask that constituents with claim specific questions use our dedicated email box address (below). This gets them into a queue to have their specific question answered as the email box is staffed with trained and dedicated employees. This email box is backlogged, but someone will get back to the person.

P.S. Want to stay in the know? Sign up for our email updates

For questions about your claim, remember we have an email box dedicated to respond to your specific questions. They are back logged, but will get back to you OED_COVID19_info@oregon.gov

Our Oregon Employemnet Department COVID-19 page


Western Pact


California Governor Gavin Newsom, Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced an agreement on a shared vision for reopening their economies and controlling COVID-19 into the future. Governor Kate Brown held a press conference, today at 11:00 am to introduce her framework for Reopening Oregon, following Monday's Western States COVID-19 agreement announcement. She was joined by representatives from the Oregon Health Authority and the Governor's Medical Advisory Panel.

Gov. Brown’s News Release

Click to watch the Press Briefing here



Stimulus Package


The IRS is committed to helping you get your Economic Impact Payment as soon as possible. The payments, also referred to by some as stimulus payments, are automatic for most taxpayers. No further action is needed by taxpayers who filed tax returns in 2018 and 2019 and most seniors and retirees.

If you haven’t already, set up direct deposit with the IRS to receive your stimulus check as soon as possible. You can set up direct deposit at the IRS website. If you did not file taxes because you did not earn enough, the IRS has now set up an easy way for you to give them your information and receive the stimulus that you are entitled to!  If you don’t have direct deposit, paper checks will be sent out according to the following schedule –

  • Taxpayers with income up to $10,000: April 24
  • Taxpayers with income up to $20,000: May 1
  • Taxpayers with income up to $40,000: May 15
  • The rest of the checks will be issued by gradually increasing income increments each week.

Households earning $198,000, with joint filing, will get their reduced checks on Sept. 4.



Small Biz Survey


Business Oregon, Travel Oregon, and Small Business Development Centers have partnered to develop a survey to understand how COVID-19 is impacting businesses across the state. Information gathered by this survey will be vital to policymakers who are working to provide assistance to businesses during this crisis. Individual responses to this survey are completely confidential and will not be shared publicly, only aggregate information will be shared. 

Link to survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BusinessOregon

Link to website: http://www.oregon4biz.com/Coronavirus-Information/





The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) has released Graduation Pathways 2020, the official guidance detailing how Oregon’s high school seniors can earn their final set of high school credits and graduate on-time. The Graduation Pathways 2020 guidance ensures that the 12 years and 7 months of dedication and learning students have accomplished are not impacted or diminished by an unprecedented closure during the last two months of their final school year.  

Key components of the guidance include:

  • Maintains Oregon’s rigorous credit requirements while providing a clear path to graduation for seniors who were on-track to graduate prior to the statewide school closure.
  • Ensures that schools focus their resources to first support students who need to complete additional credits to graduate and then prepare all graduates for their next steps in life. 
  • Suspends Essential Skills and Personalized Learning Requirements.

Distance Learning For All Guidelines 

Graduation Pathways 2020 

University and Community College CARES funding distribution 



Local Governments


Governments at the county, city, and local level are starting to feel the same problem that families and households are feeling all around the state. A lack of certainty for finances is leading the small local governments to revisit their fiscal budget of 2020-2021.

Cities, counties face unknowns when budgeting during COVID-19





Oregon has closed fishing, hunting, crabbing and clamming to out-of-state visitors, starting Friday at 11:59 pm. Non-residents may no longer participate in these activities in Oregon due to concerns about travel to Oregon spreading the disease. The restriction extends until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and it is deemed safe to travel into Oregon. This order does not apply to anyone living in Oregon for less than six months who has not yet established residency. 

ODFW News Release





The earlier exemption to self-servicing gas stations has been extended until April 25. This comes from another announcement by the Office of the State Fire Marshall in a press release last Friday.

Gas station self-service extended until April 25



Reminder: The Oregon Health Authority – OHA: www.healthoregon.org/coronavirus211Info is an excellent source of information about resources and benefits, and they are also ready to answer your questions about coronavirus. They are open seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. by phone (call 211), text (text your ZIP code to 898211) or email (help@211info.org).

Together, we will get through this. Be kind to one another and reach out if you or a loved one need assistance.

Better together,

Rep. Boshart Davis

Follow me on FACEBOOK and TWITTER for up-to-date information. 

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1415
Capitol Address: 900 Court St NE, H-389, Salem, OR 97301
Email: Rep.ShellyBoshartDavis@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/boshartdavis