Transitions and Upcoming Legislative Days

Senator Wagner

What's New in the Legislature

Eight days into my term as the Senate Majority Leader, I am thrilled to be meeting with my team in the Senate Majority Office and working with my Democratic colleagues to prepare for the weeks ahead. Thank you to Senator Ginny Burdick for all of your help with a smooth transition.

With Memorial Day Weekend behind us, we are heading into a busy week in the Senate during the first week in June. In lieu of the Senate and House “Legislative Days” that normally meet at the Capitol building between legislative sessions, interim committee meetings are taking place remotely. House interim committees have been meeting this week, and Senate committees are meeting next week, with discussions centering on the impact of COVID-19 in Oregon.

Only one meeting is taking place at a time to ensure accessibility to the public, and you can find which committees are meeting by navigating through the calendar on this page.

The Senate Interim Committee on Education, which I chair, will meet at 12:00pm on Tuesday, June 2. We will be discussing education budgets and the impacts that COVID-19 has had on K-12 and higher education. You can find the agenda for the meeting here

Statewide Vision and Community Transitions

As I have stepped into the role of Majority Leader, I have taken some time to think about how the Oregon Senate Democrats can best serve all Oregonians. This pandemic has shown the gaps in our social safety net, and it has also put constraints on the resources we have to address those shortfalls in the near future. Nevertheless, it is imperative that we commit ourselves to the values of solidarity, resilience, and determination that have prevented an estimated tens of thousands of coronavirus cases in the state. That is why my vision for Oregon and recovery from this crisis places an emphasis on innovation, guided by collaboration with stakeholders and continued public health vigilance. You can read more about that vision in my op-ed for the Lake Oswego Review here.

These are big ideas, and they demand all the attention that we can afford them. This brings me to the announcement that I will be transitioning off of the Lake Oswego School Board. As Majority Leader, my Senate colleagues and Oregonians across the state have entrusted me with the responsibility of helping to guide the state through this critical moment. I am so thankful to have served three years on the board and the last year as board chair, and I look forward to remaining engaged as a parent and community member.

In this week's Weekly Strum, I reflect on Memorial Day, my election as the Senate Majority Leader, and the recent passing and legacy of my colleague State Representative Mitch Greenlick. Click the image below to watch.


Click on the image to watch the latest edition of the Weekly Strum.

Reopening the Right Way

Oregonians have done great work flattening the curve, and I'm sure many of you have questions about how we can keep it up as we begin to re-open. This video from the Oregon Department of Human Services has some helpful tips on how to be a good community member as we navigate the new normal together.

As of May 28, Washington County has been approved to enter Phase I re-opening, and Multnomah County currently anticipates Phase I re-opening in mid-June. Oregonians have made big sacrifices for one another in staying home and staying safe, and we're eager to get back to the normalcy of regular haircuts and happy hours with friends. But as Governor Brown has said, the best path forward is a cautious one. Let's continue to be kind and patient with one another as we rebuild a safe and strong Oregon.

Looking Ahead to Summer

Oregonians are outdoorsy year round, but we all know how special summertime is in the Pacific Northwest. With tentative re-openings of state and national parks, and sunshine and good weather on the way, I know many of you will be looking forward to getting out to enjoy Oregon's natural beauty.

With that in mind, visit this site to find which Oregon State Parks are currently open, and this site to monitor the status of National Parks. Information may change as Oregon responds to developments in the public health situation, so it's always good to double check before you go. Please also be sure to practice good campfire safety and take other prevention measures - we are headed into fire season and need to ensure we preserve limited resources for all of our other budget needs. You can learn more about campfire safety here.

Mental Health and Community Resources

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This pandemic has taken a toll on many, and regardless of what that means for you and your loved ones, help is available. The CDC has information here on coping with stress during an outbreak. 

  • To reach the Disaster Distress Helpline, call 1-800-985-5990, or text TalkWithUs to 66746. 
  • You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.
    • You can also visit, but for your safety please be aware that computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear.

This has also been an especially heavy time for our Black community members. We are holding Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd in our hearts right now. If you're able, please consider patronizing Black-owned businesses or donating to the organizations who support these communities.

Update from the Employment Department

One of the number one concerns my constituents have reached out to my office about is unemployment. Although the Oregon Employment Department (OED) has been able to process a record number of claims, there are still too many Oregonians who have been left in the backlog, unsure of when they can expect to receive the help they need. On Tuesday, May 26, the head of OED announced a new plan to address the 38,000 person unemployment claim backlog. The plan includes further surge hiring, allocating experienced staff to older and more complicated claims, and commitments to improvements in communication and technology. More details can be found here.

Additionally, the Oregon Employment Department gave testimony during the House Interim Committee on Business and Labor meeting. No live questions were asked during the OED's committee testimony, but the House Committee on Business and Labor has announced it will meet again on Saturday morning in order to have Oregon Employment officials answer questions. If you are interested in more information or streaming Saturday's meeting, the committee's page can be found here, and the agenda for the meeting can be found here.

Reach Out if You Need Assistance

As we continue to adapt to life amid a pandemic and a phased reopening, I know that many are struggling. There aren't often easy answers to the challenges we face, but please consider me and my team as a resource. We will do our best to connect you with support and help you work through the many unique issues that have surfaced with the coronavirus response.

Be well and take care.


Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner

Don't throw shade

email: I phone: 503-986-1719
address: 900 Court St NE, S-215, Salem, OR, 97301