People of Color Caucus Calls for Action

Senator Wagner

Dedication to the POC Caucus Proposals

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

In my last newsletter, I wrote about the Oregon Legislature's People of Color (POC) Caucus coming together to share crucially important proposals for justice and accountability, as well as the Senate Democrats' firm support for these policies. These proposals are an important step forward for racial justice here in Oregon. 

Yesterday, the POC Caucus released a statement calling on the Governor to convene a special session within 30 days to address legislation on police accountability. This legislation would prohibit the lessening of disciplinary action against a law enforcement officer following arbitration. The goal is to ensure that law enforcement is held accountable and proper disciplinary action takes place.

Not only has this concept been unanimously approved in the Senate twice, but it continues to have bipartisan support as well as support from organizations representing law enforcement and prosecutors. This bill should be law. As we address Oregon’s public safety needs, we must ensure our policies set the highest of standards for law enforcement accountability and integrity.

Black Lives Matter.

Solidarity with Black Lives Matter means a commitment to action. That action can be taken in many ways, whether it's educating yourself, using your means to donate to Black-led organizations or patronizing business that are owned and operated by Black folks, or using your voice to demand accountability from your community and its' leaders. As a legislator, it is both a privilege and a responsibility to amplify those demands.

During the 2020 Legislative Session, I spoke on the Senate floor in support of Senate Bill 1567 (the police accountability legislation mentioned above), which was championed by my colleague Senator Lew Frederick. Click on the image below to watch my floor speech. In my speech, I discuss overt racism and abuse of power among law enforcement in our district.

Senator Frederick and others have put years of work into this policy and I will work hard to ensure its passage.


Click the image above to watch the video of my floor speech in support of SB 1567 and police accountability.

State, Local, & Federal Updates on Law Enforcement Accountability and Reform


The Lake Oswego Police Department has addressed questions from the community about how department policies and procedures currently line up with the proposals of the "#8CantWait" project, which is a project by Campaign Zero on police reform. In addition, Respond to Racism continues to do outstanding work to highlight racial inequities and opportunities to come together for the changes we need.

The West Linn Police Department has posted its department policy manual. I appreciate these first steps in transparency from LOPD and WLPD, and I look forward to engaging with our local law enforcement as we channel that transparency into the kind of meaningful response our community needs. Revelations about the reprehensible treatment of Michael Fesser by officers of the West Linn Police Department have led to attempts by community members to take action against racism and injustice in the community. In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, more are acknowledging the urgency of this work.

Please take the time to read this statement from the City of West Linn and the West Linn Police Department on recent events. The actions the City intends to pursue include: conducting an independent Diversity, Equity and Inclusion audit; developing and implementing a City-wide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan; and working towards creation of a Police Oversight Task Force. If you are interested in sharing your thoughts with the City about the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion audit, please follow this link.

Earlier this week, the Tualatin City Council agreed to take the Obama Foundation's Mayors Pledge to address police use of force policies. You can learn more about the city's pledge here, and about the Obama Foundation program at this link.

The Portland City Council continues to debate the budget for the Portland Police Bureau - you can read an update here. The Portland Police Bureau will also undergo a shift in leadership as Police Chief Jami Resch has stepped down and Lieutenant Chuck Lovell is the new Chief of Police. Chief Lovell has a strong reputation of thoughtfulness and integrity. I look forward to seeing what change happens under his leadership.


During the June 3 meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, State Senator Prozanski (chair of the committee) announced the formation of a work group dealing with police accountability, use of force, and other policing reform measures. The work group will be led by State Representative Janelle Bynum (chair of the House Judiciary Comittee) and Senator Prozanski. They are currently finalizing membership of the work group, and will commence meetings shortly thereafter.


Finally, at the federal level, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley announced the National Police Misconduct Database and Transparency in Hiring Act, which is legislation that would create a national database of police misconduct, allowing greater oversight and accountability across the nation. Enacting this legislation would help ensure that police officers who have been removed from their jobs for misconduct in one town cannot just move a few towns over and get a job as an officer there. To learn more about the National Police Misconduct Database and Transparency in Hiring Act, visit Senator Merkley's website.

Emergency Board Updates

Last week, the Legislative Joint Emergency Board approved over $247 million in funds to support Oregonians.

  • $75 million to support rental assistance, affordable housing and mortgage payment assistance.
  • $10 million in additional support to the Oregon Worker Relief Fund which support Oregonians who are not otherwise eligible for unemployment insurance like farmworkers.
  • $15 million to support individuals having difficulty paying their utilities.
  • $4 million to support survivors of domestic violence.
  • $25 million to bolster behavioral health for Oregonians statewide.
  • $ 3 million to provide assistance to minority owned businesses.
  • $50 million in hospital grants.
  • $30 million in support for child care providers.
  • $20 million to support broadband connections for schools, healthcare providers, businesses (with a focus on rurally located entities).

Oregonians are suffering right now. The Emergency Board took this action to send relief to Oregonians. The package includes support for renters, families with young children, individuals in crisis and workers in need. In the near future, we will be discussing targeted support and loans for small businesses, increased benefits to workers who were laid off as a result of the current crisis and better paid sick leave policies for every worker. I will continue to advocate for these funds and to push for support from our federal government. The pandemic has exacerbated existing inequities in our system. We must ensure we address these disparities as we move forward on the long path to recovery and healing. Allocating these emergency funds is a good step forward on that journey - and will require sustained action.

Pressing Pause on Reopening

Yesterday, Governor Brown announced a statewide one-week hold on moving ahead with reopening. That means that, for now, Multnomah County is not approved to move ahead to Phase I. I know that this may be disheartening news for some, but after several days of record highs in reported COVID-19 cases in the state, it's worth taking the time to ensure that we aren't losing the progress we've made on containing the virus here in Oregon.

Additionally, Clackamas County officials have said that they are holding off on applying to enter Phase II. The Board of Commissioners has explained that this decision was taken in part to ensure that new public health employees have sufficient time to be trained as contact tracers. But in the context of the uptick in both coronavirus cases and increased hospitalizations, it is especially prudent to collect more data before forging ahead.

It's clear that our struggle with this pandemic is not over. That's why the Governor's Office and the Oregon Health Authority have spoken candidly throughout the crisis about the fact that the virus sets the timeline for when we can return to business as usual. We are all in this together and we must continue to follow guidance from our public health and safety officials in order to keep our communities and loved ones safe.

New Guidance on the 2020-21 School Year

Governor Brown also released a reopening framework for schools, which has been adapted to match our public health situation. In fact, the Governor’s Healthy Schools Reopening Council will be responsible for facilitating potential modifications to the framework as we continue to work with our public health partners.

School districts will be able to opt in to one of three models for students to return to school in the fall: reopening of school buildings for all lessons, continued full-time distance learning, or a combination of the previous two options. For those districts that elect to pursue in-person teaching, they will be required to follow new physical distancing and cleaning procedures in order to keep students, parents, staff and other community members safe.

More Resources

As we use this time to consider the best ways to move forward in reopening a safer, stronger Oregon, we could all use a refresher on the strategies we have to protect ourselves and each other from this virus. Click on the image below for a video from the CDC on stopping the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses, or take a few moments to scroll through this CDC how-to.

Stop the Spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses


If you're struggling to cope in these stressful times, consider reaching out to one of these resources:

  • To reach the Disaster Distress Helpline, call 1-800-985-5990, or text TalkWithUs to 66746. 
  • If you or a loved one is in crisis, dial Call 800-273-TALK (8255) or go to this link.
  • 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.

Please let me know if you need any assistance in the weeks ahead. My office and I will work to connect you with resources and get answers as quickly as possible.



Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner
Senate District 19

email: I phone: 503-986-1719
address: 900 Court St NE, S-223, Salem, OR, 97301