Do What You Can Do 6/18/2020

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Senator Jeff Golden

 *  “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

—Helen Keller


We’ve enjoyed your recent photos of beautiful Southern Oregon so much that we want to share more. This photo of the Rogue River below Lost Creek Dam was provided by Ken Deveney. Have a photo you've taken and want to share with us? Send it to with the subject “Photo Reminder.” We’ll use some in future newsletters.

Keeping Current on COVID-19

A New Gavel

The most recent news first: a shuffling of Senate assignments was publicly announced this morning. The Senate Wildfire Reduction and Response Committee I’ve chaired will be dissolved, with wildfire issues moving into the broader Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee (ENR). I’ll be the new Chairman of ENR beginning next month, a daunting and exciting prospect.  I’m hoping to still have time to get this newsletter out on a regular basis, one of my favorite parts of this work.  


The long-awaited special session

Next Wednesday, June 24, under a brand-new set of social-distancing and sanitizing rules, the Oregon Legislature will convene for the first time since the beginning of March, when the regular 2020 session came to its abrupt and disappointing end. A lot of broadly-supported proposals went down the drain with that session—legislation that would have made real progress on mental health, homelessness, wildfire preparedness and other top priorities.

Those issues won’t show up on next week’s agenda; we already have a list of 25 bills to work through, far more than most special sessions deal with. The list has three categories:

Police Accountability

    We’ll be sorting through proposals that have been on the shelf since long before George Floyd died. Among them are bans on chokeholds, teargas and military assault practices;  transferring Use of Force investigations from police departments to the state Attorney General; mandatory reporting by officers who observe abusive behavior; development of a statewide database to prevent the rehiring of officers discharged for abusive behavior; and changes in an arbitration system that have cancelled termination and discipline of officers in the past.

   All of these deal with some of the worst symptoms that have burst into the headlines, and they’re important. But they don’t get to the roots of the problem. Like the rest of the nation, our state and communities will have to look hard at what we want from our public safety programs, and how the current system works for or against those goals.

   There’s much to consider. I’d like to share one reflection, a short essay by an Arkansas State Trooper that came my way this week.

Covid 19 Response

   The bills in this category won’t break new ground. They’re mostly adjustments of measures the Governor began with executive orders, extending suspensions of evictions and property foreclosures, easing the normal deadlines for court and other legal proceedings, allowing remote notarization of documents and rapid siting of shelters where infected homeless people can go, and a few other changes that offer practical leeway if the virus spreads more in months to come.

And a few others...

   ...that can’t readily wait for the regular 2021 session: technical adjustments and clarifications of the new Corporate Activities Tax for public education that just took effect, ratification of an historic agreement between the timber industry and forest conservationists (more on that in future newsletters), improvements in our foster care system and an Eastern Oregon economic development plan.

This list of bills has been negotiated in the last month between the leaders of both parties, so in theory they won’t get bogged down in a lot of political strife (we can return to that, if we really want to, in the regular 2021 session). I seriously doubt that we’ll finish our business in a single day, as many special sessions do. I’ll guess (and guessing, when you consider recent history in  Salem, is about all you can do) this one lasts three days, next Wednesday through Friday. I’ll let you know how that guess turns out in a letter from my Capitol office one evening next week.

One way this special session is guaranteed to be different is the adaptation to Covid. All kinds of new procedures will keep us distanced from one another, with no shared facilities (water fountains, refrigerators, lunch room), a bare minimum of staff present, one-way hallways, face masks and a voting process that will separate us by more than six feet on the House and Senate floors. Only authorized persons—legislators, staff and the news media—will be admitted to the Capitol through this session, which has a few people fretting online about a “secret session” to cook up who-knows-what mischief. In fact we’ll be carefully following the state’s Open Meetings laws, with the shift from in-person to online interaction that’s become a fact of life in the Age of Covid.  Anyone in Salem will be able to watch all proceedings on screens outside the Capitol, and everyone else can watch any committee or floor session, as well as submit testimony to committee hearings, at the Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS) site. If you have trouble finding a meeting you want to watch next week, Andrew on my staff (503/986-1703 during business hours) might be able to get you to just the right link.


General COVID Update

    We would have preferred to return to Salem as the Covid infection rate was falling. The opposite seems to be true. This week’s national news stories put Oregon in the cluster of states reporting more new cases than ever before. That’s caused Governor Brown to hit the pause button on the state’s phased reopening process, and yesterday she issued a guideline for Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Marion, Polk, Hood River and Lincoln counties requiring facemasks for everyone inside of grocery stores and other public businesses.

    Is this the beginning of the so-called second wave? An upsurge of the first? We don’t know yet. Public health leaders told us that re-opening would move the infection curve back up, a trade-off that the entire nation is struggling to get right. It’s definitely severe enough to give policy-makers pause as we consider open questions that some of you have been asking about, including resumption of youth sports in the fall and allowing large churches to bring their congregations back together. We’re all still learning as we go, paying close attention to make sound decisions in weeks to come.

    In the meantime we want you to continue to have good information within a keystroke or two. Below are the resources we’re finding helpful.

    That’s it for now.  Take care of yourself and others—


Senator Jeff Golden, Oregon Senate District 3

Capitol Mall

Special Session Information

  • While the Capitol building will be physically closed to the public, Oregonians are highly encouraged to submit written testimony for committees. Find information here about how to submit written testimony to committees.

  • Legislation for the special session is still in the draft phase and therefore has not yet been assigned bill numbers. Once bills are released, you can e-subscribe to receive committee agendas and notifications regarding specific bills.

  • If you would like to watch committee meetings or legislative sessions live, visit the Oregon Legislature Website and click the link "Video". Live events will be displaying In the middle of the page.

  • If you would like to watch committee meetings or legislative sessions later, archived videos will be available at the bottom of this page by clicking "View Archive".

Current COVID-19 Information

OHA Coronavirus Update Banner

COVID-19 Resources

Business Resources:

Business Oregon Logo

Social Services:

  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness has a helpline if you are struggling with mental illness in this stressful time, as well as many support groups of all kinds. The helpline is available from 9 AM to 5 PM at 503-230-8009, or toll-free at 800-343-6264. Visit their website here to find out more.

  • The Governor has created a Coronavirus FAQ for immigrants and refugees in a variety of languages.

  • Oregon Recovers has put together a list of resources for those struggling with addiction.
Grocery Shopping

Meals for All: 

  • Oregon Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education’s Food Hero website with resources about meal budgeting, planning, and recipes. Its searchable database has plenty of quick, tasty, healthy and low-cost recipes.

  • The Oregon Food Bank has put together a "Food Finder" page to help locate local pantries and food assistance sites. 

  • Access has put together a lengthy list of local food pantries.

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1703
Capitol Address: 900 Court St NE, S-421, Salem, OR, 97301
Podcast: Capitolizing