Do What You Can Do 6/27/2020

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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 Valley taken from Hobart Bluff was provided by Todd Settimo. 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


The Special Session  

     The First Special Session of 2020 (that was the official name, a preview of the Governor’s plan to bring us back to Salem in coming weeks to deal with a massive budget shortfall) began on Wednesday and adjourned early Friday evening—yesterday, as we send out this newsletter. That’s three times longer than most special sessions—they’re usually held to address one or two issues with pre-written bills, the votes already counted and a firm intention to get in-and-out fast—and shorter than longtime observers predicted on the front end.

    There were a few elements that could have turned this into a marathon. One was the set of new, sometime clunky procedures for social distancing and disinfection that slowed routine movement. Another was signals from Republicans that they pretty much feel the same as they did when they walked out of the 2019 and 2020 sessions: disrespected and disempowered. They steadily complained that the majority party decided what the session would address, with no opportunity to introduce bills they wanted. That’s accurate and, for better or worse, exactly how things have worked in every special session in anyone’s memory.  But their unhappiness had us wondering if they’d walk out again or, less dramatically, refuse to suspend the constitutional rules that require every bill to be read word-for-word before a final vote takes place. They did neither.

   The biggest challenge was the quantity of proposed bills that surely broke the record for any special session ever. Some were consolidated or trimmed back and some, needing more thought and polishing than time allowed, were assigned to work groups to bring back to the next special session. Here’s a summary of what made it over the finish line.

  A couple of items stood out for me. One was a carry-over from the last session, one of dozens of bills that went down in flames when the opposition party walked out of the Capitol in February. It’s a Memorandum of Understanding that a group of environmental and timber industry leaders brought forward last spring to start resolving forest issues we’ve been fighting over for 30 years. It will tighten up protection near Southern Oregon streams and regulation of herbicide/pesticide spraying, and very likely begin overhauling Oregon’s outdated Forest Practices Act. If you’ve paid close attention to timber politics since the Spotted Owl was listed in 1989, you might have trouble believing this kind of truce can happen. I made that point in my floor speech before the vote. We passed the bill 24-2.

  The other was HB 4213, a centerpiece of the session, that extends the Governor’s moratorium on commercial and residential evictions for nonpayment of rent from June 30 to September 30, and gives tenants six months after that to pay any back rent that mounted up.  It passed on a nearly party-line vote of 18-9. I thought it would be an easy vote for me to cast, because I knew coming in that I wanted to strengthen measures to keep people in their homes through the pandemic, and the hard times it’s brought; the prospect of a surge in homelessness coinciding with a surge in Covid infections is a brutal nightmare.  But unless the state can find the money to subsidize rent payments, how do you do that without making life hard for small-time landlords, many who try to keep rents reasonable and don’t have much of a buffer?

      Part of the answer is a moratorium on property foreclosures, the focus of another bill we passed (HB 4204), so that landlords whose property carries a mortgage won’t lose their units.  Part is requiring tenants to make up any rent they skipped after the moratorium’s over. As logical as that seems on paper, it’s not hard to imagine the problems that’s likely to cause in the real world.  It seemed to me that one way to reduce the load was to require tenants skipping their rent to provide some kind of evidence—a note from the boss or the Employment Department, or from their doctor—to show that their economic problem was Covid-related. My suggestion to amend the bill along those lines went exactly nowhere. At one point I walked a couple laps around the Capitol to clear my head to decide if this was a big enough flaw to have me walk away from the bill. I decided it wasn’t—the need’s just too grave. But it doesn’t feel great to voice that “Aye” on the Senate floor for a bill you think could have easily been improved.  I’m afraid that happens a lot.



Unemployment Claims

  For thousands of Oregonians, the most frustrating experience of recent months has to be their fits-and-starts journey through the unemployment claims process. If you’re among them, thanks to you for your massive patience and, on behalf of the state, a deep apology for the long slog you’ve been through. A turning point came four weeks ago with a change at the top of the Employment Department. I’ll let the new Director speak for himself about just what happened, and what he expects going forward. But if the big-picture improvement isn’t trickling down to you—if you’re still waiting weeks and weeks without service—let me know at It helps if you include a short description of your situation, along with the date of your initial claim, dates of any contact you’ve had with the Employment Department, and any customer i.d. or file number they may have given you.


General COVID Update

    You’ve probably noticed that current infection rates are grim around the country and not so great in Oregon. Please take all the care you reasonably can to stay distanced, masked and careful.  Good resources, as always, are below.  Take care of yourself and others—


Senator Jeff Golden, Oregon Senate District 3

Current COVID-19 Information

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COVID Resources

Business Resources:

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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.
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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