Second Special Session Preview

Senator Wagner

The Second Special Session of 2020

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Last Friday, Governor Brown announced that she will convene a second Special Session of the Oregon Legislature, beginning at 8:00 AM on Monday, August 10. The focus of this session will be rebalancing the state budget to address the revenue shortfall stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In order to protect the health and safety of lawmakers, legislative staff and the general public during the coronavirus pandemic, most legislative meetings are being held remotely via video conference and telephone. Members of the public can submit written testimony for inclusion in the record, and if a committee or task force is taking oral public testimony during the meeting, can testify “live” before the committee via telephone or at a public testimony kiosk at the main State Street entrance of the Capitol building. For more information, visit this link from the Oregon Legislature website.

Continuing Work on Racial Justice and Systemic Racism

Lake Oswego Students Call for Change in Schools

As I have said in previous newsletters, it’s important that we acknowledge the local-level efforts to change our communities for the better. This week, I am highlighting the work of two Lake Oswego students who are adding their voices to calls for anti-racist action in the Lake Oswego School District.

Lakeridge High School graduates Parker Carnahan and Pei-Chen Choo have written an open letter to Lake Oswego School District Superintendent Dr. De La Cruz, Lake Oswego School Board, and the administrations of each school within the Lake Oswego School District to ask for anti-racist curriculum and practice changes. I encourage you to read more about their initiative in the Portland Tribune, and to read some of the personal statements from community members about their experiences with racism and injustice in Lake Oswego schools.

Reimagine Oregon and the Racial Justice Council

Several Black-led organizations have recently come together to form Reimagine Oregon--a forum for compiling policy proposals developed by BIPOC community leaders to address systemic racism in our state. Since June 12, Reimagine Oregon has met weekly with elected officials and staff to discuss how to enact these important proposals. To learn more about Reimagine Oregon and its goals, please take a moment to read through their website.

In response to these ideas, Governor Brown has announced the creation of the Racial Justice Council. The aim of the Racial Justice Council is to recommend changes to state policies and provide guidance for racial justice action plans by directly communicating with BIPOC community leaders, like those of Reimagine Oregon. This council is an important step in continuing the dialogue that the Black Lives Matter Movement has inspired, and in moving toward action that centers BIPOC voices. I look forward to hearing recommendations from Reimagine Oregon and the Racial Justice Council on how we will move toward a more inclusive Oregon. 

The initial council membership can be found at this link.

ADA 30th Anniversary

July 26th marked the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA provides civil rights protection for people with disabilities, built on the promise of equal protection under the law of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The ADA mandates reasonable accommodations to prevent barriers to accessing public spaces and services. Its passage did not mark the end of the fight for Disability Justice, but rather a pivotal step that led the way for current advocacy efforts.

Read more about the ADA from people with disabilities in their own words here and find more resources to learn about Disability Justice here.

New Programs to Assist Oregon Agricultural Workers

The Governor’s Office has partnered with community outreach groups to provide new sources of financial assistance for agricultural workers who must self-quarantine to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Oregon Worker Quarantine Fund will provide up to two weeks of financial relief to agricultural workers 18 and older, regardless of immigration status. Workers will be able to apply to the Quarantine Fund through local community-based partners.

Agricultural workers can apply for relief through local community-based organizations here or by calling 1-888-274-7292. Additional details about the Oregon Worker Quarantine Fund, including the eligibility and application process, are available here and here.

Oregon Employment Department Announces Benefits While You Wait Adjudication Program

The Oregon Employment Department announced on July 31 that it has found a way to pay benefits to thousands of Oregonians who are out of work due to COVID-19 while they wait for their claim, or “Benefits While You Wait.” This applies to Oregonians who are waiting for their claim to be reviewed by an adjudicator to determine whether they are eligible for regular unemployment or the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

OED is notifying claimants who fall into this group and will also talk about Benefits While You Wait during a webinar today, August 6th, at 1:00 p.m. Register for the webinar--Employment Department PUA Pay and Earnings Webinar--here.

Morrow County Returns to Phase I, Umatilla County Returns to Baseline

Over the past several weeks, Oregon has seen rapid growth in coronavirus cases across the state. We have surpassed 19,000 cases and will soon cross the 20,000 mark. Nowhere is this being felt as acutely as in Morrow and Umatilla counties, which have experienced outbreaks related to social and family gatherings, agricultural and food processing facilities, and other settings. Despite receiving additional support from state public health experts, these outbreaks have not been contained, which is why Governor Brown announced on Friday that Morrow County has returned to Phase I of reopening and Umatilla County has returned to Baseline Stay Home status for the next 21 days.

Mask Up For Small Businesses


This is heart-wrenching news for our fellow Oregonians in Morrow and Umatilla counties. It is also a somber reminder that this virus sets the timeline for how and when we are able to reopen and return to anything resembling life as we knew it. In the meantime, we must remain committed to the social distancing guidance from our public health experts. Please take care of each other by wearing your masks, watching your distance, and washing your hands.

Low and High Risk Activities COVID-19

Time to Complete Your Census Form

Please take the time to fill out your census form. An accurate Census count is extremely important for Oregon to receive a fair share of federal funding and representation in Congress.

Get Counted - Census 2020

Mental Health and Domestic Violence Resources

The state of the world can pose mental health challenges and it’s harder to reach out to our support systems. 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.
  • If you are LGBTQ+ identifying and are in crisis, please contact the Trevor Lifeline.

Rest in Power - Representative John Lewis

"Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring."

On July 17th, we lost the great civil rights activist and U.S Representative John Lewis. John Lewis wrote an essay after visiting Black Lives Matter Plaza shortly before he died, and it was published posthumously in the New York Times. Representative Lewis was a man who embodied resiliency, led with compassion, and unceasingly pushed for justice. He's an inspiration and he made our country better.

John Lewis BLM Plaza

Rep. John Lewis (right) and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (left), from Representative Lewis' Instagram page (@repjohnlewis)




Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner
Senate District 19

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