Reflections on the Second Special Session of 2020

Senator Wagner

The Second Special Session of 2020

Dear friends and neighbors,

On Monday, August 10 the Oregon Legislature adjourned the second special session of 2020 at 11:16 PM. It was a long day in the Capitol working on critical bills to address the $1 billion gap in our state's budget, continuing our commitment to police accountability and transparency and advancing solutions to clear the backlog of Oregonians who desperately need help getting their state unemployment benefits.

The Co-Chairs of the Committee on Ways & Means worked thoughtfully and diligently to preserve the services Oregonians rely on. I am grateful for their efforts to protect public education funding for our children, maintain access to food and Medicaid, continue investing in housing and homeless services, and fund domestic violence and child welfare services. As we discussed bills on the Senate floor, a regular refrain was that the budget is a "moral document." I agree. This budget shows that we value our commitment to protect our most vulnerable Oregonians so that we may be a safer, stronger community together. These are smart, fiscally responsible decisions that will help us weather coming storms and to rebuild as we move toward a brighter future.

For further thoughts on this special session, I encourage you to read my statement below.

Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner Statement on the Adjournment of the Second Special Session of 2020

I also encourage you to watch Senator Manning's closing floor speech on the police accountability bill passed during this special session. He speaks powerfully about his lifelong experiences with racism, and frustration with the slow responses to police brutality and institutional racism: "I wish I didn’t have to come here and bring a bill like this. I wish I didn’t. And if I didn’t, who amongst you would do it?" Until the answer to Senator Manning's question is "all of us," we have work to do.

Senator Manning’s speech resonated with me, and I encourage you to take the time to absorb his words and work to understand his experience. It is such an honor to serve alongside him in the Oregon Senate. I will continue to act against racism in our community, and I look forward to doing that work with you. Black Lives Matter.

COVID-19 and Flu Season

Though it's hard to believe as we're in the midst of the dog days of summer, fall is right around the corner, which also means flu season will soon be upon us. As we continue to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, health professionals are now urging people to get their flu shot this year. Less than half of Oregonian adults receive their yearly flu shots, but getting a flu shot is especially critical this year. This is important because COVID-19, on top of the flu, could prove deadly for any patient, and preventing the flu by getting the vaccine will reduce the likelihood of hospitalization and further strain on our healthcare system. 

For more information on getting vaccinated, including a vaccine finder, visit this website from the Oregon Health Authority.

Finally, remember that the same prevention strategies we're already using to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus are also useful for flu prevention! Wash your hands, wear your mask, watch your distance, and if you're feeling ill, please stay home.

Remember the 3 Ws

Be Counted in the 2020 Census

The Federal Census Bureau has made the controversial decision to end the 2020 census one month earlier than planned due to COVID-19 related delays. This decision comes after President Trump signed an executive order to exclude undocumented imigrants from the 2020 census (this order is currently being contested in court). This means that the Federal Census Bureau has less than two months to reach historically underserved rural and low income communities for the Census. 

It is imperative that Oregonians be counted in the Census as it determines states’ federal funding allocation as well as congressional representation for the next decade. This means that school district funding, hospital funding, community resources, social services, and the size of Oregon’s voice in the nation's Capitol will be determined by the Census. The Oregon self-response rate, while higher than most states, is still only at 65%. It is in all Oregonian's best interest to turn in our Census forms because the more people that report, the more accurately our state will be funded and represented for the next ten years.

To learn more about how to get counted and why your Census report counts, consider visiting We Count Oregon for resources. Please tell everyone you know about the importance of the Census and how they can get counted.

Get Counted

Oregon’s Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) Cultural Support Program

Applications are now open for Oregon’s Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) Cultural Support program. Funds will be available to Oregon cultural organizations facing losses due to the COVID-19 health crisis. The $25.9 million in funding was made available through a $50 million relief package for Oregon music, culture and community venues was recently approved by the Emergency Board of the Oregon Legislature. 

Applications are due by noon on Monday, Aug. 24, and approved funds must be distributed by Sept. 15. For more information on this program, read the Oregon Cultural Trust's blog post here.

Upcoming Event

Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education: On Wednesday, August 18, the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education will host A More Beautiful and Terrible History: A History of the Civil Rights Movement for Today Presented by Professor Jeanne Theoharis. The talk will center on the parallels of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and today's Black Lives Matter Movement. It is free and open to the public, and you can register here.

How You Can Help

As we enter our fifth month of life in a pandemic, "normal life" has shifted in many ways. Together, we have committed to limiting unnecessary trips, maintaining physical distance from others, wearing our masks in public spaces, being more vigilant about hand hygiene and high-touch surfaces, and so much more. If you are able to do so safely, consider donating your time or other resources to community organizations such as the following:

Zooming Through Summer

Now that we're done with the Second Special Session of 2020, it's back to Zoom meetings. I appreciated Representative Janeen Sollman's humorous inclusion of  Zoom attention span in her latest newsletter and I hope that you're all able to take some time away from screens and enjoy this gorgeous Oregon summer weather.


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