Celebrate Labor Day by Protecting Workers and Loved Ones

Senator Wagner

An Especially Important Labor Day

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Labor Day is especially important this year. On Monday, we recognize the contributions of American workers to our country and to Oregon. As we continue to battle through this global pandemic, I am more grateful than ever for essential workers and their heroic efforts to bring us the services we all need. 

In my tenure as a state legislator and throughout my professional career, I have been proud to work with our state's amazing and dedicated workers. I will continue to advocate for workers as we respond to the challenges of this public health crisis and rebuild back better.

The Labor Movement has been integral to delivering the services and resources all Americans and Oregonians rely on. In addition, labor leaders in our state have fought for fair wages, worker protections and collective bargaining rights. Their efforts have improved the well being of all workers and families in Oregon, including my own family.

My family and I thank you for all that you do to keep our state moving forward. 


Senator Rob Wagner learning about one of Oregon's largest woman-owned businesses - General Sheet Metal - with employees and management in Clackamas, Oregon. Thank you to SMART Local 16 and my amazing constitutent, Raymon Brison, for the great tour.

Community Conversation on Racism Continues

Over the past several months, I have prioritized supporting community conversations on racism. This week, I added my voice to a larger collective of local elected officials and candidates for local elected office to push back on racist sentiments expressed by Mayor Studebaker in Lake Oswego. I recommend that you also read the Citizens' View submitted by the Respond to Racism Board of Directors.

We know that it is our responsibility to call out racism where it appears in our community, and we share a belief that our neighbors and ourselves can rise to a higher standard for treating our fellow residents and visitors with respect. Please join me in learning how to be a better community member by following the work of local organizations like the West Linn Alliance for Inclusive Community and Respond to Racism, and by holding ourselves and each other accountable. Black Lives Matter.

How to Reopen Schools

Recently, state health officials and Governor Kate Brown held a press briefing to explain what would need to happen to resume in-person school instruction. The statewide requirements include:

  • State testing positivity rate must remain at or below 5%;
  • The county must have 10 or fewer new cases per 100,000 residents over seven days; and
  • The countywide test positivity rate must be 5% or less over that same period.

Although some counties are closer to hitting those benchmarks, it’s clear that if we all remain committed to the COVID-19 mitigation strategies our public health experts have developed during this pandemic, we will stay on a trajectory that has schools reopen for in-person instruction before spring.

Please remember to continue practicing strong hand-washing hygiene, maintaining physical distance, wearing your mask, and limiting non-essential trips. With the Labor Day weekend fast approaching, we are standing at a critical crossroads: if we are not able to effectively follow this guidance and lower our numbers, schools will not reopen for in-person instruction. Additionally, a spike in the virus that mirrors what we've seen in the past over the Fourth of July and Memorial Day weekends may lead to the implementation of other public health strategies to once again stabilize the spread of the virus.

Oregon - How Do We Meet Our Goal Faster

In the meantime, if you have questions about what the school year will look like for the students in your life, please consult your local school district's website:

Employment Department Hearings

Many Oregonians who lost work due to the pandemic are still waiting for their unemployment insurance benefits. This week the Senate Committee on Labor and Business held hearings with the Oregon Employment Department to learn about their administration challenges, what changes they have made to respond to those challenges and how they will prepare for the future and adjust agency practices with the changing realities of the ongoing public health emergency. Leaders in Oregon have been calling for further federal assistance to states and individuals, and the committee will also discuss the agency’s readiness for administration of future federal dollars.

The committee will hold its third meeting at 8 AM tomorrow (September 3rd) including time that will be reserved solely for testimony from the public. Visit the agenda page to learn how to provide testimony in writing or live to the committee.

We Count Oregon - U.S. Census

Get Counted!


Every ten years, a nation-wide Census is conducted to get an accurate tally of everyone in the United States and where they’re living. The federal government uses this information to distribute more than $675 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year. Oregon and our local governments also use that information to invest in schools, public health and other critical resources and supports. The Census data also helps determine how the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are divided among the 50 states and informs decisions about redistricting.

Filling out the Census means Oregon can receive the resources, funding and representation our state deserves.

The Census Bureau has useful information on the questions they ask and their legal requirement to keep your information confidential no matter what. We Count Oregon is our state’s effort to ensure Oregon has an accurate count. I encourage you to share the website and information with your friends, neighbors and other community members. The Census is available online, over the phone and by mail. Follow this link to learn how to access these options.

Foreclosure Moratorium Extension

The Governor has extended protections from foreclosure for Oregon home and business owners through December 31. The Executive Order will extend HB 4204’s current moratorium on foreclosures, as allowed by that legislation. Although this extension will provide home and business owners with some certainty through the end of the year, more work is necessary to achieve a long-term solution that serves home and business owners, landlords, lenders, and other stakeholders. The Legislature will be looking for proposals from the Governor’s Office on this issue in the coming weeks.

Health Coverage for Uninsured Oregonians

Uninsured Oregonians who were not able to sign up for private health coverage due to COVID-19 can still enroll in coverage through the national emergency or major disaster exceptional circumstances special enrollment period (SEP) on HealthCare.gov.

People who experienced a life change are eligible for a standard special enrollment period that allows them to sign up for a plan 60 days before or after their life change to enroll in a plan. For Oregonians who were eligible for a special enrollment period because of a life change missed that window due to COVID-19, they can use the SEP (also known as FEMA SEP) to enroll in a plan. 

Applications are being accepted at HealthCare.gov if the life change is a loss in coverage and at 800-318-2596 for all other life changes. The FEMA SEP for private health coverage is available for people who qualified for special enrollment between January 1, 2020, up to 60 days after the national public health emergency has ended (currently set to end in late October).

For more information, go to OregonHealthCare.gov.

Washington County Business Recovery


Washington County is offering another round of small business economic assistance grants of $3,000 each. The grant application will remain open until Friday, September 4 at 5 PM. 

To award the grants, the county will use a scoring system focused on providing assistance to those businesses impacted the most by COVID-19 closures and regulations, as well as businesses who have historically faced systemic disadvantages in gaining access to business assistance programs. However, all businesses meeting the minimum qualifications are invited to apply.

Business owners who operate more than one business are only eligible to receive a grant for one of their businesses. For more eligibility information, visit the Washington County Business Recovery website.

Please Be Safe This Weekend

As always, whether you're staying close to home or traveling this Labor Day Weekend, please make sure to follow the three W's: wear your mask, watch your distance and wash your hands.

Below, please review the Oregon Health Authority list of questions to ask yourself about the risks of gatherings. We've been making progress on our number of infections, but it's important to remember that a second wave of the virus was strengthened by Memorial Day Weekend gatherings earlier this year - let's avoid that outcome this weekend.

Labor Day Safety Tips

Please let me know if you need any assistance in the weeks and months 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: Sen.RobWagner@OregonLegislature.gov I phone: 503-986-1719
address: 900 Court St NE, S-223, Salem, OR, 97301
website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/wagner