Do What You Can Do 12/18/2020

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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


This photo from Emigrant Lake was taken by Kathleen Kinzie Rowland. We want your beautiful Southern Oregon photo for this newsletter! Send it to with the subject “Photo Reminder.” We’d love to feature them.

Just two purposes for this week’s edition: the big reveal on the long-running soap opera of whether we’ll meet in special session (spoiler alert: yes), and a pitch for directing some of your holiday cheer towards stellar local organizations working hard to get so many of our neighbors through 2020’s brutal challenges.

Special Session

Sunday afternoon I’ll hop in my car (I think I still know how to drive it) and head for Salem in time for the opening gavel, 8:00am Monday, for the third 2020 session of the Oregon Legislature. I’d been guessing that we’d have the first-ever online “catastrophic” legislative session, but there were too many unanswered legal details for leadership to feel comfortable. So the plan is to keep the list of bills short, provide an opportunity for public testimony (yesterday and tomorrow, December 19 10:00am-noon, here—click on the little camera icon if you want to watch), get the votes all lined up, and get in and of the Capitol Building as briskly as we can. Part of that is fear of infection—the rate of spread in Salem and Oregon generally is still at pandemic-high levels—and part is that we want to walk the talk of minimizing close contact with others. As much as there is to argue about with COVID, and as much as people are arguing, we should be able to rally around the premise of keeping our gatherings to a minimum right now, and we who are in the public limelight have to model that.


A key part of the get-in-and-get-out strategy is limiting the list of bills to the most urgent that aren’t very controversial. At the moment—this could change by Monday morning-- three make that list. The one that particularly drove the need for a special session is LC 18, which extends the moratorium on rental evictions from December 31 to June of 2021 and, for the first time, allocates tens of millions of dollars to reimburse landlords for 80% of the rental income they lost in 2020. Public testimony in last night’s hearing ranged from landlords who think that reimbursing anything less than 100% is theft, to tenant advocates who said all rent should be suspended indefinitely unconditionally, but there was strong majority support. I expect us to pass the bill Monday.

LC 21 would protect Oregon’s schools that carefully follow specific public health guidelines from getting sued by staff, students or students’ families who contract COVID-19. School districts have been clear that they couldn’t responsibly open back up without this protection. This, too, has had strong support in public testimony, though some have said nothing should block citizens from access to the courts if they think they’ve been unjustly injured. This issue is on the table across the country for a variety of institutions--schools, hospitals, long-term care facilities, businesses in general.  It’s been a major sticking point in Congress’ negotiations over another COVID relief package. For now it looks like most legislators are comfortable extending this protection to schools, and possibly some medical facilities, but not businesses broadly; I expect that harder part of the debate to come back in the regular 2021 session.

LC 10 temporarily allows restaurants to sell mixed drinks to go, and regulates details around services to deliver them. This one raises some eyebrows—is this the kind of massive emergency that can’t wait for regular session? As far as I can tell, the high profit margin on mixed drinks make this a quick and easy way to relieve COVID’s serious squeeze on small restaurants, many of which are barely hanging on. I haven’t heard of serious opposition to this bill.

So I think we’ll pass three fairly well-discussed bills into law on Monday. And...based on Salem’s unpredictability this year, maybe not. I’ll write next week about how all this turns out.



One thing that didn’t make it to Monday’s agenda—or the agenda of the two special sessions we’ve already had—is the proposal to disconnect Oregon’s tax code from the new federal tax breaks that were folded into the first big COVID relief package last spring. I’m part of a coalition that sees these loopholes as behind-the-scenes work of K Street lobbyists on behalf wealthy executives, disguised as relief for COVID-damaged businesses.

We want Oregon to reject these tax breaks and use the tax revenue to save genuinely struggling local businesses instead. We’ve have asked before all three sessions for the chance to consider a “disconnect” bill.  We haven’t succeeded, I think, because of an assumption, in these volatile times, that Republicans would fiercely fight the proposal as part of a Democratic “anti-business” agenda.  I wanted to challenge that on the Senate floor when the special session opens, and offer a fresh way to hold this issue. But because floor speeches are being kept to a minimum for this COVID-challenged session, I’m having my say today in the form of a press release instead, scheduled to go out get it first!

For the Holidays


Photo from Aaron Burden

Always slow and a little cranky about shopping for the holidays, I’m doing something simple this year. There’s a whole cluster of local organizations, some around for a while and some new this year, that are doing astonishing work in service of neighbors who’ve suffered so much in 2020. Nothing seems simpler, or more aligned with what most of us want the holidays to mean, than writing them checks in budget-stretching amounts. I haven’t spent that many hours in the critical trenches this season, and I can’t think of a better way to show how grateful I am that they do.

Want to join me?  Just below here, in the “Where to give” section, you’ll see a list researched by my assistant Sarah Settimo, who assembles this newsletter so skillfully each week. Please do what you can do—maybe with a child or young friend next to you to help make decisions?—to keep this wonderful work going.

With appreciation,


Senator Jeff Golden, Oregon Senate District 3

Where to give

  • Rogue Action Center has been instrumental in helping those affected by the fires.  You can donate to Rogue Action Center here

  • The Phoenix-Talent School District is doing phenomenal work to support families impacted by the Almeda Fire and connect them with resources, all while adapting to COVID-19. To support their continued efforts, click here to donate.

  • Rogue Action Center, Rogue Climate, SO Health-e, SO Equity, and Siskiyou Rising-Tide have established the Rogue Valley Relief Fund, which will provide relief for the most vulnerable in our community. Donate here.

  • Unete supports farm workers and immigrant families throughout the Rogue Valley and established the Immigrant Fire Relief Fund following the Almeda to aid those impacted by the fire with rent/utilities and food. Click here to donate.

  • Rogue Food Unites provides locally made meals to those affected by the fires both short and long-term. Click here to donate. Click here to get involved.

  • Access works to provide food assistance throughout the valley to those in need. With increasing need due to COVID and the wildfires, consider donating here.

  • Food and Friends delivers meals to seniors in order to support their independent living and safety during the pandemic. Click here to donate. Click here to learn more about volunteer opportunities.

COVID resources

  • The Governor's COVID website has been updated to reflect the new framework for counties. 

  • OHA's website has information on COVID-19 with links to the latest announcements, guidance, etc. 

  • If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, click here to locate a testing site near you.

  • Have questions about COVID-19 in Jackson County? Visit the Jackson County Public Health website or you can call Jackson County Health and Human services with questions at 541-774-8200.

  • If you are in need to food assistance, The Oregon Food Bank has created this page where you can search for a food pantry or pick-up site near you.

Wildfire resources

  • The Governor's wildfire website has county specific and statewide information.

  • Click here for Southern Oregon specific wildfire information.

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