Recap of Legislative Organizational Days & More

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Representative Smith Warner


After a whirlwind of a day on Monday, the legislature was able to officially organize the 81st Legislative Assembly by swearing in all 90 House and Senate members, electing our presiding officers, passing our floor rules that govern how we will proceed, and introducing the first hundreds of bills for the upcoming legislative session.This year, in addition to my duties as Democratic Caucus Leader, I will be serving as Chair of the House Rules Committee and a member of the Joint Committee on Legislative Administration.

I am hopeful about the opportunities we have to bring much needed relief to our fellow Oregonians. We are committed, during the multiple crises we face – COVID-19, a long overdue reckoning on race, and political strife – to bold, decisive and transformative change for Oregon. You can follow our progress at throughout the session; in the meantime, I wanted to update you about capitol operations, COVID-19 response efforts and other important information.

Opening Day

Capitol Safety & Operations Update

Like many of you, I am continuing to absorb and respond to the events that have occurred in Washington D.C and our state capitol in recent weeks. Rep. Mike Nearman’s inexcusable actions put the lives of staff members, legislators, and Oregon State Police officers at risk. As a response, the legislature has made a start at some consequences for Rep. Nearman outlined in Speaker Tina Kotek’s press release. I support the Speaker's call for his resignation and will continue to work to remove him from office.

The Legislature is committed to ensuring public input and participation throughout the pandemic, expanding participation through audio and video testimony so that Oregonians in every community throughout the state will have greater opportunities to provide legislative feedback, regardless of how far they live from the Capitol. This was done successfully prior to the third special session of 2020, when approximately 100 Oregonians testified by audio and/or video in six hours of public hearings and submitted approximately 550 pieces of written testimony. I am eager to see it work out for the upcoming long session.

Oregon Health Authority Update

The Oregon Health authority reports up-to-date information regarding testing and vaccine statistics that can be found on their website. You can review the daily update and read the weekly report that details the overall picture of the COVID-19 response in Oregon.Here are some recent developments from OHA:

  • Governor Kate Brown announced earlier this week that Oregon plans to expand COVID-19 innoculations to include all individuals age 65 and older, childcare providers and early learning and K-12 educators and staff when additional vaccine shipments begin arriving from the federal government. Unfortunately, this plan has been put on hold due to an unexpected announcement from the federal government that states will not be receiving increased shipments of vaccines.

  • Oregon Counties in COVID-19 Extreme Risk Category: Effective January 15 through January 28, there will be 26 counties in the Extreme Risk level, two at High Risk, two at Moderate Risk, and six at Lower Risk. Multnomah County remains in the extreme risk category.  A complete list of all counties and their associated risk levels is available here.

  • Oregon has now administered a cumulative total of 146,137 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. To date, 321,425 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon. 
vaccine chart

Frequently Asked COVID-19 Vaccine Questions

I am in a Phase 1a group, where do I go?
At this time, there is no central telephone number to contact or website registry. OHA is working with local public health, healthcare partners and 211 to determine the best contacts in each community. OHA will post the community contacts on our COVID-19 website as soon as we have them. Check your local public health website to see if they have additional information.

I don’t know if I’m in Phase 1a, how do I check?
Please check the Oregon COVID-19 Vaccine Sequencing Plan. For additional questions:

Do I need to show any proof I’m in Phase 1a?
The Oregon Health Authority is not requiring verification and has no plans to request verification from vaccinating providers. Vaccine providers may require an individual to self-attest they are in a Phase1a group.

I’ve been turned away from getting a vaccine by a COVID-19 vaccine provider. What do I do now?
If you believe you do fall under Phase 1a, please contact your local public health authority to be connected to a vaccine provider. OHA is also updating FAQs on the website; here is a link to the most recent Phase 1a Vaccine Sequencing FAQ.

Employment Department Update

The Oregon Employment Department has been, and remains, busy implementing the many new provisions of the federal Continued Assistance Act that was signed into law on December 27, 2020. Below, are important updates‌ from the Oregon Employment Department about‌ ‌this federal benefits package and how it applies to you: 

  • The department started paying the additional $300 weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefit this week. This was the first eligible week people were able to receive this benefit.

  • The department also started paying benefits to people with several weeks of benefits remaining on their PUA or PEUC claims.

  • If you are about to exhaust ($0 balance) your benefits or file a new PUA claim, we don’t have an estimate yet for when you’ll start to receive benefits again. However, your benefits will be paid retroactively so continue to file weekly. We will share that information as soon as we know more.

  • Those eligible for PEUC will receive an additional 11 weeks of benefits. Read our updated FAQs to learn more and find which scenario best fits your claim.

  • The department and the governor’s office support continuing to waive the waiting week until March 13, 2021. Read the Governor’s letter to Acting Director Gerstenfeld.

While the department continues to receive and implement federal  guidance from the U.S. Dept. of Labor, it is important that individuals continue to file their weekly claims to prevent delays in payment. If you experience a problem with your claim, please submit a message through this Contact Us form.

benefits 2021

Paycheck Protection Program Reopens

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has reopened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). SBA will forgive loans if all employee retention criteria are met, and the funds are used for eligible expenses. Some changes to the program have been made in this round that expand its use. The program will cover some costs that were previously not eligible, such as general operational costs and supplier costs. The program is also now available for 501(c)(6) organizations. For more information, visit the SBA website.

2021 Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment

I want to alert you that the 2021 Medicare Advantage open enrollment period is happening now through March 31. Beneficiaries who take advantage of this open enrollment period will have coverage that starts the first day of the month after an enrollment action. During this time frame, beneficiaries who already have a Medicare Advantage plan can change to a different Medicare Advantage plan, either with or without drug coverage or enroll in a stand-alone Part D (prescription drug) plan. For more information call (800)722-4134. 

MLK Day of Service Community Events

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, there are many events and opportunities taking place over the next few days you can join to give back to the community. See below for more information. 


                                                   SOLVE MLK Clean Up 
Spend your Martin Luther King Jr. Day with SOLVE giving back to the community through service volunteering. The MLK Jr. Day of Service event will be kicked off at Irving Park in Northeast Portland. Volunteers will be sent to the area surrounding MLK Boulevard, picking up litter and preventing it from entering our waterways. Every piece of litter picked up counts, and we need your help! All cleanup supplies will be provided, just come dressed for the weather with closed-toed shoes and a filled reusable water bottle. Volunteers will meet at Irving Park located at 707 NE Fremont, Portland, OR 97212. Please arrive for check in at 12:45 pm. 

Please reach out to my office if you have any additional questions, or if there’s anything you think I could help with. 



Representative Barbara Smith Warner
House District 45

email: I phone: 503-986-1445
address: 900 Court St NE, H-295, Salem, OR 97301