Do What You Can Do 2/12/2021

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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

Town hall for Almeda Fire testifying

If you were impacted by the Almeda or South Obenchain fires, or have ideas on what’s need to recover from them, we want to hear from you. The Senate and House Wildfire Recovery Committees will take testimony online this Wednesday, February 17, beginning at 5:30pm.  


  • Register to testify online: If you would like to testify, click here. After you submit this form, you will receive an email including instructions on how to testify during Wednesday's meeting. 
  • Register to testify through the phone: Call 833-588-4500 and the phone system will instruct you through the process of signing up to give verbal testimony. 

How to submit written testimony:
If you would prefer to submit written testimony, please send your written testimony to Your written testimony will be made public through the Oregon Legislative website where legislators and the public can view your written testimony.

How to watch: 
On Wednesday, February 17th, go to this page. The committee meeting will be listed under "Live Events". From there you can click the video option listed beside the meeting to watch.


Thanks to all of you who came to our second online Town Hall of the session last Thursday. You can watch a recording here. I hope it was as valuable for you as it was for me.

These conversations always give me a better feel for what people in the district think and want. We’re aiming to hold a live Town Hall on Zoom on the first Thursday of every month at 5:00pm through the session. We’ll announce them in this newsletter a week in advance.

Salem (sort of)

The weirdly socially-distanced 2021 legislative session moves toward its second month, with a weekly trip to Salem to spend a few minutes on the floor each Thursday morning, listening to first- and second-readings of bills that we’re obliged, per state constitution, to hear in person. That’s the extent of official business in the Capitol these days.

But I promise we’re not loafing. The Monday-Friday schedule of online policy and budget committee meetings, huddles with other legislators and staff, conversations with constituents, interest groups and subject-matter experts—a motley assortment of people showing up in small boxes from all kinds of living rooms and kitchens and home offices--keeps my earnest face on the screen most of the day, with Salem in the virtual background.

Senator Golden in Committee

On Mondays and Wednesdays I hold the gavel twice. I co-chair the Joint Ways & Means Sub-Committee on General Government, one of the seven “Subs” that examine the budgets and performances of state agencies to make recommendations to the full Ways & Means Committee. Then at 3:15 those two days I chair the Natural Resources and Wildfire Recovery Committee.

These meetings are as public as we can make them. Our General Government budget hearings draw few viewers—they get seriously dry and arcane. More people follow our Natural Resources hearings. You can watch them live here by clicking on the tiny camera icon next to the meeting’s date and time. You’ll also find a link towards the bottom of this page for submitting testimony on bills coming before my committee. And here’s a link, suitable for bookmarking, that can help you find, track, or testify on bills in any committee.

Natural Resources has a full plate ahead. A massive wildfire recovery bill is on the drawing boards, a blueprint for investing tens of millions of dollars to help bring devastated communities back to viability. There’s an equally big bill to reduce the risk and severity of wildfire going forward, and to help communities adapt to them. I’m introducing a bill to change the governance of the Department of Forestry, which is currently structured in ways that give the timber industry a much stronger voice than the other major stakeholders in Oregon forest policy (more to come on that one).  And I’ll take testimony from those pushing to ramp up salvage logging in badly-burned forestlands, perennially one of the hottest (sorry) issues in forest management. 

Add to that a normal session’s quota of water, agriculture and wildlife issues (including a return of the proposed ban on coyote-killing contests that lit up the 2019 session), and this one committee’s likely to soak up most of my brainpower this session.  

State Bank of Oregon

photo of money

One bill I’ve introduced is unlikely to go further than a single public hearing. That’s fine; it’s the kind of change that usually takes multiple sessions to accomplish, and I want to keep the conversation going.  I’m talking about SB 339, which would establish a State Bank of Oregon.

I got hooked on this cause in the course of producing a 2012 episode of my IMMENSE POSSIBILITIES series on the State Bank of North Dakota (BND), and groups who wanted to replicate it in Oregon. It seemed like a sound idea then and still does. The BND has helped that state weather recessions over the decades much better than other states, with fewer foreclosures and bankruptcies, more successful small business launches per capita and more access to low-income loans than just about anywhere else. It’s one of the few counter-weights to the wealth gap that keeps widening. It’s also been able to arrange financing for public works projects that other states can find only from Wall Street financial brokers that drain communities of millions of dollars for the service. The BND has never had serious financial problems and generates revenue for North Dakota’s general fund—dollars that keep taxes lower—almost every year.

I mention this partly because I’m a little stunned by the small flow of recent emails, some one sentence long, declaring that a State Bank would destroy Oregon. As far as I can figure (and it’s not very far) there’s a meme out there that State Banks are mechanisms from Stalin’s Soviet Union, crashing through the doors of hard-working citizens to steal their savings and make their lives generally miserable. I’m told that one social media thread has figured out that Governor Brown wants to use a State Bank to suck all the wealth out of Oregon to send to China. Anyone spending time in those chat spaces might also want to read about what a State Bank actually does.

This seems to be where we are in the Age of Q-Anon. It’s up to the rest of us to ward off discouragement and keep putting out the best, most grounded ideas we can find to improve our communities, state and country.  

COVID news

You could say there’s good and bad news on the COVID front. The numbers on new infections and hospitalizations have been steadily dropping. 

COVID cases graph

And some schools have the go-ahead to resume the outdoor sports that kids have been craving.

At the same time, Jackson and Josephine Counties are among fourteen stuck in the state’s “extreme risk” category, which keeps us from opening schools and other activities at the same pace as other parts of the state. More aggravating than that is the meager supply of vaccine coming to our county. This week some of you had eagerly-awaited vaccination appointments cancelled because expected doses haven’t arrived.  It’s a national problem that prompts lots of questions; here are Oregon’s answers to them.

Most of us understand that an unprecedented public health campaign on this scale will have logistical glitches and disappointments. All the same, we could do a better job communicating with worried people who’ve been waiting patiently to be vaccinated. Few people are likely to appreciate a message that their age now makes them eligible for the shot...except there’s no shot available to give. State officials are working a few options to ramp up vaccine supply and bring an end to this strange state of affairs.   

Wildfire Recovery

Rough bumps have continued for some victims of the Almeda fire as they look for federal aid.

The FEMA process can be tedious and frustrating, especially hard to navigate for people with few resources, little or no Internet access, and limited fluency in English. One denial, possibly for a simple error or misunderstanding on the application form, can bump them out of the process altogether. I’m working with the state Office of Emergency Management to get some case management help for people in that situation.

As time passes it gets easier to forgot about the plight of people who lost their homes. Some are reaching the end of the time that families and friends can house them. More than a few don’t quite know where to go. If you know survivors of the Almeda or South Obenchain fire who have no immediate housing, let them know about the state’s wildfire housing hotline at 833-669-0554. Housing and food assistance is available for people in need whether or not they’re eligible for FEMA aid.

If you know people trying to put their lives together after the
ask them to share their story with us at the Wildfire Recovery Public Hearing of the House and Senate Wildfire Recovery Committees, this Wednesday, February 17, 5:30-8:30pm. See the directions at the top of this newsletter to testify.

Jordan Cove

Jordan Cove protest photo

Photo from the Sierra Club

The Jordan Cove pipeline looks to be wobbling on its very last legs after a second blow this week to the company’s strategy to have the feds approve the project despite denials from Oregon’s regulatory agencies. It’s a mystery as to how they were going to get the courts to buy that, but it was the only tactic the Pembina Corporation had left. Now the U.S. Department of Commerce has rejected the company’s plea to overrule Oregon’s finding that the proposed pipeline and gas export terminal would cause too much harm along the coast to protected wildlife and habitat.

Where does Pembina go from here? Other than back to Canada, I have no idea. I’d say Donald Trump had better legal grounds for overturning the election than this company does for building the pipeline.

A bow and deep thanks to all of you who stood up so strongly for so many years to bring an end to the Jordan Cove/Pacific Connector pipeline.

Lastly.... happy birthday to us this weekend!

Oregon Senator Golden's signature

Senator Jeff Golden, Oregon Senate District 3

How to track legislation


The Oregon State University College of Business is offering free tax preparation services to low- and middle-income individuals and families through a partnership with the IRS. Read more here

  • The service is available in February and March, and appointments are now being scheduled. To qualify for the service, individuals or families must make less than $72,000 annually and meet other eligibility guidelines.
  • To learn more about eligibility or to register for an appointment, visit or call 541-737-7962. Assistance is also available in Spanish.


  • The Jackson County Health and Human Services page has the most up to date local information about COVID-19 vaccine availability, who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, and who to call for assistance.

  • The Oregon Health Authority's page has COVID-19 vaccine information, OHA's recorded press briefings, and COVID-19 graphs.

  • The Oregon Health Authority has created this page specifically for COVID-19 vaccine information.

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

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