Leg Days Recap #1

Michael Dembrow

November 21, 2001

Dear Neighbors and Friends,

I hope that you and your loved ones are doing well, staying healthy, and enjoying some restful time this weekend.

Today’s newsletter is not the usual COVID-focused one (though you’ll find links to some news items that have appeared since Thursday evening’s newsletter).  Rather, it’s an opportunity for me to share with you some of the highlights (for me at least) of last week’s “Leg Days”—the quarterly committee hearings that we hold during the interim period between sessions. 

Last week I sent out  a newsletter that included all the agendas and links to all the committee meetings that were held.  (There were 36, plus one task force.) Remember, you can watch any of those meetings and check out any of the documents, reports, and testimony that were included under Meeting Materials. 

In tonight’s newsletter I’m going to share the (surprisingly positive) revenue forecast that was presented to the Legislature on Wednesday.

I also want to let you know about the next step in the redistricting process: it’s coming up tomorrow! 

I’ll be sending out another newsletter soon with reports on the committee meetings that I attended myself last week: Education, Energy and Environment, and Judiciary. (I chair the first and am a member of the other two.)

Last week was also a stressful time for us legislators because Friday was the deadline for us to submit our drafting requests for any bills that we plan to introduce for the February session.  Since it’s a short session, Senators and Representatives are limited in the number of bills they can introduce.  We each are allowed two drafting requests.  Those of us who are committee chairs also can make three additional requests on behalf of the committee (education-related issues in my case).  You’ll see references in the reporting in the next newsletter to my two personal bills and one of the Education Committee bills.

Until the next newsletter, please stay healthy and safe, and let me know if you have any questions about information in today’s newsletter.


Oregon Supreme Court Set to Rule on Legislative Redistricting on Monday

We received word on Friday from the Secretary of the Senate that we can expect the Oregon Supreme Court to release its final decision Monday on Expected for release on Case #S-68991: Sheehan/Calderwood v. Legislative Assembly, a suit brought by two Republicans (including one who had been a Republican colleague of mine when I was in the House) against the Legislature for its recently-finalized legislative redistricting maps.

As I’ve mentioned before, I expect the court to rule that these maps were designed in compliance with our constitutional requirements and should move forward.  But you never know!  Actually, by the time you read this newsletter, you may already know!

We expect that sometime this week or soon after the special panel of judges will also rule on the complaints filed to the Congressional maps.  Preliminary indications are that the complaints to those maps will also not hold up.  Here's reporting focused on the "Special Master" and another article focused on the rest of the judges.


Quarterly Revenue Forecast: Another Surprisingly Positive Solid Revenue Picture for Oregon

Every few months the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis (i.e., the extremely capable Mark McMullen and Josh Lehner) comes to a joint meeting of the House Revenue Committee and the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee to update their revenue forecast for the current biennium.  Their quarterly presentation also informs us on the general state of Oregon’s economy, as well as the national economy.  It analyzes potential strengths and weaknesses that could lead to future changes.

Our current 2021-23 biennial budget was constructed based on projections made back in May.  You may remember that the most recent forecast, delivered in August, was the first update since end-of-session and gave us a first sign of how their forecast is holding up.  It revealed a much better picture of tax receipts and economic trends post-pandemic.  It was very positive.  We’ve been unsure, though, about whether that good news would hold up, given the onset of the Delta variant of COVID, which was just beginning here in Oregon when that August forecast was being written.

Well, as it turns out, the news is even better three months later.

The economic recovery from the pandemic continues to be robust. We are recovering from the initial COVID recession at a rate that’s much faster than the typical recovery.  This is due to a variety of factors.  First, the many federal COVID-response supports have kept Oregonians afloat.  And now, booming wage gains, especially among the lowest-wage workers, are offsetting the fading federal aid. Household incomes and consumer spending remain strong, supporting an overall bright outlook.  Fewer workers are having to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. The economy is set to reach full employment a year from now, or three times faster than in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

As a result, we’ve seen record rates of tax collections this fall, both from individuals and from business profits.  The percentage increases have been especially noteworthy in Eastern Oregon, where the federal supports made a big percentage difference.

Our projected ending fund balance for the end of this biennium is now nearly $1.5 billion above what we thought it would be when the current budget was adopted at the end of June.  That’s pretty remarkable.

As you’ll see from the presentation slides and my notes from the presentation, though, there are some cautionary notes.  Problems with supply chains and current rates of inflation, if they persist, could lead to a more pessimistic scenario.  Inability to find skilled workers in key industries could create a drag on future growth.  Lack of affordable housing remains a critical problem, even for families that are seeing their spending power improve somewhat. 

Thanks to prudent legislative decisions over the last decade, we’ve managed to set aside enough in reserves to help us weather a serious downturn if the current boom turns to bust.  We’ll need to make sure we continue that prudent policy going forward.  Still, these added revenues could help us make some long-term improvements in critical areas, such as workforce development and getting more Oregonians the education and training they need to fill those jobs that remain vacant.

revenue increases


For all the details, Here are the PowerPoint Slides of the presentation.

Here is the Revenue Summary from the Legislative Revenue Office.

Here are a variety of "Other Funds" Revenues, which include federal dollars coming into the state, along with revenues coming from a variety of fees.

And here are my notes,with highlights from the presentation.

If you’d like to watch the presentation, you can do so here.

And  here's reporting from the Portland Tribune’s Peter Wong.

Please let me know if you have any questions.



Links to Additional News On COVID-19

  • If you’d like an overview of where we are with COVID response in Oregon, let me recommend last week’s meeting of the House COVID-19 Committee: you’ll get reports from OHA, educators, healthcare workers, and others trying to fight COVID around the state. You can watch the hearing or just check out the rich array of information in the Meeting Materials.
  • The big news since the last newsletter is the approval by the FDA and the CDC for booster vaccines for all adults. Here’s a writeup on the  FDA approval and one on the CDC's.
  • There’s further evidence that vaccine boosters provide extra protection for cancer patients. 
  • Now it’s nursing associations that are seeking to curb COVID misinformation. coming from nurses.
  • One of the big failures in our COVID response efforts continues to be  "ridiculously" high cost of rapid tests. 
  • Here’s information from the Oregonian’s Aimee Green on how to have a safer Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Many GOP leaders are basing their opposition to vaccine mandates on claims that many are already safe from COVID thanks to so-called “natural immunity.” Needless to say, those claims are getting plenty of pushback from scientists. Here's why.  And here’s an explanation from a local epidemiologist using Skittles.
  • New COVID antiviral pills appear extremely promising in keeping people who’ve been infected with COVID out of the hospital. This article from the New Yorker shows how these pills have the potential to change the pandemic.  potential to change the pandemic.


Want to See Past Newsletters?

If there was COVID-related information in a past newsletter that you want to go back to, but find you’ve deleted it, you can always go to my legislative website (senatordembrow.com), click on “News and Information,” and you’ll find them all there.  Also, if someone forwarded you this newsletter and you’d like to get it directly, you can sign up for it there.



Here again are some resources that you will find useful

If the above links are not providing you with answers to your questions or directing you to the help that you need, please consider me and my office to be a resource.  We’ll do our best to assist you or steer you in the right direction.


dembrow signature

Senator Michael Dembrow
District 23

email: Sen.MichaelDembrow@oregonlegislature.gov
web: www.senatordembrow.com
phone: 503-281-0608
mail: 900 Court St NE, S-407, Salem, OR, 97301