Oregon lawmakers re-launch essential worker stimulus payment proposal

Oregon Democrats are relaunching a proposal to provide essential workers who remained at work during the pandemic a one-time stimulus payment of up to $ 1,000.

Workers in what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration classifies as medium to very high risk occupations would be eligible for the bonus if they worked an average of at least 20 hours per week in person from April to December 2020, earning less than $ 22 per year. hour or $ 42,900 per year, and have not previously received a premium or risk premium from the state for working during the pandemic.

Representative Andrea Valderrama, D-Portland, who is co-sponsoring the proposal, told a House committee meeting on Tuesday that lawmakers are still seeking clarification from the Oregon Department of Employment on the number of workers who could qualify, but an initial analysis had identified at least 230,000 eligible workers.

“In these circumstances where they were asked to show up on the lines, where we called them heroes, our hard-hit, low-wage workers were not given any additional compensation or risk premium for s ‘be introduced to these jobs, “said Valderrama. “This bill solves that problem by offering a one-time appreciation payment to some of our lowest-wage workers in the most risky locations.”

The proposal is a lean version of a bill that Democratic lawmakers launched last spring that would have set aside federal stimulus funds to pay essential workers up to $ 2,000 in stimulus payments and provide one payment. $ 1,200 to unemployed Oregonians who have returned to the frontlines. jobs by last fall.

Lawmakers were unable to get this bill to cross the finish line in a busy legislative session last year, but Democrats at the time vowed to take the initiative back in 2022. .

Funding for the stimulus payments could come from federal funds, federal funds from the US bailout and general state fund money, Valderrama said. She told the committee on Tuesday that this funding could support payments of up to $ 1,000.

The payments would be distributed by the Oregon Worker Relief Fund, which provided about $ 100 million to Oregon’s immigrant communities during the pandemic through a combination of state and local funding and donations.

– Jamie Goldberg; jgoldberg@oregonian.com; @jamiebgoldberg

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