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Oregon Democratic lawmakers call for $500 payments to people still waiting on unemployment benefits

Leaders of the Oregon House and Senate called for $500 'emergency relief checks' to those who have applied for benefits but have yet to receive them.

Posted: Jul 9, 2020 12:30 PM

SALEM, Ore. — The Democratic leaders for both chambers of the Oregon legislature proposed on Thursday that the state distribute $500 "emergency relief checks" to Oregonians who have applied for unemployment benefits but still have not received them.

House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, and Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, requested $35 million of the state's CARES Act Coronavirus Relief funds to pay roughly 70,000 people who are still waiting for benefits, the lawmakers said.

“People need help now,” Kotek said. “While the department works on processing all the claims, we can make sure desperate Oregonians get some direct cash assistance as soon as possible.”

Kotek and Courtney said that the Legislative Emergency Board, a small group of lawmakers that addresses funding needs in between legislative sessions, would meet next Tuesday to consider the proposal.

“This isn’t a fix, this is a band-aid,” Courtney said. “We need to get cash into the hands of Oregonians who have been waiting on their benefits for months. As the department continues to clear claims, this money will help those who are still waiting.”

The lawmakers proposed that the state Department of Administrative Services "develop a simple process" to immediately pay Oregonians who have been waiting on benefits from the Employment Department. It would apply to those have filed for benefits from both the regular Unemployment Insurance program and the Pandemic Assistance Unemployment (PUA) program that was created by the CARES Act.

"The delays at the Oregon Employment Department are the result of the historically high number of claims filed since the start of the pandemic, the requirements of new benefits designed by the federal government, and the constraints of an inflexible legacy computer system," Kotek and Courtney said. "The emergency relief checks will provide some direct support to Oregonians while the agency continues to work through its backlog."

Payments would not be subtracted from future benefits, the lawmakers said.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 391099

Reported Deaths: 5161
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60298839
Washington41981395
Marion39886506
Clackamas32773378
Lane30113355
Jackson24880360
Deschutes23557185
Umatilla15126180
Linn14637179
Douglas13375291
Josephine10148244
Yamhill9762143
Klamath9053146
Polk8212100
Benton609738
Malheur592487
Coos5664106
Columbia430455
Jefferson420266
Lincoln362152
Union338755
Crook334056
Wasco316146
Clatsop261835
Baker219833
Tillamook216645
Hood River213737
Morrow197525
Curry191939
Harney119933
Grant108515
Lake105416
Wallowa75713
Sherman1913
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5083462

Reported Deaths: 74473
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152713227166
San Diego4069274335
Riverside3876785358
San Bernardino3745435962
Orange3343985725
Sacramento1683542443
Kern1576621804
Fresno1567952254
Santa Clara1520891925
Alameda1251761504
San Joaquin1075591834
Ventura1040031190
Contra Costa1037721046
Stanislaus915481417
Tulare860871096
San Francisco56909669
San Mateo56320629
Monterey52488626
Solano47671357
Santa Barbara47293549
Merced45053667
Sonoma43168412
Placer42141470
Imperial38477773
Kings35206363
San Luis Obispo31476359
Madera26194311
Shasta26081451
Butte25455314
Santa Cruz22248224
Yolo21558257
Marin18465249
El Dorado18301166
Sutter14571186
Napa13420104
Yuba1076089
Tehama10275130
Humboldt10158119
Nevada10019105
Mendocino857197
Lassen796756
San Benito781578
Tuolumne773090
Lake7043110
Amador577366
Siskiyou474755
Glenn457436
Calaveras441588
Del Norte375542
Colusa325220
Inyo256646
Plumas19367
Mono18784
Mariposa160018
Trinity99717
Modoc7655
Unassigned3220
Sierra2180
Alpine1080
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