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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: 207333

Reported Deaths: 2759
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah40422614
Washington26826249
Marion23473324
Clackamas18967235
Lane13934165
Jackson11566146
Deschutes1004182
Umatilla861687
Linn563681
Yamhill478979
Klamath477878
Polk401356
Douglas390683
Josephine362372
Malheur362163
Benton327322
Jefferson237539
Coos217537
Columbia192629
Union150224
Wasco145530
Lincoln143721
Crook129423
Hood River121833
Morrow115716
Clatsop10609
Baker103015
Curry72511
Tillamook6604
Grant5527
Lake4688
Harney4359
Wallowa1945
Gilliam811
Sherman701
Wheeler351
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3811723

Reported Deaths: 63424
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles124816124461
Riverside3017994627
San Bernardino2993724873
San Diego2819363777
Orange2731285114
Santa Clara1201942193
Kern1108471405
Sacramento1079131737
Fresno1029961724
Alameda898191280
Ventura817271032
San Joaquin748081440
Contra Costa70818813
Stanislaus635581070
Tulare49808850
Monterey43842432
San Mateo42725581
San Francisco37287556
Santa Barbara34624455
Solano33797267
Merced32317481
Sonoma30974317
Imperial28880741
Placer23633300
Kings23209247
San Luis Obispo21448261
Madera16652245
Santa Cruz16246209
Marin14207230
Yolo14157212
Butte12662198
Shasta12616235
El Dorado10415117
Napa1002980
Sutter9672113
Yuba651951
San Benito611163
Lassen579925
Tehama573963
Nevada493275
Humboldt451449
Mendocino435150
Tuolumne421971
Amador374347
Lake356445
Glenn243527
Siskiyou239837
Colusa228818
Calaveras220956
Del Norte14658
Inyo143438
Mono12984
Plumas7376
Modoc5635
Mariposa4657
Trinity4246
Sierra1170
Alpine890
Unassigned340
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