SALEM, Ore. – A bill with bipartisan support could create something like a state stimulus for thousands of Oregon workers.
Oregon lawmakers are considering a bill that would give Oregon workers bonuses for going back to work or continuing to work through the pandemic. If the proposal is passed, thousands of Oregonians could get anywhere from $1,000-$2,000 by the fall. While the bill has bipartisan support it doesn’t have much time to make it through the legislative process this year.
The legislative session in Salem is coming to an end soon, yet dozens of bills are still being considered. One proposal suggests using part of the $2 billion the state got from the federal government to give to Oregonians as stimulus money for essential workers and back-to-work incentives.
“There’s thousands and thousands of workers who every day went to work masked up and kept our communities safe. And it’s time that Oregon as a state recognizes that work,” said Melissa Unger, the Executive Director for SEIU Local 503.
Her union is lobbying for the bill to help support thousands of front-line workers.
House Bill 3409 has bi-partisan support, including Medford State Representative Kim Wallan, who’s signed on as a sponsor. But even she doesn’t know if it’ll pass this session.
“We’ll see if it goes anywhere, but hopefully with a lot of people on it it will,” said Wallan, “It comes down to whether more of our republican colleagues sign on”.
If it passes, employers will have to apply for a state program, similar to a grant application. From there, approved employees who worked with the public throughout the pandemic could get $1,000-$2,000 depending on their income. As the state slowly reopens, the bill also gives incentives for people going back to work.
“This is an opportunity to just recognize that crossroads that we’re at. And how we help encourage people who are making those decisions to go back to work,” said Unger.
The bill was just introduced Monday so it has a ways to go to become law. Ashland State Representative Pam Marsh told NBC5 News the bill is still very much at play.
“With very little time left, we’re gonna need some time to talk about it and discuss it and understand the value of the proposal,” said Marsh.
Legislators have their own priorities, so time will tell if the bill makes the cut.
“I don’t think there are many people who think it’s a bad idea. There are things people should be funded in a higher priority than this,” said Unger.
While Oregon may have the money time could be the ultimate factor on whether it gets passed.
Currently, House Bill 3409 had its first reading Monday. It was referred to the speaker’s desk where it awaits a committee assignment.