SALEM, Ore. – Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) announced today that the Senate Committee on Labor and Business will hold hearings in order to review the Oregon Employment Department’s (OED) administration of Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits, including benefits provided under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The committee, chaired by Senator Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland), will meet remotely on Tuesday, September 1, Wednesday, September 2, and Thursday, September 3. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the committee will hear from OED regarding its process for delivering UI benefits to applicants, the complications that it has faced in processing applications and distributing funds, and what the agency’s plans and needs are to improve delivery of benefits. Thursday will be reserved to hear directly from Oregonians who have applied for UI benefits.
“The Oregon Employment Department has a heavy burden,” Senator Courtney said. “It is trying to get unemployment checks out to thousands of Oregonians. The department has been overwhelmed by the demand. I have asked Senator Kathleen Taylor, the chair of the Senate Labor and Business Committee, to conduct hearings to see how the Legislature can assist the department. This is no time for blame or finger-pointing.
"The Executive Branch and the Legislature must all chip in to help.”
Since March, hundreds of thousands of Oregonians have filed for Unemployment Insurance benefits due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act was passed by Congress in late March and provided for an expansion of these benefits to individuals who became fully or partially unemployed during the course of the pandemic. OED continues to address its backlog of unpaid claims to provide Oregonians with regular and pandemic-related Unemployment Insurance benefits.
“I respect the Senate President’s request to hold these hearings and ensure the public and legislators can make certain struggling Oregonians receive the funds they deserve,” said Senator Taylor. “I know the Unemployment Insurance division is overwhelmed and I want to ensure the Legislature is fully informed on how to support their work so they can help individuals and families who are out of work during this public health crisis.”
The Oregon State Capitol is currently closed to the public. The Senate Committee on Labor and Business will hold hearings virtually. They will be streamed on the Oregon Legislative Information website.
For more information on how to submit testimony to the committee, view this page.