Zika, House Republicans urge urgent state action to address COVID-19 impacts
Oregon House Republicans release long list of recommendations
REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- State Rep. Jack Zika (R-Redmond) on Friday called on his colleagues in the Legislature and Gov. Kate Brown to take urgent action to address the severe economic impact on Central Oregonians of the COVID-19 and social distancing intended to slow its spread.
"Central Oregon families and small businesses are already struggling with extensive disruptions to our economy caused by social distancing and other measures to combat COVID-19," Zika said.
"Oregon's focus must be to shorten the duration of the disruption by rapidly increasing testing capacity and health care capacity to care for those who are sick, and to ease the burden on working families and small businesses while the disruption persists, so that suffering is minimized and we are in a position to return to normal more quickly once this crisis passes."
Zika pointed to a series of proposals to address the COVID-19 crisis, some of which would require legislative action in a possible emergency session and some of which could be undertaken via executive action by Governor Brown:
1. Immediately access the state's Rainy Day Fund to fund efforts to ameliorate the crisis.
2. Delay tax filing and quarterly payment deadlines.
3. Suspend any and all rulemaking on rules that would cause an increase in costs to individuals, families and businesses in Oregon. This would include cap and trade rulemaking.
4. Suspend enforcement of the Corporate Activities Tax, which is draining much-needed funds from struggling businesses, and will make layoffs worse.
5. Extend unemployment availability to laid off workers.
6. Relax regulations that impede an effective medical response to the crisis. Options include allowing doctors, nurses and other providers licensed in other states to work in Oregon, and reducing barriers to expanding testing capacity. Simply Blaming the federal government for Oregon's low test rate is insufficient. We need to take strong, bold action on our own.
7. Redirect the corporate income tax kicker to bolster the unemployment fund to ensure benefits remain available for the jobless.
"We as a state will make it through this crisis, as we have so many others. I look forward to being a part of swift and dramatic action to ease the suffering of Central Oregonians and ensure we emerge stronger than ever before," Zika said.
News release from Oregon House Republicans:
Statement on Special Session; Legislative and Regulatory Recommendations
SALEM, Ore. – Today, the Oregon House Republican Caucus issued a statement on a Special Session, including recommendations on addressing the health and economic needs of Oregon:
House Republicans are committed to working with our colleagues in the legislature, the governor’s office and our federal delegation to meet the needs of Oregon families, businesses and local communities by supporting bi-partisan efforts to improve access to resources which protect public health. As recommendations are developed by the Joint Committee on Coronavirus Response, House Republicans have compiled additional concepts for consideration and continue to support the work of the Joint Committee in anticipation of a special session of the legislature in the near term.
A Special Session should be focused on the health of our citizens, providing emergency-based regulatory relief, financial assistance, and consumer and worker protections to shore up the foundations of a prosperous, stable economy so our businesses, employees and families are able to achieve a full recovery after COVID-19 has been contained.
Oregon House Republicans
Coronavirus COVID-19 Response Recommendations
Access to Care
- Expedite recovery care capacity for patients who can be discharged into a lower level of care and are unhoused.
- Incentivize long-term care to take COVID-19 patient not needing acute care.
- Review Medicaid payment rates for COVID-19 patients to ensure access to care.
- State reimbursement for COVID-19 patients who are uninsured and/or unhoused.
- Expand agreement with domestic health insurance carriers for out of network providers to ensure patient access throughout Oregon.
- Medicaid eligibility and COVID test requirements prior to transfers.
- SB 889 Target Growth Benchmark Setting.
- Hospital Nurse Staffing Surveys
- Rules for Community Benefit floor setting.
- Rules for OEBB/PEBB Rate Caps.
- Remove state and local barriers to information sharing between providers, state and local government caring for COVID-19 patient or care related to COVID-19 during the declaration.
- Extend all legislative deadlines for any health care related taskforces, workgroups or committees to focus all attention on the public health crisis.
- Delay any unnecessary rulemaking or additional regulations for hospitals and Coordinated Care Organizations to focus all attention on the public health crisis.
- State-level (ADA Title III-like) discrimination waiver for staffing shortages or infection concerns to reduce the risk of people utilizing litigation to get moved up to the front of the line.
- Flexibility for meal and rest breaks rule enforcement.
- Reduce restrictions for licensing of Respiratory Therapists.
- Moratorium on CBA’s around staffing needs and reassignments (hospitals should not have to renegotiate how to deploy staff in a state of emergency).
- Census Bureau needs to revise plans to use hospitals beginning April 1.
- Blanket indemnity under the declaration of emergency for actions that are taken or not taken.
Economic Relief For Business
- Delay implementation of Corporate Activities Tax for at least the first quarter of 2020, so those funds can be diverted to meeting payroll and protecting jobs. Extend, as necessary, if the crisis continues
- Extension of tax filing deadline.
- Tax credit for individuals and business who purchase technology during a specified period for the purpose of facilitating telecommuting options for both businesses and schools.
- Tax credit for employers who offer paid leave beyond the current 5-day state requirement.
- Suspend payroll taxes for small business for the duration of the ban.
- Create a tax credit for restaurants & lodging operations that issue refunds for cancelled events.
- Create incentives, including tax credits, for investments in job retention, extended paid time off and remote work opportunities.
- Defer all city and state business licensing fees for three months.
- Defer all city and state business taxes. Defer payment of quarterly business taxes due April 30, 2020, nine months to February 2021 with no interest or penalties.
- Ask local governments to either put a hold on new tax measures, pending resolution of the Coronavirus crisis or to work with their local business communities to consider delaying or changing implementation strategies.
- Consider a grant program for businesses who have seen revenue decreases of 25% or more.
- Extend timeframe for payment of DEQ title 5 permits and similar permits until after the emergency.
- Establish moratorium on new rulemakings that are not necessary as a result of the coronavirus crisis so that all attention can be focused on this health crisis. This provision does not include rulemaking to repeal or satisfy an appeal of an existing rule.
- Extend deadlines or lift requirements for regulations that are impracticable or impossible to comply with in this time of crisis, i.e., training requirements when training can’t be delivered, prohibition on self-service gasoline service, etc.
- Relax predictive scheduling requirements and enact emergency moratorium on penalties.
- Temporarily lift maximum hours restriction in manufacturing.
- Ensure home supply, hardware, convenience stores, trash pickup, sanitation, janitorial workers, utilities, and banks fall within exemption for mandated closures. Include food manufactures and beverage distributers on a list of critical suppliers exempt from potential closures.
- Delay implementation of minimum wage increases.
- Create ombudsman office for businesses and individuals to get help and navigate resources.
- Convene emergency state task force responsible for developing ideas that will help the economy with representatives from small business, manufacturing, retail, tourism, transportation, etc.
- Establish regular lines of communication between business and leaders in Oregon. Create sector-by-sector response teams
- Require state agencies including the Oregon Health Authority, BOLI, Employment, Transportation, Lottery, Revenue, and the Secretary of State to create designated resource sites for employers.
Economic Relief for Employees and Families
- Prioritize the stability and accessibility of the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
- Recapitalize the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
- Lift requirement that employees be employed for six months to trigger Workshare benefit eligibility.
- Resource to connect people who have been laid off with people who are hiring.
- Ensure the unemployment division is properly staffed in order to be able to handle and increased number of claims.
Misc. Relief for Oregonians
- Temporarily suspend five cent paper bag fee.
- Provide additional support and flexibly to DHS to expedite SNAP benefits for families and individuals in need.
- Support local food pantries to ensure families don’t go hungry.
- Establish a grace period provision for nonpayment of health insurance premiums for the duration of the emergency declaration. Require the acceptance of payment plans for those unable to pay their full premium.
- Increase access to childcare, specifically for first responders and essential personnel, while schools are closed.
- Provide utility rate relief to Oregonians who have experienced economic hardship due to Coronavirus.
- Take steps to facilitate the movement of vital supplies, including food, medicine, health care equipment, etc. to market so consumer needs can be met.
- Institute a moratorium on the weight-mile for trucking firms playing a critical role in delivering supplies and consider reduction in corporate minimum taxes.
- Ensure truck drivers can access restrooms and restaurant drive ups.
- Temporarily lift restrictions on drive time to ensure stability in supply chains.
- Extend city budget timeframes till after the state of emergency has ended.
- Extend budget deadlines for school districts
- Extend deadlines for renewal of driver’s licenses/registrations.