Hot off the Press
We won the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, and we can’t even get republicans to agree to an investigation of the worst attack on the capitol since the civil war?
If you want to help make this change, call your legislators today. They have said time and time again that our calls and emails make a difference. Let them know how you feel. Use this link for scripts and other background information. You can also add impact by tagging them with comments on social media! Find your Senators’ social media handles here.
Today is the last day to turn in your ballot for the May 2021 Special Election. Mid-year elections do not get the attention they deserve, but many important local boards are filled in these elections.
Less than 30% of local registered democrats have turned in their ballots so far. Please get your ballots in!
We are supporting a YES vote on Measure 17-97 Grants Pass Public Safety Levy, Measure 17-98, Establishing a Rural Fire Protection District and Measure 17-99 Bonds to establish student safety, programs and facilities.
While this election is non-partisan, you can find the Democratic candidates at this link – use the COUNTY pull-down menu and select JOSEPHINE.
Ballots must be dropped off at the County Clerk’s office, the County Courthouse or any of our ballot drop-off box locations no later than 8:00 pm today.
If you need assistance – call or text us at 541-450-1749.
Lynda Spangler and Joe Stodola will be leading a hike up the beautiful Pipe Fork Creek. Lynda and Joe will be accompanied by Cheryl Bruner and/or Chaz Rogers of the Williams Community Forest Project who will function as our expert guide(s). Please join us on a breath taking adventure through old growth forest, resplendent with waterfalls and Port Orford Cedar. Our County Commissioners are considering selling this land to the highest bidder. In all likelihood, the highest bidder would purchase it for logging. There may not be much more time to see this area in its current state of natural beauty.
We will set the date based upon your responses. We plan to go from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm on a Saturday or Sunday in June. Click on the Survey Monkey link now and let us know the dates that you will be able to join us.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program is a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program that provides a temporary discount on monthly broadband bills for qualifying low-income households. If your household is eligible, you can receive:
- Up to a $50/month discount on your broadband service and associated equipment rentals
- Up to a $75/month discount if your household is on qualifying Tribal lands
- A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50)
Only one monthly service discount and one device discount is allowed per household.
The FCC has announced that consumers can begin applying for and enrolling in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program on May 12, 2021. The program will end when the fund runs out of money, or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID-19 health emergency, whichever is sooner.
Applications open May 12, 2021 – for more info: https://getemergencybroadband.org/
Watch this webinar for an overview of the Emergency Broadband Benefit, eligibility information, and enrollment procedures, and a preview of outreach tool kit materials developed for partners and the public to use to create awareness about the program.
#DemCast #HelpIsHere #BuildBackBetter
The American Jobs Plan is the most comprehensive and ambitious investment in US jobs since World War II. While most only think of roads and bridges as infrastructure (which they are), this progressive plan takes a bold new approach to building our country back better! Some of the ways we will all benefit include:
- Delivery of clean drinking water by replacing 100 percent of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines
- Creating good jobs electrifying vehicles
- Building high-speed broadband infrastructure to reach 100 percent coverage – THIS IS HUGE FOR RURAL OREGONIANS!
- Creating jobs modernizing power generation and delivering clean electricity.
- Improving ports, waterways, and airports
Click HERE to read Heather Cox Richardson’s take on how this historic proposal can build our country back, providing much needed improvements and bringing many jobs to American workers.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, republican lawmakers have been aggressively introducing new restrictive voting provisions, and voter suppressive bills across the nation. “We see a wave of legislative attempts to curb the vote, the most significant attempted cutback of voting rights since the Jim Crow era. The Brennan Center has studied these laws for years and last month found 253 bills in 43 states, seven times the rate of four years ago, and the number is even higher right now.”
HR1 can help remedy these damaging voter suppression laws, by expanding voting rights, changing campaign finance laws to reduce the influence of money in politics, limiting partisan gerrymandering, and creating new ethics rules for federal officeholders. HR1 also seeks to expand early voting, create same-day voter registration, and much more.
For those who debate that this legislation goes against state’s rights (a common argument from republicans) this legislation explicitly follows the Constitution. The Elections Clause of the Constitution (Article I, Section 4, Clause 1) gives Congress the power to set a national standard for the “times, places, and manner” of federal elections.
In a Supreme Court case relating to gerrymandering in 2019, Chief Justice John Roberts referenced the Elections Clause in his published opinion that specifically pointed to this legislation as a constitutionally sound example of Congress’s power to set election law. (P 13, Sec B, P34 Sec D)
According to Common Cause, HR1 will provide for the following improvements and election security protections:
Protecting and expanding voting rights and election security:
- Automatic voter registration
- Online voter registration
- Same day voter registration
- Make election day a federal holiday
- Voting rights restoration to people with prior felony convictions
- Expand early voting and simplify absentee voting
- Prohibit voter purges that kick eligible voters off the registration rolls
- Enhance election security with increase support for a paper-based voting system and more oversight over election vendors
- End partisan gerrymandering by established independent redistricting commissions
- Prohibit providing false information about the elections process that discourage voting and other deceptive practices
Reduce the influence of big money in our politics:
- Require secret money organizations that spend money in elections to disclose their donors
- Upgrade online political spending transparency rules to ensure voters know who is paying for the advertisements they see
- Create a small donor-focused public financing matching system so candidates for Congress aren’t just reliant on big money donors to fund their campaigns and set their priorities
- Strengthen oversight rules to ensure those who break our campaign finance laws are held accountable
- Overhaul the Federal Election Commission to enforce campaign finance law
- Prohibit the use of shell companies to funnel foreign money in U.S. elections
- Require government contractors to disclose their political spending
Ensure an ethical government accountable to the people:
- Slow the revolving door between government officials and lobbyists
- Expand conflict of interest law
- Ban members of Congress from serving on corporate boards
- Require presidents to publicly disclose their tax returns
- Overhaul the Office of Government Ethics to ensure stronger enforcement of ethics rules
- Require members of the U.S. Supreme Court abide by a judicial code of ethics
Please contact your elected representatives and tell them you support this legislation and want them to get it passed as soon as possible!
CD2 Cliff Bentz: email, DC- (202) 225-6730, Medford – (541) 776-4646
CD4 Congressman Peter DeFazio: email, DC – (202) 225-6416, Eugene – (541) 465-6732
Senator Jeff Merkley: email, DC – (202) 224-3753, Medford – (541) 608-9102
Senator Ron Wyden: email, DC – (202) 224-5244, Medford – (541) 858-5122
You can find the full text of the bill at this link.
NOTE: Five of the Candidates running for the proposed Board of Directors for the Josephine Rural Fire Protection District will be at our April 13, 2021 6:30 pm General Meeting. We highly encourage you to join in this important discussion! Pre-registration at this link.
In May 2019, the Josephine County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) asked voters an advisory question: “In your opinion, should Josephine County begin the process to form a Rural Fire Protection District (RFPD) in currently unprotected areas?” An overwhelming 65% of the voters voted in favor of the formation of a RFPD. Accordingly, the BCC established a Fire Protection Committee and hired a private, unbiased consultant, Public Consulting Group to “assess and study fire protection in the unprotected areas.”
The final report made by Public Consulting Group provided several recommendations, however, the BCC ultimately chose to put this issue on the ballot for residents to decide.
Keeping in mind that 65% of the voters already demonstrated support for the formation of a Rural Fire Protection District, this should be a no brainer, but opposition focusses on the desire to keep competitive private for profit models, and the issue of new “taxes”.
One of the larger issues of concern with private for profit fire protection is that there are NO standards for those offering “fire protection” services, as highlighted on page 47 of the report.
Retired Fire Public Information Officer, Geri Ventura elaborated on the need to pass this measure in her guest editorial provided to the “YES ON FIRE DISTRICT” committee.
JOSEPHINE COUNTY NEEDS IMPROVED FIRE PROTECTION SERVICES!
Geri Ventura, Retired Montecito Fire
Protection District, Public Information Officer
Currently, a large portion of rural Josephine County has no fire protection agency available to its constituents unless they subscribe to one of several private for-profit service providers.
Passage of Local Measure 17-98 would create an Independent Rural Fire District that would provide service in these areas not currently served by a Fire District. If passed, this would provide governance by an elected five member Board of Directors who would be responsible for determining standards of coverage, annual budgets and operational policies.
Special districts link costs to benefits. General purpose local governments, such as counties and cities, levy taxes to pay for general public services and balance their budgets with each department they oversee. In a special district, only those who benefit from the district’s services pay for them. Because most special districts are geographically smaller and made up of fewer residents than an entire county or city, they’re also generally more responsive to their constituents.
The creation of this Independent Rural Fire District will allow for effective emergency management services and create an entity for planning, coordination and grant funding.
Constituents do not have this kind of local control when forced to choose from volunteer fire service models, or private for-profit fire service. This special district will provide local governance and provide transparency with their annual budgets and reports.
Almost 30% of property owners in the proposed Fire District do not subscribe to either of the private fire services available to them. This means that if you are a current subscriber, you are subsidizing the protection of those who do not. Fire protection, law enforcement and the military are societal responsibilities best managed as a service for all, not just the few who choose to subscribe.
While non-subscribers don’t pay up front for service, they still benefit when the need arises and they call 911 for medical assistance or other fire service related incidents.
Non-subscribers benefit up-front from the 24/7 on-call response, including the training personnel receive; the maintenance and purchase of equipment, and the general overhead expenses necessary for the agency to exist, yet they contribute nothing to maintain this very necessary public safety service.
We have seen that our community is just an ember away from a fire conflagration that has the capacity to wipe out large swaths of our community potentially taking lives while everything else gets burned to the ground. We need to be pro-active about this! Providing local governance of this service puts the power in the hands of the people served. An Independent Rural Fire District will allow for input from its constituents and transparency in how revenues are utilized to increase the safety of the community.
It is equally important to get the right people elected to the positions that will provide this governance.
While the final elected Board of Directors will ultimately decide on levels of service, policy and budget development, these candidates, endorsed by the “Yes for Fire District Committee”, have committed to pursuing what I believe to be in the best interest of this community.
If elected, these five candidate have agreed to pursue the following proposals for the newly formed Fire District that will benefit not only all who live within the boundaries of the proposed district, but neighboring agencies will benefit by creating a complete network for emergency services in Josephine County.
The slate of endorsed candidates propose:
- Improved response times for all calls for service, including fires, medical emergencies and lift assists
- Application of state grant funding to provide a new fire station in Hugo
- Full time 24/7 staffing at the Robertson Bridge Merlin fire station
- Application for Fire District specific grants for staffing, training, and surplus equipment
- Fuels reduction programs for low income residents
- District to be staffed by highly trained, well-equipped, and professional men and women
- Improved insurance ratings for some rural constituents
- Provide a process for low income property owners to apply for financial hardship consideration
Position #5 – Danny Kahler
I am excited that we have this opportunity to create a Fire District for rural Josephine County residents, and I ask that you join me in voting YES on Measure 17-98 and voting for this great slate of candidates! Rural Josephine County residents deserves this. We’ve been neglected in the area of fire protection services for too long.
For more information, go to the Yes on 17-98 website: http://yesonfiredistrict.com
I am proud that both the House and Senate have passed the American Rescue Plan and that President Biden signed this critical legislation into law on March 11. The American Rescue Plan is an ambitious and robust relief bill that will support the wellbeing of America’s families. It will ensure that the overwhelming majority of tax benefits flow to low- and middle-income households, rather than the wealthiest individuals and corporations.
While this legislation is not perfect, this comprehensive plan will increase vaccines and testing, provide direct financial assistance to families, extend and expand unemployment insurance for Oregonians who have lost their jobs, bolster funding to allow schools to safely reopen, support small businesses, and finally crush this virus.
As Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, I helped author several critical provisions of the American Rescue Plan, including numerous provisions that will benefit Oregon directly. Specifically, this bill will deliver:
- Hundreds of millions of dollars to Oregon communities to support rural transit agencies, transit service for the elderly and individuals with disabilities, transit on Tribal lands, and more;
- Nearly $95 million for Oregon’s airports; and
- Tens of millions in funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reimburse Oregon’s state, local, and Tribal governments dealing with ongoing COVID-19 response and recovery activities. This includes funding for vaccination efforts, deployment of the National Guard, providing personal protective equipment, and disinfecting activities in public facilities such as schools and courthouses.
To help Oregonians navigate some of the resources that are available to them, you will find information on the following below:
1. Direct Relief Payments
2. Enhanced Unemployment Insurance
3. Vaccine Access and Healthcare Coverage
4. Expanding the Child Tax Credit
5. Supporting Our Small Businesses
6. Safely Reopening Schools and Expanding Childcare Assistance
7. Assisting Renters & Homeowners
Some of the programs in the American Rescue Plan are either new or have been dramatically expanded, and the rollouts could experience slight delays or other issues. You can be sure that I will monitor implementation very closely and work diligently to cut through red tape and deliver this relief as soon as possible.
You can be sure I will continue to fight for the relief and support Oregonians need and to provide a robust economic recovery. If you need any assistance with federal benefits or agency, please contact me on my website. To stay up to date on my work in Congress, you can subscribe to my newsletter.
1. Direct Relief Payments
The American Rescue Plan includes another round of direct cash payments – economic impact payments (EIPs) to provide individuals across the country with immediate relief.
Each eligible individual will receive a $1,400 EIP, as well as $1,400 per dependent. Thankfully, this finally includes dependents 17 and older, meaning high school juniors and seniors, college-aged students, and adult dependents are now eligible. Eligible individuals include any individual in a household with a Social Security Number.
The payments start to phase out for individuals earning $75,000 and will cut off completely for anyone who makes more than $80,000. For couples filing jointly, the phaseout starts for those making $150,000 and cuts off at $160,000.
I’ve heard from many Oregonians anxious about when their checks will arrive. While the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) hasn’t said precisely, President Biden has said that the majority of these checks will go out before the end of March, and some individuals and families might start seeing checks within a few days of the legislation being signed into law.
For the most up to date information on direct cash payments, visit the IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief page.
2. Enhanced Unemployment Insurance
Thousands of Oregonians and millions of Americans faced a cliff of expiring unemployment benefits and programs on March 14. I am pleased that this bill extends enhanced unemployment programs through September 6, 2021 and maintains the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation at the current $300 per week.
Critically, it also ensures that the first $10,200 in unemployment insurance for those earning under $150,000 is not taxable – something that I fought hard to include.
I’ve heard from hundreds of constituents who are beyond frustrated by the failures of the Oregon Employment Department (OED) to deliver benefits in a timely manner. I have and will continue to push OED, Governor Brown, and state representatives to do everything they can to deliver benefits as efficiently and effectively as possible.
For more information or assistance for unemployment assistance, you can visit the Oregon Employment Department website.
3. Vaccine Access and Healthcare Coverage
While access to COVID-19 vaccines and testing is increasing in Oregon and across the country, it is clear more help is needed to ensure all Oregonians have access – no matter who they are or where they live – as soon as possible. The American Rescue Plan will make robust investments to accelerate and expand COVID-19 vaccine distribution and testing access in Oregon, putting us on a path to eliminate the virus and save lives.
- For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, including eligibility and availability in Oregon, please visit the Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 vaccine website. You can also use the state of Oregon’s Get Vaccinated Oregon (GVO) tool to see if you are currently eligible for a vaccine under Governor Kate Brown’s guidelines.
- For COVID-19 vaccination information specific to your county, please visit this page.
The public health crisis has also underscored just how important it is to ensure everyone has access to affordable healthcare. The American Rescue Plan will make healthcare more affordable for low- and middle-income families under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by reducing premiums, increasing federal subsidies, and placing a cap to ensure no ACA marketplace enrollee spends more than 8.5 percent of their income on healthcare premiums. It will also provide 100 percent COBRA premium subsidies through September 30 for eligible individuals and families who have lost their jobs but would like to remain on their employer-provided healthcare plan.
Due to the public health crisis, President Biden has opened a special enrollment period allowing individuals to enroll in health insurance coverage. You can sign-up right now for healthcare coverage at healthcare.gov. The sign-up deadline is May 15.
4. Expanding the Child Tax Credit (CTC)
I am proud that this legislation dramatically expands tax credits for ordinary families. More specifically, this bill makes the Child Tax Credit (CTC) fully refundable for 2021, increases the current $2,000 per-child tax credit to $3,000 per child or $3,600 for a child under age 6. These payments are expected to start in July. As the IRS works to facilitate and deliver these dramatically increased benefits, I will push to ensure the agency meets this July deadline. This is a very technical process, and it could be subject to slight delays, but it’s critical that the IRS deliver in a timely manner.
5. Supporting Our Small Businesses
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an enormous toll on small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy. That’s why this bill continues to provide relief to small businesses, ensuring they can keep employees on their payroll and their businesses from permanently closing. On top of the hundreds of billions that have been provided through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), this bill:
- Provides more than $28 billion to create a relief fund for our local restaurants, breweries, wineries, and distilleries.
- Provides billions more for the Paycheck Protection Program.
- Provides an additional $1.25 billion for shuttered live venues so they don’t close their doors forever.
In the midst of this crisis, Oregon Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) are working in close coordination to share and leverage resources across their network. Throughout this past year, they have assisted thousands of clients, focusing on helping small businesses survive. To access SBDC services, find your local center at bizcenter.org.
For additional information, borrowers can also contact the SBA Disaster Assistance customer service center by calling 1-800-659-2955 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit www.SBA.gov/disaster for more information.
6. Safely Reopening Schools and Expanding Childcare Assistance
Our students, teachers, and other staff are facing unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This package invests nearly $130 billion to reopen schools safely, including an estimated $1.12 billion for Oregon schools. These funds will help get kids back in the classrooms by increasing and enhancing safety to prevent the virus from spreading through improved ventilation in schools and more.
The American Rescue Plan also includes the largest investment in childcare assistance since World War II. The bill provides nearly $40 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant program to provide financial assistance to parents and childcare facilities, so that they can keep their doors opened and help parents return to work.
As of March 1, 2020, Oregon has expanded its Employment Related Day Care (ERDC) assistance program. If you are in need of childcare assistance, please visit the ERDC website to learn if you qualify.
7. Assisting Renters & Homeowners
This bill provides more than $27 billion for up to 18 months for eligible individuals struggling to pay their rent. To learn if you qualify, visit the Treasury Department’s FAQ on their Emergency Rental Assistance Program website.
The bill also provides $9.96 billion in direct assistance for homeowners, including mortgage payments, property taxes, property insurance, utilities, and other housing-related costs.
Oregon Housing and Community Services will distribute Emergency Rental Assistance once its available. For information on how to apply for assistance, you can visit their website. The Oregon Homeownership Stabilization Initiative (OHSI) is also accepting application for homeowners with its Mortgage Payment Assistance Benefit, and the deadline to apply is March 14, 2021. For more information on how to apply, you can visit the OHSI website.
The pandemic has caused tremendous grief for the loss of loved ones and economic pain for millions of Americans. Families and communities are still hurting, and it is clear more needs to be done to address this public health and economic crisis.
You can be sure I will continue fighting for Oregon’s families and small businesses to get our country back on track through an inclusive and robust economic recovery.
Peter De Fazio