SALEM, Ore. (KPTV) - Some essential workers in Oregon could be pocketing up to $1,000 in the near future as state Democrats are reviving a bill that would provide those who stayed on the job through the COVID-19 pandemic with a one-time stimulus payment.
The bill, called the Essential Worker Pay Act, is a trimmed down version of a bill floated last spring that would have paid essential workers up to $2,000 in stimulus payments.
"We left the building and Representative Valderrama and I continued to work on crafting a policy that would have the support needed to deliver payments to essential workers who have shouldered the most risk and received the least compensation during the height of the pandemic. We're now ready to do this right," State Representative Rachel Prusak, D-Tualatin/West Linn, told FOX 12.
The revised proposal - co-sponsored by State Reps. Andrea Valderrama, D-East Portland, and Prusak - would pay those workers a one-time payment of up to $1,000.
During a House meeting Tuesday, Valderrama said lawmakers were seeking clarification from the Oregon Employment Department as to how many workers could qualify. Initial numbers show at least 230,000 workers would meet the criteria for payment.
Prusak said the bill aims to help Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, who she says have been impacted by high COVID rates and low wages.
"LC 157 centers racial economic justice by taking these disproportionate impacts into consideration," she said.
Here's who would be eligible for the payment:
- People whose jobs are classified as medium to high risk by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration
- Who worked at least 20 hours per week in-person from April to December 2020
- Have made less than $22 an hour or about $43,000 a year
- Have received no bonus or hazard pay from the state
FOX 12 spoke with several people who were split about the proposal.
"They were out there in the trenches when everyone else was able to stay home and they had to be there and give us groceries. They were there stalking shelves, so I totally support it," one person said.
"You can only print so much money. We're really going down a wrong road as far as I'm concerned," another person told FOX 12.
Valderrama said funding for the stimulus payments could come from the American Rescue Plan funds and state general fund money.