May 26: Multnomah County moves to “low risk” COVID-19 restrictions
Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced on Thursday that Multnomah County and five other Oregon counties were approved for low-risk COVID-19 restrictions. The lower restriction level allows for a maximum of 50% capacity in indoor locations such as restaurants and gyms, as well as 75% capacity in retail stores. The county was set for approval after 65% of citizens 16 and older were reported to have had at least the first dose of the vaccine.
May 28: Oregon becomes the first state to unionize its legislative staff
Oregon legislative staffers voted Friday to be represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 89. In a Twitter post celebrating the union victory, @orlegstaff wrote, “We are happy to announce the results of this morning’s union election. Through an overwhelming showing of bipartisan support, legislative staffers have voted ‘UNION YES’! This is a monumental win for every staffer in Oregon as well as those watching across the country!” Oregon’s legislative staff are the first of their kind to unionize in the nation, after staff for the Democratic Party of Oregon organized with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 1094 in January.
May 28: Congress blocks plan for investigation on Jan. 6 Capitol riot
Congress proposed legislation to form an independent commission to investigate the riots that occurred at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, but were stopped by Senate Republicans. Although the measure passed in the House with a 252-175 vote, it failed in the Senate with a 54-35 vote. It was 60 votes short, with only six members of the GOP supporting the measure. The commission was designed to include five Democrats and five Republicans to ensure a bipartisan outlook. It would investigate the riot and “take steps to ensure accountability for those involved in the insurrection” and was supported by President Biden, according to Vox.
It is unclear how Congress will move forward from this point.
May 29: City of Portland releases plans for South Park Blocks
Although the plan for a redesign of the 12-block park has been talked about since the spring of 2019, the Portland City Council will finally address it on July 7. The new design prioritizes bike and pedestrian walkways over roads around the blocks. Statues of Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, torn down during last year’s protests, will now be replaced with artwork showcasing the region’s indigenous communities and temporary art exhibits that will be switched out periodically. Despite an undecided start date for the plan, Portland’s Parks and Recreation bureau estimated it could cost between $22.9–46.6 million to build and another estimated $7.4 million to include it into the city’s plan for a “Green Loop.” The loop is a proposed six-mile connected park running through central Portland.
Editor’s Note: a previous version of this article stated that members of the Democratic Party of Oregon had voted to unionize; that happened in January, and on May 28 all members of the Oregon legislative staff voted to organize with IBEW Local 89. It has since been corrected.