Over the weekend, I drove through some of our coastal tourism “hotspots” – Cape Kiwanda, Neskowin, Roads End, the D River, Otter Crest and Nye Beach. The waysides that were open were packed! Cars were parked on the roadside and throughout neighborhoods. It seems that refugees from the Valley heat were descending on us in record numbers.
COVID has all of us concerned about exposure and social distancing. Certainly it is reasonable to expect our visitors to respect us and to adhere to the same rules and guidelines we do. But candidly, enforcement is proving difficult. Local police are spread thin dealing with other issues, and health enforcement has focused on the more egregious cases. It is important to note that thus far, local positive cases have not been traced to tourism.
COVID guidelines are being administered by the Governor and not the Legislature. I’ve said before that I support many and have concerns about a few. I’ll keep working to see constructive practices that do the most good at the least harm.
Case counts on the Coast are subsiding which is very good news. I’ve been working to remove some of our counties from the state “Watch List” which would allow our Commissioners more flexibility in what we do next. I would like to see them have the option of applying to move to Phase Two. I certainly do not want to see us downgraded from the current Phase One. That would entail more restrictions on businesses and social gatherings.
A “spike” in cases is a serious concern. I continue to hear from you with strong feelings about the summer. Some of you say we need more restrictions, fewer visitors, and better enforcement. Others argue that our workers and the businesses that employ them are bearing the brunt of the epidemic and there is no end in sight. Many are concerned about our schools this fall. I’m listening to all of you and striving for a balance that protects us and also maximizes our potential to recover.
Unemployment and benefits for those unemployed continue to be a major concern. That situation will become more difficult as the $600 per week federal addition to benefit payments expired on July 25.
I want every Oregonian to know about all benefits available to them. If you are waiting for payments, you will receive the $600 addition for all weeks up until now. Unemployment benefits will continue. Unemployed Oregonians may also qualify for help paying for rent, utilities, food, healthcare, and more—especially now that the extra $600 per week is ending. I encourage you to visit 211info.org or call 211 to learn what benefits might be available to you. Free interpretation is provided.
If you are still waiting for benefits or have any other issues ongoing with your claim, filling out the "Contact Us" form on the new unemployment website is the fastest way to connect with a claims processor.
As if we didn’t have enough other things to worry about, we are now entering the most dangerous period of our annual fire season.
We are in the middle of a significant lightning event which was preceded by triple digit temperatures in some areas of the state. These conditions are expected to result in an increase in fire activity including the potential for multiple large fires across Oregon’s landscape over the next 72 hours. Lightning started last evening in southwest Oregon resulting in a number of fires that have been held in check at this time. The lightning event is expected to expand from southern Oregon to the east slope of the cascades and into northeast Oregon, through this Wednesday. Cooler temperatures are anticipated to follow the next three days of forecasted lightning.
Please -- be careful with any outdoor fires, camping, and adhere to local burn bans.
I’d like to end on a positive note.
Now more than ever it is important to be helping each other. You can do that on a person-to-person level. And you can also do it by contributing to the many wonderful non-profit organizations – social services, housing, health care, education, animal welfare, arts and culture - that are working hard in difficult circumstances. Enhanced tax benefits may be available if you do.
If you do not itemize your deductions in 2020, you can still reduce your taxable income by up to $300 for contributions of cash to public charities using an “above the line” adjustment to reduce your taxable income.
For those who itemize their taxes, you can now deduct up to 100% of your adjusted gross income (AGI) for charitable donations made in 2020. Generally deductions for charitable donations are limited to 60% of your AGI.
If you donate through your business, you corporation can deduct up to 25% of its taxable income for charitable donations made in 2020. This is an increase from the usual corporate donation limit of 10% of taxable income for the year.
This summary is for your information and should not be construed as professional advice. As always, it is best to consult with your tax advisor to gain a full understanding of the effect of these provisions on your individual tax situation.
August is upon us and the days are spectacular. I’d much rather be here in this part of Oregon than anywhere else in the world. Stay safe – stay well – and make the most of every day.
Representative David Gomberg
House District 10