During an update given to the House Committee on Busines and Labor, Committee Chair Rep. Paul Holvey (D-Eugene) refused to allow questions from any committee members in a three hour hearing of invited testimony. This has been viewed as an attempt to protect the Director of the Oregon Employment Department: Kay Erickson.
Erickson and her department have come under heavy fire in recent weeks as unemployed Oregonians are getting increasingly desperate. Things have gotten so bad that two Democrats, Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, have publicly criticized Erickson’s department for “lack of communication and transparency”.
The department has received a significant increase in unemployment claims. The spike is related to prolonged unemployment triggered by Gov. Brown’s business closure orders. Until the hearing, they hadn’t publicly communicated a plan to fix the problems piling up over weeks.
Nigel Jaquis at Willamette Week has more details.
One of Erickson’s employees, a claims ajudicator named Adam Lane filed blistering testimony for today’s hearing about what he says is a major problem at the agency: Erickson’s refusal to let many employees work from home.
The sham hearing at the Oregon Legislature prompted statements from several House Republicans members of the committee.
“This is just the latest glaring example of lack of accountability under our state’s leadership. This is a deeply human crisis and the state has failed miserably. Oregonians deserve answers.” said Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis (R-Albany).
Oregon House Democrats failed to address the question lockout.