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Commissioner Steve Novick

Official Website for Commissioner Steve Novick

Phone: 503-823-4682

fax: 503-823-4019

1221 SW 4th Ave. Suite 210, Portland, OR 97204

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Portland's earned sick leave proposal moves forward

Yesterday, Council held a second public hearing about the earned sick leave proposal introduced by Commissioner Fritz in January.

Thanks to everyone for all the input I’ve received so far about the proposal. I also commend the work of the task force chaired by Commissioners Fritz and Saltzman. With help from the task force, business owners, employees, and others, I believe we've made some important technical changes that will limit the administrative burden for businesses while ensuring that workers are protected. It's time for the Council to act and ensure workers have the opportunity to earn sick days.

About 60% of Portland employers already offer paid leave to their employees, but for the other 40% of workers, catching the flu means deciding between working sick or foregoing pay to stay home. And those decisions are even harder for parents who must decide whether to stay home with a sick child.

During the public testimony yesterday, we heard stories from many people who have been forced to make these very difficult decisions. One person whose story stands out for me is Ian Rizzio, a PSU student working at a sandwich shop to make ends meet who got fired because he was sick at work. I encourage you to read his full testimony here.

Ian’s story is just one example of why the earned sick leave proposal is so important. Ensuring that workers can accrue and take sick days will help stop the spread of illnesses and add an important worker protection to those already in place. I look forward to voting for this common sense proposal.

Where the sidewalks end

Last Saturday, at the invitation of David Douglas School Board member Kyle Riggs, I (along with State Representative Shemia Fagan) walked the stretch of 136th where 5-year-old Morgan Cook was struck and killed on February 28. It is certainly a terrible stretch of road for pedestrians – and the spot where Morgan was struck was not even the most inherently dangerous place. For example, between Reedway and Ellis streets, on the west side of 136th the brush has grown right down to the roadway, so that there is not even a shoulder for anyone to walk along. A pedestrian would be forced to walk in the street.

We need sidewalks in East Portland, and I support completing the 136th avenue sidewalk project (which happens to be near, but not including, the spot where Morgan was struck) that PBOT recently proposed postponing. I understand that we need to maintain the roads, too, but pedestrians cannot be forgotten.

Sidewalks are expensive, though, so I realize we can’t put them everywhere we need them until we find new sources of money. But it seems to me that it can’t be too expensive just to clear out some blackberries, so at least people are able to walk on the side of the road instead of in the road. I have asked the Mayor’s office to talk to PBOT about prioritizing brush removal at spots like that stretch between Reedway and Ellis.