In Short

Oregon will end reimbursements for remote state employees

By: - April 3, 2023 2:51 pm

State employees who travel back to Oregon won't be paid for their travel beginning Sept. 1. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Oregon will stop reimbursing remote state employees this fall for traveling to their offices, Gov. Tina Kotek announced Monday. 

Reimbursements will stop on Sept. 1, though employees will still be allowed to work remotely – even from other states. Lawmakers have taken aim at the practice after learning through news coverage that some senior managers earning six-figure salaries moved to sunny states without income taxes and had the state foot the bill for their flights back to Oregon.  

Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp, R-Bend, took aim at the practice with Senate Bill 853, cosigned by every senator and passed unanimously by the chamber on March 1. It has yet to receive a hearing in the House, though it briefly appeared on a committee agenda for Tuesday and has since been removed. 

That measure would ban the state from paying for employee travel to and from Oregon if the employee lives more than 60 miles from the state, unless the employee is covered by a collective bargaining agreement that says otherwise.

“Sponsored by all 30 senators and over half of the House, SB 853A is not only bipartisan, but the right thing to do,” Knopp said in a statement Monday evening. “I appreciate the governor joining us in our effort to end this unfair and wasteful policy.”

Kotek’s new policy would apply to all remote state employees, not just those who live out of state. About 6,800 of the state’s more than 41,500 employees are classified as fully remote workers, while the rest do their jobs in person or have hybrid schedules. Fewer than 500 have been confirmed to live outside Oregon, according to information provided by the Department of Administrative Services.

The department’s chief operating officer and interim director, Berri Leslie, said in a statement that state resources must be used effectively to serve Oregonians. 

“Employees will continue to be allowed to work remotely as approved by their state agencies,” she said. “We look forward to implementing this change and continuing to refine our policies to meet the needs of our state employees.” 

Clarification: An earlier version of this article said SB 853 had yet to be scheduled for a committee hearing in the House. It hasn’t received one, though it was briefly listed on an agenda for an April 4 meeting and has since been removed. 


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site.

Julia Shumway
Julia Shumway

Julia Shumway has reported on government and politics in Iowa and Nebraska, spent time at the Bend Bulletin and most recently was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix. An award-winning journalist, Julia most recently reported on the tangled efforts to audit the presidential results in Arizona.