Dear OSCC Members and Colleagues -
The next 2 ½ weeks are traditionally among the most important of the legislative session. This is where we start to see bills formally die, which means OSCC can focus on areas of most importance during the second half of the session.
All bills must be scheduled for a vote in their original committee by this coming Friday, April 7th. Furthermore, all bills must pass their original committee by April 18th.
Historically, this has been the most meaningful set of deadlines as most legislation will fall by the wayside. But as we've warned, gamesmanship will also keep many bad bills alive until the very end. OSCC will keep you fully apprised, but we also look forward to seeing some potential threats go away.
Here's what we know from the past week:
OSCC continues to believe that there are not enough votes to pass any sort of tax increases - with the exception of a gas tax (for a transportation package) and a health care provider tax (to fund state Medicaid). No matter what you read in the Oregonian (this article actually goes into great depth on the issue), we are very hard pressed to believe that there are enough votes for any tax increases beyond these two taxes.
And while we believe that the legislative leadership will give serious consideration to referring a gross receipts tax to the ballot, perhaps as soon as November of this year, we are still very skeptical that the stars would line up to actually follow through with this. Business would likely oppose, and the magnitude of the tax likely wouldn't be enough to get the unions interested in funding another pro-tax measure.
OSCC opposes HB 2269, which would increase fees by up to 20% on Title V and ACDP holders in order to provide start-up funding for the DEQ's and OHA's 'Cleaner Air Oregon' regulatory program. OSCC testified in opposition to this bill as the 'Cleaner Air Oregon' regulatory framework issued by DEQ would likely result in many Oregon manufacturers being unable to meet the standards. OSCC is also concerned that the program will require ever increasing financial commitments from regulated companies. The opposition to these start up fees for the DEQ is becoming a central focus of OSCC and the business community. We will keep you apprised.
OSCC testified in favor of SB 984, which would legally overturn BOLI's recent interpretation that manufacturing employers are subject to both the state's 10-hour daily overtime rate and the federal 40-hour weekly overtime rate. BOLI's new interpretation means that daily and weekly overtime hours are double counted. While OSCC hopes that SB 984 gains traction, it will be difficult. The unions are strongly opposed. OSCC is lobbying.
After almost 60 days, the Oregon House finally passed a bill that was strongly opposed by the business community. HB 2005 would mandate 'pay equity' for all protected classes, would switch the burden of proof from plaintiff to employer, and would implement new punitive damages and make each paycheck in which a disparity is claimed as a cause for remedy. Although business offered a generous compromise based on a California version of the law, it was rebuffed by House democratic leadership. The 'pay equity' legislation passed by the House is the most punitive in the nation. It will now go to the Senate for consideration.
Although we mentioned it last week in our report, business groups were caught flat-footed at the Senate Bill 997 hearing. Only the unions testified. This bill would penalize employers with 50 or more employees if any employees working 20 or more hours per week are not privately covered with employer-sponsored health insurance. And while we said that we did not expect this bill to advance, it looks, in fact, that business will have to make up ground and rally to push back on this bill.
Here's what's coming up this week:
Paid Family Leave proposal is scheduled for a work session in committee this week. House Bill 3087 implements a 0.5% income tax on employees and 0.5% payroll tax on employers to fund a 12-week paid family leave program on business of all sizes. Because the program is funded with a tax, the legislation requires a 3/5th supermajority of legislators to approve it. This gives business considerable leverage in defeating the proposal. We do, however, believe that the proposal will be kept alive. However, because HB 3087 requires a supermajority of the legislature to approve, we have good reason to believe that the unions are now turning their attention to predictive scheduling (SB 828) as their primary target for 2017.
Speaking of SB 828, the bill will receive another full public hearing in the Senate Workforce Committee this week. There will be new amendments introduced at the hearing. Here's what we know about them:
- The amendments will focus exclusively on hotels, restaurants and retail establishments. The provisions from the original bill (Section 3) that implemented wage requirements on all employers who changed or shortened shifts are deleted.
- The bill focuses exclusively on retail, food service, restaurants and hotel employees of businesses with 25 or more employees. OSCC believes that this will encompass many of our local chamber members and OSCC will strongly oppose the new amendments.
Senate Bill 487 is scheduled for a work session this week. This bill increases non-economic damage awards in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. It will have major repercussions on health care providers as well as the commercial liability market.
Several OSCC members have inquired, with concern, about SB 115, which would ban the use of leaded aviation fuel. This bill is being considered again this week - with amendments - that would allow the state Department of Agriculture to set a date to prohibit leaded aviation fuel no sooner than 5 years after the FAA approves an alternative aviation fuel that does not contain lead. Please let us know if you have a concern with this approach.
Of particular interest to OSCC members:
The public record is being held open on Senate Bill 828 - predictive scheduling - until COB Tuesday, April 4th. OSCC members are strongly urged to submit testimony in opposition to the legislation at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
SB 828 would be devastating for some OSCC members. For OSCC members with retail, hospitality or food service establishments, it would require an interactive schedule-setting process by which employers must accommodate schedule demands of employees. Any changes to those schedules within 14 days of a shift would result in additional compensation.
As mentioned, amendments for SB 828 have been submitted. Even with the amendments, OSCC strongly opposes this bill. Click here to see our submitted testimony.
Alison Hart, Executive Director
JL Wilson, Legislative Counsel