• June 15, 2019 9:45 AM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    The 2019 legislative session must adjourn by June 30. Tensions are high as legislators make a last push to pass priority bills before the Constitutional end of session. A number of large policy priorities remain-diesel, cap-and-trade, paid family leave -and the next three weeks will be chaotic as they work to get the votes on remaining bills.

    Activity on Major Issues 

    • Cap-and-Trade (HB 2020). On Tuesday, Representative Christine Drazan (R-Canby) released a memo from legislative counsel that questioned whether or not HB 2020 is actually a bill for raising revenue, requiring a 3/5 vote. The memo indicated that HB 2020 likely violates Article 8 of the state Constitution, which states that any taxes levied on the sale, distribution or use of natural gas must be dedicated to the Common School Fund. The memo went further to explain that taxes on natural gas are likely capped at 6% in the state Constitution.

      On Wednesday evening, the Ways & Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources held a special evening work session to pass out the cap-and-trade bill, HB 2020. After two hours of public testimony and debate, the committee passed HB 2020 on a party line vote with all republicans voting 'NO.' Republican committee members supported amendments to remove the emergency clause (and allow Oregonians to vote the bill up or down), but the amendment was rejected.

      At the same hearing, legislators passed  SB 1051 (introduced by Sen. Lee Beyer), which refunds any cost increases due to cap-and-trade for off-road fuels used in agriculture. Sen. Beyer's bill is an effort to mitigate some of the fuel price increases that farmers will face under HB 2020 - now estimated at $0.22 per gallon in 2021.

      Even though HB 2020 passed out of the subcommittee on Wednesday,  passage of the bill is not a done deal. Early projections indicate that HB 2020 would raise $1.3 billion in new taxes in 2021-2023, and approximately 75% of the impact is borne by the transportation sector. A broad coalition of business representatives - including OSCC - has been working hard on a solution that protects businesses and ratepayers as well as the transportation sector. These efforts (-102 amendment) would protect local businesses and consumers from the negative impacts of cap-and-trade and give the Legislature time to sort out numerous constitutional challenges before cap-and-trade is fully implemented. The amendments are just now getting traction, but this bill is being fast-tracked. Now is the time to weigh in on the more damaging components of the bill and ask instead that the legislature adopt the -102 amendment.
    • Diesel (HB 2007).  Negotiations are still in the works on HB 2007, the on-road diesel engine retrofit and replacement bill. If new amendments get traction, the bill is likely to move next week. The current version of the bill:
       
      • Limits the phase-out and diesel retrofit requirement for on-road diesel engines to the tri-county (Metro) area which includes Clackamas County, Washington County, and Multnomah County.
      • Exempts:
        • F-Plates, farm tractors, and implements of husbandry
        • Log trucks
        • Low use of 5,000 miles or fewer in a year
        • Motor homes
    • Commercial Activity Tax - Technical Fixes (HB 3427). Senate Revenue Chair Mark Hass has been working on technical fixes to HB 3427, the commercial activity tax, which is a $2.8 billion tax increase on Oregon businesses with sales over $1 million. HB 2164 (the technical fix bill) and specifically the -1 amendments made several improvements to the bill, particularly for the insurance industry.However, the amendment also contained a not-so-subtle carve-out of the new gross receipts tax for a major Intel project (see Sections 7-13).
    • Community College Funding (HB 5024). The Higher Education Coordinating Commission budget appears to have approximately $645 million allocated to Oregon's 17 community colleges. While this is a $50 million increase over current service levels, it is far short of the $647 million base budget plus $140 million to expand CTE and Student Success programs.
    • Paid Family Leave (HB 2005). Paid family and medical leave has dominated the workforce conversation this session. On Friday, Oregon Business and Industry entered into final negotiations with House leadership to pass HB 2005 this session and forestall a ballot measure. The draft policy under consideration is modeled loosely on Washington and includes:
    • 12-weeks paid family and medical leave annually
    • All employees are eligible after they've earned $1000
    • State-run insurance program, funded through payroll tax contributions
      • Premium collection begins in 2022
      • Employees can begin to take leave in 2023
    • Payroll tax of up to 1%:
      • 60% employee paid
      • 40% employer paid
    • Employers with 25 or fewer employees are not required to pay the premium
    • Job protection requirements come into effect after 90 days of employment

    We anticipate the release of a final amendment by the end of the day on June 10 and will share to get local chamber feedback. We could see this bill move out of the House Rules Committee as early as June 11 if the amendment is written correctly and without technical errors.

     

    What happened last week? 

    • Lawsuit Damages (HB 2014). In a very rare occurrence, OSCC helped defeat HB 2014 on the Senate floor last week when the bill only received 14 votes (16 votes are needed for passage). HB 2014 would have repealed Oregon's legal limit of $500,000 on non-economic damages in personal injury and negligence lawsuit claims. OSCC, health care groups, and business organizations opposed this legislation because it is a significant factor in driving up health care costs and general liability costs for employers.

      

    ACTION ALERT

    Cap and Trade HB 2020: We still have one last chance  - in the full Ways & Means Committee - to pass the -102 amendments that will dramatically improve the legislation by removing the major cost impacts on businesses and consumers.

    The revenue impact statement was posted to the Legislature's website last week, which laid out the impact of the bill on Oregonians, stating:

    • The bill would raise $1.3 billion when it takes effect in the 2021.
    • An immediate 22 cents a gallon increase at the pump in 2021, increasing to $3 a gallon by 2050.
    • The new 54-employee bureaucracy required to implement the bill would cost about $23 million in the coming two-year budget cycle, with potentially significant increases in the future.


  • June 06, 2019 2:33 PM | Debbie Utberg (Administrator)

    Last night, the Ways & Means subcommittee on Natural Resources approved the Cap & Trade bill, HB 2020.
     
    You can see the press release from our partners here.
     
    We still have one last chance on Friday - in the full Ways & Means Committee - to pass the -102 amendments that will dramatically improve the legislation by removing the major cost impacts on businesses and consumers.
     
    Please see our information on the -102 amendments and please use our Voter Voice system ASAP to tell your legislator that we need to pass the -102 amendments.  If we don't pass the amendments, we simply need legislators to vote NO on HB 2020.



    Click the link below to log in and send your message:
    https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/bHK1NMSfDr9QRhzOqyMrEQ 

  • May 20, 2019 5:55 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    ACTION ALERT

    HB 2020: Cap-and-trade will increase the cost of living and working in Oregon - all residents will bear the cost of fuel increases and increased natural gas rates. It's projected to immediately drive up the cost of gas by $0.16 per gallon, and natural gas customers will face double digit rate increase in the first year of the program!  

     

    There are fewer than 45-days before session adjourns, and NOW is the time to make your voice heard.


    Click the link below to log in and send your message:
    https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/Tv-AyIDYK2j_M6jOknQznw


    Se


  • May 20, 2019 5:54 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    What's Happening (OSCC Political Observations)

    This is the final week for policy committees to pass bills. Any bill not passed out of a policy committee (other than Rules or Revenue) is dead after Friday.

    All legislation passed after Friday will have to come from either Rules, Revenue, or Ways & Means. This signals that the 2019 legislature is in the homestretch. It also signals that the decision-making will really come down to just a handful of legislators. Most legislators will have little or nothing to do from this point forward other than casting votes on the floor.

    Democrat leadership can pass any bill it wants. The only reason there would need to be any negotiation whatsoever going forward is because:

    1. Republicans are still employing delay tactics which could be very impactful as the June 30th constitutional end date draws closer.
       
    2. Republicans have complete leverage on a key Measure 11 'reform' bill sought by Democrats as Democrats do not have the votes to pass SB 1008 on their own.
       
    3. Republicans have some leverage on PERS reform as it is unlikely that Democrats can produce all the votes needed to pass SB 1049 on their own.
       
    4. Republicans have complete leverage on the "kicker" issue as Democrat leadership is seeking to be able to spend some of the $1.4 billion personal kicker. 

    Activity on Major Issues

    • The $2.8 billion Commercial Activity Tax (HB 3427) was signed into law by Governor Brown. Starting on January 1, 2020, all businesses doing business in Oregon will see: 
       
      • A gross receipts tax rate of 0.57% on Oregon sales over $1 million;
         
      • A 35% deduction from taxable sales for labor OR business inputs, whichever is higher;
         
      • An exemption for groceries (defined as those that qualify for 'SNAP') and transportation fuel. 
    • Cap-and-Trade (HB 2020). On Friday, HB 2020-A passed its first major milestone. After three hours of debate, the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction adopted the -94 amendments on a party line vote and sent the bill to the Joint Committee on Ways & Means for further deliberation. Democrats voted down all other amendments that were brought forward, although it was widely acknowledged that rural Oregon would suffer job loss and economic hardship under the bill. 

      The OSCC position has not changed since Day 1, primarily because the basic precepts of the legislation have not changed despite amendments that changed the bill on the margins. Transportation costs will increase. Natural gas costs will increase. Propane costs will increase. Local food processors and manufacturers will face a real competitive disadvantage. Small businesses and households will see increases in transportation and energy costs.

      OSCC still believes there are still opportunities to change this bill in the Ways & Means Committee. 

     

    What happened last week?

    • The state revenue forecast added $770 million to state coffers for the upcoming 2019-2021 biennium. Just from the last forecast in March, every metric grew by eye-popping numbers due to a historic influx of revenue over the tax season.

      In addition to the influx of $770 million into the upcoming budget cycle, the kicker almost doubled in size.  It's now projected at $1.4 billion. Net reserve funds are now nearly $3.5 billion.

      But the real impact of the historic revenue forecast is that it will tamp down on talk of additional tax revenue for the remainder of the 2019 legislative session. 
    • The legislature's attempt at PERS reform was unveiled with Senate Bill 1049. SB 1049 contains the following provisions: 
       
      • Tier 1 and Tier 2 members, who are public employees who entered the PERS system before 2004, would have 2.5% of their salaries diverted from their individual retirement accounts into paying off the system's debt.
         
      • Workers hired 2004 or later (PERS Tier 3 and Tier 4), would face a lower diversion - 0.75% of their salaries.
         
      • Public employees earning less than $30,000 a year would be exempted.
         
      • A reduction in assumed interest rate for retirees who use the "money match" method of calculating their pension benefits.
         
      • Most significantly, legislators seem to have abandoned efforts to raid SAIF to cover PERS liability, which is a good development for Oregon employers.  

    The future of SB 1049 is uncertain. Although it is only a modest cost-saving measure, the unions oppose it in force and it is unlikely that majority Democrats can carry the issue themselves.

     

    • Equal Pay Technical Fixes (SB 123-A). On Tuesday, the Oregon Senate passed SB 123 unanimously. The bill includes several important technical fixes to give employers clarity in implementing Oregon's Equal Pay Act. Oregon's law is the most comprehensive in the country, and it has been difficult for many employers - large, small, and seasonal - to implement. OSCC supports these fixes, which streamline implementation and provide important protections to employers who are trying to do the right thing. We anticipate rulemaking later this year to address several other issues identified by Sen. Kathleen Taylor and Sen. Tim Knopp.

     

    Other key issues coming up this week.

    • Prevailing wages in enterprise zones (HB 2408). We are expecting the Senate Workforce Committee to take up HB 2408 this week. In its current form, the bill requires prevailing wages to be paid on private enterprise zone projects of $20 million or more. OSCC is actively opposing and lobbying the legislation. 
    • Lawsuit Damages (HB 2014). We are expecting the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote on HB 2014 this week. HB 2014 would repeal Oregon's legal limit of $500,000 on non-economic damages in personal injury and negligence lawsuit claims. OSCC, health care groups, and business organizations are opposing this legislation because it is a significant factor in driving up health care costs and general liability costs for employers. Although we expect the Senate Judiciary Committee to approve the bill on a party line vote, we believe we have an opportunity to defeat the bill on the Senate floor.


  • May 15, 2019 9:55 AM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    Today, the State of Oregon just realized a historic and massive revenue forecast.

    Just from the last forecast in March, every metric grew by eye-popping numbers due to a historic influx of revenue over the tax season.

    Available resources for the next biennium (2019-2021) grew by $770 million.

    The kicker almost doubled in size.  It's now projected at $1.4 billion.

    Net reserve funds are now nearly $3.5 billion.

    The dark clouds are evident, however, as economists are now projecting declines in personal income tax revenues going forward.

    Nonetheless, the short term forecast was truly historic and will likely tamp down on talk of additional tax revenue for the remainder of the 2019 legislative session.


  • May 14, 2019 12:14 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    Dr. Lee Cowles attended the PBOT presentation we had at the last Education meeting May 1st. He plans to speak in front of City Council against the proposal and is asking for others to back him.  If you wish to endorse his concerns, please contact the commissioners with the following suggested wording. The Board will follow up with members to see if they agree that EPCC should also endorse the efforts of Dr. Lee Cowles. If you want to speak directly with Dr. Cowles, you can reach him at 503-255-1506.

    Vision Zero’s “NE 102nd Trial Project”, scheduled to begin construction June, 2019, will provide some helpful safety features.  However, there are always trade-off’s and consequences from changes.  The Project will reduce north and southbound lanes from two to one lane each direction.   According to ODOT’s Crash Analysis Division (CAD), this section of 102nd had 253 accidents, 2005 through 2016.  The intersections of Prescott and Wygant had 110 of those, of which 76% had at least one injury.  CAD analysis shows that 84% of those 110 were accidents due to congestion.

    Studies and reports by the states of Maryland, North Carolina, Iowa, and the U.S. Dept. of Transportation concluded that increasing congestion increases the number of accidents.  Oregon hasn’t done such a study, but the results were confirmed by the CAD supervisor.

    Decreasing the lanes will increase congestion, increase accidents, and increase injuries on 102nd, especially at Prescott and Wygant, and connecting side streets.  In addition, Project results will not be known for at least two and a half years, according to Vision Zero, and they already have several “Trial” projects underway.

    Therefore, despite the Project’s safety improvements for pedestrians and lower speed limits, the consequences far outweigh the benefits.  The following organizations have  reviewed the Project, and request that this Project be tabled immediately and re-designed to prevent increased accidents and injuries on 102nd.


  • May 14, 2019 12:14 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    Dear OSCC members and colleagues -

    A PERS reform proposal has been formally introduced in SB 1049. The plan was unveiled Friday afternoon by Speaker Kotek and Senate President Courtney, and  public hearings on the bill will begin tonight. 

    SB 1049 includes the following components:  

    • Tier 1 and Tier 2 members, who are public employees who entered the PERS system before 2004, would have 2.5% of their salaries diverted from their individual retirement accounts into paying off the system's debt.
       
    • Workers hired 2004 or later (PERS Tier 3 and Tier 4), would face a lower diversion - 0.75% of their salaries.
       
    • Public employees earning less than $30,000 a year would be exempted.
       
    • A reduction in assumed interest rate for retirees who use the "money match" method of calculating their pension benefits.
       
    • Most significantly, legislators seem to have abandoned efforts to raid SAIF to cover PERS liability, which is a good development for Oregon employers.  


  • May 13, 2019 2:32 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    What's Happening (OSCC Political Observations)

    House and Senate Republicans ground the session to a crawl last week as both caucuses employed tactics designed to slow the pace of the session. Senate Republicans simply did not come to the capitol and effectively denied the necessary quorum to conduct Senate business.

    Senate Republicans continue to negotiate with Senate President Peter Courtney on a slew of bills and a "go home" package. They hope to be able to come to agreement by Monday.

    The result was an atypical slow legislative week in what would have otherwise been an intense week of jockeying as major deadlines loom. May 10th was the deadline for all policy bills to be posted for a work session in order to move forward. By May 24th, all bills must have been voted out of their second chamber policy committee in order to survive. Bills in Rules, Revenue, or Ways & Means will remain 'in play' through the end of session, although many of those committees will be wrapping up their work by mid-June.  

    Activity on Major Issues

    • The $2 billion Commercial Activity Tax (HB 3427) was most impacted by the work stoppage last week in the Senate. What was slated for an expedited Senate vote last Tuesday is still on hold. 

    HB 3427 includes the following components: 

    • Gross receipts tax rate of 0.57% on top line sales over $1 million;
       
    • A 35% subtraction from receipts for labor OR the cost of goods sold (COGS), whichever is higher; and
       
    • An exemption for groceries (defined as those that qualify for 'SNAP' sold at retail). 

    Senate Republicans are trying to force the bill back to committee to lower the tax rate and/or increase the $1 million exemption. It is unclear whether they will be successful. 

     PERS Reform finally made an appearance (SB 1049). On Friday afternoon, Speaker Kotek and Senate President Courtney unveiled their plan to tackle PERS costs. Under their plan: 

      • Tier 1 and Tier 2 members, who are public employees who entered the PERS system before 2004, would have 2.5% of their salaries diverted from their individual retirement accounts into paying off the system's debt.
         
      • Workers hired 2004 or later (PERS Tier 3 and Tier 4), would face a lower diversion - 0.75% of their salaries.
         
      • Public employees earning less than $30,000 a year would be exempted.
         
      • A reduction in assumed interest rate for retirees who use the "money match" method of calculating their pension benefits.
         
      • Most significantly, legislators seem to have abandoned efforts to raid SAIF to cover PERS liability, which is a good development for Oregon employers. 
         
    • Cap-and-Trade (HB 2020) Legislators unveiled the latest version of the carbon pricing bill in the -84 amendments last week. The amendments made a handful of changes, but failed to address some of the bigger affecting the business community such as the huge cost pressures associated natural gas and transportation fuel.

    The new version of the bill contains the following:

    • Natural gas utilities receive 60% free allowances in 2021 that decline in 2022 in contrast to 100% for investor-owned electric utilities. Similar to California, these allowances are consigned, which limits how the utility can use them. That means many ratepayers-particularly industrial and commercial facilities-will see rate increases beginning in 2021.  This was not a win for local business communities.
    • Trade-exposed manufacturers and processors are assigned a benchmark of free allowances based on the best available technology.  This is an attempt to keep some of the state's bigger job-providers from moving out-of-state.
       
    • Transportation fuels will bear the brunt of the cost increases in the early years of the cap-and-trade program.  A tax refund may be available for off-road fuels used in forestry and agriculture, but it is subject to a study of legal challenges.
       
    •  Assistance may be available to low income Oregonians to help cover cost increases for automobile fuels, propane, and home heating oil. 

    There is still a lot of work to be done, because as written, the -84 amendments will still result in a competitive disadvantage for local Oregon businesses. Our sources tell us that legislators plan to adopt the -84 amendment on Friday this week and pass the bill to Ways & Means. We will keep you updated as the process unfolds or as opportunities to weigh in come up.
     

    • Diesel Regulations (HB 2007) Negotiations have been ongoing on HB 2007, the on-road diesel engine retrofit and replacement bill. The bill is scheduled for a public hearing and work session early next week with an amendment that is expected to: 
       
      • Scale down the phase-out and diesel retrofit requirement for on-road diesel engines to the tri-county (Metro) area which includes Clackamas County, Washington County, and Multnomah County.
         
      • By 2029, all heavy duty diesel trucks must have a 2007 or newer engine. Also by 2029, all medium duty diesel trucks must have a 2010 engine or newer. Farm vehicles and motor homes will be exempted. 
         
    • Paid Family Leave (HB 2005Paid family leave has dominated the labor conversation this session. HB 2005 is the last remaining paid family leave bill, and it currently sits in the House Rules Committee. Labor unions have threatened a ballot measure in 2020 if HB 2005 fails to pass. However, a draft policy is currently in the works to forestall a ballot measure, including the below components (modeled loosely on Washington): 
    • 12-weeks paid family and medical leave annually
       
    • All employees are eligible after they've earned $1,000
    • State-run insurance program, funded through payroll tax contributions
       
    • Payroll tax of up to 1% (60% employee paid, 40% employer paid)
       
    • Employers with 25 or fewer employees are not required to pay the premium
       
    • Job protection requirements come into effect after 90 days of employment 
       
    • Marijuana Accommodation (SB 379) In a bit of good news, SB 379 is officially dead. This bill would have undermined and nullified all employers' workplace drug-free policies and would have required employers to accommodate off-duty marijuana use. Although the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill on a party-line vote, Senate President Courtney refused to let it come to the Senate floor when it was clear that OSCC and other secured enough votes to defeat the bill.


  • May 09, 2019 5:27 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    Now is the time to act on HB 3427

    This is a critical time for this NEW $2.8 billion business sales tax, which would levy a gross receipts tax on all Oregon businesses with at least $1 million in sales. 

    If this bill passes, local businesses and consumers will be subject to pyramiding of taxes up and down the supply chain and increased costs that are certain to hurt small business and stifle Oregon’s economy.

    With our Action Alert on Tuesday, we were able to send 100 messages to key Senators. If you have not sent in your testimony to your elected Senator, now is the time. 

    Please tell your Senator that HB 3427 hurts small business and does nothing to ensure that Oregon's PERS costs will now swallow up the entire tax increase within a few short years. 

    Click the link below to log in and send your message:
    https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/Tv-AyIDYK2j_M6jOknQznw


  • May 08, 2019 3:49 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    ACTION ALERT

    HB 3427-A is the wrong approach for Oregon


    HB 3427-A would levy a $2.8 billion gross receipts tax on all Oregon businesses with at least $1 million in sales. This is NEW revenue to fund proposed education priorities. The goal is laudable but the mechanism is not.  A gross receipts tax, as proposed in HB 3427, is one of the most regressive taxing mechanisms.  If this bill passes, local businesses and consumers will be subject to pyramiding of taxes up and down the supply chain and increased costs that are certain to stifle Oregon’s economy.
     
    Enough is enough!  The total cost of proposed taxes, programs and fees being considered by the 2019 Legislature is $5.67 billion over the next two years.  That is too great a burden on local Oregon businesses. 

    Click the link below to log in and send your message:
    https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/DKlm_qeAjoOfUeU5KgydpA


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