• 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


  • May 08, 2019 3:48 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)


    -What's Happening (OSCC Political Observations)

    We think that things will start getting more interesting now that the major $2.8 billion business tax passed the House 37-21. Even though the tax bill was muscled through the House, there is still not yet a clear path to the goal.

    Because although legislative leadership appears to have made a deal with some business organizations that includes:

    1. HB 3427, the $2.8 billion gross receipts tax on businesses with $1 million or more in sales. The details of the tax are still in discussion.
       
    2. An undefined PERS reform proposal
    3. A paid family leave proposal that would require both employers and workers to pay new taxes
       
    4. The death of HB 2269, the employer health care tax

     

    ...there are still some serious unanswered questions that have real consequences. For instance:

    • What will Senator Betsy Johnson do? She's never been a supporter of higher taxes.
       
    • With only 12 members to account for, Senate Republicans clearly have a realistic ability to deny quorum and shut down Senate business. Will they?
       
    • What are the details of the deal struck between some business groups and legislative leadership? The devil is always in the details, and to our knowledge, there are no details on the issues that were agreed to. Negotiations have yet to occur on PERS or paid family leave, and yet business has already given up its leverage by going neutral on the major tax hike.
       
    • What happens if the unions oppose elements of the deal including the paid family leave program or PERS reform? Will Democrats be able to deliver the votes for these issues if their major benefactors oppose them?
       
    • And if Democrats cannot deliver the votes on these issues, will business groups have the standing to ask for Republican support after having just crossed them on the $2.8 billion gross receipts tax?
       
    • What about Cap & Trade? Cap & Trade was not addressed in the deal-making, and yet the dual impact of Cap & Trade with a gross receipts tax could be devastating to businesses.

    Like we said, it's starting to get interesting.

     

    Activity on Major Issues

    • The $2 billion Commercial Activity Tax (HB 3427) passed the House on a party line vote, 37-21. It is scheduled to hit the Senate floor on Tuesday, but Senate Republicans may force a delay. As it stands, HB 3427-A has the following components:

    -  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 receipts from sales to a wholesaler or ag cooperative for any sales outside of Oregon; and

    -  An exemption for groceries (defined as those that qualify for 'SNAP').

    • Cap and Trade (HB 2020). The Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction will unveil yet another re-write of the Cap-and-Trade on Monday evening. OSCC and other business groups will quickly analyze the new version of the bill to understand potential impacts. The committee will meet again on Friday to further consider the re-write. OSCC will share analysis and impacts of the new version of the bill as soon as we are able to conclude our analysis.

     

    What happened last week?

    • Equal Pay Technical Fixes (SB 123A). SB 123 passed out of the Senate Rules Committee with an amendment to provide clarity to employers in implementing Oregon's Equal Pay Act.  OSCC joined other business organizations in supporting the amended bill.  Some technical amendments were not included in SB 123A, but Senators Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland) and Tim Knopp (R-Bend) put forward a letter, requesting that BOLI look at making other necessary fixes in rulemaking later this year.  We appreciate their work to help local businesses understand and implement the equal pay law. 
    • Prevailing wages in enterprise zones. HB 2408 requires prevailing wages on all private projects in Enterprise Zones in excess of $20 million. Such a policy erodes one of Oregon's last remaining economic development tools. The bill received a very robust public hearing last week in the Senate Workforce Committee in which there was very strong opposition. OSCC is actively opposing the legislation and lobbying it. We anticipate that the bill will need to be amended in order to pass the Senate. 
    • Workers' compensation compromise (HB 3022). OSCC initially testified against this legislation, which would have upended 30-years of successful workers' compensation reforms and drastically raised workers' comp costs on employers. However, the bill was deftly negotiated by SAIF so as to end up a compromise bill that won't impact employer rates. The House Rules committee passed negotiated version of the legislation last week, which eliminates a major threat to the business community.

      

    Other key issues coming up this week.

    • Diesel regulations (HB 2007). The House Rules Committee is expected to amend HB 2007 this week and pass it out to Joint Ways & Means for additional consideration. HB 2007 would phase out 2010 and older on-road diesel engines over a ten year period, including both public and private fleets. It also allocates the remaining Volkswagen Settlement dollars (approx. $55 million) to retrofit and replace older on-road medium- and heavy-duty trucks. We anticipate an amendment this week to narrow the scope of the bill before it moves out of committee. 
    • Lawsuit Damages (HB 2014). The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear this bill Monday. 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. We have been successful in killing this bill in the Senate for several session. We expect another major fight on this bill in the coming weeks.

     



  • April 29, 2019 4:06 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    Save Oregon’s Enterprise Zones!
    Oppose HB 2408A: Public Procurement Requirements on Private Projects

    Property tax abatements are among our best tools for growing local businesses, particularly in economically distressed areas. HB 2408A puts future investments in local economic development in jeopardy!  

    HB 2408A imposes public procurement requirements on projects within enterprise zones; specifically, the requirement to pay prevailing wages. Requiring prevailing wage rates on private construction projects offsets the very local economic development incentives provided by tax abatements. By eliminating this incentive, private investors may decide against industrial expansion or may choose a site outside of the state.

    This bill already passed the House, and we need your help to let your state Senator know that HB 2408A is bad for Oregon’s local business community. 

    A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 8:00 am.

    Please write your Senator and/or show up tomorrow and tell policymakers that HB 2408A is the wrong policy for Oregon!

    Click the link below to log in and send your message:
    https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/DcKJfkZK1r020ButjCfGfQ 


  • April 29, 2019 9:57 AM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    ACTION ALERT

    OSCC will be issuing an Action Alert for HB 2408 this week. This bill, which will require prevailing wages in privately-funded Enterprise Zone projects of $20 million or more, would be a strong hindrance to much needed economic development projects. Enterprise Zones are one of Oregon's last remaining viable economic development tools.


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