• April 15, 2019 11:37 AM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    Dear OSCC members and colleagues -

    What's Happening (OSCC Political Observations)

    The second half of the 2019 session is now underway.

    Legislative leadership has made the timing decision to prioritize the $2 billion business Commercial Activity Tax (HB 2019) and put it at the front of the line. We are expecting quick consideration of HB 2019 with public hearings on the new tax as early as this week.

    This means that Cap & Trade (HB 2020) has been postponed until after consideration of the business tax hike. This could push Cap & Trade back by a month or more as it is currently mired in complexity primarily from the transportation sector.

    The major focus of the legislature this week will be passing bills during numerous floor sessions so that they can move bills to the second chamber in a timely way. Committee activity will be greatly diminished this week as both the House and Senate will be focused on casting floor votes this week.

     

    Activity on Major Issues

    The major issue that will be moving forward this week in the Joint Student Success Committee is the$2 billion Commercial Activity Tax (HB 2020), which was finally unveiled last week. Also of note, the Governor unveiled her PERS liability buy-down proposal last week along with a PERS reform proposal that would require Tier 1 and Tier 2 active employees to contribute 3% of pay down the unfunded liability of the state's pension program.

    • A flat $250 tax if business sales are under $1 million;
    • A commercial activity tax (CAT) rate of 0.49% on Oregon sales over $1 million;
    • A 25% 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'). 

    This proposal is likely to change over the next week, and OSCC will keep chambers apprised of any changes to the tax reform package. In the meantime, the business community continues to oppose a commercial activity tax.

     

    • PERS Raids and Reform. On Friday afternoon, Governor Brown unveiled her plan to halt the rise of PERS costs for Oregon's schools by sweeping $486 million in reserves held by SAIF Corp, the state-owned worker's compensation insurer. She also proposed taking $400 to $500 million in kicker payments to pay down K-12 PERS liability, but that move would take a 2/3 vote by each chamber of the legislature. OSCC is closely tracking these efforts, and business groups are mobilizing against the threat of sweeping SAIF reserves.

     

    The one piece of PERS reform proposed by the Governor is to institute pension contributions from public employees. The governor's plan calls for active Tier 1 and 2 members of PERS - those hired before August 2003 and still working - to contribute 3 percent of their pay to an account that would help pay for their pension benefits. Employees' first $20,000 in salary would be exempt from the contribution. Those hired after that date would contribute 1.5 percent of their pay after exempting the first $20,000 in salary.

    Those changes could bring in about $100 million per biennium.

                  

    What happened last week?

    Paid Family & Medical Leave. (HB 3031; HB 2005) After the April 9 deadline, only one paid family and medical leave vehicle remains, HB 2005.  HB 2005 gives the Employment Department the authority to levy up to a 1% payroll tax on employers and a 1% income tax on employees to implement a 26-week per year paid family leave program. The bill would apply to all employers with at least one employee and raise $1.5 billion in new taxes every biennium.

     

    Bounty Hunter Law. (SB 750) OSCC joined other business organizations in opposition to SB 750, which would allow employees and third party organizations to act as private attorneys general to supplement enforcement actions by public agencies. This would create a wave of costly litigation against Oregon employers.

     

    Pay Equity Technical Fixes. (SB 123) Following BOLI rulemaking in November 2018, OSCC brought forward necessary technical fixes to assist local businesses in complying with the Oregon Equal Pay Act.  SB 123 is the vehicle for these fixes.  Unfortunately, the negotiated product ran into problems when labor logged opposition on Monday evening.  The bill moved to the Senate Rules Committee where conversations will continue.

     

    Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. (SB 726) SB 726, the workforce harassment and discrimination bill, moved out of the Senate Workforce Committee with the -5 amendment.  The -5 amendment removed the individual liability and "should have known" standard for third parties, which was a positive change for Oregon employers.  After the bill passed, the Committee Chair indicated that a work group would be formed to continue to explore individual liability.  

     

    Pregnancy

    • Pregnancy Accommodations. (HB 2341)  After negotiations, HB 2341 was amended to apply new pregnancy accommodation requirements to employers with 6+ employees and allow any employers to file an undue hardship exemption with BOLI. 
    • Expressing Milk in the Workplace. (HB 2593) Last week, advocates came together to draft - 3 amendments to HB 2593, which allows employers with 10 or fewer employees to file an undue hardship exemption with BOLI if providing unlimited nursing breaks causes significant difficulty or expense.

    OSCC appreciates the work of Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis (R-Albany) and Rep. Karin Power (D- Milwaukie) to find middle ground to provide reasonable pregnancy protections in the workplace.

    Workers Compensation. (HB 3022) Last week, business interests and the trial lawyers reached a compromise on HB 3022.  As a reminder as originally drafted, HB 3022 would undo the Mahonia Hall Reforms that make Oregon's Worker's Compensation program one of the best in the country.  Conversations will continue on an amendment in the House Rules Committee.

     

    Other Key Issues Coming up This Week.

     

    Marijuana Accommodation. (SB 379) OSCC is still pushing hard to DEFEAT SB 379.  SB 379 would undermine and nullify all employers' workplace drug-free policies and would require employers to accommodate off-duty marijuana use. OSCC is very concerned about the ability of employers to implement and enforce workplace drug-free policies.  SB 379 is passed out of Committee on a party line vote but has not been scheduled for a floor vote yet. We suspect we may have defeated this legislation but we do not have official confirmation.


  • April 12, 2019 11:19 AM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)



    We know there is widespread anticipation and concern regarding the new $2 billion business tax being promoted by legislative leadership.

    Last evening, the detailed plan was finally made public.

    https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2019R1/Downloads/ProposedAmendment/15752

     

    At a high level, it is a 0.49% gross receipts tax with a 25% deduction for either business inputs or labor costs, whichever is greater. The tax applies to all business entities with gross sales in excess of $1 million.

    Although this is a new 25-page tax bill that undoubtedly has many complexities, our understanding is that legislative leadership intends for the process to move quickly. There may be limited opportunity for input or to amend the bill.

    In another area of concern, we also believe that the Governor/Governor's office will be presenting her PERS pension reform package today at the noon hearing for Ways & Means Capital Construction subcommittee. We have reason to believe that a raid on SAIF resources and reserves will be a part of that discussion, but the particulars are not clear. We also anticipate their will be other fund "sweeps" to help buy down escalating PERS rates, particularly for schools.



  • April 11, 2019 9:22 AM | Debbie Utberg (Administrator)




    Dear OSCC members and colleagues -

    Cap-and-trade has far-reaching consequences for Oregon. Beyond raising prices for everyday items like gasoline and food, HB 2020 would hurt Oregon's economy by putting thousands of jobs at risk for in the manufacturing sector. Supporters of the bill have even acknowledged the impact the proposed bill would have on manufacturing. And because of the importance of the manufacturing sector to Oregon's economy, other sectors will also be weakened as a result.

    Cap-and-trade, as envisioned in House Bill 2020, would sacrifice many Oregon manufacturing jobs. Even those who seek to offset jobs losses in one manner or another underestimate the tidal wave of economic damage that would flow from a poorly designed carbon-reduction program. As currently written, HB 2020 would lead key industries to reduce their Oregon presence, remove major employers from rural communities and increase costs for the manufacturers that remain. Read the full article here.

    OSCC continues to ask for your assistance to shine a light on the negative impacts of cap-and-trade. Individual chambers can start by joining the Partnership for Oregon Communities. The Partnership will coordinate grassroots voices with concerns about the rising costs of fuel and energy.

    Email jessicac@oregonchamber.org to join the coalition. OSCC will continue to follow up as we learn of opportunities for public testimony and engagement with the legislature. 

    OSCC has issued an ACTION ALERT for HB 2020 (Cap & Trade) for all legislators. PLEASE RESPOND ASAP WITH YOUR MESSAGE. 


  • April 09, 2019 10:45 AM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)


    Dear OSCC members and colleagues -

    What's Happening (OSCC Political Observations)

    By Tuesday, April 9th, all bills need to be voted out of their original committee in order to survive. This is the turning point of the session. Priorities get whittled down and the playing field becomes clearer as extraneous legislation falls by the wayside.

    We will know much more on Wednesday morning as committees will work into the evening up until the very last moments on Tuesday evening.

    Activity on Major Issues

    We want to reiterate the four major tax hikes being pushed by legislative leaders. As of now, all four proposals are serious and viable. Please get familiar with and distribute this infographic. It is the story of the 2019 Oregon legislature.

    • Health Care Tax (HB 2269). This unbelievable proposal would give the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) the authority to determine what every large employer (defined as 50+ employees who work an average of 8/hrs per week!) should be spending on health care for employees and authorizes the agency to levy a tax on every employer that does not meet the agency's minimum health care spending requirements. Agency leaders testified that the bill is designed to raise $500 million per biennium in new taxes.

      OSCC strongly opposes to this bill and joined other business associations in written testimony. We were not even allowed to testify in person! The bill now resides in the House Revenue Committee.
    • Paid Family Leave (HB 2005). Legislative leaders have now introduced this bill as the newest and most refined effort to pass a paid family and medical leave system. Bottom line: the bill gives the Employment Department the authority to levy up to a 1% payroll tax on employers and a 1% income tax on employees to implement a 26-week per year paid family leave program. The bill would apply to all employers with at least one employee. The bill raises about $1.5 billion in new taxes every biennium to fund this new state-run bureaucracy and insurance program.
    • Cap & Trade (HB 2020). The newest re-write of HB 2020, the 'Cap & Trade' bill, did nothing to alleviate cost concerns for manufacturers or everyday Oregonians. The new version of the bill would immediately add 16 cents per gallon in fuel costs and an immediate 30% increase in natural gas costs for residential, commercial and industrial customers. Large manufacturers will see similar and immediate cost increases for electricity. All told, we are analyzing this bill as a $1.1 billion increase in costs for Oregonians each biennium. The vast majority of direct costs will be borne by manufacturers. HB 2020 will result in an immediate 30% increase in natural gas costs and a 16-cent per gallon gas price hike.
    • Business Tax Increase. It's becoming clearer that Democratic leadership will lean toward selecting a Commercial Activity Tax, which is a pure gross receipts tax, as the basis for implementing a new business tax to add more than $2 billion in revenue each biennium into the state's K-12 system. At this point, it does not appear that PERS reform or any other government cost savings will accompany this tax proposal. A growing coalition of business organizations, including OSCC, are now going on record as opposing a new gross receipts tax.  You can see OSCC's response to the tax package here.

    What is the total biennial cost to the all the tax increases that are now on the table? $5.67 billion. 

    Other Key Issues Coming up This Week.

    • BOLI Budget (SB 5516). OSCC joined other groups from business and labor in supporting a renewed focus on technical assistance at BOLI. Commissioner Val Hoyle's budget request would make small business technical assistance a core focus, add an eastside technical assistance and apprenticeship specialist, and update BOLI's hard-to-navigate website. OSCC was pleased to be able to support Labor Commissioner Hoyle.
    • Harassment in the Workplace (SB 726). On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Workforce had a work session on SB 726, which would create sweeping changes to Oregon's harassment and discrimination statutes. The committee reviewed the -4 amendment, which removes the section that would hold those with executive authority personally liable if they merely "should have known" about harassment and failed to prevent it from occurring. While this is a positive change, there are still more amendments to be made, and OSCC anticipates a -5 amendment will be considered during Tuesday's work session on the bill. OSCC considers the removal of personal liability for owners and officers to be a major win. 

    Write your senator here -https://www.votervoice.net/OSCC/campaigns/62827/respond

    ACTION ALERT

    • OSCC has issued an ACTION ALERT for SB 379 (Marijuana Accommodation). Please respond today! This issue is extraordinarily timely this week.

     Write your Senator now


  • April 01, 2019 1:29 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    What's Happening (OSCC Political Observations)

    We've passed the first major deadline of the 2019 legislative session.

    Bills needed to have been scheduled for committee votes by the end of this past Friday in order to stay alive. By Tuesday, April 9th, all bills need to actually be voted out of their original committee in order to survive.

    At this point, it looks like about half of all legislation is now dead.

    Among the bills that were killed on the Friday deadline: Anti-insurance industry bills (SB 728 and HB 2421), anti-forestry legislation (HB 2656), legislation that limits the enforceability of employment contracts (HB 2489), pro-business legislation fixing manufacturing overtime restrictions (SB 110), and all the PERS reform bills (SB 532 and SB 533).

    But for the most part, the majority of relevant legislative threats to business are still alive.

     

    Activity on Major Issues

    The emergence of a new health care tax proposal from Governor Brown this week (HB 2269) and the full-scale threat of a new paid family leave bill (HB 2005) mean that the 2019 Oregon legislature could easily be the most costly legislature in history for local businesses.

    Here are the four major tax hikes being pushed by legislative leaders. As of now, all four proposals are serious and viable:

    • Health Care Tax (HB 2269) This unbelievable proposal would give the Oregon Health Authority agency the authority to determine what every large employer (defined as 50+ employees!) should be spending on health care for employees and authorizes the agency to levy a tax on every employer that does not meet the agency's minimum health care spending requirements. The bill is designed to raise a minimum $500 million per biennium in new taxes, although it isn't subject to the supermajority vote requirement to raise revenue. 
    • Paid Family Leave (HB 2005) Legislative leaders introduced this bill as the newest and most refined effort to pass a paid family and medical leave system. Bottom line: the bill gives the Employment Department the authority to levy up to a 1% payroll tax on employers and a 1% income tax on employees to implement a 26-week per year paid family leave program. The bill would apply to all employers with at least one employee. The bill must raise at least $1 billion in new taxes every biennium to fund a solvent problem. 
    • Cap & Trade (HB 2020) The new re-write of HB 2020, the 'Cap & Trade' bill, did nothing to alleviate cost concerns for manufacturers or everyday Oregonians. The new version of the bill would immediately add 16 cents per gallon in fuel costs and an immediate 30% increase in natural gas costs for residential, commercial and industrial customers. Large manufacturers will see similar and immediate cost increases for electricity. All told, we are still analyzing this bill as a $1.4 billion increase in costs for Oregonians each biennium. The vast majority of direct costs will be borne by manufacturing and transportation. 
    • Business Tax Increase. Our expectation is that Democratic leadership will lean toward selecting a Commercial Activity Tax, which is a pure gross receipts tax, as the basis for implementing a new business tax to add more than $2 billion in revenue each biennium into the state's K-12 system. At this point, it does not appear that PERS reform or any other government cost savings will accompany this tax proposal. A growing coalition of business organizations, including OSCC, are now going on record as opposing a new gross receipts tax.

     

    What is the total biennial cost to the all the tax increases that are now on the table? $5 billion.

     

     

    Other Key Issues Coming up This Week.

    • Marijuana Accommodation (SB 379) Our biggest disappointment of the Friday deadline was that the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to attempt to pass its marijuana accommodation bill. OSCC felt very strongly that we had helped defeat this bill, but Senate Judiciary Committee chair Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) is going to make a last minute push to pass it. SB 379 would undermine and nullify all employers' workplace drug-free policies and would require employers to accommodate off-duty marijuana use.

      Please respond to the OSCC ACTION ALERT on SB 379. We need to mount our defense on this issue in the Oregon Senate NOW!! The bill is scheduled for committee vote late this week.


  • March 25, 2019 11:15 AM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    Dear OSCC members and colleagues -

    What's Happening (OSCC Political Observations)

    The next two-and-a-half weeks will be the toughest weeks of the session.

    Looming deadlines mean that all 3,000 of the bills currently introduced will be in play as advocates rush to meet deadlines that mean life or death for their legislation.

    Bills need to be posted for committee votes by the end of Friday, March 29th in order to receive further consideration. By Tuesday, April 9th, all bills need to be voted out of their original committee in order to survive.

    This means there will be a litany of surprise hearings and committee votes on relevant bills all over the capitol that will be largely impossible to track and influence in real time, but we're going to give it our best effort!

    Activity on Major Issues

    • PAID FAMILY LEAVE HEARINGS! This evening, March 25th, the House Business & Labor Committee and Senate Workforce Committee plan to host a joint public hearing on paid family & medical leave bills that would SIGNIFICANTLY alter Oregon's business climate.

      Here's a look at the proposals and the impractical requirements they put on all businesses that will cost Oregonians billions!

    HB 3031

    ·        Applies to employers with 1+ employees

    ·        Mandates 32 weeks of paid and protected family and medical leave each year

    ·        Creates state-run family insurance program administered by DCBS

    ·        Establishes new payroll tax of up to 1% to pay for the family-leave insurance:

     

    SB 947

    ·        Expands OFLA eligibility to 1+ employees

    ·        Mandates 24 weeks of paid and protected family leave AND an additional 24 weeks of protected family and medical leave for some types of leave each year - total leave could be 48 weeks!

    ·        Requires employer to pay 100% of employee wages while employee is on paid leave

     

    OSCC will argue that Oregon's small businesses are still scrambling to comply with the state's minimum wage increases, paid sick leave law and the new equal pay law.  Now is NOT the time pass 'Cadillac' family and medical leave proposals that would further burden local businesses. 

     

    Proponents for these bills are planning to turn out hundreds of people on Monday evening.  We need your help to show that Oregon employers have had enough and can't bear the costs of these workplace mandates!  Please plan on attending Monday's hearing AND sending a letter to legislators about your opposition to HB 3031 and SB 947.

     

    Email your legislators AND send personalized comments to the committees using the suggested talking points below. Check out the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce Advocacy Book for help with writing your testimony.

     

    Chair Jeff Barker, House Business & Labor Committee: hbl.exhibits@oregonlegislature.gov

    Chair Kathleen Taylor, Senate Workforce Committee: swf.exhibits@oregonlegislature.gov

     

    • Cap & Trade. (HB 2020) On Monday evening, the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction will unveil a total re-write of HB 2020, the 'Cap & Trade' bill. We are not optimistic that the legislation will be improved to reduce impacts on the manufacturing sector. Our Friday meeting with the Governor's staff was largely discouraging and showed that the Governor's office is not serious about stemming cost impacts and job loss in the manufacturing sector. OSCC will keep all chambers up to speed as we analyze the new version of the bill. 
    • Business Tax Increase. We expect that Democratic leadership is leaning toward selecting a Commercial Activity Tax, which is a pure gross receipts tax, as the basis for implementing a new business tax to add more than $2 billion in revenue into the state's K-12 system. Breaking news...it appears that the business community is beginning to organize in opposition to the developing tax proposal. Several of OSCC's partner business organizations are signing on to a letter to stage their opposition to a new gross receipts tax.

     

    Other Key Issues Coming up This Week

    • Lawsuit Damages. (HB 2014) The House will vote on 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 expect the bill to pass the House easily. The real fight will be in the Senate.
    • Employer Health Care Taxes, Part 2. (HB 3262, HB 2269) On Thursday, the House Health Care Committee will hold a public hearing and possible work session on either HB 3262 or the -1 amendment to HB 2269. It appears that legislative leaders plan to move forward with a tax on employers with more than 50 employees who are on Medicaid (or who have family members on Medicaid). The amendment does not appear to be limited to a particular sector, but we assume it raises the projected $120 million in new taxes to close out the health care budget. Much like the 'Cap and Trade' bill, this legislation appears to allow an agency (in this case, the Oregon Health Authority) wide discretion to tax employers to meet revenue objectives with little oversight from the legislature. 

     

    ACTION ALERT

    • OSCC has issued an ACTION ALERT for HB 3031 (Paid Family Leave). Please respond today!

      Please Make Your Voice Heard at Paid Family Leave Hearing!

      Tonight at 6pm, the House Business & Labor Committee and Senate Workforce Committee plan to host a joint public hearing on paid family & medical leave bills that would SIGNIFICANTLY alter Oregon's business climate.  We need local Chambers to show up this evening to speak out about the impact of this extreme legislation!  An action alert has been issued.

    What do the bills do?


    HB 3031(requires 3/5 vote)

    ·  Applies to employers with 1+ employees

    ·  Mandates 32 weeks of paid and protected family and medical leave each year

    ·  Establishes new payroll tax of up to 1%:

    o0.5% paid by employers

    o0.5% paid by employees

    oCreates state run family insurance program

    oDoesn't allow employers to provide substantially similar plans/ currently existing plans

     

    HB 3140/SB 947(don't require 3/5 vote)

    ·  Expands OFLA eligibility to 1+ employees

    ·  Expands family member definition

    ·  Mandates 24 weeks of paid and protected leave AND an additional 24 weeks of unpaid family and medical leave each year

    ·  Requires 100% of employee wages to be paid 100% by employers while employee is on leave

     



  • March 25, 2019 9:48 AM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    Action Alert:  Hearing on Paid Family & Medical Leave Bill
    on March 25th


    Mark your calendars for the first round of paid family & medical leave hearings

    When: Monday, March 25th at 6:00 PM
    Where: The Oregon Capitol (900 Court St NE, Salem, OR 97301)
    Who: Public and private employers with 1+ employees

     
    On Monday, March 25th, the House Business & Labor Committee and Senate Workforce Committee plan to host a joint public hearing on a paid family & medical leave bill that would SIGNIFICANTLY alter Oregon’s business climate.
     
    As national competitiveness rankings have shown, doing business in Oregon is often costlier and more difficult than running the same business in other states. With every workplace mandate the Legislature has passed, the competitive distance between Oregon and other states has increased.
     
    We understand the intent of this bill.  However, the proposals establish impractical requirements on businesses, large and small, and will cost Oregonians billions!
     
    HB 3031

    • Applies to employers with 1+ employees
    • Mandates 32 weeks of paid and protected family and medical leave each year
    • Creates state-run family insurance program administered by DCBS
    • Establishes new payroll tax of up to 1% to pay for the family-leave insurance:
      • 0.5% paid by employers
      • 0.5% paid by employees

    Oregon’s small businesses are still scrambling to comply with the state’s minimum wage increases, paid sick leave law and the new equal pay law.  Now is NOT the time pass cadillac family and medical leave proposals that would further burden local businesses. 
     
    Proponents for this bill are planning to turn out hundreds of people on March 25th.  We need your help to show that Oregon employers have had enough and can’t bear the costs of these workplace mandates!  Please plan on attending Monday’s hearing AND sending a letter to policymakers about your opposition to HB 3031.
     


  • March 12, 2019 6:40 AM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    What's Happening (OSCC Political Observations)

    What a week!

    First off, Senate President Peter Courtney takes a 10-day 'medical leave' to deal with the stress of the session and its impact on his Grave's Disease. There is wide speculation that he may not return. We aren't able to separate fact from fiction at this point, so our assumption is that he will return. If he does not return, the trajectory of the session and the Democrats' ability to pass major progressive legislative priorities is certainly imperiled.

    The second major event of the week was the release of the Ways & Means Co-Chairs' 2019-21 budget blueprint. The budget proposal only left K-12 and Medicaid harmless. All other state programs, including early education, higher education, and CTE were cut short of 'current service levels.' The hue and cry that ensued, primarily from the government employee unions and higher education advocates, added more fuel and momentum for additional business taxes.

    Finally, we have grown increasingly concerned that SAIF Corporation will indeed be targeted for a raid of its workers' compensation claims reserves to buy down PERS rates for K-12. We have reached this conclusion as it has become clear that any increase in business taxes will be absorbed almost totally by increased PERS costs within two short years. This would make it much less likely that business and/or voters would approve of any additional taxes.

    We are getting the distinct impression that Democratic leadership will try and force a choice to buy down PERS rates: either suspend the $748 million personal 'kicker' and divert it to paying down PERS rates for K-12 schools or face the prospect of taking a similar amount out of SAIF's reserves.

     

    Activity on Major Issues

    • Cap & Trade. (HB 2020) We are expecting brand new amendments, and perhaps a total re-write of the bill, to be unveiled the week of March 18th. We are not anticipating major improvements to the bill, but because the amendments are being closely guarded, we are unsure of what the new amendments will include.
       
    • Independent Contractors. (HB 2498) OSCC was very successful in getting quick grassroots feedback into the House Rules Committee in opposition to HB 2498. As a quick reminder, HB 2498 would have turned Oregon's independent contracting laws upside down, jeopardizing thousands of jobs.  OSCC joined several other business organizations to testify last Monday. We were joined by Keizer Chamber's Dan Kohler, who spoke about about the detrimental impacts to insurance, funeral home, and salon contractors. The Committee is weighing options as it considers a different path forward. Thank you to Bend Chamber and all who weighed in!
       
    • Corporate Tax Increases. It is becoming clearer that the Revenue Subcommittee of the Joint Student Success Committee is starting to hone in on a new Commercial Activities Tax (CAT) as the basis for adding new revenue to the state's K-12 system. There is an outside chance the committee may support a Business Activity Tax (which allows deductions for capital expenditures), but early indications are that Democratic leadership is favoring the CAT, which in its current modeling, would be a straight 0.48% tax against a company's topline sales. This would be in addition to Oregon's corporate income tax. The subcommittee is clearly trying to raise a net $1 billion extra per year from Oregon companies.
       
    • Lawsuit Damages. (HB 2014) OSCC testified alongside local physicians and health care providers against HB 2014 in the House Committee on Judiciary. 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.

     

    Other Key Issues Coming up This Week

    • Employment contracts. (HB 2489) OSCC is closely watching HB 2489, which would substantially shift the relationship between employers and employees in Oregon. The bill eliminates an employer's ability to enforce agreements if they aren't written and disallows employment contracts of longer than two years. A preliminary hearing is scheduled this week in House Business and Labor. 
    • OregonSaves penalties. (SB 164) This bill is tentatively scheduled for a work session on Thursday. SB 164 would add penalties to the Oregon Retirement Savings Program, which passed in 2015. OSCC worked with the Treasury and other business stakeholders to address our concerns with the initial bill, and these changes will be reflected in a -3 amendment. 
    • Age discrimination. (HB 2818) The House Committee on Business and Labor is planning to host a hearing on HB 2818 on Wednesday. This bill makes it clear that employers may not screen job applicants based on age and adds new and substantial penalties to violation of age discrimination laws.

     

    ACTION ALERTS


     


  • March 04, 2019 10:51 AM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    East Portland Chamber of Commerce

    March Government and Economic Committee Meeting

    – What is going on in the Oregon Legislative Session  

    Hear J.L. Wilson, PUBLIC AFFAIRS COUNSEL  & Ashley Henry, Executive Director for BUSINESS FOR A BETTER PORTLAND

     Location: Adventist Medical Center –

    10123 SE Market St, Portland OR 97216;   

    Main Hospital Building Lower Level, Conference Room

    Date and Time: March 13, 2019 @ 7:30 am

    Whatever your city and state representatives do at City Hall or in Salem, it affects business. The more you know, the better you can plan, prepare and influence. Today's speakers will share information that will enable you to do just that!

    J.L. Wilson is the principal of Public Affairs Counsel, a Salem-based public affairs firm and a leading provider of government affairs, campaign, association management and survey research services for 37 years. Prior to joining Public Affairs Counsel in 2014, Wilson had a 15-year history in association management as past Executive Director of NFIB/Oregon and past Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at Associated Oregon Industries. Wilson has also been a full-time lobbyist representing business interests since 2000.  Before starting his career as an association manager and lobbyist, he served as Legislative Director for two Speakers of the Oregon House. 

    Ashley Henry, Executive Director for Business for a Better Portland will be speaking. Ashley leads the organization’s efforts to engage Portland’s business leaders in the civic processes that shape the direction of the city. She is passionate about ensuring that our community’s business leaders are connected with strategic opportunities to bring greater shared prosperity to all Portlanders. Just five months after launching BBPDX, the organization was recognized by the Portland Business Journal as one of the region’s Top 25 Chambers of Commerce. Ashley was also personally named as “One of 18 To Watch in 2018” by the Portland Business Journal.
     
    April 10 - Dr. Lisa Skari, MHCC & Dr. Jessica Howard, PCC


  • March 04, 2019 10:08 AM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    2019 Legislative Report - Week 6

    Dear OSCC members and colleagues -

    What's Happening (OSCC Political Observations)

    The legislature continues to be a very tumultuous and uncertain place. The Senate is currently mired in a leadership struggle as a handful of progressive Democrats and some Republicans are looking to topple Senate President Peter Courtney. This leadership struggle is taking up precious bandwidth in the Senate and is bogging down the process as Senators are more focused on the leadership issues than anything else.

    The death of Secretary of State Dennis Richardson this past week also cast a pall over the session, both emotionally and from a process standpoint. The Governor has the lawful ability to appoint a successor to the late Secretary Richardson, and has stated her intention to find a 'placeholder' who will promise not to run for election in 2020.

    This upcoming week is going to represent a major milestone in the 2019 session as the 'Co-Chairs Budget' will be released. This is the legislative response to the Governor's budget that shows how state budget writers would craft the state budget with available resources. It is the first key budget blueprint that shows how the state's money would be allocated without any additional tax increases. The 'Co-Chairs Budget' provides the budgetary foundation for all additional tax and revenue discussions. Usually, it will spawn advocacy for additional taxes and budget investments.

    Activity on Major Issues

    • Cap & Trade hearings provided a dose of reality.  Hearings in the past week in Newport, Baker City, The Dalles, and Bend provided lawmakers with the stark reality that not all Oregonians are clamoring to pay more for their gasoline, natural gas or electricity to put only a very miniscule dent in Oregon's greenhouse gas reductions. In what was expected to be a showcase for the organizing strength of the environmental activists, something else happened....regular working Oregonians showed up and voiced their displeasure with HB 2020 and its associated costs.
    • Medicaid taxes passed. Final passage of the first major Medicaid funding bill, HB 2010, happened this past week. The bill raised over $500 million and will go a long way to closing the state's $623 million budget gap. OSCC issued a floor letter on HB 2010. Our intention was to make sure that legislators understood that HB 2010 will raise over $291 million per biennium from local businesses. It was the first major business cost increase from the 2019 session.
       
    • Rent control passed. The statewide rent control bill, SB 608, also passed the House and became law as Governor Brown quickly signed the bill. It is the first statewide rent control bill in the nation and limits annual rent increases to 7% plus CPI on buildings over 15 years old.
    • OSCC opposed HB 3022 which overturns Oregon's landmark workers' compensation reforms. OSCC testified against HB 3022 last week, a bill that would have reversed many key, cost-saving provisions in Oregon's workers' compensation system. Before 1990, Oregon had the highest frequency of workplace injury claims, third highest medical costs, and sixth highest premium costs. Today, we have some of the lowest rates in the country and safety programs that help reduce workplace injuries. Oregon's workers' compensation insurance system is one of the last remaining competitive advantages for Oregon companies and OSCC will vigilantly safeguard the system from being compromised.
       
    • Oregon revenue forecast added another $67 million to state coffers for the upcoming 2019-21 budget cycle. The state is experiencing a rush of short-term revenue that will slightly ease the budget crunch for the upcoming budget cycle. The "kicker" rebate projection was also increased to a whopping $748 million.

     

    Other Key Issues Coming up This Week

    • Independent Contractors. (HB 2498) On Monday afternoon, the House Rules Committee will consider importing California's troubled Dynamex decision. In April 2018, the California Supreme Court determined that independent contractors must meet a new strict "ABC" test in order to maintain their status. That decision impacted 2 million independent contractors in California, making them employees! Now Oregon is looking to follow suit. HB 2498 would add a new test to Oregon's independent contractors: "Do you provide a service different from the business you are working for?" If the answer is "no," HB 2498 would reclassify you as an employee of the business. Implications are broad-doctors, hairstylists, insurance agents, realtors, and many others will be impacted if HB 2498 passes.
    • Lawsuit Damages. (HB 2014) This bill is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Committee on Judiciary this Tuesday. 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 have traditionally opposed this legislation because it is a significant factor in driving up health care costs and general liability costs for employers.
    • Transient Lodging Taxes for workforce housing. (SB 595) This may clear its first hurdle this week in the Senate Housing Committee. SB 595 would allow local governments to use previously dedicated TLT funds and apply them to local workforce housing development. Currently, 70% of these revenues are statutorily dedicated to tourism and tourism promotion. If the committee approves the bill, it will be forwarded to the Senate Finance & Revenue Committee.
    • OregonSaves penalties. (SB 164) This bill is scheduled for a work session on Thursday. SB 164 would add penalties to the Oregon Retirement Savings Program, which passed in 2015. OSCC worked with the Treasury and other business stakeholders to address our concerns with the initial bill, and these changes will be reflected in a -2 amendment.

     

    ACTION ALERT

    • OSCC has issued an ACTION ALERT for HB 2020 (Cap & Trade) for all legislators. PLEASE RESPOND ASAP WITH YOUR MESSAGE. To date, OSCC has generated 174 letters to legislators on this bill, well short of our goal of 1,000.
    • OSCC has issued an ACTION ALERT for SB 379 (Workplace Marijuana Accommodation) in the Senate. PLEASE RESPOND ASAP WITH YOUR MESSAGE TO SENATORS! (Senators only) To date, OSCC has generated 72 letters to Senators on this legislation, well short of our goal of 250.

     



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