After 75 minutes of debate and motions, the full Ways & Means Committee has just passed SB 1530, the Cap-and-Trade bill.
Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) voted with Republicans on all amendments and in opposition to the bill. Ordinarily, this would result in the failure of the bill due to a 6-6 tie from the Senate committee members. Senate President Peter Courtney was added to the Committee roster today and broke the tie on the bill, allowing it to pass.
Senate Republicans moved several amendments, including an amendment to refer SB 1530 to the voters for the November 2020 election. All amendments failed.
Today's committee vote will trigger a 'walkout' from Senate Republicans, who have made it clear their intention to deny quorum to defeat the legislation. House Republicans are also indicating they may follow suit.
Despite the walkout, legislative committees will continue to meet and pass legislation. However, the Senate will not be able to vote on legislation due to lack of quorum. The same would hold true for the House if House Republicans also denied quorum.
By Constitution, the short session must be completed by 11:59 pm on Sunday, March 8th. Legislation not passed by that time is considered dead and must start again, either in a special session or in the 2021 long session.
We are now done with the first two weeks of the 2020 session. There are three weeks to go before the constitutional end date of March 8th. It was an extraordinarily busy week as most bills were scheduled for hearing or some sort of consideration. As of right now, most of the 250 bills that were introduced in the 2020 session are still alive. By our count, only 50 bills are formally dead.
Some good news: The quarterly revenue forecast was released on Wednesday. State revenues are expected to increase yet another $183 million. Revenues have increased an astounding $675 million since the 2019 Close-of-Session forecast which was the basis for the final 2019-2021 budget.
Now for the reality check: The 2020 session could very well come to a grinding halt this week. Democrat leadership will push Cap-and-Trade (SB 1530) out of the Ways & Means Committee on Tuesday, which means it could be on the Senate floor as soon as Thursday. At this point, we have every reason to believe that Senate Republicans will leave the capitol to deny quorum. Things could get very interesting by the end of the week as many possibilities could unfold, including (1) 11th hour dealmaking to lower the temperature and keep the session on track, although it's hard to see how this would include Republicans providing a quorum to vote on Cap-and-Trade, (2) House Republicans may also elect to leave the capitol in a show of solidarity, and (3) the Governor exploring "emergency" powers to pass Cap-and-Trade without a quorum.
It should also be noted that the politics of Cap-and-Trade are already baked. There is no business group or interest group that is going to alter the outcome - or negotiate a truce - except for the environmental lobby or Timber Unity.
Other than SB 1530, we continue to believe our biggest threat is House Bill 4010, which would effectively eliminate all state tax incentives for Opportunity Zones. The Oregon Education Association is imploring House Democrats to eliminate them. Bottom line: If you care about Opportunity Zones, Chambers need to say something! Either put your testimony on the record at email@example.com or let your Representative and Senator know that local communities oppose this bill!
Here's a rundown of key OSCC Issues:
Bill of the Week - SB 1525:
We are now done with the first week of the 2020 session. There are four weeks to go before the constitutional end date of March 8th. It was an extraordinarily busy week as most bills were scheduled for hearing or some sort of consideration.
Some observations of the first week: (1) Senate President Courtney has a serious health condition and is not certain to be in the capitol. This could have major implications on key votes and also has major implications for key negotiations, (2) relationships are already showing signs of strain, and (3) the Timber Unity rally on Thursday was impactful and emboldened Republican lawmakers in their strong stance on Cap & Trade legislation.
Friday was the first significant deadline of session. If a bill was not scheduled for further consideration by Friday evening, then that bill is considered dead. Unfortunately, this only claimed about 20 of the 250 bills that were introduced. Legislative leadership has become very proficient at maneuvering bills to keep potential agenda items alive until the very end. However, one key bill opposed by OSCC has died (see below).
OSCC had a very busy week with its priorities.
As of today, we believe our biggest threat is House Bill 4010, which would effectively eliminate all state incentives for Opportunity Zones. Democrats in the House appear poised to eliminate them. Bottom line: If you care about Opportunity Zones, you'd better say something.
Ø Cap-and-Trade (SB 1530). Carbon cap-and-trade was the theme of the first week of session. The Senate President's office introduced SB 1530, which includes several changes from the failed HB 2020. First, it attempts (although unsuccessfully) to phase in the fuels tax, initially in the Portland Metro area and then in cities that store 10 million or more gallons of fuel. It's a surprisingly large number of cities. Second, the bill gives trade exposed natural gas users (certain manufacturers and farmers) 100% rate relief for the first three years of the program. After 2025, these manufacturers must conduct an energy system management audit and make any state-required energy efficiency investments in order to qualify for bill credits. Homes that use natural gas will see a 7% increase in their rates in 2022, and most propane users receive no protection from rate impacts due to cap-and-trade.
We are expecting SB 1530 to pass the Senate Environment & Natural Resources Committee this week and be sent to the Ways & Means Committee. At this time, Senate Republicans have signaled their intention to leave the capitol in order to block passage of this bill, but negotiations are ongoing. Some Senate Democrats do not appear to be willing to blow up the session over Cap & Trade. Senate President Courtney's absence also has implications here.
Ø Statewide Lodging Tax legislation (HB 4047) will make permanent the 1.8% statewide lodging tax rate that was passed in 2016. The rate was scheduled to be reduced to 1.5% this year, but in order to lock in the higher rate for statewide tourism promotion instead of other unrelated objectives, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association agreed to keep the rate at 1.8% so long as the money is dedicated to tourism promotion. OSCC testified in support of this bill Tuesday evening in the House Revenue Committee and will lobby legislators on it.
Ø Unemployment Benefits for Striking Employees (HB 4007). On Wednesday, the House Committee on Business & Labor will hold a public hearing and possible work session on HB 4007. HB 4007 upends Oregon law and ensures that striking employees are not disqualified from receiving unemployment. Most states do not allow workers on strike to collect unemployment benefits, including Oregon. Were HB 4007 to pass, it would levy significant costs on Oregon's public and private employers. OSCC strongly opposes this legislation.
Ø Real Estate Transfer Taxes (HJR 203). We've seen no activity on this measure which would repeal Oregon's ban on real estate transfer taxes.
Other Key Issues Coming Up This Week
Ø Technical Assistance for Employers (HB 4087). Last week, OSCC joined our local chambers in support of HB 4087. This bill would transfer civil penalty reserves to fund technical assistance for employers in Eastern Oregon and the free online publication of BOLI technical assistance and compliance manuals. OSCC supported the -1 amendment, and the business community worked with Commissioner Hoyle last week on sideboards to ensure that there isn't an incentive to increase penalties in the future. HB 4087 is scheduled for a work session to move the bill out of committee with amendments on Monday.
Ø Interfering with Non-Competes (SB 1527). This week, business and labor representatives sat down to negotiate a reasonable compromise to noncompete agreement legislation. Our biggest concern with SB 1527 was the dramatic shift in enforceability of an agreement from 18 months under existing law to only 6 months. There will likely be a middle ground at 12 months.
Ø Eliminating Opportunity Zones (HB 4010). OSCC joined cities and other economic development proponents on Wednesday night to testify in opposition to HB 4010, which would disconnect Oregon from the federal Opportunity Zone tax incentive that included in the federal 'Tax Cut and Jobs Act' passed by Congress in 2017. We've heard from many of our local chambers about the importance of maintaining Opportunity Zones as a tool to support local economic development. We view this as our biggest threat to date. If you want to preserve Opportunity Zones in your community, you need to speak up and send your testimony to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ø BOLI Screening of Employers/Employees (HB 4113). OSCC testified in opposition to HB 4113, which would require BOLI screening of all employers - and all employees - if there are minors employed in the workplace. The legislation appeared well intended - to protect minors from sex offenders or other criminals in the workplace - but OSCC testified that employers no longer have the tools to screen employees for criminal background and that it was unfair to subject employers to civil penalties and lawsuits if they themselves have no ability to screen employees for criminal backgrounds. OSCC is expecting an amendment this week from BOLI to address our concerns.
Casualties of the first deadline:
Ø Prevailing Wage Requirements in Economic Development Zones (HB 4045). HB 4045 died in committee on Friday. HB 4045 imposed public procurement requirements on projects within enterprise zones, strategic investment zones, and renewable energy investment 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. This bill would have jeopardized future economic development projects.
We need you to take a stand and oppose HOUSE BILL 4010, which would effectively eliminate all state incentives for Opportunity Zones. We view this as our biggest threat to date.
OSCC joined cities and other economic development proponents on Wednesday night to testify in opposition to HB 4010, which would disconnect Oregon from the federal Opportunity Zone tax incentive that included in the federal 'Tax Cut and Jobs Act' passed by Congress in 2017. We've heard from many of our local chambers about the importance of maintaining Opportunity Zones as a tool to support local economic development.
What are the risks of disconnecting? Disconnecting will create added complexity and confusion, particularly for the Oregon investor who is willing to focus on smaller and rural community projects in Oregon. The added complexity will also make it more difficult for local and regional agencies to establish programs that leverage the incentive to achieve broadly targeted goals. Disconnecting from the federal OZ incentive will not eliminate OZ’s in Oregon. Disconnection only changes the eligibility of Oregon tax payers to realize the capital gains incentives in future years for investments made in Oregon. Out of state tax payers or multi statecorporations can still invest in, and receive tax benefits from, Oregon’s OZ’s and Oregon investors can invest in out-of-state funds or properties in OZ’s in other states. How will disconnect affect local Oregon investors and taxpayers? As noted by the Legislative Revenue Office “Bottom line, only Oregon taxpayers are affected by a disconnect.”1 Disconnecting from the federal code will penalize Oregon investors. HB 4010 would treat Oregon investors differently, and will not give Oregonians investing in their own communities the same benefits as those who invest elsewhere, or out-of-state investors spending the same money in our communities. At-best, this will lead to out-of-state ownership and control of Oregon assets at the expense of local ownership and control. At worst, disconnecting Oregon from the federal tax code means no investment in our neediest areas. Disconnection may simply discourage Oregon taxpayers from making local investments in Oregon companies and properties. Any potential benefit of OZ’s will be lost, and place Oregon as the national outlier. Whether or not OZ’s incentivize investment that may not otherwise occur is an open question, but there is no question that Oregon’s disconnect can only disincentivize local investment by Oregon taxpayers.
If you want to preserve Opportunity Zones in your community, now is the time to speak up and send your testimony as soon as possible to:
PRESERVE OPPORTUNITY ZONES -
OPPOSE HB 4010
The first day of the 2020 legislative session is now in the books.
The 2020 Legislature introduced about 250 bills. Last week, the OSCC Government Affairs Committee and Board convened to develop the OSCC legislative priorities for 2020.
Yesterday, OSCC did the following:
Today, OSCC will be watching the following:
Cap-and-Trade hurts Oregonians across the state by saddling businesses and families with additional taxes and costs, ultimately harming our economy and way of life. This is a California-sized policy that would burden Oregonians with additional taxes and increased costs that impact everyday life.
Contact your senator.
2020 Legislative Priorities (Approved 1.31.2020) The 2020 OSCC Legislative Priorities represents the legislative priorities of Oregon’s local business communities as represented by the 80 local Chambers of Commerce members of the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce. The OSCC is organized to give a voice to the local business communities throughout Oregon in support of policies that enable business success, job growth and income growth in each of our local communities. We believe a healthy business climate, and the jobs that such a business climate creates, is the key to building up our local communities, adequately funding social services and making our state prosperous. The 2020 OSCC Legislative Agenda is a reflection of our collective desire to see that every Oregon community is able to grow and develop a vibrant local economy that can support each community’s needs. For 2020, OSCC requests that the Oregon legislature stay true to the intent of the short session by keeping focused on limited policy discussions, additional expenditures afforded by our growing economy, and policy adjustments stemming from the 2019 legislative session. The Members of the OSCC are united in support of: 1. Increased tourism investments (HB 4047) 2. Flexibility in administration of new CAT tax (HB 4009) 3. Investment in affordable housing & community – OAHTC & IDAs 4. Investment in local airports (HB 4036) 5. Investments in higher education 6. Investments in county fairgrounds 7. Additional BOLI Technical Assistance for Eastern Oregon (HB 4087) The Members of the OSCC are united in opposition to: 1. Cap-and-Trade (SB 1530) 2. Increasing the cost of private investment in Enterprise Zones (HB 4045) 3. Interfering with Employer/Employee non-compete agreements (SB 1527) 4. Unemployment benefits during labor disputes (HB 4007) 5. Elimination of Opportunity Zones (HB 4010) 6. Real Estate Transfer Taxes (HJR 203)
The Government and Economic Affairs committee is planning the meetings for the upcoming year!
To start off the year we are going to have Kyle Alexander, Atty, talk about legislative changes that can affect your business. A change on the Federal level in regards to overtime pay can be especially impactful to non-profits. We encourage you to join us on Jan. 8th at the Adventist Hospital conference room, lower level, to hear what he has to share and answer questions you have.
In February we will have Christian Kaylor, State of Oregon economist, join us to share what he sees happening in 2020. This meeting is our probably our most well-attended for the year and we'd love to have you join us.
This is an election year so we will have candidate forums coming up.
Beyond that we'd like to know what your concerns are in this economy. Do you have expertise in a particular are that you want to share with your fellow Chamber members?
We want to help our members get the most exposure possible to get full benefit from their membership in EPCC. Take advantage of the opportunities available to you through being a speaker, hosting a meeting at your business, or sharing what topics you'd like us to find speakers on!
Best wishes for a prosperous 2020!
Download 2019 EPCC Magazine
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