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Oregon State Chamber

Received November 30, 2018

R

Governor introduces proposed
 2019-21 budget and policy agenda

Dear OSCC members and colleagues -

On Wednesday, Governor Brown issued her proposed 2019-2021 budget and policy agenda. The Governor's recommended budget includes $23.6 billion in spending, including $2 billion in new revenue for schools that would be raised in the 2019 session. The Governor also outlines a strategy to cover $623 million to fund the Medicaid budget, including provider taxes, cigarette taxes, and employer assessments. Highlights are below.

Budget highlights:

  • $133 million additional investment for career technical education/ Measure 98 
  • $406.1 million for affordable and stable housing 
  • Health care/ Medicaid funding 
    • Hospital assessment - Increase the hospital assessment from 5.3 to 6% of net patient revenue (Revenue: $98 million) 
    • Provider tax - Extend 2% premium assessment and expand it to include stop-loss coverage (Revenue: $410 million) 
    • Subsidized employer assessment (Revenue: $119.5) 
    • Cigarette tax

Policy priorities:

  • Cap-and-trade
  • Dissolve the Oregon Department of Energy and replace the agency with a new Oregon Climate Authority that will assume responsibilities for cap-and-trade and clean energy. 
  • Subsidized Employer Assessment (from above) - tax employers who do not meet threshold health care contributions for their workers (i.e. those who work 30 hours a week at firms with 50 or more employees who are enrolled in OHP).

For additional information, read the 48-page report here. 

ALL OSCC members are invited to start our 2019 legislative priorities discussion with our first Government Affairs call starting at 9:30 AM on Friday, December 14th. We will be holding regular bi-weekly government affairs calls every other Friday at 9:30am (Dec 28, Jan 11, Jan 25, etc). We are seeking input from ALL OSCC members. Due to significant changes in the legislature, and significant changes in the politics of the state, we will not be going into the 2019 session with a pre-planned agenda.  
Best regards,

JL Wilson & Jenny Dresler

Legislative Counsel

jlwilson@pacounsel.org

jenny@pacounsel.org

503-363-2182

Received November 21, 2018

BOLI releases final Pay Equity Rules

Dear OSCC members and colleagues -

This week, the Bureau of Labor and Industries released the final rules to implement HB 2005, Oregon's Equal Pay Act, that was adopted by the 2017 Legislature. Find a copy of the final rules here. 

Please note that the effective date for this law is January 1, 2019. When the bill was negotiated in 2017, provisions were included to give employers a partial defense against compensatory and punitive damages if they perform an Equal Pay Analysis described in statute. This analysis must be completed before a private right of action is filed against an employer in order to be eligible for the protections the Equal Pay Analysis offers. 

In addition to releasing final rules, BOLI issued technical assistance to assist employers with compliance. We encourage OSCC members to review and share this technical assistance webpage. 

With approximately six weeks until the effective date of this sweeping new law, we know that employers are grappling with how to comply. Last week, OSCC joined several business associations on a letter to legislative leadership and the incoming Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner asking for a 1-year delay of the punitive enforcement measures of the new pay equity law. We will keep you updated as we hear from legislators. 

OSCC will follow up with additional technical resources as this new law rolls out. 

Best regards,

JL Wilson & Jenny Dresler

Legislative Counsel

jlwilson@pacounsel.org

jenny@pacounsel.org

503-363-2182

 

November 14, 2018: Click for OSCC Member News Letter

Received November 7, 2018

 Democrats, Unions, Progressives Score Historic 2018 Midterm Victories in Oregon

Dear OSCC members and colleagues -

Oregon's dominant political coalition of progressive organizations scored resounding victories across the board on Election Night as they pushed nearly all of their candidates and ballot measures to victory. The victories were decisive and total.

In addition to pushing Governor Brown to victory, the progressive coalition added one Democratic to their Senate majority and a whopping three house seats to their House majority. Democrats now have 'supermajorities' in both chambers.

Governor:  Republican Knute Buehler (R), once thought to be the perfect challenger to an unpopular Governor Kate Brown (D) due to his moderate and progressive stances, was no match for the incumbent. Governor Brown easily won re-election 50% - 44%.

Bottom line:  Governor Kate Brown (D) wins re-election to 4-year term.

State Senate:  As expected, Democrats expanded their majority in the State Senate by one seat. The open southern Oregon senate seat vacated by Republican Alan DeBoer was easily won by Democrat Jeff Golden, who was a former Jackson County Commissioner. Again, this was another instance in which Republicans thought they had their ideal moderate candidate in local tech CEO Jessica Gomez, but Golden won 55% - 45%. This expands the Democratic majority in the Senate to 18-12, which theoretically enables them to pass taxes without Republican support.

As of this writing, incumbent senator Chuck Thomsen (R - Hood River) is clinging to a 660 vote margin in Senate District 26. This is the last outstanding race that will give Republicans any relevance at all in the Oregon legislature for the next two years. If Thomsen wins, Republicans may be able to team up with moderate Democrats to block taxes and far-reaching policies. If they lose - and the Senate Democrat majority expands to 19-11 - they will effectively lose their ability to stop or modify anything.

Bottom line:  Democrats expand majority from 17-13 to 18-12.

State House:  This is where Democrats scored their most stunning victories of the night and expanded their majority by three seats. Democrats now hold a commanding 38-22 majority and can effectively pass legislation and taxes at will.  To gain their newly-minted supermajority, they easily knocked out the three most vulnerable House Republicans and defended their own vulnerable incumbents comfortably. 

Democrat Courtney Neron scored the biggest surprise of the night when she defeated freshman Republican Rich Vial 51% - 47% in House District 26 (Washington County). In Hood River, Anna Williams defeated freshman Republican legislator Jeff Helfrich 52% - 47%. In West Linn/Tualatin, Democrat Rachel Prusak defeated four-term incumbent Julie Parrish 53% - 47%.

Bottom line:  Democrats expand majority from 35-25 to 38-22.

Ballot Measures:  Unions and progressives easily defeated a slate of ballot measures that were proposed by the business community (Measures 103 & 104) and social conservatives (Measure 105 & 106). But in a measure with the biggest impact on business and consumers, environmental groups were successful in passing a gross receipts tax on large retailers to pay for environmental programs (Portland Measure 26-201).

Measure 102 allows for private ownership and management of housing projects funded through local bond levies. Private involvement was previously prohibited.  Measure passed with 56%. OSCC Supported.

Measure 103 would have pre-empted all state and local taxes on groceries. It was defeated with 57%. OSCC Supported.

Measure 104 would have required 3/5th "supermajority" votes in the legislature for all revenue raising legislation. It was soundly defeated with 65% opposed. OSCC Supported.

Measure 105 would have repealed Oregon's sanctuary state law. It was defeated with 63% opposition.

Measure 106 would have prohibited the practice of taxpayer funds for abortion procedures for Medicaid recipients. It was defeated with 64% opposed.

Portland Measure 26-201 imposed a gross receipts tax on large retailers in Portland and directed new tax revenues to a "Clean Energy" fund. Estimated to raise between $30 million and $80 per year, it easily passed muster with Portland voters with a whopping 64%. 

Bottom line:  Progressives mount successful defense of all ballot measures and pass sweeping new gross receipts tax in Portland for "large" retailers.

Best regards,

JL Wilson & Jenny Dresler

Legislative Counsel

jlwilson@pacounsel.org

jenny@pacounsel.org

503-363-2182


Received October 30, 2018


Election day approaching - show your
support for Measures 103 and 104

Dear OSCC members and colleagues -

We are one week out from the election and we need your help!

OSCC has given our official endorsement to Measure 103 and Measure 104 and now we are in the final days to support these campaigns to pass these critical measures.                                        

Here's what you can do

  • Send a message to your members asking for their support. You can learn more about these measures by visiting VoteYESon103.com and YESon104.com.
     
  • Review the Yes on 103 one-pager and Yes on 104 one-pager and share them with your members and community.
     
  • Most importantly, vote YES on Measure 103 and Measure 104 and return your ballot by November 6th. 

The last day to mail your ballot is Wednesday, October 31st. After that, ballots should be returned to an official election drop box. Click here to locate a drop box near you.

By supporting these measures, OSCC is standing with Oregon's businesses and families. Every vote matters and every vote will make the difference this election. 

 Best regards,

JL Wilson & Jenny Dresler

Legislative Counsel

jlwilson@pacounsel.org

jenny@pacounsel.org

503-363-2182

 



Received October 19, 2019

Support pro-business issues this election

Dear OSCC members and colleagues -

Ballots are now being mailed and now is the time to re-double our efforts to support pro-business issues!

Five times in the last 10 years there have been efforts to put a tax on groceries in Oregon.

What you see day-in and day-out through your work and in our community brings home the need for us to act permanently to keep our groceries tax free in Oregon.

We are supporting the effort called, "Vote YES on Measure 103! Keep Our Groceries Tax Free." Watch this two minute video explaining this effort.

Yes! Keep Our Groceries Tax Free - Informational Ad - Our Mission.

Yes! Keep Our Groceries Tax Free - Informational Ad - Our Mission.

YES! KEEP OUR GROCERIES TAX FREE is:

  • Simple: It keeps all groceries free from any taxes based on sales from farm to fork regardless of the size of the business.
     
  • Specific: Groceries are defined as any raw or processed food or beverage for human consumption excluding alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco.
     
  • Permanent: This is a constitutional amendment to prevent the Legislature or local governments from reversing or tampering with the Measure. It permanently removes their ability to pass a tax on groceries!

Earlier this year, the city council in St. Helens, OR attempted to implement a tax on groceries. Citizens responded by passing a local referendum identical to Measure 103 - 89% Yes to 9% No to permanently prohibit any sales tax on groceries in their city. Let's extend this protection statewide by passing Measure 103.

Thank you in advance for helping all Oregonians.

YES! KEEP OUR GROCERIES TAX FREE is a winner with your support.

Attached, please find additional information about what the opponents are saying and why their claims are false.  

Again, ballots are now in the mail. Measure 103 will pass if local chambers can mobilize their members and their community!

 

Best regards,

JL Wilson & Jenny Dresler

Legislative Counsel

jlwilson@pacounsel.org

jenny@pacounsel.org

503-363-2182

 


Received October 12, 2018


OSCC endorses Measure 104

Dear OSCC members and colleagues -

Join OSCC and Oregon's business community in supporting a crucial ballot measure this November. Measure 104 is a constitutional amendment that would help protect Oregon businesses against easy tax hikes.  

OSCC have given the measure our official endorsement and now we need to work with the Oregon business community to support the campaign to pass it. 
 
According to Oregon's constitution, a 3/5 supermajority vote is required on all legislation that raises revenue. But, politicians have introduced dozens of bills during the past two legislative sessions that would circumvent this requirement. 
 

Many of these proposals would have impacted middle-class families and small businesses. A few examples include:

  • The Oregon legislature attempted to eliminate the home mortgage interest tax deduction for many taxpayers - a toll that provides over a half-million Oregon households a deduction on their state income taxes. They also considered a proposal to eliminate property tax deductions and other legislation damaging to homeowners. (HB 2006-2017)
  • Oregon politicians have long been in pursuit of a carbon tax, known as cap and trade. The legislation would require Oregon companies to pay a tax on carbon emissions which would hurt consumers by substantially increasing the costs of transportation, food and utilities, while also resulting in job losses. Politicians attempted this without a supermajority vote and without providing Oregonians evidence that it would result in reduced carbon emissions.
    (SB 965- 2015; SB 1070- 2017; HB 4001- 2018)
  • Most concerning, the legislature robbed thousands of Oregon small businesses of recent federal tax cuts by disconnecting from the federal tax code - raising $244 million in new revenue from Oregon small businesses on a simple majority vote. (SB 1528- 2018)

Each of these proposals could have been passed with a simple majority - not the three-fifths majority vote envisioned by Oregon voters.  

Ballot Measure 104 ensures that any legislation that raises revenue requires a three-fifths majority vote. This includes fees or the elimination of tax exemptions, deductions or credits - making it clear that Oregonians are done with politicians working behind closed doors to increase taxes. 
 
You can help by contributing to the campaign today.
 
Donate online by clicking here or use this donation form to send with a check.
 
Thank you in advance for your generous support for the A Tax is a Tax Committee. Your donation will help us pass Measure 104 to protect Oregon businesses from unfair tax hikes.

 

Best regards,

JL Wilson & Jenny Dresler

Legislative Counsel

jlwilson@pacounsel.org

jenny@pacounsel.org

503-363-2182

Received October 4, 2018

Help OSCC weigh in on BOLI Rulemaking for the Oregon Equal Pay Act

Dear OSCC members and colleagues -

In 2017, the Oregon legislature adopted the most comprehensive pay equity legislation in the country. That law, HB 2005, passed unanimously in both chambers after the original legislation was amended as part of a compromise between business and labor representatives. The law will go into full effect in January 2019 and reform the way employers consider payroll and communicate with their employees about compensation. As recent articles have suggested, it is incredibly COMPLICATED. To learn more about what you will need to do to comply, click here.

What do you need to know as a business owner or Human Resources professional?

  • As of October 2017, it is no longer legal to ask a job applicant for prior salary history. 
  • An employer may not lower the wages of employees to bring their overall compensation structure into compliance with the law.
  • Beginning on January 1, 2019, the law requires that employees be paid equally for comparable work regardless of protected class status. Additionally, there are specific requirements regarding communications with employees and applicants about compensation. Once the draft BOLI rules are finalized, businesses have until the end of 2018 to review employee handbooks, new hire processes, and pay practices to move towards compliance.
  • CORRECTION: A private right of action is triggered on January 1, 2019 for the bill, except for questions about past compensation (For that section, civil penalties are triggered in 2024). This means that businesses have a VERY SHORT window to get in to compliance before employee lawsuit provisions come in to play! 

 Help OSCC weigh-in during the rulemaking process.

 Although the language of the bill isn't up for debate in the rulemaking, BOLI's interpretation is. BOLI is accepting comments until October 12, 2018 at 5pm.

We are asking chambers to submit comments on the rulemaking. Please click here to see suggested talking points and a draft letter. Comments can be sent directly to Christine Lewis, BOLI Legislative Director at christine.e.lewis@state.or.us. Feel free to cc your state representative and/or senator on your comments.

This law is complicated and comprehensive. OSCC will need all-hands-on-deck to address any issues with implementation in the 2019 session.

 Best regards,

JL Wilson & Jenny Dresler

Legislative Counsel

jlwilson@pacounsel.org

jenny@pacounsel.org

503-363-2182

 

Oregon State Chamber of Commerce
503-363-2182 
867 Liberty Street NE, Salem 97301


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