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Government Affairs 2017


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  • November 13, 2017 10:42 AM | Shelley Shirley (Administrator)


    Dear OSCC Members and Colleagues: 

    Several familiar faces in the Oregon Legislature have announced career shifts in recent months. The turnover at this stage midway through a term is unprecedented. It will significantly impact the 2018 legislative session and subsequent elections.

    Here is what we know.

    House of Representatives:

    Representative Ann Lininger (D-Lake Oswego) resigned in August to pursue a Clackamas County Circuit Court judgeship. The Multnomah County board of commissioners and Clackamas County board of commissioners chose Andrea Salinas, a labor union and environmental lobbyist, to fill the vacated seat.

    Representative Mark Johnson (R-Hood River) resigned to accept the position of CEO at Oregon Business & Industry. Mark's departure will be strongly felt by those of us who relish working with the "sensible middle" of legislators who combine 

    pro-business attitudes with an even temperament. His departure presents a pickup opportunity for Democrats in 2018 as this district slightly leans democratic.

    Representative John Huffman (R-The Dalles) resigned from his House seat on the 28th of October. We anticipated this development, since John has been seeking an appointment to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His successor is being considered now. We anticipate Mike Shirtcliff (R), founder of Advantage Dental, will be a leading candidate here in this conservative-leaning district.

    Representative Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) is rumored to be a leading candidate to fill the vacant Senate seat left by Ted Ferrioli. Rep. Bentz is highly regarded in the Capitol building. OSCC will be happy to continue working with Rep. Bentz should he transition to the Oregon Senate. This is a solidly Republican seat in eastern Oregon.

    Other legislators we know won't be returning include Sal Esquivel (R-Medford) and Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver).

    State Senate:

    Senator Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day) will be leaving the Senate now that he has been appointed to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. As both the Senate Republican Leader and one of the most tenured members of the Legislature, Senator Ferrioli's departure presents one of the two biggest impacts of the 2017 legislative shuffle. While Rep. Bentz is expected to fill Ferrioli's Senate seat, questions as to who may replace Ferrioli as the Republican Leader remain. Senate Republicans will hold an election this week for the leadership post.

    Senator Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin) was also nominated by Governor Brown for a position on the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. Senator Devlin is the legislature's chief budget architect and is considered one of the smartest and most experienced legislators in Oregon.  His departure will create the biggest void in the legislature as he leaves his post of Senate Co-Chair of the Ways & Means Committee.

    As of today, we understand that Sen. Lee Beyer (D-Springfield) and Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Beaverton) are leading contenders to fill this post.

    Devlin's seat has attracted considerable interest from potential replacements including former legislator Greg MacPherson, who is clearly the best candidate. What is not known, however, is how far the public employee unions will go to block MacPherson's appointment.

    Senator Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg). We continue to field question about Senator Kruse's future in the legislature. What we know at this point is that he has been removed from all Senate committees following allegations of inappropriate conduct from his colleagues. And to date, he has indicated that he will not be resigning. Senator Kruse is a very influential voice in health care politics and would leave a void in that area. Kruse's district is a safe Republican district that would yield another Republican senator pending any changes here.

    OSCC will continue to monitor legislative appointments and welcome incoming legislators to the Capitol. Stay tuned for further updates.

    Alison Hart
    Executive Director
    alisonh@oregonchamber.org
    503-231-5421

  • November 05, 2017 9:10 PM | Shelley Shirley (Administrator)


    Dear OSCC Members and Colleagues: 

    OSCC is closely watching several issues as we prepare for the 2018 Legislative Session.  

    Measure 101 Debate Coming to Your Chamber

    Measure 101 will be the subject of a special election on January 23rd. A "Yes" vote will preserve a 1.5% provider and health care insurance premium tax passed by the legislature during the 2017 session. A "No" vote will repeal the tax. At stake is between $222 and $333 million of state funding that is directed toward the state's Medicaid program - also known as the Oregon Health Plan - which funds health services for low income Oregonians. 

    Chambers need to understand the tension surrounding this issue as members will likely have strong feelings on both sides of the debate.

    You can expect your local hospitals and physicians groups to be in strong support of Measure 101. Preserving the 1.5% tax on providers and health insurance premiums keeps funding intact for the Oregon Health Plan. Proponents claim that as many as 350,000 Oregonians risk losing their health insurance if the tax is not preserved. In addition, keeping the tax intact will reduce uncompensated care and therefore reduce the costs that are shifted onto commercial and private ratepayers. Finally, proponents argue that eliminating the 1.5% provider and premium taxes will simply force the legislature to find $300 million elsewhere - perhaps in the form of other, less acceptable taxes.

    Opponents of Measure 101 will likely come from small business owners who don't appreciate a 1.5% tax ($145 million) on their already expensive insurance premiums. They observe the mismanagement of the Oregon Health Plan - including over 55,000 ineligible recipients being allowed to collect benefits and more recently, that the state overpaid $74 million for Medicaid services - and oppose higher taxes to fund a health care program that lacks integrity. Opponents argue that there is more than enough money in state government to account for the $222 - $333 million without requiring small employers to pay $145 million in additional taxes to keep the Medicaid program whole.

    Oregon PERS UAL Task Force 

    The Oregon PERS UAL Task Force released its final recommendations on November 1st. The task force was instructed by Governor Brown to generate $5 billion to pay down a portion of Oregon's unfunded liability. The recommendations from the group will likely inform and shape legislation in the 2018 short session.

    Recommendations include:

    • Reduce excess risk capital across state-controlled entities ($750 million - $1.5 billion): State Controlled entities hold cash and short-term investments to mitigate financial risk and maintain credit ratings. This money could be pooled at the state level and used in part to reduce UAL.
    • Create a new PERS investment fund for non-state employers (unknown revenue generation): Entities such as cities, counties and school districts hold excess cash in mostly short-term investment funds. This money could be pooled at the state level and invested in long-term, higher-yield accounts and revenues could be credited against those employers' UAL.
    • SAIF Corporation ($500 million or more):
    1. Transfer SAIF surplus capital to PERS or require investment in state notes for PERS.
    2. Require payments to PERS instead of payment of excise taxes or allocate future dividends to PERS.
    3. Sell SAIF to policyholders or investors.
    • Dedicate unanticipated revenue to PERS ($1.2 billion or more): Harvest revenue in excess of projections to PERS. Potential revenues could include capital gains tax, estate tax, lawsuit settlements, increased debt collections, and foreclosed properties.
    • Unclaimed property revenue ($200 million or more): The state could take ownership of unclaimed property after 10 years which currently amounts to $200 million but will grow as other unclaimed properties reach the 10-year threshold.
    • Reduce agency reserve funds (unknown revenue generation): The state could establish fund balance targets for agencies and transfer excess reserves to PERS.
    • Increase state alcohol revenues ($453 million or more): Oregon could increase excise taxes on beer and wine, shift to a demand-based pricing structure or implement commercial best practices.
    • Privatize public universities ($250 million - $1.5 billion): Research universities or the health science university could seek private backing to buy the university out of the public sphere. No philanthropic donor with the necessary assets and interest to undertake privatization has been identified.
    • Maximize financial value of real property assets ($128 million or more): The state could sell high value property such as the Portland State Office Building ($120 million) or other state-owned property ($8 million).
    • Natural resources ($330 million - $530 million or more):
    1. Undertake harvests on federal land and negotiate with the federal government to dedicate a portion of revenues to offsetting PERS costs.
    2. Increase the amount that private landowners pay toward fire suppression costs to save General Fund money that could be redirected to PERS.
    3. Increase the fee charged by the state when issuing future water rights.
    • Increase lottery revenue ($175 million or more): Expansion of offered lottery games will increase lottery revenue. Increased funds above a certain baseline could be assigned to PERS UAL. Lottery funds are constitutionally restricted in their use.
    • Rainy Day Fund ($200 million): Projected deposits into the Rainy Day Fund for the 2017-2019 biennium total $246 million. $200 million of those projections could be redirected to PERS instead.
    • Early sunsetting of Enterprise Zones and Urban Renewal districts.

    The PERS UAL Task Force's recommendations total $4.2 to $6.4 billion dollars. The feasibility of each option varies significantly, but OSCC expects several of the above concepts to be introduced as legislation in the 2018 session under the pretense of lowering PERS costs.

    Please see the full report linked below.

    2017 PERS Task Force Final Report

    PERS: Panel delivers ideas to cut pension deficit by $5 billion  (Oregon Live article)

    BOLI Rule Making on Work Week Caps

    BOLI proposed rules regarding the new limitations on work hours in manufacturing facilities passed by the 2017 legislature (HB 3458).

    House Bill 3458 limits the work week to 55 hours in exchange for fixing BOLI's interpretation that manufacturers must pay both daily and weekly overtime rates. HB 3458 clarified that manufacturers must pay the greater of either daily or weekly overtime, but not both.

    Here, you will find BOLI's proposed rules in addition to BOLI's new consent form that will be required for any manufacturing worker to work more than 55 hours (but no more than 60 hours) per week.

    'Cap & Trade' Debate Imminent for 2018

    'Cap & Trade' will be the issue with the largest implications for Oregon's business community. A $700 million annual tax levied on just over 100 companies will have significant impacts on business operations for those companies as well as substantial impacts on energy and transportation costs for all companies doing business in Oregon.

    We've prepared a short and comprehensive primer on the issue. The primer will be helpful in understanding the background, the process, and the implications for 'Cap & Trade' in Oregon.

    Click here to download 'Cap & Trade' primer: Cap and Trade Memo & Cap and Trade Who's Impacted

    Please feel free to reach out with thoughts or concerns regarding the items described in this email, as there are business implications for many of these proposals.

    Best regards,

    Alison Hart, Executive Director

    alisonh@oregonchamber.org

  • October 18, 2017 12:31 PM | Scott Hendison (Administrator)


    This came to the chamber from the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services.  

    Dear Lents Project Team and Interested Parties,

    BES has their draft 10-year strategic plan out for comment until the end of the month.  

    The Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) is in the final phase of completing a new Strategic Plan, which provides a framework to guide us as we make decisions and develop our programs and budgets during the next decade.

    The final draft Strategic Plan is available for review here: www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/article/659395

    You can share feedback on the final draft online here: www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/75136

    As you review the plan, keep in mind that this document is the beginning of an ongoing conversation with employees and stakeholders about how BES can best protect public health and the environment as we work together to create a more sustainable future for the community we serve.

    We intend for this plan to be a living document that will continue to improve as we improve over time.

    The review period for the final draft will end on October 30 at 5 p.m. 

    Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the development of this plan. 

    Your time, efforts and partnership are much appreciated!  Please reach out to dawn.uchiyama@portlandoregon.gov with any questions.

  • September 25, 2017 12:01 PM | Shelley Shirley (Administrator)


    Dear OSCC Members and Colleagues: 

    As summer is officially over and we have just completed the first Legislative Days preparing for the 2018 session, we are taking a moment to look back at the 2017 session.

    OSCC was very engaged on our Legislative Priorities. We have compiled a recap of those issues most pertinent to our Priorities, as well as a report card on legislative votes. 2017 Legislative Recap and Report Card.

    The 2017 session was unique. There were fewer votes in both legislative chambers on policy that impacted the business community than in past sessions. As described in the Legislative Recap, significant work, of which OSCC was a part, was done to stop many bills before they reached the floor for a vote in both legislative chambers.

    Thank you for your active participation and grassroots engagement throughout the 2017 session. Your efforts made a difference.

    Should you have questions or require further information, please reach out.

    Best regards,

    Alison Hart, Executive Director

    alisonh@oregonchamber.org

    503-231-5421 



  • September 18, 2017 10:37 AM | Shelley Shirley (Administrator)


    Dear OSCC Members and Colleagues: 

    There are a variety items we want to bring to your attention. Initiative Petitions are in full swing as the deadline for gathering signatures is October 5th for the November 2018 Ballot. Additionally, the Governor's PERS Task Force is running and up to full speed.

    Initiative Petitions

    The Business Coalition has launched two proactive Initiatives, which will both be filed late Thursday or early Friday.

    The first Initiative is to slow state spending growth and to pay off the state's PERS debt. See the press release from the Keeping Our Promises Coalition.

    The second Initiative clarifies the state Constitution on tax and fee increases in order to address the three-fifths requirement on revenue raising legislation. See the press release from A Tax is a Tax Committee.

    Oregon PERS Task Force

    The Oregon PERS Task Force is now in full swing. Governor Brown has directed the panel to come up with $5 billion in funds to pay down part of Oregon's $24.5 billion in unfunded liability. The task force IS NOT charged with reducing the cost of PERS.

    The Governor asked the PERS Task Force to generate ideas first, and determine their feasibility and political viability second. The group will meet again on October 13th before submitting a report to Gov. Brown on November 1st. The recommendations of the group will likely produce legislation for the 2018 session that could have widespread consequences.

    Please find a list of concepts that we compiled below:

    • Maximize marketing, sale and distribution of liquor, excise taxes on beer and wine. The task force discussed a 50-cent bottle surcharge on liquor but were less specific with regard to beer and wine.
       
    • OHSU $1 Billion in unrestricted funds: The task force has suggested looking into using these reserve funds and acting as backstop for OHSU if needed.
       
    • Rolling back limitations on city taxing authority with the requirement that a portion of additional revenues go to the state for UAL (marijuana tax, cigarette tax, etc.)
       
    • Tax on foreclosed properties: Counties currently use foreclosure tax funds to reimburse themselves for the cost of sale and any additional funds are disbursed to all taxing entities. The task force is considering repurposing foreclosure surpluses.
       
    • Restructuring the way that SAIF is managed. Ideas have been thrown out about using a portion of the dividend investment portfolio and using future dividends for Oregon's UAL. The task force acknowledged the harm this would cause employers.
       
    • Selling or leasing state lands, unclaimed property and other property: $100 million-500 million.
       
    • Increasing estate taxes: $10 million-50 million.
       
    • Shifting more fire suppression costs to forest land owners: $10 million-50 million per year.
       
    • Assigning capital gains tax above projections to PERS fund: $100 million-500 million per year during economic growth periods.
       
    • Taking interest earned on state funds from each fund and putting it in common pool: $50 million-100 million.
       
    • Increase games and introduce mobile phone games to the state Lottery: $100 million-$1 billion over 10 years.

    Below are several links if you would like to learn more about the task force and its members:

    Task Force panel member bios

    Recent article on the task force from the Bend Bulletin with partial list of concepts

    Don Blair explaining where Governor Brown's PERS Task Force is currently in its process

    Please let us know should you have any questions or need more information.

    Best regards,

    Alison Hart

    Executive Director

    alisonh@oregonchamber.org

    503-231-5421 

  • July 23, 2017 10:28 PM | Shelley Shirley (Administrator)


    Dear Members and Colleagues: 

    Unlike the 2015 and 2016 sessions which started at an explosive pace, the 2017 session returned to historical norms with a slow and cautious start.

    The two critical issues of the 2017 legislature were the need to balance a state budget that started in a $1.8 billion deficit as well as the need to pass a major transportation funding package. 

    By the opening gavel, there was no "master plan" to deal with the state's $1.8 billion budget deficit. Although Democrats held substantial majorities in both the House and the Senate, they didn't have the votes to pass either the necessary cuts, spending reforms, or potential taxes without Republican support. Bipartisan deal-making was needed. 

    In OSCC's view, the commitment to bipartisanship, particularly in the Senate, was the defining theme of 2017. From the beginning, Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) committed the Senate to bipartisanship in 2017 that had the effect of derailing many partisan issues that could have harmed sensitive negotiations around balancing the budget and passing a transportation funding plan. 

    Here's what happened:

    State budget gets balanced with no business taxes; PERS left off the table

    The $1.8 billion budget deficit rapidly improved over the course of the session. Due to positive revenue forecasts in February and again in May, the state realized an additional $400 million in tax revenue, lowering the effective budget deficit to $1.4 billion.

    But it was the solving of Oregon's Medicaid budget shortfall ($900 million) that allowed the legislature to get out of session without any general tax increases on businesses or the public. HB 2391 levied a variety of taxes on hospitals, medical providers and health insurance premiums that would raise nearly $600 million in new revenue and leverage additional federal dollars to lower the overall budget gap to less than $500 million. 

    The bill represented a significant sacrifice by hospitals and other health care providers and consumers. It effectively paved the way for the legislature to balance the budget without additional revenue or the need for any special sessions.

    In the wake of HB 2391, the legislature balanced the budget through modest program reductions, mostly by way of reducing the costs of 2016 voter-approved ballot measures on Career & Technical Education funding and Veterans' services funding.

    Finally, the legislature passed a cost reduction measure - SB 1067 - which responded to demands from the business community to reduce long term costs. SB 1067 stopped the practice of including automatic inflation increases for services and supplies in state budgets, capped state government employment at 1% of the general population, and eliminated jobs left vacant more than six months. All told the savings were projected near $200 million.

    What was conspicuously absent from the budget resolution was any additional reductions to the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS). Although the Senate deliberated on proposals to reduce PERS costs for over two months, the system remained untouched.

    The closest that the legislature came to PERS reform was SB 1068, which would have redirected 2% of employee contributions from the Individual Account Program to shore up the unfunded liability of the pension program. The bill was scored as a $400 million biennial cost savings to the program.

    But at the end of the day, Democrats would only agree to support SB 1068 if Republicans would agree to raise business taxes. No deal was made.

    Business avoids a major tax increase

    Very early in session, Senate Revenue Chair Mark Hass (D-Beaverton) signaled his desire to pass a major tax reform bill that would replace Oregon's corporate income tax with a gross receipts tax.

    Business groups had just scored a decisive victory in November with the defeat of Measure 97 - a $6 billion gross receipts tax on large businesses. But Chair Hass was still intrigued by the prospect of a scaled down gross receipts tax measure that might avoid the economic pitfalls of Measure 97.

    HB 2830 was the vehicle for Hass' tax reform effort. It would have created a gross receipts tax on all businesses with $3 million or more in Oregon sales and would have raised a little less than $1 billion in additional revenue for the upcoming 2017-19 budget. It took until early June for House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) to endorse the proposal. Up until that point, she had been holding out in the hopes for a tax plan that would raise closer to $4 billion. 

    But a comprehensive tax increase proposal needs a 3/5th supermajority approval from the legislature, meaning that at least one Republican was needed in each chamber to support the bill.

    Chair Hass abandoned his effort to pass HB 2830 in late June when it became clear that there were no Republican legislators willing to vote for the bill.

    The House Leadership quickly responded by passing a bill to increase taxes by $196 million on small business. HB 2060 eliminated the 'small business tax cut' passed by the 2013 legislature and passed by a bare majority in the House. But the Senate did not follow suit. By this time, the Senate had decided to balance the budget without additional revenue.

    Transportation funding package passes against all odds

    Rarely has there been an issue that combined such a universally acknowledged need (transportation infrastructure funding) with such massive political headwinds and pitfalls.

    Although nearly everyone acknowledged the need for added investment in Oregon's transportation infrastructure, nearly every interest group was prepared to defeat legislation if it did not meet their needs.

    Prior to the 2017 legislative session, the Legislative Assembly created the Joint Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization (JTPM) to develop a transportation policy and funding package for introduction during the 2017 session. The JTPM committee spent five months holding hearings across the state to take testimony from the public and local elected officials and to tour transportation facilities in preparation for assembling the legislation. Once the 2017 session began, the committee created five work groups to develop recommendations for highway preservation, traffic congestion, public transit, public safety, multimodal transportation, and accountability.

    Their work product was embodied in HB 2017 which threaded the needle - a 7-year, $5.3 billion transportation funding plan which addressed major maintenance and seismic needs, multi-modal investment, traffic congestion relief and public transportation funding. 

    The bill passed both chambers in the last days of session with bipartisan majorities. 

    Going forward ... what we are watching for

    • Will the balanced budget hold? Any significant reversal of economic fortunes or fluctuation in revenues could wreak havoc on the 2017-19 budget. Remember, the 2017-19 budget was balanced on the strength of record high revenues.
    • The 2017-19 budget may still yet be in trouble. At least one lawmaker is preparing a referendum on the hospital taxes and health insurance premium taxes in HB 2391. A statewide special election would be called in January 2018 if enough signatures are gathered to force an election.
    • Will the legislature start planning now for the 2019-21 budget cycle? OSCC believes the 2017 legislature largely postponed the major budget calamity for another two years. The painful decisions will come in 2019.
    • What will the public employee unions do on taxes? They are already collecting signatures for a "Son of 97" gross receipts tax ballot measure. But will they double down on a losing 2016 effort and a failed attempt to raise taxes in 2017?
    • How will the Hospitals react to being treated so poorly in 2017? After voluntarily agreeing to tax themselves to help solve the budget gap, lawmakers doubled down and implemented price controls on services rendered to public employees. The shoe may be on the other foot in 2019 as Hospital cooperation is needed to extend the hospital tax for another tough budget cycle.
    • Will the bipartisan cooperation in the Oregon Senate continue to hold? While the bipartisan tone produced some meaningful outcomes for the 2017 legislature, it also risks causing some severe backlash among traditional democratic constituencies that want more action on progressive policies.
    • The organized business community is undergoing significant transformation.  Associated Oregon Industries and the Oregon Business Association are now merged under the Oregon Business & Industry (OBI) name. It could result in significant business unification, or conversely, fracturing of the business community if OBI is perceived as too Portland-centric. The jury is out.   

    The 2018 legislative session will convene again February 5th

    The 2018 session is Constitutionally limited to 35 days. Session will convene Monday, February 5th with a legal end date of 11:59 pm on Sunday, March 11th.

    In the meantime, the legislature will convene for "legislative days" and committee meetings on September 18 - 20, November 13-15, and January 10-12.  

    To read OSCC's Legislative Session Recap on bills particular to the OSCC Legislative Priorities click here.

    We will continue with our Advocacy calls, however they will be once a month out of session. A schedule will be sent out in the near future.

    Thank you for all of your grassroots participation this session. It had a marked impact.

    Best regards,

    Alison Hart, Executive Director

    alisonh@oregonchamber.org

    503-231-5421 

  • July 11, 2017 9:47 AM | Shelley Shirley (Administrator)


    Dear OSCC Members and Colleagues -

    The legislature is now done. The Senate adjourned at noon on Friday and the House followed suit at 3:30 Friday afternoon.

    This is what happened in the final week of session that will impact local business communities.

    Labor Bills:

    BOLI Overtime Fix: House Bill 3458 was negotiated and passed with bipartisan majorities. It gives much needed relief to manufacturers and food processors from new BOLI regulations that required double overtime payments with employees who worked both 10+ hours per day and 40+ hours per week.

    But it also capped the work week on all manufacturers and food producers at 60 hours per week.

    Amendments were added that would allow up to 21 weeks of "undue hardship" that would allow food processing employees to work in excess of 60 hours per week. Seafood processors were exempted altogether.

    While this was not a perfect bill for manufacturers and food producers, it achieved a hard fought policy victory of remedying a BOLI rule that would have imposed significant cost increases on manufacturers and food producers.

    Predictive Scheduling: SB 828 passed with strong bipartisan support. The bill was watered down significantly to only apply to food service, retail and hospitality businesses with 500 or more employees. Business groups gain a statewide preemption on all local scheduling ordinances. It is OSCC's belief that the negotiated bill is a 'best case' scenario for Oregon businesses.

    Environmental Regulation:

    Cleaner Air Oregon: OSCC helped to totally defeat HB 2269, which would have increased Title V and ACDP fees to fund the new DEQ 'Cleaner Air Oregon' regulatory scheme. This was a total victory. DEQ's budget was also stripped of all money for the 'Cleaner Air Oregon' scheme.

    Diesel engine regulations: SB 1008 was watered down totally to include no additional on-road or off-road diesel engine regulation. Instead, the bill just allowed the state to receive Volkswagen settlement monies and spend $20 million on upgrading local school bus fleets.

    No additional environmental regulations passed. OSCC was cautious that the legislature might try to empower the Department of Energy to become the agency with direct responsibility for "Climate Change" policy and enforcement. Ultimately, that did not occur.

    Liability:

    Liability Costs / Damage Awards: All attempts to increase non-economic damage awards in civil lawsuits were defeated. The $500,000 limit on non-economic damages in civil lawsuits will stay in tact. HB 2807, which would have increased those limits to $10 million, was defeated in the final week of session. This issue, in particular, is testament to the power of staying vigilant. This issue was in play all 23 weeks of the legislative session, and we prevailed through persistence.

    Business Taxes:

    While the Oregon House narrowly approved HB 2060-A, which eliminated the 'small business tax cut' for employers with fewer than 10 full time employees, the Senate did not follow suit. The bill was effectively a $200 million tax increase on small business, but the Senate did not give the proposal any consideration in the final week.

    Chamber grassroots activism made all the difference here. The feedback from Chambers all over the state made HB 2060 unpalatable in the Senate.

    All attempts to raise business taxes in 2017 failed.

    State Government Cost Reductions:

    PERS Reform: All attempts to reform PERS were abandoned as legislative leadership threw in the towel on plans to pass a comprehensive tax increase. PERS reform and tax hikes were linked.

    Cost Containment: Senate Bill 1067 had some good provisions - eliminating automatic inflation increases for services and supplies in state budgets, slowing down the process for filling vacant state government jobs, and eliminating jobs that have been left vacant more than six months. The savings were about $100 million for the biennium.

    But the part of the bill that drew strong opposition from the business community was a limitation on health care reimbursements to hospitals for services rendered to public employees. This represents a $200 million cost shift onto the commercial market in addition to the $145 million health insurance premium tax that passed in HB 2391. 

    Transportation Package:
    House Bill 2017 - a 7-year, $5.3 billion transportation funding package - passed the legislature with strong bipartisan support in the final days. There are several new taxes in the bill - gas taxes, registration fee increases, new vehicle surtaxes, and payroll taxes. You can see a summary of the bill here.

    OSCC will be holding a legislative wrap up call on Friday 7/14. Additionally, a Legislative report card will come out around the end of the month.

    Best regards,

    Alison Hart
    Executive Director
    alisonh@oregonchamber.org
    503-231-5421

  • July 11, 2017 9:44 AM | Shelley Shirley (Administrator)

    Dear East Portland Chamber of Commerce,

    Later this month, the Oregon State Treasury will begin sending out notices to employers across the state about its new retirement savings program, OregonSaves. We wanted to make sure you knew that these notices would be going out, and we are hoping you might be able to help us raise awareness about the program’s rollout.

    If possible, it would be great if you were able to include the message below in any upcoming newsletters you may be sending out or forward it to any mailing lists you might maintain for employers, employees, and others who might benefit from knowing about OregonSaves, such as CPAs, financial professionals, and payroll providers.

    If you have any questions about OregonSaves, please contact our Client Services Team at 844-661-1256 (employer assistance) or 844-661-6777 (employee assistance). You can also email clientservices@oregonsaves.com.

    Materials about OregonSaves can be found online at http://www.oregon.gov/retire/Pages/Newsroom.aspx, including an animated video that explains what the program is and how it works, a PowerPoint presentation and recorded webinar, and informational flyers in English, Spanish, and Russian.

    --- NOTICE ---

    The Oregon State Treasury is launching a new program called OregonSaves that may impact your business, clients, and members. OregonSaves is a simple and convenient way for workers to save for retirement. It allows them to save a part of each paycheck through payroll deductions facilitated by their employer and invest their savings in professionally-managed investment options in a Roth individual retirement account. The account is also portable, allowing them to take it with them from job to job.

    Any business with employees that does not sponsor a qualified retirement plan* will need to register to facilitate OregonSaves for its employees. The registration process is designed to be simple in order to limit any burden on employers. Employers can choose to offer their own retirement plans to some or all of their employees instead of participating in the program.

    The program is scheduled to roll out in phases, and the State will let employers know when their phase will begin. The deadlines for employers to register to facilitate are as follows:

    • An employer employing 100 or more employees: November 15, 2017
    • An employer employing 50 to 99 employees: May 15, 2018
    • An employer employing 20 to 49 employees: December 15, 2018
    • An employer employing 10 to 19 employees: May 15, 2019
    • An employer employing 5 to 9 employees: November 15, 2019
    • An employer employing 4 or fewer employees: May 15, 2020

    The State will send a notice about the program to employers approximately six months before their registration deadline. The State will send another notice to employers one month before the deadline with instructions about how to register. Employers will have until the applicable deadline above to complete the registration process.

    For more information, including answers to frequently asked questions, visit www.oregonsaves.com or call (844) 661-1256.

    *A qualified retirement plan includes a plan qualified under Internal Revenue Code sections 401(a) (including a 401(k) plan), qualified annuity plan under section 403(a), tax-sheltered annuity plan under section 403(b), Simplified Employee Pension plan under section 408(k), a SIMPLE IRA plan under section 408(p) or governmental deferred compensation plan under section 457(b). It does not include payroll deduction IRAs.

    OregonSaves is overseen by the Oregon Retirement Savings Board. Ascensus College Savings Recordkeeping Services, LLC (“ACRS”) is the program administrator. ACRS and its affiliates are responsible for day-to-day program operations. Participants saving through OregonSaves beneficially own and have control over their Roth IRAs, as provided in the program offering set out at saver.oregonsaves.com.

    OregonSaves' Portfolios offer investment options selected by the Oregon Retirement Savings Board. For more information on OregonSaves' Portfolios go to saver.oregonsaves.com. Account balances in OregonSaves will vary with market conditions and are not guaranteed or insured by the Oregon Retirement Savings Board, the State of Oregon, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or any other organization.

    OregonSaves is a completely voluntary retirement program and investing in a Roth IRA will not be appropriate for all individuals. Employer facilitation of OregonSaves should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation by your employer of OregonSaves or Roth IRA investments. Roth IRAs are not exclusive to OregonSaves and can be obtained outside of the program and contributed to outside of payroll deduction. Contributing to an OregonSaves Roth IRA through payroll deduction offers some tax benefits and consequences. You should consult your tax or financial advisor if you have any tax or financial related questions.

    --- END OF NOTICE --

    All the Best,

    Joel Metlen, Public Engagement Manager, OregonSaves

    Oregon State Treasury

    503.559.4154

    Joel.metlen@ost.state.or.us | www.oregonsaves.com

  • July 07, 2017 11:54 AM | Shelley Shirley (Administrator)

    Dear OSCC Members & Colleagues:

    Here's a legislative update for today. We expect that the legislature will adjourn tonight. 

    What's happening:

    1. We have defeated HB 2060-A which repealed the small business tax cut passed by the 2013 legislature. It would have been a direct $200 million tax increase on small business, but the Senate did not move forward with the legislation.
       
    2. The transportation funding package - HB 2017 - passed the House last night and will likely pass the Senate today. This is a 7-year, $5.3 billion funding package that levies several new taxes and puts billions in new investments into the state transportation system. You can read the summary here.
       
    3. Predictive scheduling - SB 828 - passed with strong bipartisan support. The bill requires 7-day advance notice of scheduling with additional wages due for scheduling changes. It applies to retailers, hospitality establishments and food service establishments with 500 or more employees. In return, business gets a preemption on all local workplace scheduling ordinances.
       
    4. The 'Overtime Fix' legislation - HB 3458 - will gain final passage today. The bill fixes an adverse BOLI ruling that levies double overtime payments when a manufacturing employee reaches both daily and weekly overtime thresholds. The final legislation takes into account many industry concerns that were raised during the course of the debate. The bill passed the Senate 30-0 yesterday. Final approval in the House is expected to be strongly bipartisan.
       
    5. We have defeated all attempts to increase Oregon's $500,000 non-economic damage limits. SB 487, SB 737, and HB 2807 were all defeated. Business and health care groups, including key local Chambers, were very effective at blocking this legislation all session.
       
    6. The major rent control legislation - HB 2004 - was defeated in the final days.
       
    7. Our belief that there was an expedited pathway to balancing the state budget and adjourning with (1) no additional tax revenue needed, and (2) without the need for a "special session" to balance the budget, has proven to be true. But all of this will be totally contingent on the state's economy providing record amounts of revenue. The state budget is balancing on the head of a pin. If there's a hiccup in the state's economy, we'll likely be in some trouble.

    Sine Die:

    Legislators are working aggressively to adjourn this evening. The work may bleed over until tomorrow, but at any rate, the die is cast and all bills are simply waiting for floor votes. There are no bills left in committee.

    OSCC Activity:

    THANK YOU for the overwhelming response to the OSCC ACTION ALERT on HB 2060-A. Local chambers were a HUGE factor in the Senate not moving forward with HB 2060-A.

    Best regards,

    Alison Hart
    Executive Director
    alisonh@oregonchamber.org
    503-231-5421

  • June 26, 2017 9:15 AM | Shelley Shirley (Administrator)

    Dear OSCC Members & Colleagues:

    Here is your daily update.

    What's happening:

    1. The House is convening today in a special Friday session to vote on HB 2060-A which repeals the small business tax cut passed by the 2013 legislatureOSCC has issued a floor letter on this bill.
       
    2. As highlighted in The Oregonian yesterday, we do not believe we will see additional efforts to pass either comprehensive tax legislation or PERS reform.
       
    3. Predictive scheduling - SB 828 - passed the Senate yesterday with a strong 23-5 bipartisan vote. We expect quick passage in the House as well. The bill requires 7-day advance notice of scheduling with additional wages due for scheduling changes. It applies to retailers, hospitality establishments and food service establishments with 500 or more employees. In return, business gets a preemption on all local workplace scheduling ordinances.
       
    4. We continue to believe that a major agreement is holding on a transportation package (HB 2017) and expect to see amendments by Monday.


    What to watch for today:

    We'll be watching the House floor vote on HB 2060-A today. It is an extraordinary development to see that House leadership is moving toward a direct $200 million tax on small business.

    OSCC Activity:

    OSCC has issued an ACTION ALERT on HB 2060-A. If the House passes HB 2060-A (which we expect it will with the narrowest majority possible), we will issue the Action Alert again for the Senate.

    Best regards,

    Alison Hart
    Executive Director
    alisonh@oregonchamber.org
    503-231-5421

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