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  • November 16, 2019 8:17 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    Business Oregon is conducting a statewide assessment of Oregon's current broadband infrastructure and service availability. The assessment will help drive public policy regarding gaps in broadband access, the need for state funding, and strategies for deploying broadband infrastructure statewide.

    Broadband is increasingly viewed as essential infrastructure for economic and community development. Earlier this year, the Oregon Broadband Office was established in statute with legislative directives to track the availability of broadband services and help make the business case for broadband investment in unserved and underserved areas to close Oregon's "digital divide."

    We're asking both households and businesses to help in the assessment by completing a simple questionnaire developed in partnership with our consultants, Strategic Networks Group. The few minutes it takes to complete the online survey can help make future broadband improvements across the state, particularly in rural areas.

    Business Oregon asks that you provide your input today, or at the latest by December 15, 2019 by going to www.broadband.oregon.govclicking on the Broadband Assessment link, and completing the survey. On that website, you can also find other resources Business Oregon has in our work to advance broadband availability across Oregon.

    A report on findings will be posted at the end of January 2020.


  • November 10, 2019 10:32 AM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    2nd Community Conversation on Homelessness | December in the Pearl

    We had such a strong turnout this summer for our first Community Conversation on Homelessness that we’re doing it again! This time in the Pearl District in downtown Portland. Join us. RSVP to Lisa Frack.

    Event Details:

    • Who: Anyone interested in understanding and solving homelessness in our community.
    • Where: CENTRL Office Pearl - 1355 NW Everett Street, Portland, OR 97209 
    • When: Tuesday, December 3rd from 5:30 to 7:30 PM (program begins at 6:00 PM, settle in and grab food from 5:30-6:00).
    • Food/Drink: Light snacks and beverages available – or BYO if you prefer!
    • Questions? Contact Lisa Frack, Human Solutions: 503.548.0282 or lfrack@humansolutions.org. For CENTRL Office, contact Madeline at madeline@centrloffice.com 


  • November 05, 2019 4:34 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    Join project staff for updates on design, station types and more.

    November 14 4-7pm    PCC SE Campus, Community Hall Annex

    2305 SE 82nd Ave.

    Interested in learning more about the transit design plans for Division? Come to the Division Transit Project Open House on Thursday, November 14th from 4-7 pm. There will be representatives from TriMet, PBOT, and more to answer your transit design related questions.


  • September 16, 2019 9:28 AM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    The Oregon Department of Revenue is inviting business taxpayers and tax preparers to take part in discussions of the administrative rules for the state's new Corporate Activity Tax. Traveling across Oregon, rule writers will sit down in a series of meetings over the next three weeks to hear the concerns, questions, and suggestions of those affected by the rules.

    The meetings in the Portland area include:

    Thursday, September 19, 5:30 to 7 p.m., City of Beaverton Griffith Building Room 150, 4755 SW Griffith Drive, Beaverton. 

    Thursday, October 3, 5:30 to 7 p.m., Portland State Office Building Room 1B, 800 NE Oregon St, Portland. 

    For those who are unable to attend the in-state meetings, DOR is planning a series of conference call meetings. Those meetings will be scheduled once the in-state tour is complete.

    At all meetings, Department of Revenue representatives will ensure two-way conversations and do their best to answer questions from attendees. They'll also seek input from attendees to help guide the rule-making process. Issues expected to be discussed include:

    • Who must register.
    • When and how businesses register.
    • Who must file and who must pay the tax.
    • Annual returns based on calendar year activity.
    • How corporate activity is defined. (Of particular interest to ASA members)
    • Exemptions for charitable organizations.
    • Exclusions for groceries, subcontractors, wholesalers, and others.
    • What counts toward the 35 percent subtraction.
    • How estimated payments will be calculated.
    • When estimated payments are due.

    You can find more information about the Corporate Activity Tax, including a list of frequently asked questions, and sign up for email notifications about CAT on the Department of Revenue website :

     https://www.oregon.gov/DOR/programs/businesses/Pages/corporate-activity-tax.aspx.

    Those who are unable to attend but want to provide input can email questions or comments to cat.help.dor@Oregon.gov

    OSCC will keep members updated on the progress of the rulemaking, BUT any specific questions or concerns that OSCC members want addressed need to be communicated to us so that we can provide input and comment to DOR.


  • August 26, 2019 4:58 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    Come join U.S. Senator Ron Wyden for a

    Multnomah County Town Hall Meeting

    Thursday August 29 5:30 PM

    East Portland Community Center Gymnasium 740 SE 106th Ave Portland, OR  Parking may fill quickly. Please consider public transit or carpooling.

    Questions: Call Senator Wyden’s Portland Office at 503-326-7525

  • August 13, 2019 3:44 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    Show support for Senator Monnes Anderson

    Dear members and colleagues -

    See below.

     


    Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson listened and responded to the voices in her community to the cost and unfairness embedded in the 'Cap and Trade' bill.   In particular, the voice of her local business community in the Gresham Chamber.

    As you can see, she is being torn down by the environmentalists.  They are, of course, staging this pressure campaign to compel her to switch her vote in the 2020 session.

    Now is a good time to surround Laurie with authentic care, thanks, and support from your community.

    A personal note of thanks to her would be very timely. 

    Sen.LaurieMonnesAnderson@oregonlegislature.gov

    This is a perfect time to differentiate ourselves from our opponents in tone, tenor and support.




  • July 31, 2019 10:36 AM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    Our whole community is painfully aware of the crisis of homelessness we are in the midst of. You likely have questions and thoughts about it as someone living in the Portland area. We are hosting this Community Conversation to share what we know from 31 years in the field and to dialog with you about the causes and solutions as we see them.

    Human Solutions works every day to provide emergency shelter for women and families, and we run other programs, too, that focus on helping people find secure housing and living-wage jobs. It is that experience we will draw on to facilitate this conversation.

    Can you join us? We hope so. Here are all the things you need to know:

    • WHO: You and anyone interested in greater understanding and compassionate solutions. Human Solutions’ Executive Director Andy Miller and Emergency Services Director Marci Cartagena will be there to present and answer questions.
    • WHAT: A conversation about the homelessness crisis we are living in and trying to solve.
    • WHERE: Stark Street Station @ 6049 SE Stark in Portland (Mt Tabor area; here's a map)
    • WHEN: Wednesday, August 7th from 6 to 8 PM (program starts at 6:30)
    • WHY: Knowledge is power. Assumptions are dangerous. Connecting is always positive.
    • RSVP: Not needed, just drop in. We’ll be glad to see you. Space is limited, so come on time!
    • FOOD? Stark Street Station, our gracious host, has beer/wine, sweet treats and light dinner fare for purchase (lasagna, pot pies, quiche).
    • QUESTIONS? Contact Lisa Frack, Human Solutions: 503.548.0282 orlfrack@humansolutions.org
    Want to bring this event to your neighborhood or workplace, let us know! We look forward to seeing you in August!


    Marci Cartagena & Andy Miller


  • July 30, 2019 3:12 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    Posted: Jul 26, 2019 / 02:54 PM PDT / Updated: Jul 26, 2019 / 04:35 PM PDT

    PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) —  Roadwork on a stretch of Northeast 102nd Avenue is about to wrap up — and some neighbors say the new traffic pattern is already causing problems.

    PBOT is restriping about a mile and a half of road from Northeast Sandy to Weidler, adding a turn median, and taking out a lane of traffic in either direction. They’re also adding more crosswalks, islands, and a bike lane along with on-street parking.

    City planners say the move is to make things safer for pedestrians — but some in the community are frustrated, saying it’s already adding more congestion to the area.

    “102nd Ave is one of our most dangerous streets in the city, and we want to create some safer conditions for folks out there,” said Hannah Schafer, PBOT spokesperson. “Generally speaking, it is making the road feel different and safer.”

    Community members disagree.

    “Taking the lanes from 4 lanes to 2 — you don’t have to be a mathematician to realize that if congestion is going to increase, the accidents are going to increase, and injuries are going to increase,” said Lee Cowles, who works on 102nd. “And on the side streets, too.”

    What frustrates the community most, Cowles said, is PBOT’s lack of response to feedback.

    “I can understand making a plan,” he said. “The thing that’s been very discouraging for the community is that once the plan was made and they’ve taken it to several groups — people said ‘this is not going to work!’ and there’s been no response.” 

    Neighbors said that because their concerns haven’t been taken into account, they’re not holding their breath for any kind of reversal.

    PBOT said work will wrap up this week and then they’ll be studying the effects of the new pattern for the next several years.


  • July 19, 2019 9:30 AM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    2019 Session At-A-Glance The 2018 general election yielded great results for Oregon Democrats as they rode a blue wave to a supermajority in both the Oregon House and Senate. For the 2019 legislature, Democrats held a 38-22 majority in the House and an 18-12 majority in the Senate. Without the need for Republican votes on tax policies, moderate Democrats, particularly in the Senate, became the focal point of nearly all policy discussions. The lack of need for bipartisan deal-making drew a stark contrast from previous sessions.

    The 2019 legislative session began with significant revenue-raising policy ambitions. Following the failure to pass a Cap-and-Trade measure in the 2018 short session, legislative Democrats worked throughout the interim on a new version of the policy, while Governor Kate Brown ran a well-staffed parallel effort, all aimed at passing a Cap-and-Trade bill and having it on the Governor’s desk for a signing ceremony on Earth Day. But in reality, negotiations on this carbon and tax policy would overshadow much of the legislative session right up to the end. Another major revenue issue loomed alongside Cap-and-Trade.

    Despite Oregon voters’ overwhelming rejection of Measure 97’s gross receipts tax in 2016, legislators eager for new revenue for K-12 schools worked the issue again in 2019. In addition to the need for new school revenue, the legislature faced a $950 million funding gap for the Oregon Health Plan. Proposals for new or increased taxes were plentiful in 2019, but their passage was contingent on some sort of PERS debt-reducing legislation. The new composition of the Oregon legislature changed the flow of bills through the system. Unlike previous years, very few bills died with the first posting deadlines as they breezed through policy committees with ease. Bills flooded the Ways and Means and the Rules committees, which are exempt from committee deadlines. As sine die drew closer, Cap-and-Trade (HB 2020) stayed true to its controversial nature and overshadowed everything else. Both sides organized rallies and public displays of grassroots strength. Tension grew as the bill passed out of committee, and then passed the House floor on a party line vote.

    With only 11 days until sine die, HB 2020 hit the Senate floor, but Senate Republicans did not. Instead, they organized a walkout in a final effort to stop the legislation. By denying the Senate a quorum for nine days, HB 2020 died. Having achieved their objective, Senate Republicans did return in the final two days to pass the remaining budget and policy bills that piled up and avoided the prospect of a special session. The legislature adjourned on Sunday, June 30th, using all 160 days allotted by the Oregon Constitution.

    Here’s what happened: Oregon moves from the red to the black with unexpected surge of revenues At the outset of the 2019 session, the State of Oregon was in the red. Revenues were expected to generate $23.6 billion, while current service level (CSL) expenditures were projected at $24.2 billion. But almost immediately, the legislature began raising resources. House Bill 2010 raised insurance premium taxes to pay for the Oregon Health Plan, netting about $330 million. Then the legislature passed HB 3427, a commercial activities tax on all businesses with gross sales above $1 million that would net the state an additional $2 billion per biennium.

    Then, just days after the passage of the major business tax increase, legislators were greeted with the shock of the session – the May quarterly revenue forecast projected yet another $770 million of additional, unanticipated general fund revenue. In addition to the new revenue, Oregon’s unique 2% ‘kicker’ law would send back an additional $1.4 billion back to Oregon taxpayers in tax credits in 2020. Very quickly, the state became flush with money. The historic May revenue forecast fueled legislative debates over revenue and taxes, but largely served to tamp down on calls for additional tax proposals. Republicans touted the influx of revenue as evidence that new taxes were unnecessary while the Governor and Democrats pivoted toward using some of the $1.4 billion ‘kicker’ to fund additional needs. Although there was much discussion about the state keeping some of the ‘kicker’, the votes did not materialize. All $1.4 billion will be sent back to taxpayers. Democrats flex their supermajority muscle

    Following a successful November election for Democrats, the party was well-primed to pass policy priorities in the legislature. With a supermajority in both chambers, both policy and tax bills could be passed and signed into law without Republican votes. Democrats leveraged their new majorities for some significant policy wins. Perhaps most notable was the nation’s first statewide rent control policy (SB 608), which was fasttracked to the Governor’s office for signing by late February. National Popular Vote (SB 870), another Democrat priority, finally passed after having failed the previous several sessions. In another key Democratic objective, legislators moved to ease Measure 11 mandatory prison sentencing provisions for juveniles with SB 1008. Oregon Democrats also won passage of several environmental policy wins with the passage of HB 2509 (a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags) and SB 90 (plastic straw ban). They pushed HB 2250, requiring DEQ and OHA to assess changes to the Clean Air Act, the Water Pollution Control Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act in an effort to undo any rollbacks enacted by the Trump administration. Finally, they pushed through a ban on old diesel engines (HB 2007), both on road and off road, in the Portland metropolitan area. Commercial Activities Tax (CAT) passes with the Student Success Act HB 3427 proposed a $2.8 billion commercial activity tax on all Oregon businesses with sales above $1 million. It was the top priority for legislative Democrats. The bill went through several rounds of hearings and amendments, bringing educators, advocates, parents, students and businesses to the capitol.

    Business groups remained opposed to the taxes in the bill, while Republicans and moderates demanded that additional revenue be accompanied by debt-reducing legislation on PERS, the state’s pension program. In an 11th hour deal, the Oregon Business & Industry trade organization marshalled an agreement with legislative leadership to be neutral on the tax bill in exchange for PERS reforms and a less-costly version of a Paid Family Leave program (HB 2005). This agreement broke the logjam and facilitated passage of the tax bill. HB 3427 passed the House on a party line vote before being sent over to the Senate. Senate Republicans brought the legislature and the Student Success Act to a halt for nearly a week by organizing a walkout. Within hours of their return to the capitol, HB 3427 passed the Senate on another party line vote. Prior to registering her ‘aye’ vote, the swing vote, Senator Betsy Johnson, made it known that her vote was contingent on the passage of substantive changes to the Oregon PERS system. Oregon legislature passes PERS reforms

    PERS reforms became the focus of the legislative leadership immediately on the heels of the passage of the major business tax hike. Governor Brown was the first to release a plan. The Governor set her sights on one-time-funds that could be used to buy down PERS liabilities. She was met with strong business opposition as she proposed redirecting the $1.4 billion ‘kicker’ tax rebate and using reserve funds from the State Accident Insurance Fund (SAIF). Labor unions opposed the steep 3% employee contribution diversions in her proposal. While the Governor’s proposal collapsed under the opposition, it allowed the legislature to design a less sweeping PERS bill, Senate Bill 1049, which authorized a 2.5 percent diversion of Tier 1 and Tier 2 member contributions to reduce pension liabilities. It also authorized all new sports gaming revenue to be directed to buying down the PERS liability. SB 1049 was a tough sell for Democrats who were effectively harming their primary support base – public employee unions – but it passed the House and Senate with the bare majorities needed.

    Medicaid funding shortfall plugged with new premium tax and general fund support Prior to the 2019 session, Oregon faced a $950 million Oregon Health Plan funding shortfall. This immediate need was met with immediate action. HB 2010, which proposed a 6 percent Medicaid tax on hospitals and a 2 percent tax on health insurance premiums, was the first major bill to pass. HB 2010 raised over $330 million and was signed by the Governor in less than two months. A second leg of the Governor’s proposal to plug the Medicaid budget was HB 2269, the ‘Employer Assessment’ legislation that would assess all employers of 50 or more employees with a tax to cover the health care costs of all their employees. The bill met with stiff opposition from the business community and was killed when the deal was struck by OBI to stand down on the corporate activities tax hike. Ultimately, the Medicaid shortfall was solved in 2019 due to the huge influx of general fund revenues that came from the state’s booming economy. The additional $770 million that materialized with the May revenue forecast provided enough to keep Medicaid fully funded.

    Lack of agreement causes Cap-and-Trade to crash spectacularly at the finish line On the heels of a failed 2018 effort, Cap-and-Trade Proponents spent the interim working on a revamped policy for 2019 with well-funded committees, research staff, and economic reports. HB 2020 was destined to become an all-out fight over this carbon pricing policy, with momentum growing for proponents. The newly-created Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction held multiple informational and public hearings each week through February, March and April, before passing the bill to the Ways and Means Committee in May. By that time, the bill had seen 94 different amendments, significant representation from impacted businesses concerned with the economic impacts of the legislation, and a slew of proponents demanding action on climate change.

    When the time came to pass HB 2020 out of Joint Ways and Means, several Democrat Senators had voiced apprehension toward the policy. Cracks were staring to show. The vote for passage in the Ways and Means Committee was tenuous. One vocal democratic opponent was replaced. Another gave just a ‘courtesy’ yes vote. HB 2020 was on the House floor on June 17th and passed on a 36-24 party line vote after nearly 7 hours of grueling debate. With sine die only 11 days away, Senate Republicans used the only tool they had left to stop Cap-and-Trade: a walkout. By denying the Senate the necessary 20-member quorum, Republicans essentially closed the Senate and were willing to leave hundreds of budgets and bills on the table to die in order to kill HB 2020. Ultimately, they succeeded. It was an unprecedented ending to the 2019 session.

    Going forward … what we are watching for:

     Resignations, special elections, and new legislators. A number of legislators are rumored to be considering quitting, which would necessitate some special elections. There could be a slew of new legislators appointed in the coming months.

     Will Oregon’s economy continue to generate huge revenue gains? Oregon’s balanced budget is built on unprecedented revenue growth over the past two years. Any hiccup in revenues will cause major budget disruptions. The budget is dancing on the head of a pin and probably not sustainable.

     What will be the fate of Cap-and-Trade? Will it gain momentum for a special session? Will it regain momentum for the 2020 session? Both sides accumulated very impressive grassroots organizations that in many ways was the culmination of a growing statewide culture war in which Cap-and-Trade is the clear flash point.

     Will opponents of PERS reform legislation be able to make their case to the Oregon Supreme Court? Opponents of SB 1049 will likely challenge the legislation in court. If successful, PERS reforms may never be considered again. And budget holes will need to be filled.

    The 2020 legislative session will convene again February 3rd The 2020 session is Constitutionally limited to 35 days. Session will convene Monday, February 3rd with a legal end date of 11:59 pm on Sunday, March 8th. In the meantime, the legislature will convene for “legislative days” and committee meetings on September 16 – 19, November 18-21, and January 13-16. 

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