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  • August 11, 2020 5:19 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    Yesterday, the Oregon Legislature convened for a one-day session - the second special session of the summer - to focus on balancing the state budget.

    The Legislature voted to pull $400 million from the Education Stability Fund to keep the State School Fund whole, and voted to trim another $400 million from lottery and general fund programs.

    On balance, the legislature opted to keep Oregon's $9 billion K-12 budget unharmed and worked to plug the $1 billion shortfall using the aforementioned cuts and other budget maneuvers, including "re-shuffling" of expenses and "sweeps" of dedicated funds.

    The session was another example of the "top-down" executive decision-making that's been so prevalent during the COVID pandemic. Decision-making is in the hands of a very few legislators with very little input from legislators and the public.

    For example, Democratic leaders announced on Monday morning that they would not hold any public hearings on the slate of bills.  Most bills were not made public until the weekend, so only the most seasoned observers even knew where to look to understand what was going on. Decisions on legislation were already made before the legislature convened.

    The bills that passed included:

    • SB 1701 to allow part time workers to earn up to $300 per week before unemployment benefits are reduced.
       
    • SB 1703 to give the Employment Department access to Revenue Department data during the COVID emergency for the purpose of processing unemployment claims.
       
    • SB 5722 adjusted and revised several capital construction projects in order to shift costs.
       
    • SB 5723 cut nearly $400 million in costs for the current biennium.
       
    • HB 4301 placed additional limits use of choke holds and police use of force.
       
    • HB 4302 modified fees and requirements for mineral exploration, mining operations, gas and oil drilling and exploration and geothermal well drilling operation.
       
    • HB 4303 transferred $400 million from the Education Stability Fund to the State School Fund.
       
    • HB 4304, the "sweeps" bill, transferred money from various dedicated administrative accounts to further alleviate budget shortfalls.
       
    • HB 5221 made changes to allocation of lottery funds to account for precipitous drops in lottery revenues.

    Bills that did not pass:

    • SB 1702 was the one unscripted shocker of the session. The bill which would have streamlined the process for classified education employees to receive unemployment benefits. But the bill failed in committee when Senator Johnson (D-Scappoose) joined Republicans in voting against the bill, saying that the bill gave the appearance of putting these workers "at the front of the line" for receiving benefits when others have been waiting due to Employment Department failures.

    The Oregonian's reporting of the special session can be found here.

    We are expecting one additional special session in September that could be populated with several controversial issues, including:

    1. Legislation to disconnect Oregon from certain provisions of the CARES Act related to tax treatment for business losses and interest expenses for certain businesses.
       
    2. Consideration of liability reform to provide temporary and targeted liability relief for companies facing lawsuits related to COVID.
       
    3. Consideration of a liability shield for medical provides and health care facilities acting within the scope of COVID-19 guidance from the Governor's office, OHA and others.
       
    4. A workers' compensation compensability presumption for COVID claims.

    If you have any questions or feedback stemming from the 1-day session, please don't hesitate to reach out.



  • August 07, 2020 9:02 AM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    Just when we thought things couldn’t get worse, the Oregon Legislature is now set to pass an ill-conceived proposal that would effectively impose $225 million in taxes on Oregon businesses struggling to recover from the staggering impacts of the COVID-19 shut downs. 

    This tax increase affects small, local businesses – not corporations!  These tax incentives were passed by Congress to ensure small businesses could keep some amount of cash flow when they were being shut down by government orders.  Now the Oregon legislature wants to steal this money back from small business!

    But instead of admitting this is a new tax burden on struggling businesses, they will say this is simply a technical change, impacting only a few wealthy Oregonians. That’s simply not true. Many Oregon businesses will lose much-needed cash if this tax increase  moves forward.

    WE NEED YOUR HELP TODAY.

    Please contact the Governor and your legislators and tell them THIS PROPOSAL ISN’T FAIR to thousands of Oregon employers struggling to survive – and put hundreds of thousands of unemployed Oregonians back to work.

    Email your legislators today and tell them this sneak attack isn’t fair and ask them to oppose this backdoor tax increase. The Legislature is set to meet in special session on Monday, and all signs are that this bad idea is set to be fast-tracked through the process. ACT NOW. 

     



  • July 22, 2020 4:15 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    Governor Brown announced today additional face covering and business guidelines in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

    Effective Friday, July 24th:

    Face Coverings

    • Face coverings will be required for all Oregonians ages five and up in indoor public spaces and outdoors when six feet of distance cannot be maintained.
       
    • Face coverings will be required even in cases of physical exertion indoors, and outdoors when six feet of distance cannot be maintained.

    Businesses

    • The maximum indoor capacity limit is capped at 100 for all venues in Phase II counties and for restaurants and bars in Phase I or II counties.
       
    • Restaurants and bars will be required to stop serving customers at 10:00 P.M statewide.

     You can view the full press release here.


  • July 13, 2020 1:49 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    OSCC will be holding a one-hour Q&A session with Oregon Michael Wood, Administrator, Oregon Occupations Safety & Health Administration and Val  Hoyle, Labor Commissioner, Bureau of Labor & Industry regarding guidelines for face coverings during COVID-19. The webinar will be held on July 15th, from 10-11am. This invitation is open to our chamber and  chamber members. 

    July 15, 2020: 10:00 - 11:00am
    Join: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/671263645 

    Please send your questions by 5pm July 14th to: 
    jessicac@oregonchamber.org

  • July 07, 2020 11:48 AM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    As the deadline approaches to make estimated Corporate Activity Tax (CAT) payments for the second quarter, the Oregon Department of Revenue reminds taxpayers of relief available to those businesses negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    As adopted in the Oregon administrative rule 150-317-1500, the Department of Revenue will honor a business taxpayer's good-faith efforts to comply with the CAT and not assess penalties if they document their efforts to comply, including how COVID-19 has impacted their business.

    If businesses know they'll owe $10,000 or more in annual corporate activity tax in 2020 and can pay, they should make estimated quarterly payments and comply with the law to the fullest extent possible.

    However, penalties will not be assessed for underestimated quarterly payments or for not making a quarterly payment for the Corporate Activity Tax, if businesses don't have the financial ability to make the estimated payment. If businesses have been impacted by COVID-19 and are finding it difficult to calculate or pay an estimated quarterly payment, they should keep documentation showing:

    • Their inability to pay a quarterly payment because of insufficient funds due to COVID-19.
       
    • Their inability to reasonably calculate a quarterly payment or annual tax liability due to their business being impacted by COVID-19.
       
    • That the taxpayer is unclear at this time whether the business will owe corporate activity tax in April 2020 due to COVID-19 impacts, after taking into consideration exclusions and subtractions in the law.

    Businesses uncertain about their economic future due to the COVID-19 crisis, or those that have been closed during this crisis and have no ability to determine that they will owe a tax this year, won't be penalized.

    Registration for the CAT is still required. Businesses must register within 30 days of reaching $750,000 in Oregon commercial activity in the calendar year. Registration is available through Revenue Online and the department offers a series of online resources to help with registration on the CAT page of the agency's website.

    Taxpayers with general questions about the CAT can email 

    cat.help.dor@oregon.gov or call 503-945-8005.


  • July 06, 2020 7:15 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    Join: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/671263645  

    Please mark your calendar for a liability protection round table discussion this Wednesday, July 8, 2020 from 9:00-10:00 am. This invitation is open to your chamber as well as your chamber members. 

    On this call, we will be discussing two primary questions:

    1. How is your business complying with current health and safety guidelines? (including steps taken, costs incurred, etc.)
       
    2. What would be the impact if a claim were filed against you and your business?

    This information will provide guidance for OSCC as we continued to advocate for timely, targeted and temporary liability protections to shield employers from legal risk when following the appropriate public health guidelines to protect employees and customers as a result of COVID-19.


  • June 29, 2020 2:18 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    On Friday afternoon, the Oregon legislature concluded a 3-day special session to address various policy issues including policing reforms, COVID-response, and various other items which that included some bills that failed during the 2020 short session.

    With respect to policing reforms, the legislature passed bills to: (1) ban the use of chokeholds, except when the use of deadly force is justified; (2) restrict the use of tear gas, and require police to give people time to disperse before using it; (3) make it more difficult for third-party arbitrators to overturn or reduce disciplinary action taken against police officers; (4) create a public online database of disciplinary actions of police officers that must be checked as part of the hiring process; and (5) require officers to intervene to prevent or stop another officer engaged in misconduct.

    With respect to COVID response, the legislature passed bills to: (1) direct both residential and commercial lenders to defer mortgage payments until after September 30th (HB 4204); (2) extend the residential and commercial moratorium on no-cause evictions until September 30th (HB 4213); (3) grant temporary emergency shelter siting authority for local governments to develop low-barrier shelters for unsheltered homeless who are at high-risk of virus transmission; and (4) protect federal CARES Act payments from garnishments.

    Other bills included (1) HB 4210 which prevents a court from suspending a drivers license for failure to pay court fines; (2) SB 1601 which prevents citations from being issues for expired drivers licences, permits and registrations through December 31st; (3) SB 1603 which levies a cell phone tax to support projects for planning or developing broadband service infrastructure in Oregon; and (4) HB 4202 which makes clarifications and business- supported "fixes" to the new Corporate Activity Tax.

    In a development sought by the business community, a workgroup will be convened to discuss and craft liability exemptions for employers and organizations that are in compliance with the Governor's COVID-related executive orders and guidance.

    We are expecting legislative discussions to pivot toward liability issues and budget re-balancing in preparation of a 2nd special session to be held in late July or early August.


  • June 23, 2020 3:10 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    Tomorrow, the Oregon legislature will convene in a special session to address various policy issues including policing reforms, COVID-response, and a laundry list of other items which will include some bills that failed during the 2020 short session. 

    The list of ancillary bills under consideration changes by the hour - we do not yet have a clear sense of what all of those issues will be as discussions about the total slate of bills are happening out of public view.We do know, however, the core grouping of bills that will be considered. You can see them hereWe will reiterate that this special session is not focused on the state budget (which is currently $1.8 billion in deficit). There will be a follow-up special session later this summer that will include some painful budget decisions. It is likely that legislators will want to see if any additional revenue materializes - either through federal legislation or increased state revenues - before making those decisions.

    The special session tomorrow will pose unique challenges that threaten to derail it altogether. First, the logistics of the session - social distancing, a capitol building closed to the public, and limits on the number of people in closed spaces will test the limits of how the legislature can conduct its business in a timely way. Second, the politics of the session are challenging as there appears to be little agreement on which bills to pass coupled with an ever-expanding list of bills being sought by legislators. In short, there doesn't appear to be a plan.

    To follow the session, access this link: https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2020S1/2020-06-24


  • June 17, 2020 3:52 PM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    OSCC calls on Oregon Legislature to add liability protections for businesses to Special Session agenda

    Governor Kate Brown officially called for a special session of the Oregon legislature on June 24th to deal with policy issues including policing reform, COVID response, and some consensus bills from the failed 2020 short session. However, liability protections for businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 is not currently listed as an agenda item. 

    Please contact your legislators by 5pm TODAY and ask them to add liability protections to businesses affected by COVID-19 to the Special Session agenda. You can use this link to find your legislator.


    OSCC joined with coalition partners on a letter to the legislature as well, which you can view here. Please use this as talking points. If you are you worried about coronavirus liability-despite the fact that your business has done its best to adhere to Governor Brown's public health guidelines, the Governor and legislators need to hear from you today! Tell your story to help inform this important policy decision. 

    http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001mwjvD1ULkjMzQkbwYlrU5kbQSU_M06BJ-TBpGV9PqjJ4dg5rjFY_adO2VXumfwwi2enV-EM4BDYL-0iiUF-_4uHj_gppY2DNfim_VHmK8VC4V9gSo5QcYMLPJ5Qov4LIoYzpmCg-8i7HejnxUF57nAWWJxgfuZsGvQQGFWEtHDJoRLb1ApNP0c_rOLrJnn2QUwLero9kIXAaY53AYD5xilYTwHoSmXmc&c=ktI7bVcmSEl3_gO_evcnur4ElIPxs7F2IkKNmniy8xHFiqL6H6SluA==&ch=tK0v3upEbAMn7Y86ASzbasbJhAdl1GXbwvv6dJj2LZFqk4LnRLV7Gw==

    Please contact your legislators by 5pm TODAY and ask them to add liability protections to businesses affected by COVID-19 to the Special Session agenda. You can use this link to find your legislator.



  • June 16, 2020 8:21 AM | Connie Shipley (Administrator)

    WHAT: Portland Parks & Recreation’s Free Lunch + Play program returns with expanded free meals at Portland parks, citywide. Free Lunch + Play provides crucial City services to Portlanders. This year in addition to free meals at lunchtime or during the early afternoon, take-home activities are being planned, such as art kits, activity packs, free books, and games.

    WHEN: Free Lunch + Play begins Monday June 22, 2020. The summertime end date is yet to be determined.

    WHERE: PP&R parks across the city. Programs may take place at lunchtime or in the early afternoon hours; schedules and locations are being updated and posted on PP&R’s Free Lunch + Play website.  Children do not need to be present in order to receive a meal.

    Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R)’s annual Free Lunch + Play program begins on Monday, June 22, 2020. This year’s program is part of an expanded effort by the City of Portland and area school districts to provide food security in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Special thanks to Title Sponsor NIKE, Inc., and to our private and philanthropic partners for their support. Free Lunch + Play gives kids a free, healthy meal at convenient park locations – plus several apartment complexes - with activities, games, and/or books for children to take home at each site. The food distribution program continues a Portland Parks & Recreation endeavor dating uninterrupted from the 1970’s. PP&R has prioritized our limited capacity and resources to this program to meet critical community needs.

    Meal service will be held at lunchtime or early afternoon at 26 sites all summer long; schedules are available at portlandoregon.gov/parks/freelunch. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, children do not need to be present in order to receive a meal as they did in years past. Special thanks to Mobile Lunch + Play Title Sponsor Bank of America for their $200,000 Neighborhood Builders grant which has greatly expanded the Mobile Lunch + Play portion of PP&R’s summer programming.

    “COVID-19 and widespread layoffs have made hunger one of our community’s most urgent needs this summer,” says Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. “Special thanks to NIKE, Inc., Bank of America, and our other partners who made it possible to expand our service during this time of higher need. As Mayor and Parks Commissioner, I’m proud that the Free Lunch + Play program is able to help keep thousands of young people nourished and healthy.”

    PP&R teams up with Portland Public Schools, the Parkrose and Reynolds School Districts, and partners to make this effort a success. Portland Parks & Recreation, Title Sponsors NIKE, Inc., Bank of America, and hunger relief partners play an important role in delivering critical community services this summer.

    57% of young Portlanders qualify for free or reduced-price lunch during the school year. Each summer, PP&R teams up with Portland Public Schools, the Parkrose and Reynolds School Districts, and food service partners to provide steady meals during the summer months. In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, PP&R and its partners expect to distribute nearly 500,000 free meals to Portland children this summer - nearly five times more than a typical season. The program will take place at parks in areas with a clear need for free and reduced lunch programs and areas where other free food providers are less accessible. Most of the sites are in east and north Portland.

    “This summer looks different than any other, with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 health crisis,” says PP&R Director Adena Long. “But Portland Parks & Recreation has been providing summertime food for nearly 50 years. We are continuing to help people be healthier, life to be more stable, and neighbors to make lifelong summer memories through this flagship program. Our thanks to all our City and non-profit partners who are helping deliver summertime fun, food, and memories.”

    If you’d like to donate to help the Free Lunch + Play program serve Portland’s children, please visit portlandoregon.gov/parks/lunch+play.

    Free Lunch + Play locations are:

    Alberta Park

    Columbia Park

    Cully Park

    Essex Park

    Gateway Discovery Park*

    Harrison Park

    Irving Park*

    Kenton Park

    Khhunamokwst Park

    Lents Park

    Luuwit View Park

    Montavilla Park*

    Mt. Scott Park

    Peninsula Park

    St. Johns Park

    Wilkes Park

    Schedules vary, and will be updated at portlandoregon.gov/parks/freelunch.

    All art kits, activity packs, free books, games, and activities are designed so participants can maintain 6 feet of physical distancing at all times. Children do not need to be present in order to receive a meal.

    Mobile Lunch + Play offers food and activities at apartment complexes which have no ready park access. Mobile Lunch + Play has doubled in size from 2019 to now as the recipient of a generous $200,000 Neighborhood Builders grant from Bank of America through the Portland Parks Foundation, PP&R’s nonprofit fundraising partner. Additionally, staff will also drive meals to distribute at several outer east Portland parks.

    “Bank of America has invested in the Portland Parks Foundation with a Neighborhood Builders grant to expand the delivery sites of Portland Parks and Recreation’s Summer Free For All Mobile Lunch + Play because, as a long-time partner, we have seen how critical this delivery model is to addressing hunger within our most vulnerable communities,” said Roger Hinshaw, Bank of America’s Market President in Oregon and Southwest Washington. “With the number of Mobile Lunch + Play sites serving our communities doubling this year, Summer Free For All Lunch + Play will have an even greater impact for youth who rely on this program for consistent and nutritious meals. We know food insecurity is on the rise, and we are committed to working together to do more to improve food security and economic mobility in our region.”

    Mobile Lunch + Play sites include:

    • Arbor Glen Apartments*
    • Bellrose Station Apartments*
    • East Holladay Park
    • Eastgate Station Apartments*
    • Gilbert Primary Park
    • Glenfair Park
    • Harney Park
    • Mill Park
    • Raymond Park*
    • Verdell Burdine Rutherford Park* (formerly Lynchview Park)

    Mobile Lunch + Play schedules vary, and will be updated at portlandoregon.gov/parks/freelunch. All art kits, activity packs, free books, games, and activities are designed so participants can maintain 6 feet of physical distancing at all times.

    *These locations will offer an option to drive up and receive meals curbside; people must exit vehicles for “grab and go” meals and activities at other locations.

    Free Lunch + Play guides are being printed and will be distributed in English and 14 other languages at partner and community sites citywide.

    Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, everyone visiting a park and/or taking part in the Free Lunch + Play program must always adhere to physical distancing guidelines - staying at least 6 feet away from others when in a public space.

    Portland Parks & Recreation continues to be in communication with, and following the guidance of, the Oregon Health Authority, Multnomah County Health Department, and the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management regarding COVID-19. You can find more information on our webpage at www.portlandoregon/parks/covid-19.



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