I5 bridge replacement: Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that the project to replace the I5 bridge connecting Portland and Vancouver, Wash., will feature light rail.
Presidential visit: As reported by The Oregonian, President Joe Biden paid Portland a visit April 21 to discuss infrastructure spending.
Cars in Portland: As reported by The New York Times and posted in time for the president’s visit, motorized vehicles remain an important form of transportation in Portland despite the city’s environmental aspirations and spending on alternatives.
Ballot measures: The Oregonian takes a look at which ballot measures are drawing substantial support. At the top: a measure discouraging legislative lockouts.
BOLI candidates: The Oregonian poses a handful of questions to candidates seeking to lead the Bureau of Labor & Industries.
Campaign finance: The Oregonian provides a campaign-finance update for congressional races.
Gambling: Willamette Week reports that legislative leaders will form a committee to review gambling in Oregon, responding to a request by tribal leaders.
Farmworker overtime: Oregon Public Broadcasting reports Gov. Kate Brown’s signing of a bill that provides overtime to agricultural workers, ending a longstanding exemption. The bill was the most controversial of the 2022 legislative session.
Mask mandate: According to the Associated Press, the Justice Department announced April 20 that it would appeal a federal judge’s April 18 ruling invalidating a mandate issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that requires mask use on public transportation.
Interim Task Force and Rulemaking Update
OBI’s policy team participates in and monitors task forces and agency rulemaking processes. Task forces typically focus on issues that may become legislation. Rulemaking involves the implementation of laws or executive orders. Below are updates on significant task forces and rulemaking efforts.
Education and Workforce
‘Student Voice’ Task Force: The Joint Task Force on Student Success for Underrepresented Students in Higher Education – aka the Student Voice Task Force – is holding in-person and virtual meetings on campuses across the state through the end of July. OBI has been asked to identify businesses to participate in task force roundtable discussions A complete schedule of task force visits and meetings can be found here.
The Legislature created the task force in 2021 to develop policy and funding proposals to help students from populations with comparatively low higher-education enrollment. For each meeting, OBI has been asked to identify two or three local business representatives to discuss preparation for students entering the workforce. Given today’s workforce shortages, the contribution of business voices to the task force is critical.
Major themes that have developed during previous meetings include the need to address student debt, the need for wraparound services, the need to increase high school counseling capacity and the need to help students navigate the administrative challenges of college attendance, which include lining up housing and accessing programs for which they are eligible.
Upcoming meetings will occur at the University of Oregon on April 25 and at Western Oregon University on April 26.
If you’d like to learn more or participate, please contact Morgan Beltz.
Employment and Labor
PFMLI: The Oregon Employment Department is working on the latest batch of rules related to the Oregon Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance (PFMLI) program. The Legislature established the program in 2019, and employers that don’t offer equivalent plans will begin to pay into the program early in 2023, as will their employees. The employment department is likely to introduce multiple bills during the 2023 legislative to address both technical and substantive changes to the program. Meanwhile, OBI hopes to work on legislation for 2023 that will ensure that PFMLI will work smoothly with the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA), which provides unpaid time off. OBI is working with the employment department to hold several webinars this year, beginning this spring or early summer with a PFMLI overview, followed by a webinar on equivalent plans.
Heat and Smoke Rules: We expect Oregon OSHA to announce in late April or early May that the agency has adopted administrative rules to protect employees from excessive heat and smoke. OSHA intends to have the rules in place by May in anticipation of summer heat and wildfires. OBI and business-coalition partners submitted comments on the final proposed rules recently. As soon as OSHA announces the rules, we will schedule a compliance webinar.
For employment and labor questions, contact Paloma Sparks.
Environment, Energy and Natural Resources
Air Permitting: OBI is participating in a major Department of Environmental Quality rulemaking process that seeks significant, fundamental changes to the air quality permitting program. OBI and a broader coalition of businesses and associations, represented by Stoel Rives, have submitted comments in response to Rules Advisory Committee (RAC) Meeting 1, RAC Meeting 2 and RAC Meeting 3. We have expressed concern that the result of the proposals being discussed will make the program more complex and costly, but not more effective DEQ will hold one last advisory committee meeting on the fiscal impact on May 2. The proposed rule could be issued for public comment as early as May 11.
For environment, energy and natural resources questions, contact Sharla Moffett.
Universal Health Care: OBI is monitoring the Task Force on Universal Health Care, which the Legislature established in 2019 to recommend a universal health-care system. On April 28 the task force will be reviewing design and funding concepts put forward by the Expenditures & Revenue Analysis Work Group. The task force is looking to generate $22 – $25 billion per year in revenue to fund a universal health care system.
Bridge Health Care Task Force: The 2022 Legislature created a task force to help low-income Oregonians who would lose Medicaid coverage that is guaranteed during the recently extended federal COVID emergency. An organizational meeting for the Joint Task Force on the Bridge Health Care Program will take place on April 26. The federal emergency declaration prohibits the removal from Medicaid rolls of people whose incomes have grown beyond program limits. An estimated 300,000 Oregonians could lose coverage following the conclusion of the emergency, which is currently scheduled to happen in mid-July.
For health care questions, contact Morgan Beltz.
Product Labeling: OBI is monitoring the Truth in Labeling Task Force established by the 2021 passage of recycling-modernization legislation. The task force is reviewing options for Oregon-specific packaging label requirements, including the potential replacement of the universal recycling “chasing arrows” symbol with labels indicating recyclability in Oregon. OBI is not on the task force but seeks to delay any Oregon decisions until the conclusion of a similar effort in California, which represents a much larger market. The task force must submit a report to the Legislature by June 1. Implementation of any new requirements likely will happen over a period exceeding three years, in part due to the need to develop a comprehensive statewide recyclability list.
Consumer Privacy: The Attorney General’s Consumer Privacy Task Force has begun to meet again following the 2022 legislative session. The task force has been meeting for several years to develop legislation and is currently working on the bill section-by-section starting with definitions in preparation for comprehensive privacy legislation that will be introduced during the 2023 session. OBI will continue to urge that any legislation allow for the continued use of customer loyalty programs and other similar programs.
For retail questions, contact Paloma Sparks.
Urban Density: We are following the Department of Land Conservation and Development’s Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities rulemaking process. The rules, which the agency hopes to adopt this summer, are intended to restrict vehicle traffic by increasing the density of urban development and creating communities where very little driving is required, place significant restrictions on residential, commercial and industrial development and reduce parking needed for retailers to disincentive the use of personal vehicles.
I5 Bridge: We are following the progress of the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program (IBRP), the bridge in question being the Interstate 5 bridge connecting Portland and Vancouver, Wash. This week, both the IBRP Executive Steering Group and the Bi-State Legislative Committee on the I5 bridge met to discuss transit options. IBRP staff are getting close to recommending a bridge design, and OBI has been a vocal advocate for increasing vehicle capacity over the bridge to meet current and future transportation demands. The bridge needs to be replaced for many reasons. It is more than 100 years old, extremely vulnerable to a seismic event, among the top 23 worst traffic bottlenecks in the country and critical to our regional economy, with nearly 140,000 people and more than $70 million in freight crossing the bridge daily.
For transportation questions, contact Sharla Moffett.
Manufacturer Profile: Looptworks
Looptworks is a Portland-based manufacturer that transforms landfill-bound materials into stylish bags and apparel, downcycled insulation and recycled fibers.
Through partnerships with other businesses, Looptworks turns excess kite sail fabric into duffel bags, old athletics uniforms into backpacks, unneeded airline seat covers into leather bags – and much more.
Read more about Looptworks on our website.
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