Capitol Connect WP image

Salem Payroll Tax Qualifies for November Ballot

A referendum of Salem’s newly adopted employee payroll tax has qualified for the November 2023 ballot, the Marion County Clerk’s Office determined Aug. 11. As of Friday evening, elections workers had verified 4,592 signatures submitted by petitioners with the OBI-led Refer the Tax on Salem Workers campaign. This number exceeds the 3,986 valid signatures needed to qualify the referendum for the ballot.

In all, the campaign has submitted nearly 13,000 signatures, and 75% of those reviewed by the county clerk’s office so far have been deemed valid.

The Salem City Council voted to adopt the controversial tax on July 10. Unless voters defeat it, the city will apply an 0.814% tax on the wages of employees, including self-employed people, beginning July 2024. The tax will apply to all work performed within Salem city limits. Employers will be required to withhold the tax at each pay period and remit it quarterly. The tax will provide additional general fund resources for the city, which says it needs more revenue for public safety. The tax is expected to generate about $27 million annually.

Tracking the tax will create a significant administrative burden for employees and employers, especially when workers have hybrid work schedules or work on the road or at various job sites outside of the city at times. And paying the tax will give workers already struggling to contend with rising inflation an incentive to seek work outside of Salem. The tax will cost a Salem resident earning the average annual wage of $62,192 more than $500 per year.

OBI would like to thank the businesses, organizations and individuals who contributed money and time to the signature-gathering effort. Visit for more information about the next phase of the campaign and to sign up for updates.


Paid Leave Oregon Updates

Benefit Signups: Employees are eligible to sign up for benefits under Oregon’s paid family and medical leave insurance program, Paid Leave Oregon, beginning Aug. 14. About 41,000 are expected to do so during the program’s early days, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports, and about 12,000 people are expected to register for benefits each month after that. Paid Leave Oregon will begin to pay benefits on Sept. 3.

Updated Rules: The Oregon Employment Department on Aug. 9 filed a temporary administrative order with the Secretary of State’s Office for nine administrative rules related to benefits, confidentiality and assistance grants. The rules, which became effective Aug. 9, provide clarification for these and other subjects: requirements for job protection, confidentiality, the collection of information and use of Social Security numbers and individual taxpayer numbers, and conditions for disclosing information. These and other temporary rules can be found on the department’s rulemaking website here.

Affinity Clarification: SB 999, which passed during the 2023 Legislative Session, instructed both the Employment Department and Bureau of Labor and Industries to develop a definition of “affinity” for Oregon’s various leave laws that is workable and understandable to both employers and employees. Negotiations involving labor stakeholders, OBI and others produced a compromise under which both agencies would adopt Colorado’s affinity-related language. Despite that compromise, the Employment Department’s initial draft rules on this issue omitted important language governing the circumstances under which a cohabiting person could be considered a “family member.” As a result of advocacy by OBI and others, the Employment Department’s newest draft of the temporary rules (see item above) contains language that considers the “duration and purpose” of cohabitation when determining whether a person is a family member for leave purposes.

Additional Resources: Updates, events and other information about the program can be found on Paid Leave Oregon’s news and events web page here and on its page for employers here. Additional information, including webinar recordings, can be found on OBI’s Paid Leave Oregon resources page here as well.

Webinar Recording: On Aug. 4, Paid Leave Oregon staff discussed the program’s rollout and answered questions from participants during a webinar hosted by OBI. Go here to watch a recording of the webinar.


Read OBI 2023 End of Session Report

The 2023 Legislative Session was exceptional in many ways. It featured a new governor, mostly new legislative leadership, one-third of legislators new to their seats since the 2021 session, construction that severely restricted Capitol operations, the longest walkout in Oregon’s history, a yet-to-be tested ballot measure taking aim at such walkouts, the resignation of the secretary of state and more.

The session saw the introduction of 2,970 bills and the passage of 653. Three of these measures were referred to voters.

All of his happened within a 168-day period during which OBI’s policy team engaged in countless hours of advocacy to support positive bills and improve or defeat harmful ones.

Read and download OBI’s 2023 Legislative Session Report below for a comprehensive review of the longest session since 2009. This year’s report includes:

  • Key takeaways
  • OBI’s advocacy, research and education plans
  • Important bills and highlights in seven policy areas
  • An appendix of legislation relevant to Oregon employers


Notable News

Portland Task Force: Gov. Tina Kotek on Aug. 9 announced that she and The Standard CEO Dan McMillan were forming a public-private partnership to improve conditions in downtown Portland, Willamette Week reports. The task force will consist of up to 25 members and feature subcommittees focused on crime, vandalism, homelessness, tax competitiveness and other areas. It will start meeting Aug. 22 and deliver a preliminary plan at the Oregon Business Plan Leadership Summit in December.

Disqualified Republicans: Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade announced Aug. 8 that GOP senators who racked up more than 10 unexcused absences this year will not be eligible to run for reelection next year, Willamette Week reports. She argued that her interpretation matches the common understanding of Measure 113, which voters approved last year, though language in the measure is ambiguous. A lawyer representing senators whose eligibility is in question says he will appeal Griffin-Valade’s decision.

Washington Carbon Pricing: Advocacy organization Let’s Go Washington is gathering signatures on a petition to ask the Washington Legislature to repeal the state’s new carbon pricing system, Cascade Public Media reports. The carbon pricing program, which went into effect in 2023, has contributed to a significant increase in the state’s fuel prices. If Let’s Go Washington succeeds in collecting sufficient signatures, and if the Legislature fails to act on the petition during is 2024 session, it will head to the 2024 general election ballot.

Oregon Saves Rollout: July 31 was the deadline for all Oregon businesses to enroll in the state’s mandatory retirement plan, OregonSaves. But many Oregon businesses didn’t know about this deadline — or even what OregonSaves is, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports.

Capitol Renovation: Oregon lawmakers quietly OK’d a $90 million cost overrun for a massive Capitol renovation project this year, ratcheting up spending by nearly 25% without so much as hinting they planned to do so, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. The new expenses, tucked away in budget bills passed late in the legislative session, were not mentioned in committee hearings or outlined in written testimony. The change will bring the anticipated cost of the renovation to $465 million.


Registration Open for Manufacuring Roadshow

Registration is now open for OBI’s second annual Manufacturing and Innovation Roadshow, which will visit facilities in eastern Oregon, the Columbia River Gorge, Hood River, central Oregon and the northern Willamette Valley in early October.

The itinerary, which will be expanded in the coming weeks, includes the following stops:

Go here for the latest tour updates and go here to register for the tour.


There’s Still Time for Manufacturing Nominations

Time is running short to submit nominations for a pair of inaugural initiatives to celebrate Oregon manufacturers.

Nominations will be accepted until Aug. 15 for the Coolest Thing Made in Oregon contest. Products may be submitted by the company itself or a third party. Nominees need not be OBI members, but nominated products must be manufactured in Oregon. Learn more about the contest here and nominate a product here.

Meanwhile, nominations will be accepted through the end of the month for the Manufacturer of the Year Awards. Nominations will be accepted in three categories: innovation, environmental sustainability, and workforce and community impact. Nominations may be submitted by the company itself or a third party. Nominees need not be OBI members, but they must be based in Oregon or have significant operations here. Learn more about the contest and nominate a manufacturer here.

OBI will celebrate the contributions of Oregon’s manufacturing sector throughout 2023. In addition to the initiatives above, OBI will conduct the second annual Manufacturing and Innovation Roadshow.


Nominations Open for ‘Women MAKE’ Manufacturing Awards

The Manufacturing Institute is accepting nominations for the 2024 Women MAKE Awards, which recognize the achievement of women at all levels of manufacturing organizations. Nominations are considered in two categories:

Honoree: A nominee is currently employed in manufacturing at any level of the company, from the factory floor to the C-suite. One hundred honorees are recognized each year.

Emerging Leader: A nominee is a rising star currently employed in the manufacturing industry and has made significant contributions and excelled early in her career. An emerging leader must be between 18 and 30 years of age as of Dec. 31, 2023. Thirty emerging leaders are recognized each year.

Go here to learn more about the awards and submit a nomination.


Oregon Infrastructure Summit to Take Place Sept. 27-28

OBI will sponsor the 2023 Oregon Infrastructure Summit, which will take place Sept. 27-28 at Oregon State University in Corvallis.

The summit will connect municipalities, ports, property owners, developers, community leaders, regulators, financiers and service providers to share the latest knowledge and best practices, develop business concepts and foster relationships.

This year’s summit is presented by Business Oregon and the Northwest Environmental Business Council in partnership with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. In addition to several workshops and other events, it will feature a keynote address by Margi Hoffmann, state director for USDA Rural Development serving the state of Oregon.

Go here to learn more about the summit.