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Notable News

Gas-Powered Car Ban: The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission on Dec. 19 approved a rule banning the sale of gasoline-powered cars, SUVs and light-duty trucks by 2035. According to The Oregonian, the Advanced Clean Cars II rule echoes a California rule requiring manufacturers to sell an escalating percentage of zero-emission vehicles, beginning with 35% in 2026 and increasing to 100% by 2035. You can read the rule here.

Employment in the Trades: The number of young Oregon workers entering the trades has been climbing steadily since the Great Recession and is at its highest point since the 1990s, The Oregonian reports. The fastest growth among young workers, who range in age from 19 to 24, has been in retail distribution warehouses. This sector enjoyed Oregon’s fastest wage gains in 2021, increasing by 11%.

Community College Audit: An audit of Oregon’s community colleges released by the Secretary of State’s Office Dec. 19 calls for greater transparency and accountability, according to The Oregonian. The audit notes, among other things, that student outcomes remain lower than in other states and that the state has offered little oversight or guidance on financial sustainability.

Housing Affordability: Josh Lehner with the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis has released housing-affordability charts for several markets, including Portland, Bend and Salem. In all of these markets, the percentage of households that could afford to buy a median-priced home with a 5% down payment without exceeding 30% of income has dropped substantially since the start of the year. In Bend, one of Oregon’s most expensive markets, only 14% of households could afford to buy a median-priced home without crossing the 30% threshold. OBI’s Growth and Innovation Roadmap includes several policy recommendations to increase housing affordability.


Policy and Task Force Update

Tolling Committee: OBI policy team member Sharla Moffett has been appointed to an advisory committee that will develop rules that will determine how toll rates are set and how customers interact with the toll system. Tolling is expected to be a crucial source of revenue for projects on I-205 and I-5, including the I-5 bridge replacement project.

Universal Health Care: The Joint Task Force on Universal Health Care has issued its final report and recommendations. The report asks the Legislature to create a governance board in 2023 to implement universal health care in 2026-27. According to a draft plan presented to the task force earlier this year, paying for universal health care would require about $20 billion annually in new and higher taxes.

Retail Crime: The Oregon Retail Crime Task force met Dec. 13 and will meet next on Jan. 17. Topics covered during the Dec. 13 meeting include retail theft trends at state-run liquor stores, efforts in other states to combat organized retail crime, non-legislative solutions and legislative solutions. You can read notes from the Dec. 13 meeting here. The Jan. 17 meeting, which will run from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., will further examine legislative and non-legislative solutions.

Student Success Task Force: The Joint Task Force on Student Success for Underrepresented Students in Higher Education, aka the Student Success Task Force, approved a final report and recommendations for the 2023 legislative session this month. The group’s nearly two dozen recommendations include the expansion of grants, increased access to child care and additional spending on wraparound services. You can read the final report here. Two members of the task force, Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, and Rep. Mark Owens, R-Crane, submitted a letter asking the task force to focus on a small number of prioritized policies. It isn’t clear how the Legislature will respond to the recommendations, though several placeholder bills have been created.

Health Care Bridge Plan: The Joint Task Force on the Bridge Health Care Program approved its final report this month. The task force was directed to develop a proposal for a bridge program to provide affordable health care insurance and increase continuity for people who regularly enroll and disenroll in Medicaid due to fluctuations in income. You can read the task force’s recommendations here. It isn’t clear how the Legislature will respond to the task force’s work given other significant health care proposals it will discuss in 2023, including a universal health care program.


Paid Leave Oregon Contributions Will Begin in January

Employers participating in the state-provided Paid Leave Oregon plan will submit payroll tax contributions beginning Jan. 1.

Paid Leave Oregon refers to the paid family and medical leave insurance (PFMLI) program the Oregon Legislature adopted in 2019. It will take effect in 2023.

The program will provide paid time for family, medical and other reasons. These include the care of a newborn or adopted child, recovery time following serious illness or injury, and leave for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, harassment or stalking. The program provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave per year.

The program will be funded by a tax on wages. The initial rate will be 1%, of which employees will pay 60%. Employers with at least 25 employees will pay the remaining 40%. Smaller employers will not be required to contribute, though they will have to collect and submit employee contributions.

Most employees seeking paid leave will apply to the state, which will administer Paid Leave Oregon. However, employers that don’t want to participate in the state program may provide equivalent plans offered by insurance companies.

On Sept. 3, employees can start applying for benefits.

For more information about Paid Leave Oregon, visit OBI’s Paid Leave Oregon resources page, which provides access to recorded webinars, rules, fact sheets and other material.