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2023 Legislative Session Gets Underway

The Legislature convened for organizational purposes Jan. 9, at which time lawmakers and the governor were sworn in, committee assignments announced and bills introduced.
The two chambers feature many new members, a few new leaders and a partisan balance that has eliminated Democratic supermajorities. In Tina Kotek, Oregon has a new governor as well. The Legislature will reconvene on Jan. 17 and run through June.

In the meantime, OBI’s policy team has been reviewing roughly 1,800 bills that were introduced on the first day. About half of these are placeholder bills, which can be used as vehicles for legislation yet to be drafted. Hundreds, and perhaps thousands, more bills are likely to be introduced over the next several weeks.

OBI will continue to provide updates through the Capitol Connect newsletter, which will be distributed every Monday during the session beginning Jan. 23. Updates also will appear on OBI’s website on the 2023 Legislative Session page.


Register for Jan. 31 Legislative Session Webinar

On Jan. 31, OBI’s policy team will provide a preview of what is sure to be an eventful session. The webinar also will review OBI’s recently released Growth and Innovation Roadmap, a collection of policy and process recommendations that will enhance Oregon’s economic competitiveness. The Roadmap focuses on three broad areas: economic vitality, strengthening Oregon’s workforce and removing barriers to success.

The webinar will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 31 from 11 a.m. to noon.

Register here.


OBI Rounds Out Policy Area Leads as 2023 Legislative Session Begins

As the 2023 legislative session gets underway, OBI has rounded out its policy team with key hires and promotions.

Scott Bruun will be OBI’s vice president for government affairs. In this role, Scott will continue to spearhead OBI’s efforts on tax, fiscal and manufacturing policy while taking up an expanded role leading the policy team. Scott has varied industry experience, including agency-level communications and public affairs, financial management and commercial construction. Scott also served for six years in the Oregon House of Representatives. Scott can be reached at 503.720.1329 and

Sharla Moffett has been promoted to senior policy director and will continue to lead OBI’s work on energy, environment, natural resources and infrastructure policy. Sharla has extensive experience in managing natural resource policy issues at the local, state and federal levels, having worked for industry trade associations, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture. Sharla can be reached at 971.998.2272 and

Derek Sangston will start his role as policy director and counsel at OBI on Jan. 16. Derek will oversee employment/labor, retail and liability policy. Derek comes to OBI after several years of experience in the Oregon Legislature, where he served as legislative director to Senate President Peter Courtney and, prior to that, as a legislative aide for Sen. Mark Hass. Derek can be reached at 541.815.6497 and

Katie Koenig has been promoted to the role of public affairs manager and will manage education, workforce and health care policy for OBI. She also will manage the OBI Research and Education Foundation and continue in her role as board liaison. Katie brings a wealth of experience to the role from her time with OBI and AOI (one of OBI’s predecessor organizations) and as a legislative staffer. Katie can be reached at 503.551.0958 and


Policy Update

Tolling Committee: The Statewide Toll Rulemaking Advisory Committee, which includes OBI senior policy director Sharla Moffett, will meet for the first time on Jan. 27. Tolling is expected to be a crucial source of revenue for projects on I-205 and I-5, including the I-5 bridge replacement. OBI supports tolling as long as revenue remains dedicated exclusively to identified projects with a clear nexus to tolling locations.

Health Care Costs: The Cost Growth Target Advisory Committee will meet Jan. 18. The agenda includes an overview of the 2022 Prescription Drug Affordability Board annual report and the 2022 Prescription Drug Transparency annual report.

State of State Event: Sharla Moffett will speak at the annual State of the State Event presented by the Northwest Environmental Business Council, in partnership with the Air & Waste Management Association. The event, which will feature a discussion of Oregon’s legislative and regulatory landscape, will take place Jan. 31 at the Double Tree by Hilton Portland from 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Go here for registration information.

Retail Crime: The Organized Retail Crime Task Force will meet Jan. 17 to identify recommendations for the Legislature to consider. Retail crime has skyrocketed in recent years, increasing public safety concerns as well as costs to businesses and consumers. This has become a statewide, multijurisdictional issue of concern.

Recycling Rulemaking: Scott Bruun represents OBI on the Department of Environmental Quality’s rulemaking advisory committee for the Plastic Pollution and Recycling Modernization Act (2021). The RAC met on Jan. 11 to discuss, among other things, proposals relating to recycling material acceptance lists. You can see the rule concepts proposed here. The next meeting is March 10.


Notable News

Agricultural Overtime Law: A 2016 California law requiring agricultural employers to pay overtime has forced growers to slash hours, reducing the income of farm workers, The Sacramento Bee reports. In response to the law, farmers also are reducing planted acreage, increasing automation and switching to less labor-intensive crops, the Bee reports. The Oregon Legislature passed a similar law in 2022.

Workforce Participation: Depressed by an aging population, Oregon’s workforce participation rate remained low in 2021, continuing a decadelong trend, The Oregonian reports. At 62%, the state’s workforce participation is well short of a peak near 70% in the late 1990s.

Bend Permitting: The city’s lengthy permitting process has delayed the construction of affordable housing, The Bulletin reports.

NWEA Purchase: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has agreed to buy Portland educational services organization and OBI member NWEA, the Portland Business Journal reports.

Power Lines: The Portland Business Journal on Jan. 4 provided an update on a proposed power line in Eastern Oregon that would allow more power swapping between the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West. The utilities behind the project are Idaho Power and OBI member PacificPower.

Portland Job Growth: Job growth in the Portland metro area was among the weakest of any major metro area in 2022, the Portland Business Journal reported Jan. 3. Year-over-year job growth was 8.4%, well below leaders Rochester, N.Y. (17.7%) and Charlotte, N.C. (16.2%). Average job growth among the metros examined was 11.9%.

Oregon Income Growth: The Portland Business Journal also wrote about income growth in Oregon and Portland on Jan. 3. Between 2019 and 2021, per capita personal income (PCPI) in both the state and metro grew faster than the national average of 14%. Oregon’s PCPI grew 16.8% over that period and Portland’s 15.5%.


Profile: Greenbrier Reduces Fall Risk with Automated Rail Car Hatch

Working around trains has its dangers, including falling from – or even into – railroad cars. Thanks to The Greenbrier Companies, such incidents may soon become less common. The Lake Oswego-based manufacturer of rail cars has developed an automated hatch that eliminates the need for workers to climb on certain kinds of cars. And people who don’t climb on rail cars can’t fall from them.

Read more about Greenbrier’s Tsunami Hatch on OBI’s website: what it looks like, how it increases safety and efficiency, and how Greenbrier overcame regulatory hurdles in developing it. There’s even a video.

Read more here.


Save the Date: OBI Annual Meeting Set for May 17

The OBI Annual Meeting will take place May 17 at the Salem Convention Center. Please stay tuned for additional information, including the time, agenda and registration link.

The Annual Meeting is a chance for hundreds of our members to get together, hear an organizational update from our board leadership and OBI staff, and network with each other as well as elected officials. This event typically features a high-profile keynote address or political panel. Past speakers include A.B. Stoddard of RealClearPolitics and Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers. The 2022 Annual Meeting included a post-primary election forum involving the three leading candidates for governor.

The Annual Meeting is also an opportunity to bestow our Jobs Champion Award to legislators and civic leaders who embody the values and mission of OBI. In recent years, the Jobs Champion Award has been given to Brad Hicks, retired president and CEO of The Chamber of Medford and Jackson County; Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose; former Rep. Jeff Barker, D-Aloha; and Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis, R-Albany, for their bipartisan work promoting Oregon jobs.


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.