Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday season and are heading into a prosperous 2019. At OBI, we are starting the new year ready to act as your advocate at the Oregon State Capitol. When the 2019 Legislature convenes, we know a number of big issues impacting your business—and your ability to grow and keep quality jobs for Oregonians—will be on the agenda. We will start the legislative session making sure your voice and concerns are heard. Some of the major issues we will be tracking are:
- Taxes. The legislative leadership, along with Gov. Kate Brown, have made it clear they will be looking for substantial new revenue in this session, and taxes impacting business will be on the table. We are already geared up on this issue and have been working with our partners to ensure legislators understand the impact of the different potential tax proposals on business. We will be keeping a close eye on the overall growth in the tax burden shouldered by Oregon businesses and make sure legislators understand how this impacts your ability to effectively operate in our state.
- Cost Control. For years, we have been advocating for the state to address the growing cost of both PERS and public employee health care benefits, which have drained the general fund and are only expected to become more burdensome. We will continue to insist that new revenues without appropriate cost control do not solve the problem, and ultimately hinder our ability to invest in the outcomes Oregonians want, like a better education system.
- Education. The Governor and the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Student Success have called for strategic investments in education programs that will improve the ability of Oregon’s youth to be prepared for successful careers. The business community has long supported strategic education investments, and we will be engaged in those discussions to ensure programs you have told us you care about—including early childhood education, career technical education and post-secondary education—are part of the education funding strategy.
- Environment. Like tax increases, carbon is on the shortlist for Oregon’s legislative leaders. OBI is working with members potentially impacted by the proposed cap and trade bill, and our primary focus is to ensure the impact to our members and, again, their ability to maintain competitive operations in Oregon, are considered as legislation progresses.
Health Care. Legislators will be looking for mechanisms to fund Oregon’s Medicaid programs. The business community has long been part of the discussions to ensure Medicaid services can be delivered to Oregonians who need them, and OBI will be at the table with our members as the plan for funding the program is devised, paying particular attention to taxes that ultimately will be paid by business.
- Employment. In every session, we expect bills that will impact your relationship with your employees. We will keep a close eye on those, including a proposal around paid family leave. We already are working with partners on addressing a manufacturing overtime rule adopted in 2017, which has been problematical for many workers who actually want to work overtime, as well as adjustments to the pay equity statute adopted in 2017, which has provisions that need clarification.
I am very proud of the team we have assembled at OBI to work on these issues and others on your behalf. And we will make sure that you will have up-to-the-minute information about what we are doing.
Starting this week, we are introducing a suite of new communications tools, including this newsletter, MemberConnect, in which we will highlight what’s happening with our members. During the legislative session, we also will have a weekly newsletter summarizing what’s going on at the Capitol, and we will have targeted newsletters with information important to our manufacturing members, retailers, CompSafe partners and HealthChoice participants.
We hope you will take advantage of the opportunities we create to ask for your opinions about issues and trends. We need to know what you think as we devise and implement our legislative strategy. And send us your company news so we can share it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s an exciting and busy time. I am so proud to be your OBI chairman. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch. You can email me any day of the week at email@example.com. I want to hear from you.
Thank you for your continuing support of OBI and business in Oregon.
OBI Board Chair
President & CEO, A-dec