Nominate by Aug. 31 for Manufacturer of the Year Awards
OBI’s Manufacturing Council of Oregon will present its inaugural Manufacturer of the Year Awards on Oct. 6, which also will mark Manufacturing Day. Awards will be presented for excellence in each of three areas: innovation, environmental sustainability, and workforce and community impact.
OBI will accept nominations for the awards until Aug. 31, and 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.
To learn more about the awards and nominate a manufacturer, go here.
OBI will celebrate the contributions of Oregon’s manufacturing sector throughout 2023. In addition to the inaugural Manufacturer of the Year Awards, OBI has launched the annual Coolest Thing Made in Oregon competition, which allows Oregonians to vote on the coolest product made in the state. And this fall, OBI will conduct the second annual Manufacturing and Innovation Roadshow.
Thousands of Signatures Collected for Payroll Tax Referral
The OBI-led campaign to let Salem residents vote on a recently adopted payroll tax collected 4,000 signatures during its first week. Roughly that many signatures from Salem voters are needed to force a referendum on the tax, and OBI intends to submit 6,000 to account for possible error rates.
The Salem City Council voted to adopt the controversial tax on July 10. Beginning July 2024, the city will apply an 0.814% tax on the wages of employees, including self-employed people, for 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.
To send the tax to the November 2023 ballot, approximately 4,000 signatures must be validated by Aug. 9. To learn more about the campaign, to participate and to donate, please visit www.LetSalemVote.com.
Trust Fund Deemed Adequate to Support Paid Leave Oregon
Paid Leave Oregon, the state’s paid family and medical leave insurance program, will be implemented as planned following a determination that it is adequately funded. Employees will be able to apply for benefits beginning Aug. 14, and benefit payments will begin Sept. 3.
The Legislature this year passed a bill, SB 31, that required the Oregon Employment Department to determine that the program trust fund was solvent before launching benefits Sept. 3. Based on current data and projections, the trust fund is adequate to support the program, the department announced July 18.
The department also announced that detailed information for employees, including eligibility requirements, tutorial videos and a benefits calculator, would be available on the Paid Leave Oregon website Aug. 14. Employees may now visit the employee overview page for resources, including a guidebook.
Employers can learn about the program by visiting the Paid Leave Oregon employer page, which includes requirements for small and large employers, a tool kit and many other resources.
To keep up to date on program changes, check out the Paid Leave Oregon news and events page, which features press releases and helpful monthly bulletins. OBI’s Paid Leave Oregon web page also contains useful information, including updates, links and recorded webinars.
Finally, don’t miss OBI’s Aug. 4 Paid Leave Oregon webinar, during which experts with the Oregon Employment Department will provide an overview of the program, discuss recently adopted legislative updates and answer questions.
The online webinar, supported by OBI’s CompSAFE program, will run from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Go here to register.
Grant Support Letters Needed for I-5 Bridge by Aug. 9
Following passage of Oregon’s $1 billion commitment to the I-5 bridge replacement project, efforts are now focused on securing approximately $3 billion in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
We need to show support from Oregon’s business community for federal grants to leverage the state’s funding commitment to the project. With a price tag of $6-7 billion, Oregon and Washington simply cannot afford to replace the bridge without significant federal investment.
Please email letters to Sharla Moffett (email@example.com) no later than Aug. 9.
2023 Legislative Session Report to be Released Aug. 7
The 2023 Legislative Session, which ended on June 25, was an eventful one. At 168 days, it was the longest since 2009 and saw the introduction of 2,970 measures, the passage of 653 and the referral to voters of three.
OBI’s policy team worked tirelessly, tracking thousands of bills while monitoring the activity of 41 committees and communicating constantly with lawmakers on key bills.
Gov. Tina Kotek is now working her way through the stack of legislation awaiting her signature. Her last day to act on bills is Friday, Aug. 4. As soon as the governor signs or vetoes her final bill, OBI will put the finishing touches on the 2023 Legislative Session report, which features key session takeaways, recaps of seven policy areas, including notable legislation, and a comprehensive list of bills closely tracked by OBI’s policy team.
We expect to share the report with OBI members via email on Monday, Aug. 7.
Environmental Agency Adopts 83% Hike in Air Quality Fees
The Environmental Quality Commission (EQC), the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) governing body, adopted an 83% increase in air quality fees for Title V permit holders on July 20.
The Legislature narrowly passed HB 3229 on the last day of the legislative session to address a budgetary shortfall that would have required DEQ to cut 11 permitting positions without the increase (at a time when there is a significant permit backlog). Both the annual base fee and the per-ton emissions fee will rise by 43% for fall 2023 invoices, and the balance of the increase will be implemented in 2024.
Additionally, the bill authorized the EQC to adopt fee increases linked to the consumer price index or 3%, whichever is lower. The fee increase comes on the heels of new air quality permit regulations adopted in late 2022 that add major new compliance costs and complexity for permit holders and also significantly intensify DEQ’s resource needs for carrying out air quality permitting. OBI was heavily engaged in opposing this steep and sudden fee increase and worked with partner organizations in offering a more incremental, reasonable path forward in the -4 amendment (a 50% increase in only the base fee and no increase in the emissions fee).
Historically, DEQ has engaged stakeholders early so that permit holders were able to budget for increased operating expenses, since they can add tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in permitting costs. Unfortunately, permit holders were not notified of this sizable fee increase until Feb. 14 this year, so permit holders were not given time to plan for these significant added costs. Our coalition was successful in obtaining two budget notes on the bill that require DEQ to examine the overall fee structure and implement key performance measures to improve the efficiency of the regulatory program.
Multnomah Income Flight: Multnomah County residents who moved away took more than $1 billion in income with them during the first year of the pandemic, according to an Oregonian analysis of data released by the Internal Revenue Service. The average income of Multnomah County residents who moved away in 2020, the most recent figure available, was 14% higher than of those who moved the year prior.
State Bank Veto: On July 28, Gov. Tina Kotek announced that she planned to veto a bill that would create a task for the creation of an Oregon state bank, Willamette Week reports.
Overtime Law Regrets: Many farmworkers who were expected to benefit from a Washington state law that mandates agricultural overtime now regret its passage, National Public Radio reports. Rather than paying workers overtime, farmers have increased the number of employees to spread work around. Many farmworkers now earn less money even as inflation has eroded the buying power of what they do earn.
Quitting Slows: The number of Oregonians quitting their jobs fell substantially in the first part of the year, a sign that elements of the labor market are returning to normal after three years of pandemic-driven upheaval, The Oregonian reports.
Governor’s Approval Rating: At 45%, Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek’s quarterly approval rating continues to be the lowest among the nation’s governors, according to a poll released July 24 by research technology company Morning Consult. Her approval rating in April was 42%, The Oregonian reports.
Senator’s First Amendment Win: Sen. Brian Boquist, who warned that Oregon State Police should “send bachelors and come heavily armed” if they wanted to force him back to the Capitol during a 2019 Republican Senate boycott, has won a federal First Amendment challenge related to his threats. Boquist, then a Republican, sued then-Sen. President Peter Courtney and other Democratic Senate leaders for their decision to require him to give 12 hours’ notice before he could appear at the Capitol. A federal judge ruled July 24 that both sides engaged in “performative politics” and no one seriously worried about violence from Boquist.
Intel and Ericsson: Intel will make a custom 5G infrastructure chip for telecom equipment maker Ericsson using its most advanced production process, the Portland Business Journal reports.
Alaska Partnership: Alaska Airlines has formed a partnership with secure-identity company CLEAR that will give Alaska’s Mileage Plan members preferential pricing on annual CLEAR Plus memberships, Forbes reports. CLEAR Plus allows members to move through security more quickly at 52 airports nationwide by verifying their identity with their eyes or fingerprints rather than their drivers’ licenses.
Schnitzer Rebrands: Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc., the 117-year-old Portland metal recycling company, said July 26 it would scrap the name it borrowed from its founder and rebrand as Radius Recycling, The Oregonian reports. In announcing the change Schnitzer said that the new name better reflects its role in the circular economy.