Noncitizen Voting: A Multnomah County Charter Review Committee has decided to ask voters in November whether noncitizen residents should be allowed to vote. According to OPB, Multnomah County would become the first jurisdiction in Oregon to allow noncitizens to vote. A New York state judge recently struck down a similar law in New York City.
Walkout Measure: Oregon voters will decide in November whether to adopt a constitutional amendment that would punish lawmakers who engage in walkouts as a way of killing legislation. The union-backed measure would punish lawmakers who have at least 10 unexcused absences from floor sessions. They would be prevented from serving their next term.
COVID Fines: It hasn’t been easy for the state to collect fines from businesses cited for intentionally violating COVID-related safety restrictions. According to The Oregonian, only $15,000 of the $900,000 in fines levied by OSHA has been collected. Most of the 48 citations for intentional violation have been appealed.
Jobs Report: Employers in the U.S. added 372,000 jobs in June. According to The Wall Street Journal, these strong employment figures keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates by 0.75 percentage point later this month.
Mass Timber: The Portland Business Journal’s Pete Danko interviews Iain Macdonald, director of the TallWood Design Institute, about mass timber production in Oregon.
‘State of Sport’ Report Highlights Athletics, Recreation Ecosystem
A report supported by the OBI Research and Education Foundation has quantified the economic impact of businesses tied to sports and recreation. This industry ecosystem supports 51,000 jobs directly and an additional 79,000 jobs indirectly, according to “Oregon: The State of Sport,” presented by U.S. Bank and spearheaded by the Portland Business Alliance. The total economic output of these direct and indirect jobs is roughly $29 billion per year.
The report focuses only on three areas of the state: the Portland area, Eugene and Bend. As impressive as its findings are, it undersells the statewide impact of sports and recreation businesses. Read more about the report here.
Learn about the New Paid Leave Oregon Program
Experts with the Oregon Employment Department will lead a pair of upcoming webinars on Paid Leave Oregon, which goes into effect Jan. 1. Employers will be required to participate in the program or provide an equivalent plan. Learn more by registering for the following webinars or by watching a recording of the first Paid Leave Oregon overview webinar.
Paid Leave Oregon Overview
Date: Thursday, July 14
Time: 3-4 p.m.
Experts with the Oregon Employment Department will provide an overview of the program formerly known as the Oregon Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance program. They also will answer questions from OBI members.
Paid Leave Oregon Equivalent Plans Overview
Date: Tuesday, July 19
Time: 3-4 p.m.
Experts with the Oregon Employment Department will discuss rules governing equivalent plans, which employers can offer as an alternative to participating in Paid Leave Oregon.
Interim Task Force and Rulemaking Update
Land Use and Planning
Urban Density: The Land Conservation and Development Commission adopted a temporary version of the Department of Land Conservation and Development’s Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities proposed rule May 19 and plans to adopt permanent rules at its July 20-21 meeting. The rules establish stringent regulations in designated areas that would prohibit parking and limit auto-dependent uses. The rules state that no vehicle parking, circulation, access or loading would be permitted for new development in cities subject to the rule, which would have major effects on drive-throughs, freight delivery, network transportation services and car dealerships. In conjunction with the organizations representing home builders, restaurants, real estate agents, trucking companies and others, OBI submitted questions to the agency and met on June 30 to discuss them. At the meeting, DLCD staff indicated that they don’t believe that the rules will cause the problems OBI and others predict, which include complicating the delivery of supplies to businesses. OBI submitted additional comments July 1.
For land use and planning questions, contact Sharla Moffett.
Interstate 5 Bridge: Planners with the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program have advanced a design that includes three lanes, plus one auxiliary lane in each direction. Auxiliary lanes are short stretches of roadway between entrances that provide extra room for merging and improve the flow of traffic. It also includes a partial interchange at Hayden Island and light rail in combination with express bus transit. Planners had contemplated a design that includes two auxiliary lanes in each direction but opted instead for half that number. The many policymaking bodies involved in the replacement of the bridge could decide to increase vehicle capacity if support is strong enough. OBI will write a letter, to be signed by other affected organizations, emphasizing the need for additional vehicle capacity. Meanwhile, regional and state governing bodies will soon vote on the proposed bridge design, beginning July 13, when it will go before the city and port of Portland. Metro Council will vote on it July 14, and the bistate legislative committee will do so July 21. OBI consistently has urged planners, legislators and others to maximize capacity. An op-ed supporting additional capacity cosigned by Angela Wilhelms; Portland Business Alliance President and CEO Andrew Hoan and Oregon Trucking Associations President Jana Jarvis appeared in The Oregonian May 25. Construction is expected to begin in 2025.
For transportation questions, contact Sharla Moffett.
Consumer Privacy Concept: July 5 was the last meeting of the attorney general’s Consumer Privacy Task Force until Legislative Counsel produces a bill draft. The AG’s staff has not yet decided whether the bill will include a private right of action, though we should know more after July 15. Meanwhile, privacy advocates have argued recently for enhanced state-level protections in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision and a recent statement from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that nothing in the Fair Credit Reporting Act prevents states from adopting privacy regulations. Paloma Sparks submitted comment June 3 on a draft legislative proposal produced by the task force. OBI will continue to defend language in the proposal that allows for the continued use of customer loyalty programs and the like. We also will continue to highlight flaws, such as those noted in the June 3 comments, that create unreasonable burdens for employers.
For questions, contact Paloma Sparks.
Environment, Energy and Natural Resources
Employee Commute Options: DEQ has begun rulemaking to update the longstanding Employee Commute Options program, which requires employers in the Portland metro area with 100 employees or more at a worksite to do several things. Primarily, they must reduce individual vehicle commute trips by 10% over a baseline, and to that end must develop commute plans that can contain various incentives such as free transit passes, telecommuting and the elimination of employer-paid parking. DEQ proposes to expand the Portland program to all cities with more than 50,000 residents. OBI’s Sharla Moffett is serving on the rules advisory committee (RAC) for this rulemaking. She has submitted comments about the expansion of the program to smaller cities and several worrisome proposals floated at the first RAC meeting on May 9. Problems range from limited public transit options in some parts of Portland Metro and smaller cities to the reluctance of people to use public transit at all due to the rising frequency of violence. The advisory committee held a second meeting June 13. Moffett will submit a letter noting problems with ideas suggested by RAC members, including a mandate for employers to include contractors in their commute-reduction plans and the application of program requirements to all businesses with DEQ-issued air quality permits.
Superfund Rules: OBI on June 24 asked the Department of State Lands to review rules related to the remediation of state-owned submerged land within the Portland Harbor Superfund Site. The state adopted the rules before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency formally laid out the parameters and estimated costs of the Superfund cleanup in 2017. The fees DSL has charged some businesses for remediation work are extremely high – exceeding $1 million per acre in some instances – and suggest that DSL’s rules severely underestimated the potential costs for regulated parties. OBI requested that DSL review the rule within 90 days, and we expect to hear more about the agency’s plans over the next couple of weeks.
Portland Fuel Ordinance: OBI joined the Portland Business Alliance and several other organizations June 27 in opposing Portland City Council’s proposal to block the expansion of city terminals that store petroleum products. The state Land Use Board of Appeals has blocked two previous Council attempts to bar expansion, and the proposed ordinance is a virtual carbon copy of its failed predecessors.
Clean Cars Proposal: The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced June 15 that it will begin rulemaking on the Advanced Clean Cars II Rule, which would require car manufacturers to sell an increasing percentage of zero-emission vehicles beginning in 2026. It would require all 2035 model year sales to be zero-emission vehicles. A similar rule was adopted last November for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. The agency apparently intends to take the rule to the Environmental Quality Commission for adoption in November or December. It will consider adopting California’s Advanced Clean Cars II Rule by reference. DEQ has not yet appointed a rules advisory committee.
Air Permitting: Rules advisory committee (RAC) meetings for DEQ’s air permitting rulemaking have wrapped up, and DEQ issued a proposed rule for public comment May 27. We are concerned that the proposed rules contain foundational changes in the permitting program that will be far more resource-intensive for regulated business as well as DEQ, delay the issuance of permits and exacerbate the agency’s backlog of expired and administratively extended permits. The proposed rules will substantially raise the cost of compliance and slow the issuance of permits without substantially improving air quality. They also will conflict with the air permitting program established by the Legislature. OBI will submit comments on the proposed rules and ensure that policymakers understand their shortcomings as well as the additional agency resources that would be needed to implement them. The rules are being fast-tracked in order be adopted in November before a new governor is seated.
Clean Fuels Expansion: We are monitoring the rulemaking process to expand Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program, which reduces the “carbon intensity” of road fuels by increasing the use of low-carbon fuels and other alternatives. The rulemaking is a product of Gov. Brown’s executive order 20-04 to reduce state greenhouse gas emissions. It follows a worrisome trend in which agencies increase the stringency of regulatory programs beyond the requirements included in the executive order that triggered them. While the executive order recommends reducing the carbon intensity of fuels below 2015 levels by 25% by 2035, DEQ is recommending a 37% reduction. Business representatives have argued that the state should take a more pragmatic approach and avoid unrealistic targets, focusing instead on reasonable and achievable goals. Their comments can be found here. Sharla Moffett will submit comments before the July 21 deadline.
For environment, energy and natural resources questions, contact Sharla Moffett.
Employment and Labor
Agricultural Overtime Rulemaking: The Bureau of Labor and Industries has announced that it will adopt permanent administrative rules to implement House Bill 4002, the 2022 law that removed the agricultural overtime exemption. Overtime hours thresholds will be phased in over five years, beginning with 55 hours in 2023 and falling to 40 hours by 2027. A public hearing will take place on July 15, and the deadline for public comments passes on July 21. This will be a significant adjustment for agricultural employers, who historically have been exempt from overtime. OBI will urge BOLI to focus primarily on education as family farms adjust to this new reality.
Paid Leave: The Oregon Employment Department published the final round of proposed rules for the Paid Leave Oregon program June 29, and these address appeals, benefits, contributions and equivalent plans. The department also made significant changes in response to comments Paloma Sparks submitted May 24. Rulemaking hearings will take place July 21, July 23 and July 26. Paloma plans to comment during the hearings and submit additional written comments. The comment period closes Aug. 1. Please see below to register for instructional webinars about the program and to watch recorded webinars.
Heat and Smoke Rules: OBI is part of a business coalition that filed a legal challenge June 15 to Oregon’s recently adopted heat and smoke rules. While OBI and its members consider workplace safety critical, Oregon OSHA exceeded its authority in developing and adopting these rules, which go well beyond what neighboring states have adopted. The heat rules, which went into effect June 15, require employers, among other things, to develop acclimatization plans and provide paid breaks of increasing length as heat intensifies. The smoke rules, which took effect July 1, require, among other things, exposure assessments, training, and even mandatory mask usage by employees. If you’d like to know more, please download our summaries of the heat and smoke rules. You can also watch a recording of a June 8 overview webinar featuring agency experts. We are working to schedule an additional webinar featuring non-agency experts.
For employment and labor questions, contact Paloma Sparks.
Product Labeling: Established by the 2021 passage of recycling-modernization legislation, the Truth in Labeling Task Force reviewed options for Oregon-specific packaging label requirements, including the potential replacement of the universal recycling “chasing arrows” symbol with labels indicating recyclability in Oregon. Its work led to a recently completed report to the Legislature. OBI seeks to delay any labeling requirements until the conclusion of a similar effort in California, which represents a much larger market.
Recycling: The Oregon Recycling System Advisory Council (ORSAC) will advise DEQ on policy proposals related to Oregon’s recycling system. ORSAC is a product of the 2021 Recycling Modernization Act, which will revamp the state’s recycling system by, in part, shifting the cost to producers and manufacturers of packaged items and paper products. The act also requires the creation of a statewide recycling list and public education. ORSAC will serve as the policymaking body for the system and help set fees that ultimately will be paid by producers and manufacturers categorized as producer responsibility organizations. A rules advisory committee (RAC), which includes Paloma Sparks, has been formed to weigh in on specific policy proposals that DEQ is developing to present to ORSAC. The first RAC meeting will take place July 20. A link to register can be found here.
For retail questions, contact Paloma Sparks.
Universal Health Care: Following the release of a draft proposal for a universal health care plan, the Task Force on Universal Health Care has held a series of virtual listening sessions covering different parts of the state. The universal health care plan would be supported by an employer payroll tax and a personal income tax. Combined, these taxes would raise more than $21 billion per year. Comments are due by July 14. If you’re interested in submitting comments, please reach out to Morgan Beltz. OBI also will submit a comment letter.
Bridge Health Care Task Force: The 2022 Legislature created a task force to help low-income Oregonians who would lose Medicaid coverage that is guaranteed during the recently extended federal COVID emergency. The Joint Task Force on the Bridge Health Care Program met most recently on June 14 to consider an actuarial analysis of a federally funded basic health care program. The task force will meet next July 12 to discuss health-care market effects, mitigation strategies and receive industry and consumer feedback.
Cost Growth Committee: In 2019, the Legislature created the Sustainable Health Care Cost Growth Target Program and established the Cost Growth Target Implementation Committee. Directed by the Oregon Health Policy Board, the committee was responsible for designing the implementation plan for the cost-growth program. It delivered its recommendations in January 2021, and these include the creation of a governance committee for the cost growth program. OBI’s Morgan Beltz has been appointed to this committee, known as the Cost Growth Target Advisory Committee. The committee will, among other things, oversee program implementation, revisit the cost growth target value for 2026-2030 (and beyond) and review cost growth trends and cost drivers. The first meeting, on June 22, featured an overview of the cost growth program, examined the experiences of other states that implemented similar programs and reviewed the committee charge. Additional meetings will July 19, Sept. 9 and Nov. 9.
For health care questions, contact Morgan Beltz.
Education and Workforce
Workforce Grants: The Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) has issued a request for applications for Workforce Ready Grants. This round of grants will focus on capacity-building for workforce programs. A total of $9.8 million will be available for a wide range of capacity-building activities, including the hiring of staff and buying equipment. Recipients must be workforce service providers or community-based organizations, but these may collaborate with industry associations, training partners and similar entities. For more information, go here.
‘Student Voice’ Task Force: The Joint Task Force on Student Success for Underrepresented Students in Higher Education – aka the Student Voice Task Force – is holding in-person and virtual meetings on campuses across the state through the end of July. OBI has been asked to identify businesses to participate in task force roundtable discussions. The next virtual meeting will take place July 14 and focus on graduation and workforce preparation. Visits to Southern Oregon University and Rogue Community College will take place, respectively, on July 20 and 21.
The Legislature created the task force in 2021 to develop policy and funding proposals to help students from populations with comparatively low higher-education enrollment.
If you’d like to learn more or participate, please contact Morgan Beltz.
Don’t Miss OBI’s Oct. 19 Vision Oregon Event
Don’t miss OBI’s second annual Vision Oregon event, which will take place Oct. 19 at the Portland Art Museum from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. At the event, OBI will present its highest honor, the Oregon Visionary Award, and attendees will have opportunities to network and hear from top Oregon business leaders. We will provide more details and open registration as the event approaches.
Prior to 2021, the Vision Oregon event had been known as the Statesman Dinner, a longstanding tradition highlighted by the presentation of the Statesman of the Year Award. Recipients of that award include Phil and Penny Knight; U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith; the late Portland Mayor Vera Katz; and Gert Boyle, the late chair of Columbia Sportswear.
The recipients of last year’s inaugural Oregon Visionary Award are Bill and Karla Chambers, of Stahlbush Island Farms; Alando Simpson, CEO of City of Roses Disposal and Recycling; and Rogue Food Unites.
Watch Recent Webinars
Paid Leave Oregon Overview
Watch a recording here.
Experts with the Oregon Employment Department provided an overview of the program formerly known as the Oregon Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance program. They also answered questions from OBI members.
OSHA Heat and Smoke Rules
Watch a recording here.
Experts with Oregon OSHA provided an overview of the recently adopted heat and smoke rules and answered questions from OBI members.
Union Organizing Dos and Don’ts
Watch a recording here.
Attorney Nicole Elgin with Barran Liebman LLP explained what managers and supervisors should know, do and not do when confronted by a union organizing drive.
Oregon Business Plan Update
Watch a recording here.
Oregon Business Council President Duncan Wyse delivered a midyear progress report on the Oregon Business Plan and answered questions from webinar participants.
OBI Members Can Save with HealthChoice
Many businesses struggle to attract and retain qualified employees. Offering an affordable and flexible health-care plan can help. Through the collective strength of OBI’s HealthChoice plans, Oregon’s small businesses can command the buying and negotiating power of much larger companies when providing health insurance options.
OBI offers HealthChoice plans through a partnership of Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon. Plans feature:
A full range of health care coverage options, from preventative care to catastrophic eventsAccess to the largest network of providers in every corner of the state
- Flexible options for premiums, deductibles and benefits
- ACA-compliant coverage for you and your employees
- Affordable options and add-ons like dental and vision
- Options for wellness and healthy lifestyle programs
- Local support staff for claims and administrative management
If you are interested in learning more please contact The Partners Group, the managing general agent for OBI HealthChoice, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.