Minimum Wage Going Up: Oregon’s minimum wage is scheduled to increase July 1. New minimums will range from $12.50 in rural areas to $14.75 in the Portland area, according to The Oregonian. They will continue to increase annually in keeping with inflation.
Downtown Portland: More than a dozen significant downtown Portland office buildings have hit the market recently, The Oregonian reports. The trend is a response the popularity of remote work and increasing crime and homelessness downtown, among other things.
Interstate 5 Bridge: Groups fighting the Interstate 5 bridge replacement project have adopted a new tactic, according to Willamette Week. They’re now arguing that the bridge would mar the skyline along the Vancouver waterfront.
House Reshuffling: House Speaker Dan Rayfield has reshuffled committee chairmanships as several colleagues prepare to leave the chamber, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports. Notable changes include the selection of Rep. Rob Nosse, D-Portland, to head the Health Care Committee and the selection of Rep. Janelle Bynum, D-Happy Valley, to head the Economic Development and Small Business Committee.
Oregon Senate Race: The Oregon Capitol Chronicle writes about an arrangement by which former Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon, who represented Woodburn before quitting to mount an unsuccessful campaign for Congress, might rejoin the Legislature. Woodburn Mayor Eric Swenson, who won the Democratic primary for the Senate district that includes Woodburn, Keizer and north Salem, wants to drop out and have Alonso Leon seek the nomination in his place.
Tight House Race: Daniel Nguyen has defeated Neelam Gupta by a mere 28 votes in the Democratic primary for House District 38, which includes southwest Portland and Lake Oswego. According to Willamette Week, Nguyen’s margin of victory exceeds the recount threshold by one vote. OBI’s candidate PAC supported Nguyen.
Interim Task Force and Rulemaking Update
Consumer Privacy Concept: Paloma Sparks submitted comments June 3 on a draft legislative proposal produced by the attorney general’s Consumer Privacy Task Force. The proposal, which will be introduced during the 2023 legislative session, is intended to provide comprehensive consumer-privacy protections. 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 our June 3 comments, that create unreasonable burdens for employers.
For questions, contact Paloma Sparks.
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 agency extended the deadline for the public comment period and will now accept public comments through July 1. In conjunction with the organizations representing home builders, restaurants, Realtors, trucking companies and others, OBI submitted questions to the agency and requested written responses. The group will meet with the department June 30 to discuss these. The rules establish stringent regulations in designated areas that would prohibit parking and limit auto-dependent uses. No vehicle parking, circulation, access or loading would be permitted within “climate friendly” areas, including drive-throughs. OBI has joined the list of supporters of People for an Affordable Oregon, where you can learn more about the impacts of the proposed rule.
For land use and planning questions, contact Sharla Moffett.
Tax and Fiscal Policy
Washington County Preschool Measure: The Washington County Board of Commissioners has opted not to refer a measure to the November ballot that would establish a tax to pay for universal preschool. The proposal, according to the Beaverton Valley Times, would have mirrored a Multnomah County program that taxes the income of residents earning at least $125,000 per year.
For tax and fiscal questions, contact Scott Bruun.
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 and other proponents of additional capacity will meet later in June to determine how best to seek an additional set of auxiliary lanes. A decision on the preferred design option is expected this summer. 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.
Employment and Labor
Agricultural Overtime Rulemaking: The Bureau of Labor and Industries announced this month that it will adopt permanent administrative rules to implement House Bill 4002, the 2022 law that removed the agricultural overtime exemption. Maximum hours 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. A link to attend the hearing can be found here. 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: We have submitted comments on the last few rounds of rulemaking for Paid Leave Oregon, the program formerly known as the Oregon Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance program. These include comments submitted May 31 for the third round of rulemaking, which involves benefits. This follows comments submitted May 24 for the rules advisory committee process related to the fourth batch of rules, which cover a number of areas, including private equivalent plans. The program will be funded by a 1% combined payroll tax, of which 60% will be covered by employees and 40% by employers. Businesses that don’t offer equivalent plans will begin to pay into the program early in 2023, as will their employees. We are working with the department to schedule a series of webinars. The first webinar, which provided an overview of the program, took place June 22 and can be viewed here. Please see the schedule below for additional 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 will take 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.
Environment, Energy and Natural Resources
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. It will consider adopting California’s Advanced Clean Cars II Rule by reference.
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. The current rulemaking will tighten requirements on Portland-area employers and expand the program to similarly sized employers in 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 especially smaller cities to the reluctance use public transit at all due rising incidence of violence. The advisory committee held a second meeting June 13. OBI’s Energy & Environment Steering Committee will meet later this month to discuss the issues raised at the meeting and OBI’s response.
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 – the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. The agency provided a public comment period lasting only 45 days that also included three holidays. The agency extended the deadline to Aug. 1 in response to a letter of concern sent by Sharla Moffett. OBI had participated on the RAC and submitted extensive comments in the process. We are concerned that the proposed contains 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 rule and ensure that policymakers understand its shortcomings. The rules are being fast-tracked in order be adopted in November before a new governor is seated. A public hearing will take place June 27.
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. The fourth and final rules advisory committee meeting was held May 26 to consider the fiscal impacts of the draft rule. OBI will submit comments when the proposed rule is issued.
For environment, energy and natural resources questions, contact Sharla Moffett.
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 will advise DEQ on the creation of a uniform recycling collection list, among other things. The committee 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 required the creation of a statewide recycling list and public education. The advisory council 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. The first meeting of the rulemaking advisory committee 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. Later this month, the task force will host specialty forums small and large businesses. These include meetings on June 29 for employers with fewer than 50 employees and on June 30 for employers with more than 50 employees. The June 29 meeting will run from 1:30 p.m. to 3:3-30 p.m., and the June 30 meeting will run from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. 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.
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
‘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.
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.
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.
Welcome, New Members
OBI welcomes the following members, who joined during the second quarter of 2022:
- Evergreen Consulting Group LLC
- Sea Bear International
- Bend Patrol Services/Patrol Services, Inc.
- TNT Sales of Oregon
- Ertell Electric LLC
- DoorDash, Inc.
- Zephyr Engineering, Inc.
- Oregon Community Warehouse, Inc.
- Sila, Inc.
- Platt Equipment Company, Inc., dba Midstate Power Products
- Butler Built Custom Construction, Inc.
- Brian A. Ogle DMD, PC
- UBCO Bikes
- Living Essentials LLC
- Pacific Machinery/Tool Steel Co.
- The Grove Cookie Company