OBI advocates on behalf of a strong and healthy business climate for Oregon.
Our government affairs team represents more than 1,600 member businesses each year in Salem on policy issues that impact business and industry and the economic vitality of our state. Visit this page often for updates and useful resources during each legislative session.
OBI Policy Team
Start date: January 11, 2021
Below, you will find a weekly update from the OBI team about what’s going on at the Capitol, and the latest information on legislation that impacts Oregon’s business community. If you have questions about bills or the legislative process, or would like to get involved, contact any member of our policy team. Last updated: April 12, 2021.
April 13 marks the next deadline in the legislative session, when most bills must pass out of committee in their chamber of origin in order to continue moving forward.
If you have thoughts or questions about a bill, contact us at email@example.com. We will direct your question and feedback to the appropriate staff member.
Opposing Additional Taxes & Tax Increases
- Last week we testified in support of HB 3373, a bill which would create the office of Oregon Taxpayer Advocate. The office would serve as an independent and confidential resource for Oregon taxpayers and designed to serve taxpayers by helping communicate tax policies, rules, procedures, and resolve compliance problems.
- Also last week, HB 2379, a new 5% harvest tax on Oregon timber companies, was heard in the House Revenue Committee. This tax would have a devastating impact on the state’s timber and forest product industries as well as their ability to compete and create jobs. OBI is working closely with our colleagues in the timber industry and we plan to testify against the bill this week.
Advocating for a Pause on New Employment Regulations
- A few bills that OBI was opposed to died in committee last week:
- HB 2698 (right to repair) failed to get a work session in House Business and Labor, so will not move forward. OBI and our partners made a big push in the last week and reached out to all the members of the committee. We do expect to see this in a future year.
- SB 746 Cash and Hair Discrimination: OBI has opposed the portions of the bill that would ban cashless retail operations, noting that pandemic caused even more businesses to stop taking cash. A bill related to the prohibition on discrimination based on hair styles or texture is advancing in the House, so that may have resolved the issue for legislators who want to focus on that issue.
- SB 483, the bill that creates a presumption of retaliation after an employee files a safety complaint, is now headed to the Senate floor for a vote.
- HB 2474, which makes changes to the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA), passed out of House Committee on Early Childhood with our negotiated amendments and now heads to the House floor for a vote. The bill now provides that employees who leave employment and return within 180 days will be able to maintain their eligibility that they had when they left employment. It also changes pregnancy leave to so that the individual who is pregnant does not have to identify as female. In a public health emergency, employees will be eligible to take leave after being employed for 30 days instead of the regular eligibility timeline of 180 days. Also, employees will be able to use OFLA leave if their child’s school or childcare is closed due to a public health emergency.
- Last week we testified against SB 801 with the -2 amendments which would create a task force to study self-insurance and various issues around workers’ compensation. The bill is scheduled for Tuesday, April 13.
- SB 489 Workers’ Comp Time Loss: This bill, brought forward by the trial lawyers, died in Senate Labor and Business. The bill would have allowed for unlimited retroactive time loss payments. OBI testified in opposition. The bill will now be an interim workgroup at the Management-Labor Advisory Committee where labor and business can negotiate the various issues surrounding time loss benefits.
Ensuring Environmental Policy Proposals Consider Economic Impacts
- The latest amendments to SB 582, which would require producers to join a producer responsibility organization to address recycling issues, were released to the public last week. The biggest win is that the labeling issue is now a task force. We continue to work on this bill, which is scheduled for a work session this week.
- Last week, OBI filed testimony opposing provisions of HB 2021, the 100% clean electricity bill. The bill sets an ambitious goal of getting to 100% renewable, non-emitting sources of electricity by 2040. Our concerns focus on provisions that (1) require a certain percentage of energy come from community-based renewables; (2) set a prevailing wage on exclusively private-sector-funded projects and other labor standards; and (3) prohibits any future construction of natural gas-fired power plants. After three public hearings, the bill is scheduled for a work session on April 12. Our testimony urged the committee to thoughtfully weigh these factors to ensure energy adequacy, reliability and affordability.
- We also filed testimony on HB 3180, a bill that would reopen the Renewable Portfolio Standard and impose stringent new standards on hydropower as a qualifying source of electricity. OBI expressed concern that the investments required and limitation on hydropower would ultimately have serious impacts on ratepayers.
- Speaker Kotek’s chronic violator bill, HB 3372, moved out of House Energy & Environment on Wednesday. The committee approved the -4 amendment that contained a few improvements, but the regulated community still has significant concerns with the bill. The bill provides DEQ additional authority to deny, suspend or revoke a business’s permit based on their compliance history and the compliance history of separate facilities under common ownership or boards. We expect the bill to pass the House and we will continue to raise our issues in the Senate.
- HB 2814, the indirect sources bill, will have a work session on April 12. We had serious concerns about the bill as it was introduced, but note that Rep. Maxine Dexter has posted a -3 amendment, which pivots to a study bill specifically examining construction sites, freight distribution facilities and ports. We remain concerned and are working with our indirect source partners to make adjustments since it is expected to move out of committee.
Addressing Health Care Costs for Oregon Businesses
- HB 2362, the mergers and acquisitions bill, was voted out of committee with the -8 amendment on a party line vote after two days of discussion. It now heads to the Joint Committee on Ways & Means for consideration.
- HB 2010, the public option bill, is up for a work session on April 13. Rep. Cedric Hayden has dropped his bill and has been working with Rep. Andrea Salinas on a bipartisan amendment to turn HB 2010 into a broader public option study bill. We will continue to monitor this as the concept advances.