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: June 14, 2021.
If you have thoughts or questions about a bill, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will direct your question and feedback to the appropriate staff member.
Opposing Additional Taxes & Tax Increases
- The only tax-increase bill we continue to watch is SB 139, would eliminate tax breaks for some partnership businesses in a deal that came out of a “grand bargain” with the Kitzhaber administration some years ago. The bill became more complicated when it was combined with SB 727, a bill addressing state and local tax deductibility, which we have supported. Scott Bruun testified at a hearing last week, opposing the tax-increase provisions of SB 139 on the principle that the state does not need to raise any new taxes in light of the current robust revenue situation. The two concepts have since been separated and now the prospect for either of them to pass appears dim.
- HB 2343, allowing local jurisdictions to temporarily suspend enterprise zone employment requirements on a case-by-case basis due to COVID-related economic impacts, was heard in the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee on Wednesday. We testified in support of the bill and it is now scheduled for a work session, where we expect it to be voted out of committee and sent to the full Senate.
- We continue to closely watch the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, where budget writers are on track to pass an astonishing $30 billion 2021-23 biennial budget. This is nearly $5 billion more than what is necessary to maintain “current service levels,” and nearly $6 billion more than the current 2019-21 biennium budget that ends on June 30. Some of this unprecedented growth is related to emergency COVID and wildfire mitigation efforts, but far too much is in general program growth and expansion. While the state’s revenue forecast is strong at this time, we also know we will see a business-cycle contraction at some point. This will make it increasingly difficult for the state to sustain increased spending levels and will result in a push for new taxes. To avoid and discourage this outcome, we are consistently encouraging policy makers to act with restraint, as well as to spend one-time funds on one-time projects.
Ensuring a Level Playing Field in Campaign Finance Reform
- HB 2680, the main campaign finance bill, has been referred to Ways and Means after the House Rules Committee adopted an amendment that removed all references to limits and created a public financing program. At this point, it is unclear if the bill will advance out of Ways and Means, but we continue to engage to see if we can reach a compromise agreement for contribution limits. If legislators do not pass a bill this session, we expect to see a ballot measure filed for the 2022 election.
Advocating for a Pause on New Employment Regulations
- HB 2818, which makes changes to the Pay Equity law and allows BOLI to pay wage claims out of the wage security fund, passed the Senate and now goes to the House for concurrence. The bill exempts vaccine incentives during a public health emergency from the definition of “compensation” under the Pay Equity law. The bill also temporarily exempts hiring and retention bonuses until March 1, 2022.
- On June 14, HB 3409 was introduced creating return-to-work incentives, funded by American Rescue Act funds. The bill also addresses an “essential worker” bonus sought by the unions. OBI has promoted the return-to-work bonus to address challenges employers are facing filling open positions. We are hearing concerns from members across virtually every industry.
- HB 3389, addressing unemployment insurance taxes, is expected to advance this week. It is scheduled for a vote in the Ways and Means subcommittee on transportation and economic development on June 14 and will then advance to the full committee. It makes several changes to reduce costs for employers who were forced to lay off employees due to the pandemic. It also adjusts how much money must remain in Oregon’s UI trust fund to be considered “sufficiently funded”. The bill has passed the House floor but still needs Senate action.
- HB 3398, delaying implementation of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance (PFMLI) program, passed the House last week. Contributions will begin Jan. 1, 2023, and employees will be eligible to use benefits after Sept. 3, 2023. Without passage of this legislation, contributions would begin on Jan. 1, 2022, and the agency simply will not have the necessary technology in place by then. The bill is scheduled for a public hearing June 15 in Senate Rules and OBI will testify in support.
- SB 483, creating a presumption of retaliation if an employer takes action against an employee within 60 days of the employee filing an OSHA complaint, passed the House last Monday. OBI opposed the bill and urged legislators to make changes, but Democratic leadership was unwilling to make the changes. The bill now heads to the governor for her signature.
Ensuring Environmental Policy Proposals Consider Economic Impacts
- SB 582, requiring producers to join a producer responsibility organization (PRO) and pay certain costs for the recycling system, is likely to be amended. OBI remains concerned that this will be a very costly and complicated program, but we were pleased to see that several costs we wanted removed were taken out or significantly delayed. Specifically, the new amendment removes the requirement that a PRO and, by extension, producers, pay for expansion of services in multifamily housing and marine and debris clean-up. The bill has now been referred to the Ways and Means natural resources subcommittee, which means it is likely to be scheduled for a hearing soon.
Monitoring Education Spending and Workforce Investments
- In partnership with the Oregon Business Council, we sent the attached letter to members of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means advocating use of federal funds for workforce development investments.