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: May 10, 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 -2 amendment of SB 727 was heard in the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee last week. This amendment provides a workaround for the current $10,000 maximum of state and local taxes that can be deducted from federal taxes. The current limitation was imposed as part of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and became effective in 2018. SB 727 would give Oregon taxpayers the option to incur a new entity level tax, while simultaneously using a dollar-for-dollar tax credit to offset the new tax. This mechanism will, according to tax experts, allow Oregon filers to enjoy pre-2018 levels of state and local tax deductibility. While OBI is supportive of the concept, we are working with partners to ensure that the new tax and offsetting credit are and will remain linked.
- HB 3389, providing unemployment insurance fixes to provide relief to employers, is scheduled for a hearing on May 11. OBI will testify in support, noting that it is important that employers not be punished for layoffs that were dictated by government shutdowns. The bill makes significant improvements in how our system is funded and provides crucial relief to the hardest-hit employers. It also provides that no employer’s experience rating will be impacted by COVID claims by returning them to pre-2020 experience rates. The bill has broad bipartisan support and we expect it to pass easily. We continue to advocate for more ways to help employers who suffered financial hits from 2021 rate increases.
Advocating for a Pause on New Employment Regulations
- SB 483, creating a presumption of retaliation if workers have filed safety complaints, was heard in House Rules on May 6. OBI testified in opposition and presented our suggested amendment, which would address the issue of anonymous OSHA complaints. We were also joined by a representative from the Eugene Chamber, NFIB and the Oregon Liability Reform Coalition.
- HB 2474, related to the Oregon Family Leave Act, was heard in Senate Labor and Business on May 4. OBI testified that we were neutral on the bill after negotiating several changes. The bill creates a right to return provision that allows employees who leave employment and return within 180 days to resume their eligibility where they left off. It also clarifies that a pregnant employee need not identify as female to be eligible for pregnancy leave. There are two new provisions that will apply only in statewide public health emergencies – reducing the eligibility time from 180 days to 30 days and allowing use of OFLA if a child’s school or childcare has been closed and the parent needs to stay home with the child.
- HB 2818, which allows for final wage claims to be paid directly by BOLI out of the Wage Security Fund if employers have not paid them, is scheduled for a work session on May 11. This bill has a broad relating clause and two other amendments were proposes when it was last heard on April 29. Sen. Johnson’s amendment seeks to clarify penalties for meal period violations and creates a de minimis exception if employees return five or fewer minutes early. OBI is supportive of the amendment but it has a lot of opposition and may be difficult to pass. Sen. Taylor’s amendment, drafted at the request of OBI and NWGA, clarifies that vaccine incentives are not compensation under the Pay Equity law. We expect this to pass, but we have discovered a technical issue that will require a new amendment. The original language tied to a “period” during which a public health emergency has been declared. The new amendment will clarify that it applies if a public health emergency has been declared.
- HB 3398 was introduced last week at the request of the Oregon Employment Department. The bill would delay the start date of the new Paid Family and Medical Leave program by one year, because of timing challenges brought on by the pandemic. OBI is supportive of the concept.
Ensuring Environmental Policy Proposals Consider Economic Impacts
- HB 3372-A, Speaker Kotek’s chronic violators bill, was heard in Senate Energy & Environment on Thursday. The bill enhances DEQ’s authority to deny, revoke, suspend or modify permits to businesses. OBI’s Sharla Moffett and other businesses testified in opposition at the hearing. Vice Chair Findley posted a -5 amendment but said he would be working with Chair Beyer and DEQ to address concerns from DEQ. OBI is working with business organizations opposing HB 3372-A and filed testimony on the group’s behalf. We expect this bill to pass, since it is the speaker’s bill, and we are working hard to limit DEQ’s broad authority to make business killing decisions as it applies to permits.
- HB 2814, the indirect source bill, remains in Ways & Means. OBI, in conjunction with the coalition opposing the bill, has been meeting with Ways & Means co-chairs to explain why the policy-turned-study-bill is still a major problem.
Addressing Health Care Costs and Disparities
- SJR 12, the constitutional amendment to ensure all Oregonians have access to affordable health care, had a hearing in the House Health Care Committee Thursday. OBI submitted testimony supporting the concept but raising concerns on potential unintended impacts of the resolution. It is scheduled for a work session on May 11.
- HB 2081, the Health Care Cost Growth Target bill, is scheduled for a floor vote on May 10. OBI supported the bill earlier this session. The bill puts a cost growth cap of 3.4% on payers and providers and, if they are above the target, outlines a process for them to work with the Oregon Health Authority to understand what the cost drivers are.