Session Is Over, But Rule-Making Continues
With the March 4 conclusion of the 2022 legislative session, OBI’s policy team has shifted its focus to agency rule-making and, in one case, potential unmaking. Notable rule efforts include:
Oregon OSHA’s COVID rule: Many business groups, including OBI, have asked the agency to discard all components of the permanent COVID rule for general workplaces. There is no further need for the rule, which is outdated and would only lead to confusion if kept in any form.
Heat and wildfire smoke rules: Oregon OSHA has filed the proposed permanent rules for exposure to heat and wildfire smoke. The rules would impose significant costs on employers for conditions that are unrelated to the operation of businesses and over which employers have no control. For example, the heat rules require employers to adopt schedules that provide at least 20 minutes of paid rest every hour when the heat index equals or exceeds 95 degrees, 30 minutes every hour at 100 degrees and 40 minutes every hour at or above 105 degrees. Many employers will respond to these excessive costs by reducing hours, which will help neither them nor their employees. The wildfire smoke rules require employers to provide filtering facemasks, and even respirators, when the air quality index hits certain thresholds. Paloma Sparks will submit written comments as well as a coalition letter. The comment period for the rules ends March 18.
Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance (PFMLI) rules: The Oregon Employment Department has published proposed rules for benefit claim administration. These cover eligibility, verification and reporting, among other things. This program is exceedingly complex and OBI will continue to monitor proposed rules, proposed legislation, and other aspects of the program very closely. As a reminder, payroll contributions for new PFMLI program in Oregon are scheduled to begin in January 2023. For more information click here.
Climate-Friendly and Equitable Communities rules: The Department of Land Conservation and Development has released proposed rules that would fundamentally change zoning and transportation. Most cities will be required to establish “climate-friendly areas” that must be zoned to minimize carbon emissions. Such areas will feature high-density housing supported by transportation infrastructure designed to serve public transit, electric vehicles and bicycles. Transportation-system limitations would affect the movement of freight and the supply of business parking.
Political News Roundup
The deadline for candidates to file for the May 17 primary passed on Tuesday. Among the notable developments:
- Former House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner, D-Portland, did not file for re-election.
- The nonpartisan race for commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries features seven candidates, including former Bend Rep. Cheri Helt, Yamhill County Commissioner Kasey Kulla and Portland attorney Christina Stephenson.
- Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, won’t seek re-election in his current district and has decided to move to Salem to run for the seat being vacated by Rep. Raquel Moore-Green, a Republican who is running for the Senate.
- 41 candidates have filed or announced plans to run for governor.
Sen. Dallas Heard, R-Myrtle Creek, has resigned as chair of the Oregon Republican Party but will continue to serve in the Senate. The party’s vice chair, former Sen. Herman Baertschiger of Grants Pass, will serve as acting chair. In resigning, Heard cited “toxicity” within his party, writing, “we truly have an equal if not greater evil than the Democrats, walking among us.”
Manufacturer Profile: Roseburg Forest Products
Check out our latest Oregon manufacturer profile. Roseburg Forest Products employs about 2,200 people in Oregon, were it manufactures a range of products, including lumber, plywood, particleboard, medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and engineered wood.
All of our manufacturer profiles are located on our Manufacturing Council of Oregon page. We intend to produce and post these profiles weekly as a way of demonstrating the breadth of the manufacturing sector in Oregon.
OBI and the Oregon Business Council released a report late last year on the importance of manufacturing in Oregon, and we want Oregonians to know more about these businesses, what they make and how they contribute to the well-being of the state.
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 events
- Access 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 email@example.com.