Capitol Connect WP image

Webinar: Proposed Multnomah County Capital Gains tax 

In May, Multnomah County voters will weigh in on Measure 26-238, which would create a 0.75% capital gains tax to provide free legal representation for all tenants facing eviction. If it passes, the measure would further increase what are now some of the highest marginal income taxes in the country. Already, as recent research shows, taxpayers in Multnomah County are relocating in significant numbers to Clark County, Wash.

Join representatives of the opposition campaign, Building Our Future Together, on April 5 to learn more about the tax and the problems its passage would create. The webinar will run from 10-11 a.m. and is open to any OBI member curious about what’s happening even if you don’t live or work in Multnomah County.

OBI members can go here to register.


Webinar: OBI, Stoel Rives Air Permitting Workshop March 14

The Feb. 24 OBI air permitting workshop sponsored by Stoel Rives was postponed for weather reasons. It will now take place as a webinar on Tuesday, March 14 from 9-11 a.m.

The webinar will cover Oregon’s new air permitting rules. OBI’s Sharla Moffett will be joined by Stoel Rives attorneys Tom Wood and Geoff Tichenor as well as air quality consultants with Maul Foster Alongi, Trinity Consultants, the Bridgewater Group and LMI Consulting.

OBI members can go here to register.


Preston Mann Joins OBI as Political Director

Oregon Business & Industry is pleased to announce the addition of Preston Mann to its team in Salem. Mann, a highly respected public and government affairs strategist, joined OBI March 1 as political affairs director. His portfolio includes planning and execution of external affairs and coalition efforts to help achieve OBI’s mission of a strong economy and a healthy, prosperous and competitive Oregon.

Mann’s experience with policy advocacy, communications and public relations, and political strategy will add tremendous value to OBI’s work on behalf of Oregon’s business community. Mann is the vice president for public affairs at Oregon Manufacturers and Commerce, a position he will continue part-time through the 2023 legislative session. Through his public affairs firm, Court Street Communications, Mann has developed and deployed strategic initiatives for several businesses, trade associations, political candidates and elected officials.


Notable News

Semiconductor Sequel: The Oregonian has written about the Legislature’s semiconductor package, noting that advocates are encouraging lawmakers to do more.

Tech. Grants: According to The Oregonian, Gov. Kotek has made $1 million in grants available to small and midsized Oregon businesses hoping to secure CHIPS Act funding. The money comes from a Business Oregon reserve fund.

Tech Salaries: Both Oregon and Portland compare well to other tech hubs for average salaries and salary growth, according to the Portland Business Journal. The paper notes that the Portland area was fourth for these two metrics in 2022, with an average salary of $127,734, which reflects a 15.5% increase since 2021. On a statewide basis, Oregon ranked second, trailing only Massachusetts.

Sen. Hansell to Retire: Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, announced March 2 that he will retire in 2024, according to the Oregon Capital Chronicle. Hansell is partway through his third four-year term.


Legislative and Rulemaking Updates

Legislative Timeline: The next significant legislative deadline is March 17, by which time bills need to be scheduled for a vote on a committee agenda in their chamber of origin. While this deadline does not apply to bills in Rules, Revenue or joint committees (like Ways and Means), it does mean that a significant number of ideas currently hanging out in various policy committees will die if they aren’t scheduled. The next significant deadline is April 4, by which point bills that are scheduled in those policy committees need to advance either to the floor or to one of those excepted committees.

Retail Crime: A package requested by the Organized Retail Crime Task Force, which OBI helped organize last year, will get a public hearing on March 8 in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Together, SB 318 and SB 339 would create and fund useful tools to crack down on the rampant organized crime plaguing Oregon’s retailers. An amendment to SB 318 would provide funding to the Oregon Department of Justice to hire an analyst and two investigators to coordinate with local law enforcement to make investigating and prosecuting organized retail theft easier. It would also fund a local grant program to bolster organized retail theft enforcement actions. An amendment to SB 339 would enhance the tools retailers and law enforcement need to detect, deter and hold accountable those who commit organized retail theft and address the growing safety threats that retail employees experience on a daily basis. OBI will testify in support of both bills.

Health Mandates: HB 3157 is scheduled for a hearing on March 6 in the House Committee on Behavioral Health and Health Care, and Katie Koenig will testify in support. The bill would establish a Health Insurance Mandate Review Advisory Committee to review legislation that would expand mandated coverage for specified procedures or by specified providers. New coverage mandates are frequently proposed and assessed without considering their effect on the entire system. Further, any fiscal impact analysis of mandates is solely about financial impact to the state. There is no required assessment of premium effects or costs to the employers and employees who pay them. That would change under the bill. The advisory committee would help establish a more thoughtful and holistic review for new mandates.

Workforce Challenges: On March 2, Derek Sangston and Katie Koenig presented the business perspective in an informational meeting on workforce challenges in the Senate Labor and Business and Committee. Recognizing that workforce issues are complicated and nuanced, Derek and Katie highlighted challenges involving housing availability and affordability, issues with skilled trades certification (reciprocity, on the job training, bureaucratic barriers, etc.), child care, Oregon’s tax structure its reputation. You can read their full comments here.

In other workforce news, on Feb. 28, Katie submitted comments in support of SB 849, which would help address some of Oregon’s workforce needs by mitigating barriers internationally educated professionals face while trying to obtain licensure. It would create specific timelines and transparency requirements for licensure boards to follow while eliminating burdensome and unnecessary requirements.

Diesel Ban: On March 2, the Senate Energy and Environment Committee heard SB 803, which would rapidly phase out petroleum diesel and mandate renewable diesel statewide by the end of 2029. Sharla testified in opposition to the bill. OBI’s testimony notes that there is not enough renewable fuel available to meet the demand such a mandate would create. The bill would result in increased costs and market volatility. The public hearing ran long and is being carried over to March 9.

PFMLI/OFLA Discussions: Sen. Kathleen Taylor, chair of the Senate Labor and Business Committee, has pulled together a workgroup, including OBI, to talk through Oregon’s new paid family and medical leave insurance program (Paid Leave Oregon), specifically in the context of where it doesn’t align well with the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA). Discussions are just getting underway.

DEQ Fees: On March 6, the House Climate, Energy and Environment Committee will hold a public hearing on HB 3196, which would authorize DEQ to allocate up to 5% of revenue from the sale of Community Climate Investment Credits (CCIC) to the agency for the administration of the program. CCICs are the compliance instruments covered fuel suppliers may buy to demonstrate compliance with the Climate Protection Program regulation put into effect by the DEQ last year. The 5% administration fee is an unstable funding source that is not based on any demonstrated statement of need. It likely would result in a windfall of funding to DEQ early in the program (up to $25 million per year) and shrink to approximately $4 million by 2050.

Semiconductors: OBI’s work toward advancing a semiconductor and advanced manufacturing package continues. We are partnering with other stakeholders to help legislators understand the importance of the moment and to ensure that the final package actually improves Oregon’s competitive position and is in line with federal expectations and requirements for CHIPS Act grants. We continue to advocate for the entirety of the task force’s recommendations, but SB 4, the current legislative vehicle, remains woefully short. It could be that other portions of the package will come in separate bills, which is understandable, but we would like to see a clear and strong commitment from the committee that the whole package that must move.

Tax Credits: Last week Scott testified in qualified support of SB 669. SB 669 is one of two research and development tax credit bills to have received public hearings this session. The other is SB 55, which we had drafted as part of our Growth and Innovation Roadmap. We are still grateful for the opportunity to publicly discuss the need for a well-structured R&D credit, and it’s helpful to have conversations in both chambers. We remain cautiously optimistic that an R&D credit will move. A bipartisan, bicameral legislative work group will begin to design a workable credit. We have submitted an outline to the work group for its consideration. It would be a $15 million transferable and deductible credit, with a credit rate of 15% toward eligible research expenses.

Travel Reimbursements: Legislation is starting to move through the respective chambers. On March 1, the Senate unanimously passed SB 853-A which would prohibit the state from reimbursing travel costs when state employees who work remotely and live out of state travel back to Oregon for work.

Privacy Bill: A lot of time and energy was spent on an interim task force relating to privacy legislation. Unfortunately, SB 619, the product of the Attorney General’s Privacy Task Force, is not something we can currently support. It will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 7. OBI opposes the bill as drafted because, among other things, it would allow individuals to sue businesses using a private right of action, attempt to hold directors and officers of companies directly liable when data breaches occur. OBI will testify in opposition.


Supreme Perlite Meets Growing Demand for Expanded Glass

Think of perlite as volcanic popcorn.

Amorphous volcanic glass – aka perlite ore – contains embedded water. Grind the ore into small pieces and heat it above 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and the glass will soften enough for the water to expand explosively, creating a low-density product with myriad uses.

For nearly 70 years, Supreme Perlite has developed its namesake product to serve ever-evolving markets, from home construction to stormwater filtration. Thanks to its key characteristics – it’s lightweight, insulative and environmentally benign – perlite promises to serve markets that have yet to emerge.

Go here to learn more about Supreme Perlite and the markets the Portland company serves.


Paid Leave Oregon Work Continues

Oregon’s new paid family and medical leave program, Paid Leave Oregon, is now in effect. Employers and employees began to contribute money to the program in January. On Sept. 3, employees can apply for benefits, and small employers can apply for assistance grants.

The Oregon Employment Department has created an employer resources page that contains a range of useful information, including key dates, a downloadable model workplace poster and a sign-up link for program updates. OBI has created a Paid Leave Oregon resources page as well. Among other things, it contains links to recordings of several compliance webinars.

OBI’s policy team continues to work with state lawmakers to better align Paid Leave Oregon with the Oregon Family Leave Act.