For useful background on the 2022 legislative session, please see OBI’s 2021 Legislative Session Report.
During the 2021 session, which ran from Jan. 11 to June 26, lawmakers faced challenges of monumental proportions. These include a global pandemic, shuttered schools, broken businesses, widespread unemployment and a racial justice movement that is fundamentally changing our public policy frameworks.
Virtual meetings became the reality. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the public was banned from the Capitol. Hearings were held virtually and conversations with legislators were left to text messages, phone calls and the occasional online connection. Providing input on legislative proposals was enormously difficult and staying updated on the latest version of legislation nearly impossible.
In an ironic twist, the session’s chief fiscal problem became what to do with so much money. The session started with a projected $2 billion deficit because of the COVID-induced recession. But, as federal stimulus payments kicked in and the global economy outperformed expectations, that deficit turned into a projected $2.8 billion surplus, on top of $1.4 billion in reserves and $2.6 billion in federal stimulus payments. State government was, quite simply, awash with money.
Your OBI team went into this session with a very straightforward policy agenda approved by our board of directors. We wanted lawmakers to refrain from enacting major new taxes and regulations so that Oregon businesses would have an opportunity to recover from the devastating impacts of the COVID pandemic. We were largely successful. We tracked hundreds of bills that would affect Oregon’s employers, stopping many of them and influencing those that moved forward.
This 2021 Legislative Session Report report outlines many bills we tracked. It highlights the major bills that passed and the ones that died. The report also notes the failed proposals OBI expects to see again in future legislative sessions.