Monday, Feb. 1, 2021

The weekly Business Bulletin is has switched to Mondays, in an effort to keep our members most up to date on actions from the Legislature and other news from across the state. 
CAPITOL CENTRAL
As the 2021 legislative session is getting off to a rocky start with technical difficulties and other issues impacting the typical legislative process, the OBI government affairs team is hard at work reviewing roughly 2,000 bills that have been introduced in the Legislature.

The OBI website includes timely and in-depth updates on bills, which you can find here. Here is a short summary of what happened last week in Salem:

  • We are opposing modifications to laws impacting noncompete agreements, , which would make it harder for businesses to protect important trade secrets.
  • We have been engaging with partners, legislators and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality about a variety of recycling or product stewardship related bills.
  • We are monitoring more than 100 tax-related bills but expect that most of the bigger revenue-raising proposals to come up later in the session. In the face of the 41% increase in the state’s business tax burden since 2019, OBI will oppose all tax increases this year.
  • We are evaluating several environmental policy bills that would raise the cost of business for many Oregon companies.
  • We are monitoring several education and health care bills that will have impacts on Oregon’s workforce and business environment.

Be sure to visit our website frequently for specific updates on legislation and bill reports.
POLICY UPDATES
Vaccine Advisory Committee Makes Final Recommendations
Oregon’s Vaccine Advisory Committee, which included OBI President & CEO Sandra McDonough, completed their work last week and is making a recommendation to Gov. Kate Brown about how to prioritize the vaccine distribution as more doses become available in the coming months.

Recognizing that Oregon’s Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID pandemic, the committee called on the state to make a special effort to reach BIPOC Oregonians and other marginalized communities and work for equity the distribution, education, and outreach reach efforts for the vaccine.

The committee recommended the following prioritization, once the vaccination of teachers, childcare providers, and Oregonians over 65 is complete.

  • Individuals with chronic conditions aged 16-64 (estimated at 723,256 individuals).
  • Frontline workers, defined as individuals who have continued to work through the pandemic and unable to work from home (estimated at 483,413 individuals).
  • Adults and youth in custody (13,970 individuals).
  • People living in low income and congregate senior housing (12,567 individuals.)

These groups will be followed by multi-general households and then the general public.

Access to the vaccine is the biggest unknown, and distribution will depend on when Oregon receives shipments from the federal government. Because the groups are comprehensive, there will likely be prioritization within each one. OBI continues to advocate that the state work with businesses as the frontline worker category opens up.

In additional vaccine-related news, OBI member Johnson & Johnson has developed an effective 1-dose shot and plans to file for emergency use within the U.S. this week.
Gov. Brown Clarifies Adjusted Restrictions for Indoor Recreational Facilities
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Effective last Friday, Jan. 29, Oregon counties at “extreme” risk can reopen indoor recreational facilities like gyms and fitness centers – if they are more than 500 square feet, and only for six people at one time. For those smaller than that, 1:1 meetings (personal trainers, for example) are allowed. The governor issued further clarification that the six-person limit excludes facility staff.

Oregon OSHA Files Permanent Rulemaking Notice
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On Saturday, Jan. 30, Oregon OSHA filed the permanent rulemaking notice for the COVID-19 workplace safety rules. OBI is still reviewing these changes and will plan to have a more in-depth analysis in our weekly update next week. However, it is important to note that these rules differ from the temporary rules in the following ways:

  • Modified language around vehicles
  • Requires certification that HVAC systems are in good working order
  • Adds new recordkeeping requirements
  • Requires employers to provide notices to employees about available sick or vacation leave
  • Provides new provisions around vaccinations

We will provide you with updated and more detailed information soon.
OBI Presents at Northwest Environmental Business Council’s State of the State Event
On Thursday, Jan. 28, OBI’s Sharla Moffett delivered a speech at the Northwest Environmental Business Council’s State of the State event, presenting alongside DEQ Director Richard Whitman, our partners at Oregon Manufacturing and Commerce, and other advocates for the manufacturing sector and the environment. Her remarks highlighted concerns with the economic strain businesses are under from the COVID recession, and significant new (and proposed) tax burdens, including Portland’s proposed emissions tax. She also cited the serious impacts new DEQ rulemaking will have on the regulated sector and called for the need to balance environmental protections with the economic impact of new regulations.
NEWS FOR OREGON BUSINESSES
“Twenty-five of Oregon’s 36 counties remain in the highest possible risk category for COVID-19 spread but will face slightly eased restrictions allowing very limited customers in places like theaters and gyms, according to the latest state health guidance.”
“Commissioners are scheduled to consider two new fees on carbon emissions that would increase the glass plant's local taxes by more than $1 million a year. Overall, the new taxes would raise more than $11 million from about 80 companies.

If Owens-Brockway closes, as Tackett fears, all of Oregon's bottles would have to be shipped out of state—a prodigious use of diesel fuel—or thrown in landfills. A big part of the Bottle Bill would be kaput."
By Monica Samayoa, Oregon Public Broadcasting
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“The committee’s 27 members were drawn from diverse communities as well as from ‘partners engaged in vaccine delivery,’ all with a goal of quickly deciding how and when to vaccinate Oregonians amid a pandemic that has killed more than 1,900 people in the state.”
By Jamie Goldberg, The Oregonian/OregonLive
“The majority of downtown Portland businesses owners believe that the city’s core is no longer safe, according to a survey conducted by Downtown Portland Clean & Safe, a nonprofit and affiliate partner of the Portland Business Alliance.”
CONNECT WITH US
The OBI team is always available to assist you. Please feel free to reach out to us at communications@oregonbusinessindustry.com. 
Oregon Business & Industry
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