Monday, Feb. 8, 2021
CAPITOL CENTRAL
As we approach the fourth week of the 2021 legislative session, committee work is beginning to ramp up as bills are beginning to be scheduled for hearings and even a few work sessions. The OBI team has been actively engaged on hundreds of bills on behalf of our members.

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

  • We testified in opposition to a bill that would disconnect Oregon businesses from tax relief provided by the federal, bipartisan CARES Act. Take action today and let your legislators know that we can’t afford this backdoor tax increase.
  • We testified in opposition to modifications to Oregon’s noncompete agreement laws, which would make it harder for businesses to protect important trade secrets.
  • We are closely monitoring bills relating to a workers’ compensation presumption and changes to independent contractor definitions.
  • 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 evaluating several environmental policy bills that would raise the cost of business for Oregon companies.
  • We are monitoring several education and health care bills that will have impacts on Oregon’s workforce and business environment.

Last week, attention was focused on a hearing before the House Conduct Committee regarding allegations that Rep. Diego Hernandez had violated standards related to sexual harassment. Late Friday, the committee voted to send a recommendation to expel Rep. Hernandez to the full House for a vote. If expulsion happens, it will be the first time this has occurred in state history. Read more here.
If have questions or comments about a bill, or would like to be involved in a policy committee, contact us at communications@oregonbusinessindustry.com.
POLICY UPDATES
Seniors Over 80 Now Eligible for Vaccine, Gov. Brown Urges Patience
Starting today, Feb. 8, Oregon seniors over the age of 80 are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. In a joint press conference last Friday, Gov. Brown and Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen cautioned that the rollout will be chaotic at the start.

Oregonians age 75 and older will be eligible in the next phase starting Feb. 15, followed by people 70+ on Feb. 22, and people 65+ on March 1.

"I want to thank our seniors for their patience thus far, and for their continued patience in the coming days and weeks,” the governor said in a press release. “We are still managing a scarce resource. There will be hiccups in this process, but we are going to get through them. Signing up for an appointment will look different based on your community and your health care provider."

Gov. Brown also announced that Oregon would be receiving a 20% increase in our federally-allocated shipments, which will put the state on a path to get first doses of the vaccine to three quarters of the eligible populations (Phase 1a and 1b) by April 4 – almost a month earlier than previously scheduled.

This week, the state is also launching a new tool in partnership with OBI member Google, called “Get Vaccinated Oregon,” which will allow Oregonians to sign up for text and email alerts with information on their eligibility and where they can get vaccinated. Gov. Brown has directed seniors living independently to call 2-1-1 with any questions. She has deployed an additional 30 National Guard members to help staff the call center.

Finally, starting this week, vaccines will begin to be distributed to retail pharmacies at Costco, Albertson’s and HealthMart. The new shipments are part of a national program that Oregon has opted in to, and vaccines are expected to become available beginning Feb. 11. However, because the exact number of doses will vary by location, registration for eligible Oregonians is not set up yet. Learn more here
Portland-metro Businesses May Reopen as Soon as Friday
According to state COVID data, Oregon’s three most populous counties – Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas – could see limited reopening of certain businesses as soon as Friday, Feb. 12. The three counties appear to have reached the 200 cases per 100,000 residents mark, and a test positivity rate below 10%. While the Oregon Health Authority is still reviewing data to ensure the risk level has lowered, bars, restaurants and gyms might be able to allow limited indoor operations again.

State officials review health data every two weeks, and Gov. Brown assigns each county a risk level that dictates what businesses can be open and which ones must adapt or curtail operations. You can view your county’s status here.
OBI Continues to Analyze Final OSHA Rules
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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 soon. 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. If you have questions or comments about this, please contact us.
NEWS FOR OREGON BUSINESSES
“To balance the 2021-2023 budget, Rayfield said he expects lawmakers will need to use a combination of cuts to government services, tapping savings accounts and assistance from the federal government.”
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“As of Monday morning, Oregonians ages 80 and older are now eligible for vaccines against COVID-19, making older residents the newest group to gain access to protection against the coronavirus.

State officials acknowledged last week that the sign-up process for seniors could bring chaos, and that was true early Monday.”
“Unemployment insurance, response to wildfires, vaccine distribution, domestic terrorism and how cannabis regulations could correct racial injustice are among the topics that will be scrutinized by state auditors this year.

Newly elected Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan rolled out the annual work plan for her office’s Audits Division.”
“Former Oregon House District 39 Rep. Bill Kennemer has been appointed to fill the State Senate District 20 seat vacated by Alan Olsen.

Kennemer, R-Canby, was unanimously appointed to the position during a joint session with commissioners from Clackamas and Marion counties held via Zoom on Monday, Feb. 1.”
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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