Monday, June 14, 2021
OREGON INCHES CLOSER TO 70% VACCINE GOAL, FULL REOPENING EXPECTED SOON
Oregon continues to move closer to Gov. Brown’s 70% vaccination goal, the point at which she says she will lift continuing COVID restrictions. As of Monday, June 14, 67.7% of Oregonians 18 and older had received their initial shots. According to the state projections, about 87,000 more Oregonians in that age group need to get a shot to reach the goal.

Gov. Brown has said that once the state hits 70%, she will lift the mask mandate, as well as any remaining capacity limits and physical distancing requirements.

Efforts continue to encourage more Oregonians to get vaccinated. The governor announced additional financial incentives during a press conference on Friday. You can see the county-by-county break down here
CAPITOL CENTRAL
The Oregon Legislature made national headlines last week after the historic expulsion of Rep. Mike Nearman (R-Independence), who faces criminal charges for allowing armed protestors to enter the Capitol building last December, when it was closed to the public due to COVID precautions. The vote in the House was 59-1, with Nearman being the only nay vote. This is the first time in state history that a member of the Legislature has been removed. His seat is now vacant, and a successor will be appointed.

Policy committee work has slowed substantially, with committees shutting down as the Legislature moves closer to the June 27 adjournment date. The OBI team is producing an end-of-session report that we will distribute to our members following adjournment.

Our website includes timely and in-depth updates, which you can find here. Here’s a few highlights of what’s going on at the Capitol right now:

  • The only tax-increase bill we continue to watch is SB 139, which would eliminate tax breaks for some partnership businesses. The bill became more complicated when it was combined with SB 727, a bill addressing state and local tax deductibility, which we have supported. Scott Bruun testified at a hearing last week, opposing the tax-increase provisions of SB 139 on the principle that the state does not need to raise any new taxes in light of the current robust revenue situation. We understand that the two concepts have since been separated. It is unclear whether either will pass this session.
  • HB 2343, allowing local jurisdictions to temporarily suspend enterprise zone employment requirements on a case-by-case basis due to COVID-related economic impacts, was heard in the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee on Wednesday. We testified in support of the bill and it is now scheduled for a work session, where we expect it to be voted out of committee and sent to the full Senate.
  • HB 2680, the primary campaign finance bill, has been referred to Ways and Means after the House Rules Committee adopted an amendment that removed all references to limits and created a public financing program. It’s unclear if it has a path forward.
  • Today, HB 3409 was introduced creating return-to-work incentives, funded by American Rescue Act funds. The bill also addresses an “essential worker” bonus sought by the unions. OBI has promoted the return-to-work bonus to address challenges employers are facing filling open positions. We are hearing concerns from members across virtually every industry. 
  • HB 3389, addressing unemployment insurance taxes, is expected to advance this week. The bill has passed the House and is now scheduled for a vote in the Ways and Means subcommittee on transportation and economic development today and will then advance to the full committee, before going to the Senate for a final vote. OBI played a key role in negotiating this bill, which makes several changes to reduce costs for employers who were forced to lay off employees due to the pandemic. The bill also addresses future challenges by adjusting how much money must remain in Oregon’s UI trust fund to be considered “sufficiently funded”. The bill has passed the House floor but still needs Senate action. 
  • In partnership with the Oregon Business Council, we sent the attached letter to members of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means advocating use of federal funds for workforce development investments. 
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
Foreclosure Moratorium Extended to Sept. 30, Eviction Moratorium Ends June 30
Cafe
During the press conference last week, Gov. Brown announced she will extend the mortgage foreclosure moratorium through Sept. 30. House Bill 2009, recently passed by the Legislature, authorizes her to extend the moratorium period for homeowners, for two successive three-month periods beyond June 30.

In Senate Bill 282, the Legislature did not give similar authority to the governor to extend the eviction moratorium for tenants beyond June 30. Renters can apply for relief through OregonRentalAssistance.org.
Climate Protection Program Rulemaking Continues, OBI Voices Concerns
The Climate Protection Program Rules Advisory Committee (RAC) meetings are very close to wrapping up, with final meetings scheduled on June 17 and July 8. Last week, the Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) posted draft rules for the program with significant new language.
 
As expected, fuel suppliers (both natural and non-natural gas) will be regulated, and the vast majority of stationary sources will not be directly regulated. We are concerned that DEQ has not offered any traditional alternative compliance options available under most cap-and-trade programs. The cost of the program remains a major concern. 
OBI IN THE NEWS
By Mike Rogoway, The Oregonian/OregonLive

“Oregon lawmakers will consider a proposal to pay essential workers who stayed on the job through the pandemic up to $2,000 in new stimulus payments and a separate $1,200 payment to unemployed Oregonians who return to work in frontline jobs by fall.”
By Hillary Borrud, The Oregonian/OregonLive

“Top Democrats in the Oregon Legislature are working furiously to hammer out a budget of historic proportions, as lawmakers hurtle toward the end of the session.
“With less than three weeks until the constitutional deadline for lawmakers to wrap up, Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward said she and her co-chairs on the Ways and Means committee are ‘really down to crunch time.’”
By KGW

“As Oregon continues its push to reach Gov. Kate Brown’s 70% vaccination goal, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and mass vaccination sites in the Portland metro area announced they will offer free $100 gift cards to Fred Meyer and Safeway stores for people who receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.”
The Oregonian Editorial Board

“While legislators faced a clear-cut case for expelling Rep. Mike Nearman from the Oregon House, the vote they took last Thursday was still a difficult one. The historic step of kicking out a House member is a somber milestone that no one should celebrate.”
CONNECT WITH US
The OBI team is always available to assist you. Please feel free to reach out to us at communications@oregonbusinessindustry.com. 
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