Monday, June 28, 2021

Throughout the pandemic, we have kept our members up to date with a weekly newsletter outlining the latest regulations, risk levels and announcements. Because COVID restrictions will be lifted statewide on Wednesday, and the legislative session is now over as well, this will be the final weekly Business Bulletin. In July, the newsletter will transition to a monthly communication that focuses on policy updates from your OBI team.
Statewide COVID Restrictions to End on June 30
After more than 15 months under strict regulations, Oregon businesses are set to fully reopen this Wednesday, June 30. Statewide COVID restrictions, including mask mandates, capacity limits and social distancing requirements, will be lifted.
 
Gov. Kate Brown made the announcement on Friday, June 25. While the state remains about on percent shy of her goal of vaccinating 70% of Oregonians, the Oregon Health Authority has maintained that lifting restrictions is safe at this point in the pandemic.
 
OBI expects Oregon OSHA to operate on the same timeline as the governor and will repeal most restrictions on how work is performed no later than June 30. We are advocating for them to repeal all COVID regulations, although the agency has indicated they will start with mask and distancing requirements, and then more carefully review others. Healthcare organizations, public transportation and other facilities will be required maintain certain restrictions, in line with guidance from the CDC.
 
OBI released a statement soon after the governor made the announcement, which you can find here
CAPITOL CENTRAL
The 2021 legislative session adjourned on Saturday evening, June 26, after more than six months of virtual policymaking. The OBI policy team is compiling a comprehensive report that details bills we tracked that passed and bills that didn’t. We will send that report to our members this week.

“In more than 15 years working with the Oregon Legislature, I have never seen a session like this one,” said Paloma Sparks, vice president of government affairs at OBI. “While the COVID precautions and virtual process made direct advocacy more challenging for everyone, our voice on behalf of Oregon businesses was heard.

“Throughout the past six months, we have strongly urged lawmakers to give businesses room to recover from the pandemic, wildfires, and other historic crises. Fortunately, we were largely able to make the case against major new tax increases and complicated new regulations,” Sparks continued. “Our work is never done, even once the Legislature adjourns. We will continue to make sure that Oregon businesses have the tools and resources they need to find their footing in a post-pandemic reality. We’d like to sincerely thank the members of the Oregon Legislature for their public service during this unprecedented time, as well as our members and partners throughout the state for raising your voice on issues that matter.”

The Legislature is expected to convene next in September for a special session on redistricting.
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
Next OBI President & CEO Announced
The OBI board of directors has named Angela Wilhelms as the organization’s next president & CEO, effective Sept. 1, 2021. Currently an executive at the University of Oregon in Eugene, she has an impressive background in policy, politics and law. Read more about her here.

“I am very excited to join the incredible team at OBI,” Angela said. “A strong business sector and the jobs it creates are so fundamentally important to our state and the communities throughout it. As a native Oregonian, I am thrilled to have the chance to work with the vast array of businesses that make up OBI’s membership throughout the state and I look forward to traveling around Oregon to connect with our members to hear firsthand about their priorities for their own companies and for our state.”

In the CEO role, Ms. Wilhelms will replace Sandra McDonough, who is retiring in October. Ms. McDonough has served as OBI’s president & CEO since 2018.
Judge Rules Portland Metro Homeless Tax Collections Legal
A Multnomah County judge last week ruled that the regional government in the Portland area, Metro, can tax businesses operating in the Portland region on income earned outside the region, even out of state.

The taxes in question are a 1% personal income tax on high income individuals living inside the tri-county boundaries and a new 1% business income tax on businesses that generate at least $5 million a year. The proceeds will fund homelessness services like subsidized housing and wraparound services.

This is contrary to the long-term understanding around state tax policy, and the potentially precedent-setting nature of this decision is concerning. Learn more here
Bipartisan Federal Infrastructure Deal Announced
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President Joe Biden announced last week that the White House has struck a deal with five Democratic and five Republican senators on a sweeping infrastructure package that will invest roughly $1 trillion into America’s roads, highways, rail systems and other modes of transport.

While the concept still has to clear both chambers of Congress, which is far from certain, this is a positive step in the right direction. OBI, along with the nation’s business community, has long called for infrastructure investments that modernize our transportation system.

“This is how we build to win,” said Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers. “This shows that governing with big ideas is still possible in America. Bold infrastructure investment will secure a better future for our nation and industry and help more Americans reach their full potential. And building it on a foundation of bipartisanship and consensus will help restore faith in our institutions — and prove that America can still bridge party divides to do great things.”
OBI IN THE NEWS
By Mike Rogoway, The Oregonian/OregonLive

“I have always had a passion for civic engagement in the state and a passion for supporting those folks who are out there every day creating jobs,” Wilhelms said. “That is fundamental to everything that factors into our quality of life in Oregon.”
By Malia Spencer, Portland Business Journal

Oregon Business & Industry has tapped University of Oregon executive Angela Wilhelms as its new president and CEO, the group said Friday.

Wilhelms, who is secretary to the UO board of trustees, will take over the role Sept. 1. She will replace Sandra McDonough, who is retiring Oct. 1. McDonough has led the group since 2018, taking over shortly after it was created in 2017.
By Gary A. Warner, Oregon Capital Bureau

Business associations praised the announcement. "With nearly seven out of 10 adult Oregonians vaccinated, it is time to fully reopen Oregon,” said Sandra McDonough, president and chief executive officer of Oregon Business & Industry. “Oregon businesses stepped up over the last 15 months, taking extraordinary steps to stop the spread of this disease and help keep their employees, customers, families and neighbors safe. It is time to return to normal."
By Elizabeth Hayes, Portland Business Journal

“We applaud the governor for taking this rational approach to lifting COVID restrictions,” OBI president and CEO Sandra McDonough.
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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