Monday, June 7, 2021
What Oregonians can expect to see as COVID restrictions ease has now become clearer, with Gov. Kate Brown defining what will happen when the state hits her goal of 70% of adults 18 and older receiving at least one shot.

In an announcement Friday, the governor said that, once that mark is reached, mask mandates, capacity limits and social distancing requirements will all be lifted.  Additionally, she also said she expects all schools to return to five days per week, at full capacity, and in-person instruction in the fall.

We are moving closer to the governor’s goal. As of this morning, 66.8% of Oregonians 18 and older had received at least one shot.  Modeling suggests we could hit 70% around June 20, based on the current vaccine trends. You can see the county-by-county break down and progress towards Gov. Brown’s 70% goal here.

After the governor’s announcement, OBI immediately worked with Oregon OSHA to get more clarity on what that might mean for workplace rules and regulations. According to OSHA, when the 70% mark is reached, they will adopt temporary rules repealing the mask and distancing requirements. They will then begin permanent rulemaking to repeal or modify the other parts of the rules. OBI plans to continue working with the agency to make sure the rules are workable for businesses.

In the meantime, the state has not backed off from the requirement that businesses ask individuals to show their vaccine card before they are allowed to go without a mask. Oregon is the only state in the country with the vaccine card requirement. OBI has joined partners to ask Gov. Brown to shift to the Washington state model, which depends on the honor system.
Policy committee work has slowed substantially, with committees starting to shut down, as the Legislature moves closer to the June 27 adjournment date.

As the session winds down, the most active committee is the Joint Committee on Ways & Means. On Friday, the committee heard and moved 15 agency and service budget bills, after completing 12 the week before. Most spending bills are passed out of committee on a bipartisan basis; however, a few notable ones were not, including budgets for the Dept. of Energy, the Marine Board, and the governor’s office. In an unusual turn of events this last week, House Republicans attempted to send the $9.3 billion K-12 education budget back to Ways & Means so that an additional $300 million could be added to the already increased budget. That effort failed on the House floor in a party-line vote and the education bill subsequently passed.

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 major outstanding issue remains the 2021-2023 fiscal biennium budget, and how lawmakers will allocate the $2.7 billion coming to the state because of the federal American Rescue Plan. OBI has heard that the Legislature’s budget could approach $30 billion, up $4 billion from the governor’s budget proposal. That is an astonishing increase over the current biennium, which had a $22.4 billion general fund budget. The concern is whether they will be using one-time money to fund ongoing programs, which could create budget problems in later years. We haven’t seen the budget proposal yet and will continue to advocate that one-time money should be used for one-time investments.
  • Amendments to SB 139, which would increase tax rates for pass-through entities, is being heard  this afternoon. OBI will testify in opposition. We are opposing any tax increase this year, arguing that the state is awash with money and has no need to raise new revenue.
  • HB 2457, the annual “reconnect” to the federal tax code, passed the House unanimously. This bill was uncharacteristically challenging this year because of proposals to disconnect from the tax provisions of the U.S. CARES Act, which would have taken away tax relief for small businesses. OBI successfully opposed that effort.
  • HB 2680, the main campaign finance bill, is scheduled for a committee vote on Monday. The latest amendment will address public financing only, without any reference to campaign contribution limits. If the committee adopts the amendment, it will then go to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means to determine if the state will fund the program.
  • SB 483, creating a presumption of retaliation if an employee is discriminated against within 60 days of filing an OSHA complaint, is awaiting a vote on the House floor. Despite our efforts, we expect the bill to pass and be adopted.
  • HB 3398, delaying implementation of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance program, passed out of House Rules and is now headed to the floor for a vote. The bill would delay contributions until Jan. 1, 2023, and benefit until Sept. 3, 2023. OBI supports the bill.
If have questions or comments about a bill, or would like to be involved in a policy committee, contact us at
OBI and Partners Urge Lawmakers to Address Worker Shortages
We led an effort last week along with 25 other chambers and association partners urging Gov. Brown and the Legislature to consider using American Rescue Plan funds to create an incentive program aimed at encouraging people to accept work rather than relying on continued unemployment benefits. Read the full letter here.

Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, many Oregon businesses have faced the very difficult reality of curtailed operations due to government-ordered shutdowns, stay home orders and COVID-driven declines in their markets. They have supported efforts designed to keep Oregonians safe, but the cost has been great, as jobs were lost, and businesses closed.

Over the last 15 months, the federal and state governments have appropriately invested in extra benefits for workers to help them weather this storm. Oregon has created several funds designed to help workers forced to stay home due to job elimination, school closures, loss of child care, illness and a variety of other reasons. Now we are asking Oregon lawmakers to invest in helping us bring those employees back to work.
Oregon Business Council Calls for Overhaul of State Water Management System
Oregon’s rich water system is a formidable state-level competitive advantage as well a source of jobs, recreation, and identity across the state’s regions and communities. However, the management of these resources, a key to realizing their full potential, is badly in need of an update and overhaul.

This is the central message of Securing Oregon’s Water Future, an Oregon Business Council policy paper now available here. More than a year in the making, the study incorporates the best scientific and demographic information available about Oregon’s water resources. It also draws on interviews with water managers, stakeholders, and consumers, visits to Oregon’s diverse water regions, an in-depth review of water affordability in the state, and a look at water management projects and innovations in other states. It complements a growing awareness of water system challenges reflected in legislative discussions and in Governor Kate Brown’s 100-Year Water Vision for Oregon.
SAIF to Make Dividend Information Available to Policyholders This Month
Earlier this year the SAIF board of directors declared a $210 million dividend to be distributed in July 2021 to policyholders based on their premium for policies whose term ended in 2020.
Dividend information will be available to group association partners through Business Online starting on June 18, and it will open up for policyholders on June 30.
SAIF is able to pay dividends because of solid investment returns and continued success in managing workplace safety and health and controlling losses. 50,399 policyholders will receive the dividend.
Detailed dividend distribution process information is available in SAIF’s FAQ document.
By Jonathan Bach, Portland Business Journal

“Business interests including Oregon Business & Industry and the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association lent their names to the plea in a new letter, which says that industries are experiencing workforce challenges as jobs go unfilled. The ramification, they say, is a possibly hindered economic recovery for the state.”
By Jamie Goldberg, The Oregonian/OregonLive

“Oregon Housing and Community Services opened applications Tuesday for a final round of funding through its $150 million Landlord Compensation Fund. Landlords can apply for relief to cover 80% of the rent they are owed by residential tenants dating back to April 2020 in exchange for forgiving the remaining 20% of unpaid rent.

Landlords will be able to apply until June 18, and applications will be reviewed as they come in, according to the state agency.”
By Aimee Green, The Oregonian/OregonLive

“Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced Friday that she’ll lift all capacity limits on restaurants, gyms, stadiums and other businesses and abolish mask requirements for even unvaccinated people in nearly all public settings when the state reaches 70% of its adults vaccinated against COVID-19 with at least one dose.”
The OBI team is always available to assist you. Please feel free to reach out to us at 
Oregon Business & Industry
1149 Court Street NE
Salem, OR 97301