Monday, March 22, 2021
OHA Employer Toolkit Will Help Connect Workers to Vaccines
During a webinar with Oregon employers this afternoon, the Oregon Health Authority released a comprehensive “employer toolkit” designed to help you communicate important information about vaccines to your workers, and to give them information about locations and appointments as they become eligible in the next few weeks.

With the governor’s new, accelerated vaccination timeline, hundreds of thousands of Oregonians will become eligible for a vaccine in the coming weeks (before eligibility opens to all Oregonians 16 and older on May 1). The federal government is expected to increase shipments to Oregon starting next week. For employers, there are a few immediate steps you can take to help your employees prepare for vaccinations – and, of course, get Oregon on track to full economic recovery.

  1. Encourage employees to register with the state so they receive notifications and know how to make appointments when they become eligible.
  2. Share all the vaccine information in the toolkit with employees, customers and your business network. Email, text and social media templates are available for you to use. This is important to address vaccine hesitancy and to make sure employees feel comfortable about getting a shot.
  3. The state needs more medical personnel to administer the vaccine. Please consider putting a call out to your employees to see if they are qualified medical providers. They can sign up here if they have the necessary experience.
  4. Some employers may be able to host onsite vaccination clinics for their employees and community members. The state plans to make these arrangements with large employers and will provide specific information in the next week or so. We will keep you updated as information becomes available.

Here’s the current vaccine distribution schedule:

  • Today, March 22: Migrant and seasonal farmworkers in counties where they are already working, and Oregonians 45 and older with underlying health conditions in counties that can attest a majority of their senior population has been vaccinated (was previously March 29)
  • March 29: All migrant and seasonal farmworkers, seafood and food processing workers, residents in low-income senior housing, wildland firefighters, pregnant women 16 and older
  • April 19: Frontline workers as defined by the CDC, multigenerational household members, and Oregonians 16 and older with underlying health conditions (was previously May 1)
  • May 1: All Oregonians over 16 years old (was previously July 1)

Many OBI members have asked how they will know if their employees classify as frontline workers eligible before May 1. Here is OHA’s three-part definition:

  1. The employee has regular close contact with others outside of their household (less than six feet); and
  2. The employee has routine (more than 15 minutes per person(s)) close contact with others outside of their household; and
  3. They cannot perform their job duties from home or another setting that limits the close or routine contact with others outside of their household.

Also, the industry has to be defined by the CDC as essential.

Employers do not have to provide their employees with verification that they qualify as frontline workers. However, the state is relying on individual employers to define who within their workforce meets the definition. The state also notes that many employers have workers with underlying health conditions that would qualify for the vaccine before May 1, and OHA hopes employers will communicate that this group also qualifies before the general population.

The vaccine is free for all Oregonians, and no proof of work or citizenship is required to receive one. Insurance is not required, but people with insurance are encouraged to bring their insurance information to their appointment.

If you have any questions about the accelerated timeline or the employer toolkit, reach out to us at communications@oregonbusinessindustry.com
CAPITOL CENTRAL
This past Friday marked a significant deadline for the 2021 session: Bills had to be scheduled for a work session or they cannot continue to move forward (although that deadline does not apply to bills in the Revenue, Rules or Joint Transportation committees). Just over 2,400 bills were introduced this session and, after the Friday deadline, about 1,500 are still alive. The next chamber deadline is April 13, when legislation must be passed out of committee in the chamber of origin to continue through the process. House Speaker Tina Kotek has scheduled in-person floor sessions of the House for Monday through Thursday this week, including evening sessions, to begin moving bills toward final passage. The Senate is scheduled to meet in person in Salem on Wednesday. (We don’t know yet whether a COVID exposure in the Capitol today will change these plans.)

In this session, OBI has been focused on preventing new taxes and regulation to allow businesses room to recover from the recession. Fortunately, last week brought great news on this front as several of the bills we had been opposing will not move forward. OBI is still tracking hundreds of bills, and our newly redesigned website includes timely and in-depth updates, which you can find here. Here are some significant accomplishments from the past week:

  • Working with a broad coalition, OBI helped defeat HB 2205, Oregon’s version of a Private Attorney General Act which would allow anyone to sue on behalf of the state. The bill did not get scheduled for a work session by Friday, so that bill is now dead. This was one of OBI’s top priorities to defeat because we have seen the proliferation of lawsuits the California version of this bill has created.
  • We were also successful in defeating SB 477, which would have eliminated an employee’s burden of proof for many discrimination claims. We heard from many members that this bill was a major concern.
  • On tax issues, a proposal to tax forgiven PPP loans, HB 2457-1, was posted in the House Revenue Committee for a work session with less than 24 hours’ notice. OBI worked quickly with our partners at the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) to help organize broad opposition to the bill, and it was pulled from the agenda without explanation. Thank you to everyone who emailed the Legislature about this issue; your input made a difference.
  • Finally, it appears that the proposal to raise taxes on beer, wine and cider will not move forward. Proponents signaled they were pulling back on Friday when they asked for an amendment to the bill that would instead create an interim task force to evaluate how to raise taxes. OBI has worked with a coalition of partners on this effort as well.
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
Individual Tax Filing Deadline Extended, Corporate Returns Still Due April 15
The Internal Revenue Service announced last week that it was pushing tax filing day back to May 17 for individuals. Following suit, the Oregon Dept. of Revenue announced that Oregon would also recognize May 17 as tax filing day for individual income tax filers in Oregon. Corporate tax filings in Oregon, including corporate activity tax payments, are still due April 15.
 
If you missed the alert from OBI last week, you can find that here
U.S. Small Business Administration Will Soon Accept Grant Applications to Help Venue Owners 
Cafe
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is launching a website for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application portal today in anticipation of opening applications for the much-anticipated critical economic relief program on Thursday, April 8, 2021.
 
Prior to the official SVOG application opening, the SBA will host a national informational webinar to highlight the application process for potential eligible entities from 2:30 to 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. Those interested in participating can register here.

The SVOG is one tool that the SBA is using to assist impacted businesses. As a reminder, the deadline to submit a Paycheck Protection Program loan application is March 31. Get in touch immediately with your financial institution if you want to apply.
NEWS FOR OREGON BUSINESSES
By Nigel Jaquiss, Willamette Week

“Portland City Commissioner Carmen Rubio will revamp a controversial proposal to create two new fees on carbon emissions, after WW reported the plan was likely to shutter the only glass recycling plant in the state.”
By Nicole Hayden, The Oregonian/OregonLive

“The lobbyists who pushed major increases in Oregon’s beer and wine taxes are asking the Legislature to set up a task force to design a new, more broadly accepted proposal that would fund addiction recovery services and lower alcohol consumption.”
By Jeff Manning, The Oregonian/OregonLive

“Though estimates vary widely, hundreds of thousands of businesses failed nationally. Hotels, airlines, and restaurants and bars were among the hardest hit. In Oregon, proprietors’ income fell a devastating 20% while unemployment surged to an unprecedented 13.2%.
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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