Monday, May 24, 2021

Please note that next week's edition of the Business Bulletin will be published on Tuesday, June 1 because OBI is closed on Memorial Day.
Oregon continues to stand alone in the nation in requiring businesses to verify vaccine cards as proof of vaccination for customers that wish to take their masks off. Last week, the Oregon Health Authority published new guidelines for mask requirements and for guidance for fully vaccinated individuals. Oregon OSHA released a statement saying that businesses had to either require masks for all individuals or require vaccine cards for vaccinated people to go without masks.

Meantime, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced new guidance on Friday stating that businesses can use the honor system when customers want to enter without a mask. In a departure from Oregon’s approach, Washington has also declared that employees can attest to having been fully vaccinated rather than having to produce a vaccination card. California plans to lift mask requirements on June 15. OBI continues to urge Gov. Brown to follow the model of our neighbors rather than requiring businesses to be the vaccine police.

OBI and our partners at Stoel Rives are hosting a webinar THIS Wednesday, May 26, from noon to 1 p.m. to discuss what employers can and cannot ask employees and customers as this new guidance takes effect.
Gov. Brown has said she will fully reopen Oregon’s economy when the state hits a 70% vaccination rate, which she believes will happen by the end of June. As of Friday, 60% of Oregonians over the age of 16 had received at least one shot. Five counties (Multnomah, Washington, Benton, Hood River and Lincoln) have exceeded the 65% mark, which allows them to be moved to low risk, that category that allows businesses to increase their indoor capacity limits and extend hours. Multnomah County is expected to move to low-risk on May 26. You can see the county-by-county break down here.

Finally, last week, the governor announced her “Take Your Shot Oregon” campaign, which will include a $1 million lottery and scholarship potentials for fully vaccinated residents of the state. 
The end is in sight for the 2021 legislative session. The constitutional deadline for adjournment is June 27 and we expect the process to continue to that date or close. The next significant deadline is this Friday, May 28, when bills must have had a work session in the second chamber policy committee in order to stay alive.

The big news last week was the May revenue forecast, which showed that the state will end the current fiscal biennium with a $2.8 billion surplus -- $1 billion more than was expected just three months earlier. Following presentation of the revenue forecast to the House Revenue Committees, OBI issued a statement noting that this new robust financial outlook should put a lid on all discussions about tax increases, and we said it gave the Legislature even more reason to slow down process for deciding how to spend the $2.6 billion in federal stimulus payments expected as a result of the federal American Rescue Plan Act. Read our statement here.

The surplus is largely the result of the federal aid that is coming to Oregon and strong investment income. It is all but certain now that the “kicker” will kick as a result of this surplus, returning about $1.4 billion to personal income taxpayers. The corporate kicker will be about $664 million, and that will go to state’s Education Stability Fund. 

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:

  • HB 3389, providing unemployment insurance fixes to provide relief to employers, passed unanimously out of Senate Labor and Business last week. It now heads to Ways & Means, where we hope it will advance quickly and ultimately pass.
  • Last week OBI testified in support of SB 164, the catch-all bill for technical fixes to the corporate activity tax (CAT). Included in the bill is a provision to allow companies to match their individual filing of CAT returns with their actual fiscal year-end (current CAT statute only allows for 12/31 calendar-year filings). The bill also provides clarifying language that will protect Oregon-based insurers from retaliatory taxes in other states.
  • SB 483, creating a presumption of retaliation if workers have filed safety complaints, is scheduled for a committee vote on Tuesday. OBI continues to urge legislators to adopt an amendment which would address the issue of anonymous OSHA complaints before the presumption would apply. This would require an employee to prove that the employer knew the employee had filed a complaint before retaliation is presumed.
  • HB 3398, amending the timelines for the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance (PFMLI) program, was heard in House Rules last week. OBI testified in support of the bill. The current law would require PFMLI contributions to begin Jan. 1, 2022 and benefits to begin Jan. 1, 2023. That timeline is simply unreachable for the Employment Department and they are proposing to delay the timelines. Under HB 3398, contributions will begin Jan. 1, 2023 and benefits will begin Sept. 3, 2023. The bill is scheduled for a committee vote on Thursday and we expect it to pass easily to the House floor.
  •  SJR 12, the proposed constitutional amendment that health care is a right, passed the House 34-23 this week and heads to Gov. Brown’s desk for her signature. This passage means the concept will be on the ballot in 2022. OBI supports the goal of increasing access to affordable health care, but we worry about the unknown costs that could come from this being a constitutional right and the potential strain on the overall budget.
If have questions or comments about a bill, or would like to be involved in a policy committee, contact us at
Corporate Activity Tax Registrations Up 5,000 in First Five Months of 2021
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The Oregon Department of Revenue said last week that Corporate Activity Tax (CAT) registrations totaled more than 20,000 in the first year of the CAT in 2020. In 2021, more than 5,000 additional businesses have registered for the CAT, which was created by the Legislature in 2019 to raise funding for education. Through May 14, a total of 25,055 businesses have registered for the CAT.
The CAT applies to in-state and out-of-state businesses. It is measured on a business’s commercial activity, the total amount a business realizes from transactions and activity in Oregon.
Businesses with taxable commercial activity in excess of $1 million will have Corporate Activity Tax to pay. The tax is $250 plus 0.57% of commercial activity greater than $1 million after subtractions.
Taxpayers expecting to owe $5,000 or more for 2021 must make quarterly estimated payments. The next estimated payments are due August 2.
OBI Member Launches Survey of Manufacturing Sector
OBI member Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt, along with Aldrich CPAs + Advisors, and the Puget Sound Business Journal and Portland Business Journal, have commissioned a survey aimed at better understanding the state of the manufacturing and distribution industries in the Pacific Northwest and how these industries are evolving. The results will help these businesses “look around the corner and provide insights on growth areas and industry trends.”
Because OBI members are leaders in the manufacturing industry, we hope you will consider sharing your thoughts. The results of the survey will be shared later this year. As a thank-you for participating, everyone who finishes the survey will be entered into a sweepstakes for a chance to win one of two $50 gift cards.
The survey should not take longer than 10 minutes to complete. You can find it here.
By Bryan Pietsch, The New York Times

“We have serious concerns about the practicality of requiring business owners and workers to be the enforcer,” said Nathaniel Brown, a spokesman for Oregon Business and Industry, which represents companies like Nike, as well as small businesses. “We are hearing from retailers and small businesses who are concerned about putting their frontline workers in a potentially untenable position when dealing with customers.”
By Amelia Templeton and Jeff Thompson, Oregon Public Broadcasting

“Our top priority has always been public safety, which not only includes stopping the spread of COVID but also minimizing potential conflict between business owners, their employees, and members of the public. We hope that is a consideration,” said Sandra McDonough, president & CEO of OBI, in a written statement.
By Brittany Chang, Business Insider

"We have serious concerns about the practicality of requiring business owners and workers to be the enforcer," Sandra McDonough, president and CEO of Oregon Business and Industry, told Insider in an email statement. "We have raised our concerns with the state and asked regulators to give business owners maximum flexibility when it comes to vaccine verification processes."
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