Legislative Update: February 22, 2022

What’s Happening

We are three weeks into the 35-day 2022 legislative session. We hit the final major deadline this Thursday with sine die being projected for late in the week of February 28th.
  • Thursday, February 24th – 2nd Chamber ‘Work Session’ deadline (any bill not passed out of committee by COB is considered dead)

  • Monday, March 7th – Constitutional Sine Die
The biggest issue of the past week was a bill in the Washington legislature.
A proposal under consideration in the Washington legislature would levy a tax on “fuel exports.” The proposed tax would result in a six cent per gallon increase in the price of fuel and an estimated $2 billion in additional revenue for the State of Washington. The bill is concerning for its obvious impacts on the cost of freight, for the precedent it would set in other states seeking to extract revenue from Oregon, and for its potential impacts on shared infrastructure priorities between OR and WA, such as the replacement of the I-5 bridge. The Washington bills - SB 5974 and HB 2119 – would tax states that import their fuel from Washington.
Our partners at Oregon Manufacturers and Commerce have set up a grassroots platform for Oregonians to express their views on these bills: 
Partisan tensions have predictably begun to intensify as we enter the final two weeks of the legislative session. HB 4002, which would establish a new agriculture overtime law, continues to be the leading driver in these increased tensions and could ultimately result in a significant breakdown in the legislative process before adjournment. However, in a very deft move, newly-elected House Speaker Day Rayfield has offered Republican legislators total purview over $100 million in spending on rural priorities. (A $100 million olive branch is on the table to ease bruised relations in Salem - OPB)

Major Issues
Overtime wages for agriculture workers (HB 4002) continues to be the biggest labor debate of the 2022 session.  HB 4002 would require agricultural employers to pay farmworkers overtime payments for all hours worked over 40 per week by 2027. Nearly all agriculture organizations oppose this legislation on grounds that commodity prices leave little margin for farmers and that increased labor costs cannot be absorbed. OSCC stands with its partners in the agriculture sector. A special committee will be appointed to deal with this issue specifically as it will be the policy issue that dominates the remainder of the session. 

OSCC has created an Action Alert for HB 4002 for chambers and their members to let your legislators know that the business community stands with our agricultural community in opposing this bill.

HB 4141 was initially very alarming for OSCC, as it purported to phase out the use of petroleum-based diesel fuel. The objective is to set the stage for renewable diesel. Lawmakers appear ready to replace the original bill with a task force to study the issue. Negotiations over the scope and makeup of what the task force should look like continued late into last week and culminated into passage of the Task Force today. OSCC will continue to monitor this legislation as well as the future task force meetings as we anticipate a similar petroleum diesel phase out bill to return in 2023.
By far and away, the defining issue of the 2022 legislative session will be the $2 billion in additional spending on state priorities that is expected to be unveiled in separate packages over the next two weeks. The best synopsis of the spending plans currently being considered can be found here: Legislative plans could repair roads in rural Oregon, promote energy efficiency, help the homeless – Oregon Capital Chronicle


JL Wilson & Jenny Dresler

Oregon State Chamber of Commerce (OSCC) | 991 Liberty Street SE, Salem, OR 97302