It should be an active week at the Legislature as we see a push for the first bipartisan legislative package of the session.
The package consists of policy and funding for housing, additional funding for behavioral health and possibly drought relief, as well as incentives for the semiconductor industry. It is the first major package of policy bills and budget items to move forward this session, and it is expected to move relatively quickly as legislative leaders have stated that their goal is to pass it by March. It will be the first major test of the new leadership’s ability to work across the aisle and in a bi-partisan fashion.
Following this morning’s public hearing on the housing policy bill (HB 2001), we should have other details to share about the package soon.
Bills To Watch
There are a number of bills impacting local business communities that we are keeping an eye on, including:
HB 2800 introduces complexity and confusion into Oregon’s existing age discrimination laws by compromising employers’ ability to consider workers’ experience and by requiring employers to prove that age discrimination did not take place when an adverse employment decision is made. The business community is opposing this legislation and our friends and colleagues at the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce are working to lobby to defend businesses by either directly opposing or amending this legislation.
HB 2536 limits what third-party food platforms can charge restaurants for take-out orders at 5% and delivery orders at 15%. The business community is opposing this legislation due to the fact that it appears to set a precedent of establishing price caps in private business-to-business contracts.
HB 2433 would increase the exemption in the CAT tax for small businesses from $1 million to $5 million. Business community members recently testified in support of this legislation. We believe there will be an actual negotiation around this legislation to increase the exemption on the CAT tax and get more small businesses out from under this tax.
HB 2624 increases the $1 million exclusion for Oregon’s estate tax. The business community and the OSCC have testified in support of the legislation.
SB 127 is a Senate bill that will increase the exemption in the CAT tax for small businesses from $1 million to $5 million. The business community supports this legislation and is testifying to support it this week.
SB 754 is an important bill for the outdoor recreation sector and fitness industry. It provides that an operator may require a person who engages in sports, fitness, or recreational activities in various ways to release operators from claims for ordinary negligence. The business community will support this legislation.
SB 592 would allow OSHA to conduct full workplace inspections upon three or more willful violations or a death at the workplace. The business community will oppose this legislation until it is clarified that a workplace death is due to willful violation.
HB 2396 is a job-killing bill that would authorize the Department of Environmental Quality to create an “indirect source” review program. The proposed program would apply broadly to indirect sources of potential air emissions throughout the state, including retail stores, offices, government buildings, schools, hospitals, ports, and development projects, among others (i.e. “Does the project promote vehicle traffic or require off-road engines?”). The business community is opposing this legislation.
HB 3158 is another anti-business bill that creates a slew of new taxes and fees to fund an incentive program for non-road diesel vehicles. Among other things, the bill puts a new tax on tires and on the purchase and rental of diesel equipment. The business community is opposing this legislation.