Time is Essential
We lost an hour over the weekend and the clock is a real consideration as we approach the first major legislative deadline. All bills in policy committees need to be scheduled for a work session by this Friday, March 17 to remain alive.
Bill reading continues on the Senate Floor as no deal has been made between Senate Republicans and Democrats to suspend rules and speed up the process. It will be interesting to see if/when House Republicans join Senate Republicans in requiring bills to be read in full prior to a vote being held. Bill reading is an effective strategy for the minority party to slow down the process. Bills in policy committees must move out of their chamber of origin by April 4, and a slow process could put many bills in jeopardy of not meeting that deadline.
Reminder: Bills in Rules, Revenue, and Joint Committees are not subject to the same deadlines and will remain alive until Sine Die. It’s common for bills in policy committees to be referred to one of these standing committees shortly before a legislative deadline to keep them in consideration.
Concerning Bills We’re Tracking
This week we are seeing the most aggressive bills in the employment and labor arena, including:
SB 851 – On Tuesday morning, the Senate Committee on Labor and Business will hold a public hearing on SB 851 and the –1 amendment. The Oregon State Chamber of Commerce (OSCC) opposes this measure, which would impose liability on employers for any personnel decision or workplace conflict between employees. If SB 851 were to pass, Oregon would be the first state to impart liability on employers in such a significant way, including a private right of action against an employer when an employee feels slighted or when they may disagree with a disciplinary decision that was made.
SB 907 – On Thursday morning, the Senate Committee on Labor and Business will hold a public hearing on a proposal to expand the existing right to refuse work law (federal OSHA and Oregon already provide that right) to allow employees to refuse work if they fear a potential hazard or danger.
SB 925 – Also on Thursday morning, the Senate Committee on Labor and Business is holding a public hearing on a bill that would require employers to disclose pay range and employment benefits within a job posting or for a promotion. Failure to do so would subject an employer to a lawsuit or employment claim.
We are seeing some aggressive legislation being discussed in the environmental and energy arena, including this bill:
HB 3152 – Phases out the use of natural gas in the residential housing sector. It establishes that the policy of Oregon is to protect residential utility customers from risks of stranded fossil fuel assets and potential increases in energy burden while achieving the state’s GHG emissions reduction goals.
The Salem Area Chamber of Commerce has submitted testimony in opposition of HB 3152 which is being accepted until 3pm on Wednesday. Please see the details to submit your testimony here:
Please ask the House Committee on Revenue to schedule work sessions for these important bills:
HB 2433 – Increases exempt amount and filing threshold for purposes of corporate activity tax. Raising the CAT exemption threshold for small businesses from $1 million to $5 million will provide much-needed tax relief to thousands of small businesses throughout Oregon.
HB 2624 – Allows additional estate tax exclusion of $1 million. Adjusts for inflation. Adding another $1 million to the exemption level, and indexing that for inflation going forward, means that Oregon will no longer be the worst in the nation for estate taxes.