What happened on Monday?

The Senate remains at a standstill as Republican lawmakers continue their collective absence. These Senate members have been out since May 3, denying the Senate the two-thirds quorum needed to conduct business. The walkout coincides with legislation relating to firearm regulation, abortion, and gender-related health care. Leaders indicate the bills fail to meet the readability requirements in place since 1979.

As of Monday, three lawmakers now each have 10 unexcused absences and, under Measure 113, are technically barred from running for re-election. The Capitol Insider provides details in this article.

On Wednesday, the Office of Economic Analysis will release its highly anticipated quarterly revenue forecast. This is the final forecast before the constitutionally required adjournment date of June 25, and this forecast will determine the numbers that budget writers will use to formulate agency budgets for the next biennium.

The overwhelming sense is that the Senate Republican caucus does not intend to provide a quorum for the remainder of the session. With unexcused absences racking up, there is little incentive for them to return. If this is the case, there are two outcomes moving forward: 1) Senate Republicans return for the final day of the session, June 25, to allow the legislature to pass budgets and negotiated bills or 2) The 2023 session adjourns and a special session is convened for approving budgets. Stay tuned.

Issues We’re Tracking

HB 3205: Legislation that would have clarified that hiring and retention bonuses are allowable under Oregon’s pay equity law was gutted by Senate Labor and Business Committee Chair Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland). Senator Taylor’s amendment replaces the bill with language that simply directs BOLI to study and make recommendations on the issue.

SB 5: Research and Development Tax Credit – the current bill limits the tax credit to the semi-conductor industry, but legislators are hearing from all around the state that the credit should be available to all manufacturing.

HB 2098: Establishing a plan for funding Oregon’s portion of the I-5 bridge replacement project is quickly becoming a focal point of the remaining weeks of this year’s session. Last week saw the first major public hearing on amendment language related to the project. Already, typical battle lines over union work requirements, tolling, project costs, and environmental impacts have come to the fore.

HB 3568: Restrictions on Production & Fulfillment Quotas in Warehouses – there is a current concern with this bill as it assumes that workplace production quotas lead to unsafe workplaces. Also, it should be noted that the bill creates a never-ending cycle of potential retaliatory complaints against warehouse employers who use production or fulfillment quotas as a workplace management or productivity tool.

Engagement Matters

On May 11, the Department of Environmental Quality announced that it would extend the timeline for completing the proposed Employee Commute Options rulemaking in response to comments filed by rulemaking advisory committee (RAC) members. DEQ received a significant amount of feedback from stakeholders regarding the proposed changes and determined that more time is needed to discuss the rule concepts in more detail. This rule would do two things:

  1. It would require employers in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties with more than 100 employees at a worksite to reduce employee commuting by 20%. These employers are subject to a longstanding version of the regulation, and the new version would double the trip reduction target.
  2. The proposed rule would require employers in Salem, Albany, Corvallis, Eugene, Springfield, Medford, and Bend with more than 100 employees at a worksite to reduce employee commuting by 15%. Rulemaking has been paused for an indeterminate period to gather more input from employers and the RAC.

Content contributed by Bravio Communications, Salem Chamber staff, and OSCC.

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