Tensions Rise

The House will take up two bills this week — HB 2002 and HB 2005 — both dealing with hot-button social issues that will likely generate a lot of emotion and hard feelings among legislators. The House floor session is expected to be contentious enough that the House has cancelled all committee meetings for Monday and Tuesday. The Senate, in the meantime, has its own contentious bill — SJR 33.

Procedural delays and just about every tactic imaginable will likely be on display as Republicans do all they can to slow these bills and prevent or delay votes in both the House and Senate. The question remains whether or not the Republicans, especially in the Senate, decide to use their collective absence to stop these bills. Regardless, any tactic deployed results in a slowing of all bills.

But HB 2002 and HB 2005 notwithstanding, the legislature is grinding along at a slow pace. Part of the reason is that relatively few policy bills have passed, and there simply is not a lot of work for the committees to do. But the second, most important issue is that the legislature seems to be on “pause” until May 17. This is the date that the state economists release the final revenue forecast.

An unusually large number of bills are currently parked in the Ways & Means Committee waiting for the May 17 revenue forecast. If the revenue forecast yields no additional revenue, expect the vast majority of those bills to die for lack of funding.

Unless the legislature decides to dip into the state’s ‘rainy day’ funds, it is unlikely the legislature will have much discretionary cash.

Reminder: Policy committees will begin the process of shutting down on Friday. For bills to advance, they must be posted for a work session by this Friday, May 5. Committees then have until May 19 to advance bills and either approve them to the floor or transfer them to Rules, Revenue, or the Ways & Means Committee. The second chamber deadline marks the last legislative deadline before constitutional Sine Die on June 25. Any legislation still in play after the second chamber deadline will be alive through the remainder of the session.

Issues We’re Tracking

HB 2098 – Establishing a plan for funding Oregon’s portion of the I-5 bridge replacement project is quickly becoming the 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 – This would broadly limit employers’ use of quotas and performance metrics in warehouse and distribution center operations. Oregon OSHA and BOLI already enforce Oregon’s strict workplace safety and rest break laws.

HB 3242 and HB 3243 – Allow policyholders to sue their insurance companies for bad faith. These bills have been tried in other states and have benefitted few but resulted in significant premium spikes in commercial policies for all. These bills passed the House on party-line votes.

SB 999 – This bill undertakes the work of aligning disparate employee leave policies (OFLA, FMLA, and Paid Leave) to ensure that these laws do not allow employees to “stack” these protected leaves.

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

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