Session Defining

The final days of the session are producing more questions than answers. The main question being: Will Senate Republicans return to the floor to provide a quorum, and if so, what will bring them back?

Ten Republican members of the Oregon Senate now have at least 10 unexcused absences, barring them from serving — due to the passage of Measure 113 — an additional term after their current term is completed. Though 33 days remain until the legislature is constitutionally required to adjourn, the odds of lawmakers returning to the Capitol to finish their business are growing longer by the day.

In the event that Republican lawmakers do not return and pass a budget, a continuing resolution will allow state government operations to continue until September 15. A special session is very likely to be called at some point over the summer or in early fall to balance the state budget but may include policy bills as well.

Revenue forecast produces billions more

You’ve heard by now the May Revenue Forecast, which is used to craft the final legislative budget for the upcoming biennium, produced an extraordinary amount of money – an extra $2.3 billion in additional revenue that may be available for the upcoming 2023-25 biennium.

Interestingly, the vast majority of this money is being collected now — in the current 2021-23 biennium — but will flow through to the next biennium as it is too late to spend the money in the current biennium which ends on June 30.

When the legislature is able to successfully convene, it will clearly have all the money it needs to fund what it wants in the upcoming 2023-25 biennium.

“Mystery” bills slated for Tuesday

On Tuesday, the House Rules Committee will consider five placeholder bills intended to become omnibus policy bills. Little is known about what will be included in each bill, though the “relating” clauses are very broad and open the door to a seemingly limitless number of potential proposals.

The expectation is that the bills will be “gut-and-stuffed” with a number of proposals meant to entice Republican lawmakers to return to the Capitol or to initiate a pressure campaign by drafting otherwise bipartisan bill concepts.

Issues We’re Tracking

HB 2098: On Thursday, lawmakers were set to consider amendments to legislation providing a funding plan for the Interstate-5 Bridge Replacement before passing the bill, but the vote never arrived.

HB 2098 was removed from the committee agenda without explanation, indicating significant turmoil behind the scenes. Democratic members of the committee were not unified in their support of the bill coming into the work session, and efforts to persuade Republicans to advance a bill that included provisions they had long said they would not support, including union-backed ‘project labor agreements,’ were unsuccessful.

In the end, the bill fell victim to Friday’s chamber deadline. What happens now is less clear. Even in the aftermath of the bill’s failure, lawmakers appear to remain committed to funding the bridge. One possible route for doing so could be through the use of the budget process. You can read more about last week’s debacle and the path forward here.

SB 5 / SB 1084: This research & development tax credit bill currently 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 3229: Under a proposed amendment, Title V fees would increase by over 80%. There is real concern that HB 3229 could simply be stuffed into a DEQ budget bill.

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

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