Legislative Update

The clock is winding down in the 2023 Legislative Session and no progress has been made on ending the stalemate in the Senate. Governor Kotek walked away from negotiations on Thursday with no deal to bring Republicans back to the Floor. She and Senate President Wagner have maintained their position that the gender-affirming care and abortion access legislation currently in the Senate Floor backlog (HB 2002) will not be amended or removed from the agenda. Senator Knopp and his caucus further expressed that as long as HB 2002 is on the Senate Floor, Senate Republicans won’t be. The impasse does not inspire confidence in Senate Republicans to provide a quorum on the Floor for the remainder of the session.

The legislature was wise to pass a Continuing Resolution early in the session. The resolution will keep state agencies funded at current service levels until September 15 if the legislature were to not pass a balanced budget before the end of the session. However, failure to pass a budget and legislation that grants authority to the newly independent Department of State Fire Marshal would create complexities for the agency as they transition out of the Department of State Police with fire season already underway.

Although both sides seem miles apart, it’s highly likely conversations will resume again on some level before the constitutionally required June 26 adjournment. It’s very likely if the session does indeed crash, a short “cooling off” period will ensue with a special session scheduled in early-to-mid July that will focus on budgets.

Issues We’re Tracking

SB 999 – Last month we highlighted this bill, and since then, Senate Bill 999, which amends both Paid Leave Oregon and OFLA, has passed both the Senate and the House and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. This policy begins the work of aligning disparate employee leave policies by aligning definitions of benefit year and family, aligning job protection provisions, and ensuring that timelines run concurrently for leave allowed under both laws. It is safe to anticipate more legislation on this topic in the 2024 session.

SB 498A – This bill took its first step by passing out of the Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue on a bipartisan vote. The bill would exempt the first $15 million of assets from Oregon’s estate tax for agricultural and natural resource family businesses if those businesses remain in family hands for at least five years after an owner’s death. This is the first significant step forward we’ve seen on estate tax policy in over a decade. Oregon is one of the few remaining states that levies a tax on estates with as little as $1 million in value.

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

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