The first 10 days of the February 2016 is in the history books. Rarely has so much damage been contemplated to business in such a short time.
We will reiterate our statement from last week: Almost nothing of value, and certainly nothing that will grow the food processing industry or grow our local economies and help create jobs, is being prioritized in the 2016 legislative session.
Here’s what we know as of right now:
- The Senate will vote today on a statewide minimum wage bill – SB 1532. This bill sets a three-tier system for increasing the minimum wage:
- $14.75 for the Portland UGB by 2022;
- $13.50 in Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Deschutes, Hood River, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Wasco, Washington and Yamhill counties by 2022; and
- $12.50 in Malheur, Lake, Harney, Wheeler, Sherman, Gilliam, Wallowa, Grant, Jefferson, Baker, Union, Crook, Klamath, Douglas, Coos, Curry, Umatilla and Morrow counties by 2022.
We are working with a coalition of business groups to oppose this bill. All Salem Chamber Members are encouraged to go to www.defendoregonjobs.com to contact their senators NOW and ask them to oppose this legislation.
- The House Business Committee just voted this morning to keep alive their minimum wage proposal (HB 4054) by sending it to the House Rules Committee. This gives the House the ability to have its own legislation ready if they want to advance their own proposal.
- ‘Cap and Trade’ appears to be losing some steam. As we reported last week, SB 1574 would increase taxes by $3 billion per year on utilities, manufacturers, wood products companies, and food processors that emit more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon per year. Such a proposal would devastate Oregon’s major manufacturers and employers, particularly in rural Oregon.
The Senate Energy & Environment Committee moved the bill yesterday to the Ways & Means Committee where it is expected to stay until the session ends.
- Trial lawyers making headway on creating more liability for business and health care providers in the form of increased damage awards for medical providers and more rights of action against employers. Two bills in particular are being advanced – HB 4136 and SB 1587 – neither of which is good news for local business.
HB 4136 will increase liability costs on wrongful death claims and SB 1587 will create new private rights of action against businesses that can’t produce time and pay records on request of current or former employees. Salem and OSCC formally opposes both bills.
We expect the House to vote on HB 4136 today. We expect the Senate Workforce Committee to vote on SB 1587 today.
One final note on SB 1587 – we believe we may be successful in significantly amending this bill in committee to eliminate any additional liabilities for business.
- The “technical” fix bill to Paid Sick Leave – SB 1594 – was introduced this week by Senate President Peter Courtney, but is only scheduled for a public hearing. The path forward for this bill is murky at best.
Key Items for SACC & OSCC in coming days:
- Senate Vote on Minimum Wage Plan (SB 1532). We are anticipating a Senate vote on SB 1532 today. All Salem Chamber and OSCC members need to OPPOSE this bill with their legislators TODAY. Visit www.defendoregonjobs.com for messages and contact information for legislators.
- Committee Vote on the “Clean Electricity Plan” (HB 4036) is scheduled for Thursday in the House Environment & Natural Resources Committee. It is expected that the committee will send the bill straight to the House floor for a vote.
- House to Vote on Increasing Non-Economic Damage Limits (HB 4136). The House Consumer Protection Committee passed the bill on a party-line vote last week. We are expecting the House to vote on the bill as soon as today. The lobbying is intense on this bill. Will be a close vote.
- Committee vote on New Payroll Records Requirements (SB 1587). Yet another new regulatory bill for business will be voted in the Senate Workforce Committee tomorrow. SB 1587 requires employers to turn over time and pay records upon request and creates a private right of action to enforce. The bill also gives BOLI new powers to enforce bond orders without seeking authorization from a circuit court. There is, however, a chance that the committee will be able to amend down the bill significantly due to business opposition.