• 2019 Legislative Report - Week 9

    • Share:
    What's Happening (OSCC Political Observations)
     
    The next two-and-a-half weeks will be the toughest weeks of the session.
     
    Looming deadlines mean that all 3,000 of the bills currently introduced will be in play as advocates rush to meet deadlines that mean life or death for their legislation.
     
    Bills need to be posted for committee votes by the end of Friday, March 29th in order to receive further consideration. By Tuesday, April 9th, all bills need to be voted out of their original committee in order to survive.
     
    This means there will be a litany of surprise hearings and committee votes on relevant bills all over the capitol that will be largely impossible to track and influence in real time, but we're going to give it our best effort!
     
     
    Activity on Major Issues
    • PAID FAMILY LEAVE HEARINGS! This evening, March 25th, the House Business & Labor Committee and Senate Workforce Committee plan to host a joint public hearing on paid family & medical leave bills that would SIGNIFICANTLY alter Oregon's business climate.

      Here's a look at the proposals and the impractical requirements they put on all businesses that will cost Oregonians billions!
     HB 3031
    • Applies to employers with 1+ employees
    • Mandates 32 weeks of paid and protected family and medical leave each year
    • Creates state-run family insurance program administered by DCBS
    • Establishes new payroll tax of up to 1% to pay for the family-leave insurance:
    • Expands OFLA eligibility to 1+ employees
    • Mandates 24 weeks of paid and protected family leave AND an additional 24 weeks of protected family and medical leave for some types of leave each year - total leave could be 48 weeks!
    • Requires employer to pay 100% of employee wages while employee is on paid leave
     
    OSCC will argue that Oregon's small businesses are still scrambling to comply with the state's minimum wage increases, paid sick leave law and the new equal pay law.  Now is NOT the time pass 'Cadillac' family and medical leave proposals that would further burden local businesses. 
     
    Proponents for these bills are planning to turn out hundreds of people on Monday evening.  We need your help to show that Oregon employers have had enough and can't bear the costs of these workplace mandates!  Please plan on attending Monday's hearing AND sending a letter to legislators about your opposition to HB 3031 and SB 947.
     
    Email your legislators AND send personalized comments to the committees using the suggested talking points below. Check out the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce Advocacy Book for help with writing your testimony.
     
    Chair Jeff Barker, House Business & Labor Committee: hbl.exhibits@oregonlegislature.gov
    Chair Kathleen Taylor, Senate Workforce Committee: swf.exhibits@oregonlegislature.gov
     
    • Cap & Trade. (HB 2020) On Monday evening, the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction will unveil a total re-write of HB 2020, the 'Cap & Trade' bill. We are not optimistic that the legislation will be improved to reduce impacts on the manufacturing sector. Our Friday meeting with the Governor's staff was largely discouraging and showed that the Governor's office is not serious about stemming cost impacts and job loss in the manufacturing sector. OSCC will keep all chambers up to speed as we analyze the new version of the bill. 
    • Business Tax Increase. We expect that Democratic leadership is leaning toward selecting a Commercial Activity Tax, which is a pure gross receipts tax, as the basis for implementing a new business tax to add more than $2 billion in revenue into the state's K-12 system. Breaking news...it appears that the business community is beginning to organize in opposition to the developing tax proposal. Several of OSCC's partner business organizations are signing on to a letter to stage their opposition to a new gross receipts tax.
     
    Other Key Issues Coming up This Week
    • Lawsuit Damages. (HB 2014) The House will vote on this bill Monday. HB 2014 would repeal Oregon's legal limit of $500,000 on non-economic damages in personal injury and negligence lawsuit claims. OSCC, health care groups, and business organizations are opposing this legislation because it is a significant factor in driving up health care costs and general liability costs for employers. We expect the bill to pass the House easily. The real fight will be in the Senate.
    • Employer Health Care Taxes, Part 2. (HB 3262, HB 2269) On Thursday, the House Health Care Committee will hold a public hearing and possible work session on either HB 3262 or the -1 amendment to HB 2269. It appears that legislative leaders plan to move forward with a tax on employers with more than 50 employees who are on Medicaid (or who have family members on Medicaid). The amendment does not appear to be limited to a particular sector, but we assume it raises the projected $120 million in new taxes to close out the health care budget. Much like the 'Cap and Trade' bill, this legislation appears to allow an agency (in this case, the Oregon Health Authority) wide discretion to tax employers to meet revenue objectives with little oversight from the legislature. 
     
    ACTION ALERT
    • OSCC has issued an ACTION ALERT for HB 3031 (Paid Family Leave). Please respond today!

      Please Make Your Voice Heard at Paid Family Leave Hearing!


      Tonight at 6pm, the House Business & Labor Committee and Senate Workforce Committee plan to host a joint public hearing on paid family & medical leave bills that would SIGNIFICANTLY alter Oregon's business climate.  We need local Chambers to show up this evening to speak out about the impact of this extreme legislation!  An action alert has been issued.
    What do the bills do?

    HB 3031 (requires 3/5 vote)
    • Applies to employers with 1+ employees
    • Mandates 32 weeks of paid and protected family and medical leave each year
    • Establishes new payroll tax of up to 1%:
      • 0.5% paid by employers
      • 0.5% paid by employees
      • Creates state run family insurance program
      • Doesn't allow employers to provide substantially similar plans/ currently existing plans
     
    HB 3140 / SB 947 (don't require 3/5 vote)
    • Expands OFLA eligibility to 1+ employees
    • Expands family member definition
    • Mandates 24 weeks of paid and protected leave AND an additional 24 weeks of unpaid family and medical leave each year
    • Requires 100% of employee wages to be paid 100% by employers while employee is on leave
  • Important Dates