• 2021 Legislative Session Update - June 1, 2021

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    What’s Happening (OSCC Political Observations)
     
    The final month of this year’s session is finally here. Lawmakers are Constitutionally required to adjourn by June 27, and indications are that the Legislature will be in session up until that final weekend. While it is possible the Senate could adjourn earlier, House Speaker Tina Kotek told reporters last week that she expects the House will be working through the final weekend.
     
    With the end of the session comes the most unpredictable and often fastest moving phase of lawmaking. Later today, both Speaker Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney are likely to formally declare that “Sine Die is imminent.” This means that bills can be posted and voted on with just one hour of notice. In other words, legislative concepts can be resurrected or introduced and passed with very little warning.
     
    This phase of the session requires close tracking of nearly every committee and near constant communication between lawmakers and organizations like OSCC.
     
    OSCC will keep you apprised of significant development that impact local business communities.
     
    Paid Family Leave Delayed Implementation (HB 3398)
    OSCC is expecting passage of legislation to delay implementation of Oregon’s Paid Family Leave law. Under the law passed in 2019, the department is supposed to begin collecting the tax to fund the program beginning in January 2022, with employees receiving benefits in 2023. However, the Employment Department is nowhere near ready to collect the tax nor distribute the benefits, which led the agency to request a delay in the implementation dates.
     
    Under HB 3398, the new tax would be delayed for one year - until January 2023 - with benefits being paid out later that fall.
     
    PPP Loan Forgiveness Tax (SB 137 -2)
    The Senate Finance and Revenue Committee considered a gut-and-stuff amendment to SB 137 on last week that would result in increased taxes on PPP loan funds forgiven by the federal government. Under the amendment, the taxes would kick in on forgiven loans above $100,000. The Legislative Revenue Office estimates this tax would cost Oregon businesses between $450-$600 million. The proposal comes despite record revenues being received by the state government, including an extra billion dollars in the current biennium ending June 30.
     
    OSCC immediately jumped into action and rallied members to testify en masse. The amendment received overwhelming pushback from the chamber community, including OSCC and many of its members. Its future beyond last week’s hearing remains unclear. OSCC will continue to vigorously oppose the amendment and any other similar bills that may receive consideration in the final weeks of this session.
     
    We continue to be unclear on why the legislature seems fascinated with taxing PPP loans when the state is bringing in record revenues and the PPP program cost the state nothing.
     
    Presumption of Retaliation (SB 483)
    On a party-line vote, the House Rules Committee advanced legislation establishing a rebuttable presumption that an employer retaliated against an employee if an employer takes an adverse action against that employee within 60 days after a workplace complaint was filed. The -A6 amendment brought forward by Rep. Daniel Bonham (R-The Dalles) that would have provided employers with some level of protection for unknowingly taking adverse action on an employee that filed an anonymous complaint was rejected by Democrats on the committee. SB 483 now advances to the House floor where it is expected to pass.
     
    This will be new law that businesses should be cognizant of.
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