As your final client report of the 2019 year, we have included updates from the November interim committee days, policy issue updates of interest and a brief summary of all the political news of note! Thank you for another great year and our team looks forward to working with you in new year! Please note our office will be closed 12/23 – 1/5 with staff periodically checking email in the coming week. We hope you and your families have a wonderful holiday season!
Amanda, Sabrina, Nicole & Shelley
2020 Dates of Interest
Bill Drafts Returned
– Jan. 15th
Bill Drafts Filed for 2020
– March 8th
February 2020 Session
Corporate Activity Tax Rulemaking
The Oregon Department of Revenue has released draft rules implementing the Corporate Activity Tax. These rules are meant to be temporary in nature and will be replaced by permanent rules to be more fully discussed and debated over a 3-month period from January to March 2020. The permanent rules must be adopted by June 2020. The eight drafts posted on the agency’s website this week address:
Please share any comments or concerns on the draft rules. As a reminder, the new tax is on businesses with taxable commercial activity in excess of $1 million in Oregon receipts. The tax is $250 plus 0.57% of gross receipts greater than $1 million after subtractions. FAQ document here.
ODA Chlorpyrifos Advisory Committee
The OR Dept. of Ag. has convened a stakeholder group to review and make recommendations on the future use of Chlorpyrifos. The first meeting is December 17th. This process is expected to delay or pause legislative efforts to ban the process as the Department conducts their own product review. View agenda and draft workplan. View ODA Press Statement announcing advisory committee here.
Pesticide Stewardship Partnership Advisory Committee (PSP)
The Dept. of Ag’s PSP continues to meet with an updated charge of revising their strategic plan. Committee members include OFS, Farm Bureau, OFIC and Beyond Toxics, OR Enviornmental and Council. The next meeting is January 16th.
Prevailing Wage Workgroup
Sen. Kathleen Taylor, Chair of the Senate Workforce Committee has convened an interim workgroup to discuss prevailing wage for private projects in enterprise zones. Workgroup participants include Sen. Bill Hansell-R, Rep. Julie Fahey-D and Rep. Shelly Boshart-Davis-R along with representatives from labor, industry, county and city government. The group has been meeting weekly. Efforts to pass legislation which would have required prevailing wage on private projects over $20M were defeated in 2019 with HB 2408. Early proposals would have dramatically impacted renewable and data center projects across Oregon and would have required prevailing wage on certain private construction projects receiving tax abatements. The most recent discussions do not include a prevailing wage mandate (which has been tabled till 2021 after labor opposed an offer to allow prevailing wage as a local opt-in option for local governments) and instead is focusing on reporting and data requirements for property tax abatement applicants, state agencies, and local sponsors. View the most recent framework here.We expect edits to Sections 1-3 as a result of the final meeting – with the most substantial changes occurring in Section 3. A final framework will be available mid-December.
Paid Family & Medical Leave Advisory Committee
The OR Employment Department has appointed the Paid Family & Medical Leave Advisory Committee. We are excited to announce we will have a seat at that table, representing our employer clients over the next two years as the Advisory Committee addresses the implementation, rulemaking and administration of the new family and medical leave insurance program. The Advisory Committee is comprised of four members representing workers, four members representing employers, with at least one of those representing an employer with fewer than 25 employees and is chaired by the Employment Department. View press release here. The first meeting of the Advisory Group will be December 19th.
Important dates to keep in mind:
Paid Family & Medical Leave – Implementation Dates
Rulemaking required prior to September 1, 2021
Employers begin collecting premiums January 1, 2022
Employees may access paid leave beginning January 1, 2023
Private Right of Action delayed until January 1, 2025
Interim Committee Days
The Legislature convened November 18th – 20th. Below are a few hearings of interest:
Adoption of the Adequacy of Public Education Funding Report
The Joint Committee on Public Education met briefly to review and adopt the state report on Adequacy of Public Education Funding. According to the report, the recent $2 billion investment from the Student Success Act will significantly narrow the funding gap, but Oregon will still have insufficient funds to meet the recommended funding level of the QEC. Notably, the majority of the new funding ($643 million) went to ODE’s K-12 Grant-in-Aid and Early Learning Grant-in-Aid budgets. View the full list of programs and grants funded by the Student Success Act here.
Recommendations from the Governor’s Council on Wildfire Response
The Senate Committee on Wildfire Prevention and Recovery received recommendations for action from the Governor’s Council on Wildfire Response. The Council brought forward 36 recommendations separated into four main goals:
- Create fire-adapted communities
- Restore and maintain resilient landscapes
- Respond safely and effectively to wildfire
- Cross-functional support system
The Council also recommended adding 100 staffing positions at various agencies and an initial $20 million investment in non-staffing related costs. View details of the recommendations here.
Proposed Changes to the Endangered Species Act
The House Committee on Natural Resources heard invited testimony from landowners, environmentalist, and agency representatives on the proposed regulatory changes to the endangered species act – specifically sections 4 and 7. Landowners were well represented by Oregonians for Food and Shelter, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, and Freeborn Family Farms who unanimously supported the proposed changes. While environmentalist expressed concern that the proposals would significantly weaken the endangered species act.
Measure 49 Update
The Department of Land Conservation and Development updated the House Committee on Agriculture and Resources on Measure 49 claims. The majority of authorized new parcel claims are in the Metro and Willamette Valley – 62% are located on farm land and 16% on forest land. Committee members were concerned over the apparent lack of landowner interest in Measure 49, Chair Clem mention the need to revisit this conversation at a future date to discuss possible incentives.
Cap and Trade 2.0
Climate legislation continues to be at the forefront of Democrat leadership’s agenda for 2020. We anticipate several versions of the 2019 Cap and Trade bill (HB 2020) to be brought forward in 2020, including proposals from the House and Senate, as well as one from the Governor’s office. If the legislature fails to pass Cap and Trade in 2020, proponents have threatened more aggressive ballot measures on the 2020 November ballot. Three ballot initiatives were filed earlier this month and assigned the below draft titles from the Secretary of State:
- IP 48 – All retail electricity sales must come from renewable/ “carbon-free” (undefined) energy sources by 2045.
- IP 49 – Mandates renewable energy sources for all retail electricity by 2045, investments to reduce greenhouse gasses.
- IP 50 – Oregon greenhouse gas emissions must be eliminated by 2050; creates regulatory authority to ensure reductions.
Joint Taskforce on Supporting Businesses in Reducing Diesel Emissions
The Taskforce (TF) met this month to discuss different types of fuel and fueling technology currently available to reduce diesel emissions. TF members heard from four panels on options for reducing diesel emissions, retrofit technology, technology replacement options, and alternative fuels. Notably, each panelist mentioned the importance of financial incentives and the need for approaches to be flexible and adaptable. Representatives from Renewable Energy Group and NW Natural discussed the benefits and costs of alternative fuels. Electric vehicles were included on the agenda as a discussion topic, but no discussion occurred. The next TF meeting is scheduled for December 19th.
View presentations from:
Recall Effort Against Democrat Tiffany Mitchell Fails
Timber Unity, a grassroots organization, failed to collect the required 4,883 valid signatures to force a recall election against North Coast Democrat, Tiffany Mitchell. The recall effort came as a result of Rep. Mitchells support of Cap and Trade and the Corporate Activity Tax during the 2019 session. Members of Timber Unity say they will now shift their focus to recruiting candidates to run against Mitchell in the 2020 election. In the news.
Knute Buehler Announces Bid for 2nd Congressional District
Knute Buehler has announced he will run for the 2nd Congressional district currently held by Congressman Greg Walden-R. This sets up a hotly contested Republican primary race between Buehler, Sen. Cliff Bentz and former State Senator Jason Atkinson. Candidates have until March to file so additional contenders could still announce. A viable Democrat has not filed to-date. In the news here and here.
Ballot Measure to Reform Oregon’s Redistricting Process Filed
A newly formed coalition, People Not Politicians, filed three possible ballot measures to reform Oregon’s redistricting process. One measure would reform congressional redistricting, the second would reform state legislative redistricting, and the third combines both congressional and legislative proposals. As drafted, the measures would amend the constitution to change how district boundaries are drawn – taking the power away from current elected officials and putting it into the hands of a 12-person commission. The measure also requires the commission to use transparent and objective criteria to draw boundary lines. View the full text here.
Forestry and Environmental Ballot Measures
The timber industry has filed three “pro-forestry” pro-active ballot measures this month. The measures would require additional members to serve on the state Board of Forestry who have a background in forestry, amend the constitution to require the state to compensate land owners for any value taken from their land as a result of new laws/regulations, and would require the forestry board use non-biased and peer reviewed science to craft with consensus policies. View text of each ballot initiative below:
Oregon Democratic Primary will be closed
The Democratic Party of Oregon elected to keep their primaries “closed” in the upcoming election cycle, rejecting calls from some grassroots party leaders to allow non-affiliated voters to participate in the party’s nomination process. The Oregon Republican Party has also rejected similar efforts to “open” the party’s primaries in recent years. Despite the position held by Oregon’s two largest political parties, a significant majority of the rest of U.S. states have embraced open primaries in varying forms.
Legislature to See at Least 16 Open Seats in 2020
At least 16 of the 90 legislative seats have already seen retirement announcements leading up to the 2020 election. Read more about the other retirements here,and below:
Two legislators from Coos Bay will not seek reelection in 2020
Senator Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay) and Representative Cady McKeown (D-Coos Bay) announced that they will not seek reelection in 2020 within hours of each other this month. Both legislators are known for being moderate and have each served in their current position since 2012. These legislative districts will now be open races in the 2020 election and likely two of the most expensive.
Senator Cliff Bentz Announces Resignation
Senator Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) announced he will resign his Senate seat effective January 1, 2020 prior to the 2020 Legislative Session. He will focus his time and energy on his campaign for Congress. His resignation leaves a huge hole for the Senate Republicans as Sen. Bentz has been their lead on Cap and Trade negotiations since its inception. Lynn Findley, the current Representative for HD 60, has announced his intent to run for the appointment to replace Sen. Bentz, creating musical chairs in the capitol. An appointment process is expected to kick off in early January with hopes the appointments can be complete prior to the start of the 2020 Session.
Representative Carla Piluso-D to Retire in 2020
Representative Carla Piluso (D-Gresham) surprised many when she announced that she will not seek reelection. Read more here. Rep. Piluso served three terms representing House District 50 and ran unopposed in the 2018 election. She was the Co-Chair of the Public Safety SubCommittee. No candidate announcements have been made.
City of Salem Sends Payroll Tax to Voters
Salem City Council voted to send a payroll tax to the May 2020 ballot. The payroll tax would be separated into three tax rates: Minimum wage workers will be taxed at 0%, those making between minimum wage and $15 an hour will be taxed at .266%, and those earning over $15 will be taxes at .39%. If the measure passes, the city plans to tax anyone who works within city limits, regardless whether they live in Salem. Click here to view the city’s payroll tax calculator. According to the City the tax will raise $9.1M a year and pay for public safety services. More here.