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Oregon Wheat Growers League members receive advocacy at the State level through our contract lobbyist Amanda Dalton and partnership with agriculture and natural resource groups.




Oregon State Capitol



Oregon US Senators

Senator Jeff Merkley
313 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
202.224.3753
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Senator Ron Wyden
221 Dirksen Building
Washington, DC 20510
202.224.5244
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Oregon Legislature

Oregon US House of Representatives

Suzanne Bonamici – First District
439 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
202.225.0855
Fax: 202.225.9497

Greg Walden – Second District
2185 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
202.225.6730
Fax: 202.225.5774

Earl Blumenauer – Third District
1111 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
202.225.4811
Fax: 202.225.8941

Peter DeFazio – Fourth District
2134 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
202.225.6416
Toll Free: 1-800-944-9603
Fax: 202.225.0032

Kurt Schrader – Fifth District
2431 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
202.225.5711
Fax: 202.225.5699


OWGL Interim Legislative Update – November 2019

Dates of Interest
Nov. 18th – Nov. 20th Interim Days
Nov. 22nd Bill Drafts Due for 2020
Jan. 13th Bill Drafts Returned

Corporate Activity Tax Rulemaking

The Oregon Department of Revenue has hosted a series of 12 meetings across the state to hear from business taxpayers and tax preparers about the administrative rules for the new Corporate Activity Tax. Staff is currently working on preparing draft temporary rules, which are required to be filed with the Secretary of State by January 1, 2020. Staff has shared they will distribute this draft in early December, allow for a few weeks to provide input, and then file those temporary rules. From there, they will prepare more exhaustive permanent rules, to be phased out over a 3-month period with items prioritized for discussion January 1, February 1, and March 1st. Items identified as priority rulemaking to-date include guidance on calculating Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), the calculation of deductions, definition of wholesaler, how certificates for out of state sales will work, and the definition of “agent.” All of this is occurring with the backdrop of a technical fix bill that is expected to be on the table during the 2020 Session which convenes in February. The permanent rules must be adopted by June 2020.

Independent Contractor Work Group

Rep. Paul Holvey-D, Chair of House Rules, has continued his efforts to modify the way independent contractors are treated under Oregon law. He introduced HB 2498 during the 2019 Session which would have largely led to all independent contractors being reclassified as employees. After strong and diverse opposition, the bill was tabled, and an interim workgroup designated. At the October meeting, labor advocates made it clear that clarifying or further restricting the independent contractor test was not their only desired outcome of the discussion and would like to see a Private Right of Action and new Unlawful Employment violation created for “wrongly classifying employees.” They argue that today, employees must seek redress via multiple agencies with unclear and differing tests to determine independent contractor status. Rep. Holvey acknowledge that a substantive bill addressing all the concerns is unlikely to survive the short 5-week session and that he would further brainstorm on “small-bites” to tackle in 2020. Amanda is serving on the workgroup.

Department of Labor Overtime Salary Rule

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued the long-awaited final rule on overtime late last month. The new rule, which goes into effect January 1, 2020 increases the salary requirement to qualify for executive, administrative, and professional exemptions from the Fair Labor Standards Act. The current minimum salary required to claim these exemptions is $455 per week. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, that amount will rise to $684 per week, equivalent to $35,568 annually. The minimum salary to qualify for the highly compensated employee exemption will also increase from $100,000 to $107,432. According to DOL, the increase will result in 1.3 million U.S. workers becoming eligible for overtime pay – including positions such as supervisors, managers, administrative assistants, purchasing agents, insurance claims adjusters, engineers, registered nurses, and accountants. The final rule also included a change to nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments. Employers will now be allowed to use non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments to satisfy up to 10% of the new increased salary level thresholds as long as they are paid annually or on a more frequent basis. Additionally, “catch-up” payments of up to 10% of the total salary level are allowed for an employee to retain their exempt status. All “catch-up” payments must be made before the first pay period following the end of the year. Helpful online USDOL documents: FAQ and Fact Sheet

Joint Taskforce on “Supporting Businesses in Reducing Diesel Emissions” Update

Created by the 2019 Legislature in the “Clean Diesel” bill, the Joint Taskforce (TF) held their second meeting this month. The TF elected Deborah Kafoury as Committee Chair. Deborah is the current Chair of the Multnomah County Commission and has a background in the legislative process from serving three terms in the House of Representatives. The meeting heard invited testimony from panelists including the Oregon’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), as well as Washington and California agency representatives. DMV estimates about 13,600 diesel vehicles will need to be retrofitted or replaced to come into compliance once HB 2007 is fully implemented. Use of the $73 Million Volkswagen Mitigation Funds was largely discussed. TF members appeared specifically interested in future opportunities to use the funds that would earn a federal match. Roughly $2.5 million of the fund has been spent to replace or retrofit school buses, per the requirement of SB 1008 (2018). DMV anticipates a total cost between $18-22 million to complete the number of buses as required in statue. A high-level overview of options for utilizing remaining funds were presented by DEQ – retrofitting or replacing medium and heavy load trucks appeared to be at the top of DEQ’s list. Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis (R-Albany) reiterated that mitigation funds only reimburse 25% of the total cost of replacing a medium or heavy load truck, leaving majority of the burden on the business. Jana Jarvis, representing the Oregon Trucking Association, added that although the idea of retrofitting these vehicles is good in theory, it is unrealistic because there is no space under the hood for new engine parts. The target date for the next VW fund disbursement is early 2121.

To end the meeting, agency representatives from Washington and California provided high-level overviews of their state’s approach to diesel and the effectiveness of their investments. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, November 21 at 1:30 p.m. View presentations from ODOT, DEQ, WA Clean Diesel Program, and California.

POLITICS

Governor Brown Recall Efforts Fail

Two separate attempts to recall Governor Brown failed to collect the necessary signatures prior to the October 14, 2019 deadline. Organizers had 90 days to collect 280,050 valid signatures and submitted an estimated 239,000. Proponents indicated an interest in trying the effort again in the new year. In the news.

Initiative Petition 43 Rejected

Secretary of State Bev Clarno has rejected IP 43, an attempt to repeal a law passed during the 2019 Session granting drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants. Clarno found the measure unconstitutional, essentially arguing the text of the measure doesn’t satisfy the requirements of the petition requirements. This is the second batch of measures rejected by the SOS office. Petitioners may refile a revised petition and start the ballot title process over and/or challenge the SOS ruling. Read more here. Proponents have already re-filed the measure.

Congressman Greg Walden Announces He Won’t Seek Re-Election

Congressman Greg Walden-R stunned Oregon when he announced he would not be seeking re-election in 2020 to the Congressional District he has represented since 1998. Read more here. The 2nd Congressional District covers 2/3rd of Oregon – view district map here. It is too early to assess likely candidates but we expect this to be a very popular open seat! Jaime McLeod Skinner-D, who ran against Congressman Walden in 2018 and won 39.4% of the vote, has announced she won’t pull out of the Secretary of State primary race and refocus her efforts on the 2nd Congressional District. Republican Sen. Cliff Bentz has already announced his intent to run for the seat. Other Republicans could include: former Sen. Jason Atkinson, former Governor Candidate Rep. Knute Buehler, former Rep. Mike McLane…..and many others!

IP 28 – Employer Assessment (“Fair Share”)

UFCW has filed a possible ballot measure for consideration on the November General Election ballot. As drafted, the measure would impose an “assessment” (essentially a penalty/tax) on all “subsidized large businesses.” Those business are defined as having more than 100 employees worldwide and primarily engaged in the retail, food service, hospitality, distribution or call center services. The assessment would equal the number of Oregon residents the business employs that could qualify for state-assistance programs, regardless if they seek and or receive such state assistance. The calculation is based on the individual’s wages for the employer, regardless of their part-time/full-time/seasonal or martial and family filing status. The measure would distribute the funds raised as follows: 25% to the Education Stability Fund; 25% to the OHA for need-based grants to county health programs; 25% to the Dept. of Education for K-12 grants for capital improvements and supplies; and 25% to PERS liability of school district public employees. View text here. The Attorney General has certified the following ballot title after comments were submitted by the employer community:

Certain businesses must pay assessments based on estimated public assistance

cost for median-income employee

The appeal deadline is 11/12/19.

OWGL Interim Legislative Update – October 2019

Dates of Interest

Nov. 18th – Nov. 20th Interim Days

Nov. 22nd – Bill Drafts Due for 2020

Jan. 13th – Bill Drafts Returned

Interim Days – Hearings of Interest

The Legislature returned to the Capitol for 3 days of informational hearings and 1 day of task force meetings in September. The meetings are largely treated as updates of 2019 legislation enacted and primers for policy discussions forecasted for the 2020 Session. Hearings and discussions of interest include:

The Senate Labor & Business Committee held and informational hearing on prevailing wage and enterprise zones, a continuation of the 2019 Session where proponents sought to require a prevailing wage on all private projects. Chair Taylor the Chair has indicated an interest to bring the bill back in 2020 and it is expected to be one of their 3 Committee bills.

The House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use heard from wheat, hazelnuts and cattle representatives on the impact of recent tariffs on Oregon Agriculture. OWGL was well represented by Blake! Watch discussion here.

The House Interim Committee on Healthcare held a hearing on the health impacts of extreme heat in September. Much of the discussion was focused on extreme heat being worsened by climate change—and that poor air quality also has a large negative impact. Oregon’s Farmworker Union’s political director (PCUN) then testified noting that pesticide exposure is an issue, especially when exacerbated by extreme heat. She noted the pesticide Chlorpyrifos as a concern in particular, and that pesticides poison at least 20,000 farm workers across the national annually.

The House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use held a hearing on other states’ approaches to beginning farmer and rancher incentive programs. Ivan, with Friends of Family Farmers kicked off this hearing with this presentation.

The Senate Committee on Wildfire Prevention and Recovery met for the first time and heard from the Governor’s natural resources policy advisor, as well as the Chair of the Governor’s council on wildfire response. The council was created after a dramatic fire season in 2018, and after the Department of Forestry came forward with a budget proposal containing a substantial investment in new resources. There was recognition that the policies needed vetting, so the Council was created. Since their first meeting in March, they have focused on long-term solutions, as well as a few short-term goals. The council has split into subcommittees covering the topics of: suppression, mitigation, community adaptation and recovery—health, land use and economic recovery. The findings from the subcommittees will be compiled into a report which will include recommendations for the 2020 Legislative Session.

Corporate Activity Tax Rulemaking

The Dept. of Revenue is holding a series of townhall style meetings to discuss the new tax coming online January 1, 2020. The statewide listening tour will travel to Corvallis, Beaverton, Medford, Grants Pass, Eugene, Bend, Redmond, Hermiston, Portland and Salem. View the full schedule here. Discussion items will include: who must register; when and how to register; who must file; how commercial activity is defined; how to count toward the 35% subtraction and how estimated payments will be calculated.

OR Clean Vehicle Rebate Program Expanded

The Environmental Quality Commission approved the rebate rules which allow individuals who purchased or leased eligible electric vehicles between Jan. 1 and Aug. 2, 2018 to reapply for rebates through March 30, 2020 and the new Charge Ahead Rebate which will offer $2,500 back to low or moderate income applicants. Prior to the rule change, only electric vehicle applicants who applied within 6-monhts of their purchase or lease date were eligible for rebates. The legal challenge resulted in many eligible applications not being submitted. The Legislature also added new or used plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to the Charge Ahead Vehicle Eligibility List.

Independent Contractor Work Group Convened

Rep. Paul Holvey-D, Chair of House Rules, has continued his efforts to modify the way independent contractors are treated under Oregon law. He introduced HB 2498 during the 2019 Session which would have largely led to all independent contractors being reclassified as employees. After strong and diverse opposition, the bill was tabled, and an interim workgroup designated. The group met for the first time in September with additional meetings anticipated during the 2019/2020 interim and possible legislation for 2020. The discussion in Oregon comes on the heels of California’s adoption of sweeping changes to their independent contractor law – essentially narrowing the classification only if the individual is providing services that are NOT in the regular course of business they are working with – resulting in the reclassification of 100,000’s of independent contractors. Read more here and here. Amanda is serving on the workgroup.

POLITICS

Candidates Continue to File for 2020 Election

This month we saw a handful of additional announcements including the filing of Speaker Tina Kotek’s filing for re-election, possibly returning her to the Speaker’s podium for a 5th term. Rep. Sherrie Sprenger-R from Scio announced she will not be returning to the Legislature and instead filed for an open Linn County Commissioner seat.

New House Republican Leader

Rep. Christine Drazan was selected by her caucus as the new Republican Leader replacing Rep. Carl Wilson-R, Grants Pass. Wilson later announced he will not return to the Legislature in 2020 and won’t seek re-election.

Timber Unity Launches Recall Effort Against Rep. Tiffiny Mitchell-D

Rep. Mitchell is a Democrat from Astoria and a freshman Legislator. Timber unity cited her support for Cap & Trade (HB 2020) during the 2019 Legislative Session as the primary driver for their recall support. Proponents of the recall must collect 4,883 verifiable signatures in 90-days to force an election. The signatures will be due December 4th. Read more.

Timber Ballot Measures – SOS Rejects

The Secretary of State has rejected three efforts by proponents that among other provisions, would have prohibited the aerial application of pesticides on certain timberland. The measures were awaiting a “certified ballot title” the 2nd to last stop prior to approval for their circulation. The Secretary of State found the measures violated the single-subject requirement. Proponents may now file an appeal or redraft and refile the measures. The draft ballot titles to-date:

Draft Ballot Title Caption
2020-035
Prohibits aerial pesticide application, "clearcuts" (defined) within specified distances of forest waterbodies, requires pesticide notice

2020-036 Prohibits "clearcuts" (defined) within specified distances of waterbodies, expands forestry board "conflict of interest" rules

2020-037 Expands forestry-related aerial pesticide prohibitions; requires notification; expands forestry board "conflict of interest" rules.



OWGL Interim Legislative Update – September 2019

The Legislature will return for interim committee days Sept. 16th – 18th. Agendas will be posted in the coming weeks and you can view full schedule here.

Dates of Interest

Sept. 16th – Sept. 18th Interim Days

Nov. 18th – Nov. 20th Interim Days

Nov. 22nd Bill Drafts Due for 2020

Jan. 13th Bill Drafts Returned

SB 370 – Oregon Federal Inspection Guidelines

Effective June 6, 2019, BOLI has finalized their rulemaking and model notices implementing SB 370, the bill passed during the 2019 Legislative Session that requires employers to provide notice to employees about pending federal inspections. The new law was effective June 6, 2019 – though it is important to note there are no enforcement mechanisms to the new law. Employers are required to post notice in a “conspicuous and accessible location” in English and in the language the employer typically uses to communicate with the employee. View BOLI’s model notices (in Chinese, English, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese) and Frequently Asked Questions here.

Corporate Activity Tax Rulemaking

The OR Dept. of Revenue will begin rulemaking for the Corporate Activity Tax (CAT) this fall and will include stakeholders. The new CAT is applicable to tax years beginning January 1, 2020 and the draft rules are expected to be released prior to that date. View FAQ from the department here.

POLITICS

Senate Democrats Propose Bill to Prevent Future Walkouts

After the tumultuous end to the 2019 session, where the 11 Senate Republicans left the state and denied quorum for 9 days, the Senate Democrats announced that they will focus efforts on removing the ability of the minority party to deny quorum. Senate Democratic Leader Ginny Burdick (D-Portland), said she will introduce a constitutional amendment in the 2020 session to change quorum requirements, make a simple majority (16 in the Senate, 31 in the House) rather than 2/3rds majority count as quorum. If passed during the 2020 Session, the constitutional amending would require a confirming vote of the people.

Sen. Hass Announces Secretary of State Race

Senator Hass (D-Beaverton) announced his interest in running for Secretary of State. He told the Oregonian that "The secretary of state should be someone who can stand up to the political storms that blow through there and be able to stay standing and do a job that Oregonians expect, and that is to be fair to everyone. I think I fit that role.” Hass has served in the Oregon Senate since 2008 after serving three terms in the Oregon House of Representatives. He is well known in the Legislature for pushing to reform the state’s tax system and most recently authored the Corporate Activity Tax package adopted by the 2019 Session.

Other potential Secretary of State candidates include Jamie McLeod-Skinner, Representative Dan Rayfield, Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega-Pederson, and former State Rep. Rich Vial (currently serving as Deputy Secretary of State). Current Secretary, Bev Clarno, will not run for the position after being appointed to fill the remainder of Secretary Dennis Richardson’s term.

HD 55 – Representative Selected

Vikki Breese-Iverson of Prineville was appointed to fill the vacancy left by Representative Mike McLane, who resigned his seat to take an appointment as a judge on the Circuit Court for Jefferson and Crook Counties. Breese-Iverson is a real estate agent and fifth generation ranch owner with experience in the Oregon Legislature; she served as staff for former State Senator Ted Ferrioli, and former House Speaker Karen Minnis. House District 55 encompasses Crook county and portions of Deschutes, Jackson, Klamath, and Lake Counties.

2020 Ballot Measure Watch

Over 40 measures have been filed for consideration on the November 2020 ballot, but likely less than a handful will make it through the hoops necessary to qualify. Initiative petitioners have until July 2, 2020 to submit the required number of signatures (149,360 for constitutional changes, 112,020 for statutory changes).

This month a package of measures aimed at the timber industry received draft ballot titles:

IP 35 – View Text

Draft ballot title: Prohibits aerial pesticide application, “clearcuts” (defined) within specified distances of forest waterbodies, requires pesticide notice.

Status: Draft ballot title comments due 09/09/2019

IP 36 – View Text

Draft ballot title: Prohibits “clearcuts” (defined) within specified distances of waterbodies, expands forestry board “conflicts of interest” rules

Status: Draft ballot title comments due 09/09/2019

IP 37 – View Text

Draft ballot title: Expands forestry-related aerial pesticide prohibitions; requires notification; expands forestry board “conflict of interest” rules

Status: Draft ballot title comments due 09/10/2019



2019 End of Session Final Report



Weekly Updates

Find each weeks update from the 2019 Legislative Session by Amanda Dalton, OWGL contract Lobbyist.

http://bit.ly/OR-LegisUpdates

Briefing Papers

White papers on 2019 Legislative Session
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