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Find each weeks update from the Legislative Session by Amanda Dalton and her team.

2021 Session

Policy Committees are expected to have informational and organizational meetings the week of Jan. 19th, but are not likely to begin holding hearings on actual measures given the new posting requirements of the virtual session (for example, the House has a 72-hour posting requirement for the first public hearing on all bills).

Important 2021 Dates

January 19th Session Begins

February 23rd Bill Filing Deadline

March 19th 1st Chamber Work Session Post Deadline

April 13th 1st Chamber Bill Deadline

May 14th 2nd Chamber Work Session Post Deadline

May 28th 2nd Chamber Bill Deadline

June 18th Target Sine Die

June 27th Constitutional Sine Die

*Bill Deadlines do not apply to Rules, Revenue & Finance and Joint Committees (except Transportation)

The Speaker and President released Chair Memos early Januray. Several key process items were noted for the 2021 Virtual Session.


  • Public Hearing & Work Sessions on different days - at least 48 hours apart
  • No time limits on public testimony and to allow for questions
  • 24-hour posting notice for bills and amendments before they can be adopted


  • First Public Hearing on a measure requires 72-hours’ notice
  • All Other Meetings require 48-hours’ notice
  • Amendments must be posted for 4 hours prior to committee action
  • Fiscal and Revenue Impact Statements (FIS/RIS) are required for any work session
  • Testimony:
    • Sign-up for testimony will be open until the meeting begins
  • Time Limits on testimony:
    • If testimony time limits are imposed due to the large number of testifiers, provide as much notice as possible of this change so testifiers can adjust their comments.
    • Substantive comments help to identify necessary changes to legislation, so testimony limits – if imposed – should not fall below three minutes.
    • Rolling over public hearings encouraged

Looking into 2021 - January

2021 Session

We received several updates from the presiding officers over the holiday break outlining what the virtual 2021 Session will look like. More details below:

  • Legislators will convene in person on January 11th for the convening and swearing in for the 2021 Session
  • On January 19th bills will be 1st read – which will officially kick off the bill referral process
  • Possible Floor Session week of January 25th
  • Each Chamber will then schedule in-person floor sessions AS NEEDED through April 2nd. This means that members will return to their districts and largely manage their committee work virtually.
  • Today, the plan is for the Legislators to begin meeting in person daily for Floor Sessions beginning April 5th

Committee Assignments

We also saw the long-awaited Committee assignments released over the holiday break for both the Senate and House. The team will be reviewing these more closely in the coming days but you can view here: HOUSESENATE

Oregon County Risk Levels

Governor Brown has also updated the County Risk Levels, effective January 1st – January 14th. There are now 24 counties in the Extreme Risk Level, 5 at High Risk, 0 at Moderate Risk and 7 at Lower Risk. View list of counties (with changed noted in red) here. As a reminder, the corresponding sector risk level guidance can be found here.

Oregon Vaccine Committee & Distribution

As of January 3rd, Oregon has administered 48,725 doses. All vaccinations have occurred at Oregon hospitals, long-term care facilities, emergency medical service agencies, urgent care facilities and local public health authorities. To-date, 190,500 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon. OHA vaccination dashboard here.

3rd Special Session Report

The Oregon Legislature convened at 8:00 AM for a 3rd Special Session today. They adjourned shortly after 6:00PM. Five substantive bills were considered, ranging from cocktail delivery for restaurants and a landlord/tenant package to liability protection for schools and additional money for the Emergency Board. Legislators convened in person in Salem while the building was closed to members of the public and lobby.

Policy Bills considered:

SB 1801A – Cocktail & Wine Delivery

This bill allows restaurants to sell for takeout or delivery mixed cocktail drinks and single servings of wine. Drinks are limited to 2-drinks per ‘substantive food’ order. The bill also limits the commission fees 3rd party delivery companies can charge to 15%. The -1 amendment added ‘wine cocktails’ like mimosas to the allowed beverages to be delivered. The Speaker confirmed on the record that jurisdictions with a commission cap below 15% are grandfathered in as of December 18, 2020 and that cities are now allowed to go lower.

STATUS: Awaiting Signature by the Governor

Senate: 21 YES – 3 NO – 6 Excused

House: 50 YES – 4 NO – 6 Excused

SB 1803 – Health Care Provider Liability Protection

After months of negotiation with healthcare providers and trial lawyers, SB 1803 provides limited liability protection for certain health care providers and hospitals who scaled back care during COVID-19 as well as during treatment of COVID-19 patients. The bill also includes employee and whistle-blower protections. The bill does not limit employee lawsuits. The protections are limited to the COVID-19 emergency.


HB 4401 – Eviction Moratorium Extension & Landlord Compensation Fund

This bill extends the current ban on no-cause residential evictions to June 30, 2021. It also allocates $200M for landlord/tenant relief and allows landlords to seek up to 80% of rent owed after April 1, 2020. Landlords must agree to forgive the remaining 20% of unpaid rent if they receive a distribution from the fund for rent owed.

STATUS: Awaiting Signature by the Governor

Senate: 18 YES – 6 NO – 6 Excused

House: 40 YES – 14 NO – 6 Excused

HB 4402 – School Liability Protections

HB 4402 provides limited liability protection for K-12 schools, public charter schools, and community colleges. The bill, which was similarly negotiated with trial lawyers and school board representatives, also includes employee and whistle-blower protections. The bill does not limit employee lawsuits. The protections are limited to the COVID-19 emergency.

STATUS: Awaiting Signature by the Governor

Senate: 20 YES – 4 NO – 6 Excused

House: 46 YES – 8 NO – 6 Excused

SB 5731 – Emergency Fund $$ Allocation

This is the budget bill. It transfers $600 million from the expected ending fund balance to the Emergency Fund for the following purposes:

$400 million for COVID-response measures

$100 million for wildfire-response measures

$100 million for other interim emergency needs

STATUS: Awaiting Signature by the Governor

Senate: 24 YES – 0 NO – 6 Excused

House: 52 YES – 2 NO – 6 Excused

Interim Legislative Update – October 29, 2020

We will distribute our election night report on Tuesday! Don’t forget to vote! View full report here.

Upcoming Dates of Interest
Nov. 3rd General Election
Dec. 7 – 9th Interim Committee Days
Dec. 7th Legislative Counsel returns bill drafts
Dec. 21st Pre-Session Filing Deadline

COVID-19 Updates

State of Emergency Extended

With COVID-19 Case Counts rising, Governor Brown announced that she will extend the state of Emergency an Additional 60 days through January 2. The declaration is the legal underpinning for the Governor’s COVID-19 executive orders and the Oregon Health Authority’s health and safety guidance. The Governor reviews and reevaluates her emergency orders every 60 days. Read more here.

Oregon Joins Western States in COVID-19 Vaccine Safety Review

This week, Governor Brown announced that Oregon will join Washington, Nevada and California in an effort to review the safety of the COVID-19 Vaccine outside of the FDA’s regular process, once it becomes available. This means that once the FDA approves a vaccine, it will not be publicly available to Oregonians until the California’s COVID-19 Scientific Safety Review Workgroup clears the vaccine for safety and efficacy.

September 15, 2020 Update

Interim Days & Special Session #3

A reminder that next week the Oregon Legislature will hold their “Interim Committee Days.” Typically, these meetings run three days, however due to COVID precautions, the hearings have been extended to five days to allow for virtual streaming. There will be two to three committee hearings each day and the DA Team will be monitoring and reporting out. Committees will cover the latest issue-specific COVID response, fire response and some will begin their discussions on 2021 bill concepts. The Emergency Board is also scheduled to meet on Friday.

During her press conference on September 14th the Governor told press that she did not anticipate a 3rd Special Session occurring before the November Elections – but did expect to call one after the elections occur….we are now less than 50 days till the General Election!

Special Session of 2020

End of Session Report August 10 th 2020

The 1-day 2nd Special Session of 2020 lasted 14+ hours (Senate adjourned 10:20 PM – House at 11:15 PM) and passed 12 bills. The Legislators were present in Salem, with the Capitol building closed to members of the public and lobby. All our advocacy efforts were done virtually – and this Special Session proved even more difficult with no public testimony taken on any of the bills. The members convened Monday morning at 8AM and two Committees were formed – one to tackle the budget bills and one to tackle policy. Over the weekend 13 bills were released, largely focused on the task of balancing the budget and making necessary transfers from reserves. There were a few policy bills including: 3 bills proposing ‘fixes’ to the Unemployment Insurance System, a bill to increase the fees and application process for certain geological permits/off-shore exploration, and a Police Reform bill that modifies acceptable use of physical force/deadly force by law enforcement as well as further limitations on the use of chokeholds.

After weeks of negotiations preceding this weeks’ Special Session the Legislature DID NOT take up liability reform for doctors, health care professionals, businesses, schools and local governments. Nor did they consider the proposed CARES Disconnect proposal in LC 2 that was floated last week which would have disconnected Oregon from three parts of the CARES Act: the business loss limitation provision, the net operating loss provision, and the business interest limitation provision. This change would have increases taxes for Oregon businesses by $225M in the 2019-20 biennium and over $100M for the 2021-22 biennium. In addition, previous labor attempts to adopt a presumption for Workers Compensation were not considered.

Below are brief summaries of the bills considered during the 2nd Special Session:

League Interim Legislative Update – July 20, 2020

The 1st Special Session of 2020 has officially adjourned!

Please see the attached Session Report compiled by our lobby team summarizing all that was adopted. It has been quite a week…an amazing amount of public policy drafted, discussed, debated and negotiated over the past 3-days. Including the agriculture changes to the CAT tax we’ve worked so hard for!

Interim Legislative Update – June 19, 2020

Special Session The Legislature will enter into a Special Session next Wednesday, June 24th. We are aware of roughly 27 concepts that will be considered. The majority of those focus on COVID-19 and police reform. Budget cuts will not be considered next week. Instead, the Governor has indicated that a Special Session will be called later this summer to address the state budget. We continue to work with lawmakers as they finalize and negotiate the final list of policy bills to be considered.

COVID-19 Business Liability Protection

Our team has partnered with the broader employer community to advocate for business liability protection during COVID-19 to be considered in Special Session. This would provide certainty to businesses who are acting under orders of the Governor or who are following the guidelines issued to safely guide their operations that they will not be sued if an employee contracts the virus. As of today, this is not on the list for consideration but efforts are ongoing.

OSU Statewides Budget

Last week, we led the agricultural coalition in proactive advocacy efforts to protect funding for Oregon State University's Statewide Programs. We submitted this letter to the Ways and Means Co-Chairs explaining the devastating impacts that several OSU programs the agriculture community relies on would face based on the Governor’s requested 8.5% budget cuts exercise. Further budget conversations have been put on hold until after the Special Session.

“Playbook” for Food Processing Facilities

The OHA, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Oregon Occupational Safety & Health Administration have released a “playbook” for food processing facilities managing outbreaks. That playbook is now posted here and toolkit introduction here. When a facility has one or more cases of COVID-19 the facility will be required to present a coordinated response and consultation with ODA and other agencies. For the purpose of this playbook and toolkit, “Food processing facilities” or “facility” means facilities licensed under ORS 616, and includes food processing establishments, dairy plants, meat processing, bakeries, food storage warehouses, retail food establishments, and shellfish facilities. There are not currently enforcement mechanisms connected to these documents, but OR-OSHA and others are currently drafting an Emphasis Program that will include enforcement. Amanda is in the room for those conversations and will continue to keep you updated.

OR Department of Transportation Climate Office

ODOT has created a new four-person Climate Office. We attended a webinar last week to hear from the department on their plans for the new office, which includes developing a strategy for meeting the state’s electric vehicle charging needs; considering a greenhouse gas reduction component to transportation project planning; and adding a greenhouse gas reduction lens to all of ODOT’s efforts.

Oregon State Board of Agriculture Vacancies

Oregon is currently accepting applications for two open positions on the Oregon State Board of Agriculture. The two applicants must be actively engaged in the production of agriculture commodities. A third position—a member of the public—is also open. (The current public member has been asked to reapply for a second term by the Director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture). Applications must be submitted by close of business July 17, 2020. Please share this with your members! View more details here.

Oregon Christmas Tree Advisory Committee Vacancies

The Oregon Department of Agriculture has two vacancies on the Christmas Tree Advisory Committee. Members of the Christmas Tree Advisory Committee are appointed by the Director of the Department for a three-year term for a maximum of two consecutive terms. If you are interested, complete this form and submit it to ODA by July 10th, 2020.

OR Department of Agriculture Chlorpyrifos Work Group

The department has extended the planned rulemaking timeline for public comment on draft mitigation rules from July 1st to August 1st. This will give us additional time to dissect the mitigation measures put forward at the last meeting and craft coordinated public comment. ODA is still finalizing the rule proposal, we will share it with you as soon as it’s released.

Senate Committee Changes

The Senate Committee on Wildfire Reduction and Recovery, established during the 2020 Session has been discontinued. Senator Golden who was Chair of the Committee, will now Chair the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.


Ballot Measure to Reform Oregon’s Redistricting Process

The People Not Politicians campaign has kicked into high gear and is working to collect enough valid signatures by the July 2nd deadline to qualify for the November ballot. IP 57 would reform Oregon’s redistricting process by creating an independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw state legislative and congressional districts. For more information on how to participate click here.

House District 33 Appointment

Dr. Maxine Dexter was appointed by Multnomah and Washington County Commissioners last week and sworn into office. Representative Dexter replaces former Representative Mitch Greenlick who passed away in May. Dexter is a pulmonologist and critical care physician at Kaiser Permanente and has been appointed to serve on the House Health Care and Behavioral Health Committees. Read more here.

Interim Legislative Update – June 5, 2020

Upcoming Dates of Interest

May 22 – June 5th Legislative Committee Days– Virtual

TBD Possible Special Session (hearing late June – not yet scheduled)


ReOpening Update – Phase 2 Guidelines

The Governor has released guidelines and approved 29 Counties for Phase 2. To-date, 35 of the 36 counties in Oregon have been approved for Phase 1. Multnomah County has announced they will seek Phase 1 approval for June 12th as a target. As a prerequisite to Phase 2, a County must have been in Phase 1 for 21-days. The majority of Counties, 31, triggered that timeline on May 15th. Accordingly, those that can meet the proposed criteria are eligible for Phase 2 as soon as today, June 5th. Phase 2 will allow for gatherings up to 50 people, ease travel restrictions and allow a limited return to work along with reopening of theatres, cinemas and churches. It will also ease restrictions on bars and restaurants, allowing them to stay open until midnight and increase table space with outdoor seating. The Governor’s office has indicated much of the State will remain in Phase 2 until a cure/treatment for COVID is identified.

Counties that enter Phase 2 will be able to continue with the reopening process, following updated health and safety guidance:

  • Gathering limits will be raised to 50 people indoors, and 100 people outdoors.
  • Indoor and outdoor venues, including theaters and churches, with 6 feet of physical distancing and other measures in place, can reach a COVID-19 occupancy limit of up to 250.
  • Offices can begin reopening and employees can return to workplaces with physical distancing and other measures in place, though remote work is still strongly recommended whenever possible.
  • Increased travel will be allowed throughout Oregon, though staying local is still recommended to prevent overloading county health systems.
  • Restaurants and bars will have curfews extended to midnight.
  • Pools and sports courts will be allowed to reopen under new guidance.
  • Indoor and outdoor activities such as bowling, batting cages, and mini golf, will be allowed to reopen under new guidance.
  • Recreational sports can resume in a limited form, under strict physical distancing guidance.

Additional Statewide Guidance
For all counties, including those remaining in Phase 1 or on baseline status:

  • Zoos, gardens, and museums can reopen in a limited fashion.
  • Professional and collegiate sports teams can return to training in their facilities with physical distancing and health and safety measures in place.


The House and Senate held Interim Committee Hearings over the past two-weeks. Part of the regular interim schedule for Oregon, these hearings are largely informational and traditionally serve as an opportunity to update on adopted legislation and talk about future bill concepts. These two weeks were dominated by the impact and response to COVID. Below are highlights of hearings of interest.

House Agriculture and Land Use

Chair Clem held an informational hearing on the impacts of COVID on agricultural markets, meat processing facilities, and the Farm to School Program. Oregon growers were well represented by Oregon Farm Bureau and Oregon Association of Nurseries, who both reiterated the need for consistency and certainty in rules and regulations as well as access to PPE. Committee members also received an overview of the emergency temporary rules from OSHA and the state agriculture financial assistance package from the Governor’s staff.

Senate Environment and Natural Resources

The Senate Committee agenda was very similar to the House with invited testimony from agencies and industry to discuss impacts of COVID. Notably, the committee also invited DEQ to present a status report on the implementation of the Governor’s Cap and Trade Executive Order. The agency reviewed their implementation plan submitted last month but did not have enough time to answer all of the Committee questions. Committee members intend to send their questions regarding the details of the EO in writing for the agency to respond.

House Natural Resources Committee

ODFW, Parks and Recreation and ODF each presented information to the committee on their response to COVID. The committee also invited industry representatives from commercial fishing and processing, forestry and forest products, ports and transportation, outdoor sports and recreation, and conservationist and environment to provide an update on impacts they’ve felt and concerns going forward.

House Business & Labor

After an hour of briefing from the Oregon Employment Department on the last of processing surrounding Unemployment Benefit Checks, the Department faced extreme criticism for not addressing the problem earlier. The Committee called the Department back for a Saturday 3.5-hour hearing where members were able to ask questions. On Sunday, the Governor announced that the Director was asked to resign. She has been replaced with David Gerstenfeld who has most recently been serving as the Paid Family & Medical Leave Insurance Division Director.

In the News:

The Committee also heard panels addressing a request by labor for a presumption or guarantee of workers compensation benefits for COVID related illnesses. View labor’s proposalhere.

House Water Committee

Director Loftsgaarden from the Oregon Water Enhancement Board presented information to the House Water Committee on existing federal programs in an effort to paint a picture for legislators of how potential stimulus dollars from a federal infrastructure package could be utilized in relation to water. She explained that if funds are made available, they would likely need to be channeled through existing funds and procreations. She also made a request to the Committee for a state match not be required due to the current budget crisis. View her full presentation hereand letter to the Committee here.

Senate Wildfire Reduction and Recovery

Committee members received updates on Oregon’s readiness for the 2020 wildfire season, the impact of severe smoketo communities and potential mitigation measures, and the utilities plans for wildfire prevention and mitigation.

Emergency Board – Additional CARES Funding Allocated

The Legislative Emergency Board (E-Board) convened this afternoon to allocate additional COVID related CARES funds. In total, the Board allocated an additional $275M from the Federal CARES act appropriation. The funding approved included:

Assistance to Individuals

$75M for assistance to individuals for housing, through mortgage assistance and rent assistance via payments to landlords

$10 million for the Oregon Worker Relief Fund to aid immigrant Oregonians providing essential services who are excluded from federal and state safety nets

$4M for Anti-Domestic Violence assistance (additional funding)

$1 million to 211 information support

$15 million for energy and water assistance programs

. $25 million for behavioral health

$3.5M to Public Utility Commission to temporarily expand access to affordable telephone and broadband service for low income houses

Assistance to Businesses

$3 million in technical assistance to minority owner businesses

$50 million for hospital support grants

$10M for PPE for small businesses

$30M for Early Learning Division for assistance for meeting increased cost for childcare providers

Adapting to Remote Work and Education

$20 million for broadband to implement Oregon Broadband Advisory Council recommendations due to distance learning, virtual health appointments and business done remotely due to COVID-19

- See testimony from industryhere.


For agricultural workers (housing, transportation requirements, other needs) $30M for Department of Administrative Services, $16M for watershed enhancement board, and $3M for OHA for community outreach activities

$237,130,000 increase of federal funds expenditure limitation to DAS (bookkeeping measure that validates the spending that E-board did today)

$2.3M for the Racing Commission(second year funding)

$2.8M to Department of Geology and Mineral Industry (second year funding)

On Thursday evening, House Minority Leader Drazan asked Speaker Kotek to delay convening the E-board due to issues around transparency. See her statementhere.The meeting proceeded as scheduled, although two items from the initial agenda were tabled for another day:

NOT passed—E-board will meet to address these issues later:

$25M to Oregon Business Development Department – Emergency Business Assistance Grant Fund

$50.2M to Oregon Business Development Department – Statewide Business and Cultural Support

Cap and Trade Update

In our last report we provided a high-level overview of key agency implementation plans for Governor Brown’s Executive Order 20-04. This week, the Oregon Department of Agriculture submitted their implementation plan, below is a brief summary:

OR Department of Agriculture

ODA intends to conduct a research study to establish baseline data on the capacity for mitigation and adaptation on Oregon’s working lands as their first step towards implementation. The agency plans to use this data to craft an internal roadmap that will be utilized in all future decision making. Additionally, ODA intends to add climate impacts to their list of considerations when distributing agency grants and awards (including specialty crop block and noxious weed grants), selecting geographically based water quality efforts, and prioritizing invasive species work. Read the full proposal from ODAhere.

Agriculture Workforce Housing Facilitation Team (AWHFT) Update

2020 workforce housing tax credits have been allocated for the year. The department was happy to announce that the credits were distributed to a mix of on and off farm projects. Next year they are hoping to significantly increase the amount of credits distributed from $7.5M to $24M via legislation they plan to introduce in the 2021 Session – we’ve added this proposal to our Session watch list. The group also discussed next steps for the ag workforce housing study. The study is now officially on hold due to COVID-19 and the group will reconvene in July to create a timeline going forward.

OR Department of Agriculture Chlorpyrifos Work Group

The Chlorpyrifos Work Group (WG) met for the third and likely final time last week to discuss mitigation measures for Chlorpyrifos use in Oregon. The meeting kicked off with a presentation from the Oregon Health Authority on the Health Effects of Chronic vs Acute Exposures. WG members representing industry asked several follow up questions to OHA on the data presented, specifically on how and why Oregon came to different conclusions than the EPA. OHA agreed to have further conversation about their conclusions and data but didn’t feel prepared to do so at that time. We anticipate receiving this follow up information in writing within the next week. Next, ODA reviewed 11 proposed mitigation measures. The agency has not yet crafted the details of each mitigation measure, however based on the WG conversations the rules we believe they will likely include: increased buffer zones of 300ft from schools, day care centers, hospitals & elder care facilities and 1,000 ft for occupied farmworker housing that will be occupied with 14 days; 7-14 day pre-harvest interval; 4 day re-entry interval; categorization of restricted use; use by only certified and licensed applicators and applicator record keeping requirements. Additionally, four WG members requested ODA to consider measures to phase out Chlorpyrifos over the next four years. Based on our conversations with agency staff, a phase out is unlikely. Next Steps: ODA intends to draft rules for public comment July 1. Once those are posted we will have an opportunity to submit detailed comments on each of the proposed measures as well as participate in a virtual public hearing.

Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Board Meeting

We monitored the EOBED meeting this week where they brainstormed potential 2021 legislative concepts. The committee agreed to four potential bills, they intend to work with Sen. Findley and Rep. Owens to develop and introduce each of them.

  • Reintroduce 2020 bills – HB 4028 and HB 4165.
  • Legislation to create a pilot program that requires Oregon’s border region to use a preferential point system for state residents who apply for state jobs.
    • Example: 71% of Eastern Oregon State Prison employees live in Idaho. This legislation would give hiring preference to Oregonians.
  • Possibly look at expanding some border initiation programs in an effort to create more jobs in the area and help deal with the statewide unemployment problem.


Recall Effort Fails – Sen. Thomsen

Efforts to recall Sen. Chuck Thomsen-R, Hood River, have failed to gather the necessary signatures required. The signature gathering effort was heavily funded by labor unions (reporting over $130,000 raised for the recall effort) and targeted Sen Thomsen for his walkout with his Republican Senate colleagues during the 2020 Session to stop the Cap & Trade legislation from passing. The campaign had until June 2nd to submit 9,025 valid signatures and faulted COVID for their failure which forced the in-person signature gathering to stop.

Interim Legislative Update – May 22, 2020

State Financial Relief Package for Agriculture

We’ve continued to attend weekly Zoom calls with the Governor's staff and ODA to discuss state assistance for Oregon farmers and ranchers impacted by the new OSHA temporary rule and COVID-19. The Governor’s proposal“Protecting Oregon’s Food Supply and Essential Agricultural Workers”is a $29.5M relief package is broken down into three categories however details on how the funding will be distributed is still pending.

  1. Agricultural Workforce Housing – $10M
  2. COVID-19 Sanitation – $6M
  3. Mitigating COVID-19 Outbreaks – $13.5M

This week ODA secured PPE supplies, 1 million KN95 masks and 5,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, for the ag industry. We have been assured that these supplies will be dispersed to growers across the state next week at no cost.

Interim Legislative Update – May 8, 2020

Upcoming Dates of Interest

May 19th Primary Election

May 20th Quarterly Revenue Forecast

May 20 – 22nd Legislative Committee Days– Tentatively Virtual!

Late May/June Possible Special Session


Agricultural Employer and Agricultural Worker Guidance

Oregon Health Authority has released their Agricultural Employer and Agricultural Worker guidance documents, including resources such as new safe workplace posters. The documents are available on the OHA COVID-19 website, under the section “Agricultural Workers and Employers.” Please share the guidance with members and ensure they are displaying current workplace posters from OHA and OSHA.

  • View the employer guidance here.

OSHA Emergency Temporary Labor Housing and Agricultural Employment Rules

Oregon OSHA released emergency temporary rules to address COVID-19 in Labor Housing and Agricultural Employment last week. These rules go into effect on Monday, May 11th and are set to expire on October 24th. After review of the FAQ provided by OSHA, we believe wheat is exempt from these rules. However, it could possibly pertain to our members who grow other crops. We are continuing to participate in discussions with state agencies and will keep you informed as we learn more.

  • View the temporary rule FAQ from OSHA here.
  • Access the new OSHA required Field Sanitation Workplace posters here.

DOR Clarifies COVID-19 Relief Funds are NOT Subject to CAT

The Department of Revenue has issued guidance that certain federal assistance to businesses under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is not commercial activity under Oregon statute and will not be subject to the Corporate Activity Tax. This includes any forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advances, and Small Business Administration (SBA) loan subsidies. More information can be found in the “Beyond the FAQ” section of the CAT page on the department’s website. This was an issue raised by the broader employer community, it received immediate attention from key Legislators who worked to ensure that the federal relief would not be subject to State taxation (the relief dollars are exempt from federal taxes).

In the news:

UI Expansion – Wave 3: Self-Employed Benefits

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program is open and accepting applications. This expansion covers self-employed, contract, and gig workers who were not eligible for regular unemployment benefits. The new PUA application process is the “Third Wave” of new programs implemented by the department in response to the pandemic (the first was expanded eligibility for UI for “regular” workers who had to stay home; the second was the new $600 per week premium for all workers). Future “waves” will include extension of benefits beyond the initial period of PUA, enhancement of the Work Share program, and reimbursement for the UI waiting period. The Oregon Employment Department is now accepting applications for those workers who previously could not apply for UI benefits because they never paid into the system. The CARES Act opened up benefits to these previously excluded workers (self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, those who previously lacked enough qualifying work hours).


Agency Cut List – 8.5% Cut Lists Requested

Governor Kate Brown has instructed all state agencies to plan for nearly $2B in state budget reductions. The reduction is due to the effects caused by COVID-19 on the Oregon economy. We will better understand the full impact after the May 20th Revenue Forecast, but it is expected to show at least a $1.5B - $2B hole in the state 2019-21 budget. Ahead of the May Forecast, the Governor has asked each agency to prepare an 8.5% reduction from general fund biennial appropriations. Since those cuts will be taken over a 12-13 month period of the biennium, the 8.5% cut equates to approximately 17% of the agency’s budget. If the Governor makes budget cuts, they must be equally applied across all State agencies. However, if the Legislature reconvenes in a Special Session, they can make more targeted intentional cuts.

Pesticide Stewardship Program Update

The Pesticide Stewardship Partnership (PSP) Stakeholder Advisory Committee met this month to receive program and case study updates and review their draft strategic plan. During the four-hour meeting, committee members received an overview of the Umpqua Pilot, which recently concluded and discussed next steps. The pilot results showed low levels of herbicides present in some areas of the water. As a result, ODA proposed creating a two-hour educational video specific to the herbicides detected for landowners near the Roseburg area. They also proposed monitoring sites every 30 days to determine if the education is effective. Committee members unanimously agreed that this was a good next step. ODA and DEQ also presented trends from 2019 watershed monitoring. Notably, across all of the tested watersheds, Chlorpyrifos has had a sharp decrease in detection levels (36 in 2019, 26 in 2018 and 6 in 2019). The average concentrations of detections were above the current water quality standard but just like frequency, the water concentrations have dropped significantly. Additionally, committee members received an update on the Walla Walla Watershed case study. Overall this PSP has been working successfully and the decrease in pesticide detections since the program began in 2016 confirms that. A five-year plan is currently being drafted for the area. Lastly, the committee reviewed thedraft strategic plan for the PSP going forward. The plan as drafted is a high-level draft proposal with the intent of specific elements being built out at a later date. An updated draft will be presented at the July 30 meeting.

Coexistence – Pesticide Drift Prevention

We participated in a Coexistence 101 call with ODA earlier this month to discuss how our association can be proactive in reminding and educating members about the importance of preventing spray drift this time of year. Applicators have really stepped up over the last few years to ensure herbicides are not drifting onto our neighbors, but we need to continue our outreach efforts in order to avoid any potential legislative efforts to prohibit certain herbicide use. Stay tuned for educational material to share with members.

New Legislative Committee Assignments

The House has reassigned Committees for the 2020 Interim. Largely removing gavels from retiring Legislators and giving new gavels to first time Chairs. View assignments here. Of note:

  • Rep. Paul Holvey-D returns as Chair of the Business & Labor Committee
  • Rep. Janeen Sollman-D receives a new gavel as Co-Chair of the Public Safety Subcommittee
  • Rep. Susan McLain-D is the new Co-Chair of the Joint Transportation Committee
  • Rep. Tawna Sanchez-D is the new Chair of the Human Services Committee
  • Rep. Janelle Bynum-D takes the gavel of the Judiciary Committee
  • A new Housing Committee will be chaired by Rep. Julie Fahey-D
  • Rep. Barbara Smith Warner-D will take over the Rules Committee

Other Committee make-up largely remain unchanged.

Task Force on Access to Quality Affordable Child Care

The Task Force on Access to Qualify Affordable Child Care met in early May. The 17-member task force includes four Legislators: Sen. Kathleen Taylor-D, Sen. Tim Knopp-R, Rep. Cedric Hayden-R and Rep. Karin Power-D. There is one representative from the business community on the task force. The task force is charged with making recommendations on:

  • Expanding access to subsidized childcare
  • Reviewing and accessing culturally specific care, copayments, reimbursement rates, economic stability of families receiving childcare subsidies.

Legislators serving on the Task Force are nonvoting members. The Task Force must present a report by December 31, 2020 and are planning to release during December 10th Interim Committee Days.

Paid Family & Medical Leave Update

Amanda continues to serve as one of four employer representatives on the Paid Family & Medical Leave Advisory Committee. This Committee is charged with drafting rules to implement the new Statewide Paid Family Leave program effective January 1, 2022. The Committee has identified several subcommittees which will begin meeting over the next year. These small groups will take up issue specific issues and make recommendations for the rules. The following Committees are currently soliciting membership. Please consider applying by May 25th. Online application for the following subcommittees here:

  • Benefits (Includes eligibility, application, computation, and delivery)
  • Small Employers (Includes job protection and grants)
  • Self-Employed / Independent Contractors (Includes home care and child care)


Secretary of State Issues Direction on Campaign Finance

Secretary of State Clarno issued a brief statement this past week clarifying that Measure 47 is not currently in effect as a result of the Supreme Court decision in Multnomah County v Mehrwein decision. Accordingly, no limits are currently in place for campaign contributions to Legislative candidates.

In the news:

Legislators Call on Rep. Hernandez to Resign

Following a Conduct Committee hearing where several physical and verbal sexual harassment allegations against Representative Diego Hernandez came to light, several prominent fellow Democrats are calling for his resignation including Speaker Tina Kotek and Ways and Means Co-Chair Dan Rayfield. Rep. Hernandez is not facing a primary challenger in the May 19th Primary Election. He was stripped of interim Committees while he is on “leave.”

In the news:

Oregon Primary Election: May 19th

Don’t forget, Oregon’s Primary Election is scheduled for May 19. This year voters can mail in their ballots without a stamp or you can use this toolto find the closest dropbox to you. Oregon is not a “postmark State” which means postmarks don’t count…ballots have to be at a drop site or county elections office by 8PM to be counted. See a spreadsheet of races here, candidate profiles here, and the statewide voters pamphlet here.

Interim Legislative Update – April 2020

Our below update is largely COVID-19 related. We will continue to update you in-real-time as more time-sensitive action is taken or needed. In addition, don’t forget that later this week ballots will go out for the Oregon 2020 May Primary. We will provide a more detailed candidate overview later this week.

Upcoming Dates of Interest

May 19th - Primary Election
May 20th - Quarterly Revenue Forecast
May 20 – 22nd - Legislative Committee Days (CANCELLED)
Late May/June - Possible Special Session

ReOpening Oregon

Conversations continued this week with Governor Brown and stakeholder groups as they attempt to build a framework for reopening Oregon post-COVID. The draft reopening framework was released 2 weeks ago, days after Oregon joined California and Washington in a regional pact to coordinate next steps. You can view the current DRAFT Reopening Oregon framework here. The goal is to finalize the plan during the week of May 4th, which could include specific guidelines for various industry types and geographic regions. This week Nevada and Colorado joined in the regional.

What are other states doing?

As Governors Contemplate Reopening, Here's What Restrictions Look Like In Each State
In the news:
How could Oregon reopen amid coronavirus? Read details from a draft report the governor’s office didn’t want shared.
Rural areas of Oregon may reopen sooner than urban areas, Gov. Brown’s office says
Leader of Oregon House Republicans responds to roadmap for reopening the state
From Speaker Kotek: Coronavirus Update: Planning for the Next Phase
Here is Gov. Kate Brown's detailed road map to reopen Oregon: What about schools? Child care? Restaurants?

CAT Tax Update
Governor Brown has released a statement clarifying she has no plans to delay the Corporate Activity Tax or delay the 1st Quarterly Estimated Payments due April 30th. However, she has shared a statement that she is directing the Department of Revenue to waive all penalties related to 1st Quarter tax payments. You can read that letter, directed to OBI, here. We have not received confirmation from the Department of Revenue. We are working with Rep. Boshart-Davis to receive further clarification from Legislative Counsel regarding whether COVID-10 Federal Relief will be considered taxable under Oregon’s corporate income tax, the CAT and confirming Oregon’s connection to the IRS. Read that memo here. There is additional work to add further clarification to Special Session considerations. In the news: Hundreds of Oregon businesses questioned Brown about lifting coronavirus restrictions, fulfilling unemployment benefits and delaying new corporate tax

Emergency Board Relief Package

The Legislature held a virtual meeting of the Joint Emergency Board to vote on an emergency relief package for Oregonians last week. After more than four hours of discussion, the committee approved approximately $32 million in state General Fund dollars. The funding primarily focuses on shelter/rental assistance, small businesses, domestic violence survivors, and immigrant communities. We anticipate seeing additional COVID-19 relief proposals during a Special Session in late May or June.

Unemployment Benefits

Efforts to speed up the benefit process continue to stall at the Oregon Employment Department. This past week additional pressure was placed on the Department by the Governor and Congressional leaders calling on Oregon to suspend the “waiting week” – the week where applicants must wait before receiving benefits. The COVID relief package passed by Congress allows states to waive this week without penalty, however the Oregon data system doesn’t have the capacity or technology to do that. In addition to benefits, this also costs unemployed Oregonians the additional $600 a week approved in that same Congressional package. Additional information from the Department here: Employment Department – COVID 19 Unemployment Insurance FAQ

In the news:

Oregon’s antiquated computers could cost laid-off workers more than $100 million in benefits

Gov. Brown says Oregon eventually will waive ‘waiting week’ for jobless claims, boosting workers’ benefits by millions of dollarsAgreement Reached with Insurers – Cover COVID Tests

DCBS has made an agreement with local insurance providers to cover the entire cost of COVID testing. The agreement means consumers with fully-insured individual and group health plans will not be charged co-payments, co-insurance, or deductibles related to COVID-19 for the following:

  • COVID-19 laboratory testing administered consistent with guidelines issued by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • An in-network provider office visit or a visit to an in-network urgent care center to be tested for COVID-19.
  • An emergency room visit to be tested for COVID-19.
  • Immunization for COVID-19, once it becomes available.

Outside of these instances, regular terms of insurance such as co-payments, co-insurance, and deductibles will still apply. Additional discussions are taking place for those not covered in the current agreement. More here: https://dfr.oregon.gov/insure/health/understand/Pages/coronavirus.aspx

Campaign Finance – Supreme Court Opinion

Late last week the Oregon Supreme Court released their decision on campaign contribution limits. The decision is going to take weeks (maybe longer) to fully digest. However, most believe that the immediate impact is that this opinion will trigger Measure 47, which voters passed in 2006, and imposes severe restrictions and penalties on candidate campaign finance activities. The measure places strict caps on how much initials can spend on candidates ($500 for statewide office, $100 for other public offices). The measure also more or less banned contributions from corporations and unions, unless they qualify under a small donor PAC exception. We are working with a broad coalition to better understand this measure and its potential impacts. You can read the OBI legal memo on the topic here. We are accordingly recommending to all clients to suspend any political giving for the foreseeable future until we have a better legal understanding of this opinion and direction from the Secretary of State.

In the news: Oregon Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Campaign Contribution Limits


New Senate Republican Leader

On Friday, the Senate Republicans announced a new leader. Senator Fred Girod was voted to replaced Senator Herman Baertschiger who announced earlier this year that he would not run for re-election. Sen. Girod is from Lyons and is the senior member of the caucus having served in the Legislature for 15 years. Read more here.

2020 Primary Election

The May 19 primary election is quickly approaching, and Oregon will see a full ballot. Several legislative districts have multiple candidates, both Democrat and Republican, seeking their party's nomination for the general election in November. See a full list of the candidate filings here.

Interim Legislative Update – April 2020


OSHA Petition – Farmworker Housing & Field Sanitation

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oregon Law Center and Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center filed a petition with OSHA requesting significant changes to field sanitation and agricultural labor housing rules. Several of the proposals included in the petition mirror asks farmworker advocates have previously advocated for, including extreme changes that would require costly and infeasible investments for the agricultural industry while being unrelated to the prevention of COVID-19. OSHA has not yet decided whether to accept or deny the petition and has asked for public comment. OWGL worked with our ag partners to craft a letter in opposition. We are also working behind the scenes to keep legislators up to date on efforts the ag community is making to keep farmworkers safe.

Aerial Spray Ban Efforts

Last week, environmental activists began to use the COVID-19 crisis to seek an immediate temporary ban on the aerial application of pesticides stating that Oregon’s ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ order, places neighbors at an increased risk of spray drift. The activist groups have written op-eds and letters to the editor in an effort to place unnecessary fear into neighbors. These efforts have resulted in individuals reaching out to private timber companies and applicators, concerned about the health of their families and animals. Oregon Forest and Industries Council and Oregonians for Food and Shelter have partnered in an effort to get ahead of the narrative being written by activists and educate local leaders about why timber and agriculture need to continue operating as usual during COVID-19. Currently, the focus of activists is on forestry but we are continuing to monitor their efforts closely. Read letters to the editor submitted by environmental activists below:


Paycheck Protection Program

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) issued an interim final rule on the implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) last week. The rule was effective immediately and the loan application was updated to reflect the changes. The rule states that worker cooperatives including agriculture, purchasing, and consumer food co-ops, will be able to access Paycheck Protection Program loans.

Agriculture Employer Guidance

The Oregon Farm Bureau put together a comprehensive employer guidance handbook compiled of information from the CDC, OSHA and OHA. Read the guidance here. Please note, this guidance has not been formally adopted by any Oregon state agency.

E-FMLA Update – Refundable & Advanceable Tax Credits

As a reminder, the new E-FMLA and E-Sick Leave programs are meant to be refundable to the employer. While you front the expense, you are able to withhold your Medicare and social security taxes during quarterly payments – and if not enough apply for a refund from the IRS. Recently, the IRS has also released direction to receive an advance payment of the tax credit – to help cover your costs today. Eligible employers can now use Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19, to request an advance payment of tax credits. Employers must retain records supporting each employee's leave to substantiate the claim for receiving payment of the advance credit. Find out more about the refundable and advanceable tax credits designed to make employers whole for fronting the cash on behalf of the federal government here. Just a reminder, these credits are not available if the employer ends up using a forgivable Paycheck Protection Program Loan (PPPL) to pay the benefits.

How to Claim the Credits on the IRS website:

37. How does an Eligible Employer claim the refundable tax credits for qualified leave wages (plus any allocable qualified health plan expenses and the amount of the Eligible Employer’s share of Medicare tax)?

Eligible Employers will report their total qualified leave wages and the related credits for each quarter on their federal employment tax returns, usually Form 941, Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return. Form 941 is used to report income and social security and Medicare taxes withheld by the employer from employee wages, as well as the employer’s portion of social security and Medicare tax. In anticipation of receiving the credits, Eligible Employers can fund qualified leave wages (and allocable qualified health plan expenses and the Eligible Employer’s share of Medicare tax on the qualified leave wages) by accessing federal employment taxes, including withheld taxes, that are required to be deposited with the IRS or by requesting an advance from the IRS.

For more information on ways Eligible Employers can access funds for the credit before filing the Form 941, see “How can an Eligible Employer that is required to pay qualified leave wages fund the payment of these wages if the Eligible Employer does not have sufficient federal employment taxes set aside for deposit to cover those payments? Can the employer get an advance of the credits?


Oregon Department of Agriculture Chlorpyrifos Work Group

The ODA cancelled its chlorpyrifos workgroup meeting scheduled for March 30 due to COVID-19. A new meeting date has not been set. This would have been the third meeting of the WG and the first meeting since the 2020 session adjourned without passage of HB4168, the ban of chlorpyrifos supported by Beyond Toxics and PCUN. Stakeholders were asked to provide feedback on potential risk mitigation measures proposed by ODA,OWGL participated in drafting the feedback submitted by OFS and OFB, including specific information on the importance of aerial spray for alfalfa.

Written comments submitted jointly by Beyond Toxics and PCUN can be read here. Requests to obtain additional comments submitted by stakeholders have been made, once we receive them we will strategize next steps.

Corporate Activity Tax (CAT) Implementation Update

As you know, we’ve been advocating for delayed implementation of the CAT for the first two quarters of 2020 and for the adoption of the technical changes to the CAT that were included in HB4009A. At this time, Legislative Leadership and the Director of the Department of Revenue (DOR) have declined to delay implementation, meaning businesses are expected to make their first quarterly payments this month. However, we are continuing our efforts. We have made progress in conversations with DOR regarding the necessary technical changes for the agriculture industry going forward. We spoke with DOR earlier last week and received additional information on their rulemaking plan. Detailed updates are below:

RULEMAKING STATUS: Three batches of temporary rules took effect in January, February and March, bringing the total number to 18. DOR intends to publish the final sets of temporary rules in late May or June. DOR has indicated that they believe they have the authority to make some of the changes we’ve been pushing for via rules including; the cost of goods sold calculation and certificate options for bulk commodities. We anticipate seeing these included in the next set of rules.

WHAT’S NEXT: The public comment period is scheduled to open in May, with the final rule hearings scheduled to occur on May 26 and June 23. However, the timeline may change due to COVID-19. We don’t expect any large changes to the CAT via the rules – except for the ones specific to the agricultural industry.

STATEWIDE TOUR: DOR has suspended its series of CAT update meetings, but in an effort to continue educating business owners they’ve made a video of a previous meeting available as well as a PowerPoint presentation. View them here and here.

POSSIBLE SPECIAL SESSION CAT FIX BILL: The Governor has stated that she does not plan to convene the legislature for a Special Session anytime soon. However, we did see drafts of three bill concepts – which we anticipate will continue to be discussed and evolve over the coming weeks if the Legislature does convene. One of the drafts is a LC 21, a redraft of the CAT technical fix bill (HB 4009A) which we advocated tirelessly for during the 2020 session to include needed agricultural changes. If they do convene a Special Session, the passage of LC 21 would be a big win for the ag community. Read a full summary of the bill here.


Environmental and Timber Initiative Petitions Withdrawn

Good news this week – as a result of the MOU signed by environmentalists and the timber industry in February both parties have officially withdrawn their initiative petitions (IPs) from the 2020 general election ballot. The environmental IPs 45, 46, and 47 known as the Oregon Forest Water Protection Acts, were a reintroduction of three previous IPs that were rejected by the SOS. The initiatives called for tightening aerial spray rules, increasing forest stream buffers, prohibiting logging in specific areas and prohibiting conflicts of interest for state forestry board appointees. The original IPs are currently awaiting decision by the Oregon Supreme Court, both parties have agreed to allow the court process to continue. The timber industry’s IPs were also withdrawn including IP 53: Fair and Just Compensation Act, IP 54: Oregon Forest Science Standards Act and IP 55: Forestry Oversight Improvement Act.

2020 Primary Election

The May 19 primary election is quickly approaching and Oregon will see a full ballot. Several legislative districts have multiple candidates, both Democrat and Republican, seeking their party's nomination for the general election in November. See a full list of the candidate filings here.

March 18 Update

We know these are trying times and many of you (and us) have been working around the clock for COVID-19 response and mitigation. Our lobby team has been working with the Governor’s Office, key decision makers, and the Joint Special Committee on Coronavirus Response to address many of your needs. If you have specific requests or new items that have developed please reach out to our team as we continue to work remotely on your behalf!

Below are a few items of note since the 2020 Session adjournment as some policy and politics continues amongst the COVID-19 crisis. The majority of interim workgroups have been postponed and delayed at this time.

Dates of Interest – 2020 Interim & 2021 Session*

March 19th – Primary Election

March 20 – 22nd – Interim Committee Days

Sept. 23 – 25th – Interim Committee Days

Sept. 24th – Legislative Concepts Draft Request Deadline (2021 Session)

Nov. 3rd – General Election

Dec. 7 – 9th – Interim Committee Days

Dec. 18th – Pre-Session Filing Deadline (2021 Session)

*Note these are advisory dates as the calendar for the 2020 interim will need to be adopted in a concurrent resolution during a Special Session to formally establish deadlines for the 2021 Session.

POLICY Updates

Joint Special Committee on Coronavirus Response

The Joint Committee on Coronavirus Response convened for the first time today. This bipartisan committee is composed of fifteen legislators – nine senators and seven representatives. Chair Holvey opened the committee by describing the committee's responsibility to enhance the state’s coronavirus response in order to mitigate the negative impacts to vulnerable populations and small businesses, as well as produce budget and policy recommendations for the legislature. The committee had a robust agenda for the day resulting in the meeting lasting 4.5 hours.

The Governor’s staff presented a coordinated set of responses to the current crisis. Their comments focused largely on four categories: Keeping Oregonians housed, keeping Oregonians fed, helping businesses, and aiding Oregon’s health care system.

Pat Allen, Director of the Oregon Health Authority also addressed the Committee. He was questioned regarding the lack of personal protective equipment and noted that OHA is on plan E right now, and there is no plan F.

The Committee concluded by receiving two-hours of testimony from labor and business representatives. Each of the stakeholders urged the committee to reduce the economic impact of the Coronavirus. Suggestions ranged from ensuring access to childcare for workers to deferring all city and states fees for businesses.

Chair Holvey closed the meeting by requesting that each member take the recommendations heard today and come prepared to share their top one or two action items at the next meeting which is tentatively scheduled for Friday. You can view the hearing here and presentations from stakeholders below:

See employment law/COVID FAQ guidance from Secretary Clarno and BOLI Commissioner Hoyle at the end of this email.

Special Session Update

Legislative leaders from both parties called for a Special Session this week. While the details have not been released (date/how long/specific bills) we are hearing it could be within the next couple of weeks. In addition to adopting the budget bills from the 2020 Session, we anticipate they will adopt a COVID-19 response package that will include financial relief for employers and workers and address the needs of Oregon’s healthcare systems. The new Committees recently formed, the Legislature’s Special Joint Committee on Coronavirus Response and the Governor’s Economic Advisory Council, will be charged with the task of developing this package.

Commercial Activities Tax - Rulemaking

1st Quarter Payments: The Dept. of Revenue has shared that initial quarterly payments remain to be due April 30, 2020, however they will not assess underpayment penalizes to taxpayers “making a good faith effort to estimate their first quarter payments” in response to the COVID-19 impacts on taxpayers’ commercial activity. This, among other items, is on the list employers submitted to the Joint COVID Committee this week asking for relief from.

ADDITIONAL TEMPORARY RULES: Two new CAT rules have been filed with the SOS:

  1. 150-317-1220 2 Employee Compensation: Labor Cost Subtraction
  • Defines what is considered an “employee” and “compensation” for the purposes of calculating labor cost subtraction
  1. 150-317-1120 Definition of single-family residential construction.
  • Defines what single-family residential construction means for the purposes of helping general contractors to calculate their exclusion

The first batch of twelve rules became effective January 1, 2020. Four additional rules took effect February 1, 2020. The two new rules filed bring us to 18 total. We anticipate at least one more set of draft rules to be released in the coming months. As a reminder, temporary rules can only be in effect for 180-days. The permanent rulemaking process will begin on April 1, 2020.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE: Department officials announced last week that additional temporary rules for the CAT are expected to be filed in the coming months.

STATEWIDE TOUR: DOR has cancelled its statewide tour due to COVID-19.

ABOUT the CAT: More than 6,200 businesses have registered for the CAT, a significantly lower number that what was estimated by the Legislative Revenue Office during the 2019 session. They predicted approximately 40,000 businesses would have to pay taxes under the CAT, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Multnomah County Amendment to the Business Income Tax Ordinance

The Multnomah County Commission held their first public hearing on the proposed update to the county’s Business Income Tax ordinance (BIT) ordinance this past week. If passed, the ordinance would be amended in three ways:

  1. Increase the BIT tax rate from 1.45% to 2.00% (effective January 1, 2020)
  2. Increase the gross receipts exemption from $50,000 to $100,000
  3. Increase the Owners Compensation deduction from $108,000 to $127,000

Chair Kafoury noted that the commissioners were well aware if they don’t do something to increase revenue, they would have a $23M deficit by 2024. She concluded by saying the proposal is fair, equitable and necessary. The commission voted to unanimously to support the ordinance and scheduled the second hearing for March 26.


Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr. Announced Retirement

Senator Baertschiger (R-Grants Pass) announced he will not be running for re-election in 2020. Baertschiger was first elected to Senate District 2 in 2012 and has served as the Senate Republican Leader since ahead of the 2019 session, leading the caucus in three walkouts. Read more here.

Senator Ginny Burdick Steps Down from Leadership

Senator Ginny Burdick announced that she will step down as the Senate Majority Leader, a position she has held since 2015. Senator Burdick has served in the Senate for 24 years and is running again this election cycle. Read more here.

Senator Chuck Thomsen Recall Effort

A recall effort has been launched in Hood River County against Senator Chuck Thomsen. Petitioners sited Senator Thomsen’s participation in the Senate Republican walkout as a driving factor in their recall effort. 9,025 valid signatures must be submitted to the Secretary of State by June 2 in order for a recall election to occur. Senator Thomsen has represented Senate District 26 since 2010. Read more here.


Secretary of State
Bev Clarno and Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle
Sick Time

  • All employees get sick time. If you have 10+ employees (or 6+ in Portland), that time must be paid.
  • Accrual rate is 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked.
  • Employees can use sick time to care for themselves, family members, for visits to medical professionals. Sick time can also be used if your child's school is closed by order of a public official for a public health emergency, such as Governor Brown’s current closure of all K-12 schools.
  • Here is a poster about sick time you can share with employees.
  • You can find more information on sick time & coronavirus, including a fact sheet, here.

Oregon Family Leave (OFLA)
  • OFLA applies to employers with 25+ employees
  • Oregonians can use Oregon Family Leave to take protected time off to care for their children during official school closures related to coronavirus. This leave is not paid unless employees use available paid time off they have, but it is protected.

Predictive Scheduling
  • Oregon’s predictive scheduling law applies only to employers with 500+ employees and requires certain advance notice of scheduling changes.
  • This pandemic may result in decreases to business’ staffing needs (or unpredictable staffing needs and worker availability).
  • This law provides for employer relief for extenuating circumstances such as natural disasters or declarations of public officials. This includes current emergency declarations by Governor Brown.
  • Proactive communication is at the heart of this law. Employers should be proactive in communicating with employees about their operations and schedules. This virus situation changes every day, and it is a good practice for employers to communicate every day.
  • Now is the time for employers to engage in the proactive activities suggested in the law to prepare for the lack of certainty in demand and scheduling to best support employees and business operations (i.e. establishing group communications, list of workers who are available to work on demand, voluntary stand-by list, frequent scheduling updates, etc.).
  • You can learn more about predictive scheduling here.

Preventing Discrimination
  • We continue to hear anecdotal reports of people experiencing discrimination because of fears of coronavirus, particularly around race or national origin.
  • Discrimination based on race, national origin, age, sex, religion, sexual orientation, disability, and other characteristics is illegal and wrong.
  • In scary times, sometimes people act with poor judgment or without facts out of fear– that’s not okay if it results in disparate treatment based on protected characteristics.
  • As an employer, you can help stop and prevent discrimination.

Work Share Oregon

Employers are encouraged to check into Work Share Oregon, which can support businesses and workers to avoid mass layoffs and lost wages and benefits in times like these. Work Share can be reached at 800-436-6191 or email: oed_workshare@oregon.gov.

Small Business Advocacy

Businesses without employees or with fewer than 100 employees can contact the Office of Small Business Assistance via email at business.sos@oregon.gov or by calling toll free 1-844-469-5512.

2020 Session Adjourns

The 2020 Oregon Legislature has officially adjourned as of midnight last night. All bills not advanced to the Governor’s desk are officially dead. According to bill tracking reports, of the 258 bills introduced in the 2020 Session, only three made it that far….increasing the cultural trust registration license plates, requiring the Dept. of Ed to create a form for schools to use after a concussion, and settling a Happy Valley annexation dispute.

You can view the impassioned closing day speeches delivered by Speaker Tina Kotek here and Senate President Peter Courtney here and a joint press conference here. Along with Republican House Leader here and Senate Republican Leader here statements.

Immediate Crisis Funding

This morning, the Interim Joint Emergency Board (E-Board) will be convening to address “Oregon Crisis Funding.” The emergency funding will go towards various agencies in response to critical needs for flood damage, coronavirus response, and emergency preparedness. The E-Board has an estimated $75M to spend (set aside from the 2019 Legislative Session). The package to be considered totals $24.350M. Highlights include:

  • Eastern OR Flooding Package:
    • $7.5M for Umatilla County Flood Victims
    • 1.8M for City of Pendleton levee repairs
    • $1.5M Business Clean-up/Restoration for Eastern OR Flooding
    • $500,000 to Blue Mountain Foundation for additional housing rehab
    • $350,000 for City of Milton-Freewater to defray flood clean-up costs
  • Coronavirus COVID-19 & Emergency Preparedness:
    • $5M for emergency response (will match with $8.5B of federal funding nationwide for coronavirus response)
    • $2.7M all hazard emergency preparedness and response

In addition to the above, the package also contains $5 Million for regulatory implementation of Cap & Trade:

“Allocate $5,000,000 from the Emergency Fund to the Department of Environmental Quality to be used for rulemaking and other actions with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions across all emissions sources, including point sources, natural gas emissions and transportation fuels. To potentially implement these activities, the Emergency Board authorizes the establishment of ten permanent positions for the Department.”

Where do we go from here?

In their Joint Press Conference, Democratic Legislative Leadership made it clear that a Special Session would include more than just the budget bills. Governor Brown issued a similar statement “I am open to calling a special session if we can ensure it will benefit Oregonians. However, until legislative leaders bring me a plan for a functioning session I’m not going to waste taxpayer dollars on calling them back to the State Capitol.”

That means budget AND policy bills left on the table in 2020 could be reintroduced and worked during a Special Session. There is no deadline for a Special Session. We are told this could happen within 30-days or late-April to mid-May. The fiscal year for the State ends June 30th.

The Governor has also stated she will issue Executive Orders in the coming days directing State Agencies to implement various elements of a Cap & Trade type proposal. There are certain limitations without a policy bill from the Legislature. Read more here.

Tuesday is Oregon’s filing day! We will continue to keep you updated on race matchups, interim legislative activity and of course the Special Session! An “End of Session” report will also follow.


Senator Ginny Burdick announced last week that she will step down as the Senate Majority Leader, a position she has held since 2015. Senator Burdick has served in the Senate for 24 years and is running again this election cycle. Read more here.

A recall effort was launched last week in Hood River County against Senator Chuck Thomsen. Petitioners sited Senator Thomsen’s participation in the Senate Republican walkout as a driving factor in their recall effort. 9,025 valid signatures must be submitted to the Secretary of State by June 2 in order for a recall election to occur. Senator Thomsen has represented Senate District 26 since 2010. Read more here.

HB 2020 & SB 1530

2020 Short Session Docs

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