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Washington Courts: Medical Marijuana Workplace Rights

September 30, 2009 --

Barran Liebman LLP

A new decision from the Washington Court of Appeals, Roe v. Telletech Customer Care Management LLC, provides a victory for employers who resist employees’ requests to accommodate their medical marijuana use. The case involved an employee who, after only two weeks of work, was terminated once she informed management that she was authorized by the State of Washington to use marijuana to treat her migraine headaches. The company was unwilling to make an exception to its substance abuse policy, and terminated her when the results of a standard pre-employment drug test came back positive for marijuana.

The court answered two questions on appeal. First, did the Washington State Medical Use of Marijuana Act (MUMA) imply a civil cause of action to sue an employer who refuses to accommodate employee use of marijuana? Second, for purposes of Washington’s wrongful discharge tort, does MUMA express a strong public policy in favor of medical marijuana use such that an employer who terminates an employee for off-duty medical marijuana use can be liable?

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Portland gives up streets for streetcars

September 29, 2009 --

By Dr. Eric Fruits
Econinternational

Portland politicians love their streetcars. Earlier this month, the city council unanimously approved a streetcar concept plan (PDF) that calls for a massive expansion of the streetcar system throughout Portland.

Streetcar systems have substantial construction costs. On top of that, Portland’s system has huge operating losses. The City of Portland alone provides a subsidy of $1.9 million (or more) a year, or about $1.50 per rider (this PowerPoint has more information). Other funding comes from TriMet, sponsorship, and farebox revenues.

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Health Care Reform Support Hits New Low at 41%

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Rasmussen reports that, “Just 41% of voters nationwide now favor the health care reform proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats. That’s down two points from a week ago and the lowest level of support yet measured. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 56% are opposed to the plan.  Senior citizens are less supportive of the plan than younger voters. In the latest survey, just 33% of seniors favor the plan while 59% are opposed. The intensity gap among seniors is significant. Only 16% of the over-65 crowd Strongly Favors the legislation while 46% are Strongly Opposed.” Continue Reading

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Luxury Markets Will Come Back in the Recovery

September 28, 2009 --

By Bill Conerly, Businomics, Conerly Consulting LLC

For years I heard sellers of luxury goods say, “The rich will always have money.”  Then the recession came and we learned that the rich will not always spend their money.  As an example, I wrote a blog post using the mega-yacht business as an example of the economics of the luxury market.

Now some hot-shot quantitative economists have illuminated me even more.  Jonathan A. Parker and Annette Vissing-Jorgensen (both of Northwestern University) have written a paper about how consumer spending varies across the business cycle.  Their conclusion is that the spending of the upper income groups is much more variable than the spending of lower income groups.  (The article appeared in the American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings, May 2009.  Available here: Who Bears Aggregate Fluctuations and How?)

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Oregon Entrepreneur winners announced

September 27, 2009 --

Oregon Entrepreneurs Network Names Winners at the 16th Annual OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards
By Oregon Entrepreneurs Network

Ray King of AboutUs wins the award for individual achievement. Jama Software, Monsoon, and Motorcycle Superstore are Selected as this year’s award winners in company categories

Sept. 24, 2009, Portland, Ore. — The Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN) announced the winners of the 2009 OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards during its 16th annual awards ceremony. The ceremony honored finalists in four categories: OEN Entrepreneurship Award for Individual Achievement; OEN Development Stage Company of the Year; OEN Working Capital Stage Company of the Year; and OEN Growth Stage Company of the Year.

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State Treasurer announces Buy Oregon Bonds

September 26, 2009 --

New ‘Buy Oregon Bonds’ sales will create jobs and finance vital energy, courtroom and state hospital projects
By Oregon State Treasurer,

SALEM – State Treasurer Ben Westlund today announced two upcoming “Buy Oregon Bonds” sales that will create jobs and finance important projects, while also allowing the public to earn solid investment returns. The two sales will be the latest in a campaign launched this year that offers the public the first shot to “Buy Oregon Bonds” during a presale order phase. Attracted by Oregon’s solid credit rating and a desire to help the state and themselves, retail buyers placed orders in record amounts for the State’s first bond sales of 2009.

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Oregon Employment Forecast

September 25, 2009 --

By Amy Vander Vliet
Published Sep-21-2009

The latest report from the state Office of Economic Analysis (OEA) contains more good news than it has in a while. The freefall is over, the worst is behind us, and recovery is in sight. However, once here, the recovery both in Oregon and the nation will be slow and jobless in the initial stages.

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Court of Federal Claims Upholds Deductibility of LLC Losses

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By Doug Batey
LCC Law Monitor
Stoel Rives LLP, Attorneys at Law

Portland,

Most business people who are familiar with the tax treatment of LLCs understand that LLCs are tax-efficient. LLCs are taxed as partnerships (except in the rare event that they elect to be taxed as corporations). Since they are taxed as partnerships, LLC profits and losses are passed through to the members. The pass-through of LLC profits avoids double taxation—profits are not taxed to the LLC and are only taxed to the members. The pass-through of LLC losses allows members to use the losses to offset against their other income, reducing their tax bills.

What is less well known, except by tax lawyers and CPAs, is that the IRS has interpreted its regulations so that LLC losses are presumed to be “passive activity losses” (passive losses). Furthermore, the presumption is difficult to overturn. The result is that under the IRS’s interpretation of its regulations, LLC losses are often treated as passive losses.

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Business costs drop 20% with real-time energy data

September 24, 2009 --

Eco-nomics: Full Information and Efficiency
By Patrick Emerson
Oregon Economics Blog

One of the requirements necessary for a free market to reliably achieve an efficient outcome is full and symmetric information. So this article on a smart electricity grid pilot project is pretty interesting. What this project did, in essence, is give customers real-time information on energy usage from all parts of the house.

“Consert attached controllers on hot water heaters, air conditioners and pool pumps and then let customers go online and set targets for their monthly electricity bill. Smart meters and a wireless communications system provide real-time electricity consumption data to allow the utility to cycle appliances on and off to achieve the savings and help it manage peak demand.”

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Trade Tremors: China, Japan, Oregon

September 23, 2009 --

Q&A with Mark Burles,
Senior Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs
, Seattle

Should US business be concerned over the recent Obama tire tariff?

Burles: Absolutely. The last thing the global economy needs is for a trade war to erupt between the US and China. That said, it is a complicated issue. For example, while it certainly may be true that the Administration imposed the tariff in response to domestic political pressure from its union allies, it may also be true the China is, in fact, guilty of unfair trade practices justifying the punitive tariffs. And while exports are going to be even more important to economic growth in the US in the future and we need to be sure we retain access to large, emerging markets like China’s, it is also true that China may need to be pushed to move away from its export-oriented economic model.  

Read the full article and discuss it »
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