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Linking local permits to China?

September 30, 2013 --

by John Ledger
Associated Oregon Industries

In another politicized northwest environmental permitting situation, Washington’s Department of Ecology issued a new ad hoc requirement for a proposed coal terminal transfer/shipping project – an emissions evaluation for when the coal is burned in China.

Oregon agencies have come under criticism for allegedly dragging their heels on coal transfer applications, very low emitting facilities, although the China syndrome has not been invoked.

Ideally, when a permit to construct is issued, agencies require the use of certain technology, application of standards and evaluation of local impacts. If the rules are met, the company gets the permit. The process should be fair and predicable.

Read the full article and discuss it »

How firms protect themselves from “Snowden” employees

September 28, 2013 --

In light of the Snowden file theft scandal, many businesses that utilize private data in the cloud are trying to erect measures to protect themselves from future employees going bad.

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More unions call for ObamaCare repeal

September 27, 2013 --

Chamber-of-commerce
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

It may be sunny in Los Angeles, but dark clouds hang over union members at the final day of the AFL-CIO convention. Union leaders are so unhappy with Obamacare, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that the convention is expected to vote on a resolution calling for changes to the law.

According to Bloomberg, the unions are worried that the health care law will endanger member health care benefits and argue that the “multi-employer plans should be eligible for tax subsidies.”  The law currently only allows for low-income individuals who do not have employer-sponsored health care coverage, or who are not offered adequate coverage, to use subsidies to buy coverage in the new health insurance exchanges.

What’s more, The Hill reports that Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) President Terry O’Sullivan wants the unions to make a bolder statement [h/t Jennifer Rubin]:

“I think it’s a very well-thought-out resolution. I don’t believe it goes far enough,” O’Sullivan said.

The LIUNA chief made waves in Los Angeles this week by saying that if the Obama administration cannot fix the law to answer labor’s concerns, it should be repealed.

“We are supportive of fixing parts of ObamaCare, and our primary objective is to change it. But if it can’t be changed, then it needs to be repealed,” O’Sullivan said.

Rep. Pelosi infamously said, “We have to pass the [health care] bill so you can find out what is in it.” As Obamacare continues to be implemented, labor unions join employers and workers in discovering that what’s in it is not workable health care reform.

Read the full article and discuss it »

Business anxiety: Oct 1 health care deadline

September 26, 2013 --

October 1 a Big Day for Small Businessnfib-logo
By Jan Meekombs
Oregon Chapter – NFIB

Leaving aside all the justifiable gripes small-business owners have over the confusion, delays, retreats, and exceptions made to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) since its passage in 2010, it’s the law of the land, and Oct. 1 marks a milestone start-date that will need acting on.

On or before that date, “… all employers must provide a notice of coverage to each employee, regardless of plan enrollment status or of part- or full-time status,” according to Cover Oregon, the new state agency quarterbacking your involvement in Obamacare. “Employers do not need to provide a separate notice to non-employees including dependents or other individuals who are or may become eligible for coverage under the plan. Current workers must be notified by October 1, 2013, but may be notified prior to October 1st. The notice must be provided automatically, free of charge, and written in a manner that can be understood by the average employee. It may be provided by first-class mail or electronically if the requirements of the DOL’s [U.S. Department of Labor] electronic disclosure safe harbor are met.”

Read the full article and discuss it »

More cities ban criminal questions in job applications

September 25, 2013 --

Barran Liebman
Oregon Law Firm

Employers Must “Think Outside the Box” When Hiring in Seattle:
New “Ban the Box” Ordinance Restricts Use of Criminal Background Checks

10 states and more than 50 municipalities and counties have some form of “ban the box” legislation, regulations, or ordinances on their books. Earlier this summer, the city of Seattle, Washington joined them, and on November 1, 2013, Seattle’s new “ban the box” ordinance goes into effect.

What does “ban the box” mean?

“Ban the box” refers to a requirement to remove the “box” from employment applications asking an applicant whether he or she has ever been convicted of a crime, thereby reducing the disparate impact which could result from basing hiring decisions solely on arrest or conviction records, which are skewed against minority candidates who often have a higher arrest and conviction rate than non-minorities.

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World economic history in one chart

September 24, 2013 --


California Lutheran University

My favorite economics chart shows income divided by population (this is income per person) on the vertical axis and time on the horizontal axis.  The time line runs from prehistoric times to the modern era (from, say 1000 BC to 2000).  The line in the chart is basically flat at an income per person of approximately $2 per day (in today’s dollars) all the way from 1000 BC to about 1800, and then it explodes upward, at least it does for some countries.  The meaning of the chart is that nothing much happened in terms of productivity growth until around 1800.  This long period of history is sometimes referred to as the “Malthusian” period in honor of economist Thomas Malthus who in 1798 published a famous book in which he explained why the long-run trend in productivity was flat (no long-run growth in income or output per person).  The reason is that human reproductive power overwhelms any increases in aggregate output.  Any time there is an innovation that increases output, population expands by enough so that output per person does not rise.  As Malthus put it, “the power of population is infinitely greater than the power in the Earth to produce subsistence for man” with the result that the bulk of mankind is destined to live forever at subsistence.  In the chart below, subsistence is represented by the horizontal line which is scaled to equal 1 for income per person in 1800.

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Wyden blasts NSA phone records violations

September 23, 2013 --

Oregon U.S. Senator Ron Wyden,

U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) issued the following statement regarding the 2009 admission by intelligence officials that they did not fully understand the entirety of the bulk phone records collection program. Wyden and Udall are both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“Documents declassified last week clearly show that court orders authorizing the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records were consistently violated by the NSA. These documents also show that the government repeatedly made serious misrepresentations to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when seeking authorization to conduct this bulk collection. The intelligence community’s defense was that these violations were occurring because no one had a full grasp of how the bulk collection program actually worked.

Read the full article and discuss it »

Video: Starbucks CEO on guns interview

September 21, 2013 --

The NW coffee entrepreneur, Howard Schultz, talks about Starbuck’s new policy on asking customers to refrain from bringing guns into their stores which has created a firestorm.

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Chart: How we lost $14 Trillion

September 20, 2013 --

nfochrt2-sept13

Excerpt from Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas: One way to measure the cost of lost output is in terms of how much worse off society is relative to a baseline trend that might have existed absent the crisis. Such an exercise is crucial to grasping the magnitude of what occurred and the effects of the still-emerging recovery. Output per person as of mid-2013 stood 12 percent below the average of U.S. economic recoveries over the past half-century, corroborating a large body of literature suggesting that recoveries from financial crises are slower than rebounds from typical recessions (Chart 1).  Our bottom-line estimate of the cost of the crisis, assuming output eventually returns to its precrisis trend path, is an output loss of $6 trillion to $14 trillion. This amounts to $50,000 to $120,000 for every U.S. household, or the equivalent of 40 to 90 percent of one year’s economic output. This seemingly wide range of estimates is due in part to the uncertainty of how long it might take to return to the precrisis growth trend. However, output may never return to trend—the path of future output may be permanently lower than before. If that’s the case, the crisis cost will exceed the $14 trillion high-end estimate of output loss.

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Tacoma Considers Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

September 19, 2013 --

Barran Liebman
Oregon Law Firm

Following in the footsteps of Portland and Seattle among other places, advocates in Tacoma, Washington are moving forward with plans to implement a paid sick leave ordinance. The organization Healthy Tacoma is spearheading the effort and claims to have the support of at least four of the nine-member city council. Councilman Anders Ibsen has indicated that he will introduce the proposal this year.

Under the terms of the proposed ordinance, the accrual rate of paid sick time would vary depending on the size of the employer.

Read the full article and discuss it »
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