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Analyzing Oregon’s tax reform ideas

December 31, 2013 --

Oregon Economics Blog

Fred Thompson,Recently, two very able young legislators, Sen. Mark Hass and Rep. Tobias Read, authored a blueprint for state/local tax reform in Oregon. This is quite remarkable. Who can remember a major reform emanating from the sapless branch of our state government, not forced upon it by popular initiative?

The centerpiece of Hass-Read proposal is 5 percent sales tax combined with a substantial cut in personal income tax rates. They claim that adoption of their proposal would create 50,000 new jobs and raise nearly $500 million a year in net tax revenue. Frankly, I believe that the need for and the benefits claimed for this proposal are greatly over estimated. But that isn’t the subject of this blog. There is no need to beat a dead horse; the response to the main part of the Hass-Read proposal has been overwhelmingly negative, albeit largely uninformed. Rather, I want to speak to one of its elements, which has been given a generally positive reception, the $50,000 homestead exemption.
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Petition submitted to change Oregon liquor laws

December 30, 2013 --

By J.L. Wilson
Associated Oregon Industries
Oregon’s largest business advocate

Following up on threats to force the privatization of liquor sales in Oregon, the Northwest Grocers Association (NWGA) filed five initiative petitions  to allow stores over 10,000 square feet to sell liquor. The NWGA has been considering such a move since a similar law passed the Washington ballot in 2011. Under current Oregon law, only state regulated liquor stores are allowed to sell hard alcohol.

The language of each petition is different, but they all end the state’s exclusive right to buy and sell liquor, and instead transfer that role to stores with 10,000 square feet or more. Although the NWGA submitted five petitions, they will likely test each to determine which has the best chance of passage, and move forward with that one in 2014.

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10 most ridiculous lawsuits 2013

December 27, 2013 --

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

A group of Idaho inmates’ lawsuit blaming eight brewers for causing their lives of crime tops the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform’s (ILR) survey of the top 10 most ridiculous lawsuits of 2013. ILR also released a highlight video containing each lawsuit on the list.“Whether cringe-worthy or laugh-out-loud ridiculous, ask yourself: ‘Is this really what we want our legal system to look like?’” said ILR President Lisa A. Rickard. “Abusive lawsuits both big and small take a collective toll on our society and our economy. We should resolve to make 2014 a year where lawsuits are a last resort, not a first reaction.”  ILR compiled the “Top 10 Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2013” from votes cast throughout the year by visitors to The Faces of Lawsuit Abuse campaign is ILR’s public awareness effort highlighting the impact of abusive lawsuits on businesses, communities, and individuals.

The “Top 10 Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2013” are:

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Portland among the hottest real estate upswings

December 26, 2013 --

By Economist Dr. Eric Fruits, Econinternational

In the Portland State University Center for Real Estate single family housing report, RMLS student fellow Evan Abramowitz reports that all major US metropolitan markets have seen appreciation in the last year, and foreclosure activity is at the lowest level since before the recession in 2008. Portland remains one of the hottest markets in the United States, with the year on year appreciation at 14.1% using National Association of Realtor data, 12.4% using the Case-Shiller repeat sales index, and 22.0% using Abramowitz’ analysis of RMLS data for the three-county region. Unlike most US markets, prices in Portland market are higher today than prior to the recession. At the same time, this increase in prices hasn’t led to a robust recovery in construction activity. While building permits have risen in the last year, they remain less than half the level in the boom period of 2003-07.

Outside of the three-county Portland area, Abramowitz finds sharp increases in housing prices in all the major markets in the state and region, with the following median levels: Portland area, $334,350; Bend, $280,000; Vancouver suburbs, $279,900; Benton County, $248,000; Eugene-Springfield, $244,300; City of Vancouver, $231,140; Redmond, $180,900; Salem $177,000, Marion County, $170,000, and Linn County, $155,000. Abramowitz discovered that new home prices in Portland in the last quarter only barely exceeded those of existing homes ($334,350 vs. $327,000), suggesting that developers have focused on constructing smaller homes than previously. Historically, new homes have sold for a premium of approximately $50,000 over existing homes.

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Alarm over Congress raising Minimum Wage

December 24, 2013 --

By Dan Danner
President NFIB

A number of U.S. senators—many of whom voted for Obamacare—are planning to vote to significantly increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and index it to inflation, permanently. That means wages would continue to rise regardless of sales, performance, or even the ability of a business to keep its doors open.

If this idea succeeds, you’ll have to either raise your prices or trim your workforce to meet bigger payrolls. Either way, the government is forcing you to dramatically alter how you run your business.

This comes on the heels of increases to health care costs, higher taxes, more costly regulations, and now a dramatic minimum wage increase. Your business simply can’t afford another costly government mandate that disproportionately impacts small business.

Before this proposal comes to a vote, it’s urgent you share key facts with senators inclined to support a mandatory wage increase. Here is the most important message to share:

Raising the minimum wage will kill jobs and stifle economic output.

Every dollar for higher minimum wages doesn’t just magically appear. It must come from some place where it is earned, such as your small business. Increasing minimum wages means less money to create jobs, less money to invest in your business and less revenue to shore up today’s struggling economy.

Who wins when the government—not the market—artificially sets wages? Not workers, not small businesses, but instead election-minded politicians who peddle the idea and labor unions that use hikes as leverage to fatten their contracts.

Who loses? You guessed it: your business, your employees, your nation and your family. Call, text or visit senators today and tell them the facts.

Dan Danner

Dan Danner
President and CEO, NFIB

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The 12 scams of Christmas

December 23, 2013 --


By Oregon Better Business Bureau

Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington warns about common holiday scams and frauds:

  1. Malware E-cards: Viruses and malware often travel in fraudulent holiday email cards. Don’t click on links or download attachments in unsolicited emails.
  2. Stranded Grandkids: It’s the classic grandparent scam—verify identities before wiring money out of the country.
  3. Counterfeit Gifts: Low prices on luxury goods almost always mean cheap counterfeits; purchase products from legitimate retailers and avoid too-good-to-be-true prices.
  4. Pickpockets: Keep purses and wallets secure when shopping and avoid setting down bags while waiting in lines.
  5. Stolen Gift Cards: Only purchase gift cards from reputable dealers, not online or from individuals to avoid common gift card frauds.
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Facebook & supermarket alliance sharing your data

December 21, 2013 --

There is a tie between what you buy in the store with reward cards and your Facebook page that you may be unaware about. Watch CNN Money video below.

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10 myths on immigration

December 20, 2013 --

Despite many studies and detailed economic reports outlining the positive effects of immigration, a great deal of misinformation is being peddled by opponents of immigration reform.

The following myths and facts show that immigrants significantly benefit the U.S. economy by creating jobs, increasing wages, and complementing the skills of the U.S. native-born workforce.

MYTH: Every job filled by an immigrant is a job that could be filled by an unemployed American.

FACT: Immigrants typically do not compete for jobs with native-born workers, and they create jobs as entrepreneurs, consumers, and taxpayers. The Partnership for a New American Economy estimates that immigrant-owned businesses “generate more than $775 billion in revenue, $125 billion in payroll, and $100 billion in income, employing one out of every 10 workers along the way.”

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The good & bad of digital receipts

December 19, 2013 --

By Oregon Better Business Bureau

With the probable demise of physical cash in the near future, many retailers—large and small—are adopting point-of-sale solutions to accommodate the increasing use of debit and credit. The ease of implementation, gentle learning curve and competitive fees are making smartphone and tablet-based POS options extremely popular. However, Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington is reminding shoppers to understand the benefits and dangers of mobile payment options.

The Benefits

  • Only one card needs to be taken along on shopping sprees; carrying large amounts of cash for purchases is impractical and poses theft risks.
  • Charges made with debit or credit cards offer built-in protections like zero or limited liability.
  • Significant amounts of paper are saved with the use of digital receipts.
  • Small vendors can now accept small non-cash payments anywhere, without the fees previously associated with this convenience.
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The strings behind Phil Knight’s $500M gift

December 18, 2013 --

By Steve Buckstein
Cascade Policy Institute

It was wonderful to hear that Phil and Penny Knight recently offered a $500 million cancer challenge to OHSU if the public would match their donation. But now OHSU wants taxpayers to come up with $200 million of the match through a building bond.

Portland Business Journal reports that OHSU President Joe Robertson will ask legislators to provide $200 million in bonding authority during February’s legislative session. The money would “count” toward the Knights’ matching gift challenge and fund construction of two new buildings at the South Waterfront for the Knight Cancer Center.

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