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New rules on employee criminal-credit background checks

March 31, 2014 --

Davis Dwight & Tremaine LLP
Oregon business law firm

New Guidance for Employers Conducting Background Checks
By Angela Galloway

Employers who investigate workers’ criminal or credit backgrounds may want to review federal guidelines released March 10.

The joint publication of the Federal Trade Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides detailed guidance for employers who check into the criminal or credit histories of applicants or employees. “Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know” aims to guide employers in complying with federal laws that prohibit workplace discrimination and regulate commercial background reporting agencies.

Separate laws restricting employers’ ability to request and/or rely on such background checks have also been enacted by many states and cities, including Seattle and San Francisco.

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Lessons from Colorado’s pot tax

March 28, 2014 --

marijuana-signBy Jeffrey Miron
Director of undergraduate studies at Harvard, Director of economic policy studies at Cato

The Colorado Department of Revenue earlier this month released its first data on the tax, fee and license revenue from legalized marijuana sales in the state. For January, the figure is $3.5 million when you combine revenue from medical ($1.5 million) and recreational marijuana ($2 million). This implies annual revenue of $42 million for Colorado.

The amount collected so far is below other projections. In a 2010 white paper published by the Cato Institute, I predicted that if the federal government and all states legalized, Colorado would collect roughly $55 million to $60 million per year. And as recently as mid-February, Gov. John Hickenlooper predicted that the taxes, licenses and fees on medical-plus-recreational marijuana would generate $134 million for the fiscal year starting in July.

This gap between projections and the initial data may overstate the shortfall, since the legal marijuana industry could still grow over time as more retail shops open. But just as plausibly, the gap may grow as other states adopt Colorado’s model, diminishing revenue from marijuana tourism.

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Oregon’s war on vaping

March 27, 2014 --

By Jabob Grier, Portland Writergrier-jacob
Liquidity Preference Blog

The Oregon legislature recently failed to pass completely sensible restrictions on selling e-cigarettes to minor, an effort undermined by more extreme anti-smokers who were more intent on banning vaping in workplaces, bars, and restaurants. In today’s Oregonian, I write about lawmakers’ misguided attempt to include e-cigarettes in the smoking ban and their next proposal to impose new taxes on them. An excerpt:

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Oregon set for 100x web speed project

March 26, 2014 --

By Oregon Tax News,Oregon-tax-news

Portland is one of 34 cities slated by Google for Google Fiber expansion, which means its residents could soon browse the Internet at speeds 100 times faster than current broadband capacity allows.

Google Fiber refers to the fiber optic broadband infrastructure Google plans to deploy strategically in cities across the country, including Portland, Atlanta, Phoenix and communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Those who sign up for the service would also be able to download entire seasons of television shows and full-length, high-definition movies in a matter of seconds.
Google Fiber has already been rolled out in Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri, as well as Austin, Texas, giving local residents another option for Internet service. Despite the clear advantages Google Fiber offers in comparison to other service providers, the average monthly cost to consumers are roughly the same or a little less. Google has even sweetened the pot for new customers in its current locations by offering free service for seven years, with a $300 activation fee. Over the course of seven years, the average customer could see savings upwards of $5,000. In addition to increasing competition and driving costs lower for consumers, the speed and power enabled by Google Fiber could have significant impact on the future of educational programs, professional collaboration and medical applications.

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Good-bad of state economic trend

March 25, 2014 --

By Economist Dr. Eric Fruits, Econinternational

State employment numbers came out this week. This ultimately leads to press releases and prognostications that now, things are starting to look better for job seekers.

The good news: At 6.9 percent, Oregon’s unemployment rate fell its lowest rate in more than five years.

The not-so-good news: Oregon’s employment growth is lagging the nation.

The bad news: Oregonians are giving up on work at a more rapid pace than the rest of the US.


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World leading web firm lands in Portland

March 24, 2014 --

By Business Oregonbusinessoregon

A partnership of economic development organizations welcomes the news that Airbnb, the world’s leading community-driven hospitality company, is opening its North American operational headquarters in Portland, Oregon.

Airbnb will employ 160 people at its new offices, expected to open later this summer. The Portland Development Commission (PDC), Business Oregon, Greater Portland Inc (GPI) and Worksystems, Inc., have been working in partnership with Portland Mayor Charlie Hales to bring the company to the region. “This project bolsters an already strong and growing cluster of software firms and technology talent in Portland,” said Patrick Quinton, PDC executive director. “We’re especially pleased to welcome Airbnb to the Oldtown neighborhood and its emerging entrepreneurial scene.”

Airbnb joins a list of software firms that have recently expanded in Oregon, from big names such as, Ebay and Garmin, to homegrown startups such as Puppet Labs, Urban Airship, Viewpoint Construction and Jama Software.

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Medical Device Tax may have cost 100,000 jobs

March 21, 2014 --

By Nat Hentoffhetnoff-nat
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Cato Institute

When I first became a reporter in 1945 for a Boston radio station, a veteran journalist commanded me: “Kid, when you’re on a good developing story, stay on it. Keep digging and updating.”  But now the majority of the media, from print to digital, increasingly do not follow that essential advice on crucial issues, except for a small number of reporters.  Last summer, I reported on physicians Fred Burbank and Thomas J. Fogarty, who had written an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal about a tax to pay for Obamacare that was imposed on U.S. manufacturers of medical devices, which, I wrote, “could potentially short-circuit the lives of the elderly. But what medical device inventors have created is not limited to the aged.”   What might this mean for you?

There is an answer in a short article that ran last month in the New York Post by Henry I. Miller, a physician and Robert Wesson fellow in scientific philosophy and public policy at Stanford’s Hoover Institution.

Miller wrote about “how an obscure tax that helps pay for the program is hammering the U.S. medical-device industry, killing jobs and threatening lifesaving advances.

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Searching for CRC bridge solutions

March 20, 2014 --

Searching for CRC bridge solutions
By Richard Leonetti,Oregon-tax-news
Oregon Tax News

The CRC failed (as pointed out by the Editorial Board) due to the inclusion of light rail. Why not analyze the objection to the light rail and discover that it is a very expensive expenditure for a tourist train. It will not serve as an improved commute option, since the train ride from Vancouver is planned to take more than twice the time as present express buses. With a multi-lane bridge, and some improvements near the Rose Garden, the buses will be even quicker–and far less costly.

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Ore. economy improves – Service, financial sectors lag

March 19, 2014 --

chart-duy-mar13University of Oregon Regional Economic Indexes
By Tim Duy
Oregon Economic Forum
University of  Oregon

The Oregon economy began 2014 on solid footing. Highlights of the report include:

– The Oregon Measure of Economic Activity was 0.26 in January, compared to an upwardly revised 0.38 the previous month. The three-month moving average, which smooths month-to-month volatility in the measure, is 0.38 where “zero” for this measure indicates the average growth rate over the 1990-present period.

– Only the services sector contributed negatively to the measure in January with the financial services component being a substantial drag. In contrast, employment provided a substantial boost to the construction component. The household sector was supported by the initial claims and labor force components.

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Portland’s income drop due to missing college-ed. workers

March 18, 2014 --

By Portland Business Alliance

Value of Jobs Coalition reveals $2.7 billion earnings gap between Portland-metro college-educated workers, U.S. metro average

The Value of Jobs coalition released a groundbreaking study examining Portland-metro’s decline in personal income per capita relative to the U.S. metro average. The findings show that Portland-metro’s college-educated workers earn 10 percent less than the U.S. average, creating a $2.7 billion earnings gap between Portland-metro and the U.S. metro average. What is the largest population segment contributing to the gap? White, college-educated workers, and more specifically, white college-educated males who are working and earning less than their peers. This earnings gap means less money for families and public services, impacting the region’s overall quality of life.

“Ever since our first economic study revealed this disturbing relative decline in our region’s per capita income, we’ve been attempting to identify both the cause and solution for the decline,” said Dennis Rawlinson, firm chair of Miller Nash and chair of the Portland Business Alliance.

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