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Senator Wyden on Cuba

December 31, 2014 --

Wyden-ron-SenatorOregon Senator Ron Wyden

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden issued the following statement  praising President Obama’s announcement of new steps to open up relations with the Cuban people:

“I applaud the President for today’s announcement and for taking these historic steps to normalize relations with Cuba. I have long believed that trade and engagement are liberalizing forces and I look forward to working with my colleagues and with our diplomats to bring about the progress in Cuba that we all want to see. I am also pleased to hear that imprisoned American citizen Alan Gross has been allowed to return to the United States, and that the U.S. and Cuba have separately agreed to an exchange of captured intelligence agents.

For more than a half-century, the United States has sought to isolate Cuba diplomatically and economically and bring down the Castro regime. By any metric, that policy has failed. At some point, policy makers must put aside personal ideology, look at the historical record, and reassess. In my judgment, that point is now.

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Oregon’s all-time high employment

December 30, 2014 --

Patrick Emerson PhD ,

OSU Economist
Oregon Economics Blog

Oregon’s employment is at an all-time high, according to the Oregon Employment Department.  More impressive, perhaps, is that November recorded an all time record increase in new jobs at 11,200.  The unemployment rate remains at 7.0% which is itself, ironically, a good sign as it means that lots of folks are returning to the job market and looking for jobs.

It looks like the recovery is finally and truly here and the low price of oil will certainly help this as

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Portland should embrace Uber, consumer choice

December 29, 2014 --

By Steve Buckstien,
Cascade Policy Institute

In November, Beaverton, Gresham, Hillsboro, and Tigard, Oregon joined Vancouver, Washington in welcoming ridesharing juggernaut Uber to operate legally in their cities. Conspicuously absent from this list was the region’s largest city, Portland, which became virtually surrounded by the smartphone app transit economy. Then, on the evening of December 5, Uber began operating without permission in Portland, in effect daring the authorities to stop it.*

If Soviet East Berlin couldn’t keep Western freedom out by building its infamous Wall, what chance does Portland have keeping its residents from exercising their freedom to choose ridesharing within arbitrary lines on a map?

Until now, most major cities have granted virtual monopolies to a few taxicab companies on the assumption that government must protect both the livelihoods of drivers and the safety and convenience of passengers within their jurisdictions. Economists will tell you that here, and in virtually every government-regulated industry, “the regulated end up capturing the regulators.” In this case the taxicab companies end up influencing government regulators to protect them from competition at the expense of the public.

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Metro jobs rebound, incomes still lag

December 24, 2014 --

By Portland Business Alliance

A coalition of business and civic leaders released the latest in a series of economic studies examining how the Portland-metro region is performing compared to the U.S. metro average and other comparable metro areas. The study shows that the Portland-metro region has gained back the jobs lost in the recession, but median household incomes still falls below the pre-recession levels. This year’s report also shines a light on job growth relative to population growth, revealing that Portland-metro’s employment per capita has been on a decline for more than a decade.

“This report shows that jobs are back, and that is great news,” said Sandra McDonough, president & CEO of the Portland Business Alliance. “However, lagging wages continue to impact families. And, in an income-tax-dependent state like Oregon, lower incomes means less revenue for important public services like education. We need to make sure we keep a focus on growing and retaining quality jobs that can support families, especially those critically important middle-income jobs.”

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What Cuba news means for cigars

December 23, 2014 --

By Jabob Grier, Portland Writer
Cocktail consultant, magician, blogger.
Liquidity Preference Blog

The announcement of more normal diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba is welcome news for many reasons, but the one that seems to spring to mind for many is that Cuba’s most famous export, cigars, may finally become legally available in the United States. If only it were that simple. Here are three obstacles to getting Cuban tobacco into the US.

1. The embargo is still in place.

The new rules allow American travelers to return with up $400 of Cuban goods, of which only $100 worth can be alcohol or tobacco for personal use. This is still a long way from allowing commercial import. As before, any significant trade in Cuban cigars will be on the black market.

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Cybersecurity? Mr. President sign this!

December 22, 2014 --

By Technology Association of Oregon.

Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2014 was passed to the President for his signature. This is a comprehensive Act that has gotten broad industry and consumer advocacy support. The Bill and now the Act has been around for a while and it has been modified in both houses and received a tremendous amount of commentary. It is a good piece of legislation.

Since late 2013 I have been actively involved with the development of the Center for Cyber Excellence in the State of Oregon. Currently there is a Bill begin prepared for the State’s 2015-2016 biennium and I am hopeful that we will soon have a single source of support in the state for Cyber related activities.

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Opposition to labor’s “ambush election” rule

December 19, 2014 --

Chamber-of-commerceU.S. Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce expressed strong opposition to the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) re-issuing of its “ambush election” rule, which would impose sweeping changes to the process used to conduct union elections in the workplace.

“It is a shame that the NLRB would expend its resources in this manner, creating more confusion and uncertainty under our nation’s labor laws, rather than focusing on initiatives that would invigorate a still-underperforming economy and encourage job growth,” said Randy Johnson, the Chamber’s senior vice president of Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits. “Instead, the NLRB has decided once again to issue a rule that will make it significantly more difficult for employers—especially those at small business—to respond to union campaigns.”

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Oregon shouldn’t meddle in private business retirements

December 18, 2014 --

whitsett-doug-senatorBy State Senator Doug Whitsett,

It is often said that bad ideas are never truly defeated in the legislative process; they simply remain dormant until being resurrected in a different form for a future Legislature to debate.

House Bill 3436 is one of those very bad ideas. It was introduced and deliberated during the 2013 Legislative session to establish government-sponsored retirement plans for private sector employees.

It was strongly supported by State Treasurer Ted Wheeler as well as by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Association of Retired People (AARP). In fact, Wheeler was presented with the “2014 Legislator of the Year Award” by the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems for his strong advocacy for their policies.

HB 3436 was promoted under the guise of providing private sector employees with opportunities for better retirement security. That concept may certainly appeal to the uninformed who may be anxious about their long-term financial stability.

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Nike sues ex-designers for intellectual property theft

December 17, 2014 --

Nike2Nike sues three former designers for theft of intellectual property
By Oregon Small Business Association

Nike has sued three of its former top designers for $10 million for violating their non-compete agreements and stealing intellectual property. The three senior designers Denis Dekovic, Marc Dolce, and Mark Miner are accused of stealing sensitive design and business documents, including drawings for an unreleased shoe, and taking them to Nike’s German rival, Adidas. Nike claims that the designers started consulting for Adidas last April while they were still employed at Nike, a violation of their non-compete agreements. Nike also alleges that the three attempted to hide incriminating evidence by erasing emails and text messages from their work-issued cell phones and laptops. The same month that the trio left Nike, Adidas announced that they would staff its new urban footwear design studio in Brooklyn. Nike claims that the Brooklyn studio is a knock-off of their own top secret Innovation Kitchen.

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State AG’s eye crackdown on telemarketers

December 16, 2014 --

Davis Dwight & Tremaine LLP
Oregon business law firm

A majority of the nation’s state and territorial Attorneys General have collectively urged the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission to revisit rules and policies in ways that would help law enforcement crack down on telemarketing practices.

Recently, the FCC issued a public notice seeking comment on a request by the National Association of Attorneys General and 39 undersigned state law enforcement executives (referred to collectively here as “NAAG”).  The petition seeks a formal FCC opinion on the legal ability of telephone providers to implement call-blocking technology to combat unwanted telemarketing. In their request, NAAG noted that while call-blocking technology such as “NoMoRobo,” “Call Control,” and “Telemarketing Guard” currently exist on the market, telecom companies are reluctant to employ such devices to stop unwanted telemarketing from reaching consumers due to perceived legal barriers. According to telecom industry representatives, “phone companies have a legal obligation to complete phone calls” and the current legal framework “does not allow [them] to decide for the consumer which calls should be allowed to go through and which should be blocked.”

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