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Gas prices, greed & common good

March 31, 2015 --

gaspriceBy William B. Conerly, Ph.D.
Guest article from Cascade Policy Institute

Why have gasoline prices come down so much? Certainly global prices for crude oil have dropped, but why did the local gas station operator drop prices that you and I pay? A year ago I filled my tank for $3.32 and nine-tenths. If I was willing to pay that price last year, why does he charge me a dollar a gallon less this year? The answer is greed.

Yes, my gas station owner is a greedy man. If he had left his price unchanged in the past year, wouldn’t he be making an extra dollar a gallon profit? (The average markup of gasoline over wholesale costs and taxes is just 17 cents, so an extra dollar would be a huge gain.) Well, the gas station owner would like to leave prices high, but greed gets in the way of his profit.

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How new casino near Portland could impact Oregon

March 30, 2015 --

By Josh Lehner
Oregon Office of Economic Analysis Blog
The Columbian is reporting that the Cowlitz Tribe now has a reservation in La Center, Wash. after a decade-long legal battle. I do not know enough about the legal process, taking land in trust, potential challenges and the like to comment on the specifics of it. However, from a state revenue perspective the impact on Oregon video lottery sales is likely to be similar to the previously proposed Wood Village, Ore. casino. Of course the Wood Village proposals were voted down decidedly by Oregonians (68% No in 2010, 72% No in 2012) but Oregonians do not get to vote on the La Center casino, obviously. Three points for now.

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Political survey cover doesn’t allow robocalls to avoid No-Call list

March 26, 2015 --

Davis Dwight & Tremaine LLP
Oregon business law firm

FTC and State AGs: Political Survey Preface Does Not Allow Sales Robocalls to Avoid Do-Not-Call and Telemarketing Sales Rule Compliance
By Ronald G. London and Bryan Thompson
Marketing and Consumer Privacy

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 10 state Attorneys General announced the filing of a complaint and proposed stipulations against Caribbean Cruise Line (CCL) and several other companies that, respectively, alleged and resolved claims that the companies’ coordinated phone sales program violated the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and state consumer protection laws. The enforcement action targeted what the regulators characterized as “billions of illegal robocalls” that allegedly sold cruise vacations in tandem with automated political surveys. The companies settled the charges by agreeing to millions in civil penalties – most of which were suspended under agreement to actual payments of over $500,000 by the companies – and to comply with the TSR’s do-not-call, caller ID, and other provisions, along with a duty to monitor lead generators on an ongoing basis.

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Sen. Hass, Rep. McLane: Historic Tech Tax upgrade

March 25, 2015 --

hassmclaneBy Taxpayer Association of Oregon Foundation

A rare bipartisan effort for a major tax reform has been advanced with SB 661 which aims to fix Oregon’s 1800’s tax structure that finds itself destroying 21st Century technology. Two lawmakers stand-out on this issue, State Senator Mark Hass who began and championed the bill through the Senate and State Representative Mike McLane who made this issue a signature vision going back to several years to a problem within his own district.

The problem behind Oregon’s dysfunctional assessment code began in 2012 when Facebook saw their 333,400 square foot data center & rural Oregon job hiring plans derailed by a surprise tax threat that took their taxes from $26,000 to $360,000 based on a sudden change in intangible tax. It caught Re. McLane’s attention as well as the entire state — including the nearly 100 data centers in Oregon. The dysfunctional tax structure has far-reaching impacts on many technology companies. For instance, if Google Fiber wished to spend $300 million expanding into Oregon, it would cost them $91 million in taxes. Cable is hits hard as well, as Comcast finds Oregon among the costliest in the state, three times just to be in Oregon, which end up hindering their efforts to provide more choices and more economical prices to its customers.

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Small Business fear HB 3177 & billions in taxes

March 24, 2015 --

osba-logoSmall Business owners are concerned over HB 3177 which could lead to a fast and furious rise in new taxes.
By Oregon Small Business Association

Oregon Small Business is concerned over HB 3177 which would reduce the threshold for State Lawmakers to raise taxes by eliminating tax cuts, deductions, credits and other tax expenditures with a simple vote majority as opposed to current law which is a 3/5th majority. There are billions of dollars of new tax increases when you consider how changes in Employer Paid Medical Benefits, Home interest deductions, Intangible Personal Property, corporate & personal income exemptions are made or outright revoked.  It is disconcerting that under this bill a multi-billion dollar tax could be passed with fewer votes than a standard tax because it was achieved by removing a tax expenditure.

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Con. Schrader: Bill to cut regulation


U.S. Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) joined Congressmen Patrick E. Murphy (FL-18) and Mick Mulvaney (SC-05) to introduce the Regulatory Improvement Act of 2015, bipartisan legislation to reform the Federal Code of Regulations by creating a commission tasked with eliminating and revising outdated and redundant federal regulations. The measure has broad support, with 14 members of Congress from both parties joining in the introduction. Last week, Senators Angus King (I-ME), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced the companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.

“As a former small business owner, I’m committed to ensuring that government regulations don’t strangle economic growth,” said Congressman Schrader. “We clearly have too many regulations on the books and it’s high time we task a group with reviewing them with a fine tooth comb to determine which are repetitive or no longer relevant. This legislation is as commonsense as it gets and the bipartisan coalition supporting it speaks to that.”

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Chart: Oregon estate taxes

March 23, 2015 --

By Josh Lehner
Oregon Office of Economic Analysis Blog

Death and taxes, right? Literally, in this case. In all seriousness, Oregon’s estate and inheritance tax is one that our office has trouble with in recent years. We did not initially build in a large enough drop in revenues due to the housing market collapse (many households that are impacted by the estate tax still have a sizable portion of their wealth tied up in the home itself.) In recent months our office has been having errors in the other direction as revenues are coming in above forecast (although still below the previous Close of Session outlook.)


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Beyond smartphone era is Augmented Reality

March 20, 2015 --

Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray, discusses Apple’s possible plans which include following Google and Facebook into their investment plans into augmented reality technology. Augmented reality helps to blend information and people’s reality in real-time. Watch the video clip below.

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Rep. Post: End “Anti-Lunch” law in workplace

March 19, 2015 --

postbillState Representative Bill Post on HB 2969: Ending anti-lunch law for smoke-shop employees
By Taxpayer Association of Oregon Foundation

Bill Post has a bill (HB 2969) that would give certain employees the right to eat lunch at their own job. The “right to lunch” legislation stems from a problem arising out of the implementation of the Indoor Clean Air Act. The Act prohibited the service of food or drink in a place that sells tobacco. Some businesses were grandfathered in, but others were not. The inflexibility of the law created absurd circumstances where smoke shop workers were committing a crime if they ate their own lunch in their workplace. Eating a tuna sandwich technically became breaking the law. One interpretation had that even drinking coffee or water was an unlawful activity.

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State meddles into private business pensions

March 18, 2015 --

nfib-logoBy Jan Meekcoms
Oregon NFIB

State Retirement Plan Bad Idea For Everyone Involved
“No other state has implemented such a plan because of these obstacles”

March 12, 2015—Testimony on the House version of two bills that would put the state of Oregon in the business of managing retirement plans for the private sector are currently being heard in the House.

“Legislators would be wise to think long and hard about the possibly perilous road they could send Oregon down,” said Jan Meekcoms, Oregon state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, America’s largest and leading small-business association with 350,000 members nationwide, including more than 7,000 in the state. NFIB is part of a 23-member coalition hoping to be heard on why allowing the State Treasurer’s office to create an Oregon Retirement Savings Board is expensive, duplicative, complicated and needless.

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