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Senate passes 2015 Highway funding Act

May 29, 2015 --

Chamber-of-commerceU.S. Chamber of Commerce

U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue issued the following statement regarding Senate passage of H.R. 2353, the “Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2015:”

“While we recognize that passing a short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund through July was a necessary action, it was not a sufficient one. Continuing to kick the can down the road when it comes to funding our nation’s transportation infrastructure threatens the continuity necessary for economic development, international trade, and job creation.  “We need Congress to get its head out of a pothole and immediately turn to identifying and advancing a bipartisan, sustainable, and long-term solution to the Highway Trust Fund. By the end of July, Congress must send to the president a measure that generates the cash flows necessary to supporting continued outlays from the Highway Trust Fund, giving businesses the certainty they need to plan for the future.

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Local firm tops Forbes 100 Wealth Managers List

May 28, 2015 --

Ferguson-WellmanFerguson Wellman,
Portland

Ferguson Wellman Capital Management was named by Forbes Magazine as a top wealth management firm. This is the third year that Ferguson Wellman was represented on the Forbes list.

Specifically, Forbes named Ferguson Wellman 32nd on the “Top 100 Wealth Managers” list. The data for the rankings is provided by RIA Database and is based on the total discretionary assets under management by year-end 2014. Ferguson Wellman is the only firm to be named in Oregon and one of three firms listed that is located in the Pacific Northwest.

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Update on Paid Sick & Minimum wage bills

May 27, 2015 --

Associated Oregon Industries
Oregon’s largest business advocate

In the ongoing battle over the paid sick leave mandate (SB 454 and HB 2005), a new plan has surfaced in the Senate. Although a bill draft has not been made available yet, the Senate’s intention is that the bill would apply to employers of 25 or more workers, with the caveat that local governments could extend the law to smaller employers. Most other requirements of SB 454 are expected to be moved into the new bill, including the requirement that leave accumulate at a rate of one-hour per 30 hours worked, and that workers be able to take leave after 90 days of employment.

In an unrelated twist, the proposal would also lift the statewide preemption on local minimum wage increases. This change to minimum wage law is entirely unrelated to the issue of paid sick leave, and is being included purely to encourage otherwise opposed legislators to support the paid sick leave bill.

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Wyden & Rubio: Student “Know before you go” bill

May 26, 2015 --

Wyden-ron-SenatorOregon Senator Ron Wyden

U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Mark Warner, D-Va.,  introduced legislation that would provide college-bound students powerful new tools for comparing colleges and universities on measures such as total cost, likelihood of graduating, and potential earnings.

“The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act” would, for the first time, make publicly available key facts for each college and university, including earnings data for graduates, graduation rates for non-traditional students, transfer rates, frequency with which graduates go on to pursue higher levels of education, and debt levels.

Under the bill, this information would be made available online in an easily accessible format. Individual privacy would be strictly maintained with safeguards to ensure that no personally identifiable information could ever be disclosed. The system would also be subject to audits to ensure data quality, validity and reliability.

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Blazer launches PDX airport carpet shoe

May 24, 2015 --

Business News Note:

Released this weekend for over $100 Adidas has teamed up with Blazer star Damian Lillard for a new show based ont he design of the replaced Portland Airport carpet.

From Addidas, “Ready for take off. The PDX Carpet inspired edition of the D Lillard 1 basketball shoe pays homage to Portland International Airport’s iconic teal print carpet. The PDX carpet pattern is printed across the shoe’s teal upper while the full-length adiprene+ midsole compliments a purple tonal snakeskin print on the heel, toecap and TECHFIT booty. ”

adidaslilardpdxshow

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Bipartisan support for 40% health care tax repeal

May 22, 2015 --

nfib-logoBy NFIB,

Democrats and Republicans are coming together on a repeal of perhaps the unlikeliest of matters: a portion of the Affordable Care Act.

The repeal centers around a 40 percent tax set to go in effect in 2018. The tax is often referred to as the “Cadillac tax” because it would apply to policies that cost more than $10,200 annually for an individual or $27,500 annually for family coverage. As the National Journal reports, the tax is expected to raise $87 billion over 10 years to finance the nationwide expansion of healthcare coverage.

The tax would, in theory, drive down healthcare costs by encouraging employers to avoid pricier plans. However, small businesses typically pay upward of 18 percent more than others for health insurance. The tax is indexed for general inflation (not healthcare costs) so, as healthcare costs continue to rise, more people will be forced to pay this tax each year.

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Fiber speed race ramps up with CenturyLink’s Portland Prism launch

May 21, 2015 --

centurylinkprismBy Oregon Tax News,

Portland is one of the rare cities that is experiencing a future test of technology while navigating through various legislative and legal hurdles. This month, CenturyLink has launched a cable TV service in Portland, giving Portland viewers an alternative to Comcast for the first time. The cable service, called Prism, is only available where Century Link’s high-capacity fiber-optic network already exists, mainly in Southeast Portland.

Days after the Centurylink launch, Google Fiber sent a team to meet with Portland-Metro area leaders and policy makers to discuss a Google Fiber presence which would provide Gigabit speeds. Last year, a State Supreme Court ruling on a tax case resulted in a tax-unfriendly climate for certain tech companies like Google Fiber. The Oregon Legislature this year fixed that complication. Now the ability for telecommunication companies to compete in a more balanced tax environment has created a renewed interest in investing in Oregon which can be seen with CenturyLink and Google Fiber.

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5 tax bills to watch in Legislature

May 20, 2015 --

Associated Oregon Industries
Oregon’s largest business advocate

Here are the tax-related bills that have the attention of AOI and the business community:

HB 3125 extends the machinery and equipment (M&E) personal property tax exemption for bakeries, egg producers, and dairy producers. The bill is sponsored and being pushed by the Northwest Food Processors Association. The M&E personal property tax exemption is already in place for most of the food production industry – vegetables, fruit, seafood, nuts and legumes. HB 3125 captures the remaining 20% of Oregon food producers. Oregon food producers credit Oregon’s M&E exemption with being a key factor in the recapitalization and revitalization of the industry starting in 2005. Employment in Oregon food production has grown steadily over the past decade, even during the “great recession.” Key Oregon food producers are coming forward to talk about how HB 3125 will incents growth and expansion plans in Oregon relative to other states.

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Belaboring Labor

May 19, 2015 --

Ferguson-Wellman
Shawn Narancich, CFA, VP Research
Ferguson Wellman,
Portland

Investors unnerved by disappointing economic data of late breathed a sigh of relief with the April jobs report, which showed that nonfarm payrolls rebounded to a monthly rate of 223,000 last month. Unemployment dropped again and now stands at 5.4 percent, a rate not too far from the Fed’s definition of the full employment rate of unemployment (somewhere just north of 5 percent.) A “goldilocks” report of sorts that’s neither too hot nor too cold, the April payroll release supports the notion that the Yellen & Co. will likely begin the rate tightening process this fall. As policymakers and investors debate how tight labor markets actually are against a backdrop where the labor force participation rate hovers near its lowest level since the late 1970s, we are increasingly attuned to reported wage rates and the broader employment cost index (ECI). While wage gains remain muted at 2.2 percent in April, the ECI of 2.6 percent released last week demonstrated a notable uptick. When juxtaposed against anecdotal evidence of wage gains at fast food restaurants and retailers, our best guess is that the worm has turned with regard to employment costs this cycle. Because labor accounts for the predominant cost of doing business, the near-zero inflation rates we’ve seen of late appear likely to begin rising. When combined with the recent rebound in oil prices, headline inflation probably rises closer to the Fed’s 2 percent target by year-end.

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Congressmen Blumenauer on 60 Minutes on road funding

May 18, 2015 --

By Taxpayer Foundation of Oregon

Oregon Congressman Earl Blumeneaur was featured on one of the nation’s most watched programs, 60 Minutes, over infrastructure funding for funding of our bridges, roads and rails. The show revives the debate over funding (which can be a complex topic: gas tax changes, per-mile taxes, tolls, reducing waste, spending prioritization, transportation privatization). It must be noted that several congressmen that 60 Minutes tried to interview declined to do so, but Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer was willing and more than able.
See the 9:20 mark.

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