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Last Legislative bills to watch

June 30, 2015 --

Associated Oregon Industries
Oregon’s largest business advocate

As the 2015 Legislative Session struggles to the finish, several bills important to the business community remain on the table. Rather than an in-depth look at just a few bills, this week’s Leading Issues provides an overview of unfinished business. Some bills are good, some are bad, but all of them will impact your ability run a business and provide jobs in Oregon.

Energy & Environment

HB 3470: This is the most controversial environment and energy bill alive. In short, the bill sets aggressive greenhouse gas emission limits and delegates the authority to DEQ to create a program that will change Oregon’s economy without any consumer protections. The bill is awaiting a work session in the House Rules Committee. AOI opposes this legislation.

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NIKE $1B charity breaks record

June 29, 2015 --

The $1 billion NIKE cancer challenge for OHSU set a new United States record for charity. This matching donation was joined by 10,000 donations from every state in the nation. See NIKE co-founder, Phil Knight on Good Morning America.

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Rideshare success in Portland

June 27, 2015 --

Cascade-PolicyBy Steve Buckstein,
Cascade Policy Institute

Call it the smartphone/mobile app economy. Call it the Free World of Ridesharing. Call it the future. Whatever you call it, Uber, Lyft, and a host of smaller innovative companies are quickly transforming the century-long, highly government-regulated transportation market in Portland and around the world. And this is just a subset of a much broader technology-enabled transformation process that paints a vivid picture of what economist Joseph Schumpeter called the essential fact of capitalism: “creative destruction.”

By far the largest of the new ridesharing companies, Uber entered the Portland market uninvited in December 2014 and then stepped back to allow the city government time to revamp its antiquated taxi regulations. In April, the city enacted a four-month pilot program that basically let Uber and its smaller rival Lyft enter the Portland market and removed many regulations from the existing taxi companies.

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Supreme Court: Discrimination ruling poses problems for business

June 26, 2015 --

Chamber-of-commerceU.S. Chamber of Commerce

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness President and CEO David Hirschmann today issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. in the case Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc.:

“The business community supports effective anti-discrimination policies, and will work with regulators and policymakers to make sure our government has the tools to ensure fairness in our housing, credit, and other markets.

“Discrimination has no place in the United States, and the government should be equipped to hold accountable those who practice it. However, disparate impact is ineffective and unfair, and will ultimately harm those it is intended to protect.

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Transgender & Oregon workplace laws

June 25, 2015 --

Ater Wynne LLP
NW Law firm

Given the awkward questions, gossip, and perhaps outright discrimination that may occur when an individual comes out as transgender on the job, it would be understandable if an individual decided to resign rather than continue working through the transition.

With Caitlyn Jenner’s public announcement that she is transgender, it is possible employees will be more comfortable transitioning without changing jobs. This means employers may increasingly grapple with how to accommodate an employee undergoing a transition. In some workplaces, the issues may not be particularly sticky. In others, such as workplaces in which the employees and/or customers are conservative, or in which many different cultures and religions are represented, where employees wear sex-specific uniforms, where employees share locker rooms, and where the employee bathrooms contain multiple semi-private stalls, the issues will be more numerous and more difficult.

In Oregon, transgender employees are protected from discrimination in employment.

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Schrader defends Trade vote

June 24, 2015 --

Congressman Kurt Schrader Kurt-schrader

Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) voted for H.R. 644, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, more commonly known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). The bill passed the House by a vote of 219-211.

“95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States. The state of Oregon set a record last year with over $20 billion in exports. Oregon is the 7th largest trader state in our country — we can’t afford to sit back and let China dictate the terms of trade with Asia’s burgeoning middle class ready to buy American goods. Our small businesses, our farms, our ranches all need the ability to more easily export their goods across the Pacific. These increased exports will create good-paying jobs and boost our economy.”

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Why Oregon shouldn’t repeal the kicker

June 23, 2015 --

nfib-logoBy Jan Meekcoms
Oregon NFIB

Taxpayers could receive almost $473 million in rebates.

Oregon’s kicker rebate system, which is expected to return nearly $473 million to state taxpayers next year, is threatened by new proposals in the legislature.

Under the unique kicker provision in the state’s constitution, Oregon must return to income taxpayers any revenues above predictions if those revenues exceed predictions by 2 percent or more. In May, the amount owed to taxpayers was estimated at almost $473 million, or about $284 for an average family, though the final figure won’t be known until late summer.

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Chart: Housing permits & construction

June 22, 2015 --

By Josh Lehner
Oregon Office of Economic Analysis Blog

Just a quick update on new construction and housing activity.

While one hears and reads much about the current, so-called construction boom, it can be helpful to place the recent numbers in perspective. Within the Portland MSA, only one county – Multnomah – is back to pre-Great Recession levels of building activity. The others are about half-way back. It’s really difficult to call the current levels of permits and starts a boom when you examine the numbers. See here for more on new building relative to population growth. Also, stay tuned for more housing analysis in the near future.Permits_PDX2015

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Central Oregon’s housing crisis

June 19, 2015 --

Ater Wynne LLP
NW Law frim

Central Oregon’s residential property values rose faster in the mid-2000s’ housing bubble and fell harder in the 2008 crash than those in other Oregon areas. Bend, especially, has been a boom-and-bust kind of town since at least the late 1970s. The bust cycle has ended for Bend once again, and once again housing prices are climbing steadily, while the vacancy rate for rentals is less than one percent. Less than five years ago, hundreds of platted residential lots couldn’t be given away, but now land for new development is tight and the scramble is on to meet demand for new housing.

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Small biz returning to normal — yet Oregon at risk

June 18, 2015 --

chart-nfib-june2015By Jan Meekcoms
Oregon NFIB

According to the chief economist for America’s most important group of employers – small-business owners – a normal level of economic activity may finally be here, but the Oregon state director for the same association said today it isn’t due to anything happening in Oregon.

As it does every month, the National Federation of Independent Business, America’s Voice of Small Business, released its Index of Small Business Optimism, which measures the pulse of the nation’s largest employer group—Main Street entrepreneurs. The NFIB Research Foundation has collected Small Business Economic Trends data since 1974, originally publishing them quarterly and then monthly, since 1986. Survey respondents are drawn from NFIB’s membership nationally. The report is released on the second Tuesday of every month. For 41 years, NFIB’s Index of Small Business Optimism has been one of the nation’s bellwether economic barometers, used by the Federal Reserve, congressional leaders, presidential administrations, and state legislators and governors. NFIB has 350,000 dues-paying members across the nation, including 7,500 in Oregon.

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