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Oregon nets $68M in Volkswagen case

June 30, 2016 --

logo-attorneygeneral-deptjustice222By Oregon Attorney General,

Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum  announced two separate settlements with Volkswagen relating to emissions fraud. A federal settlement will require Volkswagen to pay more than $68 million into a trust to support diesel emission reduction programs in Oregon. The federal settlement also includes cash payments to Oregon consumers who purchased a falsely marketed vehicle, and will require VW to buy back or fix certain VW and Audi diesel vehicles.

A separate multistate settlement reached by Attorney General Rosenblum and 37 other Attorneys General will require VW to pay $570 million for violating state laws prohibiting unfair or deceptive trade practices, including a payment of more than $17 million to Oregon. Oregon was among six states that led this investigation, in part because Oregon has the highest per-capita ownership of the affected VW vehicles in the nation.

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Portland’s Ban the Box goes into effect

June 29, 2016 --

bullard-law2By Benjamin P. O’Glasser
Bullard Law,
Portland law firm

In December we wrote about Portland’s “Ban the Box” ordinance. This month the City Council approved administrative rules that will guide enforcement when the ordinance goes into effect on July 1, 2016. The ordinance and rules generally apply to employers of six or more persons and to positions that will require work within Portland for more than half of the employee’s time.

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Oregon’s Housing Trilemma

June 28, 2016 --

By Josh Lehner
Oregon Office of Economic Analysis Blog

Every city wants to have a strong local economy, high quality of life and housing affordability for its residents. Unfortunately these three dimensions represent the Housing Trilemma. A city can achieve success on two but not all three at the same time. Underlying all of these tradeoffs are local policies as well. Inspired by Kim-Mai Cutler and Cardiff Garcia, I set out to try and quantify the Housing Trilemma across the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas. It turns out to be very real. Just eight rank among the top half for all three dimensions of the Housing Trilemma. None rank among the Top 20 in all three. Unless you prefer living on the Great Plains, that list of eight metros lacks sizzle*.

Update: All 100 MSAs fall within the Venn diagram below. The metros listed are to show some individual metros that are representative of each part of the diagram. For example, New York City slots in right between San Francisco and Portland. Kansas City is just to the right of Oklahoma City. And so forth. Email me if you would like a version with your metro on it.

Trilemma

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Brexit will rattle our economy

June 27, 2016 --

eric-fruitsBy Dr. Eric Fruits,
Oregon Economist
On Demand Newsletter

Britain’s exit from the EU will rattle the U.S. economy

U.K. voters yesterday elected to exit from the European Union. This is a major shake up for the U.K. and the rest of Europe and is almost certain to rustle, rattle, and otherwise jolt the U.S. economy.

The first impacts will be seen in foreign exchange markets as skittish investors pull out of U.K. and European markets to put their money in the safety of U.S. assets. Several economists predict the impacts of Brexit on the U.S. will be confined to our financial markets. Nevertheless, the result will be a rising dollar relative to the pound and the euro.

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Business fret Net Neutrality court decision

June 24, 2016 --

Chamber-of-commerceU.S. Chamber of Commerce

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President for Environment, Technology, & Regulatory Affairs Bill Kovacs issued the following statement regarding the D.C. Circuit decision to uphold the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality rules:

“By upholding the FCC’s net neutrality rules, three unelected commissioners are essentially transforming an entire industry—in this case the Internet—from an innovative, lightly regulated enterprise that made huge investments into this country, into a public utility subject to the whims of regulators.

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50% fastest growing firms are in this field

June 23, 2016 --

Oregon Employment Department,

At the broad occupation group level, construction (21%) and health care (19%) top the list for fastest growing by 2024. In terms of fastest growing, half of the top 20 fastest growing occupations are in the health care field.

Service occupations (which include protective services, building and grounds cleaning, personal appearance workers, funerals service workers and more), and professional and related (computer occupations, engineers, drafters, scientists, education, and more) rank first in most job openings.

Service occupations made up 18 percent of the jobs in 2014, and are projected to comprise 22 percent of the openings over the decade. Office and administrative support shifted in the opposite direction, making up 15 percent of the jobs in 2014 but only 11 percent of the total openings over the 2014 to 2024 period.

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Tax Creep invades Tourism

June 22, 2016 --

By Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association,

Fighting Lodging Tax Creep

In virtually every corner of the state, local and county governments seem to have their eyes fixed on lodging taxes and opportunities to raise them. The recent successes of the lodging industry are being widely reported as more tourists find themselves drawn to Oregon’s wide ranging spectacles. And we of course welcome them with open arms as growth and sales continue to increase.

However, the success we currently enjoy cannot continue in perpetuity. We have been incredibly fortunate in the prolonged status of the current economic recovery and we realize the next recession is not a matter of if but a matter of when.

This distinction seems to be lost on our local and regional representatives who sometimes view the lodging sector as an easy target for their general fund woes. Why not add an extra percent to the local lodging tax to solve our ‘XYZ’ revenue shortfall? Can’t they just pass the tax on to their guests?

If only it were that simple. As “lodging tax creep” continues throughout the state, we’re finding the need for a renewed commitment to support our local and regional stakeholders who are fighting the urge of local governments to tack on more tax burden on the administrative shoulders of our industry.

For one, we’re already making it very clear that we will be strongly opposed to lodging tax increases moving forward unless there is local support from the lodging community. To that end, we are encouraging local governments to reach out to their local lodging stakeholders as a crucial first step if they feel they have a case for why a local lodging tax rate should be adjusted.

Cost drivers within government are strapping city managers and city councils who are determined to balance their budgets. These significant rises in expenses continue to be driven by pension and healthcare obligations that require more revenue as retirees live longer lives and as healthcare premiums continue to rise.
We fully understand these challenges and openly welcome conversations with local governments that feel the lodging tax is somehow a piece of the answer to these challenges.

Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association created a “Tourism Best Practices” handout as part of our renewed effort to carefully track lodging tax creep across Oregon. This document is one tool that can be used by lodging operators to help explain the important symbiotic relationship our industry shares with local government partners.

Our success is their success until lodging tax creep gets out of control. I believe we are on the brink of crossing that unsustainable threshold and as a result, we need to be more aggressive in protecting local governments from biting the hand that they rely upon for sustained tourism promotion as well as partial general fund support.

If you are aware of lodging tax creep in your community, please contact us at Advocacy@OregonRLA.org. | Jason Brandt, President & CEO

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Solving Oregon’s youth job crisis

June 21, 2016 --

nfib-logoBy NFIB

Oregon’s economy has recovered since the recession, but younger workers lag behind.

If younger generations are our future, that future might not be so bright if current trends continue.

Oregon had the fourth-highest youth unemployment rate in 2015 at 22.2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2015 Current Population Survey.

To address the issue, a group devised of representatives from different labor and business organizations, including NFIB, met for the first time on May 26.

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BOLI’s final Minimum Wage change

June 20, 2016 --

Barran Liebman
Oregon Law Firm

BOLI Issues Final Rule on Oregon’s New Minimum Wage Law
By Amy Angel and Nicole Elgin

Oregon’s new tiered minimum wage law is poised to go into effect on July 1. The new scheme divides the state into three wage regions (Portland Metro, “nonurban” counties, and everywhere else) and requires employers to pay employees minimum wages based on the employer’s location. Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI) was tasked with defining the “employer’s location” for purposes of determining the applicable region and minimum wage rate. BOLI’s Final Rule deviates significantly from its Proposed Rule but generally still requires employers to pay employees based on where work is performed.

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Your liable for workers outside your control

June 17, 2016 --

nfib-logoBy NFIB

The National Labor Relations Board new joint employer standard would make small businesses liable for unlawful labor practices committed by entities completely outside of their control, said the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) in a brief filed before the D.C. Court of Appeals.

“The NLRB’s new standard completely muddles the definition of an employer and creates a huge wave of uncertainty,” said NFIB Small Business Legal Center Executive Director Karen Harned. “This is a major concern for small, independent businesses because it will create a severe disincentive to contract with smaller firms. No rational business owner is going to risk a hefty lawsuit for employees that they have not hired.

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