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Lawsuit filed to stop overtime law

September 30, 2016 --

Chamber-of-commerceU.S. Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, leading a broad coalition including the Texas Association of Business, National Automobile Dealers Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, National Association of Wholesaler Distributors, National Federation of Independent Business, National Retail Federation, and more than 50 other national and Texas business groups, filed a legal challenge to the Obama administration’s overtime rule, arguing that Department of Labor (DOL) exceeded its statutory authority in issuing the regulation and violated the Administrative Procedure Act. The DOL’s rule is currently slated to take effect December 1.

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OHSA’s new post-accident drug test rules

September 29, 2016 --

Barran Liebman
Oregon Law Firm

OSHA’s New Rule Affects Post-Accident Drug Testing Policies
By Nicole Elgin and Sean Ray

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued its final rule to “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses” and to deter retaliation against workers who report injuries. Although the new rule does not specifically address drug testing, the agency’s commentary associated with the rule warns employers that mandatory post-accident testing programs may violate the new rule if they are pretext for retaliation against employees who report injuries.

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Oregon economists see clouds ahead

September 28, 2016 --

Associated Oregon Industries
Oregon’s largest business advocate

Revenue Forecast Reflects Growing Economy with Clouds on Horizon

National and state economic reports produced a mixed-bag of news in the past two weeks. On the positive side, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that household incomes increased 5.2% in 2015, the largest gain since the bureau began tracking income in 1996. Meanwhile, Oregon’s monthly jobs report showed that the state added 4,600 jobs in August, the 50th consecutive month of job gains.

On the negative side, Business Roundtable’s survey of top executives showed declining economic optimism fell in the third quarter amid reduced expectations for sales and hiring. In Oregon, the unemployment rate climbed to 5.4% despite the job gains, up from 5.2% in July.

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Fighting lodging tax creep in Beaverton

September 27, 2016 --

orla-logoA tale of two cities: Seaside & Beaverton
By Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association,

Tourism continues to flourish along Oregon’s coastline and with that success comes efforts by some communities to double down on tourism related investments that can further drive their local economies. The City of Seaside is a prime example of a local government doing it right by proactively engaging their lodging operators at the front end of lodging tax increase discussions.

Due to the success of lodging sales, lodging tax revenue in Seaside has gone up substantially, resulting in double digit increases the past several years. In order to build off that success, the City has proactively reached out to lodging operators about a sizeable renovation to the Seaside Convention Center.

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Are the dog days over?

September 26, 2016 --

Jason-00011_cmyk by Jason Norris, CFA
Executive Vice President of Research
Ferguson Wellman,
A leading Oregon financial firm

Stocks finished the week (9/18 to 9/23) up over one percent as the Fed held steady on rates but provided positive commentary on the U.S. economy. With the lack of Fed action, the 10-year Treasury yield fell 0.06 percent to close the week at 1.63 percent.

After a strong week in the equity market, returns for September may end with a plus sign which would buck historic trends as September has historically been the worst month of the year for returns (see chart below). Fortunately, looking at the calendar indicates the fourth quarter is a good time to be invested.

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Congress shouldn’t repeal debit rule

September 23, 2016 --

NRF-retail-federationBy National Retail Federation

The National Retail Federation asked Congress to reject legislation that would both undermine competition and repeal the Federal Reserve’s cap on debit card swipe fees. The proposed bill would unleash new, higher, hidden swipe fees that could more than double without competitive routing options and the cap that are currently in place. Most consumers want the billions of dollars in savings to remain.

“Billions of dollars that retailers have saved under this cap have been passed on to their customers, and the vast majority of consumers surveyed have made it clear that they want those savings to continue,” NRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mallory Duncan said. “Repealing this important consumer protection measure would drive up the price of almost everything consumers buy and create an unearned windfall for the nation’s largest banks. Big banks can’t be allowed to take yet another bite out of the consumer spending that drives the nation’s economy.”

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Measure 97: Any Pinocchios Yet?

September 22, 2016 --

oregon-econbomics-blog-logoBy Fred Thompson,
Oregon Economics Blog

So far, my criticisms have been directed to the pro-97 camp – to claims like Gov. Brown’s that “there is a basic unfairness in our tax system that makes working families pay an increasing share for state and local services.” Not so. Oregon has long had one of the US’s least regressive state and local tax systems and recent changes have increased its progressivity. For example, the state already has the nation’s highest capital-gains tax rate. And, even if it were so, Measure 97 wouldn’t make the tax system fairer, but would cause ‘working families’ to pay more for government services and to pay for them more regressively.

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Oregon: 3rd fastest growing household income

September 21, 2016 --

By Josh Lehner
Oregon Office of Economic Analysis Blog

The big economic news last week wasn’t our office’s forecast, but the big jump in median household incomes nationwide. Two separate reports showed two different numbers: the Current Population Survey gains were 5.2% and the American Community Survey gains were 3.8%. The big takeaway isn’t the differences but the strong growth seen in both. The recovery is finally translating into income gains for the majority of households. In fact, per the CPS data, the largest percentage increases in incomes were seen at the lower end of the income spectrum. This coincided with a relatively large decline in the poverty rate as well, as would be expected. Overall certainly good news and a welcome reprieve from lackluster to declining incomes in recent years. What is driving the results? I’ll let Jed Kolko, writing at Calculated Risk, explain:

Most of the jump in median household income, therefore, appears to be rising earnings, with rising employment playing an important supporting role. The labor market improved for workers on both of these fronts: the rise in median household income is indeed good news.

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Sen. Wyden featured in Snowden film

September 20, 2016 --

Sen. Wyden featured in Snowden film
By Oregon Small Business Association

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden has now been seen in two major motion pictures in the past two years over a single question. First it was the 2016 Oscar winning documentary on Eric Snowden entitled The Fourth Citizen. The film features a news clip showing a Senate Hearing where Ron Wyden asks James Clapper (NSA Director) if the NSA ever collects the personal data of millions of Americans. Clapper responds with a no — which is contrary to what leaked NSA documents reveal. This very same Wyden news clip is featured in the recently released Snowden film by Oliver Stone.  Wyden’s name also gets mentioned elsewhere in the film. The news clip seen in both films can be seen below (at 30 second mark).

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Reading the Fed’s Tea Leaves

September 19, 2016 --

deidra-ferguson-wellmanby Deidra Krys-Rusoff
Senior Vice President
Ferguson Wellman,
A leading Oregon financial firm

Despite volatility, the stock market appears to heading for a slight gain of around 0.5 percent for the week [12th-16th]. Bond yields trended higher, with the benchmark 10-year trading at 1.66 percent versus last Friday’s level of 1.57 percent. The core Consumer Price Index topped expectations in August, rising 0.2 percent versus expectations of 0.1 percent. Retail sales unexpectedly declined 0.3 percent and industrial production fell 0.4 percent.

Reading the Fed’s Tea Leaves

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