10 Business Bills in Oregon Legislature

By J.L. Wilson
Associated Oregon Industries

SB 301 – Connection to the Federal Tax Code for Business Tax Incentives
AOI Position: Support
Passage of SB 301 has been the biggest achievement of the business community in the early going of the 2011 Legislative Session. SB 301 connects Oregon businesses to key federal tax incentives for purchasing capital equipment and putting it into operation. Under the bill, Oregon companies can now take advantage of accelerated depreciation for capital purchases and increased Section 179 expensing allowances offered by the federal government.
How SB 301 impacts jobs in Oregon: SB 301 is a significant job creation bill. It allows for easier compliance with state and federal tax laws, but more importantly, it incents the purchase of capital equipment for use in Oregon companies. Capital investment is a key job creator in Oregon.

HB 2700 – New Infrastructure Projects
AOI Position: Support
The passage of this bill will ensure important public works projects such as road, highways, rail lines, and underground utilities and pipelines are not delayed because they can’t meet the legal definition of the word “applicant” to apply for key permits. Without this bill, vital infrastructure projects would be shelved altogether because they wouldn’t be able to apply for essential permits without drastic land condemnation proceedings.
How HB 2700 impacts jobs in Oregon: This bill alone has the ability to attract billions of dollars of investment in Oregon for needed infrastructure and pipeline projects and all the jobs these projects require.

SB 625 – Reduces Oregon’s Uncompetitive Capital Gains Taxes
AOI Position: Support
The passage SB 625 would unlock capital investment in Oregon. Oregon taxes capital gains at an uncompetitive 11% – the highest rate in the nation. Washington, by contrast, levies no capital gains taxes. Which state would you rather invest your capital and start a business? Oregon needs to attract job creators with capital to invest. SB 625 would reduce Oregon’s capital gains tax to 5% to encourage investment in Oregon. It gets to the heart of why Oregon’s employment rate and incomes lag national averages.
How SB 625 impacts jobs in Oregon: Increased investment leads to more business capital in Oregon. Business capital creates the need for more jobs. The demand for more jobs increases wages.

HB 2657 – Tax Credits for Capital Improvements
AOI Position: Support
HB 2657 would create an income tax credit for certified capital improvements to businesses or homes. The capital improvement must be at least $5,000 for homes and at least $25,000 for businesses.
How HB 2657 impacts jobs in Oregon: This bill provides incentives for people to invest in and significantly improve their homes and businesses with capital upgrades, which creates jobs for manufacturers, retailers and workers who perform the labor on these jobs.

HB 3494 (and like bills) – Extends Enterprise Zone Program
AOI Position: Support
Enterprise zones are an important economic development tool that is available to Oregon communities with low median incomes or high unemployment rates. In exchange for locating or expanding into an enterprise zone, eligible businesses are exempted from property taxes for three to five years. The program is currently scheduled to expire in 2013. HB 3494 extends the sunset date to 2023.
How HB 3494 impacts jobs in Oregon: In 2009 and 2010 alone, enterprise zones resulted in 163 projects, $1.8 billion in invested capital and over 6,500 new full-time jobs. It has a proven record of incenting meaningful job creation.

HB 3450 – Eliminates 2-Week Job Waiting Period
AOI Position: Support
Current law requires employees to wait two full weeks before starting work if an employer’s employment policies require binding arbitration for workplace disputes as a condition of employment. Most employers do have such a requirement. HB 3450 eliminates this unnecessary two week waiting period so employees can begin work right away.
How HB 3450 impacts jobs in Oregon: Allows employers to put employees on the job faster. Allows employees to start their new jobs sooner.

SB 624 – Liens on Business Property
AOI Position: Oppose
This bill would allow any employee or former employee who alleges to have a wage claim to file for a lien against an employer’s property. The bill would have the effect of tying up an employer’s assets for up to six years – adversely affecting an employers’ credit rating and affecting the ability to buy or sell property – all for an allegation of a wage claim.
How SB 624 impacts jobs in Oregon: Who would want to ever locate a business in Oregon if you knew your assets could be tied up with liens because of unsubstantiated wage claims?

HB 2624 – Prevailing Wage Mandate in Enterprise Zones
AOI Position: Oppose
Mandates that higher prevailing wages must be paid for construction projects in Enterprise Zones. Oregon’s Enterprise Zone law is critical in attracting businesses to locate facilities in Oregon by using property tax incentives. Enterprise zones are used specifically in economically depressed areas of the state. Why would Oregon then turn around and make it prohibitively expensive to actually build a facility and locate a company in an Enterprise Zone? HB 2624 would undermine the effectiveness of Oregon’s Enterprise Zone law and jobs it creates.
How HB 2624 impacts jobs in Oregon: Enterprise Zones exist to incent companies to locate in Oregon and create local jobs. HB 2624 negates the entire purpose of Enterprise Zones by making it uncompetitive to build and locate in one.

SB 663 – Mortgage Lending Restrictions
AOI Position: Oppose
Prohibits Oregon mortgage lenders from selling, assigning, or transferring a mortgage loan to another lender for five years upon closure of the loan. Under SB 663, Oregon lenders would have no ability to free up the necessary capital to make loans. Given that many start-up businesses are funded with credit cards and home equity loans, this bill would cast a large cloud over entrepreneurial activity in Oregon and would effectively destroy the mortgage lending industry in Oregon.
How SB 663 impacts jobs in Oregon: In addition to shutting down the home loan industry in Oregon and all the jobs it creates, SB 663 would diminish access to a critical source of capital for new businesses. Many start-up entrepreneurs use home equity to start new ventures.

HB 2355 – New Taxes for Government Disability Insurance
AOI Position: Oppose
This bill establishes a new government disability insurance program by enacting new mandatory taxes on Oregon workers. The new insurance program would be run by Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries. HB 2355 would impose a new tax on workers to pay for co-workers to take up to 52 weeks off work for a variety of leave opportunities. Only one other state, California, has this type of program.

How HB 2355 impacts jobs in Oregon: Another tax burden on workers, and potentially employers. What happens when the government program runs out of money? More taxes? New payroll taxes on employers? Such a proposal would be yet another step to make Oregon companies uncompetitive.

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