12 bills to boost Oregon jobs, economy

By  J.L. Wilson
Associated Oregon Industries

With the unemployment rate in Oregon stuck above the national average – and incomes far below the national average – AOI believes the Legislature has the opportunity to make substantial investments in industrial site readiness, core infrastructure and brownfields redevelopment, investments that will spur immediate job creation and lay the groundwork for future economic growth.

There are also a number of other outstanding bills remaining that will improve Oregon’s job climate.

AOI believes the following 12 legislative items are the best available legislation left in the 2013 session to help grow Oregon’s economy:

Industrial Lands Site Readiness (SB 246) – would create a forgivable loan program within Business Oregon, where a portion of the loans made for the preparation of an industrial site would be forgiven. The forgiven amount can equal the lessor of 50% of the site preparation costs or 50% of the new income taxes generated on the site. The bill also includes a tax reimbursement program, where the preparation costs incurred by a local government would be fully paid back through 50% of the new income taxes generated on the site. Preparation costs eligible for loan forgiveness or reimbursement would be determined by Business Oregon, but would include site aggregation, transportation improvements, water and sewer infrastructure, natural resource or environmental mitigation and site grading.
ASK: General Fund money for the Fiscal

Due Diligence Grants (SB 253) – would provide grants to local governments to perform due diligence assessments of local industrial sites.
ASK: $3 million from the Administrative Services Economic Development Fund

Recapitalization of Brownfields Redevelopment Fund (HB 3030) – would recapitalize the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund (BRF), which will likely have an unallocated balance of around $50,000 by the end of the biennia. The program is a critical source of grant and loan funding for local governments and private developers who want to assess and redevelop brownfield sites.
ASK: $10 million in General Fund money

Special Public Works Fund (HB 5028) – provides financial assistance through grants and loans to help local governments finance basic infrastructure needs, including drinking water, stormwater and wastewater systems, as well as funding for transportation projects.
ASK: $25 million in Lottery-backed bond funding

Regional Solutions (HB 5028) – would fund investments in local, regional and statewide economic development and infrastructure projects. Of the $50 million requested in the governor’s recommended budget, $20 million would be allocated proportionally for the state’s 10 Regional Solutions teams, giving every corner of the state the opportunity to invest in important economic development projects. The remaining funds would be allocated for priority regional development initiatives.
ASK: $50 million in Lottery-backed bond and/or General Fund money

ConnectOregon (HB 2310/SB 260) – provides grant and loan funds for multimodal transportation projects. Funding for this program would almost immediately put Oregonians to work, while also creating a safer, more efficient and more reliable transportation network throughout Oregon. Demand for ConnectOregon funding in the current biennium has far exceeded the amount appropriated.
ASK: $60-$100 million in Lottery-backed-bond funding and/or General Fund money

Oregon Growth Board (HB 2323 and HB 2333) – establish and fund the Oregon Growth Board, whose goal is to improve availability and access to capital for Oregon businesses, as well as to state loan and technical assistance programs so that employers can reach their job-creating potential.
ASK: $5 million in General Fund money

Oregon Innovation Council (HB 2330) – provides funding for grants and loans for innovative economic development.
ASK: $5 million in General Fund money

Workers’ Comp Liability Fix for LLCs (SB 678/HB 2923) – would reinstate the workers’ comp exclusive remedy protections for LLC owners and members that were stripped away by the Oregon Court of Appeals 2012 decision in Cortez v Nacco.

Franchise Agreement Clarification (HB 3095) – provides clarity that a franchise agreement between a franchisor and a franchisee business owner does not constitute an employment relationship. There are over 10,000 franchise businesses in Oregon that employ over 100,000 Oregonians. Franchise business owners are not intended to be employees of the franchisor.

Work-Ready Communities (HB 3038) – provides funding for Community Colleges and Workforce Development for work-ready communities, employer workforce training, and Back to Work Oregon.
ASK: $10 million.

Research Commercialization (SB 241) – directs Oregon Business Development Department to develop and implement program to assist technology-based start-up businesses whose primary purpose is commercialization of university research.

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