Business bills of 2016 Legislature

Associated Oregon Industries
Oregon’s largest business advocate

As many of you know, the Oregon Legislature convenes for both long and short Legislative Sessions, depending on the year. The upcoming 2016 Legislative Session is a short session, meaning it will last 35 days starting February 1, 2016. While some believe short sessions should focus on budget and emergency policy issues, this particular short session will cover much, much more. Identified below, are a few bills that we suspect members will have some interest in reviewing:

Healthy Climate Legislation: Senators Chris Edwards (D-Eugene) and Lee Beyer (D-Springfield) intend to introduce legislation that will authorize the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to implement a greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade program for Oregon. AOI is working with the bill sponsors and reviewing the legislative language to develop cost estimates for Oregon businesses. According to advocates, the cap-and-trade proposal would raise approximately $650 million in annual revenue for government programs and increase through 2050. A similar concept was introduced in Washington in which a study indicated an average Washington family would see at least a $56 per month direct increase in their energy costs, and gasoline cost increase of $0.11 increasing to $0.39 by 2035. AOI will work to educate legislators and oppose this bill.

Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Legislation: This legislative concept is a direct result of a compromise between certain environmental organizations and the Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs). The agreement will require the IOUs to phase out coal from their Oregon electricity supply by 2030 and increase the states Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) from 25% by 2025 to 50% by 2040. These are ambitious goals and will influence electric rates, most significantly in the later years of the proposal. AOI will continue to work with the business community and mitigate impacts where possible.

Transportation Bill: Representative John Davis (R-Wilsonville) plans to introduce a comprehensive transportation bill that will include a fuel tax increase of $0.02 in 2016 and an additional $0.02 in 2017. The legislation also proposes to raise registration fees and authorizes the state to use its bonding authority for cost share of federal grants in this biennium. Moreover, the proposal will direct spending to critical freight routes, congestion, and maintenance needs across Oregon. In addition, the proposal will amend DEQ regulations by removing costly mandates intended to raise the price of fuel. AOI plans to continue and work with Representative Davis and support comprehensive transportation infrastructure investment.

Brownfields Tax Incentives (LC 116): Representatives Caddy McKeown (D-Coos Bay) and John Davis plan to introduce a local option tax incentive program intended to further incentivize the clean-up and development of derelict brownfield sites. AOI supports this concept that is both environmentally responsible and important to economic development.

Minimum Wage Bills

Governor Brown’s Proposal: The Governor has stated several times that she will support a minimum wage increase during the 2016 Session. Her proposal, announced this morning, January 14, calls for a two-tiered minimum wage that increases gradually over the next six years, starting in 2017. The plan establishes a higher minimum wage in the Portland Urban Growth Boundary than in the rest of the state.

Outside of the Portland Urban Growth Boundary, the wage will be raised to $10.25 in 2017 and increase to $13.50 by 2022. Within the Growth Boundary, the wage will be set at 15% above the statewide minimum wage, increasing to $15.52 by 2022.

After 2022, the minimum wage will return to the current rate of increase, in conjunction with the Consumer Price Index. Wages by year are as follows:

Statewide Rates:

Current: $9.25

$10.25 – Jan. 1, 2017 (Represents an increase of $1.00 in 8 months)
$11.00 – Jan. 1, 2018
$11.75 – Jan. 1, 2019
$12.50 – Jan. 1, 2020
$13.00 – Jan. 1, 2021
$13.50 – Jan. 1, 2022

Then CPI

Portland Metro UGB Boundary:

15% differential

Current: $9.25
$11.79 – Jan. 1, 2017 (Represents an increase of $2.54 in 8 months)
$12.65 – Jan. 1, 2018
$13.51 – Jan. 1, 2019
$14.38 – Jan. 1, 2020
$14.95 – Jan. 1, 2021
$15.52 – Jan. 1, 2022

Minimum Wage Increase (LC 239): Senator Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) plans to introduce a bill to raise the minimum wage based on size and geographic location of the employer. Senator Dembrow’s bill also repeals state preemption of local minimum wage requirements, and establishes a payroll tax/fee of $.0.01 to create a Wage Enforcement Fund to be used by the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI).

Minimum Wage Increase (LC 258): Another minimum wage increase, LC 258 raises the minimum wage rate in graduated steps to $13.50 per hour by 2019. Repeals state preemption of local minimum wage requirements.

Paid Sick Time (LC 26): Last Session’s Paid Sick Time bill has several areas that need technical fixes, and BOLI’s rulemaking process did not address all of them. LC 26 is a narrow bill that seeks to fix those problems.

Paid Sick Time (LC 230): Companion to LC 26; fixes problems with Paid Sick Time legislation from 2015 Session.

Wrongful Death Cap Increase (LC 171): Raises the cap on noneconomic damages in wrongful death cases.

If you have any questions or concerns, as always, please do not hesitate to contact Mike Freese or Betsy Earls.

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