Legislative Report – February 25, 2019

We are keeping an eye on these bills and issues that might be of interest to you.

  • SB 211 – Small Business Tax Repeal

This bill looks at repealing Oregon’s lower tax rates for pass-through businesses. Oregon’s small business tax cut law currently imposes lower tax rates on the first $5 million of business income. The bill would apply lower tax rates to only the first $400,000 of business income. The excess in funding that would come from tax cuts could be used to fund schools and education in Oregon.

  • HB 2010 – Medicaid Funding Piece

House Bill 2010 is one of the first major Medicaid pieces to pass through the house. Known as the Hospital provider tax ($98M) and the insurance tax ($410M), this $291M of this package will likely be a direct tax on small business health insurance premiums. This bill would increase taxes on commercial health insurance policies from 1.5% to 2%.

  • SB 595

Senate Bill 595 would reduce the lodging tax reforms of 2003. If this bill successfully passes, it would take 30% of a destination marketing organization’s 70% of lodging tax and allow local governments to redirect those funds for “workforce housing” projects. This would leave only 40% of new or increased local lodging taxes protected for tourism promotion and tourism-related facilities.

  • SB 608

Senate Bill 608 is a comprehensive rent control and tenant protection bill that is moving quickly through legislature. This bill would put a 7% cap on rent annually and would not allow no-cause evictions after 1 year. The bill passed the Senate 17 to 11, on mostly party lines. Opponents believe the bill would likely diminish the supply of rental housing and would lead to higher demand  and higher prices. HB2540 and HB2596 are the House bills related to rent control. The House bills were referred by the Speaker to Human Services and Housing committee.

  • SB 90

This bill aims to prohibit restaurants from providing single-use plastic straws to a consumer unless the consumer requests the straw. A public hearing was held on January 29th and a work session is scheduled for February 28th in the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.

  • HB 2883

House Bill 2883 aims at prohibiting food vendors from using polystyrene containers in selling, offering for sale, serving or dispensing prepared food to the public. Two public hearings were held on February 19th and 21st in the House Committee on Energy and the Environment.

  • Governors proposal to reduce PERS with SAIF surplus

The Governor latest proposal to reduce pension costs is to use $1.4 billion from the SAIF worker’s compensation surplus. The idea, although still tentative, has raised concerns from the business community. SAIF exists to protect Oregon’s injured workers, and the largest share of Oregonians covered by this workers’ compensation system are employed by Oregon small businesses. Many would not be interested in compromising SAIF to reduce PERS. PERS reform will likely continue to be a major issue during the legislative session, and we will update you with more information when it becomes available.

  • HB 2020: Cap – And – Trade

We have provided a couple of updates about Cap-And-Trade legislation with past updates. This bill caps emissions from businesses that emit greater than 25,000 tons of carbon and requires those regulated businesses, fuel companies, and utilities to buy their own carbon emissions. This bill will increase the cost of living and working in Oregon – all residents will bear the cost of fuel increases and increased natural gas rates. It is projected to immediately drive up the cost of gas by $0.16 per gallon, and natural gas customers will face double digit rate increases in the first year of the program.

You can see a proposal introduced by NW Natural and for statistics on HB2020 and how it can affect you, visit: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2019R1/Downloads/CommitteeMeetingDocument/157910.

The Joint Carbon Reduction Committee is going to be holding meetings across the state to gain public input on HB 2020. Here is the schedule for those meeting places and times:

  • Remote:Monday, February 25 – Remote testimony (live video feed from Baker City & Newport)
  • Baker City:(5pm-6pm)-Baker County Fairgrounds, Event Center, 2600 East St, Baker City, OR
  • Newport:(6pm-7pm)-OSU Lincoln County Extension Office, Thompson Conference Room, 1211 SE Bay Blvd, Newport, OR
  • The Dalles:Friday, March 1 – (12pm-3pm), The Dalles Civic Auditorium, Community Room, 323 E. 4th St, The Dalles, OR
  • Bend:Saturday, March 2 – (9am-12pm), Central Oregon Community College, Cascade Hall, Room 246-248, 2600 NW College Way, Bend, OR

If you wish to read the text of the bill, you can find it here: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2019R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/HB2020/Introduced

Also, if you would like to submit written testimony regarding this bill, email your Word or PDF file to: jccr.exhibits@oregonlegislature.gov.