McMinnville Chamber Legislative Update – May 20
Review of past week (May 11 – May 15):

  • The May 2015 Revenue Forecast was released on Thursday, fulfilling the hopes of lawmakers and policymakers that the forecast would yield significant additional resources for K-12 and other state programs.  State Economist Mark McMullen broke the good news to a joint meeting of the Senate and House Revenue Committees in what he admitted was an ambitious and aggressive forecast.

Among the topline results, legislative budget writers will now have an additional $463 million in total resources for the upcoming 2015-2017 biennium.
The $463 million in additional resources forecasted for 2015-17 is comprised of $155 million in additional beginning balance funds, $264 million in additional general funds resources, and $43 million in additional lottery resources.
Due to previous school funding legislation that passed earlier in the session, K-12 education will be guaranteed at least $105 million of the new revenue, bringing the schools budget up to $7.361 billion.
Also of interest, the forecast also solidified and increased the expected personal income tax ‘kicker.’  Prior to this morning’s forecast, a personal income tax ‘kicker’ of $350 million was expected, but there was still some question as to whether the ‘kicker’ might kick.  The May forecast removed all doubt.  Not only will the ‘kicker’ kick, the new ‘kicker’ amount is projected to be $473 million, an increase of $123 million over the March forecast.
 Taxpayers will see the $473 million as a credit on their 2015 personal income tax returns.

  • Mandatory Paid Sick Leave (SB 454-A) is now hung up in a complicated entanglement of politics, competing amendments and shifting sentiments.  The bill was abruptly dropped from the Ways & Means calendar last week.  One thing is clear however, both Senate President Peter Courtney and Governor Kate Brown are now personally involved in trying to revive this bill.

Just two weeks ago, the bill appeared to be on a fast track.  Now it is bogged down.  It is not clear when the bill will be revived, but MACC will be tracking carefully.  It is very likely that the bill will have to be amended down further in order to get the support it will need to pass the Senate and move on to the House.

  • HB 2764-A, the legislation that increases attorney fees in workers’ comp cases and increases workers’ comp system costs by 5 percent, will be amended to reflect the compromise agreements between business and labor/trial lawyers.  The bill barely squeaked by the House two weeks ago and landed in the Senate Workforce Committee.  The Committee Chair, Senator Michael Dembrow, held a public hearing on the bill last Wednesday and made clear his intention to adopt the negotiated compromise.
  • In another surprise, HB 2960-A, the Mandatory State-Run Retirement System bill did not move last week when it was widely anticipated that the bill would be approved by the full Ways & Means Committee and move directly to the House floor for a final vote.

What we see coming up (May 18 – 22):

  • We are carefully watching to see if the Mandatory Paid Sick Leave (SB 454-A) bill gets posted in the Ways & Means Committee this week.  But so far, the bill does not appear on the agenda.

We are expecting that the bill may be amended, perhaps even significantly, in order to secure passage on the Senate floor.  As of today, the votes are very tenuous in the Senate to pass the bill.

  • OSCC (Oregon State Chamber of Commerce) is anticipating that the Mandatory State-Run Retirement Savings bill (HB 2960-A) will also be approved by the Ways & Means Committee this week and sent to the full House for a floor vote.  We are unsure why the bill was removed from last week’s committee agenda.
  • House Bill 2075, the bill that would increase the jet fuel tax and use the proceeds to address infrastructure and deferred maintenance needs at rural airports, is slated for a vote in the House Revenue Committee this week.  Last week’s vote was postponed because amendments were not ready.

OSCC expects the bill to pass with a significant majority and move to Ways & Means where it will be assigned to Senator Betsy Johnson’s Transportation & Economic Development Subcommittee.  Senator Johnson is a major proponent of the bill.  This bill is only moving forward because OSCC and local Chamber of Commerce have called for action.  Airports are an important part of our economic growth and stability.

  • This will be a very interesting week in the House Revenue Committee.  This week appears to be a free-for-all with several votes posted for work session that may impose taxes and significant tax regulations on business.  Of note that we are watching:
  • HB 2077 would mandate that businesses disclose their tax information to the public
  • HB 2171 may be used to move a tax on beer production.
  • HB 3034 may be used to remove the property tax exemption for local hospitals

Locally: Representative Weidner is in the news working on Nuclear power.  The potential for new developments is very interesting and we are watching this conversation with intrigue, but not concern.  Please don’t be fooled by the tongue-in-cheek title of this article, the topic is serious and informational.
Senator Boquist’s office sent over the article which I’ve attached regarding the Revenue Forecast. Senator Boquist letter