This update is pretty short as we get towards the end of the session.  The constitutional end date for the 2015 session is July 11th, but nothing precludes the Legislature from adjourning earlier. At this pace, however, it appears that the Legislature might use every available day.  The number of issues we report on is starting to pare down as the session comes to a close.  All eyes are on the transportation negotiations.  This is the remaining issue of highest interest to OSCC and its members.
I’ve also attached the OSCC Legislative Priorities update.  You may have joined us at the beginning of the legislative session where JL Wilson presented the OSCC Legislative Priorities and the bills they are tracking.  This update gives good example of what was being worked on for both offensive and defensive priorities.
McMinnville Chamber Member Report – June 22

  • Minimum Wage.  House Speaker Tina Kotek unveiled her statewide minimum wage plan last Wednesday in front of the House Rules Committee.  Her plan came in the form of an amendment to House Bill 2012.  The Speaker’s proposal increased the minimum wage to $11 in 2016, $12 in 2017 and $13 in 2018.  In addition, her proposal allowed local governments to raise their own minimum wage to higher levels above $13 per hour.  The Speaker has the authority to do this at any point during the legislative session.

Speaker Kotek and a panel of three other proponents were invited to testify on the proposal.  No opponents were invited to testify.  Initially, the business community believed there would be an attempt to pass this bill in the 11th hour of the 2015 legislative session.  At this point, however, it appears that the Speaker’s proposal is intended to keep the discussion of a higher minimum wage ongoing into the 2016 legislative session.  There does not appear to be enough Democratic support in the House (or the Senate) to facilitate passage of the bill in 2015.

  • House Bill 2960, the Mandatory State Retirement Plan for private sector workers passed the Senate on a 17-13 vote.  The bill will go to Governor Kate Brown, who is expected to sign the bill into law.  There is still question on the legality of this bill as it relates to Federal Regulations around retirement accounts and account management.
  • House Bill 2075, the bill that would increase the jet fuel tax by 2 cents per gallon to fund infrastructure improvements to rural airports, had a very good public hearing last week in the Ways & Means subcommittee on Transportation & Economic Development.  OSCC testified in support of the legislation.  House Bill 2075 has been a key agenda item for OSCC to revitalize local airports across Oregon.  This bill would have positive impact on McMinnville airport as well as many others in the region.

What We See Coming Up (June 22 – June 26):

  • Transportation Discussions.  Talks among legislative leaders in support of a statewide transportation package are on again/off again.  Last week’s developments put a wrench in the discussions when 19 House Democrats signed a letter to Governor Brown indicating they would not support a transportation plan predicated on repealing the Low Carbon Fuel Standard – which was exactly the premise the ongoing transportation negotiations between Republican and Democratic Leaders.

Furthermore, it’s unknown whether Republicans will support a transportation plan that does not include full repeal of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard.  There is also a significant number of Republicans who would not be inclined to support a gas tax increase under any circumstance.
The politics of the issue remains murky and complicated – and time is running out on the 2015 session.  This will be a critical week in the development of these negotiations.

  • House Bill 2075 is scheduled for a vote in the Ways & Means Committee this week.  Passage of the bill is within sight.

Special thanks to the OSCC for their continued work and updates sent regularly to help us manage the multitude of issues and bills in front of the legislation this year.
McMinnville Chamber Legislative Update – June 22, 2015