In her April column for the Salem Business Journal, NFIB/Oregon State Director Jan Meekcoms writes about a betrayal of trust.
They traveled via the 2014 campaign trail shouting promises such as “We will support small businesses!” “We will grow jobs!” We will protect middle class families!” The gates of Salem’s Capitol opened and in they rolled on February 3rd.
We are less than two months into the legislative session, with three months remaining, and what has ensued is an all-out war against small businesses and employers. Majority leadership and the Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI) are leading the charge.
Examples of hot business battles:
- House Bill 2005/Senate Bill 454 -- Paid Sick Leave: Would require all businesses in Oregon to provide a minimum of 56 hours of paid sick leave per year. Oregon’s Legislative Revenue Office just released its estimate that this legislation will cost businesses in Oregon $1.5 billion over the next four years. This action will reduce jobs, reduce current benefits to employees, raise the price of goods and services and close the doors of some existing small businesses.
- House Bill 2386 -- Cease and Desist: This bill would give BOLI the authority to issue a cease-and-desist order upon a business without due process, potentially shutting down a portion or the entirety of a business activity. It would then be the burden of the business to prove its innocence. If it proves to be a wrongful action on the part of BOLI, however, there is no compensatory provision to businesses for lost production, lost wages or legal fees.
- Senate Bill 718 -- Wage lien: Would allow a priority lien to be placed on the real and personal property of the employer for an alleged wage claim. Filing a wage claim dispute with BOLI prior to placing the lien would not be required. This is a “guilty and must prove innocence” approach, creating a potentially disastrous situation for the business, including with existing banking relationships, as an example of the harm this could cause.
- House Bill 3025 -- Ban the Box: Would ban the “Have you ever been convicted of a felony” box from job applications. It’s the responsibility of the employer to create a safe working environment for employees, customers, vendors and public. This bill puts the employer in a hiring straightjacket, while creating a new protected class of convicted felons, which would place tremendous liability upon the employer. We believe that people can change and people deserve a second chance, but this bill is beyond extreme in its worthy effort.
- And the minimum wage conversation that has been promised this session has yet to begin – but it will.
Each of the above issues piles burdens and stresses upon small-business owners who represent 92 percent of all employers, providing 52 percent of all jobs in Oregon. These issues equate to less job growth and job loss in businesses that simply give up or move to a more business friendly state. This ultimately hurts our communities and working families.
This agenda is a betrayal of trust and does the opposite of what was promised.
As U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader said in a recent Statesman Journal article, "Our state is extremely unfriendly to business, and we're getting worse. The book on Oregon is still the same: Oregon is a great place to start a business. It's not a great place to keep a business going."
We heartily agree Congressman Schrader!
Past Jan Meekcoms Columns
What Raising the Minimum Wage Actually Does, February 2015 (Page 21)