2021 Session of Oregon Legislature Down to Final Days

Date: June 18, 2021

NFIB asking its members to take action on two bills

State Director Anthony Smith reports from Salem on the small-business agenda for the legislative and political week ending June 18

It’s Day 151 of the 2021Oregon Legislative Session and that means there are just nine days left until the Legislature is constitutionally required to adjourn sine die. Today’s update will be short. Everything is a whirlwind right now and the future of many bills we’ve been tracking since the beginning of the year will be decided within the next few days. Please be on the lookout for a more thorough post-session legislative update that should hit your email inboxes by the end of the month.

One more thing – if you’re tracking Oregon’s progress toward fully reopening the economy, you already know that we’re now just 51,616 first doses away. You can click here to track how close Oregon is to reaching the 70% threshold.

Here are the quick highlights of what’s been going on and what’s coming up:

$2.4 Billion in UI Tax Relief Back on Track

House Bill 3389, which will provide $2.4 billion in unemployment insurance tax relief for Oregon businesses, has passed out of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means with unanimous support and is now heading to the floor of the Senate for a final vote. Because the bill was amended in Ways and Means, it will then need to go back to the House for concurrence. Please consider taking action one more time on this issue to make sure it gets across the finish line!

“Clean” Electricity Bill Poised to Pass

HB 2021, a bill that would raise electricity prices on households and businesses by requiring electricity in Oregon to be 100% free of greenhouse gas-emitting sources by 2040. If your business is sensitive to electricity costs, please take action today to educate your lawmakers about the negative economic impacts of this legislation. The bill passed out of the Joint Committee of Ways and Means earlier today. A floor vote in both chambers is likely imminent.

Pass-Through Entity Tax Hike

Senate Bill 139 is a bill that clearly picks winners and losers. While it slightly decreases taxes on pass-through businesses (S corps, partnerships, LLCs and sole proprietorships) with profit levels between $250,000 and $1 million per year, it unnecessarily raises taxes on businesses with profits of $5 million or more and provides absolutely no tax relief to Oregon’s smallest businesses with less than $250,000 in profit. It also creates new eligibility requirements that will make it harder for the businesses that would see a slight tax cut to qualify for the program. NFIB, along with more than 30 other business organizations are opposing this bill. It passed in the Senate and is likely to move in the House.

Agriculture Overtime Bill Comes Back to Life

HB 2358 appeared to be dead when a work group of proponents and opponents failed to reach consensus on a proposal to require farms and other agricultural employers to pay their employees time-and-half overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act has always exempted agricultural labor from overtime pay due to the seasonal nature of the work. The bill passed out of the House Rules committee on a party-line vote and is now assigned to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, which continues to meet regularly as the final session deadline approaches.

Recycling Reform or New Tax on Business?

SB 582 is being pushed by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) as a recycling reform bill and there’s no question that the state’s current recycling system is broken. However, this bill proposes to create a new, expensive “Extended Producer Responsibility” program that requires businesses to pay an estimated $83 million per year to collect and recycle products like packaging, paper, and food service items. If passed, DEQ estimates the program could increase the amount of material recycled by about 3%, but the cost of recycling in Oregon would increase by over 30%. NFIB has joined with 40 other business groups to oppose this legislation. It passed out of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means and is likely to hit the floor of both chambers before the end of session.

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