Victories from the 78th Oregon Legislative Assembly (2015-2016)

Date: March 21, 2016 Last Edit: March 28, 2016

From the 2016 Half

Won Reform of Rule-Making Process
House Bill 4106 requires state agencies to report annually to the Legislature on their use of temporary rule-making procedures. The agencies have, in recent years, relied more and more on the temporary rule-making process (which is much faster and far less transparent) rather than on the regular rule-making procedures that bring stakeholders and the general public into the process. This bill was one of the non-controversial, bi-partisan bills that passed this session. It’s a perfect example of the kind of bill that we should be taking up during the short session – rather than complicated policy bills that dominated the news this year. NFIB supported this bill and sent key-vote letters out to all legislators before the floor votes urging their support for the bill.

Defeated Familial Status Bill
House Bill 4088 would have established “familial status” as a new protected class under Oregon Employment Law. It would have classified any worker who is, or might have the potential to become, a care provider for a family member with the same legal protections as race/gender/religion, etc. This bill would have hurt small businesses’ ability to make practical and objective hiring, scheduling, and promotion decisions for fear of potential lawsuits. NFIB testified against this bill, which died in the House Business & Labor Committee immediately afterward.

Stopped Spike in Health-Insurance Premiums
House Bill 4136 would have raised the cap on non-economic damages in a wrongful death case from $500,000 to $1.5 million. Under current law, economic damages are uncapped, but non-economic damages are capped because they are very subjective (pain and suffering from the loss of a loved one is impossible to quantify). This bill would have likely caused medial liability insurance (and other commercial liability insurance) to skyrocket – hurting small businesses that are already struggling to keep up with spiking health insurance premiums. NFIB lobbied hard on this issue along with our coalition partners. We successfully reached out to enough senators that we were able to deny this bill a floor vote in the Senate.

Secured Red-Tape Cutting Legislation
Senate Bill 1583 expands the authority of the Office of Small Business Assistance to not only assist Oregon small businesses with the problems, issues and questions they might have about state agencies, but also any concerns that might come up in interactions with local governments. This office is headed by Ruth Miles, who spoke to our group at our Small Business Day at the Capitol in February. In the two short years since the office was created, it has been able to help hundreds of small businesses get real results. NFIB’s hope is that Ms. Miles and her team are going to identify many duplicate and redundant rules and regulations now that she’ll be exposed to rules and regulations from every level of government and be able to make recommendations to Gov. Kate Brown and the Legislature on how to streamline those regulations. This is a bill aimed at cutting red tape, which is why NFIB supported it and sent key-vote letters to legislators urging an “aye” vote.

From the 2015 Half

Stopped liens against employers’ property in wage disputes

Senate Bill 718 would have created a dangerous and unfair precedent in the wage-and-hour arena by allowing employees to file liens on an employer’s real and personal property for an alleged, yet unproven, wage claim.  We believe this bill is dead for this session though it sits in the Senate Rules Committee. 
Killed giving BOLI greater cease-and-desist authority
House Bill 2386 would have given BOLI (Bureau of Labor and Industry) greater authority based upon a “reason to believe,” subjecting employers to potentially unjustified imposition of a cease-and-desist order on part or all of a business operation. This would subject a business to costly court proceedings to have it removed.
Prevented employee demands for alternative work schedules
Although House Bill 3377 called for a “mutually acceptable work schedule” between employer and employee, it also would have mandated an alternative work schedule demanded by the employee.
De-railed increases in minimum-wage rates
There were eleven bills calling for an increase in the state’s minimum wage up to $15 per hour by 2018, which included two measures allowing any local jurisdiction to set its own rate, as long as it met the state’s minimum. There are 242 cities in Oregon. Giving local jurisdictions the power to set their own minimum-wage rates would have created an administrative nightmare for companies doing business in more than one jurisdiction. NFIB rallied the membership to call, email and testify against these harmful bills. As of now, all the bills are dead for this session.

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