So said Senator Lee Byer (D-Springfield) in a recent conversation. That’s a very strong statement from a well-respected member of the legislature, who has served and observed many legislative sessions. Sen. Beyer was first elected in 1990. Oregonians would like to see their elected officials working hard and long hours every day, and that’s not unusual. The difference in this legislative session is the number of important issues being discussed, and the ongoing drama and scrutiny elected leaders in both the Senate and the House are receiving for their handling of workplace and sexual harassment accusations and lawsuits. A Southern Oregon Senator was forced to resign after allegations of unwanted touching and suggestive conversations with women staffers (both paid and volunteer), as well as with colleagues on the floor of the Senate. Senate President Peter Courtney, under pressure from his caucus and a stress induced detached cornea, took a 10 day leave of absence the first part of March. On the House side there have been reprimands from Speaker Tina Kotek to a male Representative for suggestive language towards young staffers, a committee chair’s language towards fellow committee members during a hearing, and to another member tweeting about a gun related issue. These issues are creating an atmosphere not seen in the Capitol in recent history, and how it will impact the work of the people remains to be seen. Much legislation is passed through negotiation and compromise, and between the super majorities and the continued focus on legislator’s behavior, those skills have never been more necessary. But the work of the people does need to move forward. Here is a list of some of the issues your Chamber is following that could impact our member businesses:
  • Employer Issues:
    • Paid Family Leave
    • Changes to Independent Contractor Rules
    • Pay Equity
    • Pregnancy Accommodation
    • Subsidized Employer Assessment
    • Marijuana Accommodation in the Workplace
    • Workers Compensation Changes
  • Carbon Tax/Climate Change
  • Increasing Revenues
  • Fire/Smoke Issues
  • Housing Issues:
    • Impact of Recent Rent Control Measure
    • Possible Mortgage Reductions
  • PERS
    • Possible raids on SAIF and/or Changes to Oregon's "Kicker" Law
  • Transportation:
    • Implementation of HB 2017
    • A renewed discussion regarding the Interstate Bridge over the Columbia River
  • Vaccinations
  • Funding and Revenue Discussions:
    • K-12, Community College and Higher Education
    • Increasing Taxes on Business
  • Campaign Finance Reform
Should you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact The Chamber. As always, stay tuned next month for another update.
In a conversation with a long serving Democrat Senator, I heard a resounding theme on the work of the 2019 Oregon Legislative session. “Like most days, my schedule is packed every 15 minutes with meetings when I’m not in committee. This is the busiest session I’ve ever seen...”
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JWA PUBLIC AFFAIRS | March 14, 2019
The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County
101 E. 8th St.  |  Medford, OR 97501
Phone: (541) 779-4847

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