The Oregon Legislature meets every year to balance Oregon’s budget and make changes to Oregon’s laws. During the even numbered years they meet in a 35-day session, usually beginning in February thru the first part of March. In the odd numbered years, they meet in a six-month session from January thru June. For the last 20 years representatives from the Medford/Jackson County Chamber have made a trip to the Capitol in Salem during a long legislative session to meet face-to-face with Oregon’s political leaders. On March 20th, 25 Chamber members from Southern Oregon boarded a bus for the trip to Salem. Meeting an additional group of 18 southern Oregonians, these business leaders had the opportunity to meet with Governor Kate Brown and our local legislators to discuss issues critically important to the business community in Southern Oregon. After a long day of meetings, everyone gathered at the Salem convention Center for a reception with legislators and their staffs. Finally, the Chamber members in attendance boarded the bus for the long ride back to Medford. One of Chamber Day’s guest speakers, Rebecca Tweed, joined the group to talk about the many tax and business issues currently under review and encouraged business people to get involved and make their voices heard by going to the Brighter Oregon website. The 2019 Oregon Legislature is dealing with many issues that are important to local schools, government services, and businesses, both large and small, and for profit and non-profit. Business is the life blood of any public, providing the jobs that support the economy, which generate the taxes to support the key pieces of any community: education, transportation, health and safety. What are those issues? During this legislative session there are many issues that could impact our businesses. Probably one of the most critical issues being discussed is paid family medical leave. Now, Oregon has a family leave policy that has been in place for over 20 years. Proposed bills proceeding through the legislative process could require businesses with one or more employees to pay for up to 32 weeks of leave per employee. Legislators heard what some of the negative impacts could be on a small business, up to and including the failure of the business due to the extraordinary financial burden placed by this legislation. A bill that would address environmental issues like a decrease of carbon in the air is very likely to be passed into law. The bill could result in a new state agency, stricter standards for business and higher prices at the gas pump for everyone who drives a car or truck. PERS (Oregon’s Public Employee Retirement System) has a $26 billion unfunded liability that is getting larger by the minute. Reform is needed but has not been addressed by leadership during this legislative session. In her recommend budget released in December 2018, Gov. Kate Brown is asking for a $2 billion increase in taxes. Likely to come from business, the revenue increase is being negotiated now as a “hybrid” between a gross receipts tax and a business activity tax. This would be an additional burden added to businesses, large and small, that when added to the proposed paid family medical leave, carbon taxes and the many other fees and tax increases, will have some Oregon businesses re-thinking doing business in Oregon.
Chamber Day at the Capitol
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Chamber Day at the capitol: meeting our state representatives
REPRESENTING BUSINESS ISSUES
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JWA PUBLIC AFFAIRS | April 9, 2019
The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County
101 E. 8th St.  |  Medford, OR 97501
Phone: (541) 779-4847

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