The 2017 Legislative session saw the Keizer Chamber, along with many chambers across the state, playing defense. However, working together, we were able to defeat a couple of proposals opposed by our members.
In 2013 lawmakers reduced tax rates for many small businesses. These businesses pay their taxes on the personal income tax returns of their owners at a rate higher than what is paid by larger corporations. These new rates were an attempt to make the field a bit more level.
As the end of the 2017 session drew near, leadership in the Oregon House of Representatives passed a bill that would have again increased taxes on the smallest of these small businesses. The Keizer Chamber worked with chambers throughout the state and while the bill passed in the House. We were able to stop it in the Oregon Senate and protect these small businesses.
Oregon currently has a cap on awards for non-economic damages resulting from lawsuits. These are the damages that are paid after all of the economic damages including lost wages and medical bills are paid. Currently, the cap is $500,000 which is higher than California. Some lawmakers attempted to remove these caps and members of the Keizer Chamber were concerned. By the time session ended, working with a larger group, we were able to stop this legislation.
A special thanks goes out to our representatives at the Capitol. Senator Kim Thatcher and Representative Bill Post were great on both of these issues. Senator Thatcher was a tireless champion for small business in the liability reform debate and Rep. Post worked hard to defeat the small business tax increase.
The 2018 short session and the upcoming 2018 general election will be important and we will keep working for small business.
The Keizer Chamber of Commerce remains very involved with the Keizer City Council. We were recently asked to weigh in on upcoming changes to the sign code and we are part of the process looking at expanding the city’s urban growth boundary. We were also able to stop a proposed assessment for “public amenities” which was slated to be charged to businesses remodeling or building.
The Chamber remains involved with the City as changes to the sign code are working through the process. We met with city staff as the proposal was being developed and worked with the Keizer Planning Commission on some changes. While there are still some parts of the proposal on which we are not sold, we are working with the City Council, who has the ultimate say, on improvements.
Urban Growth Boundary
The City of Keizer is required to keep a certain amount of buildable land available inside its Urban Growth Boundary. This is more complicated for us than other cities as we share an urban growth boundary with Salem. The Keizer Chamber is currently working with the City on possible changes to the boundary.
The city recently proposed a 1 percent public amenities requirement on business remodels or new construction. Many members of the Chamber were not very excited about the proposal and we stopped it at City Council. We are now working to engage the community as a whole in a conversation about what, if any, changes or improvements they would like to see for the River Road area and how we might get there. We will be hosting a community forum on this topic after the first of the year.