Government Affairs Committee Update
June 20, 2019

The Keizer Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee met Wednesday, June 20th. A summary of the meeting is below.

Legislative Session Update:
A special “Thank You” goes out to the lobby team at the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce who is helping keep us up to date on the bills coming at us.

I am reminded of a quote from a State Senator for which I used to work. He often said that in the Capitol, just because it is a bad idea and will not work does not mean we will not do it. Some in legislative leadership seem to have taken this as their motto for the session.

As the Legislative Session approaches its constitutionally limited end, there are still some big issues left to be decided. The issues include:

Cap & Trade: This bill has passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate. No matter how it turns out, the vote will be close. The agricultural community has come out in force against this bill from the beginning of the session. The latest effort included hundreds of loggers descending, with log trucks, on the State Capitol Wednesday.

Republicans in the Senate are threatening to walk out before the vote leaving the body without a quorum and unable to continue with its business. Threats are being traded by both sides and as of this writing, escalating quickly.

Things are shaping up for a wild finish to the legislative session around this bill.

Paid Family Leave: The specifics of this bill are coming into focus. The current proposal would give employees 12 weeks per year of family and/or medical leave. The state-run insurance program would be funded by a 1 percent payroll tax. Employees would pay 60 percent of the premium and the employers would cover the remaining 40 percent. Employers with 25 or fewer employees would not be required to pay into the program.

Under the current plan, premiums would begin in 2022 and leave would be allowed in 2023.

Lawsuit Caps: The Keizer Chamber, along with many small business groups, has been opposed to lifting the $500,000 cap on punitive damages in lawsuits. Economic, or actual damages, are not capped. Many small businesses are concerned that lifting these caps could increase liability insurance premiums. A bill to remove the cap failed on the floor of the Oregon Senate in one of the few wins for small business this session. Special thanks go to Senator Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) who has tirelessly fought for small business on this issue.

Gross Receipts Tax: The gross receipts tax passed by the legislature this session appears headed to voters in January via a referendum. A well-funded effort is underway to collect the necessary signatures to put the issue on the ballot.

Member Updates:
Colleen Busch (Cherriots): Saturday bus service is beginning in September.

Upcoming Events
June 26th: Cook’s Night Off – Take a break from the kitchen and join us at the Hitchin’ Post for dinner. You can enter to win a $100 gift card plus you don’t have to do the dishes!

Our next Government Affairs Committee Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 17th at noon at the Chamber Office.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact me.

Respectfully Submitted,

Jonathan Thompson, Chair
Government Affairs Committee, Keizer Chamber of Commerce
Cell: (503) 580-1294
Email: presjet@msn.com