OSCC Legislative Positions
Special Session, Sept 30, 2013
The Oregon State Chamber of Commerce currently consists of 64 local Chambers of Commerce from all corners of our great state. There are over 30,000 small businesses within these 64 local Chambers of Commerce and as professional Chamber executives representing them, it is our job to make sure their voices are heard so we can strengthen their businesses and grow our state economy.
We recently conducted a statewide conference call regarding the merits of the PERS/Tax Reform proposal currently being considered by legislative leadership and Oregon’s elected officials. After hearing from executives from local Chambers of Commerce around the state, we would like to encourage you all to come together in support of the PERS/Tax Reform framework as part of your special legislative session on September 30.
As executives representing small businesses from all parts of Oregon on the OSCC Legislative Committee, it is clear to us that compromise is a recurring theme throughout the reform framework. We are encouraged by the prospect that both tax reform and PERS reform stand firmly on their own merits. The importance of PERS reform for Oregon continues to be a primary focal point for the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce and we stand behind this comprehensive package. A $4.6 billion reduction in a system that currently includes over $15 billion in unfunded actuarial liability is a significant accomplishment and one we fully support.
In regards to tax reform, we would like to take this opportunity to remind legislators who do not come from backgrounds in small business to remember that many small businesses throughout Oregon are filed as C-corporations. It is in our best interest as a state to make sure that Oregonians understand the smallest of business owners can be corporations and that the term is not synonymous with top tier profit making businesses. Local chambers throughout the state have the smallest of members that are filed as C-Corporations. However, the majority of Oregon’s small businesses are filed in other ways including partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and S-Corporations.
We believe small and family business tax relief for the majority of Oregon’s small businesses sends the right signal to job creators. The 2013 Oregon Legislature has an opportunity to institute reforms that keep dollars in these small businesses churning throughout local economies and we believe this action will result in a stronger Oregon and therefore stronger revenue forecasts for state services into the future. We applaud the proposed tax cuts for Oregon’s small businesses and the avoidance of putting in place any sunsets on these tax cuts.
In closing, we would like to thank you all for your incredible service to Oregon and for your willingness to return to Salem to consider passage of the comprehensive package as presented by legislative leadership. Overall, we believe Oregon will be stronger as a result of your work in the coming week and we thank you for your commitment.
Sincerely, Oregon State Chamber of Commerce Legislative Committee:
Jason Brandt, OSCC Legislative Committee Chair, Salem Area Chamber of Commerce
Bernie Bottomly, Portland Business Alliance
Christine Dieker, Keizer Chamber of Commerce
Debbie Fromdahl, Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce
Steve Gilmore, Wilsonville Area Chamber of Commerce
Brad Hicks, Medford/Jackson County Chamber of Commerce
Debbie Pedro, Hermiston Chamber of Commerce
Janet Steele, Albany Area Chamber of Commerce
General Positions on Issues
OSCC made workforce development one of its highest priorities during the 2009 legislative session and urged legislators to ensure more effective use of federal funding, encouraged greater involvement by business and advocated for use of innovative approaches to attract participants. To that end, OSCC supported and testified on behalf bills requiring a more focused and coordinated approached to workforce development programs and the establishment of a meaningful summer youth work program.
OSCC also supported legislation proposed to streamline cumbersome state structure for administering workforce development programs and require new accountability in their implementation.
Supported improving education funding and delivery system, particularly community colleges and higher education.
General Business Regulation/Business Incentives
Opposed any efforts to potentially increase liability exposure for businesses and manufacturers as well as drive up the cost of insurance premiums.
Opposed bills increasing the 10-year timeframe to file product liability lawsuits to 25 years and allowing parties to sue insurance companies for triple damages plus attorney fees for “unfair claim settlement practices.”
Supported Enterprise zones, expanded tax credits for business, capital gains relief, PERS reform.
Supported PGE/Boardman 2020 plan.
Supported public safety funding and, in particular, Oregon State Police, with existing revenue.
Opposed, in general, increased tax burdens on Oregon businesses and, specifically, increases in corporate minimum that taxed gross corporate profits.
Supported creation of a rainy day fund.
Supported both comprehensive tax reform and health care reform initiatives.
Opposed any attempt to repeal or modify Oregon’s 2003 transient lodging tax law.
Supported increased funding for transportation improvements and projects.
OSCC took position that mandated increases in minimum wage should be re-examined. OSCC supported suspension of minimum wage increases if Oregon’s unemployment rate was higher than the national rate and drafted. OSCC also supported tying minimum wage rates to regional changes in the median income.
Opposed bills prohibiting employers from mandating that employees use accrued vacation time while on family leave and the creation a Family Leave Benefits Insurance program, funded by two cents for every hour worked being deducted from all employees’ pay and forwarded to the state.
Opposed “employer gag” bill which proposed to modify definitions and exceptions applicable to prohibition against an employer taking adverse employment action against employee who declines to attend meeting or participate in communication concerning employer’s opinion about religious or political matters.
Supported initiatives to better promote and ensure a drug-free workplace.
Opposed proposed legislation to change rules requiring overtime pay for work after eight hours in one day rather than for work after 40 hours in one week.