Daily Clips

SPECIAL SESSION

 

Lawmakers convene in special session

Portland Tribune

Brown, who is seeking reelection this year, called the special session after signing another tax bill in April that was unpopular with the business community. The governor said while she was considering Senate Bill 1528 from earlier this year, she realized that state lawmakers needed to expand the state’s lower tax rate for “pass-through” businesses to sole proprietors.

 

Special session begins Monday, Oregon lawmakers unsure what will happen
Statesman Journal
The Legislative Revenue Office estimated Brown’s bill would impact about 12,000 sole proprietorships and cost the state an estimated $11.3 million in reduced revenue this year, increasing in impact each year by about half a million dollars. Not everyone is sold. Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, put it bluntly at a committee hearing on Wednesday: “This legislation makes no sense.”

 

Brown plans to address property tax system

Portland Tribune

She has called a special session for May 21 to expand a business tax break, after she received heat for signing a bill earlier this year that denied Oregon businesses a 20-percent tax break written into federal tax reform. Hass said he could think of at least three other tax code problems that are more crucial to fix, including property tax reform. “I wish the governor was calling a special session to address these other tax issues because they’re a much bigger problem.”

 

Pass-through tax bill could be test case
The Portland Tribune
“SB 1528 is the best bill since 2005 to test the definition of a ‘revenue’ bill under Article IX” of the Oregon Constitution, Boquist wrote in a March 25 email to the governor’s office. “Taking this to regular tax court, then the Supreme Court, will resolve the debate on Article IX for better or worse.”

 

Legislature’s special session just political theater for Brown

Representative E. Werner Reschke

This “simple fix” could have easily been accomplished when the Oregon Legislature met in February. What the governor calls a special session, I call an election-year political stunt. The governor and Democrat leadership who stripped $1 billion from Oregon’s small businesses in February now want to give less than 5 percent of those same businesses a tax cut in order to claim the Governor is a friend to small businesses.

 

Editorial: Don’t strangle legislator questions

The Bulletin Editorial Board

“I don’t want to do questions for the public,” said Kotek, a Portland Democrat. “I just want to be really clear. Public does not come here to be questioned. So they will have as much time as they need to make their testimony. Members (of the Legislature) are fair game, but the public are not.” But it’s important to note that the people who Kotek didn’t want to be questioned weren’t people who just wandered in off the street for the hearing. If that’s the way Kotek wants the special session to be run, Oregonians could be in trouble.

 

Special session won’t solve any big problems

Mail Tribune

Passing such a bill would allow Brown to say she is looking out for small businesses, but it wouldn’t address any of the pressing problems facing the state, from the housing crisis to the opioid epidemic to the unfunded public employee pension liability. Those issues require more time than a special session lasting a few days. So does real tax reform — addressing the state’s boom-and-bust reliance on the income tax — which lawmakers are fond of talking about but not so keen on actually solving.

 

Editorial: Session today won’t lead to tax reform

Corvallis Gazette-Times

It’s a clever gambit by Brown: By signing the bill, the state, which faces yet another budget shortfall next year (despite what will almost certainly be record revenue), collects millions to start filling the gap. Brown’s tax proposal, which is estimated to cost the state about $11 million, doesn’t make that budget hole much deeper. And the governor gets to cast herself as a friend to Oregon’s small businesses as she hits the re-election trail, although her GOP opponent, state Rep. Knute Buehler, might have a different take on that.

BALLOT INITIATIVES

 

Ballot initiatives enter final weeks of viability

Portland Tribune

Some are controversial, such as Initiative Petition 22 to repeal Oregon’s sanctuary law. Initiative Petition 37 to prohibit taxing grocery transactions and Initiative Petition 31 to require a three-fifths legislative majority for not only taxes and fees, but all exemptions, credits and deductions, are in the signature-gathering stage.

 

SUPREME COURT

 

Divided Supreme Court rules for businesses over workers

The Associated Press

The court’s task was to reconcile federal laws that seemed to point in different directions. On the one hand, New Deal labor laws explicitly gave workers the right to band together. On the other, the older Federal Arbitration Act encourages the use of arbitration, instead of the courts.

 

Supreme Court Decision Delivers Blow To Workers’ Rights
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Writing for the majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch said that the 1925 Federal Arbitration Act trumps the national Labor Relations Act and that employees who sign employment agreements to arbitrate claims must do so on an individual basis — and may not band together to enforce claims of wage and hour violations.

SCHOOL & GUN SAFETY

Active-shooter training adds stress, safety in schools
The Register-Guard
Safety drills at public elementary, middle and high schools in Oregon and many other states now involve practicing how to respond to an armed intruder if one were to enter the school. The training has become as routine as earlier generations’ earthquake and fire drills.

Report: Gun Violence Costs Oregon $2.6 Billion Annually
Statesman Journal
The cost estimate includes $891 million in directly measurable costs, including $36 million in health care costs, $820 million in lost income and $30 million in law enforcement expenses. Using nationwide models for calculating “pain and suffering,” researchers determined gun violence caused an additional $1.7 billion in reduced quality of life.

BUSINESS

IMF head details why trade is critical to all Portland businesses
Portland Business Journal
“It’s not only Nike and Intel that need trade, it also helps small, local businesses thrive because they have access to international markets and flows of technology from around the globe,” Lagarde said.

Oregon Business Plan gathering feedback for 2019 legislative session
East Oregonian
On Friday, representatives of the Oregon Business Council and Oregon Business & Industry visited Hermiston, where they convened a roundtable discussion with area business and government leaders. The title was “Facing Oregon’s Fiscal Crisis” and the goal was to gather feedback for a partnership known as the Oregon Business Plan, which will use that to create a series of proposals for the 2019 legislative session.

FOSTER CARE

Oregon officials consider increasing accountability for foster children’s lawyers
Oregonian/OregonLive
Some lawyers do not meet with their child clients, despite an Oregon State Bar rule that requires lawyers to communicate with clients even if they are young children, The Oregonian/OregonLive found. Others rely on staff to meet visitation and communication requirements in their state contracts. Even when officials concluded a lawyer denied a child appropriate legal help, the contractor rarely faced consequences.

MARIJUANA

U.S. Attorney targets pot overproduction

The Associated Press

“As the primary law enforcement official in Oregon, I will not make broad proclamations of blanket immunity from prosecution to those who violate federal law,” he wrote.

OTHER

 

Federal student loan rates are expected to rise for the upcoming school year

The Bend Bulletin

The federal government sets rates for new student loans each year, under a formula adopted by Congress several years ago. The new rates take effect annually on July 1, and apply to loans taken out for the following academic year. Rates can fall or remain flat; this will be the second consecutive year they have risen.

Eagle Creek Fire Perpetrator Ordered To Pay $36.6 Million
Oregon Public Broadcasting
“In short, I’m satisfied that the restitution ordered in this case bears a sufficient relationship to the gravity of the offenses for which the youth was adjudicated,” Olson wrote in a decision released Monday morning. “The juvenile restitution framework is rationally related to the juvenile delinquency goals of ‘personal responsibility, accountability and reformation within the context of public safety.’ Given the statutory safety valves, I am satisfied that the restitution scheme does not ‘shock the moral sense of reasonable people.”

 

Cuts threaten subsidies for rural health broadband
The Bend Bulletin
More and more, rural hospitals and clinics rely on high-speed internet access to bridge the urban-rural gap and provide their patients with services that are often found only in much larger cities. But a federal program to help subsidize the cost of broadband for rural health care facilities has hit its funding cap, which may jeopardize the push to connect more rural health facilities.

OPINION

 

Editorial: State should explain progress or failure in foster care

The Bulletin Editorial Board

One of the 24 audit recommendations was about changing the DHS culture. DHS committed to developing a team that “will understand the need for transparency, strong and open communication and offering high levels of support while asking for high levels of accountability.” Shouldn’t that apply to being transparent with the public about the progress it is making? Apparently not.

 

A reckoning is coming for blue states and it’s something they richly deserve

Herald and News

Blue-state taxpayers may finally have to confront the full cost of the government they want. And Democrats will finally have to confront the tension between what those voters want government to do and what they’re willing to pay for. That reckoning is long overdue.

 

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