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Oregon taxpayers could get “kicker” tax refund

Statesman Journal

“In their haste to pass SB 1528 earlier this year, Gov. Brown and legislative Democrats apparently failed to recognize that by requiring small business to pay $245 million more in state income taxes, their actions could trigger the income tax kicker,” said House Republican Leader Mike McLane, of Powell Butte. “If current projections hold, Oregonians are in line to receive $555 million of their money back from their state government,” he said. “The irony escapes no one.”

 

Oregon taxpayers on track to receive $555 million kicker rebate

Oregonian/OregonLive

State economists delivered the prognosis on Wednesday during a quarterly forecast presented to lawmakers in Salem. The kicker is not official until the August 2019 forecast, after the end of the current budget cycle.

 

SPECIAL SESSION

 

Capitol Report: Special session odds and ends

The Bend Bulletin

The House and the Senate passed House Bill 4301 during Monday’s one-day special session. In a Legislature where voting on most bills ends up falling along party lines, the business tax bill that was under consideration in the special session brought about unusual voting coalitions.

 

GOVERNMENT & POLITICS

 

Oregon AG announces task force on hate crimes

Associated Press

“Sadly, hate-motivated crimes are a growing phenomenon throughout Oregon. Our task force will review current laws and make proposals to strengthen our ability to support victims and bring perpetrators of these vile acts to account. Nobody should feel unsafe, or unwelcome, anywhere in our state,” Rosenblum said.

 

HIGHER EDUCATION

 

Oregon denied financial aid to 2 out of every 3 eligible college students

Oregonian/OregonLive

Ben Cannon, executive director of Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission, acknowledged the shortcoming. “Despite state investments in recent years, at the current funding level, we still fall far short of meeting student financial need, and we are significantly behind the efforts of other states,” he said Tuesday. “We need to do better for Oregonians.”

 

Startup University Challenge: How To Scale Up, Without Losing What Works

Oregon Public Broadcasting

As Bend continues to grow, the challenge for the branch campus is how to mirror that without losing what’s working. Freshman Lauryn Gomez likes OSU-Cascades’ current size, a comparatively small 1,200 students. “One thing my family always says is I’m paying for a public education while I’m receiving a private education,” she said. Gomez is among the first students to live in the new campus residence hall, one of just three buildings on the equivalent of a few city blocks.

 

PUBLIC HEALTH

 

House Passes ‘Right-To-Try’ Bill For Experimental Drugs

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Advocates say the bill would make it easier for patients to get access to experimental drugs that have completed the first phase of clinical trials and are in the midst of additional testing. It eliminates the role of the Food and Drug Administration in the approval process and reduces the threshold for patients to receive the medicines. Critics say that removing the FDA from the process could raise the risks for patients.

 

BUSINESS & TAXES

 

Businesses still in limbo over last year’s tax overhaul

The Associated Press

But a survey of 603 owners taken in early April by Wells Fargo and Gallup showed many owners were still in the dark. Thirty-nine percent said they don’t know how the law will affect their companies. A third said it had already helped their companies or would do so, and 27 percent didn’t expect it to benefit their businesses.

 

Portland Mayor Proposes a $1.2 Million Tax on Airbnb and Its Competitors to Fund Home Ownership for Displaced Families

Willamette Week

The deal on new taxes is wrapped up in a longstanding negotiation with the short-term rental companies to allow easier online registration for at least some people renting out their homes through Airbnb and Home Away, city officials said. In exchange, the city is expected to get data from the companies that will make enforcement of the rules and of the taxes possible.

 

Early numbers from Oregon bike tax fall flat

KATU

The state had projected Oregon’s love of cycling would bring in around $1 million annually from a bike tax, but the early returns show the tax is falling flat. The tax is $15 on the sale of every new adult-sized bike statewide. Oregon’s Department of Revenue says the tax has brought in $77,000 through mid-May. The administrative costs have run $47,000 in just the first three months.

 

CAP & TRADE

 

Lawmakers begin cap and trade discussions

Portland Tribune

“We are here to develop a program that can help us reduce our greenhouse gases and to work on also growing economic opportunity across the state, and I’m really looking forward to working with each and every one of you to do that,” said Kotek, the committee’s co-chairperson. State legislative leaders have committed to recommending a carbon-pricing policy during next year’s 160-day legislative session.

 

PRIVACY

 

Amazon urged not to sell facial recognition tool to police

The Associated Press

The American Civil Liberties Union and other privacy advocates on Tuesday asked Amazon to stop marketing Rekognition to government agencies, saying they could use the technology to “easily build a system to automate the identification and tracking of anyone.”

 

ELECTIONS

 

Rep. Knute Buehler Says He’s Pro-Choice. Pro-Choice Groups Say He’s Not.

Willamette Week

“It expands the possibility of support, and that’s what highly partisan operations are concerned about,” Buehler says. “They understand that a fiscally conservative, socially accepting Republican is a big problem for them. That’s why the attacks are coming.”

 

Meet Gov. Kate Brown’s star-studded (and PAC-heavy) donors

Portland Business Journal

Brown’s donors over the last nine months include an outsized number of out-of-state donors, with many of them political action committees that are looking to push Democrats after the 2016 presidential campaign.

 

HOUSING

 

Here’s Why a Plan to Ease the Housing Crisis Is Making Portland Homeowners Flip Their Lids

Willamette Week

There’s a fundamental disagreement over what new development does in this city. The consensus among city planners and economists is that adding more supply can help stabilize the city’s housing prices. They hope adding new kinds of construction will create more affordable options in some pricey, close-in neighborhoods. But many homeowners see creating any new options as increasing the incentive for their neighbors to sell their properties to developers, who will tear down existing homes and replace them with expensive, gaudy new houses.

 

Portland Utility Bureaus Will Help Renters At Risk Of Eviction

Oregon Public Broadcasting

For the first time, Portland’s utility bureaus will help out families in apartments at risk of eviction by providing what amounts to a rebate on their utility bills. The Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services have proposed funneling $640,000 into Home Forward’s short-term rent assistance program.

 

HOMELESSNESS

 

Homeless population overwhelms Salem’s emergency shelters

Statesman Journal

Family Promise Executive Director T.J. Putman said families are turned away from the shelter program because of the “lack of capacity.” “We don’t have the space in the different congregations to house the families, or the staff to meet that need,” Putman said recently in a church gym before the night’s guests received a spaghetti dinner.

 

COMMUNITY PROGRAMS

 

City, schools plan to ‘Speak Up’ against racism in Lake Oswego

Portland Tribune

Officials say the goal of the program, which is scheduled for Tuesday, May 29, is to arm members of the community with the vocabulary and strategies they need to interrupt instances of racism and discrimination when they see them.

 

Course shows teachers where their students may go

The Register-Guard

So we teach students how to work hard, be creative, think critically, play fair, and apply academic skills to mastering a variety of subjects. But we often fail to show connections between learning in school and success in adulthood. To help remedy this disconnect between school and the rest of life, City Club of Eugene, the Lane Educational Service District, the Lane Workforce Partnership and the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce cosponsor a free course for teachers: “Oh, the Places You Can Go: Careers in Lane County.”

 

AGRICULTURE

 

PNW sweet cherry forecast down 22.7 percent

Capital Press

The Pacific Northwest fresh, sweet cherry forecast is down 22.7 percent from last year’s record crop due to poor blossom pollination in the spring. It should mean higher prices. The industry is also hoping for a turnaround on Chinese tariffs.

 

WATER RIGHTS

 

Emotions run high as water dips lower

Herald and News

“We’re doing the very best we can, and unfortunately there’s not enough water to go around,” Williams said. “But we also must obey the court injunction and we must do the very best we can to meet the requirements of the 2013 biological opinion, and we’ve been doing the very best we can to get extra water to irrigators. I don’t know what else we can do.”

 

OPPORTUNITY ZONES

 

Tax credits create opportunity zones

Curry Coastal Pilot

State Rep. David Brock Smith is excited about development possibilities that may come out of Gov. Kate Brown’s naming a census tract from Humbug Mountain to the Coos County border and southeast to Agness as an “opportunity zone.” “The potential for investment there is fantastic,” Smith said. “It’s also one of the reasons I advocated for the Brookings tract: Borax (housing development north of town), the airport. Add the opportunity zones to the enterprise zones passed by the county, and it’ll be great.”

 

OPINION

 

Editorial: Despite misgivings, session hands Brown a win

Albany Democrat-Herald

The governor said she wanted to push this tax cut through as a matter of fairness for a group of business owners who had been left out of the original existing tax cut, which legislators passed in 2013. She also denied charges that her proposal was motivated by the looming general election. Well, voters can be the judge of that. It’s still not clear why this matter was so urgent that it required a special session.

 

Multnomah County making strides improving cruel conditions for mentally ill inmates: Editorial

The Oregonian Editorial Board

Thankfully, though, Sheriff Mike Reese and other county leaders listened. In a follow-up report released May 10, the Portland-based advocacy group found numerous improvements. More jail and clinical staff was brought on and now, officials better track cell time to be sure inmates are out between 14 to 28 hours a week. And Reese lived up to his promise to provide better employee training with the aim to reduce their use of force and restraints.

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