Special Session Update

Oregon State Chamber of Commerce (OSCC) provides us with regular advocacy updates:

We continue to monitor the prospect of a special session. Governor Brown has called for one-day session on Monday, May 21, but the session could last as many as five days.

Governor Brown called the special session to restore some tax cuts that were denied to over 250,000 small businesses in Oregon when the legislature passed SB 1528 into law during the 2018 session.

The issue of restoring some of these tax cuts is being negotiated by Senator Brian Boquist (R-Dallas) along with Democratic leadership and the Governor’s office.

The elimination of small business tax cuts by the 2018 legislature means that small businesses will owe $200 million more per year in state taxes. The Governor’s proposal would restore about $15 million of these tax cuts. Republicans are pushing for a much higher number.

The biggest thing we’re keeping an eye on is whether the special session will open the door to other issues. We continue to believe that the special session will not be used to consider other issues.

Rumors have swirled that other issues would also be added to the special session agenda – but we continue to believe this is not true.

Predictable scheduling rulemaking is now in progress. Chambers will have the opportunity to comment on SB 828 (predictable scheduling) rulemaking through May 24, 2018. Click here for a link to the rulemaking notice and draft rules. Be on the watch for union tactics to further erode employer flexibility in setting work schedules. We will let you know what we’re seeing.

Finally, we are advising Chambers to pay attention to the “pay equity” rulemaking at BOLI. In 2017, the legislature passed HB 2005 to expand Oregon’s equal pay law. HB 2005 was a hard-fought compromise between business groups and public employee unions and passed both chambers unanimously.

The Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) plans to take up HB 2005 early this summer and release final rules to implement the law later this year. In anticipation of BOLI rulemaking, OSCC joined a small group of employment attorneys in Portland last week to discuss the pay equity law and opportunities during rulemaking negotiations.

HB 2005 includes ambiguities that could present a challenge during rulemaking:

  • It applies broadly to 10 protected classes (gender, age, nation of origin, religion, sexual orientation, etc.);
  • Introduces new terms that must be defined; and
  • Creates a new equal pay analysis that must be delineated in rulemaking.

We have reason to believe that union groups will push to make this more onerous than what the legislature intended. We may also be looking to a legislative fix in 2019 to assist businesses with implementation of the law.”

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