2022 Oregon State Legislature Short Session Underway
article by Samantha Roberts | Director of Business Advocacy, Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce
The Oregon State Legislature kicked off its 2022 Legislative Short Session on February 1st, 2022. State lawmakers meet for up to 35 days every even year, and up to 160 days every odd year, a process approved by voters in 2010. These sessions can move quickly and with so much information to follow, your Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce hopes that updates like these will help you keep track of the most important updates that impact your business.
Advocating for Your Business
The Eugene Chamber of Commerce advocates for local businesses during these sessions in a variety of ways. Investment in the Eugene Chamber supports the work of a full-time Director of Business Advocacy position which focuses day in and day out on advocating for the needs of local businesses with our local, state and federal governments. Through our Local Government Affairs Council and Board of Directors, the Chamber holds a work group that meets frequently during session, to keep track of bills, and lobby for businesses as needed. In longer sessions, the Chamber has also hired a contract lobbyist to help organize and lobby the hundreds of bills that come from legislators. We also partner with organizations like Oregon Business and Industry (OBI) and the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce (OSCC) to understand bills that impact all Oregon businesses. Nothing is more impactful however, then when Eugene area businesses tell us themselves how potential bills may impact their bottom line.
Short Session Off to Wild Start
The 2022 Short Session was off to a wild start. Unlike past legislative sessions, this session started with massive turnover in key leadership positions and elected officials. A total of 6 Senators and 17 Representatives announced their retirement or resignation ahead of the short session. These include:
- Long-time former Speaker of the House, former Rep. Tina Kotek (D-Portland), stepped down to focus on her bid for governor and was replaced by Rep. Dan Rayfield (D- Corvallis) as Speaker.
- The longest serving Senate President, Sen. Peter Courtney (D-Salem), announced his retirement beginning in 2023.
- Former House Majority Leader, Rep. Barbara Smith Warner (D- Portland) announced her stepping down from this leadership role and was replaced by Rep. Julie Fahey (D-Eugene).·
- Similarly, former Minority House Leader, Rep. Christine Drazan (R-Portland) stepped down in her bid for Governor and was replaced by Rep.Vikki Breese Iverson (R-Prinveville).
- Senate Republicans also elected a new leader, Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend).
Which Bills are Important?
Here are bills that our Eugene Chamber-Oregon State Legislative Strategy Work Group have identified as Medium-High Priority and which we are watching and acting on accordingly:
- SB1565: This bill would make it unlawful for businesses to refuse to accept cash.
- HB4079: This bill, with ⅗ majority approval, establishes a 3% sales tax on luxury good items like cars, boats, RVs, etc. to support universal income to qualifying low-income families.
- HB4104: This bill establishes Prosperity 10,000, a program providing occupational training and job placement services for at least 10,000 low-income job seekers most impacted by COVID-19 pandemic.
- HB4141: This bill looks to phase out petroleum diesel fuel by replacing it with renewable options. Many fleets locally and beyond have already started this process voluntarily, however there are concerns there is not great enough supply at a low enough cost to support the timeline outlined in this bill.
- SB1525: This bill would reconnect Oregon’s tax code to the federal tax code, which our partners at OBI have deemed as essential for reducing compliance costs and complexity for Oregon taxpayers. There is some debate about the effect this bill would have and we are keeping an eye on this before moving forward.
- SB1518: This bill seeks to change how building codes are regulated between the state and local jurisdictions. Proponents of this bill believe this can help local governments apply unique standards that will help meet local climate goals through energy efficiency. Opponents of this bill believe this will apply mixed standards that are different from city to city, or county to county which could create confusion within the building industry.
One bill that could benefit businesses in our community and across the state, and that is likely to be approved, is SB1545. This is the governor’s workforce development bill which seeks to spend $200 million to support workforce development in Oregon. Here is a rundown on how this could be implemented. Proponents of this bill are excited about an infusion of dollars to support industries like healthcare, manufacturing and construction. Opponents say that we need more immediate assistance to support shortages in our workforce.
As we move through the next few weeks, we will be keeping an eye on these bills and others that rise to the top of our list.
We Want to Hear from You
- Let us know! Our job is to advocate for your business. We are here to listen and ready to speak on your behalf.
- The best person to speak about your needs, however, is you! You know best about what your business needs and how government policies impact your bottom line and quality of life. To learn more about making your voice heard at the state legislature, click here and feel free to reach out to the Eugene Chamber for more information and support. Stay tuned for future programs we plan to host to inform our local businesses about how they can speak up about their businesses locally, with the state, and federally.
For more information or questions, please reach out to Director of Business Advocacy, Samantha Roberts.