Eight Chambers were represented at the Central Oregon Regional Meeting held Tuesday, July 25th. Chambers, Board and Government Affairs Committee members from throughout the region participated, including Bend, Klamath Falls, La Pine, Madras, Redmond, and Sunriver. OSCC Board members from Tillamook and North Clackamas also participated.
The meeting began with a recap of the 2017 Legislative session from lobbyist JL Wilson. Bipartisanship was a major theme of this session as the legislature took on two primary issues: balancing the state budget and passing a major transportation funding package.
The outcome of several business bills were discussed, including SB 828 on predictive scheduling. What started out as a potentially harmful bill was significantly watered down to only apply to food service, retail and hospitality businesses with 500 or more employees. Business also gained a statewide preemption on all local scheduling ordinances. OSCC believes this was a ‘best case’ scenario for business.
A gross receipts tax, championed by Senator Mark Hass, came on the heels of the defeat of Measure 97. HB 2830 was strongly opposed by business and, in the end, did not have the votes to pass. OSCC’s grassroots efforts had a big impact on the attempted repeal of the small business tax cut. HB 2060 barely passed in the House, but was not even given a hearing in the Senate, thanks in part of the strong response from Chambers and their business members.
Wilson pointed out that there was no real grassroots organization of small business until more recently, when OSCC began to fill this role. OSCC is growing and expanding grassroots engagement by encouraging members to become active in advocacy and take a stand. Executive Director Alison Hart highlighted the defeat of Measure 97 as a catalytic moment for OSCC, as the effort produced the greatest grassroots mobilization to date for the organization. As a result of these efforts, OSCC and the business community impacted the 2017 Legislative session as well.
Looking toward the short session in 2018, Wilson said to watch for issues around cap and trade, carbon pollution, paid family leave and the budget.
While some Chambers are hesitant about getting involved in the advocacy realm, most have found that it has strengthened their membership. OSCC Board Chair Justin Aufdermauer shared that OSCC’s advocacy efforts have helped strengthen Chambers throughout the state providing them an expert voice on issues affecting business.
Attendees shared their appreciation for the opportunity to come together at the Regional Meeting and were reminded that they were not alone in the challenges they face. OSCC will continue to focus on advocacy giving Chambers a strong voice at the Capitol and a lasting impact on business policy.
The next Regional Meeting will be held on September 28th in Springfield. If you are interested in having a Regional Meeting or advocacy training at your Chamber, please contact Alison Hart.