Proclaiming a "victory for working families across the state", House Democrats beat back Republican attempts to pull seven bills dying in committees to the floor and then passed legislation that will burden Oregon businesses with devastating costs that will make it harder for Oregonians to find jobs. Do you want to read that again?
Senate Bill 454 requires employers to provide 40 hours of paid sick leave per year to all employees. When fully implemented, the mandate will add $914 million in costs for doing business in Oregon. Businesses with as few as ten employees are covered under this law and there are no exemptions for agricultural or other natural resource businesses that depend on seasonal workers. There is, however, one lone exemption for public-employee unions.
House Republicans unanimously rejected the partisan legislation, calling the proposal flawed and disproportionately burdensome on Oregon’s natural resource and agriculture industries. They also expressed concerns about the impact of the legislation on rural communities, local shops and businesses and youth employment, and described the measure as another example of government overreach and intervention in private industry.
"When I think about this mandatory paid sick leave proposal, I can't help but think of the kids in my district who won’t be able to find jobs because our local businesses can't afford to hire new employees," said Marion County Republican Representative Sherrie Sprenger (Dist. 17), who voiced concerns about the impact of mandatory paid sick leave on youth employment. "Forcing another costly mandate on our local businesses discourages them from hiring younger Oregonians – the high school students and college students who are saving for tuition and trying to pay their student loans."
"Oregonians sent us here to do what’s best for our state and their interests. I stand here today in support of those who pour their entire selves into their business," said House Republican Leader Mike McLane (Dist. 55). "The choices we make today in Salem will have a lasting impact on our state in both good and bad economic times. Passing this flawed mandate in such a partisan fashion is one of the more troubling choices the Legislature has made this session."
“Most farms are small and family-owned in my district, but together, they make up a billion-dollar industry in Klamath Falls,” said Representative Gail Whitsett (Dist. 56). “If this sick leave policy goes into effect without an exemption for farmers and other seasonal and agricultural employers, it will hurt these industries that provide countless high-wage jobs for families in an area of the state that is still struggling to recover from an economic recession.”
The seven Republican bills, some with Democrat co-sponsors, focused on economic development, job creation, investing in research and development, and supporting local employers and small businesses. "House Republicans today stood with Oregon employers and local job creators by moving forward these common-sense bills to grow our economy and bring jobs into our communities," said Leader McLane. "It's unfortunate, but not surprising, that Democrats voted down every single one of these measures as they continue to create a roadmap that destroys Oregon businesses."
Among the Republican bills were: House Bill 2390, which would have allowed an employer to subtract from his federal taxable income up to $300 per employee for cash dividends paid to participants in workplace wellness programs; House Bill 2245, which would have increased the crop donation tax credit to encourage growers to donate additional product to charitable organizations and food banks; and House Bill 2752, which would have increased the maximum amount of corporate excise tax credit allowed for qualified research activities. The full list of bills is available in this press release; follow the links to examine each bill.