Category Archives: Advocacy with Government

Tigard Chamber Letter to Elected Officials on Save Small Business Coalition

 

 

 

March 30, 2020

Dear Congresswoman Bonamici and Senators Merkley and Wyden,

Thank you for your service and the important work you do, especially in difficult times as this. We are writing today to ask for your help to Save Small Business.

As a Chamber of Commerce, we view ourselves as first responders to the Business Community. During times a such as these, we are a reliable source of important information, have connections to important resources and have flexibility and agility to change as the needs of our community change. We are closest in touch with what information and help our businesses need. With the deluge of information everyone is experiencing, we serve as a sieve to disseminate and help effectively target necessary info for our businesses.

Our connections with our members brought to light how many businesses have had to reduce hours, layoff employees, and sadly, in some cases, close their doors for good. Many businesses do not qualify for disaster loan programs and some can’t afford to incur additional debt. As the voice of the business community, we need to take immediate action to assist business community to stay afloat during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

Together, with over 80 chambers of commerce and business associations, we joined the Save Small Business Coalition. The Save Small Business Coalition is committed to the survival of a vibrant business community as businesses across the US are feeling severe economic hardships as government mandates force restrictions and closures on business.

We know as our elected leaders you are aligned with our desire to keep our small business afloat, maintaining their employees, making recovery plans and be at the ready to do business as soon as possible and is allowed.

• This coalition is not about one single industry, this is about all small businesses across the nation.
• Small Businesses need funds right now to stay afloat, period. Getting small businesses, the funds to maintain the continuity of their business in the most expeditious way is of paramount importance. Many are in critical condition or on life support as it is.
• There is nothing in any business’s insurance that covers this unprecedented event of the Civil Authority of closing of businesses. Trying to reform the policy contracts after-the-fact will likely end up in protracted legal battles and debate while businesses fail and the families they employ suffer irreparable harm.
• We want to empower a potential solution for small businesses that works with the insurance industry backed by the federal government.
• We believe that with a federally funded backstop to cover the business continuity expenses through defined grants to business owners impacted, insurance carriers and agents could potentially act as a distribution center for funds and likely help define the terms of the grants based on their experience as claims payors and policy writers.
• We are advocating that Government funding be provided to the insurance carriers for a streamlined process without adversely impacting the overall insurance safety net.
• We are not asking our carriers to break or ignore contracts that are held by businesses with their current coverage. We are asking for extraordinary emergency action by the Government to empower an urgent solution that currently doesn’t exist.
• In addition to engaging you as our elected leaders we are seeking the collaborative support of not only Chamber of Commerce members across the country but many of the largest insurance industry associations representing carriers, agents and brokers including but not limited to: the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, The Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, The Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, the American Property and Casualty Insurance Association.
• We believe that the faster we can collaborate and work together to find a federally funded solution for small business continuity that can be dispersed immediately to small businesses the better we will be able to save this vital heartbeat of the American economy.

On a regular basis, the Chamber is a constant advocate for business. The work we do together is more important than ever.

We hope you’ll work with us on a solution to help the many businesses and nonprofits negatively affected by this crisis as we push for a Federal solution. Will you join us?

Debi Mollahan, CEO Tigard Chamber

Megan De Salvo, Chair of the Board, Co-Owner, Edge One Media


 

 

 

 


Distribution:
Tigard Mayor Jason Snider
Tigard City Councilors: John Goodhouse, Tom Anderson, Heidi Lueb, Liz Newton
Washington County Chair Kathryn Harrington
Washington County Commissioners: Roy Rogers, Dick Schouten, Pam Treece, Jerry Willey State Representatives: Margaret Doherty, Courtney Neron
State Senators: Ginny Burdick, Kim Thatcher, Mark Hass, Rob Wagner
Oregon Insurance Commissioner Andrew Stolfi
Executive Branch: Governor Brown, Secretary of State Bev Clarno, Treasurer Tobias Read

PRESS RELEASE – TIGARD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE JOINS BUSINESS ASSOCIATIONS ACROSS THE NATION TO DEMAND CHANGE IN BUSINESS CONTINUITY INSURANCE TO SAVE SMALL BUSINESSES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 27, 2020
Contact: Nancy Hoffman Vanyek
nancy@sanfernandovalleychamber.com
(818)989-0300

TIGARD, OR – As many businesses have been justifiably anxious about how to keep their businesses afloat during this time of COVID-19, the Tigard Chamber of Commerce along with over 80 chambers of commerce and business associations across the nation created the Save Small Business Coalition (SSBC) to address exactly that concern. Businesses need cash now, period. The coalition, spanning 15 states, wants to empower a solution for both small businesses and the insurance industry, backed by the federal government.

In the past few weeks, communities across the nation have seen their local businesses make the difficult decision to reduce hours, lay off employees, and sadly, in some cases, close their doors for good. Many businesses do not qualify for disaster loan programs and some cannot afford to incur additional debt. There is nothing in any business’s insurance that covers this unprecedented event of the Civil Authority of closing of businesses. Trying to reform the policy contracts after-the-fact will likely end up in protracted legal battles and debate while businesses fail and the families they employ suffer irreparable harm. The SSBC believes that with a federally funded backstop to cover the business continuity expenses through defined grants to business owners impacted, insurance carriers and agents could potentially act as a distribution center for funds and likely help define the terms of the grants based on their experience as claims payors and policy writers. The coalition advocates that Government funding be provided to the insurance carriers for a streamlined process without adversely impacting the overall insurance safety net.

A member of the California State Assembly, Adrin Nazarian, supports the coalition’s efforts in California, stating that “Small business is the backbone of our economy and it is vital to rebuilding that economy once we defeat the COVID-19 virus.  However it is imperative that the insurance industry recognize the ‘business continuity’ claims of small business if this essential part of our economy is to survive.”

In addition to engaging the government, SSBC is seeking the collaborative support of not only Chamber of Commerce members across the country but many of the largest insurance industry associations representing carriers, agents and brokers including but not limited to: the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies; The Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers; The Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America; and the American Property and Casualty Insurance Association. The faster all of these organizations can collaborate and work together to find a federally funded solution for small business continuity that can be dispersed immediately to small businesses, the quicker the vital heartbeat of the American economy can be saved.

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The Save Small Business Coalition is committed to the survival of a vibrant business community as businesses across the US are feeling severe economic hardships as government mandates force restrictions and closures on business.

Oregon

  • Albany Chamber
  • Bandon Chamber
  • Beaverton Chamber
  • Eugene Chamber
  • Hillsboro Chamber
  • North Clackamas Chamber
  • Roseburg Area Chamber
  • Sherwood Area Chamber
  • The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County
  • Tigard Chamber
  • Tualatin Chamber
  • Wilsonville Area Chamber

Arizona

  • Buckeye Valley Camber
  • Carefree Cave Creek
  • Lake Havasu Chamber

California

  • Bakersfield Chamber
  • Brea Chamber
  • Carlsbad Chamber
  • Century City Chamber
  • Corona Chamber
  • Culver City Chamber
  • Encino Chamber
  • Exeter Chamber
  • Fortuna Chamber
  • Fresno Chamber
  • Greater Coachella Valley Chamber
  • Greater Riverside Chambers
  • Greater Riverside Chambers
  • Greater San Fernando Valley
  • Green Public Affairs & Campaigns
  • Hollywood Chamber
  • LAGLCC
  • Lake Elsinore Chamber
  • Lancaster Chamber
  • Livermore Chamber
  • Lodi Chamber
  • Long Beach Chamber
  • Los Angeles Area Chamber
  • Los Angeles Area Chamber
  • Murrieta/Wildomar Chamber
  • North Valley Regional Chamber
  • Oceanside Chamber
  • Oxnard Chamber
  • Pleasanton Chamber
  • Rancho Mirage Chamber
  • San Luis Obispo Chamber
  • Santa Maria Chamber
  • Santa Monica Chamber
  • Santa Monica Chamber
  • Simi Valley Chamber
  • Sonoma Valley Chamber
  • Tahoe Chamber
  • The Silicon Valley Organization
  • Torrace Chamber
  • Tulare Chamber
  • Victory Valley Chamber
  • Vista Chamber
  • West Hollywood Chamber
  • West Valley Warner Center Chamber

Colorado

  • Basalt Chamber
  • Glenwood Springs Chamber
  • Gunnison Country Chamber
  • Lyons Chamber
  • Vail Valley Partnership

Indiana

  • Madison Chamber

Iowa

  • Marshalltown Chamber

Louisiana

  • Broussard Chamber

Mississippi

  • Petal Area Chamber

Nebraska

  • McCook Chamber

Nevada

  • Boulder City Chamber

New Hampshire

  • The Falls Chamber

Ohio

  • Mason Deerfield Chamber

Oklahoma

  • Johnston County

South Dakota

  • Pierre Area Chamber

Texas

  • Kaufman Chamber
  • Kyle Chamber
  • Longview Chamber
  • Lubbock Chamber
  • Montgomery Area Chamber
  •  

Wyoming

  • Campbell County Chamber

Paid Family Leave Legislation

Paid Family Leave (HB 2005) is the last remaining Paid Family Leave (PFL) Bill under consideration. OSCC is still awaiting amendments for a new paid family leave bill that would implement a new 12-week paid family leave program for all businesses down to the first employee. Employers with under 25 employees would not be required to do an employer side payroll withhold, only an employee payroll withhold.  We don’t have final language on the proposal, but we can share a sheet that shows the features of the new proposal. 

Previous versions of this proposal under various bills including HB 3031 provided up 32 weeks of leave and required employers with 1 plus employees to do employer side payroll withholds and didn’t accommodate or recognize like or better plans already provided by business.  Based on feedback from business organizations including chambers (our letter to legislators), the remaining PFL bill has been revised to a more manageable size/set of requirements.

Remember, several business organizations have asked for passage of this proposal, thereby increasing the likelihood of passage. The theory was that if business did not support a paid family leave proposal in the 2019 session, we would be confronted with a ballot measure in 2020 that would propose a far more costly and unwieldy system

PERS Unfunded Liability – Legislation & Solutions

PERS cost savings legislation passes. SB 1049 passed the Senate with a bare 16-vote majority and then followed with passage in the House with a bare 31-vote majority, but only after Speaker Kotek stood ‘at ease’ on the House floor and called Democrats into her office to twist enough arms to secure the 31 votes she needed.

It was perhaps the most impressive display of political clout that we’ve seen all session. The Speaker literally marshaled all 31 votes she needed from her own caucus (no Republicans voted for the bill), and in the process infuriated her caucus’ biggest constituency and benefactor (public employee unions). It was truly impressive.

As a refresher on the substance of SB 1049:

  • Tier 1 and Tier 2 members, who are public employees who entered the PERS system before 2004, would have 2.5% of their salaries diverted from their individual retirement accounts into paying off the system’s debt.
     
  • Workers hired 2004 of later (PERS Tier 3 and Tier 4), would face a lower diversion – 0.75% of their salaries.
     
  • The biggest cost savings comes from the re-amortization of the pension debt. Over 2/3 of the savings comes from this re-financing provision.
     
  • A reduction in assumed interest rate for retirees who use the “money match” method of calculating their pension benefits.
     
  • SAIF is largely held harmless.
     
  • About $600 million in pension cost savings per biennium across state government and schools.

For more information on the PERS Unfunded liability, how we got there and possible solutions and coalition information, go to PERSSolutions.org

Oregon Legislative Update 5-21-19

Week 17 – State Legislative Update

Activity on Major Issues

  • The $2.8 billion Commercial Activity Tax (HB 3427) was signed into law by Governor Brown. Starting on January 1, 2020, all businesses doing business in Oregon will see:
     
    • A gross receipts tax rate of 0.57% on Oregon sales over $1 million;
    • A 35% deduction from taxable sales for labor OR business inputs, whichever is higher;
    • An exemption for groceries (defined as those that qualify for ‘SNAP’) and transportation fuel.
  • Cap-and-Trade (HB 2020). On Friday, HB 2020-A passed its first major milestone. After three hours of debate, the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction adopted the -94 amendments on a party line vote and sent the bill to the Joint Committee on Ways & Means for further deliberation. Democrats voted down all other amendments that were brought forward, although it was widely acknowledged that rural Oregon would suffer job loss and economic hardship under the bill.

    As currently written, if this bill were to pass in its current form, transportation costs will increase. Natural gas costs will increase. Propane costs will increase. Local food processors and manufacturers will face a real competitive disadvantage. Small businesses and households will see increases in transportation and energy costs.
    OSCC still believes there are still opportunities to change this bill in the Ways & Means Committee.  

What happened last week?

  • The state revenue forecast added $770 million to state coffers for the upcoming 2019-2021 biennium. Just from the last forecast in March, every metric grew by eye-popping numbers due to a historic influx of revenue over the tax season.

    In addition to the influx of $770 million into the upcoming budget cycle, the kicker almost doubled in size.  It’s now projected at $1.4 billion. Net reserve funds are now nearly $3.5 billion.

    But the real impact of the historic revenue forecast is that it will tamp down on talk of additional tax revenue for the remainder of the 2019 legislative session.
  • The legislature’s attempt at PERS reform was unveiled with Senate Bill 1049. SB 1049 contains the following provisions:
     
    • Tier 1 and Tier 2 members, who are public employees who entered the PERS system before 2004, would have 2.5% of their salaries diverted from their individual retirement accounts into paying off the system’s debt.
    • Workers hired 2004 or later (PERS Tier 3 and Tier 4), would face a lower diversion – 0.75% of their salaries.
    • Public employees earning less than $30,000 a year would be exempted.
       
    • A reduction in assumed interest rate for retirees who use the “money match” method of calculating their pension benefits.
    • Most significantly, legislators seem to have abandoned efforts to raid SAIF to cover PERS liability, which is a good development for Oregon employers. 

The future of SB 1049 is uncertain. Although it is only a modest cost-saving measure, the unions oppose it in force and it is unlikely that majority Democrats can carry the issue themselves.

  • Equal Pay Technical Fixes (SB 123-A). On Tuesday, the Oregon Senate passed SB 123 unanimously. The bill includes several important technical fixes to give employers clarity in implementing Oregon’s Equal Pay Act. Oregon’s law is the most comprehensive in the country, and it has been difficult for many employers – large, small, and seasonal – to implement. We anticipate rulemaking later this year to address several other issues identified by Sen. Kathleen Taylor and Sen. Tim Knopp.

Other key issues coming up this week.

  • Prevailing wages in enterprise zones (HB 2408). We are expecting the Senate Workforce Committee to take up HB 2408 this week. In its current form, the bill requires prevailing wages to be paid on private enterprise zone projects of $20 million or more. OSCC is actively opposing and lobbying the legislation.
  • Lawsuit Damages (HB 2014). We are expecting the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote on HB 2014 this week. HB 2014 would repeal Oregon’s legal limit of $500,000 on non-economic damages in personal injury and negligence lawsuit claims. OSCC, health care groups, and business organizations are opposing this legislation because it is a significant factor in driving up health care costs and general liability costs for employers.
  • Paid Family Leave is still under discussion. The last remaining bill alive looks something like this – Details of this are being worked out now.  More like the Washington state model.  Business has asked for it as long as it more clearly mirrors the Washington model. Current scenario.  – Employer employee split 40/60, 12 weeks for serious medical conditions, birth. Same qualifying factors for OFLA, business under 25 employees, exempt, but employees have to pay in those businesses.  Only those (businesses) who pay into system are available for training grants to cover those employees on leave.  Leave requirements apply to any employee down to 1 employee, even if exempt as under 25 employees.  Employer plans we need to meet or exceed these benefits to get a waiver.  More details as we get them.

There are fewer than 45-days before session adjourns, and NOW is the time to make your voice heard.