Tumultuous Legislative Session Offers Few Bright Spots for Oregon's Small Business Owners

Date: March 15, 2016 Last Edit: March 17, 2016

Oregon’s contentious, short legislative session saw a flurry of bills getting passed—some helpful, some harmful to business owners.

Tumultuous Legislative Session Offers Few Bright Spots for Oregon’s Small Business Owners

Weeks of contentious debate—and even a temporary halt in proceedings at the House chamber due to protests—were put to an end as legislators adjourned their 35-day session. Minimum wage, housing reform and foster care were all tackled during this term, sparking debate on whether such large bills should be discussed in a short session.

Minimum wage was the most controversial issue argued, which culminated in the passage of a Senate Bill 1532. The bill will raise the state’s minimum wage to be the biggest in the country, going as high as $14.75 an hour by 2022. Different areas throughout the state will have different wages depending on their population density.

“There are things we should be doing, and things that we should not be doing in a short session going into an election year,” NFIB/Oregon State Director Anthony Smith says. And massive minimum wage increases fall into that latter category.

On the Bright Side

Two smaller bills that were approved should help small businesses run more efficiently, Smith says.

The first bill gives the Office of Small Business Assistance authority to communicate with city, county and state regulatory agencies on behalf of small business owners. Allowing this agency to advocate for small businesses will streamline regulations and allow owners more freedom to run their business, Smith says.

“What they’re going to find is that there are redundant regulations,” Smith says.

A second approved bill will limit the amount of temporary rules regulatory agencies can place on Oregon businesses. Agencies use temporary rules to address issues it feels have an “imminent public interest,” Smith says. But these agencies are using the temporary rulemaking process too much, which is hampering small business.

House Bill 4106 forces representatives from these agencies to present annual rationales to the legislature on every temporary rule issued that year.

“What we’re hoping is that this allows small businesses to be involved in the rulemaking process that affects them,” Smith says.

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