2012 Legislative Session – What to Watch

February 1st, 2012 by dlombardi

Today, the Oregon Legislature settled in for a month long legislative session that will focus on the state’s budget and other reforms.  The Oregon Working Families Party will be paying close attention to the activities in Salem – which includes two pieces of legislation that will have a tremendous impact on Oregon’s economy.

Oregon Investment Act (OIA) – HB4040:

Submitted by State Treasurer, Ted Wheeler, along with a bi-partisan list of co-sponsors, the OIA has language aimed at helping get loans to Oregon small businesses, the bill also places a strong focus on incentives for so-called “venture capital” expansion, going so far as to create tax advantages for venture capital firms should they bring their money to Oregon.  The OIA is not a State Bank bill.  However, it can be an opportunity to focus the State’s investment practices towards helping small businesses and family farms. Click here for our legislative critique of this bill.

Saving Oregon’s Paper Mills (and Jobs!) – HB4142:

The export of America’s paper waste to China is negatively impacting Oregon’s paper mills – causing them to struggle with high prices and dwindling supply.  These struggles have contributed to mill closures and bankruptcies and hundreds of jobs lost throughout the state — with more on the brink.

HB4142, sponsored by Co-Speaker Arnie Roblan, the Republican and Democratic chairs of the Business and Labor Committee, and many other Representatives, will begin to address this problem by expanding the state’s preference for procurement of recycled products which is already written into law*, to include a preference for paper manufactured at paper mills located in the state. as long as the cost of that paper does not exceed the cost of non-recycled paper or paper manufactured outside Oregon by more than 10%.

This is not the full solution to the closure of our paper mills, but coupled with federal action it could help to save thousands of family wage green jobs in our State.

For a full analysis of the issue, CLICK HERE.
For a fact sheet regarding this issue, CLICK HERE.

Stay tuned to our website as the 2012 legislative session moves along for more updates on these and other pieces of legislation that will have an impact on Oregon’s working families.
*(ORS 279A.125)

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