Oregon Legislative Week in Review
May 10, 2011
May 10, 2011
Credit Union Modernization Bill. Last week, a hearing was held on Senate Bill 177 in the House General Government & Consumer Protection Committee. Scott Burgess of Rivermark Community Credit Union, Kevin Cole of Maps Credit Union, Hal Scoggins of Farleigh Wada Witt, and Pamela Leavitt testified and answered a number of questions. In total, the committee spent about 45 minutes considering the bill. Most of the questions from committee members were related to CUSOs, such as: what kinds of products and services CUSOs may offer, what powers a CUSO has, and how CUSOs are treated from a tax perspective. Staff anticipated questions regarding CEO compensation from Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-47), because he has shown an interest in the topic in the past. However, Smith focused his attention on CUSO-related matters during the hearing.
The next step in the bill’s progress is a work session and committee vote on the bill.
State Bank. The House version of the “state bank” bill, House Bill 3452, failed to move out of the House Rules Committee last week on a 4-4 vote. All Republicans on the committee voted against the proposal. The bill creates the Oregon Economic Development Finance Authority. The Senate companion measure, SB 889, is still working its way through the legislative process. The legislation is considered an alternative to the Oregon state bank concept. The Finance Authority would be charged with entering into contracts with state agencies for the investment and management of state funds. Earlier versions of the bill used a definition that excluded federally-chartered credit unions from participation on the Finance Authority Advisory Council; however Association staff worked with bill sponsors to draft an amendment that allows credit unions to participate.
Legislative Session. Last week marked the last day for bills to move out of their committee of origin, and both the House and Senate are facing a backlog of legislation awaiting action on the floor. Committee work was slow this week, but is expected to pick up next week. The Ways & Means and Redistricting Committees continue to tour the state, holding public hearings.
Oregon Health Insurance Exchange. SB 99 creates the Oregon Health Insurance Exchange, which would create insurance opportunities for small businesses and individuals in conjunction with the federal health care reform act passed by Congress last year. The Exchange would be available to individuals and businesses with 50 or fewer employees in 2014. Individuals and businesses in states that fail to pass their own exchanges will be eligible for participation in the federal government’s health insurance exchange; however, Oregon was awarded a $48 million grant to develop an internet-based exchange.
On Monday, SB 99 passed the Senate by a 24-5 vote. Proponents of the bill include Republican Senators Alan Olsen (R-20) and Larry George (R-13), and Democrats Susan Bonamici (D-17) and Jackie Dingfelder (D-23). The bipartisan vote will mean this legislation has a better chance of moving through the House without substantial changes. While hearings on the bill have not yet started, the Association anticipates House Health Committee Chair, Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-33), to raise a number of issues. Several Oregon business organizations are supporting SB 99 including the National Federation of Independent Business and the Oregon Small Business Coalition, of which the Association is a member.