Oregon Legislature Wraps Up Intense Session

As the fast-paced 2016 legislative session was coming to a close, a deal in the Senate that killed three bills ended the delays and allowed the session to come to a quick end.

While the purpose of the short session is to make minor adjustments to state budgets, address emergency situations, and fix unintended consequences from the previous regular session, major policy changes took place in a rushed environment.

Headlines for the 2016 session centered around some high profile initiatives—an increase in the minimum wage, an affordable housing package, and a first-in-the-nation bill to move from coal to renewable fuels.

It was a compact thirty days, often colored by election-year ballot measures, and not without controversy. Some argued that the legislature tried to do too much. Others said legislators should have tackled even larger issues, such as a statewide transportation plan. 

“We did everything we could to inject reason into this session, slow the legislative process down, and make sure we’re not setting Oregonians up for failure from unintended consequences of complex legislation that hasn’t been fully vetted,” said Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli.

Senate Democratic Leader Ginny Burdick noted, “Senate Democrats are proud to have accomplished many of our goals to help and improve the lives of everyday Oregonians throughout the state. In a short session, we enacted legislation that will make a positive difference for all Oregonians.  We led the Legislature by developing a new minimum wage proposal that gives a raise to working Oregonians and reflects Oregon’s regional economic differences. We moved forward with affordable housing and tenant protection bills that will help alleviate the housing crisis faced all over the state.’

The Northwest Credit Union Association has worked several bills this session of interest to Oregon credit unions.  According to Pamela Leavitt, Northwest Credit Union Association Policy Advisor for Oregon State Advocacy and Grassroots, the priorities include: 

  • House Bill 4094, exempting financial institutions that provide financial services to legal marijuana related businesses, researchers and laboratories from any criminal law in Oregon. The legislation directs the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and Oregon Health Authority to provide financial institutions with information related to licensed or registered marijuana related businesses, researchers, and laboratories upon request. The bill also directs the Department of Consumer and Business Services to study and report on any legislation or administrative action required to facilitate financing of businesses that engage in production, processing, or sale of marijuana and marijuana derived products. HB 4094 awaits the Governor’s signature.
  • One of three bills negotiated by Senate Republicans to “kill” was House Bill 4131, requiring financial institutions to develop data match agreements with the Department of Revenue to identify assets held at financial institutions by delinquent debtors. The bill died in committee, but will be introduced next year as part of the deal. The legislation would have made it illegal to misuse information shared pursuant to data match agreements. Penalties could include up to five years imprisonment, $125,000 fine, or both. The legislation would authorize the Division of Child Support of the Department of Justice to enter agreements to share information relating to hiring of individuals in this state with other divisions of the department or with the Department of Revenue.  
  • Governor Kate Brown has signed Senate Bill 1532 into law. This legislation updates the Oregon Credit Enhancement Fund. The Oregon Credit Enhancement Fund (CEF) is a loan insurance program available to lenders to assist businesses in obtaining access to working capital or fixed-asset financing. The program has an enrollment fee typically between 1.25 and 3.5 percent of the insured amount, based on the term and type of the credit. Loan insurance is typically up to 80 percent of the loan amount, with a maximum exposure of $2 million, and a maximum term of either 15 years or the useful life of assets securing the loan. For lines of credit, insurance is for up to 75 percent of the operating lines of credit, up to $1.5 million, with an initial term of one year.  

Next year’s long legislative session will present deeper opportunity for policy advancement. Credit union CEOs are asked to share their input with the NWCUA on charter enhancements and other legislative improvements at this time. The State Issues Working Groups will then recommend strategies which will be further reviewed by credit union leaders this summe

Questions about this story? Contact Lynn Heider: 503.350.2225, lheider@nwcua.org.

Posted in Advocacy News, NWCUA.