On Monday, July 6, the 2015 Oregon Legislature finished its business. Most observers agree this was unlike any session in recent memory. Before the session really got underway, Governor John Kitzhaber was forced to resign on February 18 and was replaced by Oregon’s newly appointed Governor Kate Brown. This shift in the political landscape, combined with a dominant majority party (Senate: 18 Democrats, 12 Republicans; House: 35 Democrats, 25 Republicans), led to what many observers agree was one of the most contentious and partisan sessions.
AGC’s Public Affairs Team closely monitored over 250 of the 2,600 bills introduced. Bills most critical to our industry and members included: the expansion of prevailing wage rates to private work, multiple additional responsible bidding requirements, and attempts to impose California-like off-road clean diesel requirements on our industry. AGC was able to defeat or modify all of the most critical bills directly aimed at our industry. AGC also worked closely with its industry and business partners to defeat or mitigate many bills dramatically impacting the broader business climate in Oregon. These bills included: the expansion of Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) authority, mandated paid sick leave, workers’ compensation, and flexible scheduling regulations.
Legislative decisions regarding budget investments in career technical education (CTE) and a failed proposed transportation infrastructure funding bill came in the closing two weeks of the 2015 session. AGC with its coalition partners led an aggressive and successful effort to double Oregon’s current CTE investment from $10 million (est.) to $20 million (est.) in the next biennium. A late session bipartisan effort to increase transportation funding and undo the recently passed low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) failed when environmental groups refused to negotiate an alternative to the LCFS that passed in March. The industries most directly impacted by the LCFS have already filed two court challenges and initiated the first steps necessary to overturn the law at the ballot in the 2016 election.
AGC’s 2015 Legislative Session Report in its entirety can be found here. This report is intended to provide highlights on the bills and issues most critical to our industry and members. If you have questions on these bills or on AGC’s positions, please contact John Rakowitz.