Legislative Update: Oregon House Votes to Boost Support for Small Businesses, Local Economies, Emergency Services


Last week  the Oregon House of Representatives passed two job creating bills that will help businesses grow in Oregon. House Bill 4005 would increase the number of “electronic commerce zones” the state can approve from 10 to 15. The “e-commerce” designation provides additional tax incentives to encourage technology companies to locate in traditional enterprise zones.  Senate Bill 1563 would raise the cap on a business development fund that the state offers to small businesses looking to hire and expand.

“Oregon’s economy is showing some signs of recovery, but it’s not growing fast enough,” Rep. Joe Gallegos (D – Hillsboro) said. “This bill will provide opportunities for more communities to compete for private investment that will be critical in helping more Oregonians get back to work.”
Businesses locating in an enterprise zone can get a three- to five-year property tax waiver, and the e-commerce designation allows business owners to claim an additional credit on their state income taxes that equals 25 percent of their capital investment. The credit is capped at $2 million per year, per business, for up to five years.

Another measure that passed the House – Senate Bill 1563 – would raise the cap on a business development fund that the state offers to small businesses looking to hire and expand.
“This program has helped small businesses get off the ground throughout Oregon, but we need to do more,” said Rep. Shemia Fagan (D – Clackamas/East Portland), who was recently recognized as one of the top business leaders in the state by the Portland Business Journal. “Expanding this program will help more businesses grow and more Oregonians get back to work.”

Oregon’s Entrepreneurial Development Loan Fund (EDLF) helps start-ups, micro-enterprises and small businesses expand or become established. Since 2009, Business Oregon, the agency that manages the fund, has provided more than $1.6 million in loans to more than 50 small businesses in sectors ranging from natural resources to high tech. SB 1563 raises the amount of support that a small business can receive through EDLF to a total of $100,000, up from the current cap of $70,000.

“Today our legislators made a clear statement: we support small business,” said Jim Houser, co-chair of Main Street Alliance of Oregon, which is a coalition of more than 1,800 small businesses. “Our legislators who voted in favor of this bill know that access to capital can mean the difference between adding family-wage jobs on one hand, and losing those jobs on the other.”

House Votes to Boost Support for Emergency Responders
Oregon House of Representatives passed legislation that will boost support for the emergency responders and 911 services that help keep Oregon’s communities safe.

Much of the funding for Oregon’s 911 centers comes from a 75-cent monthly charge on landlines and standard cell phone lines, but prepaid cell phone users have not been charged anything even though they benefit from access to the same emergency services.

House Bill 4055 is the result of years of work to include prepaid cell phones in the funding stream for Oregon’s emergency responders. Under this policy, phone companies would pay the charge for the first nine months of next year, with customers paying a 75-cent charge on each purchase of prepaid cell phone credits starting in October 2015. HB 4055 also applies to Voice over Internet Protocol service, and is written to ensure the law would apply to future technology innovations.

“This is about keeping our neighborhoods safe,” House Majority Leader Val Hoyle (D – Eugene) said. “Closing the prepaid cell phone loophole will help our emergency responders continue to do their jobs.”

The state has about 60 centers taking thousands of 911 calls every day and dispatching emergency crews to Oregonians in need.

“All Oregonians should be able to call 911 and get the help they need in an emergency,” said Rep. Chris Gorsek (D – Troutdale), a former Portland Police Officer. “It’s exciting that we were finally able to come up with a legislative solution to this important issue and boost support for emergency responders who are working every day to keep our communities safe.”

HB 4055 passed the House 56-1 and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

HB 4005 passed the House unanimously and now heads to the Senate. SB 1563 won its final legislative approval and will be sent to the Governor for his signature.


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