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Deliberations over how to balance the state budget overshadowed most other topics during the 2017 Session, and education is more connected to the budget than just about any other aspect of government. 

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Oregon Business & Industry's (OBI) employment practices work this Session was more narrowly focused than in the past, as worker advocates and unions proposed fewer major policy changes.

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Climate policy, air quality, Department of Energy reorganization and expanding environmental regulations on business were the major energy and environment topics of the 2017 Legislative Session. 

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The 2017 Session started with a $1.8 billion budget gap and anticipation that the Legislature would either have to adopt spending controls, raise taxes, cut programs or use some combination of those approaches to balance the budget.

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Health care financing, particularly of Medicaid, was the dominant health care topic of the 2017 Legislative Session.  The Medicaid budget gap entering the 2017-19 biennium was forecast at approximately $900 million. An important driver of this deficit was the "on-ramp" to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

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Retailers faced several perennial issues this Session, including the ever-popular proposal to claim unredeemed gift card balances for the Common School Fund, requiring disclosure of shipping costs before the purchaser's address was identified, and attempts to lessen penalties for shoplifting.

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Though some of the bills described in the Environment & Energy section of this report involved transportation issues, one effort overshadowed all others when it came to transportation legislation in the 2017 Legislature. 

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Friday, June 30, at about 4 p.m., Sam Tannahill, Pat Reiten and Scott Parrish signed documents to officially merge Oregon Business Association (OBA) and Associated Oregon Industries (AOI) to form Oregon Business & Industry (OBI).

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With less than three weeks left until the end of the 2017 Session, the Oregon Legislature is working on several inter-related pieces of legislation that are needed to build a balanced budget and, perhaps, achieve other goals such as repairing and improving the state's crumbling transportation infrastructure.

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Businesses value clarity and certainty, which allows them to gauge risks when making financial decisions. Good legislation can provide clarity and encourage businesses to invest in growth. Poorly or vaguely written legislation can create uncertainty and discourage investment.

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