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Oregon is about to lead the nation into uncertain retirement-savings territory. OregonSaves, the state-run retirement plan approved by the 2015 Legislature, was launched as planned on July 1 with a small pilot program despite the recent repeal of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) safe harbor for state-run auto-enrollment plans.

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The National Retail Federation (NRF) held its annual Retail Advocates Summit this week in Washington, D.C., and the event received a little extra attention thanks to a timely appearance by Vice President Mike Pence.

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Steady growth. It's a good thing, and that's exactly what the association continues to enjoy, especially when it comes to its two biggest member benefits programs: HealthChoice health insurance coverage and CompSAFE, the group workers' compensation insurance plan.

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Oregon's minimum wage increased on July 1, as it does every July through at least 2023 under the minimum wage law passed in 2016.

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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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