February Message from Board Chair Scott Parrish

Published Tuesday, February 5, 2019
by Scott Parrish

OBI Members:

I want to thank you all for the work you have done to keep OBI strong.

Although it is only two weeks old, the 2019 legislative session has gotten off to a roaring start, with several pieces of sweeping legislation already on the table. Our OBI team is on top of it, at the Capitol every single day to make sure the perspective of Oregon business is heard in every hearing room and every office. We can do that only because of your support.

As the session progresses, it will be crucial that we, as people who actually run businesses, communicate directly with legislators. The Legislature is proposing significant policy changes in the areas of taxation, environmental policy, employment and healthcare. If legislators don’t hear directly from Oregonians with real experience in business operations, they may not know how bills could adversely impact Oregon’s economy. To that end, please mark your calendars for February 28 for OBI Lobby Day at the Capitol and join us in talking to legislators about what is important to Oregon business. This link will take you to the registration page.

As the president & CEO of A-dec, I have seen how hastily written legislation can adversely impact our employees and our company. A good example is HB 3458, passed in 2017, which limited the number of hours an employee could be allowed to work each week.

This law, while perhaps well-meaning, has inflicted real hardships for our business and so many Oregon manufacturers. For one, employees are frustrated that they can’t volunteer to work extra hours to earn extra money for holiday spending, vacations or special purchases. Like many companies, at A-dec, we’re in a tough spot because some employees think these are rules that were imposed by the company. When we explain that it is a state law, they just don’t understand, and frankly neither do we.

Another problem is that the bill gets in our way to be responsive to the international markets we operate in. It affects our ability to be nimble in how we adapt to global market demands: if we can’t be sure about personnel deployment, we have to think hard about taking on some opportunities and whether we can meet the deadlines.

We absolutely believe employees must be protected, and safety standards cannot be compromised. But when employees want to work overtime, and can do so without impacting safety, we need room to allow it. The 2017 bill went too far, and it is actually hurting the people it was supposed to protect. I hope my fellow manufacturers will join me in asking their own legislators to fix this situation by supporting SB 110 and HB 2175. You can also visit www.reformoregonovertime.com to communicate directly with legislators.

Manufacturing overtime is just one of the many issues on the table at the 2019 legislative session. The carbon reduction bill, introduced last week, is massive at 98 pages and its impact will be felt in every corner of our state. Business taxes are clearly on the table, as are even more adjustments to workplace rules. We are at the table, making sure your interests are heard.

The OBI team will keep you updated regularly on issues of interest through regular communications, including our weekly Capitol Central newsletter. Please also don’t hesitate to reach out to them if you have questions or concerns about any pending bills. Use obi@oregonbusinessindustry.com to reach staff, or contact me at scottparrish@oregonbusinessindustry.com.

Together, we can help legislators make choices that support a thriving and healthy economy.

Scott Parrish,
OBI Board Chair
President & CEO, A-dec