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Chair's Blog

An overview of the Alliance’s 2013 legislative agenda February 2013
By Dennis Rawlinson

Now that the 2013 Oregon legislative session is underway, I wanted to share what the Alliance is working on in Salem during the next few months.  Private-sector job creation and retention is our first priority and drives everything we do.  With jobs as our fundamental focus, our key policy priorities include: a trained and educated workforce; strategic economic development; available and development-ready employment land supply; a vibrant central city; modernized transportation infrastructure; and reasonable regulation and fees.

As we do each session, we are working under the Oregon Business Plan umbrella, in coordination with our statewide business association partners – Associated Oregon Industries, Oregon Business Association and Oregon Business Council.  More specifically, we are concentrating our efforts to support the Business Plan’s initiatives on education redesign, PERS reform, corrections reform, funding for the I-5 bridge replacement project and improving industrial land supply.

It is only a few weeks into session and we have already made tremendous headway. The Oregon House and Senate passed legislation enabling the I-5 bridge replacement project to move forward. The project has been the Alliance’s number one transportation priority for most of the last decade, so this action by the Legislature is quite significant. I hope you will continue to support the Alliance as we move this bill onto Governor Kitzhaber’s desk for his signature.

The Alliance is also currently leading the charge on bills that would give local governments greater incentives to prepare industrial land for development, in the form of forgivable loans and grants.  These concepts originated from the Value of Jobs Regional Industrial Lands study, which showed that there is a lack of market-ready land for industrial development and that state assistance is needed to get these sites market ready. If developed, 12 sites could generate $217 million in payroll tax over 20 years. These bills were recently endorsed by The Oregonian’s editorial board.

Finally, the Alliance is working with municipalities and chambers across the state on a bill that would clarify a city’s authority to manage sidewalk behavior. In the city of Portland, downtown employees, business owners, residents and property managers continue to express great frustration with current sidewalk behavior in our annual survey and in a recent Portland Business Journal poll. We believe that cities in Oregon need the ability to develop engagement tools that support sidewalk use and access for everyone who uses them.

As we have over the past initial weeks, if there is a particular bill that needs some extra attention and support, we will send out an action alert.  If you’re interested in getting more involved in the Alliance’s advocacy work, I encourage you to consider joining a committee. You can find more information about our committees and the topics they cover here.

Stay tuned for progress updates around the Alliance’s legislative agenda! If you aren’t signed up for Alliance communications, you can do so here.
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