Monday June 28 – Recent PSU report estimates cost of Oregon evictions in billions
The Portland State University Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative (HRAC) issued a report estimating that over 125,000 Oregon households are at risk of being evicted when the federal moratorium on evictions expires this month, costing taxpayers as much as $4.7 billion. The collaborative utilized data compiled from emergency medical services filings, child welfare and juvenile justice services and institutions like emergency shelters. It is unclear the number of households eligible for rental assistance in time to stave off eviction. “If we want to be truly responsible, we should allow everyone to stay in their homes while we figure out how many still need rent assistance and whether they can access that assistance,” said Marisa Zapata, HRAC Director and PSU Associate Professor of Land-Use Planning.
Tuesday June 29 – Despite promises, Oregon gives tax breaks to Timber industry, again
As the 2020–21 legislative session concluded in late June, Oregon state lawmakers removed the remaining $15 million mandatory annual harvest tax, which is levied against the timber industry in exchange for the cutting down of Oregon’s forests. This action jettisoned $9 million in yearly income for the state, which goes towards Oregon’s enforcement of state logging regulations and laws by the Department of Forestry, and provides funds to Oregon State University’s forestry research. “The tax cut came in the final days of the session after the Senate failed to pass a separate measure, approved by the House of Representatives, that aimed to overhaul the Oregon Forest Resources Institute,” OPB reported. OPB and The Oregonian found that, in an Aug. 2020 investigation by ProPublica, the Institute is widely considered to be a lobbying arm of the timber industry. The dispute between the Oregon House and Senate resulted in timber companies, which include Wall Street investors that are currently the largest owners of Oregon’s private forests, seeing a low tax burden lowered further still.
Wednesday June 30 – Expelled Oregon Rep. Nearman is GOP’s top replacement choice
Recently removed from Oregon state legislature, former Representative Mike Nearman is the Republican party’s top choice to replace himself, despite facing multiple criminal charges over his assistance in the felony breach of the Oregon state capitol by far-right extremists and conspiracy theorists. Nearman received the largest tally of votes among local Republican caucus members who assembled June 25 to choose new nominees for the Oregon House seat in District 23. “I am humbled that my fellow Precinct Committee-persons voted overwhelmingly to return me to the House as their representative,” Nearman stated in a post to his far-right wing website called Northwest Observer. Nearman receiving the most votes does not guarantee his return to Salem—and the decision falls to county commissioners in Benton, Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties.
Thursday July 1 – More than 1 in 10 jobs in Oregon will now pay higher wages
According to an Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP) report, more than 200,000 jobs—estimated to be more than one in every ten total jobs in the state—will have to pay employees more starting July 1, 2021, after a minimum wage hike takes effect. Minimum wage employees all across Oregon are affected: workers in urban counties will receive a 75-cent increase per hour, while rural workers will receive a 50-cent bump in wages. Oregon’s minimum wage is variable, depending on regionality, which results from 2016 legislation setting up a 3-tier structure: Portland metro area rises to $14 an hour, $12 in rural areas and $12.75 in the rest of Oregon. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 and has not increased in over a decade. A full-time, federal minimum wage worker today earns less than her counterpart earned at the time of the last increase, in 2009, after adjusting for cost of living. “Though this increase is welcome news for low-wage workers in Oregon, it falls short of what workers need to make ends meet,” the OCPP report stated.
Friday July 2 – Trump Org. long-time CFO Weisselberg charged with at least 15 felonies
Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, has been charged by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. with (at least) 15 felony counts, including tax fraud, while Trump’s long-time CFO Allen Weisselberg surrendered himself to authorities July 1. Both plead not guilty at the arraignment. Trump himself was not named in the complaint, though experts claim the move to indict Weisselberg is in hopes he will “flip” on the twice-impeached former President. The empaneled grand jury is expected to continue prepondering the evidence until Nov. of this year, at the earliest. “This was a 15-year-long tax fraud scheme. It was orchestrated by the most senior [Trump Org.] executives,” said Carey Dunn, general counsel for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, during the arraignment. The charges stem directly from The New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning special-investigative report, which found decades of financial criminality and tax schemes.