Election season is well underway, but lawmakers briefly paused campaigning for a series of virtual committee meetings. Typically, the opposite is true. Incumbent lawmakers generally use their bully pulpits to show they are leading or, at the very least, standing up to the “other side.” This week was different, with temperaments staying mostly above the fray and lawmakers engaging in their regular interim business.
On Wednesday, Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced she would commit $1 million from a strategic reserve fund to fast-track industrial land readiness for the semiconductor industry. Additionally, she announced that she is drafting legislation for the 2023 legislative session for her successor to revive policies intended to lure investment from tech manufacturers. As the governor put it, the semiconductor industry is the “heart and soul of Oregon’s economy.” Without action from the legislature to make the state more competitive, Oregon could miss out on significant investments as the federal government works to onshore the industry with its own incentives.
For a quiet week in the legislature, economic development, a topic that has long been dormant in the state, became a reoccurring theme. On Thursday, the legislature’s tax-writing committees reviewed economic development policies intended to lure investment to the state. Over the last decade, the legislature has eroded and, in many cases, eliminated many attractive tax incentives in the pursuit of shoring up additional revenue. Now, with growth slowing and the economy teetering on the verge of a recession, Oregon finds itself with very few tools to lure businesses and workers to the state.
Although lawmakers are bracing for the throes of the election cycle, today marks the first major milestone for the 2023 session. By the end of the day today, incumbent lawmakers must submit their bill requests to the legislature’s lawyers to meet the deadline for pre-session filing on December 21. The next session may seem eons away, especially with November 8 looming, but lawmaking is already well underway.