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Day on the Hill

On February 27, I spent most of the morning meeting with my state legislators at the State Capitol in Salem. I met with Senator Chuck Thomsen and Representative Shemia Fagan.  We discussed how the various “Bad Faith” and “Unlawful Trade Practices” bills (HB 2525, SB 512, SB 513, SB 514 and SB 686) would increase costs to the consumer by greatly increasing litigation.  For example: Montana which as a similar law has resulted in auto insurance rates that are up to 33 percent higher for consumers than in neighboring states. I urged both to vote no on all of these bills.

We discussed HB 2068; this bill corrects the ruling in the Cortez case.  The bill would give members of a LLC’s the same protection from tort liability stemming from a workplace injury has any other business.  Both Senator Thomsen and Representative Fagan stated they supported this bill.

HB 3367 would tax the “inside build up” of cash values inside Life Insurance and Annuity contracts.  Currently, Oregon “tracks” with the Federal Laws.  If this bill passes Oregon would be the first State to penalize families for being prudent.  Both the Senator and Representative agreed this bill would increase the cost (from increased Medicaid participants) to the State of Oregon.

Finally we discussed SB 256, a State-run retirement plan for private sector employees.  This would put the State in direct competition with the private sector.  A state run IRA would likely not qualify for favorable tax treatment provided for federally qualified IRAs under the Internal Revenue Code.  A 2011 DOL opinion states a plan like this would necessitate employer paid Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp premiums and compliance with ERISA.  The plan would cost the State millions of dollars to set-up, and very costly to administer.  Senator Thomsen stated he would not vote for this bill.

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