Senate fast tracks tech tax package

LEGISLATIVE ROUNDUP: Bill intends to woo companies like Google, Facebook and Apple; lawmakers address antibiotics in livestock; California aims to replicate ‘motor voter’ law.

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The Oregon Senate passed a bill Tuesday that tweaks the state’s tax system on data centers. The bill heads to Gov. Kate Brown for final approval after  overwhelmingly passing in the House last Friday. reports on the tax bill and addresses frequently asked questions.

Tuesday’s 28-2 vote in the Senate addresses a thorny, unusual Oregon taxation methodology known as “central assessment,” which has been tangled up in state court since 2009. SB 611 is supposed to provide clarity to companies and local governments and technology companies.

Central assessment values telecom companies’ property, in part, based on the value of their brand and other “intangibles.” Cable TV companies and data centers say this is an extremely unusual methodology and creates a considerably higher property in Oregon than in other states.

The legislature will have to pass another bill to clear up language that Google warns would prevent it from launching Fiber service in Portland.

The Bend Bulletin details the “perilous path” SB611 took:

The combined bill was one that House Republican Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, said could “blow up” if Barnhart’s committee didn’t act quickly to send the bill to the House floor and pass it. He also said the promise of jobs for Crook County, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in Oregon, meant lawmakers needed to act quickly.

“I know that there may be criticism of this bill,” McLane told committee members at the House’s first hearing on the bill this month. “But I would hope that you would hear that we need to move the bill fast, and we need to be clear for industry that Oregon … welcomes tech companies. We’re not going to bait and switch.”

What do you think? Is Google Fiber worth the lost tax revenue?  Vote here.

Lawmakers address the use of antibiotics in livestock

A bill in the Oregon House contends the Federal government is not doing enough to regulate the use of “nontherapeutic” doses of antibiotics in livestock.

The executive director of  OSPIRG consumer group David Rosenfeld argued the overuse is leading to unintended consequences, the Portland Tribune reports.

The legislation would not be rendered moot by the FDA’s strategy of working with drug manufacturers to phase out some nontherapeutic antibiotic use in livestock by the end of 2016, Rosenfeld said. The federal program is voluntary and only ceases antibiotic treatments meant to promote growth — most nontherapeutic use is aimed at preventing diseases, so the FDA’s plan is unlikely to significant reduce overuse, he said.

There’s currently no federal statute restricting antibiotics in livestock production, so the FDA’s approach is vulnerable to change under new presidential administrations, said Ivan Maluski, policy director of Friends of Family Farmers, a group that supports stronger antibiotic regulations.

“We’re not necessarily confident the solution is going to come from Washington, D.C.,” Rosenfeld said in Mateusz Perkowski’s story.

California wants to replicate Oregon’s ‘motor voter’ law

The secretary of state in California recently announced the state would adopt a version of Oregon’s “motor voter” law.

Alex Padilla believes the law could register millions of voters, the Statesman Journal reports.

“While many states are making it more difficult for citizens to vote, our neighbor to the north offers a better path,” Padilla said in a Tuesday press release. “I believe the Oregon model makes sense for California,”

Both states have about 27 percent of potential voters unregistered, according to data from both elections offices. However, California also faces very low voter turnout, which Oregon does not. In the 2014 general election, just 42.2 percent of California voters cast their ballots. In Oregon, 70.9 percent did, and that is a low year for the state.

Padilla reportedly consulted Gov. Kate Brown about the law.