Morning roundup: Toxic pollutants under review; Jordan Schnitzer “hurt”

Toxic pollutants and taxes once again dominate Oregon news this morning.

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Toxic reform. Bullseye Glass has been at the center of a toxic pollutant controversy ever since Februrary, when media accounts reported high levels of arsenic and cadmium were found in the air near the facility. CEO Dan Schwoerer told Oregon Business this week he’s had death threats, but the situation doesn’t seem likely to calm down with the news that Gov. Kate Brown has ordered a cease and desist against Bullseye. The order requires Bullseye to halt the use of lead, arsenic, cadmium and other metals for the next 10 days. At the same time, U.S. House and Senate negotiators announced Thursday an agreement to overhaul toxic chemical regulation — regulations that haven’t changed since 1976. The New York Times has more.

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Pendleton development. Downtown Pendleton will soon reap the benefit of Jordan Schnitzer’s largesse, as the real estate developer recently purchased the empty bank building on Main Street. Schnitzer told the East Oregonian it “hurt” to see so many vacancies in the city’s center, so he bought the 1970’s-era bank in an auction. The building could become a gallery space and a pop-up store location.

Tax out. Portland approved its Fiscal Year 2016-17 budget Wednesday, with one item missing: a proposed tax increase on businesses. Mayor Charlie Hales had intended to add $8.7 million to the city budget via a tax increase from 2.2% to 2.5%, but the tax was notably dead last week when the commissioners began speaking out against the hike. Read what did make it into the $500 million budget at the Portland Business Journal.

Tax proposed.  Initiative Petition 28 has racked up plenty of criticism from Oregon businesses. If approved by voters in November, the petition would collect an estimated $5 billion every two-years in additional taxes. Lawmakers are en route to Salem this morning for a three-day session studying the impacts of the potential increase. Gov. Kate Brown has said she will wait for the study’s results before deciding if she will appeal to the public to keep the petition off the ballot. The Bend Bulletin has more. 


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Driverless Uber? Stepping away from its business model, Uber announced its testing a driverless car in Pittsburgh. Equipped with a radar, laser scanner and cameras, the test vehicle is one step toward what the BBC reports is Uber’s ultimate goal: an end to car ownership.