Morning Roundup: Oregon sues another provider; Newberry misses out on federal lab

In today’s news, Oregon files lawsuit against solar power consultant, Measure 97 revenue wouldn’t all go to the general fund and Newberry site misses chance for a federal lab.

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1. Oregon files suit against solar power consultant

The state is suing another service provider. This time its Martin Shain, a solar power consultant based in Seattle. Shain worked as a solar power project developer and submitted $11.8 million in tax credits to Oregon on behalf of renewable energy subcontractors. At least one subcontractor does not exist. Shain was indicted on two counts of forgery last week and is named in a civil suit by the Oregon Department of Justice for forging state tax credit documents. The Oregonian reports Shain was paid more than $2.4 million for his work.

2. Oregon loses a round in Oracle battle

In other lawsuit news, a judge declined to dismiss Oracle’s lawsuit against Oregon for the second time. The Portland Business Journal reports this means the case, which seeks to enforce a settlement of all outstanding litigation related to the failed Cover Oregon launch, could head to trial Nov. 14. Oracle’s case stems from an alleged oral agreement between Gov. Kate Brown’s chief of staff and an Oracle executive to settle the six pending lawsuits for $25 million. 

3. Measure 97 revenue wouldn’t necessarily go where you think

Legislative Counsel Dexter Johnson says not all of the $3 billion in revenue from Measure 97 would go to the general fund as intended by supporters of the corporate tax. Instead, a constitutional provision — which requires taxes generated from motor fuels — would direct about $250 million to the state’s Highway Fund. Those taxes would come from businesses like gas stations and convenience stores. Willamette Week reports that A Better Oregon, which is sponsoring the bill, says that legal opinion makes no impact on the group’s approach to the bill.

4. Speaking of Measure 97, is the controversial bill the end of days?

OB reporter Andrew Bulkeley reports on the business-labor and Republican-Democrat divide in our September issue. Could the tax measure lead to a new era of cooperation and compromise? Read his take, From Gridlock to Civil War.

5. Newberry Volcano site misses chance for federal research lab

Oregon will not host a federal geothermal research laboratory after a site near the Newberry Volcano was cut from the Department of Energy’s short list. The recent cut means the final two sites in Nevada and Utah will receive $29 million to prepare for an underground lab researching enhanced geothermal systems. The Bend Bulletin reports the exclusion from the federal program leaves the future of the Newberry site unclear.

6. Alternative road fee pilot program extended

When the Oregon Department of Transportation launched its OreGO pilot program for road fees — users pay 1.5 cents per mile driven rather than the state gas tax — only a fifth of intended drivers signed up. To date, the Statesman Journal reports only 1,263 vehicles enrolled. The state planned to test OreGO with 5,000 vehicles. To continue testing the tax alternative, ODOT obtained an additional $2.1 million federal grant extending the life of the pilot program with the intent to sign up more drivers.

7. Shareholders approve FEI sale

It’s official — Hillsboro’s FEI has been acquired by Thermo Fisher Scientific. The $4.2 billion deal was announced in May but still required shareholder approval. The Portland Business Journal reports the agreement stipulates that while FEI will join Thermo Fisher’s Analytical Instruments group, the Hillsboro headquarters and manufacturing operations will remain intact.