Morning Roundup: Oregon settles with Oracle; EPA responds to Superfund criticism

In today’s news, Oregon reaches settlement with Oracle, the EPA responds to Superfund critique and Sen. Jeff Merkley leads the charge for a public healthcare option.

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1. Oracle and Oregon finally reach a settlement

Gov. Kate Brown announced the settlement this morning, which concludes the yearlong legal battle over the bungled Cover Oregon launch. Oregon will receive cash payments and a six-year Unlimited License Agreement for Oracle products worth more than $100 million, according to a press release. The licensing agreement can be used to modernize the state’s IT systems. The settlement also includes $60 million in customer service support and a $10 million STEM grant for Oregon schools. Oregon’s litigation costs, about $25 million, were also reimbursed. 

2. EPA responds to Superfund plan criticisms

Since the Environmental Protection Agency released its cleanup plan for the Portland Harbor Superfund site in June, key stakeholders and interested groups alike have spoken against the plan. Some question if the proposed cost — $746 million — is realistic, and speculate if the cost will double. Others say the plan doesn’t go far enough. The Portland Business Journal reports the EPA is now responding to those concerns.

3. Oregon’s economic growth causes labor shortage

The Statesman Journal reports businesses will likely find it difficult to fill any vacancies. This is due to the tight labor market Oregon is experiencing as the economy grows at “full throttle.” Businesses looking to hire employees will either have to hire “less than perfect” candidates or lure workers from competitors.

4. Legislators consider a public healthcare option

Sen. Jeff Merkley is leading an effort to develop a public-option insurance plan as calls to reform the Affordable Care Act continue. The idea is to create a government-backed healthcare system that could compete with private insurers and help keep providers in check. The Oregonian reports Merkley and fellow senators are building awareness for the plan to approach legislative consideration in 2017.  Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has declared her support for the public option.

5. Lane County reaches tax agreement with Airbnb

Visitors to Lane County who use Airbnb will now have to pay the local lodging taxes. While Airbnb has collected a state lodging tax of 1.8% for the past two years, local taxes require an additional agreement with the home-share service. The Register Guard reports these additional taxes range from 9.5% in Eugene and Springfield, to 9% in Florence and Cottage Grove and 8% in the rest of Lane County. Officials estimate local lodging tax revenue could exceed $10 million this year.

6. Portland’s Biketown has hit a bump.

As the Portland Tribune reports, a rider has suffered a head injury as a result of riding one of the bikes without a helmet. The helmet issue has been discussed before, with many speculating why Biketown doesn’t offer helmet rental with its bikes. This first injury — less than two months since the bike-share program launched — is unlikely to trigger any changes. Portland officials reportedly think the technology to offer a helmet-sharing system isn’t up to par.

7. As we reported in our September issue, the Pendleton Round-Up is amping up efforts to attract urban visitors.

Now comes news that Portland’s Jordan Schnitzer has acquired a bank building in downtown Pendleton and is using that space to open a “pop-up” art show during the Round-Up this week. The show features an exhibition of Native American art from the Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts. 

8. A decline in hunters leaves ODFW funding lacking

OB Columnist Matt Alford says Oregon’s outdoor enthusiasts should put their money where their mouth is, and help pay the Fish & Wildlife tab.

9. Three reasons to participate in the 100 Best

OB Research Editor Kim Moore explains why companies that haven’t yet registered for the 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon survey should participate.