Morning Roundup: Oregon insurers negotiate unprecedented deal; PSU rolls out free education

In today’s news, health insurers strike a deal, PSU will offer free tuition and a Washington bill could force Oregonians to pay sales tax.

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1. Oregon health insurers offered rate hikes to stay in the marketplace

More than 58,000 individual customers have already lost their insurance as companies backed out of the marketplace. This summer, three of the state’s largest providers also gave notice that they would leave. In an effort to keep Regency, Providence and Moda on board, Oregon regulators offered the insurers additional rate hikes after the rate window had closed, the Oregonian reports. Only Regence and Providence agreed to the deal. 

2. PSU to offer “Four Years Free”

During our Hot Topics panel “Disrupting Higher Education” last week, PSU provost Sona Karentz Andrews said the university was looking at ways of cutting tuition costs. This morning Portland State announced its new tuition assistance program for low-income students. Starting in 2017, qualified freshmen won’t pay tuition or fees if they meet income and grade requirements, the Oregonian reports. Funding will be reallocated to pay for the program, and at this time, there is no cap to the number of students who could benefit.

3. In other education news, OSU-Cascades has partnered with Zipcar

The campus already offers bike share, public transit passes and benefits for carpooling, but as the Bend Bulletin reports, OSU-Cascades has also partnered with Zipcar to host two rental cars on campus. I recently interviewed the university’s vice president to discuss the new campus, including sustainability and transportation goals.

4. A Washington tax proposal would increase Oregonian’s taxes

Washington has proposed a public campaign financing bill. To pay for the measure, Washington would start collecting sales tax from out-of-state customers, the Bend Bulletin reports. Traditionally, when customers from states without sales tax shopped in Washington they could ask for a tax exemption. If approved by Washington voters, Oregon customers would pay 8.89% tax on purchases.

5. SeatGeek leaving WeWork space to open larger shop

The New York-based ticket retailer opened shop in Portland this May with a staff of 7. The Portland Business Journal reports the company has now leased 1,488 square feet in the Loyalty Building in Southwest Portland. The new space can accommodate a staff of 25.

6. Controversial mega-dairy draws thousands of comments

The Oregon Department of Agriculture and Department of Environmental Quality have received more than 2,300 comments on the controversial mega-dairy in Pendleton — and there’s still a month left in the comment period. The dairy is proposed for the former Boardman Tree Farm, which shut down earlier this year. If approved, the dairy named Lost Valley Ranch would add 30,000 cows to the area, according to the Statesman Journal.

7. First Tribal Cannabis & Hemp Symposium next month

The Washington symposium will discuss legalized marijuana and the possibilities for Native American economies in the new recreational marketplace. The future of recreational marijuana market is the topic of our next Hot Topics panel “From Pinot to Pot.”

8. Portland welcomes world-touring electric motorcycle

Research Editor Kim Moore checked out the world’s first electric touring motorycycle as it stopped in Portland yesterday.

9. Sneak Peek: Q&A with Wally Rhines, CEO of Mentor Graphics

Editor Linda Baker spoke with Rhines about activist investors and Measure 97.