Morning Roundup

Photo credit: Willamette Week

Providence Health Plan might drop coverage for 260,000 Oregonians, group proposes Seattle to Portland Hyperloop and business leaders recommend carbon emission reduction strategies.

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Providence threatens to pull out of marketplace

The insurer issued the threat in response to House Bill 3391, the Portland Business Journal reports. The bill, sponsored by 29 legislators, requires commercial heath plans to cover the entire cost of reproductive health services — including abortions. As a Catholic organization, Providence says the bill would violate their ethical and religious directives. If Providence follows through, 260,000 Oregonians could lose their insurance. The bill provides an exemption for religious employers, and creates a process for insurers to apply for an exemption as well. Providence’s CEO Michael Cotton says that exemption is inadequate.

Seattle to Portland in 15 minutes?

University of Washington students founded Pacific Hyperloop, which plays on a concept from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Willamette Week reports. Using a network of tubes and pods, travelers could move at 760 mph. Pacific Hyperloop wants Seattle to Portland to build the first hyperloop route. They’re en route to that goal, as Pacific Hyperloop is one of 35 semifinalists in the Hyperloop One Global Challenge.

OB Original Blog: Businesses rally behind strategies for reducing GHGs

A diverse group of high-profile businesses have recommended a set of strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to frame the discussion on how the state should respond to climate change.

Unemployment rate reaches another new low

Oregon’s unemployment rate has reached 4%, the Statesman Journal reports. That rate is the lowest recorded since record keeping began in 1976. Record lows are the trend recently in Oregon, as the employment rate continues to drop each month. This favorable trend is thanks to a growing labor force. 

Oregon DEQ prepares for staffing cuts

The agency expects to lose at least 30 people from its staff as a result of federal cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, OPB reports. A DEQ analysis presumes a 45% reduction in funding. That deep cut would eliminate 14 employees studying water quality, 11 monitoring air quality, four in management and three who oversee hazardous waste.

Legislators want to quantify groundwater supply

The legislature is considering three bills this week to measure, study and pay for the state’s groundwater supply, the Oregonian reports. An Oregonian investigation revealed last year that the state doesn’t know how much groundwater is actually available for ranchers and farmers to use, and in nine areas in Eastern Oregon, ranchers are able to overpump. The last time Oregon reviewed its groundwater supply was 1968.

Tiller, Oregon has a buyer

Just last week news spread that anyone with $3.85 million could buy the town of Tiller. Offers quickly rolled in — and more continue to do so — but one has already been accepted, the Oregonian reports. An unnamed Ashland couple will soon take ownership of the Douglas County town. The buyers intend to release a plan for the town in the coming weeks.