Morning Roundup

State could cut public employee health insurance costs, legislators consider legalizing ride-hailing statewide and consumers complain about hotel gouging in advance of August eclipse.

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Legislators consider cuts to public employee health insurance

The state pays $1.7 billion per year for public employee health plans, more than it spends annually on PERS. Some legislators want to cut health care costs rather than focusing on PERS, which faces a $22 billion shortfall, the Register Guard reports. Oregon spends more per employee on health premiums than Washington or California. 

Uber, Lyft considered statewide

Legislators have a public hearing today to consider House Bill 3246, which paves the way for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft to operate statewide, the Statesman Journal reports. The bill would require drivers to get a license from the Department of Consumer and Business Services. Lyft supports the bill, so much so that spokespeople advocated for it in an earlier hearing last week. Uber has yet to comment.

Oregon hotels cancel eclipse reservations; demand more money from visitors

More than a dozen consumer complaints have been filed against hotels the last few months after hotels began cancelling reservations for the 2017 solar eclipse, the Oregonian reports. The August event is expected to draw more than 1 million visitors to Oregon. Complaints to the Department of Justice allege hotels violated the Unlawful Trade Practices Act when reservations were cancelled or prices raised after booking once hotels realized they could charge more per room.

Bend debates federal transit funding

The Central Oregon city is set to receive $1.1 million from the federal government to use for transportation projects. But at least one city councilor thinks the funding should pay for new road projects instead, the Bend Bulletin reports. Bend’s road repair backlog is nearly $80 million. The federal funding was slated to pay for city street repairs and a new bus.

Video series: David Nisbet, glass kiln manufacturer

Check out the fourth installment of “Oregon at Work,” an OB original video series.

OB Original Blog: Can mass timber solve the housing crisis?

Our coverage of Portland’s Mass Timber Conference week concludes with a brief overview of CLT and affordable housing.

Lund Report names new editor

Diane Lund-Muzikant launched the Oregon-based health news site in 2009. She’s stepping down and leaving the site in the hands of OB contributor and Portland journalist Courtney Sherwood.