Month: June 2015

Press Release – Statement on the Supreme Court's King v. Burwell Decision

June 25, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact:

Steve Buckstein

503-242-0900

steven@cascadepolicy.org

Cascade Policy Institute Statement on Today’s Supreme Court King v. Burwell Decision: More Oregonians will lose rather than win

PORTLAND, Ore. – The U.S. Supreme Court decision today in the King v. Burwell case is a sad reminder that the President of the United States and his Administration can arbitrarily interpret laws passed by Congress to suit their own purposes.

In this case, the Affordable Care Act clearly states multiple times in its text that federal subsidies to offset insurance premiums can only be granted to individuals purchasing policies through an exchange “established by the state.” When most states failed to establish such exchanges, the IRS arbitrarily decided to grant subsidies to individuals who purchased insurance through the federal exchange, healthcare.gov, as well. By a six to three vote, the Court told us that the President and his Administration need not follow the language of the law because in the Court’s opinion that could cause harm to the intent of the law which was to make insurance more affordable.

How this decision will affect Oregon is fairly clear. Oregon originally set up its own state-established exchange, Cover Oregon. But when that $305 million project failed to sign up one person for insurance on its flawed website, the Cover Oregon board voted to scrap the exchange and migrate Oregonians over to the federal exchange, healthcare.gov. Board members didn’t seem to care how this decision might impact subsidies for Oregonians, and after the fact said they were relying on federal assurances that they considered this arrangement a “supported state based marketplace”—meaning that it would still qualify for subsidies even if the Court were to rule opposite of how it ruled today.

What is clear now is that today’s decision could actually harm more Americans, and more Oregonians, than it helps. According to a March 3rd press release by Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute and Cascade Policy Institute’s Steve Buckstein, “If subsides are denied under a King ruling, Oregon will join the majority of states in reaping benefits.” Now that the King ruling has found for the government, the Cato Institute believes that “approximately 157,000 [Oregon] individuals likely will continue to be subject to the law’s individual mandate requirement,” and 890,000 working Oregonians “also will continue to be subject to the employer mandates that are putting downward pressure on our economy.” These negative results stem from the ACA’s provisions that as long as subsidies make insurance somehow “affordable,” then the act’s mandates to purchase it remain in place.

Cascade Senior Policy Analyst Steve Buckstein says, “Today’s Court decision does not end the discussion about who should control your health care and who should decide what, if any, insurance you must purchase at what price; but it does push that discussion farther into the future. It unfortunately postpones our ability to move toward a more individual, patient-centered health care and health insurance world. Oregonians who watched their state government bungle an expansive insurance exchange project using other people’s money should be a big part of this discussion.”

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Does PCC-Sylvania Need a Light Rail Tunnel?

By Emma Newman

Metro and TriMet are jointly considering an expansion of the light rail system to PCC-Sylvania in SW Portland, by building a tunnel to the campus from Barbur Boulevard. The tunneling would have a significant impact on the surrounding neighborhood, forcing many homeowners to move away while still requiring PCC students to make a long walk to their classes.

Currently, 84 percent of PCC students drive to school, even with the campus being served by both shuttles and busses. If this tunnel plan is chosen, Oregon taxpayers will be saddled with paying half of the two billion dollar cost.

When asked at what point the costs of building new transit outweigh the benefits, a Metro spokesperson responded that “transportation planning is more an art than a science.”

An alternative plan under consideration is a rapid bus line which would also service PCC-Sylvania. While this would be about half the cost and much less inconvenient than digging a rail tunnel, it still would be a response to a need that doesn’t exist.

Despite the low ridership of current transit options, transportation officials continue to follow the mantra of “if you build it they will come,” rather than follow the laws of supply and demand.

Emma Newman is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market think tank. She is a student at George Fox University, where she is studying Economics and Computer Science.

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Oregon’s Proposed Sick Leave Law Doesn’t Fit All

By Anna Mae Kersey

Senate Bill 454, which mandates that employers implement paid sick leave for employees, may leave small business owners and the agriculture industry in the dust.

SB 454 states, “Employers that employ at least 10 employees working anywhere in this state shall implement a sick time policy that allows an employee to earn and use up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year.” Employers with fewer than 10 employees must provide the same amount of sick time, but it can be unpaid.

For big businesses and corporations, this mandate might not pose a problem; many larger companies already offer competitive benefits packages that include paid sick leave and vacation time.

For small businesses and the agriculture industry, however, 40 hours of paid sick time per year translate into five days during which the employer will not only be short an employee, but will still be compensating that employee for his or her time.

According to the Associated Oregon Industries, 88,000 business owners in Oregon employ fewer than 50 people. Although the Senate had the opportunity to accommodate those industries, that motion failed. By forcing business owners to take a uniform approach, instead of one tailored specifically to best suit both the employer and the employee, this bill could have real economic consequences.

These business owners will now likely have to cut costs by downsizing their companies, lowering wages, and increasing prices in order to offset the mandate’s impact.

Anna Mae Kersey is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market think tank. She recently graduated from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia with an Honors B.A. in Philosophy and is pursuing a Master’s of Liberal Arts at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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Press Release – Should Charities Be Required to Disclose the Names of Donors?

June 12, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact:

John A. Charles, Jr.

503-242-0900

john@cascadepolicy.org

Should Charities Be Required to Disclose the Names of Donors?

PORTLAND, Ore. – Cascade Policy Institute hosted a debate on the topic of donor privacy versus donor disclosure at the Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland June 1. The event was prompted by a growing number of legislative proposals in other states to regulate charitable giving the same as political giving, which requires disclosure of the names, addresses, and employers of contributors.

More than 100 attendees were treated to an engaging discussion between James Huffman, Dean Emeritus of the Lewis & Clark Law School, and Dan Meek, a public interest attorney and Co-chair of the Independent Party of Oregon. The debate was moderated by Nigel Jaquiss, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with Willamette Week.

Complete video of the event is available online at cascadepolicy.org.

Attendees were surveyed by email after the debate. Of 83 attendees with email addresses, 30 people responded to the survey.

When asked, “On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 favoring total donor privacy in charitable giving and 5 favoring complete public disclosure, how would you rank your personal values?”, 33% favored total donor privacy. 27% favored total disclosure.

70% of survey respondents said they would not “support state legislation to require that all nonprofit charitable organizations disclose the names, addresses, and amount of donation for all contributors in the previous year.” 20% said they would support such legislation, and 10% were unsure.

Of those who responded, 37% said the debate persuaded them to reconsider their assumptions about donor privacy.

According to Cascade Policy CEO John A. Charles, Jr., “Donor privacy is important because excessive public disclosure requirements can be used to intimidate people who wish to anonymously support certain charitable causes. This debate shone much-needed light on all aspects of the issue. Most importantly, a third of respondents indicated that the speakers made them reconsider their views. This is the sign of a successful public discussion.”

The donor privacy debate was sponsored by Cascade Policy Institute and the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation. Roggendorf Law LLC and The Federalist Society Portland Lawyers Chapter also cosponsored.

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Minimum Wage Follies

Fourteen bills have been introduced in the Oregon legislature to raise Oregon’s already high minimum wage or let localities do so. Apparently, some legislators believe that political laws can override the laws of economics.

In this case, the law of supply and demand tells us that raising the price of labor will lead employers to demand less of it. Those hurt will likely be less skilled, younger, and less educated workers who will find it harder to find jobs or will be let go from jobs they did have at lower wages.

Not exactly the outcome proponents foretell, but they may be OK with it because those harmed by their policy aren’t likely to blame them. They’re more likely to blame the employers who let them go or don’t hire them in the first place.

Proponents know that they have little to lose and much to gain politically by telling workers that they deserve to be paid more, and that it’s only greedy business owners standing between them and the higher wages they desire.

If legislators don’t commit the folly of increasing the minimum wage this year, a union backed group has filed an initiative to raise it from the current $9.25 up to $15 per hour. That will give voters the opportunity next year to commit the folly themselves.

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Event Video – Do Citizens Have a Right to Privacy in Charitable Giving?

Cascade Policy Institute hosted a debate on the topic of donor privacy versus donor disclosure at the Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland on June 1, 2015.

Attendees were treated to an engaging discussion between James Huffman, Dean Emeritus of the Lewis & Clark Law School, and Dan Meek, a public interest attorney and Co-chair of the Independent Party of Oregon. The debate was moderated by Nigel Jaquiss, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with Willamette Week.

The debaters masterfully covered many sides of this complex issue, and the audience asked probing questions. The debate was sponsored by Cascade Policy Institute and the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation. Roggendorf Law LLC and The Federalist Society Portland Lawyers Chapter also cosponsored.

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Don’t Steal the Kicker

Would you like to pay $284 less in Oregon personal income tax next year? That’s what the average taxpayer may save if Oregon’s constitutional kicker law is allowed to take effect.

The kicker law requires that if actual state revenue for a biennium exceeds the official economic forecast by two percent or more, the entire surplus is returned to those taxpayers who earned it. It now appears that the state will collect $473 million more than projected and thus have to give all that money back to taxpayers, in the form of a 6.7% credit on their tax bill.

Well, not if State Representative Tobias Read of Beaverton has anything to say about it. He’s introduced House Bill 3555 that would suspend the kicker and send all that money to schools and the state’s rainy day fund. The bill requires a two-thirds super majority vote in both houses of the legislature, something that hopefully will be very hard to do.

Read says that his bill “gives us an opportunity to invest in the things that reflect our values as Oregonians….” Apparently, “our values” don’t include things like carrying out the intent of the voters when they put the kicker in the Oregon Constitution. “Our values” apparently also don’t include letting people keep as much of their own money as possible to spend on the things that they think will benefit their own families.

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Policy Picnic – June 24, 2015


Please join us for our monthly Policy Picnic led by Cascade Senior Policy Analyst and Founder Steve Buckstein


Topic: Will the Oregon legislature let terminally ill Oregonians try to save their own lives?

Description: Twenty-one states have now passed “Right to Try” laws allowing terminally ill individuals the right to try experimental drugs not yet approved by the FDA. The Oregon House passed such a bill by a 59-0 vote in April, but it’s stalled in the Senate. Who opposed it, and why?

There is no charge for this event, but reservations are required as space is limited.

Admission is free. Please feel free to bring your own lunch.
Coffee and cookies will be served. 
 
Sponsored by:
Dumas Law Group
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