GOP calls for pause on agency rules

PORTLAND — Oregon Senate Republicans have called for a two-year suspension of all new rules by state agencies because they say excessive regulation hurts job growth.

Republicans point to more stringent clean water standards and an expansion of one part of the workers' compensation premium as signs the regulations go too far in constraining business growth.

"It's just death by a thousand cuts," said Jonathan Thompson, Senate Republican caucus administrator. "We're hearing from business leaders and small business owners that it's regulation and regulation and regulation."

Thompson said he thinks Republican senators would be agreeable to a potential compromise, but had not yet heard a counterproposal from Democrats.

The proposal by the Senate Republicans part of their effort in this year's governor's race to paint Oregon as unfriendly to business while Democrats have held power, and their pledge to improve the climate for private enterprise.

A collection of business owners told former Republican candidate Chris Dudley in July that Oregon's high income tax on capital gains and a stiff regulatory environment put the state at a competitive disadvantage with Seattle and Silicon Valley in attracting employers.

"We need to stop at this point, and once we've stopped, reevaluate the next step," Thompson said.

Democrats say they have worked while in power to streamline rules, and say the proposed moratorium is unnecessary, unrealistic and could backfire.

"This Senate Republican proposal is very much a ready-shoot-aim approach," said House Democratic Leader Dave Hunt. "I cannot imagine any legislators voting for a proposal that would be this bad for both business and the public."

Hunt said that by suspending all new rules, Republicans are proposing to cut the rules that have helped businesses cut through red tape. "And that's before you even get onto things like protecting kids or protecting safe workplaces," he said.

The moratorium could be passed by the Legislature or created by an executive order by the governor.

A spokesman for Gov. John Kitzhaber said Kitzhaber hadn't yet reviewed the proposed legislation, but said Kitzhaber will examine "regulatory hurdles" with the Legislature.

Share This Story