Bend Business Roundup 11-15-19

Bend Business Roundup 11-15-19

Happy Friday,

Here’s some stuff you might like.

Business: It’s common knowledge that in the latter portion of the 20th century, Bend’s economy turned from timber to tourism, right? Not so fast says Damon Runberg of East Slope Economics: he writes that employment based on tourism has held relatively steady compared to population since 1990 (when timber was still a big deal here). Per Runberg, what’s replaced the timber jobs has mostly been construction and, more recently, professional services which includes lawyers so, yeah, you’re welcome.

Law: You’ll recall that the Oregon legislature passed something called a Corporate Activity Tax which is actually a tax on almost anyone (not just corporations) who sells $1 million or more of stuff or services in Oregon in a calendar year. Businesses need to comply by January 1, 2020, but the Oregon Department of Revenue likely won’t have even temporary rules out by the beginning of the year, and no permanent rules until the second quarter. Deloitte has an informative piece on the status of the tax.

Politics: Back in 2016, the Bend City Council passed a resolution professing concern about climate change and forming a committee to, among other things, “identify opportunities for the City to encourage and incentivize businesses and residents, through voluntary efforts, to reduce [greenhouse gas] emissions and fossil fuel use.” (Emphasis added). The inclusion of the phrase “through voluntary efforts” was not accidental – it was purposeful on the part of a Council that was concerned about criticism that the resolution was the first step toward sweeping and expensive city regulations of private and business activity.

Fast forward to now. That committee has released a 108-page Community Climate Action Plan. Back on page 27 is the following proposal: “Implement a Home Energy Score program that requires every home to be scored on its energy use and energy efficiency at time of listing.” (Emphasis added).

There’s something about requiring voluntary efforts that is, well, appropriate for our political age. What’s more, if the Council does approve the home energy score mandate, it’s people who want to sell their home who foot the bill for obtaining the score. In Portland, which you will be unsurprised to learn has a home energy score mandate, it costs $150-$250 to obtain the score. Either the seller eats that cost or passes some or all of it to the buyer, which has the impact of making buying and selling homes in Bend more expensive. That is in conflict with the Council’s goal of fostering affordable housing.

The worst part is that, despite its expense and hassle, the home energy score mandate wouldn’t affect the climate in Bend one bit. That’s because Bend’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions is so miniscule that even if it stopped producing greenhouse gases completely, there would be no perceptible change to the climate (even Oregon’s statewide cap and trade bill would have had only a “negligible” impact on global greenhouse gas emissions).

That’s not to say the city and all of us shouldn’t take reasonable and cost-effective steps to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, but the home energy score mandate is costly, intrusive, and contrary to the voluntary nature intended by Council for the Climate Action Plan. The City Council should not mandate a home energy score, but instead leave it to buyers and sellers to determine what type of energy analysis they want, if any.

If you’d like to weigh in with city councilors on the home energy score mandate, you can go here and learn how to contact them.

Et cetera:  Bend’s Mountain View High School has produced some remarkable athletes. Ashton Eaton won two Olympic gold medals in the decathlon, and also set the world record in that event. In 1991, as a sophomore at MVHS, I was a member of a JV 4 x 100 meter relay team that had to run in the girls’ race because there weren’t enough lanes in the boys’ race. Our team quickly developed a laser-like focus born of adolescent fear of public embarrassment. We never ran so fast and it was the only race we won all year. Like I said, remarkable athletes.

Added to this pantheon of former MVHS athletes is Jacob Hollister. Hollister quarterbacked the state champion Cougars in 2011, winning statewide player of the year honors. In college, he switched positions to tight end, and then played for the New England Patriots and now the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL, where he just might be a star. A couple games ago, Hollister caught the walk-off game-winning overtime touchdown pass from Russell Wilson. On Monday night against the 49ers, he caught a critical third-quarter TD with one hand while enduring almost comically flagrant pass interference. Great to see Hollister playing such a key role for the ‘Hawks.

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Have a great weekend!

Jeff started EagerLaw PC to help Oregon entrepreneurs succeed in business. Jeff worked in Washington, D.C. for Oregon Congressman Greg Walden, served as Mayor of the City of Bend, and has been practicing law in Oregon for over a decade. Jeff believes strongly in entrepreneurship and enjoys making the legal side of business transparent and easy for his clients.

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