After a nearly two-month hiatus, the Bend Business Roundup is back. The emphasis in weekly(ish) is on the (ish), you see.
Business: According to something called CloudKitchens, the Bend-Redmond metro area has the second-highest rate of self-employment among small cities in the U.S. Over 20% of workers here are self-employed, twice the national average. Self-employed folks make, on average $50,000 nationally versus $48,000 who are employees. Longtime readers will recall that we track and report on new business registrations in Bend, which are consistently the highest per capita in the state of Oregon. More self-employed folks means more business registrations.
Law: If you’re self-employed, which is to say that you (or the company you own or work for) contract out services to other people or other companies, the truth of the matter is that unions and many Salem policymakers don’t like you very much. Well, they would say that they like you and probably like you better than you like you because they know better than you how you should sell your services.
The state and unions don’t like independent contractors because these folks don’t pay unemployment insurance or workers compensation and they don’t withhold taxes. They are also largely immune from unionization efforts. During last year’s legislative session, unions and their allies were nearly successful in passing a bill that would have made it even more difficult for self-employed people to freely contract to sell their services by, among other things, re-defining employees to include anyone who provides services to someone else who more or less provides the same services. Many if not most real estate agents, construction contractors, hairdressers, truckers and many other professions would be impacted and forced to dissolve their businesses and become employees. The language of the bill was so broad that even my law firm could be prohibited from performing business law services to another law firm, because we’re all lawyers. Or doctors treating other doctors, I suppose.
The self-employed are not asking for this “protection” and the “protection” would disproportionately hurt people in Central Oregon, who have found, in very high numbers, that self-employment is the best way to use their talents. Unfortunately, the legislature is likely to take the bill up again in next month’s legislative session. The legislature should reject it again.
Politics: Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek recently mentioned that she might seek to declare homelessness an emergency in the state. The primary effect of such a declaration is that it would allow cities to more easily site homeless shelters without jumping through Oregon’s famously restrictive zoning and other land use laws. Kotek’s proposal joins a growing list of recent exceptions to the state’s land use system: affordable housing and urban growth boundary expansion in the western Portland suburbs, child care centers, to name a few recent examples.
The proliferating exceptions demonstrate just how pervasive are the effects of our land use system. The system makes it very hard to construct and site most anything. The exceptions arise when that “anything” is politically palatable enough to get the legislature’s attention, but most frustrated uses are below the surface. If you believe that the legislature knows what is best for us, our families and our communities, this system is fine but if you believe the legislature doesn’t and actually can’t know that due to the complexity at issue, then the system needs a reset.
Et cetera: If you’ve ever wondered what George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Kim Jong-un, Richard Nixon or Vladimir Putin would look like with a man bun, you’ve come to the right place, my friends.
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Have a great weekend!