Updates

  • Bend Business Roundup 5-10-19

    By on May 10, 2019

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: The median price for homes sold in Bend in April hit an all-time high of $463,000, which is bad news for people looking to buy their first home in Bend, good news for people looking to sell their last home in Bend, and mildly interesting for most of the rest of us.

    Law: Consider the following allegations: (1) pot farm outside of Prineville, (2) a polyamorous (two women one dude) relationship, and (3) a criminal charge of slavery (!). New AMC drama or actual pending case in Deschutes County Circuit Court?

    Politics: Last week’s BBR was devoted almost entirely to the big new business tax before the Oregon Senate (with some bonus Rajneeshee fashion reminiscence). If you’re interested in reading more about the tax, check out this op-ed I wrote for the Bend Bulletin. If you’re tired of taxes and prefer guidance on how to create a wardrobe based upon the Rajneeshee look, go here instead.

    Fun:  You guys, Robert Plant is coming to Bend October 3. Tickets went on sale this (Friday) morning at 10 am. Plant and his current band, the Sensational Space Shifters, played some of their own surely weird stuff but also plenty of Zeppelin in last year’s tour. You know what to do.

    PS: Our friends at the Bend Chamber of Commerce will feature as part of its What’s Brewing series on May 14 a look at Real-Time Solutions for the Housing Crisis (see the Business item above). Check it out because, to let you in on a little secret, the “Brewing” part means there’s beer.

    Your friends can sign up to receive the Bend Business Roundup here. No sales, no spam. Just the weekly email you’ve come to know and love.

    Have a great weekend!

    Read more
  • Bend Business Roundup 5-3-19

    By on May 3, 2019

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: 40,000 businesses that do more than $1 million in sales in Oregon will be subject to a new .57% tax on sales, under a $2 billion tax measure passed by the Oregon House this week (HB 3427). The bill provides: “A corporate activity tax is imposed on each person with taxable commercial activity for the privilege of doing business in this state.” (See Section 63). Couple things about just this sentence: (1) This isn’t really a corporate activity tax; it’s a personactivity tax, as the definition of “person” includes, well, persons and every business entity type you can imagine, from partnerships to limited liability companies to clubs. (See Section 58(15)); (2) The idea of our state government granting individuals and free associations of individuals, not just corporations and other government-created entities, the privilege of doing business in Oregon just has so much wrong with it I don’t even know where to start.

    Law: Businesses will not be able to avoid the tax by subdividing their operations into different entities that each do less than $1 million in sales. HB 3427 requires people who jointly own 50% or more of a group of businesses to file as one corporate taxpayer for the purpose of complying with the bill. (See section 60).

    Politics: Stop “bulging classrooms,” “4-day school weeks,” and make “corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share.” Arguments made this week for HB 3427? Nah, they’re arguments made by Oregon’s teacher union back in 2010 in support of Measures 66 and 67. Those measures passed, increasing personal income and corporate tax rates. Today, with those higher rates still in place and in spite of years of record state revenues, we are hearing the same arguments about why we need to increase taxes even more in order to save schools. The truth is, PERS is robbing schools and everything else our state and local governments do. It will also gobble up a lot of the HB 3427 revenue. Prediction: even if HB 3427 passes, and PERS isn’t fixed, we will be hearing the same arguments about another desperately needed tax hike soon enough.

    Et cetera: Enough about taxes. Let’s talk about Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, shall we? My wife and I (more my wife than I) just finished watching the Netflix documentary “Wild Wild Country,” which follows Rajneesh’s establishment in the early 1980s of a spiritual commune in and near the eastern Oregon city of Antelope. The contrast of cultures between a conservative, rural community and Rajneesh’s free-love, gun-wielding (well, maybe that part doesn’t contrast a whole lot), warm-tone-clothes wearing followers is fascinating to watch, even if like me you remember when this was all going down.

    Your friends can sign up to receive the Bend Business Roundup here. No sales, no spam. Just the weekly email you’ve come to know and love.

    Have a great weekend!

    Read more
  • Bend Business Roundup 4-26-19

    By on April 26, 2019

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: Congress has been captured by yet another well-heeled business special interest group: Big Kombucha. At its beckoning, Senator Wyden has introduced a bill that would prevent application of federal alcohol excise taxes to Kombucha, which contains a small amount of alcohol. Bend is, of course, home to Humm Kombucha. Wyden’s bill is a good thing and while they’re at it, how about Congress get rid of excise taxes on beer too?

    Law: Have you ever wanted to get back at those parking enforcers, the ones who ticket you for being two inches over a line, or staying three minutes past when you should have? Well, apparently the judges on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals are right there with you. They ruled that the parking Gestapo can’t constitutionally mark your tires with that chalk they use because it’s a violation of your Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. If Criminal Procedure weren’t my worst grade in law school I would tell you something about what that means, but you’ll have to just read the article I guess.

    Politics: Oregon has at least 24 occupational licensing boards that license and regulate various occupations including body piercers and electrologists, whatever that is. Widespread (and growing) occupational licensure is widely seen as anti-competitive and particularly harmful for people trying to climb the economic ladder. One state, Arizona, is bucking the regulatory trend and, spearheaded by its governor Doug Ducey, is now recognizing all occupational licenses granted from other states, so long as the license has been held for a year. Oregon should look at this and other licensure reforms to make our workforce more dynamic and make Oregon an easier place to do business.

    Et cetera:  Longtime readers know that we here at BBR have a certain affection for small, eastern Oregon towns. Previously, we’ve reported on happenings in Lakeview and Millican. So, it’s no surprise that the major recent flooding of Mitchell caught our attention. We’re glad no one was hurt, and really glad Henry the Bear doesn’t live at the Mitchell gas station anymore, because that could have been tragic.

    Your friends can sign up to receive the Bend Business Roundup here. No sales, no spam. Just the weekly email you’ve come to know and love.

    Have a great weekend!

    Read more
  • Bend Business Roundup 4-19-19

    By on April 19, 2019

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: The Oregon Senate declined to limit the supply of legal marijuana(of which there is apparently an oversupply but don’t underestimate the consumption capacity of Eugene, guys), with one Democrat saying of the proposal to limit that it was “socialism” and “a stab at capitalism in pure form.” Now, let’s apply this newfound respect for capitalism and aversion to socialism to other issues, like housing supply and business regulations, shall we?

    Law: If you employ people in Oregon, as of January 31 you have new legal obligations pertaining to sexual harassment due to the Workplace Fairness Act. It’s worth a quick read of this piece to get a sense of what’s going on.

    Politics: Politico, a big-time national online political website, has published a lengthy piece on my former boss, Congressman Greg Walden. If you live anywhere east of the Cascades in Oregon (or in Jackson or parts of Josephine counties), Greg’s your congressman. The piece attempts to paint a picture of Greg moving “away” from President Trump on some votes, including a vote to bar the President from invoking an emergency to build a border wall. To me, this is just Greg being what he’s always been: a thoughtful, mainstream conservative who believes in upholding the Constitution. He was doing it while Trump was still a Democrat, and I hope he’ll do it for a long time to come.

    Et cetera: Back in the summer of 2010, I hatched this elaborate plan to propose to Anna, who is now somehow my wife. Plan A: propose near the summit of Broken Top (road was still closed). Plan B: propose at the top of a trail near Elk Lake (swarm of mosquitos). Plan C: propose at camp site at Sparks Lake (nearby, drunken young dudes hurling axes and screaming obscenities but I didn’t have a Plan D so I went ahead and did it and she said yes). Anyway, those dudes will soon have another ax-throwing and drinking spot right here in Bend.

    Your friends can sign up to receive the Bend Business Roundup here. No sales, no spam. Just the weekly email you’ve come to know and love.

    Have a great weekend!

    Read more
  • Bend Business Roundup 4-12-19

    By on April 12, 2019

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: Many of us who lived through the rapid rise of housing prices in Central Oregon in the mid-2000s , followed by the even more rapid plummet in the Great Recession, have viewed the price increases we’ve seen since around 2012 with some suspicion. Happy things are better; scared that we’re being set up for another fall. The good news, state regional economist Damon Runberg says, is that we are not in another bubble. Unlike the last run-up in prices, this one is based on real housing demand, not speculation. The bad news?  We aren’t building nearly enough housing units to keep up with new residents let alone fill the backlog. Builders lack sufficient labor and land to build enough housing units to keep pace.

    Law: Sometimes the law works the way you’d think; sometimes it doesn’t. One aspect of the law that I’ve found surprises some clients, even pretty sophisticated business clients, is that in Oregon, unless a statute or contract provides otherwise, each party to litigation pays its own attorney fees, regardless of the outcome of the case. So if you’re sued by someone and win, even if the case appears to have been mostly baseless, absent an applicable statute or contract to the contrary, you’re paying your own legal fees. This is called the “American rule,” whereas a system that defaults to awarding attorney fees to the winner is called the “English rule.” So you can blame George Washington et al. if you end up in the situation described above.

    Politics: You may have noticed some restaurants (and maybe bars, but I would never enter into such dens of iniquity so I don’t know, thank you very much) are switching from plastic to other types of straws. Invariably, the non-plastic straws are worse than the plastic kind for performing the job of straws, but the plastic kind, we are told, are bad for animals and don’t decompose, etc. Well, the Oregon Senate believes the pace of change is insufficient, and has passed a bill that forbids restaurants and convenience stores from dispensing single-use plastic straws to customers unless the customer asks for one. In its present form, the bill does not require the customer to say “pretty please” while asking, but we’ll see what happens in the House.

    Et cetera:  Beginning in, say, the 1970s it was common to believe that the rapidly increasing global human population would so deplete the Earth’s resources that people would lack food and fuel, causing all kinds of social strife. Well, it turns out the opposite has happened. In fact, as population increased by 69% from 1980 to 2017, inflation-adjusted resource prices actually fell by 36%.  It is worth noting that in that same timeframe billions of people in eastern Europe and China stopped living under purely communist regimes and starting living in more or less market capitalist regimes. It turns out more people – even lots more people – living freely makes resources more abundant for all of us.

    Your friends can sign up to receive the Bend Business Roundup here. No sales, no spam. Just the weekly email you’ve come to know and love.

    Have a great weekend!

    Read more
  • Bend Business Roundup 4-5-19

    By on April 5, 2019

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: A new study shows that U.S. geographic income disparities rose sharply between 1980 and 2013. In other words, a few high-income places like San Francisco, Seattle, New York, and, especially, Washington, D.C. got a lot wealthier. Meanwhile a whole bunch of 1980’s middle-of-the-road income areas (like much of Oregon, including Central Oregon) shifted into below-median-income territory by 2013. People with high incomes are clustering in a few mostly-coastal cities (and North Dakota, presumably due to the oil boom there). I’ll be curious to see if this trend continues, or whether the outflux of high-income people from expensive, crowded places like the Bay Area to less expensive places like Bend and Portland has dented the trend.

    Law: When someones sells a business, the seller is often contractually prohibited from soliciting employees from the business he or she just sold. Understandably, the buyer doesn’t want key employees hired away by the old boss. Well, the guy who founded Pacific Foods, which I think pioneered the practice of putting soup in cardboard cartons specifically designed to spill when you finally wrench them open, sold the business to Campbell Soup. Campbell is now suing, claiming the seller recruited eight employees to work in his new business. I don’t know the details of this case, but because sales contracts typically prohibit the seller from soliciting for hire former employees, there is often a fact question about whether they were recruited or proactively sought out employment with the old boss.

    Politics: For those who didn’t get enough of my Tom McCall screed in the last BBR, The Bulletin published my op-ed that touches on him and the impact of anti-growth sentiment on Oregon housing prices.

    Et cetera:  Allow me to ask a delicate question: have you ever driven east of Bend? And no, not to the Badlands, but farther out than that? There’s a lot of cool stuff out there, especially if you appreciate wide open spaces and really high cow-to-human and F-350-to-Audi ratios. If you do go east, toward Burns, the first, ah, loosely speaking, civilization you’ll come to is the ghost town of Millican. Millican used to be a happening spot until its one resident passed away. Now its current owner has a pretty cool website with photos and old newspaper articles about the town.

    Your friends can sign up to receive the Bend Business Roundup here. No sales, no spam. Just the weekly email you’ve come to know and love.

    Have a great weekend!

    Read more