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Only one other elected official attended last Wednesday’s Portland Business Alliance breakfast forum where Oregon Gov. Kate Brown was the featured speaker, and he wasn’t even from Portland. He was Metro Councilor Craig Dirksen, the former mayor of Tigard.

Brown could have used the support of her fellow Portland Democrats. She was repeatedly challenged by business leaders in the audience for endorsing Ballot Measure 97, the corporate tax increase on the Nov. 8 general election ballot. Although Brown said the decision was the hardest of her political career, questioners continued asking whether she understands the measure.

In response, Brown said Measure 97 is the only available option for raising the additional revenue she believes the state needs. Although some labor unions and business organizations talked about finding an alternative earlier this year, Brown said they never came up with anything but a general sales tax, which she said would never pass.

Next session heats up before election

Although the final makeup of the 2017 Oregon Legislature won’t be determined until the Nov. 8 general election, two hot-button issues already have emerged — ending the statewide ban on local rent-control measures and mandating that most employers give their workers advance notice of schedule changes.

Both issues were on display last Thursday during interim legislative committee hearings. A new organization representing renters, Secure Homes for Oregon Families, rallied outside the state Capitol to demand rent stabilization and an end to no-cause evictions. And state Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, said he would introduce a bill to restrict “flexible scheduling.”

Landlord and business associations already are gearing up to fight the changes, which will likely be more popular among Democrats than Republicans.

Candidates point fingers over contributions

Democratic Secretary of State candidate Brad Avakian promised to reform the campaign finance system on Sunday, two days after his Republican opponent, Dennis Richardson, accused him of receiving nearly 20 percent of his contributions from “out-of-state special interests.”

Richardson’s accusation came after Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley sent out a fundraising email about Avakian that said, “Out-of-state money is pouring in to boost Brad’s right-wing opponent.” In his Sept. 23 email response, Richardson said state campaign finance filings show only 3 percent of his contributions are from outside Oregon. It listed out-of-state contributions to Avakian that included $2,000 from the United Steelworkers in New Mexico to $50,000 from the United Food and Commercial Workers in Washington, D.C.

Avakian did not respond directly to Richardson’s accusation in his Sept. 25 email. Instead, he deplored corporate spending on campaigns and said, “As secretary of state, I’ll fight to reform Oregon’s campaign finance system.” But even a quick glance at the filings shows he has received many more contributions from outside Oregon than Richardson.

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