A bill making it impossible for undocumented workers to legally drive passed the Oregon Legislature this week, over objections from the Oregon Association of Nurseries and the Oregon Essential Workers Coalition.
Gov. Ted Kulongoski is expected to sign the bill into law, as it codifies an executive order he issued late last fall. It requires driver’s license applicants to provide a Social Security number and proof of legal residence in the United States.
Although the bill had three-fourths support in both houses of the Legislature, opponents of the bill, such as Sen. Alan Bates, D-Ashland, said the bill is the result of the federal government’s failure to achieve meaningful immigration reform.
“We will be left with a hodgepodge of state regulations for what is clearly a national problem,” Bates said.
He added that there’s a “moral and ethical” dimension to immigration law. “How we treat these people (illegal immigrants) defines us as a people,” he said.
OAN Government Relations Director Jeff Stone sounded a similar note.
“Denying these workers the opportunity to drive and obtain auto insurance is not a satisfactory response to our failed federal immigration laws, nor is it a policy that will result in safer roads or a more productive economy,” he testified in committee.
He said the bill “threatens to create an untenable situation” for Oregon agriculture.
“It could drive immigrant workers out of the state, leaving natural resource industries and other labor-intensive businesses without a workforce,” he said.
For more about the bill see the following:
Driver’s license bill passes Senate
From The Oregonian
» Driver’s license bill passes House
From The Oregonian
Driver’s license bill sails through Capitol
From Capital Press
A bill preserving the viability of handing down nurseries and other agricultural businesses from generation to generation is making its way through the Oregon Legislature.
House Bill 3618-A establishes an estate tax credit for a family’s first $7.5 million worth of land, equipment and other assets used in certain natural resource businesses. It is intended to resolve unclear aspects of House Bill 3201, which was approved during the 2007 Legislature. The Oregon Association of Nurseries supported both bills.
“The OAN believed then, as it does now, that preserving family owned nurseries is essential for the long term viability of our industry along with farm, forestry and fishery operations,” OAN Government Affairs Director Jeff Stone testified.
Farmers and growers believe that without the bill, the death of a family member could force heirs either to sell the business, or liquidate assets including timber to pay tax bills.
The main difference between last year’s bill and this year’s is that the tax protection comes in the form of a tax credit, rather than an exclusion or exemption. The former is considered more beneficial for most small family farms.
The bill passed unanimously in the House Revenue Committee and is expected to move quickly through the House and on to the Senate.
Businesses in Arizona and Oklahoma, and their employees, are hurting due to tough new anti-immigrant laws that recently took effect, the Houston Chronicle reported earlier this month.
A new Oklahoma law makes it a crime to transport, harbor or hire undocumented workers. “There’s been a tremendous impact in Oklahoma City,” said David Castillo, executive director of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve had several companies close shop and leave the state. Banks have called us and say they’re closing 30 accounts per week.”
In Arizona, meanwhile, businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers are having their licenses suspended upon the first offense and revoked on the second. The article reported that many of the displaced are ending up in Texas, which has not passed any statewide laws targeting undocumented workers.
OAN member Hariton “Harry” Cam, owner of Cam’s Nursery in Gervais, Ore. for the last 20 years, passed away Jan. 21, 2008 following a three-and-a-half-year battle with brain cancer. He was 44 years old.
“All he really cared about was his dream of having and growing his business,” said his wife, Susan Cam. “He made so many great friends while running the nursery.”
Memorial services were held Jan. 22 at the Church of the Holy Ascension in Gervais. Interment followed at the Russian Cemetery. Survivors included his wife, Susan, at home; parents Panfil and Fieoniye Cam, daughter Malanya, sons Vasily and Stefen; three brothers; three sisters; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Memorials may be made to Legacy Hospice of McMinnville, P.O. Box 4484, Portland, OR 97208.
If you own property next to the Portland Urban Growth Boundary and wish to develop it in the next 50 years – or even leave it just as it is – then now is the time to speak up, according to an update by the law firm Jordan Schrader.
Metro has created a new process for establishing urban reserves and rural reserves which will steer the course of urbanization, and that process will unfold over the next two years, the update states.
A new federal Family Medical Leave Act took effect in January, and employers are well advised to get up to speed on the changes. There are new circumstances under which employees are eligible for family medical leave.
» For all the details, read the BusinessAlert from Jordan Schrader...
Wood chips and wheat straw will be turned into a new kind of fuel at a first-in-the-Northwest cellulosic ethanol plant, U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Oregon) announced in a recent press release.
Smith secured a $24.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to help construct the facility in Boardman, Ore. Pacific Ethanol, Inc., will provide the rest of the investment capital on the $50 million plant, which is scheduled to open by the end of 2009.
Smith trumpeted the fact that unlike corn-based ethanol, cellulosic ethanol does not negatively impact food prices or require large amounts of land to grow. “Excess materials from mills, farms and forests can now be used to fuel our cars and heat our homes,” he said.
But nursery industry sources took exception to language describing wood chips as “wasted,” “surplus” or “excess materials.” On the contrary, they said; wood chips have been used productively for years in various landscaping and substrate applications. They feared this new plant could do the industry more harm than good by making wood chips scarcer and more expensive.
Highlight your newest plants at the Farwest Show in the New Varieties Showcase. Designed by a team of professional designers, your plants will be displayed to their best advantage and viewed by thousands of Farwest Show attendees.
The showcase is an excellent opportunity for licensors and growers to increase visibility and directs the interested buyer to a grower/distributor at the show. The plants selected for the New Varieties Showcase are featured in a special section of Digger magazine Farwest Show edition.
The OAN seeks plants with unique characteristics. Entries should be:
A submission form and guidelines are available at www.farwestshow.com/nvs. Forms are also available by fax by calling 503-682-5089, 800-342-6401 or by e-mailing email@example.com. All submissions are due by March 3.
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