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Regional Roundup

Headlines found this week in Cascades Reader


Judge orders state DEQ to do more to shield salmon streams

Ruling says state is not doing enough to protect endangered species from harmful effects of logging
  • Courtesy Metro

District Judge Marco A. Hernández is ordering the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to do more to protect salmon streams harmed by logging operations.

He ruled in June in a clean water lawsuit filed by environmentalists that has been winding through the courts since 2012. The plaintiffs claimed the DEQ is not doing enough to protect salmon threatened by common logging practices, such as the removal of shade trees that cool water temperatures in mountain streams where salmon reside. They said the DEQ sometimes even allows stream temperatures to rise to levels lethal to salmon, a violation of federal environmental laws.

The DEQ said it will abide by the judge's orders, but the timber industry suggests that the water quality of streams in forests is excellent. – Paul Koberstein, Portland Tribune

Oregon's Business Tax is Not Going to Voters—Here's What You Should Know

  • Marco Verch Professional Photographer

With the announcement this week from business group Oregon Manufacturers and Commerce that they are no longer attempting to refer the state's new commercial activities tax to the ballot, the tax is likely to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

For companies doing business in Oregon, that could mean having to register and pay a new tax. For public school teachers and students, it means a big investment in education. 

Here's a quick primer on this tax:

1.) In general, how does it work?

Oregon's new business tax, created by the Legislature this year, is not a sales tax. Instead, it's a commercial activities tax on business transactions that take place in the state. It's up to businesses to track their business activity and if their Oregon sales—not profits, but overall commercial sales, minus a few allowed deductions—go beyond a certain threshold, they'll have a tax to pay. – Rob Manning, OPB

Extra Foam: Minimum Wage, Minimal Effects

Minimum wage increases in Portland having no dramatic effects on employment

  • Jamie Valdez

Last week, Bloomberg reported that Seattle-based Restaurants Unlimited, with 35 eateries in Washington, Oregon and California including Henry's Tavern, Stanford's and Kincaid's, sought Chapter 11 protection.

A company spokesman said minimum wage hikes were partly to blame.

Restaurants Unlimited's chief restructuring officer David Bagley said, "Over the past three years, the company's profitability has been significantly impacted by progressive wage laws along the Pacific coast that have increased the minimum wage."

The story continued: "Wage increases in Seattle, San Francisco and Portland boosted the company's wage expenses by a total of $10.6 million through its fiscal year end 2019," Bagley said. -Joseph Gallivan, Business Tribune.

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