NEWS from the Desk of State Representative Jessica George

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Rep. George


sales tax

TOMORROW, February 8th at 1:00pm HB 4079 is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Committee on Human Services. This bill will create Oregon's first ever sales tax! The purpose of the sales tax is to fund $750 monthly debit cards to the homeless and people under the poverty level. This tax will not go to making our communities safer, our elections more secure or improving our education system. It also comes at a time when the state has record revenues.

Proponents of HB 4079’s indicate this is a “luxury” sales tax because it only applies to particular products over a certain price, but once passed into law it is very plausible for the legislature to easily lower the price caps and add more goods and services that fall under the new sales tax with a simple majority vote.

The House Committee Members on Human Services need to hear YOUR VOICE on this important issue. Should Oregon be considering more taxes? Register here!



As we drive around this beautiful valley that we call home it is impossible to ignore the rich and vibrant farming culture that surrounds us. Oregon is home to 225 different crops and while there are certainly some large farms and farming operations we can still boast that Oregon is home to the working family farm. Sadly, these farms, their owners and their employees are under attack this week in Salem. 

HB 4002 otherwise known as Ag Overtime has a public hearing tomorrow, Tuesday the 8th at 5:30 pm and the House Business and Labor committee needs to hear from you!
Click here to testify!

***Keep reading to learn more***

This legislation will change the shape of the agricultural industry here in Oregon forever. This bill would over-ride the federal agricultural overtime exemption. Harvest time is unique to agriculture production, as the harvest has to be collected in a short window. Farmers cannot spread the work out, and it is difficult for both the farmer and the employees to hire and lay-off for just the harvest window. Especially when many employees are seeking to work a lot of hours in that short window. By passing this bill we risk not only hurting the farm owners who can’t afford to pay the overtime, but by hurting farm employees as well. By cutting their hours and pay because of the natural constraints that farms operate under these employees will almost certainly make less money.

HB 4002 is being forced through the legislature now. A massive policy change like this is exactly what is NOT supposed to be introduced in the February short session of the legislature. The input needed to adequately consider the impact of this policy change deserves far more time than one committee hearing. We need to know the economic impact of what this change will bring – we don’t have that. We need time to get this warning out to all who would be affected and let them have their testimony heard – there is not time for that.

Keep in mind that unlike a retail shop, or some manufacturing facilities, there is no “on and off switch” in farming. Nature dictates a farmers hours – not the farmer. Farm operations can’t be scheduled into a normal eight hour work week and the job has to be done regardless of the clock striking five o’clock somewhere.

I mentioned earlier that Oregon is the home of the family-owned farm, but if this legislation is passed we may no longer be a viable home for these farms. Every day large, Wall Street-owned, private equity firms are seeking to purchase land here in the Willamette Valley. If a small family farm can no longer afford the cost of running their business they may very well sell to a larger company who can. These large companies will not have the same ties to the community, their employees, and generational history with farming that makes our culture so unique. What they do have is the potential capital to access financing that a family farm can’t and they also have the money to automate. Farm employees lose out if that happens and so do the rest of us who enjoy a strong agricultural sector and affordable local food products.

This legislation will harm the very workers the proponents of the bill say it will help. Most farm employees are paid well above minimum wage now and they have the opportunity to make a lot of money during the seasonal peaks during harvest time. If HB 4002 is passed these employees will most likely have to get a second job just to make the same amount of money. If a farmer can’t pay more than an eight hour work day to one employee they potentially will have to hire more workers instead of paying overtime to their original employee. That means more people with less money. How does this help the original employee? It certainly doesn’t help the farmer, but the big loser is the employee – again the person the proponents of this bill supposedly seek to help.

Oregon will not be the first state to flirt with this policy. California and Washington recently passed overtime legislation and they are already feeling the negative effects of their policies. Oregon’s proposal calls for a more radical change than even those two States enacted.

This is a complicated and complex issue and will have far reaching consequences. It should not be heard over the course of a day or week in the short session. Please take a minute today to learn more and testify to speak or submit written testimony on this important issue.

***Click here to learn more***

If you need any assistance or have any questions, please reach out to my office.



Jessica George
State Representative - HD 25 I phone: 503-986-1425
Address: 900 Court St NE, H-479, Salem, OR 97301