Government, Salem, technology

Legislative news brief: Bills on landlord rent-forgiveness credits, right to repair, more

The Oregon Capitol building in Salem. Photo: Chas Hundley

Senate Republicans introduced 16 bills presented as tax relief measures for Oregonians struggling in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing recession, now referred to by many economists as the COVID-19 Recession. 

The Office of Oregon State Republicans issued a press release saying the tax relief and recovery package is the first of many packages the party plans to introduce in the 2021 virtual legislative session.

Some of the bills included in the package if passed would:

SB 521 — Make some basic necessities tax-exempt, like prescription drugs, diapers and baby formula, and feminine hygiene products.

SB 506 — Allow people without a high school diploma to use job experience to count toward professional or occupational licenses.

SB 531 — Establish an assistance fund for employers for lost income due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

SB 443 — Create a flat tax rate for all income brackets. If taxable income is not more than $2,000 the rate is 4.75 percent; More than $2,000 but $5,000 or less at 6.75 percent; More than $5,000 but $125,000 or less 8.75 percent plus $298; More than $125,000 at 9.9 percent plus $10,798.

SB 449 — Create a tax credit for employers who create high-wage jobs.

SB 738 — Forgive businesses who defied the governor’s executive orders during the COVID-19 outbreak and remained open, and whose business was not the source of a disease outbreak.

“The 2021 legislative session is all about recovery,” Sen. Tim Knopp (R-Bend) said. “From public safety, getting kids back to the classroom and families back to work, to wildfire and economic recovery, Senate Republicans are focused on the most important issues facing Oregonians.


District 30 Rep. Janeen Sollman (D-Hillsboro) introduced a bill requiring electronics manufacturers to make parts, tools, and repair manuals available to the general public so that Oregonians can fix electronics they’ve purchased themselves. 

What’s being called the Right to Repair Act (House Bill 2698) could save Oregon households $330 annually by making repairs on their own, or by going to an independent repair shop, a new report released by the Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG), a nonprofit public interest advocacy group.

“The Right to Repair Act will ensure that more Oregonians have access to affordable technology, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic when technology has become so instrumental to our daily lives,” Sollman said. “It will reduce e-waste and climate pollution, protect consumers, and help our small independent Main Street businesses by offering them the opportunity to assist Oregonians at a local level.”

American families generate about 176 pounds of electronic waste every year, and the electronics industry is the fastest growing producer of waste in the world, a World Economic Forum report says. 

“Repair provides us with an opportunity to breathe new life into our old and broken devices instead of buying new gadgets every time our old ones give us trouble,” OSPIRG State Director Charlie Fisher said.


A bill being heard in the Joint Committee on Tax Expenditures that’s sponsored by District 16 Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) would create a tax credit for landlords who allowed tenants to forgo past-due rent from the period beginning April 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020. 

Senate Bill 330 allows landlords to claim the credit once they provide each tenant with a nonpayment balance on or after Ap. 1, 2021, and on or before October 1, 2021. Landlords would be allowed to claim the credit for each tenant that has a nonpayment balance.

SB 330 also says landlords would not receive the credit if they threatened a tenant based on a tenant’s nonpayment balance from Apr. 1 – Dec. 31 of last year.

During that period landlords must not have delivered to a tenant for nonpayment of rent a notice of termination of the rental agreement, initiated any action with the intention of taking possession of or using a dwelling unit based on a tenant’s nonpayment balance, assessed a late fee or any penalty for a tenant’s nonpayment, or reported a tenant’s balance as delinquent to any consumer credit bureau.

The tax credit would equal 20 percent of the total amount forgiven by the landlord, but the credit may not exceed the tax liability of the taxpayer.

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