Chris McLaughlin, manager at The Gallon House in Silverton, mixes a drink for a patron on Thursday, Sept. 10. Operating on limited hours with the only two employees still in town, The Gallon House intended to remain open until an evacuation order came through. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

There’s a lot going on business. To help keep you up to speed, the Salem Reporter is launching a regular roundup of business-related items including new business openings, locations, grant opportunities and others. 

To suggest an item, reach out to reporter Jake Thomas at [email protected]

 

A SPECIAL TIME. Unpaid rent, cocktails to go, Covid liability and relief for businesses are expected to be on the minds of Oregon lawmakers when they meet on Monday, Dec. 21, for the third special of the year.

Gov. Kate Brown announced the one-day session to address the ongoing Covid pandemic that’s been complicated by historic wildfires. In a statement, the governor called for $800 million in relief that’ll include aid for renters, landlords, schools and public health measures.

Sen. Majority Leader Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego, issued a statement calling for the Legislature to extend the state’s residential eviction moratorium into next year and “to provide economic relief for small businesses and restaurants.”

Legislation currently being drafted would provide tax breaks or grants to landlords who have had to go without rent payments. Also included is a measure that would allow the state’s beleaguered bars and restaurants to sell or deliver mixed alcoholic drinks, which Washington has already allowed.

The governor has prioritized funding to help reopen schools. Another bill being drafted would shield schools from lawsuits brought by employees who contract Covid. However, the measure does not protect schools from “reckless, wanton or intentional misconduct.” Nor does it shield them from legal action over discrimination, wages or Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration complaints.

BEFORE THE FREEZE. Oregon’s unemployment rate continued its steady descent in November, but numbers released earlier this week don’t yet reflect the impact of Gov. Kate Brown’s recent orders closing or restricting businesses around the state.

November unemployment fell to 6%, down from October’s revised rate of 6.8%.

On Nov. 18, Brown enacted her two-week “freeze”, intended to slow escalating Covid cases, closed gyms and restricted restaurants and bars to take-out or delivery. The governor has kept many restrictions in place for much of the state since the freeze ended, though outdoor dining has resumed

According to the department, the number of nonfarm jobs in Oregon rose by 4,200 in November, recovering 46% of the jobs the state lost during March and April. However, those gains have almost certainly been reduced. Prior to the freeze, the Employment Department estimated that about 51,000 jobs were at high risk of layoff. The vast majority — 48,000 — were in bars and restaurants.

WHAT A YEAR. Strategic Economic Development Corporation, the area’s economic agency, will be holding its annual awards at noon, Friday, Dec. 18, over Zoom. According to SEDCOR, the event will “shine a light on those who went above and beyond to serve their customers, their employees, and their communities” in 2020. Erik Andersson, the organization’s president, will also talk about what it’ll be up to next year. Registration can be found here.

TAX BREAK. Businesses struggling because of Covid will get a pass on penalties and interest on their 2019 income taxes. Earlier this week, Gov. Kate Brown announced she was directing the Oregon Department of Revenue to waive penalties on personal income, corporate excise and corporate income taxes. Businesses with less than $5 million in gross receipts will also have interest waived on taxes. Payment plans on taxes owed have also been extended up to 36 months.

Additionally, the due date for taxes on lottery machines for the second quarter of 2020 has been extended from Jan. 14, 2021, to April 14, 2021.

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 Contact reporter Jake Thomas at 503-575-1251 or [email protected] or @jakethomas2009.