- Associated Press - Saturday, June 6, 2015

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Here’s a look at highlights of the past week in the Oregon Legislature:



After months on ice, a bill requiring many businesses to give employees paid sick leave began advancing. Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee pushed the bill forward, setting up a vote in the full Senate as soon as next week. The bill would require companies with at least 10 workers to provide a week of paid sick leave each year. Smaller employers would have to offer unpaid leave. The measure is a priority for Democrats and labor unions, who say it would ensure people can recover from illnesses instead of going to work. Republicans and business groups say it will expose businesses to new costs and operating challenges.



Another long-stalled priority for Democrats and labor officials is advancing after garnering the blessing of the Ways and Means Committee. The committee advanced a bill that would automatically enroll thousands of workers in retirement savings accounts. The proponents say the measure would help Oregonians build a nest egg so they don’t have to work until they die or live in poverty as a retiree. But as they did with the sick leave bill, Republicans said they are worried about creating higher costs for businesses. Employers would be required to deduct money from their workers’ paychecks, but they would not have to contribute their own money.



The presidents of Oregon’s universities pledged to limit tuition hikes if the Legislature agrees to boost higher education funding over the next two years. University administrators have spent most of the year pushing aggressively for a two-year budget of $755 million - $85 million more than legislative budget writers initially proposed. If they hit their funding target, the universities promise to use the money to limit across-the-board tuition hikes, dole out more scholarship money to the students who need it most, and hire more faculty and academic advisers to ensure students can graduate on time. The plan is backed by the Oregon Student Association. Lawmakers in charge the budget won’t say whether the universities are likely to get all the money they are seeking.



A House committee advanced a bill making changes to a gun-control bill signed earlier this year by Gov. Kate Brown. The original bill requires that a background check be run by a licensed gun dealer any time a firearm is transferred or sold between people who aren’t related. The new bill seeks to make it easier for people to temporarily lend guns to friends. Instead of running the background check in front of a licensed dealer - who can charge a fee - the bill would allow the check to be run in a telephone call to the Oregon State Police. It applies only when the gun will be loaned for up to seven days. Gun-rights advocates, who bitterly opposed the original bill, said the change was no better.

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