ANOTHER VOICE: LLC law change would help protect small business owners

There are currently almost 130,000 LLCs (limited liability companies) registered in Oregon. These companies represent businesses of all sizes, but the vast majority are small businesses working and employing people in communities throughout Oregon.

When the Oregon Limited Liability Act was passed almost 20 years ago establishing LLCs as a recognized corporate entity in Oregon, the idea was to provide business owners with a structure that gave them flexibility and assurance on liability exposure for the company’s members and owners.

This was well understood and has been the operating practice, not just in Oregon but in states throughout the country that adopted similar laws.

Included in that certainty was ensuring that LLCs have clarity in their liability for workers’ compensation issues. Like all businesses, LLC employers need to provide safe workplaces and need to be responsible for situations where an employee is injured during a work-related incident.

Oregon has a strong and nationally recognized workers’ compensation system, with fairly clear laws about such liability. However, a recent Court of Appeals decision pointed out some unintended ambiguity in current law.

Their interpretation of this ambiguity has unfortunately opened the door to massive liability issues for these 130,000 LLCs by effectively allowing not just the company, but also all individual members and owners of the LLC, to be liable.

To help clarify the law and ensure that printed language matches what many — if not all — of us already believed the law actually is, I introduced House Bill 2923. This is a simple bill that adds specific language to our workers’ compensation statute’s “exclusive remedy” provisions so that employees, employers, lawyers and judges clearly know what possible legal action is available to individuals injured in a work-related incident.

I want to thank a number of stakeholder groups for working together to perfect the language in HB 2923. Business organizations, SAIF, the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association and others worked collaboratively to ensure this bill could receive broad support.

The bill had its first hearing today in the House Business and Labor Committee, and I hope to see it work through the process very soon.

This is an important bill, not just for those 130,000 businesses, but also for the many other individuals they employ.

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Bruce Hanna is a Roseburg Republican serving in the Oregon House.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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