SB 4: The Good Part

As I mentioned last week, I’m not thrilled about this bill. State subsidies to semiconductors or any other business are generally inefficient. Yet SB 4 does have one nice feature: some land use deregulation.

SB 4 breaches the otherwise sacrosanct urban growth boundaries that limit economic growth in Oregon. As the bill stands now, Section 10 reads: “On or before June 30, 2024, the Governor may, by executive order, bring within an existing urban growth boundary designated lands for the purposes of providing lands available for industrial uses that relate to the semiconductor industry, advanced manufacturing or the supply chain for semiconductors or advanced manufacturing.” You don’t see that every day. I don’t know if the subsidies are worth it, but this provision of the law, which doesn’t cost the state any money, might make SB 4 worth passing.

As you might imagine, Section 10 has some powerful opponents. I could see an amendment stripping the best part of the bill away. Then all that would be left is corporate welfare that might not even lead to incremental development of Oregon’s semiconductor sector beyond what would otherwise occur without this bill’s slush fund.

Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of We were winning when I was there.