Benefit factor: Oregon to consider B Corp legislation

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown strongly backs a benefits corporation bill that could hit the state's House floor this week.

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown strongly backs a benefits corporation bill that could hit the state's House floor this week.

Oregon’s House is preparing to take a serious look at establishing the state’s own version of B Corps.

The House is set to tackle House Bill 2296, which would create a legal framework for Benefit Corporations within Oregon. The designation would cover much of the same ground as B Corps, which are certified by the nonprofit B Lab.

Several states, though, are examining Benefit Corporations that do the same thing, that is, implore companies to meet social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency standards.

The bill passed through the House’s Business and Labor Committee last week and is expected to merit a full House vote this week.

Twelve states, including California and New York, have adopted Benefit Corporation measures. Oregon already counts 25 certified B Corps.

Peter Thelkel took the lead on the measure for Secretary of State Kate Brown’s office. Rep. Tobias Read, a Beaverton Democrat, shepherded the measure to the House floor.

“The fundamental question that people who operate businesses struggle with is how to make decisions that benefit the business and also allow them to bring their values to work,” said Read. “Being a Benefit Corporation allows them to be clear about their intentions and make business decisions that are consistent with their values, the community, their employees and the environment.

“It’s consistent with what Oregon is and it has significant economic development potential if, say, a company is looking to relocate” based on a state’s business ethic.

Plus, the measure is entirely optional. No businesses are required to embrace the credo or even follow it.

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