Oregon Senate passes B Corp. bill, Kitzhaber's stamp awaits
By Andy Giegerich
Digital Managing Editor
Karen Wolfgang hopes her new business venture will qualify as a B Corp. under pending new state corporate identifier rules.
Oregon’s Senate has approved a measure that would allow companies to register under an identifier that touts their commitment to sustainability, as opposed to simply identifying the type of operating structure they use.
House Bill 2296A could encourage businesses to become state-recognized “benefit companies” if they meet certain social and environmental performance guidelines. The designation would cover much of the same ground as the B Corp. certification awarded by the nonprofit B Lab.
The 22-8 Senate vote follows last month’s House vote, which passed the bill by a 39-20 count. The measure awaits Gov. John Kitzhaber's signature.
"The governor thinks it's an important step, and he looks forward to signing it," said Tim Raphael, a Kitzhaber spokesman.
If Kitzhaber agrees, a company choosing the designation when registering with the state could register as a “benefit company” as opposed to or along with, say, a limited liability company. Officials are still working out some of the semantics over what the identifier will entail.
Existing companies could also add the label to their public identifiers.
Businesses would need to annually publish reports revealing ways they’ve contributed to the public benefit, as well as go through third party evaluations analyzing whether they’re worthy of the B Corp. label.
Karen Wolfgang, owner of Independence Gardens in Portland, said she plans to use the designation in filing papers for a new landscape consulting firm later this year.
“It’s a really good way to highlight our commitment to triple bottom-line sustainability,” Wolfgang said. “It doesn’t impose any additional headaches on us at all. LLCs are great, but now, we’ll be able to champion ourselves and tell our story a little better than we would otherwise.”
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