Push on to pass Benefit Corporation legislation in Oregon
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
Backers of the Benefit Corporation designation are looking to push legislation through in Oregon during the short session.
An effort is on to get a hearing for legislation supporting the legal formation of Benefit Corporations in Oregon during the Legislature's short session, which begins Wednesday.
The legislation would provide a legal framework for companies to register as a company dedicated to providing a public benefit. The designation would be available as an option alongside C Corporation or S Corporation.
Similar legislation has been passed in California, Vermont, Hawaii, New York, Maryland and New Jersey and is pending in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and the District of Columbia.
The push for Benefit Corporation legislation is being led by the Philadelphia-based nonprofit B Lab, which has been actively promoting the concept across the company. B Lab also registers companies as B Corps., providing one of the standards that is recognized under Benefit Corporation legislation.
But the late effort faces an uphill battle during a short session that has an agenda already packed with budget, education and health care concerns.
Oregon is currently home to 33 registered B Corps. — there are 517 nationwide — including the likes of Portland companies Bamboo Sushi, FMYI and Sustainable Harvest. But until the state passes legislation to legally recognize Benefit Corporations, the B Corp. standard isn't legally protected.
"We're protecting the entrepreneur and the shareholder," said Erik Trojian, B Lab's director of policy.
Trojian said the legal framework provides certainty that the structure and mission of the company — and a commitment to provide a material positive impact on society and the environment — won't change with a change in leadership.
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