Tip Pooling has become a legal spiderweb, given the complicated state-by-state variations. In a recent move to further clarify the law, restaurant industry trade associations have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on behalf of restaurants and restaurant employees who share in tips and participate in tip pools. ORLA believes that the Department of Labor has overstepped its bounds in revising regulations on tip pooling without regard to the previous 2010 court case Woody Woo.
During the 2007 Legislative Session, the Oregon Insurance Division (OID) pushed for changes in association health insurance plans that ultimately eliminated several association plans including ORLA’s group program. In the 2013 Legislative Session, a group of associations will be introducing a bill that would require the OID to treat association health plans as large group plans for the purposes of setting rates in Oregon.
Most, if not all, tourism funding dollars come from lodging taxes in Oregon. These dollars promote our state and attract visitors and businesses. ORLA works as a leader on behalf of our industry to promote tourism and attract major activities such as sporting events and tournaments, and movie and video productions. ORLA also stands strong to make sure lodging taxes are directed towards these efforts, and are not diverted away from attracting people and commerce to our state.
Measure 25, which passed in 2002, raises the minimum wage each January 1, forever. This annual increase applies regardless of the state's economic health. Oregon's minimum wage rate is currently the second highest in the nation. Within the hospitality industry, the only employees considered "minimum wage employees" are entry-level employees (often students or young people still living at home with their parents) and tipped employees making—with tips—well over the minimum wage. ORLA supports efforts to remove the annual indexing until the economy stabilizes and the state's unemployment rate declines from one of the highest in the nation. ORLA is opposed to any increases in the minimum wage that do not take into consideration the effects on entry-level or tipped employees.
Oregon is one of only seven states nationwide that does not have a tip credit provision, which allows employers to consider tips as wages for the purpose of minimum wage, and yet minimum wage in Oregon is the second highest in the country. To add fuel to the fire, the IRS requires employees to report all tips to employers because tips are taxable as income and federal law requires employers to pay unemployment and social security taxes on tips reported to them by their employers, thereby treating tips as wages. To not consider these same tips as wages for the purpose of minimum wage is inconsistent and unfair. ORLA strongly supports and advocates for some type of tip credit and opportunity wage to offset the job loss and inequity that is caused when the starting wage is raised without a provision for tipped employees and youth.
Comprehensive immigration reform must include all aspects of immigration issues—border security, worker supply and employee verification—which means that Congress is the only political body that can actually solve the immigration problem. State and Local governments only make a solution more complex by trying to pass their own laws. ORLA is opposed to random, individual pieces of immigration reform and supports Congress working together on a national level to enact comprehensive reform.
The Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association is the only major trade association in the state that has defended lottery retailers since the introduction of video lottery in Oregon. ORLA defends commission rates and protects against extreme regulatory attacks, such as increased casino expansions off tribal reservations. ORLA is supportive of gaming as entertainment, adjunct to the hospitality industry.
Local governments are increasingly targeting industries for local sales-tax type assessments. Meals taxes fall under this category as an unfair tactic used by local governments singling out a specific industry to act as a tax collector on their local citizens. While meals taxes are promoted as a way to tax out-of-town visitors, statistics show that the vast majority of people who dine out are community members, not visitors. When cities enact meals taxes, government-imposed competitive boundaries are created. Allowing individual municipalities to implement misguided tax policies corrupts the environment for a statewide discussion of comprehensive tax reform.