A Powerful Voice on Key Industry Issues
ORLA’s government affairs team is dedicated to promoting and protecting the foodservice and lodging industries of Oregon. By advocating for public policies that sustain our industry, and by working on behalf of local businesses, we are the voice of hospitality at the local, state and national levels.
Launching Income Equality in Oregon’s Small Businesses
ORLA believes in the importance of income equality inside the walls of Oregon’s small business restaurants and lodging establishments. We believe in the concept so much that we are partnering with Democratic and Republican lawmakers to introduce the most progressive income equality proposal in the nation. Our proposal? If a front-of-the-house worker is making more than $5 above the minimum wage rate in their region through a combination of their base wage and tips during a given pay period, then the employer can adjust their base wage to $10 an hour, freeing up revenue for kitchen and back-of-the-house staff raises and bonuses.
Workers and employers should be able to deal with unexpected life events, changes to shifts due to weather, and be able to adjust schedules as needed due to marketplace demands. Flexible schedules throughout Oregon benefits both employees and employers who are proven to prefer current scheduling policies compared to any new government mandate. Restrictive scheduling will obstruct the freedoms enjoyed by workers across Oregon’s hospitality industry by creating new penalties on employers.
ORLA continues to fight for the appropriate use of lodging tax dollars at the local, county, and statewide levels as required by law. Since July 1, 2003, 70% of any new or increased portion of lodging taxes must fund tourism promotion and tourism related facilities. The remaining 30% can be spent on general fund expenses as designated by the taxing jurisdiction. ORLA believes in the full preservation of the 2003 law and will protect its integrity as one of our most crucial tools in growing and enhancing Oregon’s tourism export economy.
Strengthening Oregon’s Roads and Bridges
ORLA believes in the importance of a comprehensive transportation plan that funds needed infrastructure projects throughout Oregon. The flow of people, goods, and services is crucial to the success of Oregon’s hospitality industry and the experience of Oregon’s visitors.
Tip pooling has become a legal spider web, given the complicated state-by-state variations. In a move to further clarify the law, restaurant industry trade associations filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on behalf of restaurants and their employees who share in tips and participate in tip pools. ORLA believes that the DOL has overstepped its bounds in revising regulations on tip pooling and we are working with the National Restaurant Association and other partners to take our case to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017.
Ensuring Fairness for Short Term Rentals
Illegal short term rentals endanger customers’ lives, ignore existing laws and it’s unknown whether they are reporting and remitting the proper lodging taxes. The State of Oregon should pass legislation that requires short term home rental properties to register with their local taxing authority before they are marketed through online exchange sites. Additionally, for jurisdictions that have a business licensing program in place, operators should secure the proper licenses.
During the business registration process, operators should also show that they have notified their insurance carrier and lending institution that a commercial transaction is occurring on the premises. In areas where there aren’t enough local resources to monitor safeguards, insurance carriers will most likely require coverage for protection and liability – beyond a customary homeowner policy. Finally, operators should report and remit their room tax collections.
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 which 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.
ORLA 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.
One of the biggest threats to independent businesses in Oregon is the desire by local governments to control private employer-employee relationships. By creating laws that mandate employee benefits within the boundaries of a city or county, businesses face a patchwork of regulations that differ from one location to another, and workplace fairness is compromised. ORLA believes that enacting a preemption that labor practices are set at the state level gives businesses stability and offers a better environment for economic growth.