LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK & BILL TRACKING
Bills Dead and Alive: Some Wins, Some Big Challenges Continue
The 2019 Oregon Legislature has officially taken their turn around the bend. Some key bills with impact on the hospitality industry are officially dead while others hold on to life. Bills that did not move out of committee include a Family Leave Bill (House Bill 3031) which would have required family leave paid for by employers and a bill to reduce Oregon’s Blood Alcohol Content driving limit from .08 to .05 (Senate Bill 7).
A bill of importance to ORLA’s vacation home rental companies (Senate Bill 621) did not make the cut either. The original version would have prevented local governments from restricting the number of vacation rental properties that can exist in a given jurisdiction. ORLA offered a friendly amendment to the bill in line with support for a vacation rental free marketplace if rental properties complied with all applicable safety and code enforcement regulations for the lodging industry and collected all lodging taxes. Both ORLA’s amendment and the bill itself didn’t pass out of committee.
The following bills represent ORLA’s top priorities for bill tracking and mobilization as of May 23. Included in the list below are bills relating to Family Leave paid by employers and employees, Ride Sharing, Local Lodging Taxes, and the OLCC to name a few. Please review the list below and share your perspective on their current status and ORLA’s position by contacting Greg Astley, ORLA’s Director of Government Affairs.
2019 LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK
The following are components to ORLA’s advocacy work inside the halls of our capitol building:
Protecting Dedicated Local Lodging Tax Funds for Tourism Promotion and Facilities
Since lodging tax reforms in 2003, Oregon has seen the power of tourism and its positive economic impact for the people of our state. Tourism continues to produce results for us as an export economy. According to a report by Longwoods International, every dollar we invest outside of Oregon in tourism promotion results in $237 in visitor spending and $11 in local and state tax revenue. Our achievements in tourism must be nurtured and continued strategic promotions will be necessary to encourage domestic and international travelers to choose our great state for their next professional or personal experience.
Opposing a .05 Blood Alcohol Content Threshold
The 2019 Oregon Legislature is contemplating the creation of a stricter standard for automatic “driving under the influence of intoxicants” (DUII) citations by lowering the current automatic citation standard of .08 blood alcohol content (BAC) to .05. ORLA opposes such a proposal for reasons including: The biggest growth in impaired drivers by far is marijuana users; the .05 proposal does nothing to make Oregon's streets safer; Traffic safety statistics do not support the NTSB’s .05 BAC argument. The current system is working. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is successfully implementing several strategies and programs aimed at decreasing drunk-driving fatalities on our nation’s roadways by 51 percent since 1982. In addition, drunk-driving fatalities involving persons under 21 have decreased 80 percent.
Following Seattle’s Lead on a Tip Credit
Restaurant operators are continuing to face significant pressures and slim profit margins (especially in full-service models) due to an ever-increasing minimum wage that does not consider tip income. ORLA is currently undertaking a study to research the current ranges of hourly income being earned by tipped workers to assist legislators in understanding the discrepancy in wages between the front and back-of-the-house. Tip pooling in Oregon for back-of-the-house workers is a major win for the industry, but a tip credit can more accurately provide income equality for Oregon’s restaurant industry. In Seattle, some employers have access to a $2.50 tip credit if they offer health insurance to their employees. We would like to see Oregon’s legislators consider a similar scope for the sustainability of the full-service restaurant model.
The Details Behind Paid Family Leave
The number one labor policy priority for Democrats in control of the Legislature will be passing paid family leave legislation in Oregon which already exists in both California and Washington. Paid family leave will require a great deal of attention to detail as Oregon’s structure for creating a viable system will differ from that of our neighbors. ORLA believes in the concept of paid family leave and would like to work with legislative leadership to find a way to set up an employee paid system providing financial security for both planned and unexpected immediate family circumstances which require time away from work.
Statewide Approach to Single-Use Disposables
ORLA is a staunch proponent of laws which treat all Oregonians equally. We commonly refer to this work as establishing preemptions in an effort to create consistency in business. The City of Portland has passed an ordinance for on-demand plastic straws and single-use plastics (SUDs) like utensils for to-go orders. For Portlanders and ORLA members in the marketplace, this is good news compared to outright bans on these products. Given interest amongst legislators, ORLA will discuss options for creating a permanent model for plastic use at the statewide level to avoid the inconsistent policies that will otherwise pass at local levels of government across the state.
Protecting Oregonians from “Home Commercial Kitchens”
A new law passed in California allows for the limited sale of food products to the public using home kitchens. ORLA will fight against these pursuits as a matter of health and safety for the general public. Stringent health and safety regulations are in place for a reason and maintaining these commitments for all food sales to the public will be a top priority.
Short-Term Rental Safety and Code Compliance
ORLA continues the important work of reining in illegal hotels which continue to host guests without complying with safety regulations applying to the rest of the hospitality industry. Online Travel Agencies (or OTAs) should require all hosts on their website to prove safety compliance with the designated local jurisdiction and also prove appropriate home insurance coverage for accommodating out of town guests in exchange for money.
If you have any questions, contact Greg Astley, Director of Government Affairs, at Astley@OregonRLA.org.
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