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.
Fighting Against Additional Labor Regulations
Small businesses in Oregon are still adjusting to increasing minimum wage rates, paid sick leave, and Oregon’s new scheduling law. As a result, ORLA will fight any attempts to implement Paid Family Leave during the 2018 session. Laws relating to Paid Family Leave are currently on the books in both Washington and California and Oregon’s legislative leadership have signaled an interest in implementing paid family leave legislation.
Fair Payment of Lodging Taxes by Lodging Intermediaries
ORLA, in partnership with the League of Oregon Cities, will be pursuing a legislative fix to make sure online travel platforms like Airbnb pay all applicable lodging taxes when they are collecting payment for the lodging stays. The legislative fix would treat online travel platforms the same way as other lodging companies collecting revenue for lodging stays including other online travel companies like Expedia and Priceline.
Advocating for Oregon’s Tourism Investment Plans
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 or 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.
Fighting for Tip Pooling
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) asserting the DOL has overstepped its bounds in revising regulations on tip pooling. Although the DOL has announced they propose to rescind the regulations that bar tip sharing, we continue to work with the National Restaurant Association and other partners to take our case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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 and report and remit their room tax collections.
In partnership with Oregon Winegrowers, ORLA will be pursuing stronger protections for restaurant operations against predatory music licensing investigators. In order to make sure restaurants are paying appropriate fees for licensed music playing in their establishment, music licensing companies enlist the help of investigators who have been reported to harass and threaten restaurant operators. ORLA is interested in tightening up rules and regulations for how operators can be approached about their music licensing arrangements to assist in the amicable resolution of laws governing the commercial use of copyrighted music.
Advocating for Comprehensive Immigration Reform
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.
Defending Lottery Retailers and Commission Rates
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.
Protecting Small Businesses from Local Jurisdictional Control
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.
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.
Stay up-to-date at OregonRLA.org/GA.
OregonSaves Wave Two (50 – 99 employees)
In mid-January, OregonSaves began sending employers with 50 – 99 employees in Oregon their first notice about the program in case they would like to register or claim exemption now, ahead of the May 15, 2018 registration deadline. For employers with an email address on file, the notice was sent by email. For all others, it was sent by regular mail. If an employer didn’t receive the notice and should have, they can reach out to the OregonSaves Client Services team at (844) 661-1256 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Employers in wave two can expect another notice about the registration deadline in April.
OregonSaves is Now Open for Business Statewide
Due to the success of the pilot phase of the program, OregonSaves is now open to any employer of any size with employees in Oregon. The deadlines for employers to register remain the same, but employers do not need to wait for them to join the program and start facilitating savings for their employees. Later this month, OregonSaves will send a notice to every employer in Oregon with instructions about how to join early.
To date, more than 60 employers from later waves have seen the benefits of getting an early start and have already signed up. As Judi Randall, finance director at Douglas County Multi-Family Property Management Corp. in Roseburg, explained, “The process to get the program established was minimal, the OregonSaves software is easy to navigate, and the time and effort it took was worth the benefits the employees will gain from the program.”
State Plan for Employees Launched July 2017
OregonSaves, a state-run retirement program for employees of businesses who do not currently offer a retirement savings plan, officially launched in July when 11 employers selected for the first pilot program began payroll deductions for participating employees.
November 15, 2017 was the deadline for employers with 100 or more employees in Oregon to either register to facilitate OregonSaves or certify that they are exempt from the program. If an employer missed the deadline, they should reach out to the OregonSaves Client Service team at (844) 661-1256 or email@example.com.
In 2015, the Oregon Legislative Assembly enacted legislation, which created the Oregon Retirement Savings Board. House Bill 2960 tasked the Board with the establishment and oversight of a state-run retirement savings program providing employees with a flexible opportunity to save through payroll deductions and the ease of getting started with automatic enrollment and annual contribution escalation.
The new public website for OregonSaves is now live at OregonSaves.com and includes general information about the program as well as specific information for savers at Saver.oregonsaves.com and for employers at Employer.oregonsaves.com.
Employees in the pilot program of OregonSaves have already saved more than $146,000 since July. Approximately 72 percent of the nearly 2,500 eligible employees have chosen to stay in the program. Most employees are contributing the standard 5 percent of their gross pay. Currently, the average contribution rate is 4.7 percent, and the average contribution is approximately $57 per pay period.
Employers must collect (payroll deduction) and remit the payroll withholdings each pay period to the State. This will create additional paperwork for employers to deal with staff. There is no cost; the plan is funded into IRA's.
OregonSaves is scheduled to roll out in phases starting with larger employers. The registration deadlines for employers are as follows:
a. An employer employing 100 or more employees: November 15, 2017 (audit required)
b. An employer employing 50 to 99 employees: May 15, 2018
c. An employer employing 20 to 49 employees: December 15, 2018
d. An employer employing 10 to 19 employees: May 15, 2019
e. An employer employing 5 to 9 employees: November 15, 2019
f. An employer employing 4 or fewer employees: May 15, 2020
Ten days before the next deadline, employers who have yet to respond will receive a reminder notice. Employers are encouraged to register or certify as soon as possible to avoid the rush at the end. If an employer needs assistance, they should reach out to the OregonSaves Client Service team at (844) 661-1256 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Employers who register to facilitate OregonSaves will have 30 days after registration to add all of their employees to the system. Once employees are added, the system sends them notice about the program. Employees then have 30 days to decide if they want to participate. After that 30-day period ends, employees who haven’t opted out will be automatically enrolled, and payroll deductions should begin on the first pay date afterward.
For example: Company A registers on Nov. 15. They need to enter their employees by Dec. 15. If they upload their employees on Dec. 15, their employees will have until Jan. 14 to decide if they want to participate. Company A will then begin payroll deductions on the next pay date after Jan. 14, such as Feb. 1 if they pay employees on the first day of the month.
The Oregon Retirement Savings Board has officially completed a second stage of rulemaking, which considered technical matters that were not in the first set of rules for OregonSaves, such as the process for employment services. The second stage of rulemaking began on June 14, 2017 and included three rulemaking advisory committee meetings. After holding a public rulemaking hearing on September 19, 2017 and considering input and feedback from a wide range of stakeholders, the Board filed updated rules with the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office on October 24, 2017. The updated rules have been posted on the Board’s website at Oregon.gov/retire/Pages/Rules.aspx.
More information and a complete list of frequently asked questions for employers and employees can be found at Oregonsaves.com/home/overview/faqs.html. | ORLA
FAQ’s about OregonSaves
The Law Regarding Service Animals and Public
There was a story in the news recently about a dog chasing a cat. Why was that newsworthy? Because it was a service dog attending a showing of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical “Cats” with its owner, and the cat in question was one of the shows characters (which, if you’re not familiar with the show, was a person dressed as a cat, not an actual cat). Hilarity probably ensued, to the embarrassment of the dog’s owner.
That story reminded me of an issue that sometimes vexes restaurateurs and other business owners – how to deal with customers who make questionable claims that an animal is a service animal, and insist on bringing it onto the premises. This article summarizes the legal rights and responsibilities of customers and business owners in those situations. Businesses are, of course, free to be more accommodating than the law requires.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Oregon’s equivalent law requires “places of public accommodation” (including hotels, inns, restaurants, bars, and other establishments serving food or drink) to allow persons with disabilities to bring “service animals” onto the premises. Contrary to popular belief, though, every animal does not qualify as a service animal just because the customer says so.
First, the ADA currently limits the types of animals that can qualify as service animals to dogs and miniature horses. Oregon’s law is also limited to those two types of animals unless and until administrative rules are enacted that expand the definition to include other animals. Other states’ laws may vary, but, in Oregon, those are the only two animals that qualify as service animals.
Second, the animal needs to be individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the individual with a disability. This includes physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disabilities. The work or tasks performed by the service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability.
Examples of specific tasks the animal can be trained to perform include, among other things:
Providing general emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship does not qualify. This means that emotional support animals, comfort animals, and therapy dogs are not considered “service animals” under the ADA unless the animal is also trained to perform some other specific task related to the individual’s disability.
The law does not require a license, jacket, tag, or other means to identify an animal as a service animal. Nor does it require medical verification or a prescription.
When confronted with a situation where an individual wants to bring a claimed service animal onto the premises, the business can only ask the following two questions of the individual:
The business needs to take the individual at their word, and allow the service animal on the premises, if the individual answers “yes” to the first question and states a specific task or type of work the animal has been trained to perform.
The individual cannot be charged a fee to bring a service animal onto the premises; even a pet fee charged to other customers, because service animals are not “pets.”
If the service or assistance animal causes damage, then the owner can be charged for the damage so long as the business normally charges other customers for the damage they (or their pets) cause.
Unruly and disruptive animals need not be accommodated. The owner is responsible for supervising and controlling the service animal. The animal must also be housebroken.
If the animal behaves in an unacceptable or threatening way and the handler does not control the animal, then the business can ask that the animal be removed from the premises. For example, a service dog that repeatedly barks or growls at other customers, destroys property, climbs on the furniture unnecessarily, makes a mess on the carpet, or chases an employee (even one dressed like a cat), could be excluded from the premises if the individual cannot or will not control the dog.
The business can also require that the service animal be kept on a leash, harness, or other tether unless the individual is unable to hold a tether because of a disability or its use would interfere with the animal’s safe and effective performance of work or tasks. Even then, the service animal must still be kept under control by some other means, such as voice commands.
The owner is responsible for the care and feeding of the service animal. The business does not need to provide food or water for the animal, or clean up after it. That is the responsibility of the owner.
If a service animal is excluded, the business must still give the individual the opportunity to obtain goods, services, and accommodations without having the service animal on the premises. | Shane P. Swilley, Partner, Cosgrave Vergeer Kester LLP
Access additional compliance information and resources for the hospitality industry, including ADA regulations and downloadable posters at OregonRLA.org/Compliance.
• Fact Sheet #9: Pet Dogs in Outdoor Seating Areas in Oregon
• Oregon/ADA “Sorry, pets are not allowed” Poster
• U.S. Department of Justice, ADA Requirements for Service Animals
• Disability Rights Oregon, Service Laws in Oregon