[Oct. 23, 2020] - Latest Activity on Behalf of Oregon's Hospitality Industry
In case you weren't aware, the ORLA Live! (virtual event for the industry) is coming up in just over two weeks, November 9-10. We've created a dynamic agenda with something for everyone–you can participate live or listen later–so please share with your networks! A couple things to know:
Linked here is the latest email from Michael Wood on the Oregon OSHA situation. We have registered our displeasure with the agency taking on two rule making processes at the same time – finalizing their infectious disease standard rule while also redefining employer responsibility and reassessing fines. Both processes have widespread involvement by the business lobby. We have been more involved at ORLA on the infectious disease standard rule while others in the industry have been helping with the employer responsibility definition and fines which seem focused on the manufacturing sector. Reach out with any questions about these processes because it is confusing and better communication from Oregon OSHA’s director would be helpful. We're asking him to create a one page memo communicating more clearly that these two public processes are happening at the same time.
ORLA is launching digital campaigns around two issues with the goal of pressuring the Governor’s Office to move off of these arbitrary rules – the 10 pm statewide curfew and the 100 person indoor max occupancy (including staff). We have critical mass when we launch these campaigns – the question is whether they will make a difference in getting the Governor to move away from these challenging rules. The Governor’s office confirmed last night that we ‘flooded’ their inboxes on the 10pm curfew issue. A big thanks to Nicole Peterson for her work on both of these campaigns. We will launch the second digital campaign and flood their inboxes again on Monday for the 100 person indoor cap issue. When we take on this strategy rest assured I give the Governor’s office a call and a ‘heads up’ – the goal is to give the staff plenty of ammunition when they interact with the Oregon Health Authority and the Governor to showcase just how necessary these changes are. If you haven't already, please sign up to be a Hospitality Advocate and receive text alerts by texting "ORLA" to 52886.
On a side note we are sad to report that Nicole Peterson’s last day as ORLA’s Government Affairs Coordinator will be this Wednesday. ORLA prides itself on having a Government Affairs Coordinator position that provides an exceptional development opportunity in the government affairs arena here in Oregon. Nicole will be taking on an expanded role at the Oregon Department of Education and our team looks forward to seeing her around and working with her as she takes on this new challenge. Thank you Nicole for your amazing work!
The Oregon Tourism Commission released their Regional Funding Report representing lodging tax revenue declines for Oregon’s 7 tourism regions and the organizations who receive funds in those 7 regions to promote tourism and help increase economic activity for our industry. The numbers are tough and the forecasts are grim, but we wanted to share for general awareness of the financial shortfalls our promotional partners will be dealing with as they try to determine how to best spend limited funds to get people back in our hotels and restaurants.
As always reach out with any questions or comments about any of the updates we have to share.
[Oct. 21, 2020] - Latest Updates From Your Association
Oregon OSHA is working to finalize a temporary rule for infectious disease standards in the workplace. The temporary rule is meant to replace Phase 2 guidelines once in effect and for our industry, the rule replicates the guidance we are already following for Phase 2 counties from the Oregon Health Authority. ORLA serves on the committee to review the final draft of the rule. Unfortunately, the committee plans involve a new ‘exposure risk assessment’ process and ‘infection control plan’ that will need to be instituted by all Oregon employers in November. The official communication coming out of the Governor’s office is that Oregon OSHA’s temporary COVID-19 Rule will be adopted 10/21 and go into effect 11/1. More details to come on this; read the applicable attachments that have been shared with the workgroup below.
ORLA’s Nicole Peterson testified on behalf of our association last week as part of a Management-Labor Advisory Committee hearing (MLAC). The big issue we have been dealing with in this process is the debate over whether a workers' compensation presumption should apply when an employee is infected with COVID-19. The business lobby, including ORLA, came out in full force for the last committee meeting on October 9th and testified against a presumption that would say it is presumed the workplace was responsible for the infection. At the end of the meeting, MLAC committee members discussed the possibility of drafting a compromise or a much more limited presumption. Obviously, the business lobby wants nothing less than no presumption, and the labor side wants the opposite. It is to be determined on what they decide to do and what they move forward with recommending.
Over the past few weeks ORLA has held numerous Listening Sessions with Legislators including one with Speaker Tina Kotek. One member's comment really resonated on what the industry is facing. It was from nightclub owner, Brad McCray (Candy and Sanctuary in Portland) who joined us in discussing the arbitrary 10pm curfew (listen here). Stories like the one Brad shared are why we do this work. Common sense must prevail and we all need to keep up the fight to get modifications to the arbitrary rules (like the curfew and 100-person indoor cap regardless of indoor space).
ORLA is preparing for some important Zoom discussions with Employment Department Director David Gerstenfeld on October 26 and 27 for foodservice and lodging operators, respectively. In preparation for those conversations we are receiving comments from operators on how the relationship with the Employment Department could be improved as we prepare for the new rate structure. The new payroll tax rate for Unemployment Insurance (UI) will be announced mid-November and will take effect January 1. If you haven't already, please RSVP for these calls by emailing Glenda Hamstreet.
[Oct. 13, 2020] - Unemployment Insurance (UI) Taxes Paid By You Deserve Extra Attention
Every November, the Oregon Employment Department announces the rate schedule for Unemployment Insurance (UI) paid by employers through payroll tax for the upcoming calendar year. It should come as no surprise the rate employers will pay for 2021 is of concern to the hospitality industry given the adverse continuing impact the pandemic has had on available jobs due to decreased demand and health guidelines.
ORLA has opened up lines of communication with the Director’s Office at the Oregon Employment Department for interested members. On October 26 and 27, Interim Employment Department Director David Gerstenfeld will join hospitality operators to provide an update on Oregon’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and the process undertaken to keep the fund solvent.
Included here is a recent presentation provided by Director Gerstenfeld to a handful of business colleagues representing various industries in Oregon. Currently, Oregon is in Rate Schedule 2 out of 8 possible rate structures. All 8 schedules (which you can view on Slide 6) have a range of possible payroll tax rates paid by employers. Each employer's actual rate depends on their ‘experience rating’ – the lower your experience rating the lower your applicable tax rate within each rate schedule.
Please plan to join us for an important discussion about the unemployment insurance taxes you pay at the applicable time below:
RSVP to join us for one of the upcoming Zoom discussions by emailing Glenda Hamstreet.
[Oct. 6, 2020] - There's More Work to Be Done
ORLA remains focused on engaging our local and state government leaders as we work to get all of Oregon’s 36 counties into Phase Two operations. We still have 4 counties to go so please take action if you have not done so already if you live or run your business in Malheur, Multnomah, Clackamas, or Washington Counties.
Our state has wrestled with two emergencies at the same time and key professional staff at ORLA have been working with officials at FEMA as we work to address fallout from Oregon wildfires on top of the impacts felt by us all from COVID. A big thanks to the professional staff at ORLA for finding a way to assist with shelter coordination efforts. Our efforts as a state association were recently recognized across the country in a recent FEMA presentation. That slide is included here as well as the bullet points referenced demonstrating the public/private partnership efforts.
There is so much left to accomplish. In addition to Phase Two for all Oregon counties we have proven our industry can operate safely and mitigate virus spread. As a result, it would be incredibly helpful to see the State of Oregon extend our 10pm curfew to midnight in acknowledgment of your hard work and also provide more flexibility on the 100 maximum (including staff) for indoor operations when square footage allows for safe social distancing of associated parties (10 people or less) in numbers larger than 100.
[Oct. 1, 2020] - It’s October 1 - The Clock is Ticking
We're asking Oregon hospitality operators to take action now to protect the viability of small businesses in Malhuer, Clackamas, Washington, and Multnomah Counties. We must enter Phase 2 across Oregon before the weather turns. Watch video for more information.
Call to Action: If you’re in Phase One, contact your county commissioners today and make sure they know what’s at stake for you and the Oregonians you employ.
Clackamas County Commissioners:
Malheur County Commissioners (chair is called Judge):
Multnomah County Commissioners:
Washington County Commissioners:
[To continue reading previous blog posts from ORLA's CEO, click "Read More" to the right]
Commercial Activity Tax (CAT)
The new Commercial Activity Tax is imposed only after a taxpayer exceeds $1 million of taxable commercial activity. Once they pass that threshold, the tax is $250 plus 0.57% on gross receipts greater than $1 million after subtractions. Proceeds of the tax are directed by statute to boost funding for public schools. The Department of Revenue's website includes a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) for tax payers to better understand what the tax is and who is subject to the tax.
Latest Announcements from the Department of Revenue and ORLA:
Resources & Webinars to Help You Understand the CAT
The Commercial Activity Tax is complicated and calculating your potential tax can be confusing. Therefore, ORLA has created a CAT calculator example to help our members understand how to calculate the tax. This exercise is only meant to help you project what your tax liability could be; as always, be sure to consult your tax advisors.
ORLA hosted two members-only informational webinars on Nov. 19 and Dec. 3 that explained the new tax, the Department’s implementation plans and what you can expect as a business owner. Tax experts with accounting firm Moss Adams LLP in Portland also provided some best tax practices for the hospitality industry. ORLA members can access the slide deck from the presentation by logging into the Member Portal on ORLA's website and clicking the Resource Library.
FAQ: Can we include the CAT tax on our customers’ bill?
A. The legislation that established the CAT (Oregon Laws 2019, Chapters 122 and 579) does not specifically prohibit a business from passing on additional cost of the tax. If you do choose to add a new line item to the receipt, the line item itself still counts as “commercial activity” when determining your tax liability. Consult with an attorney or financial advisor before making any final decisions.
How the Commercial Activities Tax Came About
This was one of the 2019 Legislative Session bills having the biggest impact on businesses. ORLA was opposed to this bill as it raised taxes on commercial activity for businesses with gross revenues of over one million dollars. ORLA, along with others in the business community, was able to amend the original bill to include a deduction for labor or cost of goods sold. The association will work during the rule making session to ensure hospitality businesses will be able to include the tax increase on receipts so customers can see the impact of the tax.
Additional Information and Timeline for the CAT
DOR Sought Industry Input in CAT Rule Making
The Department of Revenue (DOR) held a series of town hall meetings across the state in September-October to seek input from business taxpayers about the administrative rules for Oregon’s new Commercial Activity Tax (CAT). Nearly 900 business taxpayers and tax professionals took part in these public forums or participated in video conferences and conference calls. More information is now available on the CAT page of DOR website.
If you have any questions, please email Greg Astley, Director of Government Affairs, at Astley@OregonRLA.org.
This is for general informational purposes only. The information is not, and should not be relied upon or regarded as, legal advice. Please consult with your legal advisors.
The 10pm closure time is confounding to the hospitality industry. Nothing about COVID-19 changes after 10pm. It is still a virus our industry takes seriously, and we have completely changed our businesses to accommodate for its realities. With the information we have available seven months into the pandemic, the 10pm closure is not based on science and does not reflect the reality of the situation regarding transmission of the disease.
It’s time to demand answers for why businesses cannot be allowed to operate past 10pm. Ask the Governor why this limitation still exists and let her know where you stand!
Hospitality businesses are taking extra efforts to protect our communities, our customers, and our employees, and now we need help to make it on the other side of winter. We need the Governor to listen to us and trust us to help keep Oregonians safe.
Hospitality and Tourism Professionals to Embark on Experiences of a Lifetime
Wilsonville, OR – In partnership with Travel Oregon and the Oregon Destination Association, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) is proud to announce the launch of Year 2 for the Oregon Tourism Leadership Academy (OTLA). Participants will begin their first multi-day program experience in Eastern Oregon, April 28-30, 2021, pursuing in-depth experiences and knowledge that will elevate their passion and excitement for our state’s extraordinary offerings. The deadline to apply for the class launching in 2021 is Friday, December 4, 2020.
“Much has changed in our world since the inception of the program and we're seeing incredible things happen with the current program participants who are half way through the inaugural year experience," said Jason Brandt, President & CEO for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. "The value of program experiences and professional connectivity created by the program will provide lasting benefits to those accepted to the program each year.”
OTLA has spent great deal of time and attention into keeping all participants safe in the age of COVID-19 and are committed to refining all logistics and experiences each year to protect the integrity of the program and the value it brings to those involved.
The Oregon Tourism Leadership Academy is a new experiential learning program targeted to tourism professionals seeking to polish their leadership and professional skills and make positive and lasting contributions to the state’s tourism economy. An advisory committee of tourism industry representatives helped shape the development of the program through a shared vision of cultivating stronger champions for Oregon's tourism industry. The program consists of four multi-day excursions to be completed over the course of a year.
ORLA has been intentional in its pursuit of activating industry champions and the OTLA program supports that goal. The academy provides a compounding benefit of bringing people together for learning through experiences and empowering them to make lasting contributions to Oregon’s tourism and hospitality industries. Participants will create lifelong relationships and networking pathways through their connections.
For more information on the Oregon Tourism Leadership Academy, visit OregonRLA.org/OTLA.
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is the leading business association for the foodservice and lodging industry in Oregon, which is comprised of over 10,220 foodservice locations and 2,000 lodging establishments with a workforce of 183,191, and a total economic impact of $13.8 billion in annual sales for Oregon.
Property tax season is upon us, and many property owners will be paying very close attention to their bills in 2020. Due to Oregon’s unique property tax laws, often the real market value and the assessed value of a property are very different, which can result in bills increasing even if the real market value of a property dropped in the year assessed.
If you want to appeal your property taxes, there are three general reasons for filing:
Unfortunately, these kinds of appeals do not consider financial distress.
To appeal, you must file your petition by December 31st with the Board of Property Tax Appeals (BOPTA) clerks in your county. To see contact information for clerks in each county, click here. Be sure to visit your county’s website for the correct appeal forms and fee information, or contact the clerk for them.
Appeals are reviewed by your county’s Board of Property Tax Appeals, made up of members from the community appointed by your county’s Commissioners. Appeals are typically heard by the Board between February through April. If you disagree with their valuation decision, you can then appeal to the Magistrate Division of the Oregon Tax Court by filing forms and paying a fee. To appeal beyond that, this chart has more information on where and when you must file an appeal—note that some of these dates may be extended by emergency declarations due to COVID-19.
If you have a special appeal situation, for example, needing to contest previous assessment years, read more guidance from the Oregon Department of Revenue on how to file an appeal.
As work begins on developing a new strategic plan that is responsive to Oregon’s ever-dynamic tourism economy, Travel Oregon and the state’s seven official regional destination management organizations have launched a survey to seek input from communities, local businesses and individuals that drive the state’s tourism economy.
Information collected through the survey will help Travel Oregon and regional partners set strategic direction, make funding and programmatic decisions in marketing, grants, tourism-related infrastructure, visitor management, and more.
Respondents can expect to answer questions related to what they currently experiencing as a result of wildfires, the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest, and what they and their communities need most to rebuild and support a strong, resilient and racially just Oregon tourism economy.
Please expect the survey to take approximately 15 minutes to complete. Please make sure before you begin that you have ample time to complete it from start to finish. The survey period closes October 30, 2020 at 5 p.m.
Need assistance with this survey or have questions? Please email Industry@TravelOregon.com.
Today SAIF announced ORLA/SAIF partners are receiving $299,813 in dividends from SAIF for their 2019 policy period. These dividends are being paid to members this week. While dividends cannot be guaranteed and are declared at the discretion by SAIF’s Board of Directors, this clearly represents another advantage of being part of the ORLA/SAIF program.
“Our partnership with SAIF Corporation over the past 3 years is assisting the hospitality industry in our continual pursuit of top tier safety for hard working employees across this state,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO of ORLA. “Being a part of the ORLA/SAIF group is a no brainer when you add the potential for dividend payments each policy year to the group discount operators receive when they qualify for the program. We look forward to the ongoing partnership with SAIF Corporation as industry operators work to save every penny they can.”
ORLA’s endorsed service partnership with SAIF gives eligible ORLA members a workers’ compensation group discount that is validated by NCCI and approved by DCBS. As the restaurant and lodging industries face some of the most difficult workplace safety challenges, this partnership aims to reduce worker injuries and improve member’s safety programs.
During the pandemic, SAIF has remained open for business, serving Oregon's employers and workers. This has included taking steps to help injured workers who faced challenges accessing care and working to reduce the financial burden on businesses.
Ask your agent for an ORLA Group quote or contact SAIF directly at 888.598.5880.
SAIF is Oregon's not-for-profit workers' compensation insurance company. For more than 100 years, we've been taking care of injured workers, helping people get back to work, and striving to make Oregon the safest and healthiest place to work. For more information, visit the About SAIF page on saif.com.
New Coalition Of Public And Private Sector Leaders Call On Congress To Act On COVID Relief Before Election
Washington, D.C. (September 30, 2020) – COVID RELIEF NOW, a new coalition of nearly 200 major public and private sector groups across the U.S., today called for “No Recess without Relief” imploring Congress to not leave town for the 2020 elections without passing additional COVID economic relief – stating millions of jobs and survival of small businesses as well as vital government services are on the line.
The coalition stated that if Congress fails to act, millions of employees will be furloughed or terminated; millions of unemployed Americans will lose their unemployment insurance pandemic benefits; hundreds of thousands of companies will be at risk of closing their doors forever; and the vast majority of state and local governments will have to curtail critical services in order to balance budgets due to a decline in tax revenue.
Read the letter signed by coalition members, including the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, that was sent to Congress today:
This week is pivotal for COVID relief legislation and we must do everything we can to make sure our voice is heard. We need you to add your voice to ours. Write, call, and tweet your elected officials and tell them that the hotel industry’s needs must be included in any final bill.
Take action and share this message with your colleagues!
A Family of Hardworking Winners
“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life." – Amy Poehler, actress
Many of us who have been around for a while refer to those in our industry as our “Hospitality Family.”
The more someone works around those who are committed to service, the more connected and inspired they themselves often become.
With the onset of the pandemic, never has the innovative spirit, business savvy, and caring soul of our ‘family’ been so challenged. Our team at the Oregon Hospitality Foundation (OHF) and the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association see the daily struggles of our hospitality business partners and have been inspired by the innovative solutions launched in response. Encouraged by these efforts to address their business’ and community’s needs, we too have initiated proactive efforts in support.
In my last article, I mentioned that the foundation’s Board of Directors took steps to strengthen our organization, including: renaming ourselves the Oregon Hospitality Foundation, expanding our mission to support philanthropic projects, launching new fundraising programs, and creating new training support appropriate to current needs.
What’s happened since?
We have received requests for training assistance with the unique guest service and communication difficulties currently being experienced because of the pandemic. In response, we are creating an online series of easily digestible micro-sessions that share
tips on how associates can provide positive service while still supporting safety protocols.
The theme, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’ focuses on helping prevent uncomfortable scenarios from escalating and causing unwelcome consequences by anticipating potential scenarios and practicing responses. Topics include;
We are grateful for a grant from Travel Oregon, sponsorship from Dutch Bros Coffee and EPB&B insurance, and our partnership with Togather Restaurant Consulting and VPW Media for their project support. We expect the series to be released in early fall. See release updates at OregonGuestServiceSafety.org.
Takeout and A Movie Fundraiser
Currently, we have raised and donated money to fourteen restaurants throughout the state who are providing a variety of solutions for helping feed those with food insecurity. Many of these restaurants are working to incorporate ongoing food support as part of their business model. Read more about these folks who are working hard to help change people’s lives by providing them with caring meals in our Champions article on page 16. You can also see a press release summary at bit.ly/OHFhelpawards. Additional awards are still available, see the application at OregonRLA.org/takeoutapp.
We also collaborated with Cycle Oregon and Filmed by Bike to present a film festival and Q&A that focused attention on the economic benefits of the hospitality and tourism industry to Oregon’s communities and now our industry’s own critical need for public support. A portion of the event’s proceeds were donated to the Cycle Oregon Fund, a grant program that supports projects including tourism and community projects particularly in rural areas.
Top of mind for many families are the myriad of struggles encountered in coping with the new demands of virtual education for students, parents, teachers, and our entire education system. We have been actively involved with discovering and creating resources for those who use our workforce training and Career & Technical Education (CTE) curriculum, such as ProStart.
One example was our partnership with Rouxbe, an online culinary school for professionals, to provide their academic resources and videos to ProStart schools on a free trial basis and later for reduced fees. We are also seeking sponsorships and grant funding that will enable us to provide online and on-demand videos to support teachers’ virtual curriculum needs. The vision is to feature industry colleagues who will highlight various aspects such as job opportunities, facility tours, career pathways, customer service techniques, new safety protocols in place, and/or offer engaging skill-building demonstrations.
Additionally, we are collaborating with Chemeketa Community College, the Oregon Coast Visitor’s Association, and the state’s workforce boards to ensure that quality hospitality training is available and accessible online, particularly for entry-level and supervisory positions. The goal is to help employees ‘hit the ground running,’ in order to reduce onsite training time needed and offer immediate value to employers.
I have yet to find the right words that portray my realistic recognition of the enormity of current challenges, particularly for our industry, nor my optimism that we will eventually recover.
However, no one knows how to work harder than our Hospitality Family, so maybe the quote below is appropriate and helps explain my optimism about the outcome of our efforts, together.
“As much as talent counts, effort counts twice.”
- Angela Duckworth, American academic, psychologist and
popular science author
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Unfortunately, looking toward the upcoming fiscal year, the foundation anticipates a 75 percent drop in revenue due to contract and sponsor funding reductions from affected partners. Your in-kind and financial contributions are greatly appreciated so that we may sustain and continue our good work. You can donate today at bit.ly/OHFDonation. Thank you. | Wendy Popkin, Oregon Hospitality Foundation
Wendy Popkin is the Executive Director of the Oregon Hospitality Foundation, a nonprofit 501c3 dedicated to providing educational, training, and philanthropic support to Oregon’s restaurant, lodging, and tourism industry. Wendy is a 35-year career veteran who describes herself as “fanatically enthusiastic about helping others enjoy the same type of fabulous career opportunities I have enjoyed in the hospitality industry.” OregonHospitalityFoundation.org