Industry Champions / Local Lodging Tax / New GA Team Member
Statewide Hospitality Awards
ORLA honored four industry members during the Hospitality Conference in Eugene on September 11, 2022. These awards recognize the outstanding contributions of individuals and businesses serving the hospitality industry and communities throughout the state. Congratulations to the Employee of the Year Jodi Doud (Southern Oregon Elmer's), Lodging Operator of the Year Nick Pearson (Jupiter & Jupiter NEXT), Restaurateur of the Year Emma Dye (Crisp), and Allied Member of the Year Matthew D. Lowe (Jordan Ramis PC). View video profiles of this year’s recipients.
Protecting Local Lodging Tax Dollars
ORLA's government affairs team is working closely with our leadership teams and operators to review how local lodging taxes are being spent in jurisdictions across the state. Over the past fiscal year, ORLA has filed over 10 public records requests to evaluate the use of lodging tax dollars collected by local governments. Turnover within government positions just like in the private sector result in the need for ongoing education of the state rules governing local lodging taxes. Watch ORLA's explainer video how local lodging taxes must be expended in accordance with Oregon's state law.
New ORLA GA Team Member
Makenzie Marineau joins ORLA with experience in the non-profit world along with government relations, communication and volunteer engagement skills. Along with expertise in government affairs, she has years of experience working within the hospitality industry in Oregon. In her role as Government Affairs and Regional Leadership Teams Coordinator, Makenzie will be helping the association and its members achieve success through the development and ongoing oversight of regional groups of restaurants and lodging operators as well as programs to benefit the hospitality industry. She will serve as the lead government affairs staff member in the Portland Metro region and will provide administrative support for regional leadership teams outside of the region.
As always, if you have any questions about industry issues, please reach out to your Regional Representative or email us.
Gubernatorial Candidate Events / Oregon PFML / ORLA Conference
Gubernatorial Candidate Events
The Oregon Beverage Alliance (OBA) is hosting three events with Oregon’s Gubernatorial candidates coming up in the next several weeks. This is a unique opportunity for our industry to have an audience with the future Governor to talk specifically about the hospitality sector, our force as an economic driver for the state, and the importance of considering the impact of policy decisions on our sector. Having a large presence at these events will help ensure that Oregon’s next Governor understands the depth, diversity, and strength of our voice. These events provide a forum for open dialogue on issues of importance to our group. The events are all free of charge and will be held at Columbia Distributing, 27200 SW Parkway Ave, in Wilsonville, Oregon.
Oregon's Paid Family Medical Leave Program
Oregon’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance program (PFMLI) goes into effect January 1, 2023, and is funded by employer and employee contributions. Employers with less than 25 employees are not required to contribute to the program, but their employees are. Employers will be required to participate in the program or provide an equivalent plan. ORLA is actively looking into private sector solutions right now. Here are some key dates:
Still Time to Register for the Conference
ORLA is excited to have both Chip Rogers, President & CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association and Michelle Korsmo, President & CEO of the National Restaurant Association joining us in person as keynote speakers at the ORLA Hospitality Conference in Eugene. This will mark the first time in ORLA’s history where both national CEOs will be present for a gathering of our members. All details relating to the conference can be viewed on our designated conference site. View the “Sessions” tab on the following website to review the flow of the conference and reach out with any questions. This is a great time to bring key staff and those you’re looking to develop as part of your long term sustainability plan for your operation.
Third Party Deliver Fee Cap / Hotel Loading Zones
Recently, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) went to bat on a couple of issues affecting restaurants and lodging properties in Portland and we came away with two huge wins!
On the restaurant side, ORLA was instrumental in securing an extension of the 10% Delivery Fee Cap for an additional eight months. The ordinance takes effect June 29 when the ordinance from 2020 was set to expire. ORLA will now work with restaurant owners, the City of Portland, the third party delivery companies and other stakeholders on a proposal around a permanent delivery fee cap within the city limits. A huge thanks to the restaurant operators who testified and shared their stories to City Council.
On the lodging side, ORLA reached out and communicated with Commissioner Hardesty’s office about proposed changes to hotel loading zones that would have turned the current 15-minute zones into 3-minute zones. Our discussions were successful in maintaining the 15-minute loading zones. ORLA pointed out that as Portland hotels continue to recover from the last two and a half years, making it more difficult and less welcoming for visitors to enjoy our city is the opposite of what we need to be doing.
Advocacy on behalf of the hospitality industry and our members is at the core of what we do at ORLA and we appreciate your involvement and your support as we continue to fight on your behalf.
Questions? Contact ORLA Regional Representative Steven Scardina or ORLA Director of Government Affairs Greg Astley.
Alcohol Tax / Commission Caps on 3rd Party Deliveries / PFMLA / Tip Pooling Resources
Fighting Oregon Alcohol Tax Increases
Here's a quick update on our ongoing fight to protect the industry from increased beverage taxes in Oregon. Our next fight against increased alcohol taxes will surely come up yet again in the 2023 Legislative Session. Our friends at Quinn Thomas have been working hard to keep our organizational alliance intact as well as help identify messaging relating to some of the ongoing problems with Oregon’s broken addiction treatment and recovery system. This analysis on Alcohol Price Elasticity helps shed more light on the lack of correlation between increased alcohol taxes and decreases in alcohol use.
Upcoming Vote on Capping Third Party Delivery Fees at 15%
Portland City Council will vote on June 15 to cap delivery fees for restaurants from third party platforms at fifteen percent. If approved, the ordinance would take effect June 29, 2022 when the emergency order capping delivery fees at ten percent expires.
In addition to the fifteen percent delivery fee cap, the ordinance would allow third party delivery platforms the ability to charge:
The ordinance also prohibits:
Paid Family Leave Concerns
You may recall a tough fight in the 2019 Oregon Legislative Session on Paid Family Leave. The new labor law passed before Covid and has been in hibernation mode behind the scenes as the Oregon Employment Department worked to get their ducks in a row for a 2023 launch. Of course we had this little thing called Covid which upended our world and unfortunately those unexpected challenges have not changed the state’s plan to fully implement their “Paid Leave Oregon” program in 2023.
The Paid Leave Oregon programs latest round of rules addresses a variety of issues including appeals, wages, benefits, and equivalent plans. ORLA’s statewide business partner OBI has participated in the rulemaking advisory committee and submitted comments on behalf of the business community. We continue to worry about the confusion this will create for employers and employees that are also subject to the Oregon Family Leave Act and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. OBI hopes to introduce legislation in the 2023 session to address this issue.
Key date: The 1% payroll tax will begin on January 1, 2023. Employees pay 60% of the tax and employers pay the remaining 40%. However, employers with less than 25 employees are not required to contribute to the program, but their employees are. Alternatively, employers can opt to provide a private equivalent plan through insurance or by self-insuring, rather than participate in the state program (ORLA is actively looking into private sector solutions right now – any progress will move through our ORLAMS board process). Employees will be eligible to file claims under both the state and private plans in September 2023.
Webinar on Tip Pooling & Overtime Compliance
ORLA hosted a webinar June 2 on “How to Ensure You’re in Compliance with Overtime and Tip Pooling.” Representatives from the Department of Labor, Wage & Hour Division Portland District covered these topics and more, including fielding several situational questions from industry members. The following resources were shared:
For questions, call the WHD toll free and confidential information helpline at 1-866-4US-WAGE (1-866-487-9243), or the Portland District office directly at 503-326-3057. You can also call or visit the nearest Wage and Hour Division Office.
For a copy of the webinar presentation slides, please email Lori Little.
Have any questions? Feel free to reach out to ORLA Government Affairs via email.
RRF / Elections / Liquor Privatization...
Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) Senate Vote – Oregon Senators Voted Yes
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate was unable to overcome a filibuster on a motion to begin debate on a $48 billion bill that would have replenished the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). The vote to invoke cloture and overcome the filibuster failed by a vote of 52-43 (60 votes were needed to prevail). Read the press release from the National Restaurant Association for more information. Highlights of the vote from yesterday:
Primary Election Roundup
There has been an increase in the number of industry members who have expressed a willingness to run for office. ORLA members Cheri Helt (BOLI Commissioner candidate), Daniel Nguyen (State Rep Candidate), Janelle Bynum (Current State Rep), and former ORLA staff member Christine Drazan are all working to bring more industry expertise to our policy making decisions. Here are a few highlights from this week’s primary election on state races:
Portland Lodging Alliance (PLA) Statement on Portland City Budget
ORLA was involved in group discussions on the City of Portland's budget earlier this week. Generally, the high level social service and public safety investments and content within the budget seem on point. What continues to plague Portland are the deficiencies in management and a desire by our members to see consistent progress on the streets. One of ORLA’s local groups is called the Portland Lodging Alliance and current ORLA Board Members George Schweitzer and Daryn White Cyrus sit on the PLA Steering Committee. Joining them in leadership are Brandon Carter of the Bidwell downtown and Martin McAllister who runs the waterfront Marriott Hotel. This coming week the Portland Lodging Alliance is submitting comments on Mayor Wheeler’s proposed budget to the City through their online public comment portal.
Liquor Privatization Off the November Ballot
There’s one less thing to worry about on the November ballot now that the Northwest Grocers Association have pulled their initiative petition from the signature gathering process to qualify as a state measure. Initiative Petition 35 would have opened the door to liquor sales in grocery stores here in Oregon. Although the convenience may seem enticing on its surface there are far ranging implications if the current alcohol system were to be disrupted with cost escalations on liquor inevitable for ORLA members. See the story summing it all up here on OPB. ORLA has been an active part of the opposition campaign to this effort ever since our Government Affairs Committee voted unanimously to oppose these efforts when this was attempted the last time.
Have any questions? Feel free to reach out to us via email.
Paid Family Leave / Governor's Race / 'Hospitality is Working'
Paid Family Leave Rulemaking
Paid Family Leave passed in the long legislative session of 2019 before Covid and has been in a delayed planning state ever since. The law is now getting more attention as the Oregon Employment Department and their new Paid Family Medical Leave Insurance Division (PFMLI) work to launch the new program in 2023. The program is ambitious and requires a 60/40 percent employee/employer split in contributions to a new fund for specific family and medical leave needs. ORLA’s Director of Government Affairs serves on the rulemaking committee; we'll keep members informed of paid family leave updates.
Governor’s Race & GOP Polling
Recent polling for the Governor’s Race shows former Oregon Restaurant Association staffer Christine Drazan may have a good shot at securing the GOP nomination for Governor in the upcoming primary. Most political pundits continue to believe the Democrat primary win will go to Tina Kotek although Tobias Read has been making a considerable push to gain more favor within the party.
Hospitality is Working Campaign
The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) relaunched its Hospitality is Working campaign seeking to reignite travel nationwide and showcase the economic and community benefits hotels provide in neighborhoods across the country. Hospitality is Working showcases the broad range of benefits hotels provide the communities they serve while highlighting the industry’s strong commitment to investing in its workforce, providing quality career opportunities, and protecting employees and guests as more and more Americans begin to travel. The campaign will include television and digital advertising as well as AHLA events around the country alongside local hoteliers, economic development organizations and community groups.
Have questions? Give us a call at 503.682.4422 or email us if you have any questions. Happy Friday!
PAC Auction / OLCC Presentation / Lodging Tax Accountability
One Big Night in Less than 2 Months
ORLA's largest fundraiser of the year will be here in less than 2 months. One Big Night will be held at the Portland Doubletree Hotel, Tuesday, June 7.
Presentation to OLCC Commission
ORLA representatives had an opportunity to present an industry update to the seven-member OLCC (Oregon Liquor and Cannabis) Commission last week. The presentation focused on the importance of OLCC staff extending liquor service footprints outdoors through a user friendly online process during Covid, their approach to license fee flexibility, and the emergence of to-go cocktails as another sales opportunity permanently available to the industry in Oregon to increase sales. We also flagged both ongoing inflation concerns and the importance of Economic Injury Disaster Loan extensions in helping our industry just barely keep our heads above water. ORLA remains focused on explaining the nature of invisible piles of debt on the shoulders of our operators while we all start seeing restaurants busy and even bustling. Today's sales numbers hopefully serve as a constant reminder that ongoing relief is necessary and warranted.
Industry Coverage in The Hill
The Hill published an op-ed from Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Restaurant Association. Sean hit the mark in covering what the industry needs to get back on track. It was a timely article right before industry operators head to DC this week.
Accountability for Local Governments on Local Lodging Taxes
ORLA remains committed to doing what we need to do in getting local governments to commit to transparency in how they spend industry tax dollars. We are currently in the middle of a disagreement with staff from one city in the Willamette Valley on how much of their lodging tax money is restricted for tourism promotion and facilities. A multitude of other local governments are also on our list in our pursuit of additional transparency.
Have questions? Give us a call at 503.682.4422 or email us if you have any questions. | ORLA
Local Lodging Tax Watchdog Work / The Fate of RRF / Workforce Storytelling / 77% of the Way
Yesterday, the House of Representatives approved a bill to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). Details on what to expect in DC as well as other updates from the week are below. Don’t forget to sign up and support our largest ORLAPAC fundraiser of the year, One Big Night. If you haven’t already, register to attend and/or consider donating an auction package and help us make a difference in the upcoming election cycle in support of our industry recovery efforts.
Local Lodging Tax Watchdog Work
ORLA’s successful win in court at both the Circuit Court and Oregon Court of Appeals level has helped usher in a new chapter of relevance for the association in ramping up our watchdog role for our lodging members and the broader tourism industry. As a reminder, ORLA won on all counts against the City of Bend which helped cement our legal standing in holding local governments accountable for how they expend local lodging tax dollars even though ORLA itself does not collect local lodging taxes directly. With the help of legal counsel, ORLA is actively seeking more transparency in the Cities of Gladstone, Gresham, Cannon Beach, and Albany. Watch ORLA's explanatory video as a refresher on how local lodging taxes are to be spent. This video has proven to be a helpful resource to help educate newly appointed local elected leaders or city administrative staff so please share with your contacts whenever helpful.
The Fate of RRF Replenishment
As anticipated, the U.S House of Representatives passed H.R. 3807 - replenishment of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The challenge of getting replenishment over the finish line continues to be in the Senate. On Tuesday, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced The Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022 (SBCRA) (S. 4008). The SBCRA would allocate $40 billion for RRF replenishment and $8 billion for other small businesses impacted by COVID. It would partially offset (pay for) the $48 billion through $5 billion in unspent Payroll Protection Program funds. In the interim, we will encourage Senate Republicans and Democrats to reach an agreement on replenishing the RRF. The largest hurdle remains overcoming vast differences between the parties on whether the spending must be paid for, and how. If you haven't already, tell Senators to replenish the RRF. A special thanks to a contingent of ORLA current and past board members for joining ORLA President & CEO Jason Brandt and ORLA Director of Government Affairs Greg Astley at the National Restaurant Association Public Affairs Conference coming up at the end of this month in Washington D.C. RRF, as well as several other key issues will be a part of our discussions as we meet with lawmakers.
We have a big challenge at our doorstep which revolves around reclaiming the narrative around jobs and careers in the hospitality industry. There are incredible stories all around us about the positive and lasting impact hospitality jobs have for Oregonians from all backgrounds. The Spring edition of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association magazine focuses in on the importance of mentors and the opportunities we all have to do more in sharing the opportunities in our industry with both high school and community college students. On page 24 is our Industry Champions article, The Essential Role Of Industry Mentors For High School Culinary Classrooms, where four of our ProStart mentors were interviewed. They each had great stories to tell, worthy of a broader share than just in print, so we repurposed the article as a blog post as well.
77% of the Way Back
The hardest hit sector, accommodation and food services, has regained 77% of the many jobs lost in the initial COVID crisis. In addition, the following article is featured on the Oregon Employment Department’s website regarding youth employment trends in our industry. It’s worth a read to learn about our history and our efforts to regain traction in employing high school youth over the course of the past decade.
Oregon OSHA Fixes Workforce Housing Caps
ORLA has been advocating for our hospitality businesses who provide housing for workers as a benefit of employment. This predominately impacts our resort members who leverage visas and provide work experience to citizens from other countries with those opportunities ramping up in the Spring and Summer seasons. Thankfully Oregon OSHA has answered the call to repeal the Covid rule that capped the amount of workers we were allowed to house in each dwelling unit due to concern over Covid spread. This will greatly assist members in controlling costs associated with the number of vacation homes/dwelling units that must be rented out for the purposes of workforce housing.
Give us a call at 503.682.4422 or email us if you have any questions. | ORLA
RRF Replenishment / OSHA Updates / H-2B Visas / US Labor Department Investments
We are seeing signs of sales getting close if not reaching pre-pandemic levels for some Oregon operators. Of course sales numbers don’t tell the whole story for our restaurants given the cost of goods and the ongoing impacts of a marketplace driven by historic leverage in the hands of employees. On the lodging side it continues to be a tale of two realities with operators seeming to do quite well in secondary markets with Portland still working to find its footing with the delay in corporate/conference travel. Spring/Summer live events and the return of the full fledged Rose Festival events for a month from late May through late June will certainly help Portland turn the page.
RRF Replenishment Votes Possible in House, Senate
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on legislation to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund as early as this Wednesday. Details on the size of the bill, and whether it is funded with new government spending or reallocating existing federal dollars remain unknown. Meanwhile, if the Senate is able to reach agreement on legislation to fund COVID treatment programs, Democrats are expected to offer an amendment to replenish the RRF. Senate Republicans have been clear in calling for any COVID spending to be fully offset by cuts in other government programs, and will vote against RRF replenishment if this condition is not met.
ORLA has been working with the National Restaurant Association on your behalf to urge that Congress not treat the 177,000 restaurants waiting for COVID grants as hostages to battles over government spending. The National Restaurant Association sent a letter to the Hill this morning in support of RRF votes and posted a press release urging support from Congress. We will keep you informed if a vote occurs and when the next grassroots activation will launch.
OSHA Update on Workforce Housing
One of the many unintended consequences of agency rules during Covid was the impact of workforce housing restrictions on our resort communities around the state. Oregon OSHA was focused on preventing the spread of Covid in agricultural worker housing specifically, but their rules also prevented resorts around Oregon from housing hospitality employees within residential vacation homes. The Covid rule limited the number of workers who can be housed in resort vacation homes–and those limits did not exist for vacation travelers from different households using those same homes. ORLA pointed out this inequity over the course of the past week and thankfully Oregon OSHA responded. OSHA just released a Workplace Advisory Memo on April 1, 2022, that removes these workforce housing limitations in our industry.
American Hotel & Lodging Association President & CEO Chip Rogers (who will be joining us in person at September’s ORLA Hospitality Conference in Eugene) shared the following good news this week on H-2B Visas. A number of ORLA members utilize Visas for seasonal employment needs and expanding capacity has been a priority for the industry.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Labor (DOL) announced they would make available an additional 35,000 H-2B visas for the second half of fiscal year 2022 (FY22), which begins April 1. Of these, 23,500 visas will be available for returning workers, while 11,500 are reserved for nationals of Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. In December, for the first time ever the Departments released an additional 20,000 H-2B visas for the first half of the fiscal year. These additional visas will provide critical help to seasonal resorts as we enter the busy summer travel season, and they suggest that the Biden Administration recognizes the acute workforce shortage we are facing. AHLA will continue to push for legislation and policies that will help fill open jobs and keep us on the road to recovery.
US Labor Department Investments
This week the National Restaurant Association shared more details on President Biden’s federal budget proposal which includes an 18% increase in U.S. Department of Labor funding from 2022 levels ($2.2 billion more) with $400 million proposed to go towards the hiring of additional staff within the department’s workforce protection agencies. Here are the cliff notes from the administration's proposals that are more industry specific:
Labor & Workforce
Food Supply Chain and Competition
Technology and Competition
Access to Credit
For more information:
We look forward to sharing more about workforce development efforts in future reports. There is a lot of work going into improving connections between industry operators and high school/community college classrooms. Give us a call at 503.682.4422 if you have any questions. | ORLA
Food Scrap Policy, Customer Entitlement, and March Madness
Business Food Scraps Policy In Play – Implementation of a regional food scraps separation requirement went into effect March of this year and many businesses within the Portland Metro boundary will need to comply by 2023. Originally scheduled to begin in March 2020, the requirement was delayed by two years due to the impacts of COVID-19 on the region’s residents and businesses. The earliest any business must be in compliance is March 2023 and all businesses generating more than one 60-gallon roll cart of food scraps a week must be in compliance by September 30, 2024. View more information about the requirement and how to access resources for implementation on Metro’s website at Oregonmetro.gov/foodscraps.
Multnomah County Candidates Forum April 20 – There continues to be a lot at stake in Portland with how we are managing safety and security issues as we start getting a taste for what Spring and Summer looks like in the Portland region with the activity surrounding March Madness. Some of you are seeing sales numbers returning to acceptable levels as of this month for the first time in a long time. One of our goals is to not let our elected leaders off the hook in understanding the significance of our debt loads just to get to the point where we could be open and start seeing customer demand improve again. ORLA is co-hosting along with several other business organizations an upcoming forum on April 20 focused on Multnomah County Commissioner candidates. Visit Portland Business Alliance's website for details.
OTLA 3rd Year Class Launch – This past week the 3rd year class for the Oregon Tourism Leadership Academy (OTLA) gathered in Sunriver immediately following the Oregon Governor's Tourism Conference. ORLA had the chance to sponsor one of the keynote sessions at the Conference and showcase a new promotional video to bring more awareness to the Oregon Tourism Leadership Academy and opportunities for tourism professionals to get more involved in the program. Subscribe to updates on OTLA and view the new video.
Customer Entitlement? – A 2022 pilot study from OSU Cascades Hospitality Management program shared by the program's director, Todd Montgomery, confirmed what they have been hearing during focus groups and personal interviews for years: entitled customer behavior is getting worse, and it is impacting the desire of hospitality workers to stay in the industry. OSU Cascades will present a white paper on all of their results in the coming months where they will address workers perceptions of what is driving these customer entitlement events. In the meantime, you can view their latest infographic.
Learn more about how the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is protecting and promoting Oregon's hospitality industry at OregonRLA.org.
Below are some highlights from the 2022 Regular Session. A more comprehensive list of bills ORLA tracked can be found in the Bill Tracking Report.
SB 1514 – Pay Equity
Originally a placeholder bill, ORLA monitored this bill as it became a vehicle to extend the ability of employers to offer hiring and retention bonuses. Because of the pandemic and government shutdowns of Oregon restaurants, many operators found themselves needing to offer hiring and retention bonuses to staff or prospective staff. The extension allows for businesses to continue to offer these bonuses without running afoul of Oregon’s Pay Equity Law until September 28, 2022, or 180 days beyond the expiration of the Governor’s Emergency Declaration which occurs April 1, 2022.
HB 4015 – Entrepreneurial Loans
ORLA supported this bill to help expand eligibility for state entrepreneurial loans and raise the per-loan limit from $500,000 to $1 million. This bill passed and was signed by the Governor on March 2, 2022, becoming effective immediately.
HB 4101 – Smoking Bill
ORLA initially opposed this bill which would have increased the distance from businesses at which someone could smoke from 10 to 25 feet. After an amendment in the House excluding OLCC-licensed businesses was passed, ORLA was neutral on the bill, but it died in the Senate.
HB 4152 – Franchise Bill
This was essentially the same bill that was introduced last session. ORLA opposed this bill which, among other provisions, would have allowed franchisees to use the brand name but nothing else related to the brand identity, quality, or reputation. Although the bill died in committee, we do expect the bill to return in the future and there is the possibility an interim legislative session committee or workgroup might review this issue.
HB 4153 – Creative Opportunity Fund
This bill established an “Opportunity Fund” equal to a dedicated two percent portion of the overall Oregon Production Investment Fund (OPIF) each year that could then be used for workforce development, employment training and mentorship, project and filmmaker grants, content and creator development, small business and regional production development, amongst other things. ORLA supported the bill for the economic and tourism opportunities available when these investments occur. The bill passed the House and Senate and as of this writing, was waiting for the Governor’s signature.
Questions? Contact ORLA Director of Government Affairs, Greg Astley.
This week, Congress finally reached a bipartisan agreement on their annual spending bill. However, the agreement is silent on replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), meaning no new funds will be directed to complete the mission and fund the 177,000 applications still pending. Over 2,500 of those applications still pending are here in Oregon.
We are waiting for the dust to settle in Washington to identify if there are other avenues to replenish this much-needed program. Unfortunately, this decision from Congress is a huge blow to our efforts and the path forward is very uncertain.
From the start of this pandemic, ORLA and our partners at the National Restaurant Association have pursued an “all-of-the-above” strategy for the industry, diving into every issue at the federal, state, and local level that could help or hurt us. From cocktails-to-go to worker shortages, we have had a seat at the table for every major policy debate underway and we will continue to advocate on behalf of our industry and its members.
You’ll be hearing more from us and the National Restaurant Association on the outlook for RRF, but in the meantime, there are plenty of other issues we will be focused on and we will continue to need your input and your help along the way.
If you have any questions, please reach out to your Regional Representative or ORLA Director of Government Affairs, Greg Astley.
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) announced today Oregon will remove general mask requirements for indoor public places no later than March 31. This would include restaurant customers and employees.
OHA shared in a release, "By late March, health scientists expect that about 400 or fewer Oregonians would be hospitalized with COVID-19, the level of hospitalizations the state experienced before the Omicron variant began to spread. Mask requirements for schools will be lifted on March 31."
State health officials say Oregon "needs to keep mask requirements in place for now as COVID-19 hospitalizations crest and Oregon’s health care system strains to treat high numbers of severely ill patients."
Officials at OHA also filed a permanent rule requiring masks indoors in public places. This new rule replaces a temporary rule that expires tomorrow, February 8. As a reminder, the filing of a permanent rule was the only way health officials could extend the current temporary mask rule past its expiration date and until mask rules would no longer be needed to reduce transmission of COVID-19 and prevent the Omicron crisis from further overwhelming Oregon’s health care system.
For questions or for more information, contact your Regional Representative.
The Circuit Court decision has been affirmed by the State of Oregon Court of Appeals
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 19, 2021
Jason Brandt, President & CEO, ORLA
503.302.5060 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Wilsonville, OR– The importance of appropriately spending local tourism tax revenue was affirmed on August 11 by the State of Oregon Court of Appeals after a case brought forth by Bend lodging operators and the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) against the City of Bend. The original suit was argued on May 8, 2018, in Deschutes County Circuit Court with Judge Beth M. Bagley presiding. In the suit, the hospitality industry plaintiffs represented by Josh Newton of Karnopp Petersen LLP argued the City unlawfully redirected restricted Transient Lodging Tax (TLT) revenue, which state law required to be spent on tourism and tourism promotion. The court reasoned that a local ordinance passed in the City of Bend violated ORS 320.350 by decreasing the percentage of total local TLT revenues expended to fund tourism promotion from 35.4 percent to 31.2 percent.
“The affirmation by the Oregon Court of Appeals this month upholding the Deschutes County Circuit Court decision means strong protections remain in place for how local lodging tax dollars can be spent across Oregon,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “Our goals remain the same which start with the importance of working with local administrators and elected leaders when disagreements arise. Filing a lawsuit against a local government partner is a last resort and we look forward to turning the page and focusing in on what we can do across Oregon to invest our limited local lodging tax dollars on promotional strategies proven to boost our state’s local tourism economies.”
The August 11 decision and details pertaining to the case can be found here.
In 2003, the Oregon State Legislature passed lodging tax reforms meant to protect a percentage of revenues for hospitality industry reinvestment. As a result of the reforms, lodging tax collections spent by local jurisdictions on tourism promotion and facilities were ‘locked in’ as a percentage based on what a jurisdiction had been spending or agreed to spend as of July 1, 2003. July 2, 2003 represented a new chapter in Oregon whereby any new increase in a local lodging tax rate or any newly established local lodging tax would have to be spent on tourism promotion or tourism related facilities with 70 percent of revenue collected. The remaining 30 percent can and is commonly spent however a local jurisdiction sees fit free of any restrictions. You can view a short video created by ORLA which works to explain local lodging tax restrictions here: https://bit.ly/TLTdefined.
“My firm and I are pleased with the decision by the Oregon Court of Appeals affirming Judge Bagley,” said Josh Newton, attorney for ORLA and the Bend lodging operators. “It is important that local governments abide by state law and honor their agreements with local business.”
For more information on the efforts of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association please visit OregonRLA.org.
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is the leading business association for the foodservice and lodging industry in Oregon, which before COVID-19 provided over 180,000 paychecks to working Oregonians. The latest available data from the Oregon Employment Department shows current employment levels in the accommodations and foodservice industry totaling approximately 160,000 people as hospitality like many other industries faces the disruptions caused by COVID-19.
PRESS STATEMENT: August 11, 2021
Statewide Mask Mandate Must Prevent More Business Restrictions
Statement from President & CEO Jason Brandt:
We can’t overstate how exhausted the hospitality industry is from an unthinkable health crisis spanning 18 months and counting. A new statewide mask mandate taking effect in 2 days must not lead to any other statewide business regulations. The industry is nowhere near recovery and has a long road ahead after all statewide restrictions were officially lifted 42 days ago. ORLA will work directly with Oregon OSHA and will advocate for a focus on ensuring appropriate signage is in place at businesses in addition to their oversight role for employee safety.
For more information on the efforts of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association please visit OregonRLA.org.
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is the leading business association for the foodservice and lodging industry in Oregon, which before COVID-19 provided over 180,000 paychecks to working Oregonians. The latest available data for May of 2021 from the Oregon Employment Department shows current employment levels in the accommodations and foodservice industry totaling 153,200 people.
Residents Should Have Say on Sales Tax on Meals
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 12, 2021
Greg Astley, Director of Government Affairs, ORLA
503.851.1330 | email@example.com
Wilsonville, OR– The Cannon Beach City Council voted to approve a 5% sales tax on meals by a 3-2 vote, leading to a second reading on July 14th, 2021, to either ratify the sales tax or, if it fails, open the door for the City Council to place a measure on the ballot this November. The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) opposes the sales tax on meals in Cannon Beach and believes the residents of Cannon Beach deserve to have their voices heard.
“It’s unconscionable Cannon Beach City Council would even think about enacting a sales tax on restaurants after the last 16 months our industry has suffered through but it’s especially troubling they would choose to do so without asking for a vote of the people,” said Greg Astley, Director of Government Affairs for ORLA. “The restaurants fortunate enough to survive the wildfires, ice storms and global pandemic we’ve been through are still struggling to hire enough people to fully re-open and try to recover from their significant financial losses.”
Astley continued, “Although one City Councilor claimed residents would not be affected by the tax and therefore the sales tax on meals should not go to a vote of the people, nothing could be further from the truth. Residents will pay the sales tax on meals every time they go out to eat with friends and family unless they choose to stop patronizing local restaurants in favor of establishments outside the city limits.”
Beyond the obvious unfairness of asking one industry to shoulder the burden of paying for services everyone will benefit from, ORLA has outlined several other reasons why voters should be allowed to weigh in on a sales tax on meals:
Astley concluded, “At the very least, the people of Cannon Beach deserve to vote up or down on this sales tax on meals. An even better solution for the City of Cannon Beach would be to consider an Economic Improvement District or similar mechanism where the burden of raising revenue falls more broadly than on just the struggling local restaurants.”
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is the leading business association for the foodservice and lodging industry in Oregon, which before COVID-19 provided over 180,000 paychecks to working Oregonians.
[update 7.1.21] 2021 Legislative Win for ORLA
SB 317A – Allows holder of full on-premises sales license to make retail sales of mixed drinks in sealed containers for off-premises consumption.
Restaurants and Bars Among Hardest Hit by COVID-19 Pandemic
[July 20, 2020 - Wilsonville, OR] – The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA), in partnership with the National Restaurant Association, recently completed a statistically significant survey around To-Go Cocktails, drinks made with distilled spirits for takeout, pickup or delivery to go along with meals purchased by guests.
The survey, conducted July 3-6th, shows 72% or nearly three in four Oregonians, said they would favor a proposal allowing customers to purchase cocktails or mixed drinks (made with distilled spirits) with their takeout and delivery food orders from restaurants. This is in addition to beer and wine, which is currently allowed.
Support is highest among those between the ages of 24-39 at 83%, with respondents between the ages of 58-74 showing the least support at 66%. Twenty-eight percent of adults said they strongly favor the proposal. Fifty-nine percent of Oregon adults said they purchased takeout or delivery food from a restaurant for dinner during the week before they were surveyed.
ORLA President and CEO Jason Brandt said, “This is so encouraging for our members who have struggled just to stay open and keep people employed.”
Brandt continued, “This has been an incredibly difficult time when restaurants and bars have struggled to deal with the challenges of being shut down, having to pivot to offer only takeout, pickup or delivery and then trying to invite guests back into dining rooms and make them feel safe and comfortable. Knowing almost three out of four Oregonians support the option to purchase cocktails or mixed drinks to go with their meals means some restaurants and bars who might have previously had to close down actually have a chance to make it now.”
Allowing customers to purchase cocktails or mixed drinks (made with distilled spirits) for pickup, takeout or delivery requires a statutory change, meaning the Oregon Legislature would need to make the change to state law. Thirty other states currently offer To-Go Cocktails including Washington and California.
“From a public safety perspective, if more businesses are able to offer the service of delivery of alcohol to their customers, the need for those customers to physically go into stores and businesses is reduced, thus reducing the risk of community spread of COVID-19,” said Brandt.
Recognizing the need to help those who may have difficulty with alcohol addiction, ORLA’s website outlines a number of resources available to individuals, as well as training information to aid in prevention. More information on these resources and trainings can be found at OregonRLA.org/crisis-services-and-training.
For more information please contact Greg Astley, ORLA Director of Government Affairs at 503.851.1330.
ORLA Advocacy: Promoting and Advocating for Tourism Investment Plans
[update 7.1.21] - 2021 Legislative Session Win
HB 2579 (Dead) – Increases state transient lodging tax rate and provides for transfer of moneys attributable to increase to county in which taxes were collected.
HB 2267, from Oregon’s 2003 Legislative Session, was designed to raise revenue for the promotion of tourism in Oregon. First, the bill instituted a 1 percent statewide lodging tax on all lodging properties in Oregon. This money was dedicated to the promotion of tourism through Travel Oregon, acting as Oregon’s tourism department. Second, the bill required any local governments with a lodging tax in place to determine what percentage was currently being used for tourism promotion and maintain at least that level in the future. The percentage is not allowed to decrease. The bill also required any local government that institutes a local lodging tax in the future to use at least 70 percent of the new revenue for tourism promotion. No more than 30 percent of the new revenue can be used for general funds or other non-tourism functions.
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association has worked with Local governments to clarify collection laws around Online Travel Companies. This should bring in millions of dollars more annually for tourism promotion.
ORLA is also involved in efforts to attract events to Oregon that bring visitors and promote the state. Some examples in recent history were helping to pass legislation that added money to improve college athletic programs and allowing for NCAA March Madness games to be played in Oregon, and protecting tax credit programs that bring film and video production to Oregon.
ORLA must ensure that these state statutes remain in place. Any lodging taxes, state or local, need to bring travelers and businesses to Oregon. All retail businesses profit from increased travel; additionally, local government must be encouraged to keep promotional dollars directed to these efforts. Finally, there are always opportunities to attract more events like feature films, major sporting events, concert venues, and wine tours that benefit the industry as a whole. ORLA will work to enhance these efforts, which bring people to Oregon and encourage Oregonians to travel more in and around the state.
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association supports current laws that protect lodging tax dollars going to tourism promotion and tax credits that encourage film and video attraction to Oregon. ORLA believes in protecting the dedicated tourism funds to ensure they continue to be allocated to tourism promotion at the state and local levels. This effort will benefit all retail businesses and local economies throughout our state.
Blueprint includes funded and unfunded tools to accelerate the industry’s economic recovery
Washington, D.C. (May 26, 2021) - The National Restaurant Association today sent a State and Local Blueprint for Rebuilding to the National Governors Association, the United States Conference of Mayors, and the National Council of State Legislators, encouraging their members keep the restaurant industry at the forefront of their conversations about how to accelerate the recovery of their economies.
“State and local lawmakers have the power to make a real difference in their local industry’s recovery,” said Mike Whatley vice president for State Affairs and Grassroots Advocacy for the Association. “Decisive action on this proposal would provide critical tools and opportunities for the hardest hit restaurants struggling to find a new normal. They could help address some of our long-term obligations and the recruitment challenge, which we expect will continue into our busiest months later this summer.”
The Blueprint includes 12 detailed steps lawmakers can take, including:
“The Association appreciates the efforts of leaders at the state and local level to work with the restaurant industry throughout the pandemic. Their creativity and commitment to our survival has been vital to the survival of restaurants large and small in every community. As we now begin to rebuild our industry, we encourage all legislative leaders to work with the Association and our 52 state restaurant association partners on ideas to help restaurants thrive once again in the future,” concluded Whatley.
Read the full letter here.
For more information about the Association’s advocacy, go to RestaurantsAct.com.
About the National Restaurant Association
Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 1 million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 15.6 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf.
Hospitality Operators are Encouraged to Help Staff Get Vaccinated
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 11, 2021
Greg Astley, Director of Government Affairs, ORLA
503.851.1330 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Wilsonville, OR– Governor Kate Brown’s announcement today that once 70% of the state’s residents 16 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine she’ll eliminate most statewide restrictions meant to thwart the spread of the disease, is welcome news to Oregon’s hospitality sector.
“Oregon’s hospitality industry has been repeatedly hammered by the openings, closings, and changes to how we can operate over the last 13 months,” said Greg Astley, Director of Government Affairs for ORLA. “Hearing the plan for Oregon’s restaurants to be able to fully reopen and welcome back guests gives hope to those who have remained closed since the beginning of this pandemic and those who have struggled to remain open and keep people employed.”
The Governor’s plan includes the lifting of limits on seating capacity for restaurants, bars, and other venues previously impacted by the risk levels. It also means no counties would remain under the current risk level tiers based on rates of infections.
Physical distancing and face-covering mandates while indoors may still be in place for some time. The Governor has stated she will follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as to when face coverings may no longer be required.
“ORLA is encouraging restaurants to help employees find vaccination sites for themselves and their families,” said Astley. “The sooner we can meet the goal of having 70% or more of Oregonians partially vaccinated, the sooner we can open back up our dining spaces and welcome guests back in to share food and make memories with their families and friends.”
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is the leading business association for the foodservice and lodging industry in Oregon, which before COVID-19 provided over 180,000 paychecks to working Oregonians.