[Sept. 22, 2020] - Oregon Hospitality Industry Economic Impact to Date
Earlier today, ORLA was invited to provide testimony featuring the latest economic impact data from Oregon’s hospitality industry. The Interim Senate Committee on Labor and Business received the following written testimony with ORLA’s oral testimony focused on the importance of a second round of Paycheck Protection Program funding from the federal government while also working with state leaders to safely get to Phase Two reopening status for Oregon’s remaining 5 counties still in Phase One. Malheur, Lincoln, Washington, Clackamas, and Multnomah counties remain focal points for ORLA. Once safety benchmarks are achieved in these regions, County Commissioners must act to protect small businesses and jobs wherever possible by entering into Phase Two.
To get more engaged with County Commissioners in your area, please reach out to your ORLA Regional Representative.
[Sept. 8, 2020] - Getting the Rest of Oregon’s Counties to Phase Two
As we officially pass Labor Day weekend, ORLA realizes the vital importance of making sure our hospitality industry is able to achieve Phase Two status in all Oregon counties before the weather turns. Operators from across the state continue to keep the ORLA professional staff apprised of their status with a mixed bag in play for Oregon’s restaurant and lodging operators. While some are finding a path forward others remain deeply concerned about their ability to survive.
One thing is for sure – we must get our counties to Phase Two before mid-November. Restaurants have added flexibility to utilize safety partitions to increase dining capacity in Phase Two and those types of tools will prove critical to assisting the industry with survival as the winter months approach.
ORLA was also watching closely for the possibility of a third session of the Oregon Legislature. The latest intelligence suggests a third special session will not take place this month. A potential trigger for a third special session would be action by Congress in DC to enact a fourth Coronavirus relief package. House Democrats and Senate Republicans remain divided as of the time of this writing on the price tag for the relief package. If a compromise in DC is solidified then we may see action by our state elected leaders to manage any relief requiring State of Oregon involvement. If we do not see action in DC or the action is separate from activities requiring state elected leaders to hold a special session, then we may not see the Oregon Legislature convene until their regularly scheduled session in February of 2021.
These are the latest updates from your state association. If you are looking to get involved in government affairs activity on behalf of your industry please reach out to ORLA’s Director of Government Affairs Greg Astley.
[Sept. 4, 2020] - Understanding the New Social Security Tax Deduction
The IRS recently posted the the following new release in regard to the Employee Social Security Tax Deferral:
Can employers “opt out” of allowing employees to take advantage of the deferral or do employers need to allow individual employees to take advantage of the deferral if they so choose?
Here's what we found out:
The Society for Human Resource Managers (SHRM) and the AICPA both agree that if an employer suspends Social Security payroll tax withholding for eligible employees it must do so for all employees as there is no guidance that allows for individuals to opt out. This is a clarification that has been requested but at this time there is no option for employers to do this on a case by case basis.
We strongly recommend employers not defer. Employees would be forced to double up on their payroll taxes in 2021 putting that much more financial hardship on those hardest hit.
Here are some additional resources on this subject:
If you have additional questions, please reach out to your regional representative.
[August 21, 2020] - Let’s Keep Oregon’s Hospitality Industry Open!
Yesterday Governor Kate Brown and Chief of Staff Nik Blosser held a Zoom call with the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association and other statewide trade associations and Chambers of Commerce to emphasize the importance of bringing down Oregon’s positive case count per 100,000 residents.
You can find the latest status report here.
According to the presentation, countries who have been successful opening up schools have achieved stabilization with no more than 10 new positive cases each week per 100,000 residents. That rate would be equivalent to a daily case count in Oregon of no more than 60. Currently, Oregon has stabilized at a rate of roughly 300 cases per day or 49.79 new positive cases each week per 100,000 residents.
ORLA continues to advocate tirelessly to keep the hospitality industry open. As part of today’s call, we made sure to draw ongoing attention to the Weekly COVID-19 Report published by the Oregon Health Authority. Access the latest weekly report published August 19.
The data is clear in Table 7 starting on Page 14. Oregon’s hospitality industry is not the problem and we continue to showcase best in class safety with approximately 97% compliance after thousands of inspections conducted on an ongoing basis by OLCC and Oregon OSHA.
We need to do everything we can to encourage all employees and customers to mask up not just in our workplaces but also in their private life. As showcased on Page 7 of the Governor’s Status Report Powerpoint, the top actions we can take to mitigate transmission with little or no economic impacts are:
Let’s work with our local Chambers of Commerce and our Young Professional groups around the state to make sure all know what is at stake. If we don’t do a better job of mitigating virus spread in private settings then we run the risk of facing additional government regulation and ongoing consumer confidence challenges.
Oregon’s hospitality industry is leading by example. Your efforts to mitigate virus spread are extraordinary. Let’s do our part to make sure everyone in our circles is doing their part in public and private to keep Oregon ahead of the game in this country in mitigating the transmission rate.
[August 11, 2020] - Special Session Highlights
The second Special Session of 2020 wrapped up in one day, just past 11:00 pm last night. While the focus was on agency budget cuts as we have discussed previously, ORLA was involved in a leadership role on Senate Bill 1701 helping to get it passed with bipartisan support yesterday.
Here are the quick highlights on Senate Bill 1701:
Quick update on the federal dynamics sent to us this morning from the National Restaurant Association for our ORLA members specifically interested in this:
[To continue reading previous blog posts from ORLA's CEO, click "Read More" to the right]
[Aug. 25, 2020] - The following letter was submitted by ORLA to Metro Council in response to the delayed implementation of the Business Food Waste Requirement
Metro Council -
As you are well aware, the foodservice industry has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This virus scares many of our customers and workers from coming back until it’s safe. Employers are scrambling to try to pivot their business models and maintain enough cashflow to keep their employees’ jobs intact. People have poured their lives into their small business, only to see it jeopardized by something completely out of their control. It’s no surprise we’re seeing closure after closure.
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association commends Metro for taking action in response to these uncertain times. While the business food waste requirement has worthy goals, this pandemic calls for foodservice operators to dedicate all attention and resources available to protecting their workers and their jobs. By delaying the implementation of these rules, you are recognizing this challenge, and for that, we say thank you.
Our recommendation to Metro is to consider delaying implementation until all jurisdictions under Metro’s purview have entered Phase 3. The foodservice industry is built on hospitality and face to face interaction. We will not enter any sort of normalcy until our customers and workers feel safe enough to venture outside their homes and see friends and family. Until then, many operators will simply not have the resources in personnel, time, or financial capital to dedicate to this important business change. In the interim, we are more than happy to continue as your partner in providing educational opportunities to foodservice operators to help eliminate waste and reduce costs.
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association
[Metro] Comment on implementation delay
On March 20, 2020 Metro temporarily delayed implementation of the Business Food Waste Requirement for 6 months in order to assess the effects of COVID-19 and to allow time make a permanent decision about the program. Given the breadth of impacts of the pandemic Metro has chosen to further delay implementation and is in the process of amending Administrative Rules to reflect this change.
Metro is seeking comments and feedback in relation to the implementation date change and resulting proposed changes to the Administrative Rules.
Administrative rule 4.000-4.085
ORLA sent a letter this morning to Representative Nancy Nathanson, Chair, Members of the House Interim Committee on Revenue, and the Senate Finance Committee urging them to oppose Legislative Concept 2. Please see the following call to action and take action today, WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Stop the Tax Sneak Attack!
Just when we thought things couldn’t get worse, the Oregon Legislature is now set to pass an ill-conceived proposal that would effectively impose $225 million in taxes on Oregon businesses, including restaurants and lodging, struggling to recover from the staggering impacts of the COVID shut downs.
But instead of admitting this is a new tax burden on struggling businesses, they will say this is simply a technical change, impacting only a few wealthy Oregonians. That’s simply not true. Many Oregon businesses will lose much-needed cash if this tax increase moves forward.
Please contact the governor, your legislators, and the House Revenue Committee immediately and tell them THIS PROPOSAL ISN’T FAIR to thousands of Oregon employers struggling to survive – and hundreds of thousands of unemployed Oregonians that want to go back to work.
Email your legislators today and tell them this sneak attack isn’t fair. Tell them to oppose this backdoor tax increase. ACT NOW. The Legislature is set to meet in special session on Monday, and all signs are that this bad idea is set to be fast-tracked through the process.
More information is now available on the “Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act” released earlier this week by Senate Republicans. As a reminder, the House introduced the HEROES Act proposal in May, which passed along party lines. Discussions are expected to now begin in earnest as Congress faces the July 31 deadline for enhanced pandemic unemployment insurance benefits.
Part of the Republican proposal would reduce these benefits from $600 per week to $200 per week on top of state administered aid until the end of September at which time the maximum benefit will be 70% of the recipient current wages -- but this will be a starting point for the negotiations.
Read the National Restaurant Association’s summary of the proposal and the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s analysis of the HEALS Act.
Many of the hospitality industry’s priorities are included in the HEALS Act, including:
If you haven't yet, please take action on the National Restaurant Association's Blueprint for Restaurant Revival and/or the American Hotel and Lodging Association's Hotel Priorities Day of Action, thank you!
Restaurants and Bars Among Hardest Hit by COVID-19 Pandemic
[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 is hosting another series of virtual town halls and all hospitality industry members and partners are invited to participate.
The purpose of these virtual meetings is to provide a summary of the latest industry intelligence from the Governor’s Office, as well as from state and local leaders as we continue operations during Phase 2. We will review Public Health Guidelines, best practices, ORLA resources, and engage local operators about what strategies have been working since reopening.
We want to continue to keep businesses connected and feeling supported as we move through these challenging times. If you are interested in an overview of the latest Government Affairs updates and participating in a discussion about industry resources and guidance, this virtual meeting is for you.
To RSVP or if you have any questions, please contact your Membership Representative below and include any questions or comments you would like considered as part of our conversations.
Upcoming Virtual Town Hall Meetings:
Thursday, July 16 - 9:30-10:30 am
Polk, Marion, Benton, Linn Counties
RSVP to Greg Staneruck
Monday, July 20 - 10:00-11:00 am
Washington / Columbia / Yamhill Counties
RSVP to Greg Staneruck
Tuesday, July 21 - 3:00-4:00 pm
Coos, Curry, Douglas, Deschutes, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, and Lane Counties
RSVP to Terry Hopkins
Wednesday, July 29 - 2:00-3:00 pm
Clatsop, Tillamook, and Lincoln Counties
RSVP to Greg Staneruck
Recent Virtual Town Hall Meetings
If you missed a town hall and would like to watch/listen to the recording, please contact Glenda Hamstreet at GHamstreet@OregonRLA.org.
Wednesday, April 22 – 9:30-10:30 am
Washington / Columbia / Yamhill Counties
RSVP to Greg Staneruck
Wednesday, April 22 – 1:30-2:30 pm
Baker City / Eastern Oregon
RSVP to Steve Scardina
Thursday, April 23 – 11:00 am-12:00 pm
RSVP to Steve Scardina
Thursday, April 23 – 2:45-3:45 pm
Coos, Curry, Douglas, Deschutes, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, and Lane Counties
RSVP to Terry Hopkins
Friday, April 24 – 9:30-10:30 am
Benton / Linn Counties
RSVP to Greg Staneruck
Wednesday, May 13 – 9:30-10:30 am
RSVP to Greg Staneruck
Wednesday, May 13 – 3:00-4:00 pm
So. Oregon, South Coast
RSVP to Terry Hopkins
ORLA is advising all industry members to follow all guidelines announced by the Oregon Health Authority and the Governor’s Office. Face coverings for employees and customers as stipulated in guidance documents are critical and must be taken seriously.
We know restaurants across this state will do whatever they can to make sure customers and employees are complying with face covering regulations. We hope fines will be imposed on customers, not businesses as a matter of common sense when customers forcibly refuse to wear face masks causing confrontational problems with industry employees - many of which are young Oregonians learning customer service and problem-solving skills as part of a first-time job.
Update: Effective July 15, face coverings are required outdoors.
For quick reference, see the following guidance:
As always, if you have questions related to guidance and best practices for restaurant and lodging operations, reach out to your statewide association.
Oregon’s lodging industry continues to reel from the devastating impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Following the Governor's announcement last week on the prohibition of large gatherings through the end of September, ORLA sent a letter to the Governor's Office seeking clarity so we can do our best to plan for changes in travel demand over the coming months. Read letter.
Local governments in many ways are direct partners of lodging establishments across Oregon. There is a direct correlation between the detrimental economic impacts felt by the lodging sector and the loss of revenue relied upon in normal times for cities and counties to balance their fiscal year budgets.
Given the cascading impact on both the public and private sectors, ORLA is asking for additional clarity and guidance on the following travel related topics:
Together we can accomplish a great deal in providing uniform communication for Oregonians seeking safety and guidance as they embrace a new normal focused on societal responsibility.
ORLA Proposes Relief Package to Help Restaurants Save Jobs, Plan for Recovery
WILSONVILLE, OR (April 23, 2020) – No other industry has suffered more employment or sales losses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic than the restaurant and hospitality industry. According to a new national survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association, ninety-four percent of Oregon restaurant operators say they have laid off or furloughed employees since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in March. Across the nation, more than 8 million restaurant employees have been laid off or furloughed – about 2 out of every 3 restaurant employees.
“The restaurant industry and its employees have been significantly impacted by this pandemic,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO, Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA). “Restaurant owners have said existing state and federal relief programs will not enable them to keep their employees on payroll throughout the downturn. We’re calling on our elected leaders to take more action to save jobs and get the industry on track for recovery.”
Oregon findings from the survey include:
ORLA has assembled a list of proposed relief efforts for the Governor and the Legislature to take action on and start the long process of recovery for the restaurant and lodging industry. To date, over 255 Oregon hospitality businesses have signed on to show solidarity for the industry and urge lawmakers into action.
The National Restaurant Association conducted the survey from April 10-16 of more than 6,500 restaurant operators nationwide (owners/operators of eating and drinking places, which employ 12 million out of the total restaurant and foodservice workforce of 15.6 million).
Armed with this new research, the National Restaurant Association has a clearer picture of the severe challenges that lie ahead and has asked Congress for a focused solution on behalf of an industry that has been the hardest hit by the coronavirus mandates. The association submitted a restaurant industry "Blueprint for Recovery" that outlines how Congress can improve the outlook for our survival.
Visit OregonRLA.org to read ORLA’s Proposed Relief Efforts for Oregon’s hospitality industry and access the latest information and resources related to COVID-19.
April 20, 20 - Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) submitted a letter of opposition (below) to Lane County on the proposed Ordinance 20-03, requiring Lane County lodgers to accept government vouchers or payment during an emergency. ORLA believes the proposed ordinance is unnecessary and is urging Commissioners not to pass Ordinance 20-03 and work together on solutions that already exist.
We encourage lodging operators in Lane County to to submit comments on this proposal prior to the public hearing.
Update: “Cap and trade” has been a contentious issue for the last several sessions, with Republican lawmakers staging walkouts over the issue multiple times. With no quorum to vote on legislation, Oregon lawmakers adjourned in March 2020 for the short session. We will update you on future movement on the “cap and trade” issue.
House Bill (HB) 2020, the “Cap and Trade” bill, would raise prices on users of natural gas which include restaurants, lodging properties and manufacturers around the state. This legislation could increase the cost of living for Oregonians by $50 to $125 a month, give appointed officials the authority to increase taxes without a vote of the people or Legislature and drive thousands of jobs away from the state.
Oregon is one of the lowest carbon emitting states in the nation, and we’re getting lower. We just enacted ground-breaking new climate policies on transportation and electricity generation, we should give these new laws a chance to work.
Without an exemption for natural gas, hotels and restaurants will pay significantly more money. Along with increases in minimum wage, paid sick leave and possibly paid family leave, the hospitality industry is being crushed under over-burdensome regulations and there is no sign it’s going to end anytime soon.
Please consider emailing members of the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction and let them know you oppose HB 2020 which will hurt your business and increase prices to customers. Urge them to Vote “No.”
To submit testimony to Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction:
ALERT 2.12.19 - The Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction announced four public hearing dates for House Bill 2020 - tell your lawmakers that we can’t afford cap and trade.
ORLA encourages restaurants and hotels to testify at the hearings about how this would impact their operations. More information about the proposal as well as talking points are available upon request. If you are interested in providing testimony, contact Greg Astley, ORLA Director of Government Affairs, at 503.851.1330.
The joint committee will host public hearings where Oregonians will be able to voice their opinions and ask questions about the bill. Additionally, there will be a public hearing on February 25 where the Salem-based committee will accept live, remote testimony from around the state.
Reasons to Oppose House Bill 2020: Cap and Trade:
The five dates and locations are listed below:
These feedback opportunities are in addition to two public hearings on February 15 and 18 in Salem before the committee.
March 18, 2020
Contact: Glenda Hamstreet, Executive Coordinator
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association responds to COVID-19 impacts on restaurant and lodging industries
Wilsonville, OR. – In light of increasing concerns around the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and recent executive orders from the Governor’s office, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) is making every effort to address challenges facing the restaurant and lodging industry.
The lodging and foodservice industry is the second largest private-sector industry in Oregon behind healthcare and is one of the hardest hit by coronavirus-related shutdowns and policies. ORLA represents approximately 2,600 members, including over 10,220 foodservice locations and more than 2,000 lodging establishments in Oregon.
“The social distancing mandates put into place by the Governor are an important step toward ensuring the health and safety of all Oregonians,” ORLA President and CEO Jason Brandt said. “However, we cannot forget about the many families and workers whose lives depend on restaurants, lodging operations, bars, wineries and brewpubs. The foodservice and lodging industries are already seeing unprecedented numbers of layoffs as restaurants temporarily close their doors and hotels see significant declines in occupancy.”
ORLA is encouraging Oregonians to support local restaurants and hotels by ordering takeout or delivery or by purchasing gift certificates.
“Now is the time for our state to support local restaurants and hotels. If we can’t eat out, now is the time to eat in,” said Brandt. “Our industry is resilient and will get through these trying times, but we will need the help of our customers and state and local officials to do so. When purchasing gift certificates for hotels and restaurants, make sure the cash from your purchase is being received immediately by the business so they can save as many jobs as possible.”
For many restaurants, the only viable option following the Governor’s executive order was to temporarily close and lay off staff. ORLA is making every effort at this time to ensure workers and restaurant owners have the relief they need to protect jobs and ensure they are able to re-open their doors once the COVID-19 restrictions have passed.
“Our entire team at ORLA is working around the clock with state and local officials to facilitate job protection and business continuity. We have open lines of communication with the Governor’s office, the City of Portland and other public officials to work toward solutions that will mitigate the economic impacts the industry is facing at this time,” said Brandt.
In the past two days, Brandt has participated as an active member of the Governor’s Coronavirus Economic Advisory Council and presented comprehensive testimony alongside Director of Government Affairs Greg Astley to the Joint Special Committee on Coronavirus Response.
Media can obtain a copy of the comprehensive report here: COVID-19 Economic Impact on Oregon Hospitality Industry
Over the last month, hotels have seen steep declines in occupancy as events are cancelled and guests are cancelling travel plans. Travel in the Portland area is reported to be down 50% already in March and one hotel in Bend reported a loss of $600,000 in one week this month.
“If lock downs and shelter in place are put in effect, it is important the Governor, City Officials and the Legislature look at hotels as ‘Essential Services’ for planning purposes,” said Brandt. “People who are traveling or stranded will need accommodations.”
Nationally, COVID-19 is expected to result in a loss of 2.8-3.4 million jobs in the hotel industry and a decline to 25% occupancy nationwide. By comparison, the recession of 2001 and 9/11 saw 400,000 jobs lost and a decline to 59% occupancy, while the recession of ’07-’09 saw 470,000 jobs lost and 54% occupancy.
“Everyone in the hospitality industry is struggling right now. Many hotels and restaurants are having to lay off employees due to a loss of business. It is vital that federal, state and local authorities make every effort to protect those who depend on the industry for their livelihood. The need for a collective sense of urgency in driving relief solutions for small businesses and employees cannot be overstated,” said Brandt.
ORLA will continue to provide comprehensive updates and resources for the restaurant and lodging industries on their website through the duration of the pandemic: https://www.oregonrla.org/covid19_info.html.
At their most recent meeting, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) Board of Directors voted unanimously (with 1 abstention) to support a legislative bill which will originate from Governor Brown’s office in support of a permanent 1.8% statewide lodging tax rate during the 2020 Oregon Legislative Session. Revenue raised by the statewide lodging tax is invested in Travel Oregon’s efforts to strengthen the economic impact of our state’s tourism industry. Oregon’s statewide lodging tax is currently collected at a rate of 1.8% with a reduction in the rate scheduled to take effect as of July 1, 2020 to a permanent rate of 1.5%.
“We appreciate Governor Brown’s proactive outreach to meet with ORLA and some of our key lodging stakeholders in person to discuss the merits of keeping the statewide lodging tax rate at 1.8% permanently,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO of ORLA. “Our goals for lodging tax rate structures in Oregon are two-fold – protecting all statewide lodging tax resources to create return on investment for the industry through the efforts of Travel Oregon and protecting local lodging tax reforms passed in the 2003 Legislative Session.”
Oregon continues to experience healthy growth in tourism spending logging our ninth consecutive year of industry growth in 2018. Compared to 2017, visitor spending was up 4.2% reaching a record $12.3 billion. Industry employment was also up year over year by 2.9% to approximately 115,400. Year over year, hotel room revenue increased by 4.4% as well.
“We have seen firsthand what strategic investments in tourism promotion can do when industry tax dollars are put to their most effective use,” said Brandt. “With many other competing priorities in the Capitol, it is essential the association protects the appropriate use of these dollars at both the local and state levels. The economic impacts we are seeing are significant not just for our industry but for our public sector partners as well.”
The U.S. Travel Association tracks statewide economic impact throughout the country and assists states in quantifying the value of year over year tourism growth. The most recently available data notates Oregon’s tourism growth at 5.3% when comparing 2016 to 2017, further substantiating the value of healthy tourism growth for Oregon’s public sector. From 2016 to 2017, Oregon experienced visitor spending growth of $652 million. That increase in spending and associated payroll income tax increases equates to as many as 410 firefighter positions, 380 police officer positions, or 380 teacher positions.
ORLA continues to focus on the protection of local lodging tax dollars for tourism promotion and tourism related facilities in addition to support given to Governor Brown’s upcoming legislative bill for the statewide resource. Oregon’s local lodging tax structure can be complicated with over 110 different city and county jurisdictions collecting a transient lodging tax outside of the 1.8% statewide tax. Important guidelines have been in place for the past 16 years for how local lodging tax dollars can be spent. To clarify those parameters, ORLA recently produced a new instructional video to assist all stakeholders and the general public in better understanding the rules which govern local lodging tax resources.
The new video specific to local lodging taxes (not to be confused with Oregon’s 1.8% statewide lodging tax) can be viewed here:
For more information about the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association’s policies on transient lodging taxes, please reach out to Greg Astley, ORLA’s Director of Government Affairs, at email@example.com via email.
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association Takes Legal Action Against the City of Bend to Protect Lodging Tax Dollars Intended for Tourism Promotion
Update November 2019: The City of Bend has appealed the decision by the Deschutes County Circuit Court after ruling in favor of ORLA and our fellow plaintiffs. Arguments for the appeal were heard on November 19, 2019, and we await further decision from the courts. The law firm Karnopp Peterson is representing ORLA through the appeals process. ORLA continues to promote the appropriate use of local lodging tax dollars by local jurisdictions.
Update May 2018 - A Deschutes County judge ruled that the City of Bend broke the law by redirecting restricted lodging tax dollars to street maintenance. As a result of the court hearing, $350,000 that had been reallocated to road repairs will be directed back to tourism promotion. ORLA thanks the firm Karnopp Petersen LLP for their excellent representation in this case.
On May 8, 2018, the Judge heard arguments from the city’s attorney and an attorney representing the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association and two local hotels that sued the city in September.
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) filed a lawsuit September 26, 2017, against the City of Bend for diverting the City’s room tax revenues away from tourism promotion and reducing the allocation for tourism promotion below what is required by law.
ORLA is challenging the validity and implementation of a recent Bend City Ordinance which amends the percentage of room tax revenue the City spends on the promotion of tourism and improperly diverts restricted room tax revenues to road maintenance.
“Cities must follow the restrictions in place for disbursement of the lodging tax revenues they collect,” said ORLA President & CEO Jason Brandt. “Unfortunately, Ordinance NS-2291 results in Bend being out of compliance with state law. The vast majority of tourism revenues in Bend can already be spent on general fund purposes so we hope our lawsuit results in acknowledgment from the courts that this recent act is in violation of Oregon law and must be undone.”
Bend City Ordinance NS-2291 violates state law (Oregon Revised Statue 320.350) in one or more of the following ways:
a) 9% of the City’s 10.4% city room tax rate has a set of restrictions for appropriate use of those funds. Within the 9% city room tax rate, the City is statutorily required to spend 30 percent on tourism promotion and tourism related facilities.
b) The remaining 1.4% city room tax rate is subject to a statutorily required 70% investment in tourism promotion and tourism related facilities.
“Lodging operators should be recognized as financial partners of local governments,” said Brandt. “As tourism becomes more successful, so does the tax revenue provided to local governments to invest in the projects important to local residents.”
A report from Longwoods International shows for every $1 invested in tourism promotion, $237 is generated in economic impact and $11 in tax revenue to the benefit of Oregon residents.
ORLA is engaged on a state and local level, helping local municipalities realize that shifts in tourism promotion investments can do more harm than good. Brandt argues there is a direct correlation between tourism promotion and a community’s own tax revenue. “Tourism promotion dollars are crucial to keeping Oregon’s visitor destinations top of mind. Local communities stand to lose significant tax dollars for their general funds if tourists choose to travel elsewhere.”
In 2003, the Oregon State Legislature passed HB 2267, mandating 70% of new or increased local lodging taxes be directed to tourism promotion or tourism related facilities. At that time, the City made the commitment to fund tourism promotion with 30% of the initial 9% tax rate in Bend. In 2013, the City’s residents approved Measure 9-94, which increased the City’s room tax rate from 9% to 10.4%. That 1.4% increase in tax rate is subject to the restrictions established in HB 2267. This past May the City passed an ordinance, in violation of the law, changing the allocation of tourism dollars.
“The City claims their new allocation of lodging tax dollars still follows state law. This is incorrect,” said Brandt. “There is an error in the total investment they are required to make in tourism promotions and/or facilities.”
The hospitality industry sees transportation investments as a crucial contributor to Oregon’s continued economic success. ORLA looks forward to working with Bend and other communities to help identify appropriate revenue streams to fund transportation investments including the unrestricted portion of lodging taxes.
For more information, contact ORLA President & CEO, Jason Brandt, at 971.224.1501.
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association represents approximately 2,500 members, and advocates for over 9,900 foodservice locations and 2,200 lodging establishments in Oregon. The foodservice and lodging industry is responsible for 173,700 jobs bringing in over $10.8 billion in annual sales and generates over 54% of the annual tourism dollars spent in Oregon.
[updated December 2019]
A federal spending bill passed in 2018 abolished a 2011 regulation prohibiting tip pooling; managers can now require that servers share tips with kitchen staff in states where employers do not take a tip credit. This change allows tip sharing among both customarily and non-customarily tipped employees in Oregon, including dishwashers and cooks. Managers, supervisors, and owners cannot participate in the tip sharing. A proposed rule to implement the change has been released as of October 7, 2019; comments were due by December 9, 2019.
One thing this proposed rule seeks to address is that the words “supervisor” and “manager” were not defined in the 2018 spending bill. This is especially important to our industry since many have hybrid approaches to their service positions. Supervisors and managers in some of Oregon’s smallest restaurant operations commonly serve guests and have participated in front-of-the-house tip pools as a part of a team approach to foodservice.
Employers are to use the “duties test” to determine who qualifies as a supervisor or manager, and establish tip pool eligibility. Essentially, if an employee’s primary or regular duty is not management or supervising, they are still allowed to participate in a tip pool. For details on the standard of the “duties test,” read the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Field Assistance Bulletin.
Prior to this change, the decision to participate in a tip pool was left to employees. For more context on the issue, check out Tipping the Scales (Oregon Business, April 2018). The Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) FAQ may answer any additional questions regarding tips at Oregon.gov/BOLI.
Restaurant Employee Compensation Tools
With tip pooling being legal with back of the house employees, employers may have questions about what their options are. ORLA launched a Restaurant Compensation Solutions Workgroup to review tools being implemented in restaurant operations across the state, including mandatory service charges, tip pooling policies based on sales that assist in compensating kitchen staff, and dual tip lines notating tip options for both servers and kitchen staff.
Tip pooling policies should be carefully reviewed with counsel before implementation to ensure compliance with all applicable requirements. For more on this subject, click the links below.
For additional questions, contact Greg Astley, Director of Government Affairs, at 503.682.4422.
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.
Compliance extension and clarifications to single-use plastics
Ordinance No. 189537 – passed 6/5/2019; effective 7/5/2019
The City of Portland extended the compliance date for their restrictions on single-use plastics, moving the date from July 1, 2019 to October 1, 2019. They intended to give businesses more time to adjust given the impact of SB 90, which preempts local code.
It also clarifies that plastic utensil self-service stations for restaurants with counter service will still be allowed. There is also an exemption for plastic serviceware that is attached with a beverage container by the manufacturer (e.g. juice boxes), or when an ingredient like salad dressing is packaged with single-use plastic. All meals provided as a social service to vulnerable populations are exempt.
For online orders, dining establishments must coordinate with third-party ordering services to allow for the customer to request plastic serviceware. Compostable and biodegradable plastic are included in the definition of single-use plastic and are banned, but non-plastic material serviceware is allowed.
Short-term rental registration requirements
Ordinance No. 189557 – passed 6/12/2019; effective 7/12/2019
After stalled negotiations with Airbnb and low compliance rates for short-term rental permitting, the City of Portland is following the lead of the City of Santa Monica, CA, which recently had its ordinance affirmed by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. This ordinance states that home sharing platforms must either reach a pass-through registration data-sharing agreement with the City, or they can choose hosts from a registry of City-approved and permitted rental locations.
No transaction can be completed and no fees can be collected by the home sharing platform unless the short-term rental is on the City registry, or if the home sharing platform has come to an agreement with the City on pass-through registration data-sharing.
Home sharing platforms will be charged $1,000 per illegal booking transaction per day.
Pacific Power has announced a new policy of proactively shutting down power if conditions warrant it, in an effort to prevent wildfires. "Public Safety Power Shutoffs may occur with little warning and last for several days. It is currently unknown when these outages may occur; our only indication from Pacific Power is that they will occur during instances of significant wildfire danger (hot, dry, and windy days)," as stated by Hood River County Health Department in a memo to all Licensed Facilities in Hood River County.
The areas affected include Josephine County in southern Oregon (Roseburg, Medford, Grants Pass) and Hood River.
In Hood River County, health officials announced that food establishments may not operate during prolonged power outages. Within 4 hours of losing power, all food establishments shall cease operating and serving food to the public. Even if a food establishment has a generator, without formal written approval from the County Health office (in advance), no food establishment may operate during a prolonged power outage. Actions may be taken to protect inventories; however, any food exposed to temperature abuse shall be discarded.
Pacific Power has stated:
1. They will alert account holders 3-7 days out when possible
2. They will alert account holders 48 hours in advance, then 24 hours, then 2 hours and then one hour in advance whenever possible
3. Conditions will have to be sustained and will include:
If you have questions, please contact Hood River County Health Department directly:
For more information, download the memo from Hood River County Health Department.
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) has hired Nicole Peterson as its new Government Affairs Coordinator. Peterson will be the new steward of the Portland Kitchen Cabinet and its steering committee, focusing on grassroots engagement with restaurateurs and supporting their community building efforts.
“We are excited to have Nicole join our team at ORLA to add crucial capacity for our ongoing work in the Portland restaurant marketplace. Business models and paths to sustainability are changing rapidly and there are many opportunities to bring the strengths of restaurants to more Portland community conversations,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO.
Nicole previously worked as a Research Assistant for a state and local government affairs team in Illinois and worked on a variety of issues from happy hours to baseball stadium renovations. Since moving to Oregon, she has worked in local government, giving her a broader understanding of the issues from the governing body perspective. She received her bachelor’s degree in Social Policy from Northwestern University.
In her new role with the Portland Kitchen Cabinet, Nicole relishes the opportunity to help Portland restaurants and the broader community gather, collaborate, and flourish by providing more opportunities for community engagement and advocacy for the industry. This group of informed, active and motivated hospitality community members serve as industry ambassadors with policymakers, opinion leaders, community leaders and partner organizations. With more than 100 members, the Portland Kitchen Cabinet is a proud partner of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association and the National Restaurant Association.
On June 30, the Oregon Legislature officially came to a close. The 2019 session was marked by hyper-partisanship, two walkouts by Senate Republicans and dozens of new laws affecting the hospitality industry. Several key bills will affect how restaurants and lodging properties conduct business in the near future. Watch for ORLA's full recap of the session coming soon to the Advocacy page.
Here are a few quick updates:
HB 2005 – Paid Family and Medical Leave
SB 90 – Plastic Straws on request
Plastic straws in restaurants are now only available “on request” unless a customer is using the drive through and then employees may ask the customer if they would like a straw. Effective as of June 13, 2019.
HB 2509 – Plastic Bag Ban
Single use disposable plastic bags are banned from restaurants and grocery stores. Retailers may charge for paper bags. Effective date is January 1, 2020. Read HB 2509 Enrolled.
HB 3137 – Collection of local lodging taxes by Oregon Department of Revenue
Provides that transient lodging tax becomes due when occupancy of transient lodging with respect to which tax is imposed ends. This bill will help eliminate the issue of properties collecting and remitting the lodging tax to the state and then if a customer cancels, having to go back and recover the lodging tax paid in order to refund the customer the tax. Effective date January 1, 2020.
SB 248 – Increase in certain fees charged by OLCC
Fees for OLCC licenses will double effective July 1, 2019. Negotiated separately from this bill is the option to renew an OLCC alcohol license every two years instead of annually.