[April 9, 2021] - Updates from Your State Association
ORLA Joins Business Community on Priorities for the American Rescue Plan Revenues - The $6 billion in federal aid expected by state and local governments in Oregon represents an unprecedented transfusion of cash that could prove transformational – if it is invested wisely. ORLA joins a coalition of business leaders urging the Governor and state leaders to consider the investments in three parts: 1) Near-term for programs that assist individuals, families, businesses and nonprofits still struggling financially; 2) Longer-term for substantial investments in carefully selected projects that will bolster our economic base and yield returns to Oregonians for decades to come, and 3) A contingency set-aside for unforeseen challenges in the next few years. Read the letter.
OLCC Approves “Floor Pricing" - Despite much testimony in opposition, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) approved a floor pricing proposal for distilled spirits which increases the price of the lowest priced spirits sold in Oregon liquor stores. ORLA joined other business groups affiliated with alcohol licensees testifying that floor pricing jeopardizes the hospitality industry’s fragile recovery. “Now is not the time to make it more difficult for bars and restaurants to do business and serve customers. Let’s build on the good will of the accomplishments of the past year,” said Greg Astley from the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association.
[April 5, 2021] - Vaccine Toolkit; Preparing Your Frontline Workers
Last week the Governor announced frontline workers (including all hospitality workers, as defined by the CDC) and their families are eligible for a vaccine starting April 5. We want to make sure you are aware of the resources available to help you communicate important information about vaccines to your workers, and to give them information about how to find locations and appointments.
Here are some key resources to share with your employees:
Find more resources and an Employer Toolkit on ORLA's COVID-19 Resources & Announcements page.
[April 1, 2021] - OSHA Permanent Rule Response from ORLA
ORLA alongside other business groups has been actively engaged in the rulemaking process for workplace safety in Covid times and Oregon OSHA has been one of the more aggressive OSHA agencies across the country in trying to create new rules. Earlier today, ORLA submitted our response which is in line with ongoing coordination amongst other state business groups that have been actively engaged in the rulemaking process since the beginning of the year. Read the official ORLA response to the proposal to create a permanent COVID rule that would need to be adhered to by all workplaces for an undetermined amount of time.
[March 31, 2021] - Business Coalition Unites to Push for Changes to OSHA Rules
The Oregon Legislative Session continues but in the past few weeks there have been a few victories worth noting as we fight on the frontlines with other legislative bills that remain alive for consideration. On the good news front, House Bill 3296 which would have exponentially increased taxes on alcohol is no longer viable. The broader beverage alliance guarding against increased taxes at this time remains on watch for other proposals that could emerge. But for now, a special thanks to ORLA members and the broader beverage industry for impressive mobilization that helped derail the tax proposal.
In other news, a broad coalition of business associations have joined together in submitting the following response to Oregon OSHA’s proposed permanent rule relating to Covid. ORLA continues to be actively involved with other groups to make sure the permanent rule is rescinded at the conclusion of the state of emergency. The reason a permanent rule is even in the mix after the adoption of a temporary rule approximately 4 months ago is due to a state law making temporary rules active for a maximum of 180 days. Since the Covid health emergency has lasted well beyond the temporary timeframe, a permanent rule is being pursued but not without strong advocacy from business groups to make sure the permanent rule does in fact expire once the Covid health emergency in effect from Governor Brown is behind us.
Other important developments include a public hearing to bring more relief to our industry as well as others dealing with spiking unemployment insurance tax rates. ORLA will be actively engaged alongside our members for a public hearing scheduled for Thursday, April 1 at 1pm for House Bill 3389. The bill introduced in the past few weeks needs some stronger relief for hard hit industries like hospitality but the foundation of the bill is in good shape for potential amendments that could make a real difference for Oregon’s hospitality industry. ORLA will also be watching the progress of another bill we support – House Bill 3177 which is scheduled for a work session on Thursday, April 1 at 8am. Many of you took action on the bill which would put power back in the hands of Oregon’s legislature to determine appropriate economic sanctions for industries reeling from the economic impacts of Covid including foodservice and fitness establishments.
To see the latest activity on legislative bills, visit ORLA's Legislative Bill Tracking page.
[March 18, 2021] - Oregon's UI Trust Fund Balance / Taxing Forgiven PPP Loans? / It's a Warning Week
It’s a very busy week in the Oregon Legislature. Here are the latest updates overall at the association. A more detailed Advocacy Update will be sent to ORLA members soon from our Director of Government Affairs Greg Astley. As always reach out with any questions or comments.
Oregon’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund Balance
Recently the United States Chamber of Commerce pulled together the fund balances available to every state to pay unemployment insurance benefits. You might be surprised to hear like we were that Oregon has the best funded trust fund in the nation. This isn’t based on population or some per capita assessment. Take a look at the UI Trust Fund Comparison spreadsheet. My favorite new line to use is “After paying out benefits to unemployed Oregonians through all of 2020, Oregon still has more money in our trust fund right now compared to what California had before Covid even started.” So you may ask, why the egregious increase in our tax rates? We have the same question. ORLA, Oregon Business & Industry, NFIB, and other business partners are working together to solve this problem.
Taxing Forgiven PPP Loans?
You heard that right. Some in the Oregon Legislature thought it would be a good idea to tax your PPP funds. Proposed amendments to House Bill 2457 would have amounted to a surprise tax bill on businesses across Oregon. Our friends at OBI and NFIB rallied the business community to quickly respond with this statement once the amendment was posted and a work session on the bill was cancelled this past Tuesday after the coalition submitted the attached opposition letter. We will keep a watchful eye on future attempts such as this before the legislature adjourns at the beginning of Summer.
It's a Warning Week
While more and more states move to new models of operation of at least 50% capacity statewide for restaurants, Oregon continues to hold on to its county by county risk assessment system. See the latest case counts from Monday’s county by county Oregon Health Authority County Risk Level report. The data that stands out to me in the document is as follows:
[March 12, 2021] - It's a Movement Week; Latest ORLA Press Releases
President Biden’s news last night is a good sign that our vaccination timelines will be moving up and help clear the way for a steady increase in lodging and restaurant business later this spring. This news also assists us in our ambitious lineup of ORLA events: Virtual PAC fundraiser “Bid for a Better Industry” June 16-24), ORLA Open Golf Tournament July 26, Northwest Food Show August 1-2, Play it Fore-Ward for Hospitality August 24, and ORLA Hospitality Conference September 19-20. (View all ORLA events here)
Portland Tourism Improvement District - ORLA’s Portland Lodging Alliance in the past few months has been busy working on a number of challenges facing the Portland market while also deciding to move forward in support of a one percent increase in Portland’s Tourism Improvement District self-assessment. The Tourism Improvement District self-assessment will now be 3 percent instead of 2 percent and will continue to be overseen by a board of lodging operators for investments in lodging industry priorities. Although often reported as a tax increase, it is very different from a tax since all the funds raised are not shared for purposes outside tourism improvement. 100% of the 3 percent TID will continue to go towards tourism investments and should assist the Portland market in their rebound and by extension, Oregon overall. The increase was approved unanimously by the Portland Lodging Alliance group within ORLA. Mike Daley, who serves a dual role on the ORLA Board while also serving as Chair of the Travel Portland Board of Directors has been working incredibly hard in his volunteer roles during a crazy year for the lodging industry. We thank him for keeping the lines of communication open and for facilitating conversations amongst lodging operators so we can plan out our approach to getting things back on track.
It's a Movement Week - Earlier this week, Governor Kate Brown announced the latest round of county movements which directly impact the way in which our members and the industry can operate their businesses. As of today, we have 13 counties in Low Risk (50% indoor capacity for restaurants with no ‘total person cap’ limits and midnight closing time / 50% capacity for indoor pools/hot tubs), 12 counties at Moderate Risk (50% indoor capacity for restaurants or 100 total people indoors including staff, whichever is less and still 11pm closing time / 50% capacity for indoor pools/hot tubs or 100 total people, whichever is less), 9 counties at High Risk (25% indoor capacity for restaurants or 50 people total including staff, whichever is less and 11pm closing time / 25% capacity for indoor pools/hot tubs or 50 people total, whichever is less), and 2 counties still in Extreme Risk (no indoor dining capacity, outdoor seating only if available to the restaurant / no more than 6 people total for indoor pool/hot tub use at a time).
View the latest Google Doc showing all the County Risk Level movement. As a refresher, view the Sector Risk Level Guidance chart which details all the business restrictions in the 4 risk categories.
Latest ORLA Press Releases - This week, ORLA released two press releases. One on industry workforce shortages and one on our desire to see an elimination of the ‘total person caps’ in our risk categories. We are still averaging about 6-12 media engagements per week. Engagements vary depending on the level of interest in the media for a particular theme. As many of you can probably relate to, we had a significant response to our workforce shortage query out to the ORLA membership.
Weekly Advocacy Updates - A special thanks to our Government Affairs Co-Chairs TJ Birkel and Nick Pearson for their ongoing leadership of ORLA’s Government Affairs Committee. Greg Astley, ORLA’s Director of Government Affairs and Bill Perry, ORLA’s contract lobbyist continue to work with our Co-Chairs to hold weekly check-in meetings for interested Government Affairs Committee members on the status of the Oregon Legislative Session. In addition, ORLA is increasing the frequency of our advocacy updates on top of our ongoing bill tracking capability so interested members can keep tabs on the flow of the session.
As always, please reach out to us with any questions.
[March 8, 2021] - American Rescue Plan Passes: Win for Hospitality!
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, including the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), is being sent to President Biden for a signature. Passage of this bill represents an enormous win for the hospitality industry and comes after much collaboration and continued pressure from our national affiliates including the National Restaurant Association, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, and Asian American Hotel Owners Association. ORLA has been working with our national partners to mobilize industry members and contribute to a collective voice on industry-specific assistance needed from the start of the pandemic.
The American Rescue Plan bill includes significant assistance and provisions including:
Read more about the American Rescue Plan.
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