[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:
[August 10, 2020] - ORLA Activity in the Special Session
Today marks the beginning of the second special session of 2020 and Oregon legislators are expected to wrap it up in 2-4 days. Many of our crucial needs as an industry are not on the table. There is an incredible amount of work we must continue to take on to aid in the survival of as many restaurant and lodging establishments as possible in Oregon.
Issues still in need of attention include:
Unemployment Insurance Benefits
Today, ORLA provided invited testimony in support of Senate Bill 1701 which is expected to move forward this special session. The bill would provide extra flexibility to employees to pick up shifts in our restaurant and lodging establishments around the state without having to sacrifice unemployment insurance benefits when working part time. Current law allows employees to earn ten times the minimum wage each week before losing access to unemployment benefits. Senate Bill 1701 proposes to increase the amount an employee can earn in a week up to $300 before they would risk losing unemployment benefits to subsidize their earned wages. Read ORLA’s written testimony on the issue submitted today.
Legislative Concept 2
ORLA sent a letter last week 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, an ill-conceived proposal that would have imposed $225 million in taxes on Oregon businesses including restaurants and accommodations. Legislative Concept 2 has been removed from consideration from this August Special Session. Industry members helped make a difference by reaching out to their legislators on this issue, a win for the industry.
The workers’ compensation presumption issue is not being taken up this August Special Session, but may still be discussed in the next Special Session. We will update you as this issue progresses. ORLA joined a letter with many other Oregon employers stating a COVID-19 presumption is not necessary based on the data available. Workers are filing claims; the claims are getting processed and are only getting denied on a limited basis (in the most typical instance, when it is determined the worker does not actually have COVID-19).
ORLA supports the Management recommendations from the Management-Labor Advisory Committee (MLAC) report on COVID-19. These recommendations ask that the “Draft COVID Rules” SAIF has been using to process their claims be adopted to fix any current problems with the system. They also recommend that the Department of Consumer and Business Services audit the procedures of the two insurers with high rates of denial of claims. Read the full report from the MLAC.
[August 6, 2020] – August Special Session Update
Final preparations are being made for the August Special Legislative Session by Speaker of the House Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney to focus in on general fund shortfalls in the State of Oregon. The session may last the duration of the upcoming week. An agreement has been made to focus on budgetary issues as part of the August session and issues including To-Go Cocktails which qualifies as an important industry priority will likely not be taken up based on the rules being established for the session. In addition, the state transient lodging tax has an uphill battle as it will most likely require a separate legislative bill as a non-general fund budgetary consideration. Outside of agency budget discussions, it is possible liability protection against COVID claims will be considered at the state level outside of considerations being entertained at the federal level.
It is of crucial importance to keep your relationships alive and well with your elected leaders representing you in the Oregon Legislature. To look up your House Representative and your State Senator, click on the Oregon State Legislature website and take steps to introduce yourself and engage in a relationship that is helpful to them based on your experience working in Oregon’s hospitality industry.
[August 5, 2020] - Latest Updates from Your Industry Association
The following is an update of activities from the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. Please reach out to your Regional Representative as needed for additional guidance and any questions we can be of assistance with:
COVID-19 RELIEF: Our federal elected leaders continue to work on finding a compromise as they work through an ongoing negotiation process for what is expected to be the fourth and final coronavirus relief package. Top tier items under discussion include the federal weekly contribution amount for extended unemployment benefits, a second round of stimulus checks for American families, parameters around a second round of PPP loans, and a safe harbor provision to protect against COVID lawsuits when filed against businesses following Center for Disease Control and state health guidelines. ORLA expects clarity around details by Friday, August 14 given the looming summer recess and the need to return to constituents with tangible outcomes accomplished in DC before the November election.
Industry members are encouraged to engage in action alerts from the National Restaurant Association and the American Hotel & Lodging Association and make sure your voice is heard in DC:
TRAVEL ADVISORY TALK: There have been rumblings for a few weeks regarding the creation of a travel advisory to Oregon. In conversations with the Governor’s Office, it is clear the magnitude of logistics tied to any travel advisory and the associated challenges in enforcing any advisory could prove to be nearly impossible. ORLA is working to learn more about the onset of any new travel announcement by the Governor’s Office which to date seems to be focused on tourist travel originating outside of Oregon from specific states managing higher concentrations of virus spread.
SPECIAL SESSION: The second special session of the Oregon Legislature will take place this coming week from Monday, August 10 – Wednesday, August 12. It is clear there is very little appetite for any legislation that does not directly deal with the state’s budget gap and cuts to agency budgets. As recently as last night, there remains an open question as to whether any “policy” issues will find their way on the agenda. We are pushing for consideration of to-go cocktails for restaurants and the Governor continues to push for a 1.8% statewide lodging tax with industry support. It is unclear whether either issue makes the cut. The nature of the pandemic and the logistics of the special sessions puts an incredible amount of power in the hands of Oregon’s Speaker of the House Tina Kotek and Oregon’s Senate President Peter Courtney. These two elected leaders have ultimate decision making authority to advance issues within the Oregon House and Senate.
Connect with your legislators and get your voice to be heard. Sign up to be a Hospitality Advocate and text "ORLA" to 52886.
[To continue reading previous blog posts from ORLA's CEO, click "Read More" to the right]
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.
Call to Action: Ask Portland City Council to Lead an End to Violence while Supporting Ongoing Peaceful Protests
The City of Portland needs to hear from you. Safety and security for restaurant and lodging employees and our guests is paramount as is ongoing support for the rights of all Portlanders to peacefully protest. We officially have a major crisis on our hands relating to nightly violence and ongoing national media attention. Underrepresented populations must continue to be heard and it is time to take meaningful steps forward with reforms that matter.
Please ask Portland City Council to lead the city and put an end to the violence now. Any instigation of violence is unacceptable and must be separated from the importance of ongoing peaceful protests. Stopping this violence is crucial to the future of Portland and how the city is embraced by those who visit here for years to come.
What’s Legal When It Comes to CBD in Edibles and Alcohol
As new trends and topics in the alcohol industry emerge, the OLCC strives to keep current on these issues. Recently, there has been significant interest throughout the industry in the use and sale of cannabidiol (CBD) items on liquor-licensed premises. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (also referred to as the 2018 Farm Bill) was partially responsible for generating this interest because a part of the bill removed “hemp” and its derivatives from the definition of “marihuana” in the Controlled Substances Act. Although the 2018 Farm Bill established some regulatory authority for hemp under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this piece of legislation did little to explain or clarify the legal status of CBD and CBD products. Due to this uncertainty, the next few paragraphs will attempt to explain the complexities of this issue and help to answer a few questions about CBD products and OLCC liquor licensees.
What is CBD?
First, it is important to understand what CBD is and where it comes from. CBD is a non-intoxicating chemical compound (called a cannabinoid) that can be derived from cannabis plants. Because both hemp and marijuana come from the same plant (cannabis) they are both interchangeably referred to as cannabis, but there is an important legal distinction. Whether a cannabis plant is considered hemp or marijuana depends upon the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the plant contains. THC is, of course, the cannabinoid responsible for the psychological effects associated with marijuana consumption. For a cannabis plant to be considered hemp, it must contain less than 0.3 percent THC, otherwise the plant is considered marijuana. Because marijuana is still considered to be a Schedule I controlled substance by the federal government, the source of the CBD is important. Even if a finished CBD product contains 0 percent THC, if the CBD was derived from a plant that contained more than 0.3 percent THC and is therefore marijuana, the CBD is considered a marijuana derivative. In Oregon, marijuana and all marijuana derivatives may only be sold by a licensed recreational marijuana retail store or medical marijuana registrant. For OLCC liquor licensees, the source of the CBD is also important because permitting the use or sale of a marijuana item on a liquor-licensed premises is a violation that could result in a license suspension or civil penalty.
Although the CBD must be derived from hemp, not all hemp products contain CBD. Hemp stalks and seeds contain only trace amounts of CBD and have been legally used in food and beverages prior to the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. The CBD used in many popular products is commonly extracted from the flowers and leaves of the hemp plant. The remainder of this article refers to CBD derived from hemp.
What Conduct is Prohibited?
Despite the current lack of legal clarity, federal agencies have provided guidance on two types of conduct that are prohibited. First, the FDA, which regulates food products and food safety, has determined that selling or offering to sell a food or beverage item containing CBD in interstate commerce is illegal. For OLCC liquor licensees to comply with federal law, they should not purchase CBD products that were produced in another state.
Second, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which regulates the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages, has determined it will not approve any alcoholic beverage formulas that contain CBD. Because obtaining formula approval is required to produce an alcoholic beverage with a non-traditional ingredient (such as hemp), all alcoholic beverages manufactured with CBD are prohibited. This means that all OLCC licensees that manufacture alcoholic beverages are prohibited from adding CBD during the production of the beverage or prior to bottling. To help clarify the agency’s position, the OLCC has proposed a rule change that would make it a violation for any OLCC liquor licensee to manufacture, store, or sell any alcoholic beverage that contains cannabinoids or any substance derived from cannabis, including cannabis terpenes. If adopted at the December Commission Meeting, the rule would apply to all license types and be effective January 1, 2020.
What about Non-Alcoholic CBD Products?
The two other common questions received by the OLCC on this issue involve non-alcoholic CBD products. Licensees are particularly interested in mixing non-alcoholic CBD beverages with alcohol in a mixed drink for on-premises consumption and are also interested in selling non-alcoholic CBD products on liquor-licensed premises.
In Oregon, hemp production is regulated by the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA). The ODA has adopted rules that govern products made with hemp, including items intended for human consumption. Under ODA rules, those food and beverage items made with hemp are required to be tested in the same manner that marijuana food items are tested in Oregon. This means that an OLCC licensed laboratory or equivalent lab must receive samples from each process lot of the hemp items and the lab must test those products to ensure they meet certain standards regarding pesticides, solvents, and potency. Because people are going to be consuming these products, it is extremely important to make sure that these items have been tested.
Because the effect of mixing CBD and alcohol is currently unknown, the OLCC recommends that licensees do not mix CBD and alcohol together into mixed drinks for on-premises consumption. If a licensee chooses to do so, it is done at the licensee’s own risk. If a licensee would like to sell a non-alcoholic CBD item on a liquor-licensed premises, the licensee must obtain a copy of the lab report showing that the product was properly tested according to the ODA’s rules. If any licensee is currently selling any CBD products that have not been properly tested, the licensee should have removed all non-compliant products from their inventory by December 31, 2019.
The OLCC is publishing guidance documents on the OLCC website to help explain what types of activities may occur on a liquor-licensed premises. The guidance is split into five categories: alcohol manufacturing, wholesale and distribution, liquor store sales, sale of alcohol at retail, and testing requirements. The guidance is meant to help provide clarity for a very complex issue. These documents are scheduled to be available by the end of December and will be updated if rules or policies change. If you have questions, please visit the OLCC website at Oregon.gov/OLCC or contact the OLCC. | Jamie Dickinson, Oregon Liquor Control Commission
This article originally published in the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association Magazine - Winter 2020
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.
Oregon’s lodging tax investments could be drastically reduced if Senate Bill 595 passes.
If successful, SB 595 would eradicate the critical lodging tax reforms of 2003 by taking 30% of our industry’s 70% of any new or increased lodging tax implemented since July 2, 2003, and allowing local governments to redirect those funds for “affordable workforce housing” projects. The result would allow only 40% of new or increased local lodging taxes to be protected for tourism promotion and tourism-related facilities.
ORLA was at the table in November supporting Measure 102, giving communities across Oregon greater flexibility to create the workforce housing they need. ORLA continues to be willing and ready to engage in productive conversations about alternative solutions that can benefit communities and foster economic development without targeting one industry.
The Senate Committee on Housing held a public hearing for SB 595 on February 18. We need lodging industry members to take action now!
Email members of the Senate Committee on Housing and tell them how important the 70% protections are to growing Oregon’s tourism economy. Urge them to consider alternatives to workforce housing initiatives.
• Senator Shemia Fagan, Chair: email@example.com
• Senator Dallas Heard, Vice-Chair: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Senator Jeff Golden, Member: email@example.com
• Senator Tim Knopp, Member: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson, Member: email@example.com
Read more about the bills ORLA is engaged and/or tracking this session at OregonRLA.org/billtracking.
If you have any questions on this bill, please reach out to me via email at JBrandt@OregonRLA.org or call me directly at 503.302.5060.
Restaurants Who Sell Elouan Wine Should Consider Risks
The OLCC has determined wine producer Copper Cane of California to be misrepresenting Oregon wine geographic designations on its Elouan packaging and sales material, recommending revocation of their Certificate to ship wine into Oregon for resale. Widespread news reports now give restaurateurs knowledge of these misrepresentations and thus liability under the Unlawful Trade Practices Act. The wines are made in California and are not legally eligible to state or infer Oregon American Viticultural Areas on their labels, packaging or advertising material. You may want to consider this risk in selling this product in your restaurants.
Oregon Legislature to consider laws protecting wine industry (1.14.19 - Capital Press)
Copper Cane Controversy (11.1.18 - Oregon Wine Press)
Update 2.13.19 - The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has officially declared the U.S. outbreak to be over; the FDA continues to recommend to suppliers and distributors that romaine lettuce be labeled with a harvest location and a harvest date, or labeled as being hydroponically or greenhouse-grown.
December 17, 2018 - The FDA, along with CDC, state and local agencies, is investigating a multi-state outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses linked to romaine lettuce grown in California. Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell romaine from Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Barbara counties in California. Romaine from outside those regions need not be avoided.
On December 13, 2018, Adam Bros. Farming, Inc., in Santa Barbara County, recalled products that may have come into contact with water from the water reservoir where the outbreak strain was found. The firm recalled red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce and cauliflower harvested on November 27 through 30, 2018. According to the firm, cauliflower was distributed to wholesalers in the U.S.
The Adam Bros. recall has prompted a sub-recall by Spokane Produce Inc. of Spokane, WA. The firm recalled sandwiches and other products under the Northwest Cuisine Creations and Fresh & Local Sandwiches & Green Leaf Filets.
The CDC has posted additional guidance regarding the romaine lettuce recall:
National Restaurant Association guidance: 5 Tips to Follow When a Recall Happens.