[January 22, 2021] - Update from Your Association
As our industry continues to struggle during this pandemic due to several factors contributing to unsustainable operations, ORLA remains steadfast in communicating daily with the Governor's Office on reopening Oregon's hospitality businesses. We have been urging consideration of the following:
With more counties potentially moving into the Extreme Risk category, hospitality businesses can benefit from every bit of flexibility and allowances made possible.
As always, don't hesitate to reach out to your ORLA Regional Representative with questions or concerns.
[January 21, 2021] - ORLA Testifies in Today's Hearing on Unemployment Insurance Tax Rates
ORLA testified in the Senate Business and Labor Committee on Unemployment Insurance Tax hearing today, Jan. 21. Below is the testimony written and read by ORLA's Director of Government Affairs, Greg Astley. In addition to making sure our lawmakers are fully aware of the impacts on our industry regarding restrictions and mandates due to the pandemic, ORLA has put together a task force of restaurant and lodging operators to help find solutions to this problem. We are ready and willing to work with the Employment Department, legislators and other business groups to find a reasonable solution that will work fairly and equitably for everyone.
ORLA Testimony at the Senate Committee On Labor and Business hearing January 21, 2021:
Good morning Chair Riley, Vice-Chair Hansell and members of the Committee –
My name is Greg Astley, I’m the Director of Government Affairs for the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association (ORLA).
ORLA is the largest statewide association representing Oregon’s hospitality industry which includes over 10,000 food service establishments, 2,000 lodging properties and employed over 180,000 Oregonians pre-COVID 19.
Oregon’s restaurants and lodging properties have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting steps taken to help prevent the spread of the disease. From travel restrictions early on to limits on the number of people able to meet or gather to complete shutdowns of eating establishments, Oregon’s hospitality industry has suffered like no other.
Even now, under our current system of categories, only ten counties are allowed to have any kind of indoor dining during these winter months and outdoor dining is restricted to the point where it is less than feasible in many cases to try and serve guests in a tent with only one wall. With little to no revenue, restaurants have tried to be innovative to keep employees on payroll and continue to keep their doors open but it has been tremendously difficult for most. On top of that, fixed costs such as rent, utilities and fees are still due every month.
Under normal circumstances, with market forces driving decisions, increases in the Unemployment Tax rate might be understandable but these are not normal circumstances. Restaurants had to layoff employees due to Executive Order from the Governor. Government restrictions and mandates are the reasons employees were let go.
Now, at a time when revenues are still down by as much as 50% in some cases, restaurants are being told their Unemployment Taxes will more than double in 2021. One operator contacted me because last year he was paying $7500 in unemployment taxes and this year he would be paying $16,500. More than double.
The laws and formulas we have in place currently do not adequately account for the situation we find ourselves in today. I think we can all agree, this pandemic has forced us to re-think the way we live our lives, conduct business and even legislate. Changes need to be made in how we address this issue based on the circumstances we are in currently, not last year, not ten years ago.
The first tax bill will be due in April so we need to act now. Other states have come up with solutions to mitigate the impacts on businesses and Oregon needs to do the same before our first bill is due. Whether we draw down judiciously on the UI trust fund, freeze rates at pre-pandemic levels, defer payments for restaurants until they can get back on their feet, combine these ideas or even come up with something different, we need to find a short-term solution and a long-term strategy for addressing this inequity before it threatens to close more businesses than we have already lost.
ORLA has put together a task force of restaurant and lodging operators to help find solutions to this problem and we are more than willing to work with the Employment Department, legislators and other business groups to find a reasonable solution that will work fairly and equitably for everyone.
Greg Astley, Director of Government Affairs, Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association
[January 19, 2021] - Updates from Your Association
[January 8, 2021] - Continued Work with the Governor's Office; New PPP Rules
Local Updates: ORLA is communicating daily with the Governor’s Office as the suffering and economic toll continues to push hospitality businesses to the brink. Our latest conversations are revolving around:
Federal Updates: On Wednesday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) released several interim final rules related to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the second draw of PPP loans as outlined in the recently passed Economic Aid Act. The SBA announced that PPP will re-open the week of January 11 for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers.
The National Restaurant Association has distilled this new PPP information into a seven-page "user manual" that can be accessed online here: PPP 2nd Draw: Helping Restaurants and Small Businesses.
The American Hotel & Lodging Association shared a few details on the eligibility and documentation requirements for new and second draw PPP loans in their latest communication to the industry. Hoteliers considering a second draw of PPP are urged to contact their lenders and begin gathering the data and information necessary to complete the application process as soon as possible.
For more information and updates, visit SBA.gov/PPP and Treasury.gov/CARES.
[January 6, 2021] – Formal Request Submitted by ORLA for a Dedicated State Relief Fund for Hospitality
In Monday's blog post we referenced the importance of additional relief funds to further support Oregon’s struggling hospitality industry. Yesterday we formally submitted our request for a dedicated relief fund on top of funds received by hospitality operators to date managed by counties, Travel Oregon, and Business Oregon. The Oregon Legislative Emergency Board is scheduled to meet January 8 and you can read our formal request through the following link:
[January 4, 2021] – 13 Counties Now Open for Indoor Dining / 23 Counties Still Labeled as ‘Extreme Risk’
This past week, Governor Brown announced the movement of 6 counties in Oregon from ‘Extreme Risk’ to ‘High Risk.’ The move results in the availability of indoor dining in these counties as well as 7 others who had already qualified as ‘Low’ to ‘High Risk’ counties. Indoor dining went back online as of January 1 for Clatsop, Lincoln, Douglas, Coos, Morrow, and Baker counties.
For a review of activity restrictions in each of the 4 risk categories, click the following link:
Regardless of risk category, restaurant and lodging operations across the state remain challenged with ongoing hardship due to health emergency restrictions, consumer demand, or a combination of both. The development this past week confirming the passage of an additional federal aid package in Washington DC was welcome news. Restaurant and hotel operations will be able to secure 3.5 times their monthly payroll costs (Total loan cap of $2 million) in the form of a forgivable loan which will certainly help many operators during the challenging winter months ahead. Additional communication and details will continue to be released by lending institutions who will participate in the next round of Payroll Protection Program loans for small businesses. Make sure to stay in close contact with your CPA, tax advisor, and/or lending institution to take full advantage of the next round of PPP funding.
The Oregon State Legislature has passed legislation creating a new revenue opportunity through the passage of Senate Bill 1801. Restaurant cocktails can now head out the door as a part of food deliveries. In addition, the costs incurred by restaurants who choose to partner with third party delivery companies has been capped at 15 percent statewide.
To review all the details and text of the bill signed into law by Governor Brown on December 23, click the following link:
ORLA continues the important work of preparing for ongoing communication with the Emergency Board of the Oregon Legislature which will meet again in the coming weeks. The joint committee of both state representatives and senators makes important investment decisions with dollars made available through federal aid packages. We will continue to advocate for additional relief funds from the emergency board to further assist hospitality businesses as vaccine supply and access becomes more readily available to Oregonians in the months ahead.
Also, the 2021 session of the Oregon Legislature starts later this month and we must address the inequity in charging Oregon’s restaurant and lodging establishments higher unemployment insurance taxes for Covid related furloughs and layoffs. ORLA will work closely with elected officials in the Oregon House and Senate to address these inequities as employers prepare to pay first quarter taxes for 2021 in the month of April.
And in case you missed it, DOL released a final rule on tip pooling December 22, 2020 which will go into effect across the country on February 20, 2021. The final rule further establishes the legality of overseeing and managing a tip pool that includes staff who do not customarily and regularly receive tips by directly interfacing with a customer. Announcement of this final rule codifies our collective win advocating for the importance of tip pools. Read more here.
[December 21, 2020] - Update from the CEO on federal and state developments
Congress unveiled a $900 billion relief bill to provide short-term economic relief to the country in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The plan includes several items that will benefit restaurants and lodging establishments, most importantly a second round of access to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), with unique provisions aimed to assist the restaurant and lodging industries, which continue to endure unparalleled job and revenue losses.
The federal plan announced today targets restaurant and lodging relief with provisions including:
Other provisions in the bill that will benefit hospitality operations include the deductibility of business expenses paid with PPP loans, enhancement of the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC), extension of the augmented Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), and increased tax deduction for business meals.
In other news, the Oregon State Legislature is holding a third Special Session of 2020 and is poised to pass To-Go Cocktails legislation as well as statewide caps on third party technology and delivery expenses charged to restaurants. Today’s developments in the Oregon Legislature are expected to assist operators in realizing additional revenue for cocktail programs accompanying food purchases for takeout and delivery while also assisting operators with cost control on expenses.
Our ongoing communication with the media and with our stakeholders throughout the state will continue to acknowledge these tools will help some restaurant and lodging establishments stay in business while not doing much to help others. The depth and severity of the crisis continues to create winners and losers inside of specific industries as well as more broadly. Oregon’s second largest private sector industry needs more help and we will fight for ongoing assistance in our advocacy efforts with both the Oregon Legislative Emergency Board which will meet again in January as well as the longer term 2021 Oregon Legislative Session which starts in January and will most likely end around the beginning of Summer.
Much more needs to be accomplished and we will remain vigilant in pursuing all avenues of relief in our mission to help save as many Oregon restaurant and lodging establishments as possible in our state.
[December 18, 2020] - Here’s the latest from your state association.
Watch for another update next week before Christmas with more developments following Monday's Special Session.
Special Session This Monday - The third special session of 2020 takes place for one day on Monday, Dec. 21. Thank you to ORLA's Director of Government Affairs Greg Astley for providing testimony last night as part of two public hearings scheduled for this Monday special session. The public hearing last night will be followed by a second hearing this Saturday (more info). ORLA is well positioned to provide leadership in getting LC 10 passed and we believe we have favorable chances in getting there.
Federal Elected Leaders Close in on Covid Stimulus Deal - Progress continues on a COVID relief package and a deal could be announced soon. The proposal would include roughly $325 billion in small business relief, including $257 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program that helps employers keep workers who otherwise might go on unemployment. Both the National Restaurant Association and American Hotel & Lodging Association continue pressing to lower the revenue loss for eligibility from 30% to 25%, increase overall size of the loans, and allow deductibility for business expenses paid with PPP loans. ORLA will keep members apprised of the rollout if a PPP deal is reached. It's not too late to share your voice, visit ORLA's website to learn how you can take action.
Status of HB 4204 - We're hearing from lodging operators asking if there's a possibility at getting an extension to HB 4204 which provided flexibility to operators for mortgage obligations with financial institutions with an expiration on that flexibility coming up on December 31. We know the extension will not be a part of the special session on Monday but ORLA is still moving forward in advocating for an extension in the upcoming 2021 session. The initial passage of HB 4204 has proved to be a unique tool available to our industry here in Oregon that many other states do not have. We feel fortunate to have it in the first place and will work hard to get it extended if at all possible.
Give the Gift of Oregon and Get a Lodging Certificate - If you’re looking for last minute gifts for the holidays there are still several lodging gift certificates available which directly support ORLA’s nonprofit, the Oregon Hospitality Foundation. Most of the gift certificates are worth 40-90% more than the minimum donation value and make great gifts. Choose your destination here: oregonrla.org/winter.html.
[December 10, 2020] - ORLA Engages in 3 Frontline Battles to Save Hospitality Businesses
ORLA is anticipating the announcement of a third special session of the Oregon Legislature very soon and the session will most likely take place this coming week before the holidays are upon us. Your state association is keenly aware your ability to stay in business while adhering to business restrictions laid out in the ‘Extreme Risk’ category for applicable counties is near impossible. The ongoing taking of your dining rooms while paying all the bills associated with those dining rooms is anything but sustainable.
ORLA is engaging on 3 frontlines for the foreseeable future with our #1 goal being saving as many restaurant and lodging locations in Oregon as possible. Those 3 frontlines are:
We realize everyone is exhausted from an unbelievable year. But we need you to find that extra gear. Stand up, share your story, and make a difference for yourself, your business, and the Oregonians depending on us who no longer have a job.
[December 7, 2020] - Congress Must Support Restaurants This Year!
Congress needs to hear from restaurants today as they are in session for only a few days more. If they do not get their job done, restaurants will be in the cold until this February at the earliest. Read the National Restaurant Association's letter to Congress sent today along with the results of their latest survey on the economic health of the industry:
Oregon Findings (full survey results):
National Findings (full survey results):
Congress needs to hear from you in these final days of 2020! We're helping the National Restaurant Association put the pressure on Congress to take action for the future of the restaurant industry.
For months, Congress has been trapped in a political tug-of-war while restaurants continue to go dark. A group of moderate Democrats and Republicans last week unveiled a compromise plan that has brought both parties back to the negotiating table. They are calling for a $909 billion relief bill, including a second round of Paycheck Protection Program grants, which with improvements could provide immediate assistance to restaurants.
We need Congress to pass the Blueprint for Restaurant Revival, but we also need to ensure they at least make a “down payment” on a relief plan before leaving town for the year. Our industry simply cannot wait for relief any longer. Efforts in Washington to find the “perfect” solution are laudable, but the lack of progress in the meantime has led too many operators to give up on the government and close down for good.
Thank you for your continued support!
[December 4, 2020] - Updates from Your Association
ORLA is in active discussions with the Oregon Fire Marshall’s Office (OFMO) to ensure our industry has the guidance necessary to provide safe outdoor dining space. As soon as next week the OFMO will have a new “outdoor checklist” that aligns with Oregon Health Authority guidelines, providing operators with a 'one stop shop' resource to know what they can do with dining outdoors and how to get there. We'll keep in contact with Assistant Chief Deputy Chad Hawkins and the Fire Marshall's Office as they finalize this resource so we can get it posted and out to all operators across the state.
[To continue reading previous blog posts from ORLA's CEO, click "Read More" to the right]
Sustaining Operations and Avoiding Closures will Still Prove Challenging
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 21, 2020
Jason Brandt, President and CEO, ORLA
503.302.5060 | JBrandt@OregonRLA.org
Wilsonville, OR– Today, Congress unveiled a $900 billion relief bill to provide short-term economic relief to the country in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The plan includes several items that will benefit restaurants and lodging establishments, most importantly a second round of access to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), with unique provisions aimed to assist the restaurant and lodging industries, which continue to endure unparalleled job and revenue losses.
In addition, the Oregon State Legislature is holding a third special session of 2020 and is poised to pass To-Go Cocktails legislation as well as statewide caps on third party technology and delivery expenses charged to restaurants.
“Hospitality operators in Oregon have been pleading for both long-term and short-term economic support,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “Today’s developments will assist restaurant and lodging establishments with their quest to survive. However, it does not change the unsustainable trajectory facing thousands of Oregon small businesses who have ongoing bills for their dining rooms with little to no revenue to cover those expenses.”
Today’s developments in the Oregon Legislature are expected to assist operators in realizing additional revenue for cocktail programs accompanying food purchases for takeout and delivery while also assisting operators with cost control on expenses.
“The progress made today at both the state and federal levels feels like getting a new pair of running shoes,” said Brandt. “There is still a race for survival in conjunction with vaccine distribution and the majority of operators will remain unprofitable. Our reality remains the same – we are attempting to stretch out our cash until we actually get to the light at the end of the tunnel we’ve all been talking about.”
The federal plan announced today targets restaurant and lodging relief with provisions including:
Other provisions in the bill that will benefit hospitality operations include the deductibility of business expenses paid with PPP loans, enhancement of the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC), extension of the augmented Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), and increased tax deduction for business meals.
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is the leading business association for the foodservice and lodging industry in Oregon, which is comprised of over 10,220 foodservice locations and 2,000 lodging establishments with a workforce of 183,191, and a total economic impact of $13.8 billion in annual sales for Oregon.
Available Data Translates into Ongoing Inequities for Oregon Hospitality
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 19, 2020
Glenda Hamstreet, Executive Coordinator, ORLA
971.224.1509 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Wilsonville, OR– On November 18, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) released the latest available data on workplace outbreaks in Oregon.
In a November 18 published report, the OHA has identified 3,097 active Covid-19 cases associated with workplaces. Of those cases 18, or 0.58 percent are tied to restaurants. Lodging operations, which have no current outbreaks, don’t even appear on the list.
“Oregon’s restaurants are struggling mightily. The state’s new restrictions are forcing an unsustainable round robin of furloughs and layoffs in our industry, an industry that is second to only health care in the number of people it employs,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “We continue to seek answers to better understand the sacrifices being experienced by Oregon’s hospitality businesses and our industry employees based on available data.”
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) has been an active partner in transforming thousands of hospitality environments to promote guest and employee safety. The industry continues to argue additional restrictions on controlled environments pushes virus spread to uncontrolled environments.
“We can turn the corner in this state on coronavirus infections while still supporting the livelihoods of our fellow Oregonians as long as we make reasonable decisions based on available data,” said Brandt. “The data has clearly shown Oregon’s controlled restaurant and lodging environments offer a safe alternative to the private, social gatherings state officials have identified as the primary culprit driving the virus’ spread.”
The state association continues to advocate for necessary adjustments to restaurant dining room protocol. For example, Governor Brown’s November 13 press conference stated private gatherings should be limited to 2 households or a maximum of 6 people. ORLA is advocating the same standard for group dining physically distanced from others be allowed immediately in dining rooms across the state.
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is the leading business association for the foodservice and lodging industry in Oregon, which is comprised of approximately 10,000 foodservice locations and 2,000 lodging establishments with a workforce prior to COVID of 183,191.
New Coalition Of Public And Private Sector Leaders Call On Congress To Act On COVID Relief Before Election
Washington, D.C. (September 30, 2020) – COVID RELIEF NOW, a new coalition of nearly 200 major public and private sector groups across the U.S., today called for “No Recess without Relief” imploring Congress to not leave town for the 2020 elections without passing additional COVID economic relief – stating millions of jobs and survival of small businesses as well as vital government services are on the line.
The coalition stated that if Congress fails to act, millions of employees will be furloughed or terminated; millions of unemployed Americans will lose their unemployment insurance pandemic benefits; hundreds of thousands of companies will be at risk of closing their doors forever; and the vast majority of state and local governments will have to curtail critical services in order to balance budgets due to a decline in tax revenue.
Read the letter signed by coalition members, including the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, that was sent to Congress today:
This week is pivotal for COVID relief legislation and we must do everything we can to make sure our voice is heard. We need you to add your voice to ours. Write, call, and tweet your elected officials and tell them that the hotel industry’s needs must be included in any final bill.
Take action and share this message with your colleagues!
FEMA REQUESTS SHELTERING OPPORTUNITIES
The State of Oregon is experiencing some of the most unprecedented emergencies to date affecting thousands of people throughout the region. As people are forced to evacuate their homes, the State of Oregon is committed to finding non-congregate sheltering and assistance for evacuees. In partnership with the American Red Cross, State and Federal agencies to better coordinate efforts we are asking for your help to lodge evacuees in the short term. Your local Destination Management Organization (DMO)/Convention or Visitor Bureau/Chamber of Commerce will be calling you soon to collect lodging data on a regular basis. They will be asking lodging properties for the following:
If you have any questions about this process, please contact Matt Finn at Travel Oregon. Are you already providing lodging to evacuees? See below information to share with them.
There may also be a need for long term lodging for evacuees. If you are a lodging facility that can help the people of Oregon’s recent disasters, please register in the FEMA Emergency Lodging Assistance (ELA) Portal. Registration not only allows FEMA to easily locate your facility but also enables the agency to provide reimbursement for housing of evacuees. On this site, businesses providing lodging can find program FAQs, a user guide, and other information to clarify program requirements.
Please note that the Oregon Department of Revenue will not be collecting lodging taxes for rooms using either FEMA transition shelter assistance or Red Cross hotel vouchers due to wildfire displacement. We expect that local jurisdictions in Oregon will adopt the same practice.
If local transient lodging taxes do not need to be collected, depending on your local jurisdiction these room rents may still need to be reported with all other rents on any transient lodging tax reports you may fill out. However, those rents paid with vouchers would be deducted. Please check with your local government on this subject.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR DISASTER SURVIVORS & BUSINESSES AFFECTED BY WILDFIRES
FEMA's highest priority right now is ensuring disaster survivors understand there are services available and the first step is getting registered. FEMA is asking if our lodging partners, especially those currently lodging evacuees, are willing to distribute the following attachments:
Please consider printing the flyer for display and have copies on hand for individuals. Also, it would be very helpful and appreciated if lodging partners could post one, or all of the attached graphics on their social medial accounts to help get the message out.
See also some important information for those working to recover from the fires:
The goal is to amplify the messaging to both lodging entities AND victims affected by the recent disasters to ensure they are registered with FEMA to get assistance.
For more wildfire information:
The word of the year is “unprecedented.” In our lifetimes, we have never seen such devastation – lives, property, and businesses lost to circumstances outside of our control.
What is incredible is how many of you have responded. You saw the need and rose to the occasion, offering lodging for people who have lost everything, free meals for the community, and hope for the future. There is a reason Oregon is known for its hospitality, and it’s on full display in the most challenging of times for our industry. Thank you! We couldn’t be more proud of our community’s spirit and resolve.
Because we know how challenging circumstances are right now, here is some information you need to know in response to Oregon’s wildfires.
Public Safety Power Shutoffs
Please be aware of current policies from your regional utilities. Both Portland General Electric and Pacific Power have indicated they will continue with policies to cut power in extreme conditions. Pacific Power has a monitor to check for potential areas affected by this policy. Portland General Electric has enacted shutoffs in response to the conditions near Mt. Hood; read more on the PGE FAQ.
Utilities are generally looking at several factors before making this decision and are committing to proactive communication. The Pacific Power criteria includes:
Be sure to have a plan in place for such emergency conditions. Contact your local health authority for more information on what they would require for maintaining operations in an emergency. Feel free to contact your Membership Representative with questions or to connect with others who have explored this subject.
How Can I Help?
Please visit Travel Oregon’s Ways To Help During Oregon Wildfires, a guide for where to donate money, supplies, and volunteer time.
To get the latest updates and links to safety registries, mental health resources, current condition reports, and more, visit Wildfire.oregon.gov. If you are looking for hotels offering discounts for fire evacuees in the valley, visit Travel Portland's resource page.
ORLA Government Affairs Coordinator
Update Sept. 10, 2020 - The Governor issued today Executive Order 20-42, declaring an abnormal market disruption as a result of the statewide wildfire emergency. This order is in response to reports of unusual increases in lodging rates for Oregonians who have evacuated fire areas and concern that the wildfire emergency may prevent ready availability of other essential consumer goods and services.
Oregon lodging operators have the opportunity to showcase our best in service and hospitality as we open our doors to displaced families needing shelter in the wake of wildfires. This is not the time for unreasonable price hikes as families and loved ones seek shelter at a time of crisis. Oregon’s hospitality industry answered the call for emergency responders fighting COVID around Oregon with over 300 lodging properties signing up to assist in our collective effort to mitigate the spread of the virus.
We are being called to action again by offering competitive pricing in our markets for those needing overnight shelters and to provide families and loved ones with a rate they can rely on as they determine their next steps. Be a leader in this space. Showcase what it means to bring Oregon hospitality to your guests and be a part of the rallying cry in a time of crisis by extending some comfort and certainty at your place of business for those you serve.
Be advised the Governor has initiated an Executive Order directing the Attorney General to prosecute price gouging. Let’s step up and prove this particular executive order is unnecessary because of the leadership our lodging operators provide in times of crisis.
How You Can Help:
Make sure to reach out to your local destination management and marketing organizations to provide information on the availability of rooms at your location. It is crucial that the Office of Emergency Management have the latest information regarding available rooms for overnight stays at reasonable rates. Look for more information coming soon on ways you can help from Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management.
Frequently Asked Questions from Oregon DOJ Consumer Protection:
What is price gouging?
When is a price “unconscionably excessive”?
Are there exceptions to price gouging, and if so - what are they?
What can I do if I suspect price gouging?
President & CEO
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association
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.