[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.
[Click the "Read More" link for archived blog updates]
Join the National Restaurant Association and the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association for a virtual conference on April 20, 2021
Every spring, the restaurant industry comes together in Washington D.C., to meet with Congress on issues impacting our industry.
The 2021 Public Affairs Conference may look different this year, but it provides the National Restaurant Association and state restaurant associations like ORLA with an opportunity to expand our reach and impact with more attendees and more meetings on Capitol Hill.
As an industry leader, your attendance is critical to the success of the Conference. With new party leadership in D.C. and our industry suffering from this unprecedented pandemic, our collective voices are needed now more than ever. We have to educate our lawmakers—new and established—on the impact of COVID-19 to our industry and what steps Congress should (or shouldn’t) take to help us survive and then thrive once the pandemic has passed.
Click the Register button below and use the code PAFCMEMBER to receive your member discount. The cost for members is $50 and $75 for non-members.
You will hear from political analysts, industry leaders, and lawmakers on key issues impacting the restaurant industry. If you’ve never attended the conference in the past, this virtual Public Affairs Conference is a great way to get involved for the first time.
If you have any questions, contact ORLA's Director of Government Affairs, Greg Astley.
Oregon’s Legislature will meet on Monday, December 21 for a one-day Special Session to discuss four specific issues including To-Go Cocktails and Commission Caps on Third Party Deliveries. Read the draft of Legislative Concept (LC 10).
We realize this legislation won’t fix everything so we are still working with the Governor’s office, Oregon Health Authority and Legislators to find ways to re-open dining rooms sooner and safely. You can help by contacting the Governor and your Legislators (find your legislator here) to let them know how little time you have left before you have to close your doors because of the restrictions on indoor dining.
Public hearings have now been posted for Thursday evening (6:00-9:00pm) and Saturday morning (10:00am-1:00pm). You may provide written or oral testimony at these meetings. For more information on these public hearings and to sign up to testify, please visit the following websites:
Oral Testimony (Live Remotely):
Important note about testimony: Neither registration nor use of the public access kiosk is a guarantee that you will be able to testify during the meeting. The chair may determine that public testimony must be limited. For this reason, written testimony is encouraged even if you plan to speak.
The Presiding Officers are extending the period for public comment. The public record is open when a meeting is posted until 24-hours after the committee is scheduled to meet. For example, this means written testimony can be submitted now until 6:00pm on Friday for the public hearing on Thursday.
Our Industry Needs Your Voice at the Table!
We need your voice at the Capitol to help pass this legislation. We need you to share your story of how the shutdowns, freezes and restrictions have impacted you and your employees and why this legislation would help you survive! If you are not already signed up for ORLA’s Text Alerts, please take a minute to text “ORLA” to 52886 today and sign up for important notices regarding key legislation and how you can help.
Thank you in advance for taking action.
Creation of a $75 Million Hospitality Relief Fund is Needed for Industry to Survive
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 17, 2020
Jason Brandt, President & CEO, ORLA
503.302.5060 | JBrandt@OregonRLA.org
Wilsonville, OR– Another shutdown of Oregon’s restaurants, bars and foodservice establishments is crippling an already broken and damaged industry. While other industries in Oregon have experienced revenue losses on average of five percent from last year, the hospitality industry in Oregon has experienced revenue losses on average of at least thirty percent.
Because of this massive economic disparity, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA), the leading business association for the foodservice and lodging industry in Oregon, has sent a letter to the Legislative Joint Emergency Board asking for the immediate creation of a $75 million Hospitality Relief Fund to help operators and their employees survive another shutdown.
“There is no federal relief package waiting to be voted on and distributed from Congress or the White House,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “There are no stimulus checks being printed to help Oregon families pay their bills. There is no weekly check for $600 available for those servers, cooks, hosts and hostesses about to lose their jobs or have their hours cut again because restaurants can’t survive on takeout and delivery if they can do it at all.”
Restaurants and bars are still paying rent and there has been no extension of the commercial rent moratorium even though revenue has been cut by as much as 65% for some operators because of the shutdowns, “pause” and now a “freeze.”
Restaurants and bars are still paying OLCC license fees even though they are not able to serve hard alcohol or offer cocktails to go for customers doing pickup or delivery. They are still paying health inspection fees based on the number of seats they have in their establishment even though they cannot seat anyone in their establishment. There are payroll taxes, corporate activity taxes, property taxes on property they cannot fully use and commercial personal property taxes on property restaurants own.
In addition to the immediate creation of the $75 million Hospitality Relief Fund, ORLA is recommending several other solutions to the Legislature to help the hospitality industry survive. Those solutions include:
“We were already hearing from members they were concerned about what another shutdown would do to their chances of staying open,” said Brandt. “Without significant help from the state, the hospitality industry in Oregon–many of your favorite restaurants, hotels, bars and other places– will have to permanently close their doors, putting tens of thousands of people out of work.”
“Hospitality businesses need immediate help. We cannot wait for February and hope a relief package will materialize and be approved at the federal level,” said Brandt. “This is an emergency and we need the Joint Emergency Board to take action now to save our industry and the tens of thousands of Oregonians who rely on it to put food on the table, pay their rent or mortgage and provide for their families’ needs.”
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
Business Association Letter to the Revenue Committees
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is one of 22 business associations who signed the following letter submitted to the revenue committees on March 21, 2019.
As representatives of Oregon’s leading private-sector employers, we recognize that the Legislature intends to pass significant new taxes this year, most of which will fall on Oregon’s businesses, small and large.
As we consider tax proposals, our organizations will be guided by the following principles:
The Oregon Legislature is considering HB 3023 which will create statewide standards for rideshare companies, drivers, and vehicles in Oregon. ORLA supports this bill as it sets standards for driver background checks, vehicle safety, and insurance - important factors in providing affordable and safe transportation options.
Protecting Our Industry
During this session ORLA will be tracking several bills and engaging on those particularly to the hospitality industry. Members are encouraged to stay informed and engaged on the issues by subscribing to ORLA communications. If you have any questions, contact Greg Astley, Director of Government Affairs, at Astley@OregonRLA.org.
ORLA Engaged in Local and Statewide Measures and Races
A week after the election, there are still some races across the nation undecided or in the middle of a recount to determine winners. Here in Oregon though, the ballots are counted, and the results are definitive.
Governor Kate Brown (D) beat her opponent, State Representative and physician Knute Beuhler (R), giving her the opportunity to serve four more years in the office. With final numbers still to be reported, according to the Oregon Secretary of State’s website, the two raised and spent a record $36 million in this race.
Democrats in Oregon won big victories and now officially have a supermajority in both the House and the Senate for the first time since 2009. ORLA believes the best policy occurs when there is more parity in the two chambers which can result in more compromise between legislators. The 2019 Legislative Session could see more partisanship or less depending on how Democrats choose to leverage their position in the House, Senate, and Governor’s office.
ORLA’s upcoming legislative priorities will be discussed and approved at our combined Public Policy Committee meeting on December 11th here at the ORLA offices in Wilsonville. Members can RSVP to join us from 1:30-3:00 p.m. by emailing Glenda Hamstreet at GHamstreet@oregonrla.org.
ORLA took a position on four of the five statewide ballot measures in this election cycle. We supported Measures 102 (Affordable Housing), 103 (Keep Our Groceries Tax Free) and 104 (Requirements for Raising Taxes) with only Measure 102 passing. In addition, we were opposed to Measure 105 (Repeal State Sanctuary Law) which was defeated.
In local ballot measures, ORLA was opposed to Portland’s Measure 26-201 (Gross Receipts Tax) which passed. We were also opposed to a local sales tax on meals in Jacksonville which was soundly defeated 65%-35%.
In another local race, Bambuza owner Daniel Nguyen, won a seat on the Lake Oswego City Council and will begin serving January 1, 2019.
The team at ORLA very much appreciates all of our members who contributed to the ORLA Political Action Committee (ORLAPAC) and allowed us to participate in a meaningful way in these important races. Your support and contributions will be needed even more in the future as we look ahead already to the 2020 election cycle.
Oregon has a strong track record of enhancing tourism and creating thousands of jobs that trigger local economic growth while making Oregon a top travel destination. That is why we are supporting Measure 104 – it will ensure tax fairness for businesses and consumers.
Join the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association and protect the entrepreneurial spirit that brings award-winning plates from chefs who use Oregon’s farm fresh Marionberries and hazelnuts, salmon and crab and thousands of handcrafted beers and wines.
Unfortunately, this entrepreneurial spirit is under attack.
New taxes on beer, coffee, food, and soda have become common amongst politicians in Salem, as they search for new revenue, despite record spending levels.
How are politicians gaming the system and getting around the law?
Over 20 years ago Oregon voters passed a constitutional amendment requiring a supermajority vote on all revenue-raising legislation. But now, thanks to a creative loophole found by politicians and their lawyers, politicians have changed the rules to avoid the supermajority vote designed to protect taxpayers from increased taxes on food and beverages.
This year, politicians used this trick to steal $1 billion from small businesses on a simple-majority vote, eliminating lower tax rates for hardworking, family-owned businesses throughout Oregon. That isn’t right and it needs to be stopped.
A "Yes" vote on Measure 104:
Supporting Measure 104 will help prevent partisan gamesmanship and ensure tax fairness for Oregonians. Join us in protecting the Oregon way and the entrepreneurial spirit that makes Oregon a great place to live, visit, work and play.
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association encourages a "Yes” vote on Measure 104.
Here's how you can help:
For more information on volunteering for the campaign download the Volunteer Info flyer.
Contact the campaign: Yes@Yeson104.com | 503.974.8860 | www.yeson104.com
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) supports Measure 103 because it protects low-income Oregonians and small businesses, including restaurants, from new taxes on the sale or distribution of food and beverages, regardless of where such items are purchased.
Measure 103 specifically defines “groceries” as “any raw or processed food or beverage intended for human consumption except alcoholic beverages, marijuana products, and tobacco products.” This broad definition includes food and beverages purchased from restaurants.
Taxes on food would have a disproportionate effect on Oregonians who can least afford it, including low-income households and seniors on fixed incomes. While many states other than Oregon have sales taxes, many exempt food and beverages from those taxes for this very reason. Measure 103 protects all Oregonians from regressive and harmful taxes imposed by state and local governments on the sale of food and beverages.
Oregon currently does not have any statewide sales tax but many local governments tax certain items. Measure 103 would ensure that if new state or local sales taxes are passed in Oregon, those taxes will not apply to the sale of food and beverages. Measure 103 protects customers and businesses from the negative affects new taxes on food and beverages would have.
A meal at a restaurant or from take-out is a regular and increasing part of many Oregonians’ busy schedules. ORLA supports Measure 103 because it will ensure that such meals remain as affordable as possible without unnecessary and burdensome taxation.
Join us in voting Yes on Measure 103.
Hospitality workers make our thriving tourism industry possible. For every dollar we invest in tourism promotion, $237 comes back to Oregon in visitor spending—in addition to $11 in local/state tax revenues for important community priorities—according to third party research by Longwoods International. However, restaurant and lodging employees from Ashland to Portland, Coos Bay to Bend, are finding it more difficult to find housing close to their place of work.
Due to rising housing costs, these hard-working Oregonians are finding it more difficult to secure housing options that meet their needs. The result is long distance and congestion-filled commutes that mean less time spent with families and more money spent on transportation. Hard-working Oregonians should be able to afford to live near their job, but a lack of affordable housing options across the state is making that more difficult.
Across Oregon, there is an opportunity to lift the ban to public-private housing development partnerships that assist in solving the challenges we face. Support for Measure 102 will give local governments the opportunity to create comprehensive workforce housing proposals and present them for consideration to local voters. We believe communities deserve the right to vote on housing proposals that, if planned appropriately, can stimulate local economic growth while adding to the quality of life for hospitality workers and their families.
Measure 102 is an important, bipartisan measure that will give communities across Oregon greater flexibility to create the housing they need. By allowing local governments to partner with non-profit and private housing providers, any bond dollars they raise specifically for affordable housing will be able to go further, creating more affordable homes. This measure is a small tweak that will have a big impact in the lives of Oregonians.
Please join us in voting Yes for Measure 102.
Measure 105 would repeal the state law, Oregon Revised Statute 181A.820, which forbids state agencies, including law enforcement, from using state resources or personnel to detect or apprehend persons whose only violation of the law is that of federal immigration law.
Measure 105 would allow any law enforcement agency to use agency funds, equipment, and personnel to detect and apprehend people whose only violation of the law is a violation of federal immigration law.
ORLA's position, which has been in place for several years and which the ORLA Policy Committee reconfirmed at their meeting on September 10, 2018, is that Immigration is a national issue and ORLA supports the viewpoint that reform should be addressed at the federal level, not in a piecemeal approach by individual states.
Comprehensive immigration reform must include all aspects of immigration issues—border security, worker supply and employee verification—which means that Congress is the only political body which can actually solve the immigration problem. State and local governments only make a solution more complex by trying to pass their own laws. ORLA is opposed to random, individual pieces of immigration reform and supports Congress working together on a national level to enact comprehensive reform.
For this reason, ORLA says No to Measure 105.
The public is invited to join Andrea Valderrama, Carmen Rubio, Latino Network, Forward Together and PCUN to Support Oregonians United Against Profiling at an even in Portland next month:
Oregonians United Against Profiling Happy Hour
White Owl Social Club, 1305 SE 8th Ave Portland OR 97214
October 10th, 4:30-6:30 pm
RSVP and donate here