Alcohol Tax / Commission Caps on 3rd Party Deliveries / PFMLA / Tip Pooling Resources
Fighting Oregon Alcohol Tax Increases
Here's a quick update on our ongoing fight to protect the industry from increased beverage taxes in Oregon. Our next fight against increased alcohol taxes will surely come up yet again in the 2023 Legislative Session. Our friends at Quinn Thomas have been working hard to keep our organizational alliance intact as well as help identify messaging relating to some of the ongoing problems with Oregon’s broken addiction treatment and recovery system. This analysis on Alcohol Price Elasticity helps shed more light on the lack of correlation between increased alcohol taxes and decreases in alcohol use.
Upcoming Vote on Capping Third Party Delivery Fees at 15%
Portland City Council will vote on June 15 to cap delivery fees for restaurants from third party platforms at fifteen percent. If approved, the ordinance would take effect June 29, 2022 when the emergency order capping delivery fees at ten percent expires.
In addition to the fifteen percent delivery fee cap, the ordinance would allow third party delivery platforms the ability to charge:
The ordinance also prohibits:
Paid Family Leave Concerns
You may recall a tough fight in the 2019 Oregon Legislative Session on Paid Family Leave. The new labor law passed before Covid and has been in hibernation mode behind the scenes as the Oregon Employment Department worked to get their ducks in a row for a 2023 launch. Of course we had this little thing called Covid which upended our world and unfortunately those unexpected challenges have not changed the state’s plan to fully implement their “Paid Leave Oregon” program in 2023.
The Paid Leave Oregon programs latest round of rules addresses a variety of issues including appeals, wages, benefits, and equivalent plans. ORLA’s statewide business partner OBI has participated in the rulemaking advisory committee and submitted comments on behalf of the business community. We continue to worry about the confusion this will create for employers and employees that are also subject to the Oregon Family Leave Act and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. OBI hopes to introduce legislation in the 2023 session to address this issue.
Key date: The 1% payroll tax will begin on January 1, 2023. Employees pay 60% of the tax and employers pay the remaining 40%. However, employers with less than 25 employees are not required to contribute to the program, but their employees are. Alternatively, employers can opt to provide a private equivalent plan through insurance or by self-insuring, rather than participate in the state program (ORLA is actively looking into private sector solutions right now – any progress will move through our ORLAMS board process). Employees will be eligible to file claims under both the state and private plans in September 2023.
Webinar on Tip Pooling & Overtime Compliance
ORLA hosted a webinar June 2 on “How to Ensure You’re in Compliance with Overtime and Tip Pooling.” Representatives from the Department of Labor, Wage & Hour Division Portland District covered these topics and more, including fielding several situational questions from industry members. The following resources were shared:
For questions, call the WHD toll free and confidential information helpline at 1-866-4US-WAGE (1-866-487-9243), or the Portland District office directly at 503-326-3057. You can also call or visit the nearest Wage and Hour Division Office.
For a copy of the webinar presentation slides, please email Lori Little.
Have any questions? Feel free to reach out to ORLA Government Affairs via email.
Below are some highlights from the 2022 Regular Session. A more comprehensive list of bills ORLA tracked can be found in the Bill Tracking Report.
SB 1514 – Pay Equity
Originally a placeholder bill, ORLA monitored this bill as it became a vehicle to extend the ability of employers to offer hiring and retention bonuses. Because of the pandemic and government shutdowns of Oregon restaurants, many operators found themselves needing to offer hiring and retention bonuses to staff or prospective staff. The extension allows for businesses to continue to offer these bonuses without running afoul of Oregon’s Pay Equity Law until September 28, 2022, or 180 days beyond the expiration of the Governor’s Emergency Declaration which occurs April 1, 2022.
HB 4015 – Entrepreneurial Loans
ORLA supported this bill to help expand eligibility for state entrepreneurial loans and raise the per-loan limit from $500,000 to $1 million. This bill passed and was signed by the Governor on March 2, 2022, becoming effective immediately.
HB 4101 – Smoking Bill
ORLA initially opposed this bill which would have increased the distance from businesses at which someone could smoke from 10 to 25 feet. After an amendment in the House excluding OLCC-licensed businesses was passed, ORLA was neutral on the bill, but it died in the Senate.
HB 4152 – Franchise Bill
This was essentially the same bill that was introduced last session. ORLA opposed this bill which, among other provisions, would have allowed franchisees to use the brand name but nothing else related to the brand identity, quality, or reputation. Although the bill died in committee, we do expect the bill to return in the future and there is the possibility an interim legislative session committee or workgroup might review this issue.
HB 4153 – Creative Opportunity Fund
This bill established an “Opportunity Fund” equal to a dedicated two percent portion of the overall Oregon Production Investment Fund (OPIF) each year that could then be used for workforce development, employment training and mentorship, project and filmmaker grants, content and creator development, small business and regional production development, amongst other things. ORLA supported the bill for the economic and tourism opportunities available when these investments occur. The bill passed the House and Senate and as of this writing, was waiting for the Governor’s signature.
Questions? Contact ORLA Director of Government Affairs, Greg Astley.
NOTE: ORLA's blog will be going offline for upgrades the last week in October.
[October 22, 2021] - Meals Tax Fight | Free Training | Continued Push for RRF
Local Meals Tax Fights Continue - We are neck deep in local opposition campaigns in both Cannon Beach and Newport in support of our local restaurants doing business in those communities. As you’ve heard before, we’ll most likely know later in the evening on November 2 whether either of these proposed 5% meals tax proposals pass by will of the voters. Here’s the latest media coverage from earlier this week.
Free Covid Online Training Extended – We have made the decision to extend access to the free online training we created at the association to assist restaurant and lodging operators and their staff with the challenging customer service dynamics when dealing with mask mandates across the state. We will keep these Guest Service Safety trainings (restaurant and lodging versions in both English and Spanish) available online for free through at least the end of the calendar year. Make sure to take advantage for your own operation and feel free to spread the word and share the following link so others in our industry can access this free resource thanks to a sponsorship from Anheuser Busch.
ORLA Media Event – Your state association in conjunction with several other state associations around the nation will be holding media events to continue pressing the need for restaurant revitalization funding for all eligible applicants. We want to thank Gabriel Pascuzzi, Chef & Owner of Mama Bird for stepping up and representing 2,592 restaurant businesses like his who remain out in the cold with no restaurant revitalization funding after applying for federal financial relief. We’ll do our best to make an impression in the media this coming week and keep the chorus going as we press federal elected leaders to make good on their promise.
Here for Oregon Partnership – The Oregonian is our latest sponsor of the Oregon Tourism Leadership Academy program and we want to thank Oregonian Media Group President John Maher and their Vice President of Brand and Strategic Partnerships Amy Lewin for thinking big and launching their “Here for Oregon” initiative. The Oregonian is launching this new effort to help share the good across our great state. Powered by the incredible teams and tools of The Oregonian/OregonLive, they are taking the stories created every day and building a new place dedicated to lifting and celebrating Oregon. This multi-media approach offers a custom blend of community-driven content that is distinctly Oregon. It's an extraordinary aggregate for joy, awareness, and connection across the state. Whether you live in Pendleton, Pleasant Hill or Portland, there’s a place for you here and we want to help celebrate what the Oregonian is working to accomplish. As they begin to roll out their efforts, John and Amy are inviting their community partners to join them in building, from the ground up, stories of the people, the places, the experiences and the diversity of culture and skills that inspire innovation and community. Share Oregon. “Like” and “Follow” @HereisOregon on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube Get the good stuff. Subscribe to Here is Oregon weekly e-newsletter. Show you’re here and tag good news in your community with #HereisOregon.
[October 4, 2021] - Foundation Updates | Industry Recovery Trends | OTLA
Oregon Hospitality Foundation Updates - This past week, ORLA’s Executive Director of the Oregon Hospitality Foundation Wendy Popkin announced she has accepted a new role with the Washington County Visitors Association as Vice President of Destination Sales. We hope you all join us in celebrating Wendy’s contributions to the Foundation over the past nine years. In conversations with Wendy and Foundation Board members, we are moving forward with a plan to hire two new full time positions in support of the hospitality foundation. One position will be an executive coordinator for foundation governance while also serving as our ProStart Liaison for Oregon’s 40 participating high schools. The other position will be a Workforce Development Coordinator focused on creating stronger connections between industry leaders and high school and community college classrooms – think guest speaking opportunities, job shadow coordination, career/job fair involvement, and experiential field trips. Reach out to ORLA if you know someone interested in these positions.
National Restaurant Trends - The latest economic trends in the restaurant survey based on a feedback from 4,000 restaurants across the nation. The NRA's infographic and associated letter sent to DC leadership focus on the importance of preventing new taxes on small businesses as our industry continues to grapple with the impacts of the enduring pandemic. Activity in DC continues to be touch and go and our Government Affairs team will continue keeping all lines of communication open with our partners at AAHOA, AHLA, and NRA as developments unfold.
[September 24, 2021] - Fight Against Meals Taxes / Chair's Getaway / Conference Program
Fights Against Meal Taxes Continue - The ORLA professional team led by Steve Scardina and Terry Hopkins in their regions of the state and supported by Greg Astley, Tom Perrick, and Glenda Hamstreet in our Government Affairs Department are working hard to defeat meals taxes appearing on the November ballot in the cities of Cannon Beach and Newport. Our websites for the campaigns are up and running and our success in defeating both proposals is largely dependent on our ability to keep local restaurants in both communities engaged and in the forefront. It is critical that ORLA take a back seat to the local names and faces that make up a local restaurant industry while fully leveraging ORLA’s association structure to assist our local members in fighting effectively against tax proposals when they are opposed by members in cases like this. In the past 4 years, we have successfully defeated two other restaurant tax proposals – one in Jacksonville and one in Hood River County. We hope to defeat these two tax proposals and should have results to share on November 2 or 3. Vote No Sales Tax on Meals!
ORLA Hospitality Conference Success - Earlier this week ORLA held a 2-day in-person conference for industry members at the Riverhouse in Bend. Feedback so far has been very positive, citing keynote and breakout session messages on target and insightful for the hard-hit hospitality industry. ORLA members also had the opportunity to vote in several new members of the Board of Directors. Save the date for next year's event on Sunday & Monday, September 11 and 12 at the Graduate hotel in Eugene.
Chair’s Getaway - We are off and running in creating a great experience on Oregon’s north coast for our Chair’s Getaway event on Sunday, November 7 which will be co-hosted by Incoming Chair John Barofsky and Outgoing Chair Masudur Khan. We want to take a moment to thank Shannon McMenamin and her team at the Gearhart location for working with us to put together the Reception and Multi-Course Dinner on site. Also, a big thanks to Outgoing ORLA Chair Masudur Khan for making the SaltLine Hotel available for overnight stays and our sponsors at US Foods (thanks Randy) and Pacific Seafood for their food donations. We also have America’s Hub World Tours joining us as a Transportation Sponsor this year for those who prefer a shuttle bus between the hotel and the restaurant. The Chair’s Getaway event has 50-60 people in attendance and is an opportunity to raise funds for ORLAPAC under the direction of Greg Astley, ORLA’s Director of Government Affairs. I hope you consider making a donation to ORLAPAC and join us for this great reception, dinner, and overnight stay following on November 7. Register here to reserve your seats – we expect this will sell out so act soon.
[September 17, 2021] - Win for Lottery Retailers / Vaccine Mandates / EIDL Updates
Win for Lottery Retailers – ORLA’s membership includes a segment that cares deeply about the association’s advocacy for lottery retailer issues. ORLA in partnership with many other stakeholders was able to secure a win with the Governor committing in writing to prohibit any expansion of state sponsored gambling on mobile devices with an exception for the options already available on cell phones. The following two letters spell out the request made by us and our partners to legislative leadership and the Governor’s response essentially putting a moratorium on any gambling expansions on cell phones for the duration of her term in office.
Vaccine Mandates – We expect to have our hands full in the coming months as the potential for emerging vaccine mandates continues to be debated primarily at the local levels of government outside of President Biden’s announcement this past week. We have been made aware that King County in Washington State will move forward with a vaccine mandate but has decided to again target specific businesses with the mandate as opposed to all businesses. It remains unclear how the new vaccine mandate will be enforced and how the role of restaurant and other industry operators will be defined for those industries impacted. The King County mandate will go into effect in late October. Our reports show the NYC mandate has a vaccine verification compliance rate of less than 30% meaning as many as 70% of operations were not verifying vaccine status at the door. In one of ORLA’s recent surveys we asked operators what types of mandates they would proactively comply with. Under 40% said they would comply with vaccine verification and we suspect the reason is driven by the challenges posed by putting our frontline staff in the position of asking for those verifications universally to dine indoors and the uncertainty of what happens when customers are denied indoor dining service due to a mandate.
As a reminder, we openly shared our survey results and our deep concerns about compliance rates with Multnomah County Chair Kafoury and the Governor’s Office. We’re hoping that step keeps the industry from being targeted while we continue our advocacy and support for vaccines and their importance.
EIDL Program Updates – The Small Business Administration’s Deputy District Director for Portland Sam Goldstein provided us at ORLA with the latest updates on EIDL. The SBA's COVID EIDL Program Summary serves as a review of where we are to date on EIDL expansion. Another webinar presentation is coming up on September 23; register here.
The SBA is continuing to accept loans and modification to existing loans. New applications and increases in existing loans resulting in total amounts to be approved >$500K can be submitted immediately. Decisions on requests >$500K will begin October 8, 2021.
Main Update: Increase in maximum loan amount from $500,000 to $2,000,000 (policy)
Key Changes in Effect as of September 8, 2021:
[Click the "Read More" link for archived blog updates]
[update 7.1.21] 2021 Legislative Win for ORLA
SB 317A – Allows holder of full on-premises sales license to make retail sales of mixed drinks in sealed containers for off-premises consumption.
Restaurants and Bars Among Hardest Hit by COVID-19 Pandemic
[July 20, 2020 - 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.
House Vote on Unemployment Insurance Tax Relief Triggers Movement to State Senate
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 16, 2021
Greg Astley, Director of Government Affairs, ORLA
503.851.1330 | astley@OregonRLA.org
Jason Brandt, President & CEO, ORLA
503.302.5060 | email@example.com
Wilsonville, OR– The Oregon House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to move forward with bipartisan legislation which would provide millions in unemployment insurance tax relief for some of Oregon’s hardest hit industries.
House Bill 3389 passed the Oregon House and will now move to the Senate for ongoing deliberation. The bill accomplishes a number of priorities for Oregon’s hospitality industry with the most important component being the removal of 2020 and 2021 employment data from the formula used to determine an employer’s applicable tax rate, starting in 2022.
“We would like thank the leaders who have signed on to support this bill as sponsors and their ongoing work to shepherd it through the legislative process,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “The deferral and forgiveness components could be stronger for this year given the impact of government restrictions on industry employment options. Having said that, the big win will prove to be solving the tax hike problem for years 2022 through 2024.”
Unemployment insurance taxes are paid entirely by Oregon employers to fund Oregon’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund which remains the healthiest in the nation. One third of unemployment insurance taxes for 2021 can be deferred for employers with an increased tax rate of half a percent or more. If the employer’s tax rate increased more than 1 percent to 1.5 percent, 50 percent of the deferred tax would be forgiven. For tax rates which increased more than 1.5 percent to 2 percent, 75 percent of the deferred tax would be forgiven. And for employers who had a tax rate increase of more than 2 percent, the full deferred amount would be forgiven.
“We know this legislation if passed has the potential to save hospitality employers tens of millions of dollars this year alone,” said Greg Astley, Director of Government Affairs for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “That amount pales in comparison to the real impact of the relief in future years. If we can erase 2020 and 2021 from upcoming calculations as proposed in the legislation, it will have a direct impact on our industry recovery efforts.”
The bipartisan Chief Sponsors of the bill in the house include Representatives Paul Holvey, Daniel Bonham, and John Lively. The bipartisan Chief Sponsors in the State Senate include Senators Bill Hansell and Chuck Riley.
For more information on the efforts of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association please visit OregonRLA.org.
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is the leading business association for the foodservice and lodging industry in Oregon, which before COVID-19 provided over 180,000 paychecks to working Oregonians.
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!
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.
The Law Regarding Service Animals and Public
There was a story in the news recently about a dog chasing a cat. Why was that newsworthy? Because it was a service dog attending a showing of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical “Cats” with its owner, and the cat in question was one of the shows characters (which, if you’re not familiar with the show, was a person dressed as a cat, not an actual cat). Hilarity probably ensued, to the embarrassment of the dog’s owner.
That story reminded me of an issue that sometimes vexes restaurateurs and other business owners – how to deal with customers who make questionable claims that an animal is a service animal, and insist on bringing it onto the premises. This article summarizes the legal rights and responsibilities of customers and business owners in those situations. Businesses are, of course, free to be more accommodating than the law requires.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Oregon’s equivalent law requires “places of public accommodation” (including hotels, inns, restaurants, bars, and other establishments serving food or drink) to allow persons with disabilities to bring “service animals” onto the premises. Contrary to popular belief, though, every animal does not qualify as a service animal just because the customer says so.
First, the ADA currently limits the types of animals that can qualify as service animals to dogs and miniature horses. Oregon’s law is also limited to those two types of animals unless and until administrative rules are enacted that expand the definition to include other animals. Other states’ laws may vary, but, in Oregon, those are the only two animals that qualify as service animals.
Second, the animal needs to be individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the individual with a disability. This includes physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disabilities. The work or tasks performed by the service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability.
Examples of specific tasks the animal can be trained to perform include, among other things:
Providing general emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship does not qualify. This means that emotional support animals, comfort animals, and therapy dogs are not considered “service animals” under the ADA unless the animal is also trained to perform some other specific task related to the individual’s disability.
The law does not require a license, jacket, tag, or other means to identify an animal as a service animal. Nor does it require medical verification or a prescription.
When confronted with a situation where an individual wants to bring a claimed service animal onto the premises, the business can only ask the following two questions of the individual:
The business needs to take the individual at their word, and allow the service animal on the premises, if the individual answers “yes” to the first question and states a specific task or type of work the animal has been trained to perform.
The individual cannot be charged a fee to bring a service animal onto the premises; even a pet fee charged to other customers, because service animals are not “pets.”
If the service or assistance animal causes damage, then the owner can be charged for the damage so long as the business normally charges other customers for the damage they (or their pets) cause.
Unruly and disruptive animals need not be accommodated. The owner is responsible for supervising and controlling the service animal. The animal must also be housebroken.
If the animal behaves in an unacceptable or threatening way and the handler does not control the animal, then the business can ask that the animal be removed from the premises. For example, a service dog that repeatedly barks or growls at other customers, destroys property, climbs on the furniture unnecessarily, makes a mess on the carpet, or chases an employee (even one dressed like a cat), could be excluded from the premises if the individual cannot or will not control the dog.
The business can also require that the service animal be kept on a leash, harness, or other tether unless the individual is unable to hold a tether because of a disability or its use would interfere with the animal’s safe and effective performance of work or tasks. Even then, the service animal must still be kept under control by some other means, such as voice commands.
The owner is responsible for the care and feeding of the service animal. The business does not need to provide food or water for the animal, or clean up after it. That is the responsibility of the owner.
If a service animal is excluded, the business must still give the individual the opportunity to obtain goods, services, and accommodations without having the service animal on the premises. | Shane P. Swilley, Partner, Cosgrave Vergeer Kester LLP (originally posted 1/2/2018; updated 1/2/2020)
Access additional compliance information and resources for the hospitality industry, including ADA regulations and downloadable posters at OregonRLA.org/Compliance.
• Fact Sheet #9: Pet Dogs in Outdoor Seating Areas in Oregon
• Oregon/ADA “Sorry, pets are not allowed” Poster
• U.S. Department of Justice, ADA Requirements for Service Animals
• Disability Rights Oregon, Service Laws in Oregon
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.