The word of the year is “unprecedented.” In our lifetimes, we have never seen such devastation – lives, property, and businesses lost to circumstances outside of our control.
What is incredible is how many of you have responded. You saw the need and rose to the occasion, offering lodging for people who have lost everything, free meals for the community, and hope for the future. There is a reason Oregon is known for its hospitality, and it’s on full display in the most challenging of times for our industry. Thank you! We couldn’t be more proud of our community’s spirit and resolve.
Because we know how challenging circumstances are right now, here is some information you need to know in response to Oregon’s wildfires.
Public Safety Power Shutoffs
Please be aware of current policies from your regional utilities. Both Portland General Electric and Pacific Power have indicated they will continue with policies to cut power in extreme conditions. Pacific Power has a monitor to check for potential areas affected by this policy. Portland General Electric has enacted shutoffs in response to the conditions near Mt. Hood; read more on the PGE FAQ.
Utilities are generally looking at several factors before making this decision and are committing to proactive communication. The Pacific Power criteria includes:
Be sure to have a plan in place for such emergency conditions. Contact your local health authority for more information on what they would require for maintaining operations in an emergency. Feel free to contact your Membership Representative with questions or to connect with others who have explored this subject.
How Can I Help?
Please visit Travel Oregon’s Ways To Help During Oregon Wildfires, a guide for where to donate money, supplies, and volunteer time.
To get the latest updates and links to safety registries, mental health resources, current condition reports, and more, visit Wildfire.oregon.gov. If you are looking for hotels offering discounts for fire evacuees in the valley, visit Travel Portland's resource page.
ORLA Government Affairs Coordinator
[Sept. 22, 2020] - Oregon Hospitality Industry Economic Impact to Date
Earlier today, ORLA was invited to provide testimony featuring the latest economic impact data from Oregon’s hospitality industry. The Interim Senate Committee on Labor and Business received the following written testimony with ORLA’s oral testimony focused on the importance of a second round of Paycheck Protection Program funding from the federal government while also working with state leaders to safely get to Phase Two reopening status for Oregon’s remaining 5 counties still in Phase One. Malheur, Lincoln, Washington, Clackamas, and Multnomah counties remain focal points for ORLA. Once safety benchmarks are achieved in these regions, County Commissioners must act to protect small businesses and jobs wherever possible by entering into Phase Two.
To get more engaged with County Commissioners in your area, please reach out to your ORLA Regional Representative.
[Sept. 8, 2020] - Getting the Rest of Oregon’s Counties to Phase Two
As we officially pass Labor Day weekend, ORLA realizes the vital importance of making sure our hospitality industry is able to achieve Phase Two status in all Oregon counties before the weather turns. Operators from across the state continue to keep the ORLA professional staff apprised of their status with a mixed bag in play for Oregon’s restaurant and lodging operators. While some are finding a path forward others remain deeply concerned about their ability to survive.
One thing is for sure – we must get our counties to Phase Two before mid-November. Restaurants have added flexibility to utilize safety partitions to increase dining capacity in Phase Two and those types of tools will prove critical to assisting the industry with survival as the winter months approach.
ORLA was also watching closely for the possibility of a third session of the Oregon Legislature. The latest intelligence suggests a third special session will not take place this month. A potential trigger for a third special session would be action by Congress in DC to enact a fourth Coronavirus relief package. House Democrats and Senate Republicans remain divided as of the time of this writing on the price tag for the relief package. If a compromise in DC is solidified then we may see action by our state elected leaders to manage any relief requiring State of Oregon involvement. If we do not see action in DC or the action is separate from activities requiring state elected leaders to hold a special session, then we may not see the Oregon Legislature convene until their regularly scheduled session in February of 2021.
These are the latest updates from your state association. If you are looking to get involved in government affairs activity on behalf of your industry please reach out to ORLA’s Director of Government Affairs Greg Astley.
[Sept. 4, 2020] - Understanding the New Social Security Tax Deduction
The IRS recently posted the the following new release in regard to the Employee Social Security Tax Deferral:
Can employers “opt out” of allowing employees to take advantage of the deferral or do employers need to allow individual employees to take advantage of the deferral if they so choose?
Here's what we found out:
The Society for Human Resource Managers (SHRM) and the AICPA both agree that if an employer suspends Social Security payroll tax withholding for eligible employees it must do so for all employees as there is no guidance that allows for individuals to opt out. This is a clarification that has been requested but at this time there is no option for employers to do this on a case by case basis.
We strongly recommend employers not defer. Employees would be forced to double up on their payroll taxes in 2021 putting that much more financial hardship on those hardest hit.
Here are some additional resources on this subject:
If you have additional questions, please reach out to your regional representative.
[August 21, 2020] - Let’s Keep Oregon’s Hospitality Industry Open!
Yesterday Governor Kate Brown and Chief of Staff Nik Blosser held a Zoom call with the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association and other statewide trade associations and Chambers of Commerce to emphasize the importance of bringing down Oregon’s positive case count per 100,000 residents.
You can find the latest status report here.
According to the presentation, countries who have been successful opening up schools have achieved stabilization with no more than 10 new positive cases each week per 100,000 residents. That rate would be equivalent to a daily case count in Oregon of no more than 60. Currently, Oregon has stabilized at a rate of roughly 300 cases per day or 49.79 new positive cases each week per 100,000 residents.
ORLA continues to advocate tirelessly to keep the hospitality industry open. As part of today’s call, we made sure to draw ongoing attention to the Weekly COVID-19 Report published by the Oregon Health Authority. Access the latest weekly report published August 19.
The data is clear in Table 7 starting on Page 14. Oregon’s hospitality industry is not the problem and we continue to showcase best in class safety with approximately 97% compliance after thousands of inspections conducted on an ongoing basis by OLCC and Oregon OSHA.
We need to do everything we can to encourage all employees and customers to mask up not just in our workplaces but also in their private life. As showcased on Page 7 of the Governor’s Status Report Powerpoint, the top actions we can take to mitigate transmission with little or no economic impacts are:
Let’s work with our local Chambers of Commerce and our Young Professional groups around the state to make sure all know what is at stake. If we don’t do a better job of mitigating virus spread in private settings then we run the risk of facing additional government regulation and ongoing consumer confidence challenges.
Oregon’s hospitality industry is leading by example. Your efforts to mitigate virus spread are extraordinary. Let’s do our part to make sure everyone in our circles is doing their part in public and private to keep Oregon ahead of the game in this country in mitigating the transmission rate.
[August 11, 2020] - Special Session Highlights
The second Special Session of 2020 wrapped up in one day, just past 11:00 pm last night. While the focus was on agency budget cuts as we have discussed previously, ORLA was involved in a leadership role on Senate Bill 1701 helping to get it passed with bipartisan support yesterday.
Here are the quick highlights on Senate Bill 1701:
Quick update on the federal dynamics sent to us this morning from the National Restaurant Association for our ORLA members specifically interested in this:
[To continue reading previous blog posts from ORLA's CEO, click "Read More" to the right]
Get Certified through the Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity
Some government projects have specific requirements or targets for their contracts to be awarded to minority-owned, women-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned businesses, and emerging small businesses. The primary goal of Certification Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity (COBID) is to level the playing field by providing certified firms a fair opportunity to compete for government contracts regardless of owner ethnicity, gender, disability, or firm size.
Discover which certifications you qualify for. Once certified, you are added to a database searched by many municipalities, state, and pseudo-government agencies, increasing your opportunities to compete for public contracting. Certifying your business for as many certifications as qualified for helps make it possible to grow and overcome barriers.
Learn more about getting certified by visiting the Certification Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity online.
We welcome industry members' article submissions relevant to the restaurant and lodging industry in Oregon. Association members are primarily considered and encouraged to share expertise and perspective following the guidelines below for submitting an article. Please note, we do not publish press releases.
The criteria outlined below in no way guarantees your submission will be published at all, or that a submission will appear in any particular issue. The submission should satisfy the criteria, but is entirely subject to editing for length and content.
To submit an article for consideration in any of ORLA's communication vehicles please email Editor, Lori Little, at LLittle@OregonRLA.org.