[January 8, 2021] - Continued Work with the Governor's Office; New PPP Rules
Local Updates: ORLA is communicating daily with the Governor’s Office as the suffering and economic toll continues to push hospitality businesses to the brink. Our latest conversations are revolving around:
Federal Updates: On Wednesday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) released several interim final rules related to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the second draw of PPP loans as outlined in the recently passed Economic Aid Act. The SBA announced that PPP will re-open the week of January 11 for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers.
The National Restaurant Association has distilled this new PPP information into a seven-page "user manual" that can be accessed online here: PPP 2nd Draw: Helping Restaurants and Small Businesses.
The American Hotel & Lodging Association shared a few details on the eligibility and documentation requirements for new and second draw PPP loans in their latest communication to the industry. Hoteliers considering a second draw of PPP are urged to contact their lenders and begin gathering the data and information necessary to complete the application process as soon as possible.
For more information and updates, visit SBA.gov/PPP and Treasury.gov/CARES.
[January 6, 2021] – Formal Request Submitted by ORLA for a Dedicated State Relief Fund for Hospitality
In Monday's blog post we referenced the importance of additional relief funds to further support Oregon’s struggling hospitality industry. Yesterday we formally submitted our request for a dedicated relief fund on top of funds received by hospitality operators to date managed by counties, Travel Oregon, and Business Oregon. The Oregon Legislative Emergency Board is scheduled to meet January 8 and you can read our formal request through the following link:
[January 4, 2021] – 13 Counties Now Open for Indoor Dining / 23 Counties Still Labeled as ‘Extreme Risk’
This past week, Governor Brown announced the movement of 6 counties in Oregon from ‘Extreme Risk’ to ‘High Risk.’ The move results in the availability of indoor dining in these counties as well as 7 others who had already qualified as ‘Low’ to ‘High Risk’ counties. Indoor dining went back online as of January 1 for Clatsop, Lincoln, Douglas, Coos, Morrow, and Baker counties.
For a review of activity restrictions in each of the 4 risk categories, click the following link:
Regardless of risk category, restaurant and lodging operations across the state remain challenged with ongoing hardship due to health emergency restrictions, consumer demand, or a combination of both. The development this past week confirming the passage of an additional federal aid package in Washington DC was welcome news. Restaurant and hotel operations will be able to secure 3.5 times their monthly payroll costs (Total loan cap of $2 million) in the form of a forgivable loan which will certainly help many operators during the challenging winter months ahead. Additional communication and details will continue to be released by lending institutions who will participate in the next round of Payroll Protection Program loans for small businesses. Make sure to stay in close contact with your CPA, tax advisor, and/or lending institution to take full advantage of the next round of PPP funding.
The Oregon State Legislature has passed legislation creating a new revenue opportunity through the passage of Senate Bill 1801. Restaurant cocktails can now head out the door as a part of food deliveries. In addition, the costs incurred by restaurants who choose to partner with third party delivery companies has been capped at 15 percent statewide.
To review all the details and text of the bill signed into law by Governor Brown on December 23, click the following link:
ORLA continues the important work of preparing for ongoing communication with the Emergency Board of the Oregon Legislature which will meet again in the coming weeks. The joint committee of both state representatives and senators makes important investment decisions with dollars made available through federal aid packages. We will continue to advocate for additional relief funds from the emergency board to further assist hospitality businesses as vaccine supply and access becomes more readily available to Oregonians in the months ahead.
Also, the 2021 session of the Oregon Legislature starts later this month and we must address the inequity in charging Oregon’s restaurant and lodging establishments higher unemployment insurance taxes for Covid related furloughs and layoffs. ORLA will work closely with elected officials in the Oregon House and Senate to address these inequities as employers prepare to pay first quarter taxes for 2021 in the month of April.
And in case you missed it, DOL released a final rule on tip pooling December 22, 2020 which will go into effect across the country on February 20, 2021. The final rule further establishes the legality of overseeing and managing a tip pool that includes staff who do not customarily and regularly receive tips by directly interfacing with a customer. Announcement of this final rule codifies our collective win advocating for the importance of tip pools. Read more here.
[December 21, 2020] - Update from the CEO on federal and state developments
Congress unveiled a $900 billion relief bill to provide short-term economic relief to the country in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The plan includes several items that will benefit restaurants and lodging establishments, most importantly a second round of access to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), with unique provisions aimed to assist the restaurant and lodging industries, which continue to endure unparalleled job and revenue losses.
The federal plan announced today targets restaurant and lodging relief with provisions including:
Other provisions in the bill that will benefit hospitality operations include the deductibility of business expenses paid with PPP loans, enhancement of the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC), extension of the augmented Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), and increased tax deduction for business meals.
In other news, the Oregon State Legislature is holding a third Special Session of 2020 and is poised to pass To-Go Cocktails legislation as well as statewide caps on third party technology and delivery expenses charged to restaurants. Today’s developments in the Oregon Legislature are expected to assist operators in realizing additional revenue for cocktail programs accompanying food purchases for takeout and delivery while also assisting operators with cost control on expenses.
Our ongoing communication with the media and with our stakeholders throughout the state will continue to acknowledge these tools will help some restaurant and lodging establishments stay in business while not doing much to help others. The depth and severity of the crisis continues to create winners and losers inside of specific industries as well as more broadly. Oregon’s second largest private sector industry needs more help and we will fight for ongoing assistance in our advocacy efforts with both the Oregon Legislative Emergency Board which will meet again in January as well as the longer term 2021 Oregon Legislative Session which starts in January and will most likely end around the beginning of Summer.
Much more needs to be accomplished and we will remain vigilant in pursuing all avenues of relief in our mission to help save as many Oregon restaurant and lodging establishments as possible in our state.
[December 18, 2020] - Here’s the latest from your state association.
Watch for another update next week before Christmas with more developments following Monday's Special Session.
Special Session This Monday - The third special session of 2020 takes place for one day on Monday, Dec. 21. Thank you to ORLA's Director of Government Affairs Greg Astley for providing testimony last night as part of two public hearings scheduled for this Monday special session. The public hearing last night will be followed by a second hearing this Saturday (more info). ORLA is well positioned to provide leadership in getting LC 10 passed and we believe we have favorable chances in getting there.
Federal Elected Leaders Close in on Covid Stimulus Deal - Progress continues on a COVID relief package and a deal could be announced soon. The proposal would include roughly $325 billion in small business relief, including $257 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program that helps employers keep workers who otherwise might go on unemployment. Both the National Restaurant Association and American Hotel & Lodging Association continue pressing to lower the revenue loss for eligibility from 30% to 25%, increase overall size of the loans, and allow deductibility for business expenses paid with PPP loans. ORLA will keep members apprised of the rollout if a PPP deal is reached. It's not too late to share your voice, visit ORLA's website to learn how you can take action.
Status of HB 4204 - We're hearing from lodging operators asking if there's a possibility at getting an extension to HB 4204 which provided flexibility to operators for mortgage obligations with financial institutions with an expiration on that flexibility coming up on December 31. We know the extension will not be a part of the special session on Monday but ORLA is still moving forward in advocating for an extension in the upcoming 2021 session. The initial passage of HB 4204 has proved to be a unique tool available to our industry here in Oregon that many other states do not have. We feel fortunate to have it in the first place and will work hard to get it extended if at all possible.
Give the Gift of Oregon and Get a Lodging Certificate - If you’re looking for last minute gifts for the holidays there are still several lodging gift certificates available which directly support ORLA’s nonprofit, the Oregon Hospitality Foundation. Most of the gift certificates are worth 40-90% more than the minimum donation value and make great gifts. Choose your destination here: oregonrla.org/winter.html.
[December 10, 2020] - ORLA Engages in 3 Frontline Battles to Save Hospitality Businesses
ORLA is anticipating the announcement of a third special session of the Oregon Legislature very soon and the session will most likely take place this coming week before the holidays are upon us. Your state association is keenly aware your ability to stay in business while adhering to business restrictions laid out in the ‘Extreme Risk’ category for applicable counties is near impossible. The ongoing taking of your dining rooms while paying all the bills associated with those dining rooms is anything but sustainable.
ORLA is engaging on 3 frontlines for the foreseeable future with our #1 goal being saving as many restaurant and lodging locations in Oregon as possible. Those 3 frontlines are:
We realize everyone is exhausted from an unbelievable year. But we need you to find that extra gear. Stand up, share your story, and make a difference for yourself, your business, and the Oregonians depending on us who no longer have a job.
[December 7, 2020] - Congress Must Support Restaurants This Year!
Congress needs to hear from restaurants today as they are in session for only a few days more. If they do not get their job done, restaurants will be in the cold until this February at the earliest. Read the National Restaurant Association's letter to Congress sent today along with the results of their latest survey on the economic health of the industry:
Oregon Findings (full survey results):
National Findings (full survey results):
Congress needs to hear from you in these final days of 2020! We're helping the National Restaurant Association put the pressure on Congress to take action for the future of the restaurant industry.
For months, Congress has been trapped in a political tug-of-war while restaurants continue to go dark. A group of moderate Democrats and Republicans last week unveiled a compromise plan that has brought both parties back to the negotiating table. They are calling for a $909 billion relief bill, including a second round of Paycheck Protection Program grants, which with improvements could provide immediate assistance to restaurants.
We need Congress to pass the Blueprint for Restaurant Revival, but we also need to ensure they at least make a “down payment” on a relief plan before leaving town for the year. Our industry simply cannot wait for relief any longer. Efforts in Washington to find the “perfect” solution are laudable, but the lack of progress in the meantime has led too many operators to give up on the government and close down for good.
Thank you for your continued support!
[December 4, 2020] - Updates from Your Association
ORLA is in active discussions with the Oregon Fire Marshall’s Office (OFMO) to ensure our industry has the guidance necessary to provide safe outdoor dining space. As soon as next week the OFMO will have a new “outdoor checklist” that aligns with Oregon Health Authority guidelines, providing operators with a 'one stop shop' resource to know what they can do with dining outdoors and how to get there. We'll keep in contact with Assistant Chief Deputy Chad Hawkins and the Fire Marshall's Office as they finalize this resource so we can get it posted and out to all operators across the state.
[To continue reading previous blog posts from ORLA's CEO, click "Read More" to the right]
Federal Relief Efforts
Federal grassroots mobilization will be in full force this coming Monday. Momentum is building in DC around the moderates package of $908 billion. Expect a lot of activity next week to step up the pressure campaign on national elected leaders to do something in the few weeks remaining before recess. Our colleague Sean Kennedy provides the latest report through video here: 90 Second Advocacy Update
There's a bit of optimism that Congress will conclude the year with some form of COVID relief. The plan from the moderates continues to be the basis of discussion, likely riding on the end-of-year government spending bill. The National Restaurant Association today circulated this document outlining priorities to the Hill, representing what our industry needs to see in a second round of PPP. As for timing of a deal, in theory current government funding expires next Friday the 11th. An informal deadline of Monday the 14th is emerging and would allow Congress to pass a bill and get home early enough to self-quarantine before Christmas.
[December 1, 2020] - County Statuses Updated for Business Operations Starting Dec. 3
On December 1, the Oregon Health Authority updated their map of Oregon counties with associated risk categories.
View County Risk Map
View the Business Operations Document
Outdoor Dining Guidance
Starting Thursday, December 3rd, Oregon counties will be categorized into four different and distinct areas regarding closing times, indoor and outdoor dining allowance and seating capacity.
For counties in the “Extreme” category who can only offer Outdoor Dining, there may be some confusion as to what defines an “outdoor space”.
Based on the latest definition from the Oregon Health Authority, “outdoor space” means an open-air space which may have a temporary or fixed cover, such as an awning or roof, so long as the space has at least 75% of the square footage of its sides open for airflow.
Restaurants will still need to adhere to the other restrictions on outdoor dining which include:
*Closing time excludes take-out and delivery service
[November 25, 2020] - New Developments for Oregon's Hospitality Industry
Earlier today on November 25, Governor Kate Brown announced new standards impacting Oregon’s hospitality industry starting Thursday, December 3. Once the 2-Week Freeze is over on Wednesday, December 2, operators across this state will have different operational guidelines associated with their business location(s).
This new health and safety framework uses four different risk levels for counties based on their level of COVID-19 spread—Extreme Risk, High Risk, Moderate Risk, and Lower Risk—effective December 3.
On Monday, November 30, the Oregon Health Authority will reexamine county data to determine which counties qualify for each risk level on December 3, following the end of the 2-Week Freeze. In each subsequent two-week period, the Oregon Health Authority will examine and publish county data weekly, but county risk levels will not change until the end of the second week. In the first week, counties will be given Warning Week data to prepare for potential risk level changes. In the second week, county risk levels will be updated based on that week’s data. More detailed information will be posted before December 3.
VIEW COUNTY RISK LEVELS IN A TABLE OR IN A MAP
(scroll to "Effective 12/3: Oregon Risk and Protection Framework" section)
VIEW GUIDANCE BY ACTIVITY IN A TABLE
There are significant developments included in today’s announcement for all risk assessment columns ranging from Low Risk to Extreme Risk. Each of the 4 columns provide details for restaurants on how they can operate and ORLA is grateful for the inclusion of outdoor dining in all risk categories as well as an extension of Oregon’s curfew of 10pm to 11pm or Midnight depending on the risk category a county is in. Please review the linked documents and reach out to your Regional Representatives with any questions.
*Note: ORLA remains in contact with the Governor’s Office about the importance of turning on Video Lottery Terminals or VLTs. Once we have clarity about the plan for VLTs we will communicate the news to our Video Lottery Retailers around the state. Lottery revenues provide important revenue for critical state services while also providing much needed revenue for Oregon’s restaurant and bar operators. We remain committed to advocating for the importance of VLTs for both purposes with the ability to wear face coverings at all times while machines are being used by players.
[November 24, 2020] - ORLA Remains Committed to Working Through Covid-19 Realities
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is disappointed we were not able to secure a temporary restraining order against the latest indoor and outdoor dining room freeze on our industry, which continues to impact thousands of operators and tens of thousands of industry employees.
We remain committed to working with Governor Kate Brown, her professional staff, and the Oregon Health Authority to find paths forward for Oregonian livelihoods which remain devastated by the realities of COVID-19.
We must now turn all of our attention to the importance of convening a special session of the Oregon Legislature in December, as well as the necessity of federal action. We must bridge the gap for Oregon’s small businesses and tens of thousands of workers who need relief until a widely available vaccine is available for our friends, our families, and our colleagues.
[November 20, 2020] - ORLA and the Restaurant Law Center Sue to Prevent Ongoing Industry Devastation
Hello ORLA Members, Friends, and Colleagues:
In an emergency meeting of the ORLA Board of Directors this week, your state association for the hospitality industry has made the decision to move forward as a co-plaintiff in a lawsuit with the Restaurant Law Center against Kate Brown in her official capacity as Governor of the State of Oregon.
We do not take this stand lightly and we realize the seriousness of fighting for our rights as an industry during an ongoing public health emergency. I want you all to know directly from my office that partnerships and collaboration matter to us – especially with the Governor’s Office and their professional staff. We are taking this action due to ongoing concerns about the way in which decisions are being made as a state in the fight to save lives and mitigate virus spread.
Executive Order 20-65, published online this past Tuesday afternoon, November 17 with an effective date of Wednesday, November 18 implementing a statewide two-week shutdown of indoor and outdoor restaurant dining rooms is rife with inequity.
Every one of us has a leadership role to play. Your friends, family, and professional circles deserve to know more from you as a leader as to how the ongoing health emergency is creating growing inequity in our ability to operate small businesses and keep Oregonians employed.
Of considerable concern is the latest news first reported by KGW earlier this week that the numbers we are using to form the basis for our economic decision making as a state are not accurate. According to KGW, individuals who need multiple Covid tests are only counted once regardless of how many tests they have taken as the crisis continues. The result of that flaw means the positivity rate in Oregon is inaccurate as thousands of Covid tests are allegedly not included in the calculation to determine our positivity rate. Without an accurate positivity rate, it seems clear we will have an incredibly difficult time implementing equitable restrictions in both private and public settings based on data.
You can access the KGW story here to better understand the gravity of this situation:
As we move through the process of fighting for your rights in federal district court, I want to thank you all for doing everything you can to stay strong for yourself, your friends, and your employees. The way you approach your leadership journey today will shape your approach for years to come. Our fight is for equitable rights where operators can continue employing people in Oregon’s dining rooms in a way that aligns with the rules established for other industries and for our private residences. As we all know, if Oregonians can gather in groups of up to 6 people across two households in private indoor and outdoor settings, then Oregon’s restaurant operators should be able to serve patrons in groups based on that same standard with physical distance between dining parties. That is our goal – to establish equity in our approach as a state while our industry continues to make significant sacrifices as part of the ongoing emergency health crisis.
You can find ORLA’s suit asking a judge for a temporary restraining order against the latest round of restrictions through the following link options:
The Complaint with Exhibit
The Complaint without Exhibit
Our press release to the media regarding the filing of the suit can be found here:
In the spirit of collaboration, there is one thing we all collectively can continue advocating for – action by our federal leaders to pass another relief package. Governor Brown’s office, ORLA, and other business groups are pleading with our federal elected leaders to provide this much needed relief as we wait for several vaccines to move through their approval and distribution process. Another round of Paycheck Protection Program dollars and passage of the Restaurants Act is absolutely crucial in our fight for operators across this state. As part of your leadership journey, we ask you to reach out to Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley as well as your Oregon Congressional leader to request this action. Contact information for your Oregon federal elected leaders can be found through the following links:
Contact US Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon):
Contact US Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon):
Contact District 1 Congressional Leader Suzanne Bonamici (D-Oregon):
Contact District 2 Congressional Leader Greg Walden (R-Oregon):
Contact District 3 Congressional Leader Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon):
Contact District 4 Congressional Leader Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon):
Contact District 5 Congressional Leader Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon):
ORLA is here for restaurant and lodging operators of all shapes and sizes. Our industry will continue to represent the fabric of an incredible American story while leading the way for other industries in embracing the many ways in which our culture is changing. With more female owned and minority owned businesses than any other industry in our country, I know together we will continue to lead by example.
One more important note. ORLA has recently established a new formal partnership with Oregon’s Small Business Development Centers. Expert restaurant advisors are standing by to assist you in wrestling with the difficult challenges facing you right now. Coronavirus Relief Funds have made this new partnership possible. You can visit the following webpage to sign up for no cost, confidential one on one consulting in less than 5 minutes and the professional staff working with Oregon’s Small Business Development Centers will follow up. Regardless of your level of success in the industry, I encourage you to take a hard look at this resource. An outside perspective may help in uncovering a new idea that allows you to hold on a little longer until a vaccine arrives. You can sign up through the following webpage:
My best to you and your families this holiday season. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in your time of need.
Jason Brandt, President & CEO
[November 18, 2020] - ORLA's Statement on $55 million relief fund announced by the Governor
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, sent a letter to the Legislative Joint Emergency Board earlier this week asking for the immediate creation of a $75 million Hospitality Relief Fund to help operators and their employees survive another shutdown.
Hospitality businesses need immediate help. We cannot wait for February and hope a relief package will materialize and be approved at the federal level. 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.
[November 13, 2020] - CEO Message Regarding Dining Shutdown
To Oregon Hospitality Operators:
Today’s news announcing a statewide shutdown of indoor and outdoor restaurant dining for 2 weeks starting Wednesday, November 18 is incredibly tough news to take for our employees, their families, and the viability of our business operations. We stand with you as staff at the state association in finding our way through what has proven to be the most difficult crisis our industry has faced.
Many of you have opportunities to take advantage of revamped systems that allow you to ramp up curbside, takeout, drive thru, and delivery services as we move through this shutdown period and the upcoming winter months. Make sure to use every tool in your tool kit to ask your customers to join you in keeping the bones of your business intact.
We continue to be asked to make significant sacrifices as an industry due to the nature of our business models. The prolonged duration of the pandemic and the state’s response is rife with inequities and we continue to be asked to carry significant business burdens for the betterment of society. This morning the Governor’s office told us we are reaching the utilization of approximately 80% of our hospital capacity in the Portland Metro area. We have said all along our decision making as a state should focus on hospitalization utilization and not on variations in new and presumptive daily case counts.
Oregon’s business community is sending the following letter to Governor Brown’s office in response to the latest round of restrictions. As part of our outreach we identify action steps the Governor can take now to help lead our state through the ongoing challenges we face.
In addition, it is our duty to pursue reasonable modifications to fees and other expenses restaurants incur in normal years and ask those be adjusted given emergency declarations enacted to date. In addition, we hope to prop up a hospitality relief fund through the Emergency Board of the Oregon Legislature to assist our operators as we await more action by the federal government on a second round of Paycheck Protection Program dollars.
Please reach out to your Regional Representatives from ORLA who are there to assist you in finding a path forward. We stand with you in navigating the tough decisions resulting in further restrictions directly impacting our ability to survive and contribute to our local economies across the State of Oregon.
Jason Brandt, President & CEO
Your ORLA Regional Representatives:
[November 6, 2020] - Response to the New Restaurant Reductions to Indoor Capacities
To Industry Operators in Oregon:
Today’s press conference by Governor Brown has us deeply concerned as your industry association. It was announced there will be a new 2 week restriction on restaurants effective Wednesday, November 11 in the following counties: Jackson, Umatilla, Malheur, Marion, and Multnomah Counties. [Update: on Nov. 9, four more counties were added including, Baker, Clackamas, Union and Washington.] (See Reopening Guidance — Specific Counties on Pause)
The restaurant restrictions announced today are as follows for these counties:
We understand how hard you are working to create a safe and welcoming environment for your employees and customers. I would argue there has never been a more important time for the role restaurants play as part of the mental health equation as our state suffers through a prolonged statewide health emergency.
The new restrictions enacted by the Governor’s office today require an immediate response by your state association. As a result, we have finalized the following press release and plan to engage in every media opportunity made available to us and make sure your viewpoints are appropriately represented. You can view our press release here:
Today’s announcement includes status quo operations for our industry in some counties while others will have to endure further restrictions. For restaurant operators located in counties where we have new 50-person indoor restrictions we ask that you join us in taking an action step. As we continue to engage the media, it will be important to showcase the paychecks that will be lost in our industry due to the new restrictions. The data provided each week by the Oregon Health Authority shows us where virus spread is taking place outside the private, unregulated settings that remain culprit #1.
We need to make sure and provide broader perspective on what happens in Oregon when we institute new regulations not based on available data. We encourage you to join us in our weekly review process of the Oregon Health Authority data provided through the following link. The latest published report is from this past Wednesday, November 4, is available here: COVID-19 Weekly Report.
Page 22 out of 44 showcases active outbreaks associated with workplaces in Oregon. Out of approximately 75 outbreaks notated in Table 7 of the report, only 2 are from our industry. We need to assist the Governor’s Office in understanding the deep economic impacts arbitrary rules have on our operations.
Please take one minute and share how the new restrictions will impact your operation (if you are located in an affected county). We hope to keep track of business and county locations alongside paychecks lost at those locations as a result of the new restrictions.
[November 4, 2020] - ORLA 2020 Election Update
In a momentous election year, Oregon’s vote-by-mail system, in place for over twenty years, appears to have once again performed as intended. Oregon’s Secretary of State is reporting over 80% of Oregonians voted in this election with some counties reporting almost 90% participation.
Like all of you, we are carefully monitoring the latest updates on election results at every level: Federal, State and Local. Below is an update from the Government Affairs team on the latest results and which races we are still watching. We will provide updates as events unfold and as new information becomes available.
Regardless of who occupies the White House or who takes leadership of the House and Senate, the hospitality industry has an array of immediate needs as well as long-term opportunities and challenges that must be addressed in Washington. Similarly, we need to work with our newly elected leaders here in Oregon alongside those re-elected to office to help ensure outcomes for the hospitality industry if we are to survive.
These are the key takeaways as of mid-day Wednesday, Nov. 3rd. Bottom line, whatever the outcome of the presidential election, it appears likely the House will remain under Democratic control (with potentially Republican gains) and the Senate will remain under Republican control (with potentially Democratic gains).
The White House
The race for the White House continues to narrow. If President Trump retains his slight leads in the red to purple states of North Carolina (15 electoral votes) and Georgia (16 electoral votes), all eyes will shift to the small handful of battlegrounds:
Vice President Biden’s safest route to 270 is to secure Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nevada, in which case he doesn’t need North Carolina or Pennsylvania. Michigan and Wisconsin may be announced later today and Nevada possibly tomorrow.
In Oregon, Vice-President Joe Biden beat President Trump 57%-40% to earn Oregon’s seven Electoral votes.
Republicans started the cycle at a distinct disadvantage, defending 23 Senate seats, compared to 12 for Democrats. Moreover, only two Democratic seats were ever in play, whereas Republicans had to aggressively defend 12 seats, including several in blue and purple states.
So where does that leave us in terms of the Senate’s balance of power? If Joe Biden wins, Senate Republicans must hold their remaining net losses to one seat in order to retain control.
Contrary to conventional and media wisdom, it was a positive night for the House GOP. Not enough progress to win back majority control of the House, but many seats were won where victory was far from certain. With several decisions outstanding, as of this writing, the Republican candidates have officially defeated seven Democratic incumbents and only lost two seats, which were the result of redistricting in North Carolina.
Oregon Secretary of State
In an open seat, State Senator Shemia Fagan (D) defeated State Senator Kim Thatcher to win this seat currently held by a Republican, Bev Clarno, appointed to serve out the remainder of Dennis Richardson’s term as he passed away partway through his service. Fagan won the seat 51%-43%.
Incumbent Tobias Read (D) defeated second-time challenger Jeff Gudman 52%-41% to retain his position as Oregon State Treasurer.
Oregon Attorney General
Incumbent Ellen Rosenblum (D) defeated her challenger, Michael Cross 57% to 41% to retain her position as Oregon Attorney General.
State Senate Key Races
Oregon Democrats currently hold 18 of the 30 State Senate seats, allowing them a supermajority. This means they do not need any Republicans to pass tax bills or other legislation. If the Democrats were to win two more seats, they would have a quorum-proof majority, meaning they could pass legislation without needing any Republicans to show up and vote.
In 2020, there were three key races for both Democrats and Republicans. Republicans had to defend two seats, one in the Salem area and one in Central Oregon and Democrats had to try and hold an open seat on the coast just to maintain the current makeup.
Here are those races and where they currently sit:
State Representative Key Races
Oregon Democrats currently hold 38 of the 60 State House seats, allowing them a supermajority. This means they do not need any Republicans to pass tax bills or other legislation. If the Democrats were to win two more seats, they would have a quorum-proof majority, meaning they could pass legislation without needing any Republicans to show up and vote.
In 2020, there were four key races for both Democrats and Republicans. Two open seats, one on the southern coast and one on the northern coast and two seats Republicans were defending, one in the Salem area and one in Bend.
Here are those races and where they currently sit:
In Oregon, at the Federal level, incumbents won and Republicans retained Congressman Greg Walden’s seat meaning there is effectively no change.
At the State level, Democrats retained Attorney General, State Treasurer and took back the Secretary of State position they lost in 2016.
In the State Legislature, Republicans are leading in two of the three key Senate races, but all are too close to call as of this writing. If the numbers hold, there will be no change in the makeup of the State Senate.
In the Oregon House, Republicans lost one race, won two races, and are leading in the fourth. If the numbers hold, Republicans will net one seat changing the makeup of that chamber to 37 Democrats and 23 Republicans which is still a supermajority.
[Oct. 30, 2020] - Updates from Your Association This Week
Safe Adjustments Needed to Regulations for Restaurant and Lodging Establishments
Oregon OSHA Updates
ORLA Live! Virtual Event
As a reminder, your state association is producing a 2-day virtual event November 9 and 10. Speakers and panelists will be presenting live from our production studio in Salem while you stream sessions safely distanced. It’s not the same as the in-person conferences we all prefer but you and your team will come away with new intelligence, inspiration, and solutions for today’s challenges. See the full agenda and register today at OregonRLA.org/ORLALive.
[Oct. 23, 2020] - Latest Activity on Behalf of Oregon's Hospitality Industry
In case you weren't aware, the ORLA Live! (virtual event for the industry) is coming up in just over two weeks, November 9-10. We've created a dynamic agenda with something for everyone–you can participate live or listen later–so please share with your networks! A couple things to know:
Linked here is the latest email from Michael Wood on the Oregon OSHA situation. We have registered our displeasure with the agency taking on two rule making processes at the same time – finalizing their infectious disease standard rule while also redefining employer responsibility and reassessing fines. Both processes have widespread involvement by the business lobby. We have been more involved at ORLA on the infectious disease standard rule while others in the industry have been helping with the employer responsibility definition and fines which seem focused on the manufacturing sector. Reach out with any questions about these processes because it is confusing and better communication from Oregon OSHA’s director would be helpful. We're asking him to create a one page memo communicating more clearly that these two public processes are happening at the same time.
ORLA is launching digital campaigns around two issues with the goal of pressuring the Governor’s Office to move off of these arbitrary rules – the 10 pm statewide curfew and the 100 person indoor max occupancy (including staff). We have critical mass when we launch these campaigns – the question is whether they will make a difference in getting the Governor to move away from these challenging rules. The Governor’s office confirmed last night that we ‘flooded’ their inboxes on the 10pm curfew issue. A big thanks to Nicole Peterson for her work on both of these campaigns. We will launch the second digital campaign and flood their inboxes again on Monday for the 100 person indoor cap issue. When we take on this strategy rest assured I give the Governor’s office a call and a ‘heads up’ – the goal is to give the staff plenty of ammunition when they interact with the Oregon Health Authority and the Governor to showcase just how necessary these changes are. If you haven't already, please sign up to be a Hospitality Advocate and receive text alerts by texting "ORLA" to 52886.
On a side note we are sad to report that Nicole Peterson’s last day as ORLA’s Government Affairs Coordinator will be this Wednesday. ORLA prides itself on having a Government Affairs Coordinator position that provides an exceptional development opportunity in the government affairs arena here in Oregon. Nicole will be taking on an expanded role at the Oregon Department of Education and our team looks forward to seeing her around and working with her as she takes on this new challenge. Thank you Nicole for your amazing work!
The Oregon Tourism Commission released their Regional Funding Report representing lodging tax revenue declines for Oregon’s 7 tourism regions and the organizations who receive funds in those 7 regions to promote tourism and help increase economic activity for our industry. The numbers are tough and the forecasts are grim, but we wanted to share for general awareness of the financial shortfalls our promotional partners will be dealing with as they try to determine how to best spend limited funds to get people back in our hotels and restaurants.
As always reach out with any questions or comments about any of the updates we have to share.
[Oct. 21, 2020] - Latest Updates From Your Association
Oregon OSHA is working to finalize a temporary rule for infectious disease standards in the workplace. The temporary rule is meant to replace Phase 2 guidelines once in effect and for our industry, the rule replicates the guidance we are already following for Phase 2 counties from the Oregon Health Authority. ORLA serves on the committee to review the final draft of the rule. Unfortunately, the committee plans involve a new ‘exposure risk assessment’ process and ‘infection control plan’ that will need to be instituted by all Oregon employers in November. The official communication coming out of the Governor’s office is that Oregon OSHA’s temporary COVID-19 Rule will be adopted 10/21 and go into effect 11/1. More details to come on this; read the applicable attachments that have been shared with the workgroup below.
ORLA’s Nicole Peterson testified on behalf of our association last week as part of a Management-Labor Advisory Committee hearing (MLAC). The big issue we have been dealing with in this process is the debate over whether a workers' compensation presumption should apply when an employee is infected with COVID-19. The business lobby, including ORLA, came out in full force for the last committee meeting on October 9th and testified against a presumption that would say it is presumed the workplace was responsible for the infection. At the end of the meeting, MLAC committee members discussed the possibility of drafting a compromise or a much more limited presumption. Obviously, the business lobby wants nothing less than no presumption, and the labor side wants the opposite. It is to be determined on what they decide to do and what they move forward with recommending.
Over the past few weeks ORLA has held numerous Listening Sessions with Legislators including one with Speaker Tina Kotek. One member's comment really resonated on what the industry is facing. It was from nightclub owner, Brad McCray (Candy and Sanctuary in Portland) who joined us in discussing the arbitrary 10pm curfew (listen here). Stories like the one Brad shared are why we do this work. Common sense must prevail and we all need to keep up the fight to get modifications to the arbitrary rules (like the curfew and 100-person indoor cap regardless of indoor space).
ORLA is preparing for some important Zoom discussions with Employment Department Director David Gerstenfeld on October 26 and 27 for foodservice and lodging operators, respectively. In preparation for those conversations we are receiving comments from operators on how the relationship with the Employment Department could be improved as we prepare for the new rate structure. The new payroll tax rate for Unemployment Insurance (UI) will be announced mid-November and will take effect January 1. If you haven't already, please RSVP for these calls by emailing Glenda Hamstreet.
[Oct. 13, 2020] - Unemployment Insurance (UI) Taxes Paid By You Deserve Extra Attention
Every November, the Oregon Employment Department announces the rate schedule for Unemployment Insurance (UI) paid by employers through payroll tax for the upcoming calendar year. It should come as no surprise the rate employers will pay for 2021 is of concern to the hospitality industry given the adverse continuing impact the pandemic has had on available jobs due to decreased demand and health guidelines.
ORLA has opened up lines of communication with the Director’s Office at the Oregon Employment Department for interested members. On October 26 and 27, Interim Employment Department Director David Gerstenfeld will join hospitality operators to provide an update on Oregon’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and the process undertaken to keep the fund solvent.
Included here is a recent presentation provided by Director Gerstenfeld to a handful of business colleagues representing various industries in Oregon. Currently, Oregon is in Rate Schedule 2 out of 8 possible rate structures. All 8 schedules (which you can view on Slide 6) have a range of possible payroll tax rates paid by employers. Each employer's actual rate depends on their ‘experience rating’ – the lower your experience rating the lower your applicable tax rate within each rate schedule.
Please plan to join us for an important discussion about the unemployment insurance taxes you pay. RSVP to join us for one of the upcoming Zoom discussions by emailing Glenda Hamstreet.
Updated 10/27/20 - ORLA set up calls with the Oregon Employment Department to provide an update on the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and the process to keep the fund solvent. Here are the recordings:
Notes from the calls:
[Oct. 6, 2020] - There's More Work to Be Done
ORLA remains focused on engaging our local and state government leaders as we work to get all of Oregon’s 36 counties into Phase Two operations. We still have 4 counties to go so please take action if you have not done so already if you live or run your business in Malheur, Multnomah, Clackamas, or Washington Counties.
Our state has wrestled with two emergencies at the same time and key professional staff at ORLA have been working with officials at FEMA as we work to address fallout from Oregon wildfires on top of the impacts felt by us all from COVID. A big thanks to the professional staff at ORLA for finding a way to assist with shelter coordination efforts. Our efforts as a state association were recently recognized across the country in a recent FEMA presentation. That slide is included here as well as the bullet points referenced demonstrating the public/private partnership efforts.
There is so much left to accomplish. In addition to Phase Two for all Oregon counties we have proven our industry can operate safely and mitigate virus spread. As a result, it would be incredibly helpful to see the State of Oregon extend our 10pm curfew to midnight in acknowledgment of your hard work and also provide more flexibility on the 100 maximum (including staff) for indoor operations when square footage allows for safe social distancing of associated parties (10 people or less) in numbers larger than 100.
[Oct. 1, 2020] - It’s October 1 - The Clock is Ticking
We're asking Oregon hospitality operators to take action now to protect the viability of small businesses in Malhuer, Clackamas, Washington, and Multnomah Counties. We must enter Phase 2 across Oregon before the weather turns. Watch video for more information.
Call to Action: If you’re in Phase One, contact your county commissioners today and make sure they know what’s at stake for you and the Oregonians you employ.
Clackamas County Commissioners:
Malheur County Commissioners (chair is called Judge):
Multnomah County Commissioners:
Washington County Commissioners:
[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:
[August 10, 2020] - ORLA Activity in the Special Session
Today marks the beginning of the second special session of 2020 and Oregon legislators are expected to wrap it up in 2-4 days. Many of our crucial needs as an industry are not on the table. There is an incredible amount of work we must continue to take on to aid in the survival of as many restaurant and lodging establishments as possible in Oregon.
Issues still in need of attention include:
Unemployment Insurance Benefits
Today, ORLA provided invited testimony in support of Senate Bill 1701 which is expected to move forward this special session. The bill would provide extra flexibility to employees to pick up shifts in our restaurant and lodging establishments around the state without having to sacrifice unemployment insurance benefits when working part time. Current law allows employees to earn ten times the minimum wage each week before losing access to unemployment benefits. Senate Bill 1701 proposes to increase the amount an employee can earn in a week up to $300 before they would risk losing unemployment benefits to subsidize their earned wages. Read ORLA’s written testimony on the issue submitted today.
Legislative Concept 2
ORLA sent a letter last week to Representative Nancy Nathanson, Chair, Members of the House Interim Committee on Revenue, and the Senate Finance Committee urging them to oppose Legislative Concept 2, an ill-conceived proposal that would have imposed $225 million in taxes on Oregon businesses including restaurants and accommodations. Legislative Concept 2 has been removed from consideration from this August Special Session. Industry members helped make a difference by reaching out to their legislators on this issue, a win for the industry.
The workers’ compensation presumption issue is not being taken up this August Special Session, but may still be discussed in the next Special Session. We will update you as this issue progresses. ORLA joined a letter with many other Oregon employers stating a COVID-19 presumption is not necessary based on the data available. Workers are filing claims; the claims are getting processed and are only getting denied on a limited basis (in the most typical instance, when it is determined the worker does not actually have COVID-19).
ORLA supports the Management recommendations from the Management-Labor Advisory Committee (MLAC) report on COVID-19. These recommendations ask that the “Draft COVID Rules” SAIF has been using to process their claims be adopted to fix any current problems with the system. They also recommend that the Department of Consumer and Business Services audit the procedures of the two insurers with high rates of denial of claims. Read the full report from the MLAC.
[August 6, 2020] – August Special Session Update
Final preparations are being made for the August Special Legislative Session by Speaker of the House Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney to focus in on general fund shortfalls in the State of Oregon. The session may last the duration of the upcoming week. An agreement has been made to focus on budgetary issues as part of the August session and issues including To-Go Cocktails which qualifies as an important industry priority will likely not be taken up based on the rules being established for the session. In addition, the state transient lodging tax has an uphill battle as it will most likely require a separate legislative bill as a non-general fund budgetary consideration. Outside of agency budget discussions, it is possible liability protection against COVID claims will be considered at the state level outside of considerations being entertained at the federal level.
It is of crucial importance to keep your relationships alive and well with your elected leaders representing you in the Oregon Legislature. To look up your House Representative and your State Senator, click on the Oregon State Legislature website and take steps to introduce yourself and engage in a relationship that is helpful to them based on your experience working in Oregon’s hospitality industry.
[August 5, 2020] - Latest Updates from Your Industry Association
The following is an update of activities from the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. Please reach out to your Regional Representative as needed for additional guidance and any questions we can be of assistance with:
COVID-19 RELIEF: Our federal elected leaders continue to work on finding a compromise as they work through an ongoing negotiation process for what is expected to be the fourth and final coronavirus relief package. Top tier items under discussion include the federal weekly contribution amount for extended unemployment benefits, a second round of stimulus checks for American families, parameters around a second round of PPP loans, and a safe harbor provision to protect against COVID lawsuits when filed against businesses following Center for Disease Control and state health guidelines. ORLA expects clarity around details by Friday, August 14 given the looming summer recess and the need to return to constituents with tangible outcomes accomplished in DC before the November election.
Industry members are encouraged to engage in action alerts from the National Restaurant Association and the American Hotel & Lodging Association and make sure your voice is heard in DC:
TRAVEL ADVISORY TALK: There have been rumblings for a few weeks regarding the creation of a travel advisory to Oregon. In conversations with the Governor’s Office, it is clear the magnitude of logistics tied to any travel advisory and the associated challenges in enforcing any advisory could prove to be nearly impossible. ORLA is working to learn more about the onset of any new travel announcement by the Governor’s Office which to date seems to be focused on tourist travel originating outside of Oregon from specific states managing higher concentrations of virus spread.
SPECIAL SESSION: The second special session of the Oregon Legislature will take place this coming week from Monday, August 10 – Wednesday, August 12. It is clear there is very little appetite for any legislation that does not directly deal with the state’s budget gap and cuts to agency budgets. As recently as last night, there remains an open question as to whether any “policy” issues will find their way on the agenda. We are pushing for consideration of to-go cocktails for restaurants and the Governor continues to push for a 1.8% statewide lodging tax with industry support. It is unclear whether either issue makes the cut. The nature of the pandemic and the logistics of the special sessions puts an incredible amount of power in the hands of Oregon’s Speaker of the House Tina Kotek and Oregon’s Senate President Peter Courtney. These two elected leaders have ultimate decision making authority to advance issues within the Oregon House and Senate.
Connect with your legislators and get your voice to be heard. Sign up to be a Hospitality Advocate and text "ORLA" to 52886.
[July 28, 2020] - Latest Updates from the Association
We grappled with more challenging news this past week when the Governor implemented a 10:00 pm curfew for dining at bars and restaurants across the entire state and capped all indoor spaces regardless of industry to a max of 100 people including staff indoors and 250 outdoors. These are tough realities and the restrictions could have been more harsh without the work that was put it. The week before last, we worked with OLCC on a press release and the industry heard our call to action to keep restaurants open and responded with approximately 330 unique small business messages to the Governor’s office in a 24 hour period this past week. Our Phone2Action system now has over 1,000 mobilizers and is proving effective in ‘sounding the alarm.’ There are 3 states in the country that currently have their indoor dining rooms completely closed. Those states are California, New Mexico, and New Jersey. Washington State has new rules taking effect later this week which include indoor dining parties consisting of immediate households only in addition to indoor shutdowns of taverns, wineries, breweries, and distilleries.
As you have most likely heard in the news, the US House and Senate have a gap to fill in their proposed CARES 4 package desires back in DC. The Senate proposal released yesterday is a $1 trillion package and would include a second round of PPP for the vast majority of our members, enhancements to the Employee Retention Tax Credit (more to come soon on this), and liability protections for employers against frivolous COVID claims when the employer is following all CDC and OHA guidelines. A few of the downsides include having to demonstrate a 50% revenue loss in your second quarter to access PPP, PPP loans are still not tax deductible, and it appears PPP may be extended to Chambers of Commerce and Destination Marketing Organizations but not to trade associations like ours. We’ll make sure to continue pushing out the latest updates in partnership with our friends at the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Asian American Hotel Owners Association, and the National Restaurant Association.
ORLA held two forums with leadership from Oregon OSHA on July 28. ORLA is officially serving on a formal workgroup to assist with business representation as they tackle the creation of a new infectious disease standard rule. Both a temporary rule (can only last up to 180 days) and permanent rule will be created with the goal of standardizing employer safety requirements from the rigmarole we have experienced through constantly changing OHA protocols. Below is some helpful information from Oregon OHSA on what their process looks like and what we can expect once a temporary rule is adopted in September.
Attached here is a press release from ‘People Not Politicians’ announcing extended time to collect signatures for Oregon’s redistricting initiative. Secretary Clarno released her decision in response to a preliminary order issued by Judge Michael J. McShane on July 10 to grant People Not Politicians, a broad and diverse coalition that has come together to create an independent citizens commission for Oregon, relief to qualify its redistricting reform initiative for the November 2020 election. The judge’s order allowed the Secretary of State to decide by 5:00pm Monday, July 13, 2020 to either accept People Not Politician’s signatures as submitted, or accept a reduced number of signatures to 58,789 and allow additional time to gather until August 17, 2020. The campaign submitted over 64,000 signatures on July 2.
[July 22, 2020] - New Requirements for Oregon Businesses
Effective July 24, specific to the hospitality industry:
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association will continue to highlight how seriously we take our commitment to safety for employees and guests. Over the course of the past 3-4 weeks, hundreds of random inspections have been conducted by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and Oregon OSHA to ensure industry adherence to safety guidelines and procedures with 99% compliance. Our industry continues to work tirelessly to maintain environments that are safe for dining and lodging.
We have concerns about today’s announcement asking all foodservice establishments to conclude operations by 10pm. We know hospitality and human interaction will not cease at 10pm each night. Moreover, human interaction at that time will simply transition to private environments which are less safe and less controlled. This reality should concern all Oregonians if we follow the data and the transmission rate increases being tied to private social gatherings.
The data from state agencies shows small, private social gatherings are one of the primary factors in transmission. Oregon restaurants have been and are complying with, as well as actively promoting safe practices around wearing face coverings, washing hands and staying physically distant.
Oregon’s hospitality industry undergoes some of the highest scrutiny when it comes to healthy working environments, food safety and cleanliness with regular inspections by county health departments and state agencies. As operators, our business and our employees depend on guests feeling comfortable enough to not only visit us for the first time but return again and again to our establishments.
For time-sensitive updates and to sign up to help tell your story and how these regulations impact your business, please text “ORLA” to 52886 or contact your local Membership Representative.
[June 3, 2020] - Oregon Phase Two Guidance is Finalized: Wins and the Need for More Flexibility
Today marks an important day in Oregon’s ongoing reopening process. You can review the latest guidelines announced today for Phase Two through the following links:
ORLA has been directly engaged in ongoing discussions with the Governor’s Office which resulted in the following areas of flexibility in Phase Two:
Our work continues with what I will call Phase 2.1 as there are still ongoing challenges that need to be addressed. Based on industry feedback, these are the issues that still exist that need to be fixed in Phase Two as soon as possible:
We greatly appreciate the ongoing working relationship with the Oregon Health Authority and the Governor’s Office and look forward to addressing our ongoing needs as an industry as counties begin preparing for the Phase Two reopening process.
[May 18, 2020] - Commitment to Safety
Our state has officially taken steps to reopen portions of our economy previously closed including restaurants and bars in most areas. Announcements this past week from Governor Brown and the official website for all industry guidance documents can be viewed on the state's website. This page will serve as the digital headquarters in the months ahead and assist you in understanding where your county is in the phased reopening process.
It is one thing to have the legal ability to reopen and another thing entirely to instill confidence in the minds of your guests. According to data from Nielsen, about 1 in 5 have returned to on premise dining as outlets continue to reopen on a limited basis. And of those who have not yet returned, nearly half say they need to feel more comfortable visiting.
It is our responsibility at ORLA to make sure hospitality operators have every tool available to them to showcase our industry’s commitment to safety. To that end we are launching comprehensive checklists for both restaurant and lodging operations. These checklists can be utilized by ORLA members as a way to review all details of your operations and earn a Commitment to Safety Seal you can prominently display for both customers and employees.
We want to do everything possible to assist you in finding a path forward. It is going to be a challenge in the months ahead to survive on a fraction of the demand for your business you once enjoyed. We believe this tool can make a significant difference in your path to recovery.
ORLA’s regional representatives are here to help. Please reach out so they can assist you in your work to do everything you can to provide a safe and welcoming environment for your employees and your guests.
Thank you and our best to you and your team as we ramp back up to showcase what it means to serve Oregon hospitality.
[May 8, 2020] – This Week’s Updates
Yesterday, Governor Brown announced plans to begin reopening portions of Oregon’s economy that have remained closed for almost 2 months including dining rooms in bars and restaurants. In order to reopen, county governments must submit their plans to the Governor’s Office for approval. Representatives from the Oregon Health Authority referenced a commitment to a quick turnaround for county plans submitted with the expectation many counties will have the opportunity to reopen previously closed parts of their economies as early as Friday, May 15.
Lodging facilities, which were never closed by statewide order, continue to be devastated by decreases in demand. Due to marketplace dynamics and actions taken by local jurisdictions, regulations across Oregon differ for lodging establishments. Popular leisure travel destinations including Oregon’s north coast and Columbia River Gorge continue to deal with additional restrictions at the local level. Having said that, lodging facilities in general remain open for business travel with others determining plans for reopening after voluntary closures. The American Hotel & Lodging Association has launched the “Safe Stay” initiative to provide guidance to lodging operations moving through reopening procedures. In addition, lodging providers can access final employer guidelines specific to Oregon here. See specific guidance for outdoor recreation organizations here.
Restaurant, bars, breweries, tasting rooms, and distilleries were all given the go ahead to open in Oregon’s Phase One plan. Timelines associated with opening these hospitality businesses will be contingent upon the approval of county plans. Some counties will have their plans reviewed by the Oregon Health Authority as early as today, May 8 which paves the way for a potential May 15 opening. ORLA was successful in advocating for the removal of an initial plan to have foodservice operators document the movements of their customers. In addition, there was agreement to remove the percentage space requirement emerging in many states which caps capacity at levels from 25 to 50% of maximum occupancy. In Oregon, there is no such requirement. Operators will be required to ensure physical distance of 6 feet between associated parties of 10 or less. You can view the final guidance for Oregon’s foodservice and beverage industry here. Arbitrary restrictions including a 10pm cutoff for dining room services in Phase One as well as partial opening of barstools/bar seating in specific scenarios continue to be industry concerns we hope to address in Phase Two guidelines.
There is a great deal left to accomplish. In the coming weeks, we will be:
If you haven’t already, make sure we have the best email address for you as an industry operator. In addition, you can sign up for ORLA text message alerts (by texting ORLA to 52886) so you have the intelligence we gather in real time.
[May 1, 2020] - This Week's Updates
[April 30, 2020] - Making Progress Towards Reopening, More to Be Done
Friends of Oregon Hospitality -
Throughout the month of April, ORLA has been focused on building momentum for industry relief efforts. We have made some progress on behalf of the hospitality industry, but more needs to be accomplished. We have also been focused on sharing your stories for Oregonians to better understand the devastating impacts of an Oregon economic shutdown and how it is felt in all corners of our state, particularly for those in the restaurants and lodging industries.
It is time to switch gears. According to the latest data from the Oregon Health Authority, we are successfully flattening the curve. And in many areas of Oregon, there is no curve to flatten.
In our last video address, we emphasized the importance of creating a framework for reopening Oregon’s hospitality industry. Trends are pointing toward reopening dining rooms, counter service operations, bars, and tasting rooms as part of a Phase One plan in Oregon. The opening of lodging operations beyond essential worker travel is also possible in Phase Two.
We want to thank the hospitality businesses across the state that have shared their recovery plans with us. Those plans have helped us to provide the industry expertise needed to push for practical reopening guidelines for that are as safe as possible for employees and customers.
In our latest communication, we outlined four industry imperatives for Governor Brown and her professional staff:
Please take a moment to view our comments in their entirety on the “COVID-19 Alerts & Resources” page. As we continue to work with the Governor’s office to develop these protocols, we will share information as soon as it becomes available to better help you and your teams prepare for this unprecedented reopening phase.
The coming weeks will prove crucial. Let’s work together to better understand the benchmarks we must meet to instill confidence in Oregonians that we have the health care capacity we need to meet demand and protect the health and safety of Oregonians, while getting serious about reopening our economy in a safe and responsible way.
[April 17, 2020] - Latest Reopening Plans from Governor's Office
Earlier today the Governor’s Chief of Staff Nik Blosser walked us through the slide deck on what an Oregon reopening framework looks like. Click the button to view the latest version (v.4) of the Public Health Framework for Restarting Public Life and Business:
The following our my takeaways from the presentation:
As a reminder, consider participating in one of our upcoming Virtual Town Halls.
[April 8, 2020]
Yesterday, Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order 20-14 aligning Oregon’s current dine-in prohibition with thousands of other closed businesses across the state under Oregon’s ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’ order. Drive through, takeout, and delivery services remain optional for restaurants interested in operating at limited capacities. Lodging operations remain open in some cases to serve accommodation needs related to COVID-19 orders issued by Brown.
Oregon has clearly been successful in flattening the curve and that is a testament to our health care industry and the work which continues across our state. I have found this resource to be more helpful than most in tracking the peaks of Covid-19 on a case by case basis across the country:
In utilizing this tool for Oregon, modeling suggests our state will experience peak demand for health care services on April 24. If you start randomly choosing other states through the tool you will find that the economically painful mitigation efforts Oregon has taken have directly helped save lives.
In reviewing the data, it seems Oregon will be better positioned than most states to continue the crucial conversation of what relaxing social distancing policies looks like. How do we turn the corner for Oregon’s hospitality businesses and our approximately 200,000 employees? What does rebuild look like and over what duration?
ORLA is committed to leading alongside other business organizations in making sure the State of Oregon relaxes social distancing policies in line with a data driven approach. If the above projection holds true, Oregon should be positioned to gradually relax some restrictions as early as May. And we certainly hope that will be the case.
It is on all of us to demonstrate how we can hold the line on Oregon’s current peak projection and continue the sacrifices we are all making as we move through COVID-19 case decline later this month. When the data forecasts showcase a reduction in second wave risk, we need to move quickly to get Oregon in a position to rebuild. I believe this state can be a leader in that race. If you have ideas of how full proof social distancing procedures could be implemented in your business, please share your thoughts with me via email, email@example.com.
[April 1, 2020]
Today, Governor Kate Brown announced a 90-day moratorium on commercial evictions across Oregon. Executive Order 20-13 represents decisive action by Governor Brown to protect Oregon hospitality businesses and assist them in planning out a path to recovery. Our goal in working with all partners is to do whatever we can to assist our state in winning the race to recovery while keeping as many Oregonians employed as possible.
Governor Brown’s executive order states “a temporary moratorium on terminations of residential and nonresidential rental agreements and evictions on the basis of nonpayment is necessary during this emergency, to protect the public health, safety and welfare of all Oregonians. The moratorium set forth in this Executive Order is temporary, with a limited scope and duration. It addresses the immediate needs identified above, pursuant to my emergency powers, but does not otherwise undermine contractual bargains, interfere with parties' reasonable expectations, or prevent parties from safeguarding or reinstating their rights. The directives of this Executive Order are appropriate, necessary, and reasonable means by which to implement the significant and legitimate public purpose of responding to the declaration of a state of emergency I issued on March 8, 2020.”
ORLA continues to advocate for ongoing relief in partnership with federal, state, and local elected leaders. To view ORLA’s relief framework and add your business to the list of supporters click here: Sign On to ORLA's Proposed Relief Efforts.
[March 30, 2020]
In this morning's video address to the industry, I cover the following updates:
In case you missed it, ORLA created a Hospitality Action & Relief Center to help connect small businesses and their employees with ongoing statewide advocacy priorities and relief outcomes. Be sure to see the list of Relief Available for Employers & Employees we are constantly updating, as well as ORLA's Proposed Relief Efforts.
With the passage of the CARES Act, signed into law March 27, new relief opportunities are now available including: Paycheck Protection Program, Employee Retention Tax Credit, Qualified Improvement Property fix, and SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Grants. Read more on our Federal Action Taken page.
[March 26, 2020]
The following update is being provided to the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association as a result of ongoing national partnerships taking place between the National Restaurant Association, American Hotel & Lodging Association, and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association. A special thanks to Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs at the National Restaurant Association for the following summary on our nation’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”):
Last night, congressional leaders finally released the final text of their $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package. The agreement includes a dramatic expansion of unemployment insurance, a rescue fund for state and local governments, immediate cash for hospitals, and a huge pool of grants and loans for small businesses.
Passage in both chambers is all but assured – the only question is one of timing. The Senate is on a path to pass the bill this evening. Timing of a House bill remains murky. A vote Thursday night or Friday morning is likely. President Trump is likely to sign the bill very soon thereafter.
Our formal assessment of the bill is attached. Overall the bill is very strong, with many provisions that specifically reflect our Association’s asks from last week. Here are the highlights of the deal:
The measure creates a $349 billion program for the SBA to offer unique loans to small businesses (500 or fewer employees). The loan amount is based on 250% of the borrower’s average monthly payroll cost for the preceding year (provisions for seasonal employers are included), up to $10 million. Collateral requirements are waived, and the “credit elsewhere” requirements (which have slowed down the process) have been waived as well. The loan is forgiven if used for payroll costs, mortgage interest, or rent/utilities.
The agreement offers restaurant owners relief in the form of Net Operating Loss (NOL) carrybacks, delay of payment of employer payroll taxes, and an Employee Retention Tax Credit.
Qualified Improvement Property
At long last, restaurants can immediately write off costs associated with improving facilities. The QIP fix is complete.
[March 25, 2020] - To Friends of Oregon Hospitality,
The following update was provided by our friends at the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and the National Restaurant Association. Democratic Leader Schumer released a letter to his colleagues identifying what was secured in the bill. A summary of Democratic Leader Schumer’s list is below and ORLA will be working closely with our national partners today and tomorrow as the federal package moves through crucial votes and gets finalized.
President & CEO
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association
[March 23, 2020] - Hello Friends of Oregon Hospitality:
Today, Governor Kate Brown executed Executive Order 20-12 which requires non-essential businesses outlined in the order to close effective 12:01 am on Tuesday, March 24. Here are comments from ORLA regarding the new executive order and what it means for Oregon’s restaurant and lodging operations:
President & CEO
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association
[March 20, 2020] - ORLA continues to take unprecedented steps to engage in every possible way on COVID-19 in support of Oregon Hospitality. In the last 36 hours, significant updates have been added online to ORLA’s website which has been redesigned to hone in on the needs of industry members looking for answers in an ever changing environment.
The following steps have been taken in the past 36 hours:
President & CEO
[March 18, 2020] - ORLA CEO UPDATE FOR OREGON'S HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
The ORLA team is working at a feverish pitch to provide the resources and opportunities restaurant and lodging businesses need to stay engaged and make a difference as we weather this monumental storm together. We have a laser-like focus on all things COVID-19 in service to you, our hospitality industry partners. Please see below for high level updates from our recent activities over the past day as we continue moving through an unprecedented workload:
Please stay strong and utilize the skill sets available to you on the ORLA professional staff. Our Government Affairs Team and our Regional Representatives on the ground are here to serve each of you, every day, until we get through this together.
President & CEO
[March 16, 2020] - STATEMENT BY ORLA PRESIDENT & CEO JASON BRANDT
Restaurants across Oregon serve as cornerstones of our local economies employing more than 155,000 people. From urban centers to rural towns, thousands of establishments provide us with places to break bread with family, friends, and build community.
Most of us know the experience of a favorite local restaurant, filled with familiar faces and employees who know us by name. Right now, that restaurant is hurting -- and the workers and families who depend on our patronage are wondering how they will put food on the table.
Effective midnight tonight (at 12:01 a.m., March 17, 2020), Governor Brown has ordered all dining rooms across Oregon to close over a 4 week period. This decision will have immediate and immeasurable impacts on thousands of Oregon families who depend on Oregon’s restaurant industry for a paycheck. Immediate unemployment insurance relief is crucial with a removal of the one-week waiting period and removal of the search for work requirement. Additional relief needs will also prove crucial for Oregon’s broader hospitality industry and all impacted employees.
The social distancing required to slow the spread of COVID-19 means we need to temporarily change our lives, especially around our favorite gathering spaces as recently announced by Oregon Governor Kate Brown and many health experts from around the world. Oregonians must not forget about the families and workers whose lives depend on restaurants, bars, wineries and brewpubs during this time. They need our support, and that is why our industry is mobilizing to expand take-out and delivery options to serve our customers over the coming weeks. If we can't eat out, now is the time for Oregonians to order in.
We must stay resolved and committed to the important role of hospitality to our economy, culture and everyday lives. Once these social isolation measures lift, Oregonians all share a collective responsibility to do our part to quickly return to our favorite gathering spots and put paychecks back onto the kitchen tables of hundreds of thousands of Oregon families who may not get one over the coming months.
[March 12, 2020] - ORLA CEO UPDATE FOR OREGON'S HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) exists to protect, improve, and promote Oregon hospitality. We find ourselves in an incredibly challenging situation as our industry works to mitigate panic around the growing concern of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Oregon and throughout the country.
As of last night, Governor Kate Brown has declared a ban on gatherings of 250 people or more in Oregon over the course of the next 4 weeks. This will undoubtedly have an immeasurable impact on industry employees and business operations. ORLA will continue to keep lines of communication open with the Governor’s office, the Oregon Health Authority, and other key leaders in our state as we work to gather data on the economic impact the coronavirus (COVID-19) threat is having and as we seek relief for impacted hospitality employees and businesses.
The following list summarizes work being conducted at ORLA on your behalf. Please save this email for reference and share as needed.
All hospitality businesses in Oregon have access to ORLA’s coronavirus resource page at OregonRLA.org/covid19. The following site represents our digital headquarters for all resource links, employer tips, safety guidelines, and decontamination services. This site will be updated regularly as we continue responding to industry needs in partnership with the National Restaurant Association, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association.
ORLA’s Online Member Portal
Additional work is being put into document development for ORLA members beyond the resource page linked above. A member login and password for this section is required. Primary documents behind ORLA’s member wall in the Resource Library include template examples members can use as a starting point for how to communicate with both employees and customers. If you need access to your ORLA User Name and Password, please reach out directly to Jennifer Starr via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advocacy on behalf of Oregon Hospitality
Your statewide association is working to make sure key elected officials understand the economic impact of decisions being made as they work in partnership with public health officials to manage the spread of the coronavirus. A term called ‘flattening the curve’ is the ultimate goal of elected leaders and public health officials. The term represents an effort to keep demand for coronavirus health care services at or below the capacity of our state’s health care system. The short term effect will directly correlate to economic loss and as such, we need to collect data now to best represent relief needs of the industry in association with our national partners. Please stay tuned as ORLA develops ongoing survey outreach in an effort to track the magnitude of the impact so we can best represent the needs of your business and your employees.
In addition, we are asking the Governor’s office for consideration against any travel bans in Oregon as well as relief for Oregon hospitality employers and employees. Focus areas for us to date include:
Stay Up To Date with Push Notifications
The situation relating to coronavirus is changing on a daily basis. As a result, we are repurposing our mobile push notifications in the short term for coronavirus updates including actions you can take to assist us at ORLA in representing your interests. Text “ORLA” to 52886 to get signed up as we work to gather economic data on industry impact and keep you apprised of the latest developments. Confidentiality relating to any data shared will be a top priority for us.
I’ll close by saying it continues to be an honor for those of us on ORLA’s professional staff to serve Oregon hospitality. We believe in the importance of integrity and transparency in all that we do and you have our commitment to continue walking alongside each of you as we collectively navigate our current challenges and those that we will face together in the future.
President & CEO