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2017 Legislative Update

Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association Logo

The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) is the hospitality industry’s watchdog and advocate on issues and legislation affecting our industry. On the national, statewide and local levels, ORLA provides a voice for our industry. You can count on the ongoing efforts of ORLA’s government affairs team to advocate for favorable laws and fair regulations, and to stop unfair taxes and anti-business legislation in their tracks.

 

National Level

Debit Card Swipe Fees

Last Friday, May 26, U.S. House leadership announced that repeal of the Durbin Amendment has been removed from the Financial CHOICE Act. By keeping debit swipe protections in place, small businesses will not be stuck with a debit card tax on top of their already thin operating margins.

Restaurateurs from across the country, including an Oregon delegation and staff from ORLA, advocated to keep in place these important debit swipe protections by meeting and calling Congressional members. This victory is a grassroots win for all involved.

 

Tax Reform
On a recent trip to Washington D.C., restaurant and lodging members and staff from ORLA met with our Oregon Congressional delegation to discuss tax reform. We reminded them that many of the owners in our industry are pass-throughs: S Corporations, LLCs and Partnerships, and requested they keep that in mind while reviewing tax reform. While it will be important to reform the tax code for C Corporations, we also need them to consider pass-through entities when reforming the code.

 

Statewide Level

The Oregon Legislature is hoping to Sine Die, or adjourn, on or around June 23. With less than a month to go in this year’s session, there are still quite a few issues unresolved and a few bills outstanding with no recent action taken. The following represents the status, as of this writing, of the key bills and issues which may impact the hospitality industry in the Oregon State Legislature:

 

Pay Equity

HB 2005 – Provides definitions relating to comparable work for purposes of pay equity provisions. Adds additional remedies for pay equity and wage-related violations that include right to jury trial and right to compensatory and punitive damages. ORLA initially opposed this bill.

This is a bill that was going to pass this session no matter what efforts were done to kill it.  ORLA joined others in amending the bill to make it better overall for our industry and other businesses. The bill was passed in both chambers and signed by the Governor. It takes effect January 1, 2024.

 

Paid Family Leave

HB 3087 – Creates family and medical leave insurance program to provide covered employee with portion of wages while on family medical leave or military leave. ORLA Opposes this bill.

This bill was moved to House Revenue Committee but because it is a tax, it requires a 3/5th’s vote of the Chamber (36/60 votes in the House and 18/30 in the Senate). It does not appear likely it will receive the required number of votes and will likely die in committee.

 

Restrictive Scheduling

SB 828 & HB 2193 – Requires employer to pay employee if employee is scheduled or called in to work but, due to employer, does not work entire shift. ORLA initially opposed this bill due to its restrictive and punitive nature and because research shows when Oregon employees are asked, three out of four do not want the government interfering with their work schedules.

SB 828 has been moved to the Senate Rules Committee with a “do-pass” recommendation. If it passes in the Senate Rules Committee, it will move to the Senate floor, and then to the House for review.

This bill only applies to retail, foodservice and hospitality industries. There have been numerous amendments and revisions to this bill including reducing the predictability pay from four hours to one hour, increasing the number of employees from 100 to 500 for the purposes of inclusion in the law, eliminating the private right of action except in the case of retaliation by an employer and including a permanent statewide preemption on local scheduling ordinances.

HB 2193 has been moved to the House Rules Committee and is in a holding pattern awaiting a vote on SB 828.

 

Tourism

HB 2744 – Amends definition of “tourism-related facility” to include improvements to real property that have substantial purpose of supporting, promoting or accommodating tourism or tourist activities. ORLA opposes this bill. This bill would change the definition and allow lodging taxes to be used for benches, light posts and hanging baskets. Because Oregon tourism is so strong and the efforts to market and promote the state have been so successful, ORLA believes we should continue to respect and uphold the law passed in 2003 defining the percentages of lodging tax revenue dedicated to promotion, marketing and facilities.

This bill was not passed out of committee and is effectively dead.

 

HB 2768 – Expands definition of “tourism promotion” for purposes of local transient lodging tax revenue expenditures. ORLA opposes this bill. This bill would have allowed cities, counties and other municipalities to use lodging taxes for purposes other than what has traditionally been defined as tourism related including beautification projects and sidewalks.

This bill was not passed out of committee and is effectively dead.

 

HB 3101A – Facility Fees; Prohibits hotels or inns from charging facility fees in addition to price of guest room rental unless facility fees are disclosed prior to guest room reservation or rental.  ORLA is neutral on this bill after amendments were made.

This bill was amended so that facility fees were not prohibited but lodging operators must disclose any facility fees to guests prior to their room reservation or rental.

It passed the House 56-0 with four excused and the Senate 24-2 with four excused. The Governor signed the bill into law on June 6, 2017.

 

Marijuana

SB 301 – Marijuana in the Workplace; Provides that conditioning employment on refraining from using any substance that is lawful to use in this state is unlawful employment practice. ORLA opposes this bill.

This bill would have effectively eliminated the employers’ ability to fire an employee for using marijuana. There was a Public Hearing and Work Session in Judiciary. This bill was not moved and is dead.

 

Health Care

SB 997 – Establishes penalty to be imposed by Department of Consumer and Business Services on employers that offer health insurance coverage to employees but that have employees working at least 20 hours per week who receive health care coverage through medical assistance program. ORLA opposes this bill. This bill would penalize employers who offer health care coverage to employees but the employee chooses the Oregon Health Plan instead.

This bill did not move out of committee and is effectively dead.

About the Author

Greg Astley serves as Director of Government Affairs at ORLA. For more information, please visit www.Oregonrla.org/ga or email Astley@OregonRLA.org.

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