Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Help Defeat the $6 Billion Tax on Oregon Sales

As you know, Initiative Petition 28 (IP28) – a proposed new tax on Oregon sales that would cost Oregon consumers and Oregon businesses billions – will be on the November 2016 statewide ballot.

IP28 would impose a huge new $6 billion tax on sales – the largest tax increase in state history – and would increase costs for Oregon businesses, working families and consumers with no guarantee where the money would be spent. If passed, this extreme measure would make our industry less competitive and make lodging and dining out costlier for our Oregon customers.

Defeating IP28 is a priority for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. We’re asking you to join the Defeat The Tax On Oregon Sales coalition and help spread the word about this costly and damaging proposal.

Some important facts about IP28:

  • IP28 would tax sales, not profits. Businesses would be required to pay the new tax whether they have a large profit, small profit, or no profit at all. 
  • IP28 does nothing to guarantee the new tax revenues would go to schools, healthcare, or senior services. All of the new taxes would go to the General Fund, giving politicians and bureaucrats a blank check to spend billions of dollars as they please with no accountability to the public. 
  • IP28 would impose the worst kind of tax on sales because it would be added at multiple steps in the production process – a “tax on a tax” – cascading into much higher prices for items Oregonians buy every day, without any exemptions. Electricity, fuel, insurance, food and many other items and services we rely on would be subject to the tax – making Oregon products more expensive and Oregon companies less competitive.
  • A study by the nonpartisan Oregon Legislative Revenue Office (LRO) concluded that about two-thirds of this tax on sales would end up being paid by Oregon consumers, costing the average Oregon household more than $600 every year.  
  • The LRO estimated passage of IP28 would result in the loss of more than 38,000 private sector jobs, impacting Oregon’s overall economy, small businesses and multiple industries.

Here’s where you come in. 

If you haven’t already, please join the coalition. Once you’ve joined, you will receive news and updates about the efforts to defeat IP28 and what you can do to help.

Visit the campaign website,, where you can read news and information about the negative impacts of IP28, and donate to the campaign

Also, like the coalition on Facebook and follow them on Twitter to share the word on social media about why IP28 is a bad idea for Oregon.

We need your commitment to help our industry by joining the effort to defeat the most egregious tax increase in Oregon history.

If you would like more information about the campaign to oppose IP28 or want to get involved in other ways, please contact the campaign at or (877) 575-9950.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Fighting Lodging Tax Creep

In virtually every corner of the state, local and county governments seem to have their eyes fixed on lodging taxes and opportunities to raise them. The recent successes of the lodging industry are being widely reported as more tourists find themselves drawn to Oregon’s wide ranging spectacles. And we of course welcome them with open arms as growth and sales continue to increase.

However, the success we currently enjoy cannot continue in perpetuity. We have been incredibly fortunate in the prolonged status of the current economic recovery and we realize the next recession is not a matter of if but a matter of when.

This distinction seems to be lost on our local and regional representatives who sometimes view the lodging sector as an easy target for their general fund woes. Why not add an extra percent to the local lodging tax to solve our ‘XYZ’ revenue shortfall? Can’t they just pass the tax on to their guests?

If only it were that simple. As “lodging tax creep” continues throughout the state, we’re finding the need for a renewed commitment to support our local and regional stakeholders who are fighting the urge of local governments to tack on more tax burden on the administrative shoulders of our industry.

For one, we’re already making it very clear that we will be strongly opposed to lodging tax increases moving forward unless there is local support from the lodging community. To that end, we are encouraging local governments to reach out to their local lodging stakeholders as a crucial first step if they feel they have a case for why a local lodging tax rate should be adjusted.

Cost drivers within government are strapping city managers and city councils who are determined to balance their budgets. These significant rises in expenses continue to be driven by pension and healthcare obligations that require more revenue as retirees live longer lives and as healthcare premiums continue to rise.
We fully understand these challenges and openly welcome conversations with local governments that feel the lodging tax is somehow a piece of the answer to these challenges.

Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association created a “Tourism Best Practices” handout as part of our renewed effort to carefully track lodging tax creep across Oregon. This document is one tool that can be used by lodging operators to help explain the important symbiotic relationship our industry shares with local government partners.

Our success is their success until lodging tax creep gets out of control. I believe we are on the brink of crossing that unsustainable threshold and as a result, we need to be more aggressive in protecting local governments from biting the hand that they rely upon for sustained tourism promotion as well as partial general fund support.

If you are aware of lodging tax creep in your community, please contact us at | Jason Brandt, President & CEO

Friday, February 5, 2016

Realignment, Deeper Engagement on Your Doorstep

Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is ramping up an important process to dig deep and implement a rolling strategic plan for the future of the organization. We are now over five years past the merger of the association, which brought lodging and restaurant members under the same umbrella of advocacy and connectivity. Many things have gone well and other areas we are excited to enhance.

As we look to the future, here are some samplings of what you can expect from your association as we further the value proposition for our lodging partners.

The Expansion of Guest Service Gold® Customer Service Training
Over 200 hospitality professionals in Oregon have already been trained through the ORLA Education Foundation’s new training product, Guest Service Gold. The launch has been made possible by the support of the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute and Travel Oregon. Contact Wendy Popkin with ORLA’s Education Foundation to learn more about adding a new dose of confidence to our front line hospitality workers who have lasting impressions on the guest experience.

Relaunching the ORLA Lodging Policy Committee
In one of ORLA’s most recent scientific polls of the membership, lodging members expressed that the value of greatest importance is industry representation. Our goals will include statewide industry representation, consistent participation, and establishing a regular meeting schedule to tackle the advocacy issues of importance to members.

Online Travel Companies
In my first five months on the job, it has become clear that more exploration is needed to look at how ORLA can assist our independent lodging members in negotiations with online travel companies who carry significant leverage in their talks with this segment of our membership. Given the supply filled by these elusive partners, what can ORLA do to pool the collective power of independents? The issue needs a deep dive.

Human Trafficking
We will not shy away from uncomfortable issues that impact our industry and the professionals that work within it. We recently held a brainstorming session about the importance of introducing legislation in Oregon that could create rehabilitation services needed specifically for victims of human trafficking to break the cycle of abuse as well as harsher punishments for individuals seeking these services. We remain optimistic that a viable partnership between ORLA, lawmakers, law enforcement, and district attorneys is in the works and that our work will be driven by real outcomes that have the potential to change lives.

These issues and others will continue to be explored as we do our best to expand and enhance our deliverables to the lodging industry. We look forward to working with you to accomplish important goals for our future. Our work always starts with your feedback.

Feel free to email me with your suggestions at | Jason Brandt, President & CEO

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

You Asked, We Listened: ORLA Launches Health Plan

Get a health plan quote
The federal healthcare requirements are upon us and as much as the country has tried to avoid the implications of full implementation, it is here to stay. In a recent survey, 97 percent of ORLA’s membership told us to dig in and find a solution. So we did.

Starting in 2016, businesses with 50 or more full-time equivalent (FTE) employees will be on the hook to pay for the healthcare of any employees working 30 hours or more per week. And if you don’t, say hello to a fine of $2,000 per full-time (30 hours or more) employee per year. That’s right – these fines come knocking every single year.

The year 2016 is a monumental one for healthcare. Through 2015, businesses were able to deduct a total of 80 full-time employees from their fine obligations which led to the majority of businesses having zero liability for the year. In 2016, that changes as the federal government changes the full-time employee deduction to 30. In other words, if you have the equivalent of 50 or more full-time employees and have over 30 employees working 30 hours or more a week (full-time), you will be charged $2,000 per full-time employee over the magic 30 threshold.

At first glance this may seem like a bigger business issue to you. Don’t buy into that trap. As the new fines unfold, employers are bound to see more healthcare coverages for workers emerging in the marketplace creating major competition amongst big and small employers for workers. In the not too distant future, mom and pop location “X” may start to lose their employees to bigger business “Y” because bigger business “Y” is now offering some form of a healthcare plan to their workers to avoid federal fines.

The shifts in the marketplace are coming and the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is ready with a solution. As of December 1, 2015, ORLA’s health plan options are available for members big and small but will be a member only benefit for active businesses in the association.

For under $49 per full-time worker per month, member businesses will be able to join the ORLA Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) Plan giving each subscriber access to preventative care. In addition, the plan will save large employers from excessive federal fines for not offering coverage and will protect all workers signed up in the plan from individual yearly fines that are incurred when they don’t have health coverage.

In addition, ORLA will offer a MEC Plus Plan for under $69 per full-time worker per month that provides access for each worker to four doctor office visits a year.

Both plans will become a major solution for our industry and member businesses due to their ability to protect employers and their employees from fines while offering an affordable health coverage option to businesses interested in adding a perk to their workforce benefits.

The healthcare evolution in the United States is at our doorstep and we will all feel it one way or the other. Do yourself a favor and take action by owning the solution that has been vetted and packaged for you through your membership.

Visit for more information and to get a quote.

Not a member yet? Email our membership department and we’ll get you squared away. | Jason Brandt, President & CEO

Thursday, July 23, 2015

ORLA to Welcome Change in Leadership

Jason Brandt
After a 32 year career in association management, and a terrific experience it has been by the way, I will be retiring in October. The decision to do so was made after a great deal of thought as I truly enjoy my job. It is an honor to represent ORLA’s members as I very much admire their passion for the industry, the jobs that they produce and the communities that they positively affect every day. Working to protect their rights, represent their positions on issues, provide them with needed information and educate their workforces made every work day something I looked forward to with enthusiasm. That is a gift that many don’t receive in life and one I value greatly.

However, there does come a time when you know it is time to move on to another chapter in your life. That time arrived for me last year. I came to grips with the fact that the energy level I’d always tapped to meet all my work obligations was much lower that it had been. I finally decided, or more truthfully knew, that it was time for ORLA to have a new CEO to lead the association in the challenging and changing times ahead.

So, working with ORLA’s Executive Committee, we developed a succession plan last summer. That plan laid out the search process, the type of person the board wanted to replace me with, and a timeframe for getting all of this done and the replacement hired. The search began in September of last year and culminated in the selection and hiring of my replacement in February of this year. A contract has been signed and your new CEO will start his new career on August 10, 2015.

Your new leader will be Jason Brandt who is currently the CEO of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce. Jason has worked for the Salem Chamber the past 11 years beginning immediately after graduating from Pacific Lutheran University. Jason grew up in Salem and lives there now with his wife Natalie and their two daughters. He has served as CEO of the Salem Chamber for over four years and is a leader in the chamber world in Oregon and the Western region of the country. He brings with him a thorough understanding of association management principles and law, nearly five years of association management experience, experience in the government affairs arena both at the state and local level, and an enthusiastic, people-oriented can-do attitude that will mean great things for Oregon’s hospitality industry.

I’ll be working with Jason getting him familiarized with all things ORLA through September. You might watch for us as I’m sure we’ll be traveling about the state introducing Jason to ORLA’s thousands of members (see ORLA Convention). Serving as CEO of the association is a demanding job and Jason’s skill set will serve him in good stead as he moves into his new position.

I can’t tell you what a joy and honor it has been to be allowed to lead the association. I know what a great job the ORLA team does every day representing your interests. The ever-changing, challenging times the industry has been through have certainly left you with an experienced team of professionals who know how to produce results. That will serve you and Jason with excellence in the years to come. You’re sure to see new ideas, innovative solutions and a fresh, new look at industry challenges from Jason – all good things that are healthy for ORLA. If you’re not already a member, please consider joining ORLA and supporting what will be another great era in ORLA’s long and distinguished history of representing the industry’s interests. Jason and your business need and deserve that support and participation. | Steve McCoid, President & CEO

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Restaurant Neighbor Award Winners To Be Recognized for Community Engagement

Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) announced the state winners of the acclaimed National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s (NRAEF) Restaurant Neighbor Award. The national winners were chosen in early February from state awardees by a panel of restaurant and foodservice industry leaders from across the country. Oregon finalists were then considered among all other state winners for a national award of $5,000 at the gala awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 2015.

The Restaurant Neighbor Award, developed in partnership with American Express, celebrates the outstanding charitable service performed by restaurant operators throughout the U.S. With nine in 10 restaurants involved in community service, this award recognizes the impact restaurants and entrepreneurs have made on their local communities.

“The involvement and dedication these restaurants have shown in support of local charitable programs is commendable and exemplifies the spirit of our industry and our state,” said Steve McCoid, ORLA President & CEO.

The 2015 Restaurant Neighbor Award winners from Oregon are:

Beau Delicious International, LLC dba Café Yumm!, Eugene
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Bandon
Cattlemen’s Saloon, Rogue River
Po’Shines, Portland

Award recipients will be recognized among their peers at the Hospitality Industry Awards Dinner, October 4, 2015, during ORLA’s Convention in Bend, Oregon. A complete list of Oregon’s hospitality industry awards can be found at For more information on ORLA’s Convention, visit or call 800.462.0619.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Advocating on Behalf of Oregon's Hospitality Industry

Oregon State Capitol
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association’s (ORLA) stripped down mission statement to “advocate, communicate and educate Oregon’s hospitality industry” has been discussed frequently in this publication. These three words are the reason ORLA exists, however, there is nothing like real world examples of how ORLA is meeting these goals to illustrate the point. I’ll give you some examples below.

We’re certainly in the midst of providing advocacy for you by representing the industry at the 78th Oregon Legislative Session, which began in February 2015. Your association is tracking over 300 bills that could affect your business. The most visible are statewide paid sick leave, a variety of proposals increasing the minimum wage between $12 and $15 an hour, a bill that requires work schedules be written two weeks out for foodservice operations with a penalty for any subsequent changes, and a cancellation of the ban on local governments passing their own minimum wages. ORLA’s lobbyist, Bill Perry, is at the Capitol daily representing your interests to the legislators and working to ensure all damaging legislation is not passed.

ORLA held its bi-annual Taste Oregon Legislative reception on February 17th, drawing over 225 industry members in attendance including a significant number of legislators and their staffers. Here, we’re talking about advocacy in terms of interacting with legislators, and communication by informing our members of the issues being dealt with in Salem. 

ORLA’s Education Foundation helps meet the educational mission by producing the annual OregonProStart High School Culinary Championships. This year’s event was held at Spirit Mountain Casino in Grand Ronde. There were 20 teams competing in an event that requires teams of four to plan and cook a 3-course meal in one hour using two gas burners while properly handling and prepping the food. The winning team from South Salem High School will compete in the National ProStart Invitational in Anaheim representing Oregon.

Finally, we are in the midst of preparing for and planning the annual Northwest Foodservice Show with our partners at the Washington Restaurant Association. The largest foodservice show in the Northwest, this typically draws over 5,000 and will be held in Portland this year at the Convention Center, April 26-27. We’re anticipating 400 booths featuring the latest in products and services plus a full agenda of educational seminars, new product listings and chef presentations. 

That’s just a sampling of the work and services ORLA delivered to the industry in the first quarter of 2015. For those who haven’t become ORLA members yet, please consider joining. All it takes is a call or email to get a helpful representative to review all the programs membership provides. We look forward to working with you as we support our great industry. | Steve McCoid, President & CEO,
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association