Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks & Recognizing Charity

We all know that Thanksgiving in America originated from a combination of European and Native American traditions. The Europeans held festivals celebrating their safe voyages and gave thanks to a bountiful harvest just as Native Americans did. And when the Pilgrims didn’t have enough food for all the colonists, the Native Americans shared their harvest and taught them how to fish.

This tradition of sharing and helping others has continued over the years – and not just on Thanksgiving Day, this philanthropy is seen every day of the year. Nine out of every 10 restaurants participate in charitable activities. We see their contributions all around us - from hosting fundraising events benefitting children’s hospitals to feeding troops returning home from oversees duty – this humanitarianism is led by dedicated leaders and staff of the hospitality industry. With over 9,000 foodservice operations in Oregon, that’s a significant number of businesses making an impact in their local communities.

To celebrate the industry’s successes and show appreciation of the industry’s role in improving the quality of life for the greater audience it serves, the National Restaurant Association and American Express present the Restaurant Neighbor Award. This award recognizes restaurants who give significant contributions back to their communities. Each year, four national winners receive $5,000 each toward continuing their charitable works.

Restaurants of all sizes are encouraged to apply for this award. Not only is the Oregon finalist recognized statewide at ORLA’s Annual Convention but they will also be listed as the state winner in NRA’s media and forwarded on for consideration in the national selection of winners. Applications for the 2012 Restaurant Neighbor Award are due December 20th (updated)– visit for details.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Minimum Wage Increase In 2012

State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian announced today that Oregon’s minimum wage will be raised to $8.80 per hour next year. The 30-cent increase mirrors a 3.77 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index since August 2010. Oregon’s minimum wage rate remains $8.50 per hour for all hours worked in 2011. Washington state, where the minimum wage is currently $8.67 per hour, will announce its 2012 minimum wage on September 30th. Oregon’s minimum wage is the second highest in the country behind Washington.

Ballot Measure 25, enacted by Oregon voters in 2002, requires a minimum wage adjustment annually based on changes in inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) is directed to adjust the minimum wage for inflation every September, rounded to the nearest five cents. Washington does not round its wage up.

Oregon’s unemployment rate is still one of the highest in the country, and this wage increase is not expected to help reduce the unemployment rate. The fact that the increase goes up automatically does not take into account some of the factors that most state and federal minimum wages do; for example, youth employment and other income sources like tips.

Most states have a youth or “opportunity wage” that allows employers to reduce the minimum wage for the first 60-90 days on minors, essentially during their training period. The youth unemployment rate is twice what Oregon’s unemployment rate is, and the minority youth rate is even higher at more than 30 percent. Oregon’s minimum wage law ignores this fact completely and will likely increase the disparity that these young workers are facing in Oregon.

Oregon is also one of only a few states that don’t allow an employer to take into account declared tips as part of the wage. Tipped employees average over $20 an hour and are the highest hourly wage earners in restaurants. The state and federal government tax the tips, so they take their share, but do not allow the employer to account for the tips. Restaurant hourly wage workers that do not receive tips average between $11-15 an hour, and the law ignores the struggles these workers are often facing.

Given the economy in Oregon, it seems like more people are worried about “having” a paycheck or job now more than ever before. Oregon should consider ways to address the problems with the failed policies that continue to put us at the bottom of job growth and get more people working and receiving a paycheck. | Bill Perry

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Immigration reform continues to be an important topic for the hospitality industry.

As one of the largest trade associations in Oregon, Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) has a vested interest in all things generating business for the industry. Bill Perry, vice president of Government Affairs, and ORLA member Gus Castaneda, general manager of The Mark Spencer Hotel, recently attended a roundtable discussion on “Business Imperatives for Immigration Reform” in Portland. The Hon. Francisco J. S├ínchez, undersecretary of commerce for International Trade - U.S. Department of Commerce was the featured speaker for the program.

Although it was a small group of only 35 business people, discussions were productive and focused on immigration issues around growing the economy. Specifically, topics covered: how to make it easier for tourists in far eastern countries like China and India to get travel visas, professional or skilled visas, and the importance of overall immigration reform. The forum was sponsored by the White House, Portland Business Alliance and the Hispanic Chamber.

If you weren’t already aware, ORLA serves as co-chair of the Coalition for a Working Oregon (CWO), an organization created with the goal of advocating for comprehensive immigration reform. With 22 member organizations, CWO represents the first consolidated effort by Oregon employers to create support for a measured and sensible approach to comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level. Visit the Coalition’s website for more information or to get involved.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Will electric vehicle charging stations be the next big amenity?

For Oregon that might just come to fruition. Electric vehicles “EVs” are certainly getting attention these days and with a federally-funded program aimed at installing public chargers throughout the state we’ll likely see more hotels (and restaurants) get on board as locations for the service. The Heathman Hotel already has an EV station in their garage for guests to plug in during their stay and the Doubletree Hotel is next in line to offer this as a guest amenity. "We see how electric vehicles are going to change the landscape in the tourism industry for the coming years” says Chris Erickson, general manager of The Heathman.

As early adopters in providing sustainability programs, both Portland hotels were revved up when the opportunity to install a charging station became a reality through the EV Project. This national, federally-funded program will set out to install close to 1,100 pedestal-style stations around the state by the end of the year. Funding for the program in Oregon will also help advance the West Coast Green Highway initiative, planting quick-charge stations along the I-5 corridor. Read more about how these charging stations are bringing EVs into Oregon’s tourism industry in “Electrifying Oregon”. [Lodging News, June 2011]

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Will gas hikes affect the travel market?

Not likely. When looking at historical trends and forecasts, rising oil prices will most likely not have a negative affect on travel bookings. The only scenario where it might be a factor is if barrel prices breach $150 per barrel (U.S.). What we saw during the last “gas-price crisis” was consumer spending decrease in the grocery stores and increase at the gas station. This time around, forecasters predict consumers will still choose gas and food, but likely postpone the big purchases - i.e., new cars.

At a recent Meet the Money Conference, Jan Freitag, vice president of Smith Travel Research (STR), shared that the U.S. hotel industry sold more room nights during the first quarter of this year than it did during the first quarter of each of the last five years. “Group room demand is basically on par with where it was in 2008 or so,” he said. “It’s going to be very interesting to see how that demand plays out.” Read more story highlights at

In the latest issue of ORLA's Lodging News magazine, you can read a related article by Smith Travel Research on Oregon’s rosy outlook. “Promising Outlook: Oregon Hoteliers Can Expect Better Times Ahead”, shares insight on the state’s forecasted performance and how it breaks down in the Portland and Eugene markets.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

75 Million Americans Expected to Dine Out on Mother’s Day, According to the National Restaurant Association

Mother’s Day remains the most popular holiday on which to dine out, as the National Restaurant Association projects that 75 million American adults will do so this May 8. According to new research by the Association, nearly half of moms would pick their favorite restaurant if she were to choose where to go for a special Mother’s Day meal. And, more than half of mothers say they enjoy celebrating Mother’s Day with a restaurant meal because it gives them a break from cooking at home.

“Restaurants are at the center of Mother’s Day celebrations, providing moms much-needed reprieve from the chore of cooking at home to instead spend quality time with their family and friends,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association. “Great gift suggestions include taking her out to her favorite restaurant on Mother’s Day, as well as giving her a gift card to that restaurant for future use.”

The National Restaurant Association’s new survey shows that when it comes to meal times, dinner is most popular on Mother’s Day. Fifty-eight percent of Mother’s Day diners say they will go out to a restaurant for dinner on May 8; 32 percent will go out for lunch, 24 percent for brunch, and 10 percent for breakfast. In addition, one in five Mother’s Day diners (19 percent) say they will go out for more than one meal that day.

Kids are also an important part of the mix when dining out on Mother’s Day. Two-thirds of those dining out on Mother’s Day this year say children under the age of 18 will join their dining party.

The National Restaurant Association’s survey also specifically asked mothers about their wishes and preferences on Mother’s Day. When asked about the reason that best describes why they enjoy celebrating Mother’s Day with a special meal at a restaurant, 51 percent say because they do most of the cooking at home and dining out gives them a break. Twenty-seven percent say they mainly enjoy it because a restaurant is a great place to socialize with family and friends, while 16 percent say that sharing a meal at a restaurant creates lasting memories that other gifts can’t. Six percent say they like dining out on Mother’s Day because they’re a foodie and enjoy visiting restaurants for any occasion.

When asked about where they would like to dine for that special Mother’s Day meal, 46 percent of moms said they would prefer their favorite restaurant, regardless of holiday specials. Twenty-two percent would prefer to celebrate at a restaurant that is kid-friendly, 19 percent find Mother’s Day specials most important factor, and 11 percent would like to visit a restaurant they haven’t been to before.

The survey also showed that restaurant gift cards and certificates are popular on mom’s wish list. Approximately one-fifth of mothers (19 percent) said that is their preferred gift this Mother’s Day.

The National Restaurant Association surveyed 1,000 American adults April 21-23 about their plans for Mother’s Day 2011. The estimate of 75 million Americans dining out this Mother’s Day is based on economic analysis and projections, as well as research conducted by the National Restaurant Association over the last two decades.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Oregon Restaurants & Lodging Focus On What Matters - People.

Over 90% of restaurants in Oregon are philanthropic. We are part of our respective communities. It is intrinsic in our industry to give back.

Cousin’s Restaurant in The Dalles is an excellent example of how the restaurant and lodging industry is passionate about supporting and being a part the community.

Below is a letter sent into The Dalles Chronicle by Rev. Clyde Sanda regarding Jack Preston, one of Cousin’s guests who passed away this past week.

Jack’s Table

To the editor:

Working as a chaplain for Heart of Hospice has given me the opportunity to work with some truly amazing people in our community. Every once in a while though, a group of people really give special meaning to the word “community”.

Cousin’s Restaurant employs that kind of people. Jack Preston died last Sunday at 95. One of the highlights of his last few years was his daily lunch at Cousin’s. The staff was his local family. He had his own special table. The hostesses always walked with him, no matter how slow he walked those last few months. The wait staff knew which was his favorite soup of the day (no bread or crackers). The last month or so, when he could no longer drive, they would always ask if he needed a meal to go. I was with him one of the times he fell. The staff was there immediately. One called 911, another rerouted customers to give him privacy, another was in tears. Everyone came to see if he was alright (he was). Finally, Jack got to the point he was bed-ridden and could not leave the house. Whenever we would go to Cousin’s to buy him some soup, they would always ask about him and ask us to tell Jack how much they cared for him. One waitress even bought his soup.

One of the last things Jack said to me was how special the people at Cousin’s were to him. He asked me to let them know. In the overall scheme of life, Jack was just another little old man eating lunch. But the staff at Cousin’s treated him like he was special. They probably have no idea how much their kindness and friendship was to him. He loved all of them. So, the next time you go to Cousin’s, look for the plaque that says, “Jack’s Table.” And remember that we live in a community of very special people.

Love and Blessings to the staff at Cousin’s,

Rev. Clyde Sanda, Chaplain
Heart of Hospice
Hood River

Cousin’s has honored Jack by placing a coffee cup, soup bowl, flowers and a picture of the honored at his table.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Siskiyou Welcome Center Slowly Moves Forward

Ealier this week, Ashland City Council approved use of the city’s water and sewer service for the Siskiyou Safety Rest Area and Welcome Center, a big step forward for a project 16 years in the making. The proposal does come with a few conditions that must be met however: water use is limited to potable purposes only (not for landscape irrigation), welcome center facility must be built within 4 years and have adequate staffing and maintenance, and Oregon State Police must have a substation on site.

Additionally, for the project to move forward, the Jackson County Commissioners must approve an exception to a land use rule, allowing for an exception in city water use outside city limits. The Commissioners have made exceptions before and will bring this issue to the table in May.

As for funding the project, Oregon Department of Transportation must secure about $5 million to build the rest area, with intent to implement sustainable practices. Travel Oregon will be looking at federal funding to help secure the $2.5 million needed to build the welcome center.

Several industry partners were on hand to testify at the Council meeting including Scott West, Travel Oregon, Drew Baily, Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, and Matt Folz, Xanterra Parks / Crater Lake. Carolyn Hill, CEO of Southern Oregon Visitors Association, shared travel impact data where the average visitor spends $158 a day in the Rogue Valley, illustrating how the availability of additional information on Ashland and area attractions will convince visitors to stay longer.

Although State Welcome Centers are only one component of the state's overall visitor information environment, they are key in helping to provide visitors with valuable information to enhance their experience in our state.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

You Are Branded For More Than Just What You Sell.








You Are Branded For More Than Just What You Sell.

Branding is a nebulous concept for most. It's a term that is often confused for a logo or an identity. It's an art that is not as simple as painting a colorful shingle, hanging it outside the front door and calling it good.
Branding is a promise that you make to your suppliers, employees, and customers. It's following through on those commitments with everyone that interacts with your brand.
Hopefully, that includes your customer base. Holistic branding reaches out to that life-blood of your business, creating an encounter that embodies the entire experience of a purchase.
Establishing a brand and its promise is up to you. But ultimately, the customer decides what your brand means and what it's worth based on their experience with your business. Customers will give your brand tribute and build a relationship with your brand only when you deliver something unique, consistent and of high value. If your efforts aren't focused on setting your business apart from the crowd and providing a compelling experience then you are wasting energy. Your brand is a reflection of everything you do or don't deliver.

It's common for branding to only be a concern for those managing it or consultants trying to sell you on why it matters. But in today's hyper-competitive market no one can afford to be complacent. Your competition is working diligently on growing their brand; figuratively speaking, they would like nothing better than to steal your lunch and the customers that go with it.


Your Brand's Value

Brand value is likely more important and valuable than you realize. Whether you're aware of it or not, your brand actually has a monetary value. Some big name brands are in the billions – as in ten figures-plus. Not surprisingly, most are worth far less.

According to Interbrand, a branding consultancy and monitoring enterprise that rates brand value yearly, the top 2010 brand in the world is Coca Cola, worth a reported $70.4 billion. The highest rated foodservice brands in the top 100 are: #6 McDonalds at $33.5 billion ; #60 KFC at $5.8 billion; #83 Pizza Hut at $3.9 billion; and #97 Starbucks at $3.3 billion. To be clear, that is what their brands are supposedly worth, not the companies themselves; however, you won't find that value on their profit and loss statements.
Companies like the ones mentioned here focus on protecting and even growing those substantial values by consistently delivering on their brand promises to everyone they touch.
Suffice to say, the Coca Colas of the world have a lot to lose when protecting their brand, but they also have a wider margin for error. The smaller the company, the more vital the need to protect what brand value there is.

So where does a smaller enterprise start? It begins by assessing everything that the company delivers. Every business sells a product and with it an experience. Though most get caught up in selling the product, that is only half of the equation. It bears repeating that the entire brandable experience includes the bigger picture.

For example, you can work tirelessly to creating the perfect braised pork shoulder that you know your patrons are going to salivate over, but if you don't put equivalent resources and attention into the experience side of the purchase, you're only concentrating on half of the customer experience. Courteousness while taking phone call for reservations, the hosts' attitude when seating guests, the promptness of the wait staff attending to the needs of the customer, timing in delivering the food table side, delivering the check and thanking patrons as they go out the door, these all matter. It's the practice of treating the experience side of the purchase with as much attention as the product or service itself; that is what holistic branding is all about.

In piecing together the holistic branding puzzle, it's important to understand touch points. Touch points are anytime an aspect of your brand is experienced by customers, employees, the general public – anyone. Every touch point is your opportunity to add value to your brand or devalue it. Think about the quality and experience of the touch point and ask yourself, "Am I delivering on my brand promise or am I trimming away at its value?"

Keep in mind that there is nothing any company sells which a customer can't choose to buy someplace else or do without. Any purchase is the result of the experience of buying it. To a customer, it's often the quality of the experience that can be the deciding factor to purchase, repurchase or recommend your product to others. Your competition can attempt to capture your bread and butter with marketing, pricing or other tactics to win business, but the brand relationship that you create is nurtured and sustained on the experience side of the purchase. If you want to ensure repeat business you must be branded for what you sell and how you sell it. | John Hamilton

Thursday, April 7, 2011

McDonald's To Hire 50,000 In One Day.


It was recently posted on Nation's Restaurant News that McDonald’s Corp. officials said the company’s plan to hire 50,000 people in one day presents it with an opportunity to show that a “McJob” isn’t a dead end but rather the start of a career. Read the article here, there is no information as to how many of those jobs will land in Oregon.

We agree that perceived "burger flipping" jobs are not a dead end job. The foodservice industry offers much more such as: discipline, structure, purpose, responsibility along with developing business acumen and human interaction skills.

There is earning potential as well. Here are the average wages at the store level (source: Glassdoor)
  • Cashier - Hourly $7.81
  • Crew Member - Hourly $7.81
  • Shift Manager - Hourly $9.81
  • Assistant Store Manager $28,389 annual
  • Store Manager $36,629 annual

Aside from earning potential and developing life skill-sets, working in the quick service industry does lead to jobs in other industry segments. Today's McDonald's employee may be tomorrow's waiter, chef or franchisee owner. There is a lot of potential when you work in the foodservice industry.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

National Restaurant Association Says 1099 Repeal is Victory for Restaurant Operators, Small Business Owners

National Restaurant Association Says 1099 Repeal is Victory for Restaurant Operators, Small Business Owners

April 05, 2011

The National Restaurant Association today praised the Senate’s action to repeal the onerous 1099 mandate, which was included in last year’s health care law.

The Senate passed H.R. 4, The Comprehensive 1099 Taxpayer Protection and Repayment of Exchange Subsidy Overpayments Act of 2011, sponsored by Senators Mike Johanns (R-NE) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) with a bipartisan vote of 87 to 12.

H.R. 4 repealed the expanded 1099 reporting requirement found in the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” which was overly burdensome, making nearly every business-to-business transaction reportable to the Internal Revenue Service.

“Our industry is the nation’s second largest private-sector employer, but restaurants large or small, really operate as small businesses or collections of independent operations,” said Scott DeFife, Executive Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs for the National Restaurant Association. “Today’s vote is a victory for thousands of restaurant operators and small business owners who do not have large administrative staffs to handle recordkeeping and reporting responsibilities. This action will help the industry continue to devote resources into job creation rather than the burdensome 1099 requirement that was enacted last year.”

The National Restaurant Association aggressively worked to repeal the 1099 provision, sending letters urging repeal to the Senate with the backing of 49 state restaurant associations, providing small business testimony about the overwhelming challenges of the provision, and rallying grassroots action to urge Congress to overturn the requirement.

The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature.

Contact: Sue Hensley 202.331-5964, Annika Stensson 202.973-3677  at the National Restaurant Association or visit more information.

ORLA's GA team can be reached at 503.682.4422.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Roseburg City Council Shot Down Proposal That Would Have Reduced VCB's Marketing Budget

On March 28, Roseburg City Council rejected a proposal to use hotel and motel taxes to revamp the South Umpqua waterfront. Under this proposal, the city’s VCB would have had about $200,000 a year less in their advertising budget. Drew Baily, regional representative for ORLA, provided testimony before Roseburg City Council in opposition to this proposal.

Here’s an excerpt from his testimony:

“At this time, we (ORLA) do not support the proposal to reduce the Roseburg marketing budget allocated to tourism promotion and ask that you table any discussion of reducing the funds used for marketing. The hospitality industry is one of the leading economic drivers for the state and we ask that you continue to support and promote a growing, sustainable and productive industry in Roseburg.

There may never be a right time to raise taxes or put jobs at risk, but there certainly are wrong times to do so. Douglas County’s unemployment rate remains in double digits and any decision that puts existing and future business growth at risk should be avoided if at all possible.

Some wine industry experts predict that Southern Oregon and the Umpqua Valley are positioned to be the next Napa Valley. Roseburg should reaffirm its commitment to spurring on economic growth through promotion of sustainable, high yield industries. The tourism industry is one that creates a positive economic impact on communities throughout Oregon.

We ask you to reject any proposal that threatens to further weaken the local tourism economy or negates the long-term benefit gained from a robust tourism industry. Thank you for the opportunity to provide input into this important matter before Council.”

Read more on ORLA's advocacy efforts.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Capital Gains Bills in Senate Revenue Committee

Last Wednesday, the Senate House Committee heard testimony on Senate Bills (SB) 8, 883, and 714. Each of these bills proposes a reduction on Oregon's capital gains tax. SB 8, introduced by Senate President Peter Courtney, will reduced the tax, but does not give a specific rate in the text of the bill. Bills 883 and 714 will introduce a progressive tax on capital gains, however, SB 883 has a sunset provision that will allow the bill to only be effective until 2013.

A capital gains tax reduction is imperative. The state of Oregon currently has a capital gains tax rate of 11%, tied for highest in the nation with Hawaii. Due to this high tax rate, Oregon stands to lose business to neighboring states that either charge a lower rate, or have no capital gains tax at all (such as Washington). Not only does this mean lost jobs for Oregonians, but also lost revenue for the state.

In Wednesday’s Senate Revenue Committee hearing, a number of people turned out to support these proposed reductions, including Senator Olsen, Senator Atkinson, and Senator Read. Senator Atkinson discussed specific cases he witnessed in which business associates decided to move to Washington to avoid capital gains taxes. Oregon business representatives also turned out to argue for these important bills, stressing competition with Washington, and a loss of angel investments due to these taxes.

It is important that capital gains taxes in the state of Oregon are reduced. To save jobs and our economy, please contact your senator and ask them to support these important bills.

Bill Perry
Vice President of Government Affairs

Friday, March 25, 2011

Updates from the Capitol: ORLA’s GA team in action

HB 3295: This bill would allow local government to close an OLCC establishment for 72 hours if officials believe that continued sales or operation is an immediate threat to public safety. At the March 14 hearing I testified alongside a couple of attorneys representing the industry that talked about the Constitutional ramifications and gave additional legal insight on the bill with case examples of how the system and OLCC currently work today. Additionally, a local owner/operator of several area restaurants talked about how this legislation could potentially harm responsible operators. My testimony pointed out all the different tools we currently have instituted that can be used to restrict and close problem establishments. This appears to be more of a communication and lack of resources problem then lack of tools. The hearing lasted close to 2 hours with opposing testimony and the bill still doesn't appear to be going anywhere in its current form but we’ll continue to keep a close eye on it.

Gift Cards: On March 17th I attended a meeting with the grocers and additional retailers regarding a bill that would require all gift cards to be reloadable and once the amount of the card got under $10 it retailers would have to give cash for the balance (an idea coming out of CA). We all voiced our opposition to this bill and explained why this is not as easy as it sounds. We will be doing the same during the hearing next for SB 756.

SB 669: ORLA testified in front of the senate business committee in favor of SB 669 which allows manufacturer or wholesaler of alcoholic liquor to sponsor time or space at venues and amphitheaters with events held on premise. The bill passed out of committee with all aye votes and should be on the floor of the senate soon.

SB 878: ORLA testified in front of the Senate Judiciary in favor of SB 878 which would clarify that servers who are checking Id's for age verification purposes do not need to be DPSST certified. Both the city of Portland and DPSST testified against the bill. There is another hearing/work session scheduled for Monday (3/28). We’re also watching closely SB 635 which deals with exempting volunteers from DPSST certification and SB 69 which allows for golf course operators with a permit to use a type of flare gun to scare away geese - the golf course operators asked for our help on this bill. SB 69 was voted out of committee and SB 635 was scheduled again for Monday.

Kara Thallon
Director of Public Affairs

Thursday, March 24, 2011

ORLA reps discuss industry issues with Oregon’s congressional leaders

Last week a small contingent of ORLA members met with Oregon members of Congress during the second day of the AH&LA Legislative Action Summit in Washington, D.C. We were able to meet with Congressman Greg Walden, Congressman Kurt Schrader and legislative assistants for Congressman Earl Blumenauer and Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley. The visits were productive and our voice was heard on issues we felt important to our industry.

We discussed these specific issues during each of our congressional appointments:

Online Travel Companies - The Expedias of the world are paying local room tax based on their negotiated "wholesale" rate while selling the rooms at a higher retail rate. The result is lower income for the local taxing authority, and a less than straightforward transaction with the consumer who thinks they've paid the room tax on their higher transaction. The danger is that the taxing authority may come after the hotel for the remainder of the unpaid (in their eyes) taxes.

Tourism Investment - We discussed how the funds are being developed for international marketing of travel to the U.S. and the need to ensure it is spent promoting tourism and not taken to fund other programs in these tough budgetary times. These marketing dollars generate increased spending in the U.S. as well as job growth in the tourism industry among restaurants and lodging properties.

International Travel – We need to make it easier for the Asian rim nations to obtain visas to visit the U.S. The current process is cumbersome and it can take 45 - 60 days. That discourages travel to the U.S. as it takes as little as 10 days to obtain visas to other nations competing for the Asian vacation traveler. China alone is projected to have 100 million of its citizens travelling internationally in the coming years. It is to Oregon’s advantage as a Pacific Rim port to do all it can to encourage ease of travel for this lucrative and extensive market.

Unions - We also discussed the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the pro-union makeup of its board. They have moved from the intended judiciary activities it was designed to perform to one of a more regulatory and rule making model that is intent in providing as much assistance as possible for union organizing activities. We left a list of previous rulings by past NLRB boards (a judiciary function) that the current NLRB board is reviewing with an eye to issuing new rulings that are more pro-union in nature or anti-business in nature depend on your viewpoint.

Steve McCoid
President / CEO

Friday, March 11, 2011

Cannon Beach leaders organize evacuation, shelter.

ORLA member Ocean Lodge helped organize an evacuation of hotel guests during today's tsunami danger. Thanks to Tom Drumheller and his staff for being good citizens and ambassadors of the Oregon hospitality industry. Continue reading

What rising gas prices mean for the restaurant industry

Gas prices have soared the past few weeks. The restaurant industry is prepping for rising cost associated with deliveries. Analyst are projecting increases and the impact on customers. Continue reading

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Incentives for business growth saved by both political parties.

March 7th was a big day at the Oregon Capitol, it was the day that businesses should feel the tide turning and there was a brighter future ahead. I am not trying to sound overly dramatic but it was a big day in my mind.

If you followed the news there was a mistake found in the law which prevented Oregon businesses from an accelerated depreciation schedule for Oregon income tax purposes. This was a mistake that the department of revenue discovered, so business lost a tax incentivize to invest in new equipment and the legislative body gained $100 million in revenue with the discovery. The House Republicans quickly attached an amendment to an existing bill and sent it to the House floor in the form of a “minority report”.

It was setting up to be a straight partisan fight, the Republicans want to keep the incentives to grow the economy and the democrats wanted to include the money for budget discussions. In the end, two Democrats voted with the Republicans to replace the original bill with the minority report to keep the incentives for business growth.

This set off changes that should establish more trust in the business community. Next came a vote to pass the bill to the Senate, 11 Democrats then voted with the Republicans. Later that day the Senate President and the Governor sent out statements that they would support the business growth incentives.

Much thanks to the Republicans for forcing the issue to the floor for the discussion and a big thanks to the two Democrats Mike Schaufler and Jeff Barker who “broke ranks” so to speak and got the ball rolling. Once those two made the stand, Democrats in all branches joined in and returned to tax code to where everyone thought it was at the beginning of the tax year.

Bill Perry

Vice President of Government Affairs

Friday, February 25, 2011

This week at the Capitol - Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association's advocacy team in action

House Bill 3295
ORLA's government affairs team is closely monitoring House Bill 3295, a proposal that allows local governments to close an OLCC establishment for 72 hours if the local officials believe that continued sales or operation is an immediate threat to public safety. ORLA has concerns with this bill and we believe the proposal would make it far too easy to close an establishment.
This will likely be the biggest "battle" in Salem this session for OLCC license holders. Additionally, the Chiefs of Police Association is supporting this bill - which lends a stronger position to the proponents' argument. The bill will be moved to the House Judiciary Committee, and although no action has been scheduled yet, stay tuned!

House Bill 3030
HB 3030, which allows golf course marshals to be exempt from minimum wage law if they are provided free golf, is on its way to the House floor for a vote. Once passed, the bill will move to the Senate for consideration.

Senate Bill 301
Two years ago Congress passed a tax bill giving businesses the ability to use an accelerated schedule for equipment depreciation. However, last legislative session Oregon's lawmakers "disconnected" from the federal tax code - which meant businesses were not allowed to depreciate their equipment on the same schedule for their Oregon state income taxes. Senate Bill 301 clarifies that action for the 2010 tax year, but will "reconnect" Oregon to the federal tax code for the 2011 tax year allowing Oregon businesses to use the same depreciation schedule for both their federal and state returns. SB 301 has passed the Senate and is now under deliberation in the House.

To view other legislation ORLA is actively involved with visit our Government Affairs pages on the website. Industry members are encouraged to get engaged in legislative issues affecting your business by contacting your legislators – click here to access ORLA's legislative action center and let your voice be heard.