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

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