Special Session makes jobless benefit change

By Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association,

The second Special Session of 2020 wrapped up in one day. 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.

Here are the quick highlights on Senate Bill 1701:

– The old state law was employees start losing portions of their unemployment insurance benefits once they start making more than 10x the minimum wage in a week. Even though we have different minimum wage rates in Oregon, the Employment Department calculates this amount based on Portland Metro’s rate for everyone. So, the old law said once you make over $132.50 in a week you start weaning off unemployment.
– That issue has been a problem for operators trying to get part time workers to pick up more shifts. Employees are doing that calculation to determine how they stay under $132.50 a week so they don’t lose unemployment benefit access in the instances where full time employment isn’t yet available. Read ORLA’s invited testimony.
– The law will change in the coming weeks (needs to be signed by the Governor and executed by the Employment Department) based on Sessiont’s bipartisan vote in both the Oregon House and Senate. Now, part time workers can earn up to $300 a week before they start losing a portion of their unemployment benefits.
– The model was based off of a law passed in the State of Georgia earlier in the pandemic. According to the BOLI Commissioner here in Oregon, her counterpart in Georgia has stated it has generated tens of millions in additional economic activity. We know this new law will help us in getting more shifts picked up for those working part time in communities across Oregon.

Quick update on the federal dynamics sent to us this morning from the National Restaurant Association for our ORLA members specifically interested in this:

– A major collection of business leaders are pushing Congress for enhanced, longer term federal economic relief. The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association along with other state industry associations will be added to the list of supporters this week.
– For longer term economic support, the letter asks for partially forgivable, flexible loans at favorable terms that can help small businesses continue operations into 2021. The bipartisan RESTART bill, which state restaurant associations helped develop with Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Todd Young (R-IN), is mentioned in the letter as the type of sustained six-month loan program small businesses need.
– Over 100 CEOs signed onto an initial letter for Congress, and since then thousands more businesses have signaled their support. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is coordinating the efforts, and their plan is to re-release the letter with additional groups by Thursday (Aug. 13). Add your organization to the list of supporters at: https://helpsmallbusinessesnow.com/

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