Dec. 31, 2019 — The 2019 Oregon Legislature passed 120 bills during this year’s short summer session. Some of these new laws, such as the “Workplace Fairness Act” and the “Oregon Consumer Protection Act,” have already taken effect. Many others will become law on Wednesday. Jan. 1, 2020.
Perhaps the most discussed of the new measures is H.B. 2509, the Sustainable Shopping Initiative. This law includes a requirement that retail stores and restaurants discontinue the distribution of single use plastic bags and provide sustainable options for consumers to use when bagging their purchases.
The state is now mandating a minimum 5 cent charge to those that do not use sustainable bags. This is a minimum fee to be imposed by the state, with the retailer ultimately deciding the amount of the fee to be charged at their place of business.
S.B. 90 is also designed to reduce plastic waste, this time by prohibiting restaurants from providing customers with a plastic straw unless they specifically ask for one.
H.B. 2005 initiates a system for paid family leave in which Oregon workers can take off up to 12 weeks of paid leave. This leave can be used to care for a new child or sick family member, or to recover from a serious illness or domestic violence. The leave would be paid for by a state insurance fund that employers and employees will contribute to, similar to worker’s compensation.
There are two new laws that are specifically designed to enhance the safety of youth, women and those in a domestic abuse situation.
H.B. 4145 extends a gun ban to those who have been convicted of domestic abuse, regardless of the legal relationship that exists between those involved, and S.B. 155 now requires the investigation of all reports of suspected abuse or suspected sexual conduct by school employees, contractors, agents and volunteers.
There are a number of other changes due to be introduced that will affect consumers and residents in a mostly monetary way.
There will be an increase in the gasoline tax, which will add 2 cents a gallon to the cost of driving, and there will be potentially much higher registration costs for electric and other high mileage vehicles. This increase in registration fees was passed with bipartisan support as a way of increasing gas-related tax funding for ongoing road maintenance costs.
The issue behind both of these new laws is the accelerating cost of roadway maintenance that electric vehicles, since they do not purchase gasoline, are exempt from at this time.
In a clear message to some smaller communities in the state, H.B. 3067 requires that each city and county certify annually that they have not adopted ordinance prohibiting establishment from requiring marijuana-related business licenses.
H.B. 2015 may prove to be one of the more controversial new bills after it takes effect, as it allows for undocumented immigrants to legally obtain driver’s licenses in Oregon but will not add these individuals to state voter rolls.
H.B. 2393 makes it a crime to distribute intimate photos or videos of a person without that person’s prior consent.
S.B. 1562 has changed the status of the crime of strangulation from a misdemeanor to a felony and H.B. 4149 prohibits prosecutors from conditioning plea agreements on a prisoner waiving his rights.
H.B. 4008 will no longer allow consideration of an individual’s race or ethnicity when determining awards in a lawsuit.
H.B. 2618 requires the State Department of Energy to adopt a program for providing rebates for the purchase, construction and installation of solar electric systems.
S.B. 861 provides for prepaid postage on election ballots, which will allow Oregonians to vote by mail without paying for a stamp to mail their ballot.
S.B. 3 allows community colleges to offer four-year bachelor’s degrees. Colleges would have to gain approval for each four-year program through the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Committee.
S.B. 608 is designed to address issues related to the statewide housing shortage by capping annual rent increase at 7 percent and prohibits property owners from evicting month-to-month renters without cause, after they have resided in a location for 12 months or more.
One of the less dramatic of the new laws is S.B.998. This bill allows bicyclists to yield at stop signs rather than come to a full stop before proceeding through an intersection.
Finally, S.B. 320 would allow Oregon to stay on daylight savings time year-round. This bill will only take effect if California passes a similar bill, which is scheduled to be discussed in 2020, and the federal government passes a law allowing the change to move forward.
For a complete list of the new bills passed, and what the impact of those laws will be, visit Oregon.gov.