Issues Range from Paid Leave to Cheaper Fishing Licenses
The new year ushers in new personal resolutions and 20 new Oregon laws that went into effect January 1. The laws deal with paid leave, mandatory overtime, crime victim restitution, workers’ compensation, sexual assault kits and fishing licenses, among other issues.
Approved during the 2022 Oregon legislative session, most of the laws received bipartisan support, while others were controversial such as overtime pay for farmworkers and a requirement for the Oregon Department of Education’s workforce to mirror the diversity found in Oregon public schools.
The Paid Leave Oregon program will be the new law most Oregonians notice in their paychecks. Employers with 25 or more employees will begin setting aside money to fund the program. For 2023, the contribution cannot exceed 1 percent of gross wages, with 60 percent coming out of employee payroll checks and 40 percent footed by employers. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees are required to collect employee payroll contributions. An option exists for businesses to offer an equivalent paid leave plan with equal or better benefits, subject to approval by the Oregon Employment Department.
Paid leave eligibility includes the birth of a child, bonding with an adopted or foster care child, medical leave for yourself or a family member and safe leave for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking. Eligible employees can apply for paid leave benefits under the program starting on September 3. Benefits include 12 weeks off that are compensated from program funds. The amount of pay depends on earnings. If employees have worked more than 90 days for an employer, they have the right to return to work.
Employers with 25 or more employees will begin setting aside money to fund the program on January 1. Employees can apply for benefits beginning September 3.
The Oregon Workplace Fairness Act has been amended to make it unlawful for an employer to prevent former employees from disclosing discrimination and harassment settlements. Employers also cannot withhold the amount of a settlement unless the affected employee requests it withheld.
Crime Victim Restitution
House Bill 4075 ensures crime victims, including small businesses, receive economic restitution from convicted criminals before they pay court fines. The bill passed unanimously in both chambers.
Workers’ Compensation Beneficiaries
The definition of a workers’ compensation beneficiary is expanded to include individuals with relationships equivalent to family ties. Dependents who are noncitizens living outside the United States and spouses “living in a state of abandonment” are no longer excluded as beneficiaries.
Fishing License Fees
Passed in the House and Senate with only two opposing votes, House Bill 4072 lowers the cost of one-day angling and shellfish licensing fees and requires steelhead fishermen to obtain new validation and harvest cards.
Noncitizens, Not Aliens
The word “aliens” will be replaced in statutory references with “noncitizen” by January 1 and in state agency rules by July 1.
Sexual Assault Kits
If authorized by a sexual assault victim, documentation on injuries, evidence collection and forensic exams can be included in a sexual assault kit. Senate Bill 1574 passed the legislature unanimously.
Newborn Nursing Coverage
Under provisions of Senate Bill 1555, health plans offered in Oregon must reimburse the full cost of in-home nurse visits for families with newborns.
In one of the most hotly contested bills in 2022 session, House Bill 4002 phases in over five years farmworker overtime. For the next two years, farmworkers will be paid at a rate of time and half for working more than 55 hours per week. The overtime threshold drops to 48 hours in 2025 and 40 hours in 2027.
Alarm System Regulation
Local governments will be unable to regulate nonresidential alarm systems and battery-charged fences that meet International Electrotechnical Commission standards.
Non-Police Traffic Citations
House Bill 4105, which passed over significant opposition, allows cities to appoint non-police traffic enforcement agents who can issue traffic citations based on images generated by red light and speed enforcement cameras.
School Board Ethics
Local school board members will be required to file verified economic interest statements with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission that disclose sources of income, real estate holdings and possible conflicts of interest.
Firefighter Occupational Diseases
The list of cancers considered occupational diseases for firefighters is expanded to include bladder and gynecological cancers.
Child Support Referee
House Bill 4121, which passed both houses unanimously, authorizes a presiding judge to appoint a referee to hear matters relating to child support and parenting disputes.
Temporary Disability Claims
House Bill 4138 places new limits on an insurer’s ability to recover injured worker overpayments and ensures workers receive written notice before temporary disability benefits are suspended for claims that arise after January 1, 2024.
Real Estate Fines
The fine for conducting unlicensed real estate business will rise from $100 to $1,000. A second offense fine can be at least $2,500.
Senate Bill 1538 provides for dental care under the Oregon Health Plan for low-income citizens from island nations in the Compact of Free Association who live in the state.
Senate Bill 1513 creates a narrow exclusion prohibiting penalties for bakery and tortilla plant workers who refuse to work overtime shifts on short notice. The provision impacts 294 Oregon employers and 5,629 workers.
Department of Education Workforce
House Bill 4031 sets a goal requiring the Oregon Department of Education to employ a workforce that reflects the same percentage of diversity as student populations in public schools.
Academic Assessment Survey
The Oregon Department of Education will conduct a survey of academic assessment tests used in Oregon to produce findings that inform recommendations on the use and best practices of assessments.