As we install the 2020 calendars and implement our New Year’s resolutions, Oregonians will be faced with several new state laws affecting our day-to-day lives.
Following the state’s 2019 legislative session, hundreds of new laws that passed became official Jan. 1. Here are a few of those changes:
Bans stores and restaurants from providing single-use plastic bags at the checkout counter, and requires them to charge at least 5 cents per bag if they provide paper or other alternatives.
Prohibits restaurants from giving customers single-use plastic straws unless the customer specifically requests one.
Allows community colleges to offer four-year bachelor’s degrees. Colleges would have to gain approval for each program through the Higher Education Coordinating Committee, by showing that the program would address a workforce need not presently being met.
Would allow Oregon to stay on Daylight Savings Time year-round, but only if the federal government passes a law allowing the switch. Washington and California also must agree to switch. The bill would exempt that portion of Eastern Oregon that operates on Mountain Time.
Sets up a system that allows Oregon workers to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child or sick family member, or to recover from a serious illness or domestic violence. The leave would be financed by a state insurance fund, to which both employers and employees would contribute less than 1% of their paycheck (similar to worker’s compensation).
Employers with fewer than 25 employees would not have to pay into the fund, but their employees would be eligible to apply for compensation during their leave of absence. The state will begin collecting the funds in 2022; employees will be able to begin collecting benefits in 2023.
Caps annual rent increases at 7% plus the change in consumer price index. The bill, which took effect upon passage, prohibits landlords from evicting month-to-month renters without cause after 12 months of residency.
Strengthens Oregon’s “revenge porn” laws by making it a crime to distribute intimate photos or videos of someone without their consent. Previously, the law covered only the posting of such content to a website, but now includes other methods of electronic dissemination such as text messaging, email and apps. It allows victims to sue for up to $5,000 in damages.
Makes it easier for police to put car thieves behind bars. A 2014 court decision meant that prosecutors had to prove a person had knowledge the vehicle they were driving was stolen. Now, prosecutors need only show that the person disregarded a “substantial and unjustifiable risk” that the vehicle might be stolen.
Beginning in 2020, provides for prepaid postage on ballots, allowing Oregonians to vote by mail without paying for a stamp.
Allow pharmacists to prescribe emergency refills of insulin and related supplies, instead of requiring patients who run out to wait for their doctor’s office to open to get a new prescription.
Allows an undocumented immigrant to obtain a driver’s licenses. (However, those who can’t provide documentation of citizenship will not be eligible to vote.)
Allows a person to sue anyone who “summons a police officer” as a way to discriminate against someone or cause them to feel harassed or embarrassed, infringe on the person’s rights, or expel them from a place where they are lawfully located.
Allows a bicyclist to yield or roll through - rather than come to a full stop - at stop signs and traffic signals.
Adds Oregon to the National Popular Vote Compact. States belonging to the compact agree to award their Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular vote, instead of the winner of their state vote. The compact will take effect once states representing 270 Electoral College votes join. Oregon brings that total to 196 votes.