SALEM — Lawmakers in Oregon lived up to their name this year, enacting more than 750 new laws — with many going into effect Jan. 1.
Working, driving, smoking, guns, voting, gambling, marriage and fertility were key subjects during the 2017 session of the Legislature.
Here are some of the highlights of what goes on the books this coming Monday:
Smoking: Oregon became the fifth state in the nation to raise the minimum age required for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21. California, Hawaii, Maine and New Jersey previously made the move.
The Oregon Health Authority told lawmakers that 9 out of 10 smokers started before they were 19 years old.
“Raising the legal sale age for tobacco products to 21 can reduce smoking rates and reduce tobacco-related deaths,” said Dr. Katrina Hedberg, the state health officer, in a statement released Wednesday reminding retailers the new law takes effect early Monday morning.
Retailers are barred not only from selling tobacco products, but cannot sell “inhalant delivery systems” such as pipes, bongs or vaping devices to anyone younger than 21, which will also make it more difficult for those under 21 to use marijuana.
Store owners can be fined $500 for each violation, while store managers can be hit with $250 fines and store employees $50 fines. On the third offense and after, fines for owners and managers double.
Voting: An expanded “motor voter” law will allow residents as young as 16 to be registered to vote at the time they receive their driver’s licenses, though they will not be able to vote until they are 18.
Nitrous oxide: Purchasers of nitrous oxide cannisters must be 18. While the gas has several industrial and business purposes, it can be illegally used as an intoxicant.
Guns: Beginning with the new year, family members or law enforcement can go to a judge and ask them to remove the firearms of someone who is deemed a danger to themselves or others. The judge can also bar the person from possessing firearms for a year. An attempt by critics of the legislation to refer the law to voters failed to gather enough signatures to get on a 2018 ballot.
Birth control: Lawmakers approved expanded free reproductive health treatment, including abortions, for women regardless of whether or not they are in the country legally. Lawmakers also made it easier for men to get a vasectomy, approving qualified nurse practitioners to do the procedure.
Marriage: Oregonians who want to get married no longer need to hire a real or faux clergy member — nonprofit secular groups can now officiate at weddings.
Several worker-rights laws are either going into effect, have already started or are scheduled to take effect soon.
Worker schedules: Employers with over 500 employees will be required to give workers one week advance notice of changes in their work schedules, effective in July. The time frame goes up to two weeks notice in 2020.
Sick leave: Companies with more than 10 employees must offer at least 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. Smaller companies must provide at least 40 hours of unpaid sick leave. Employers can now cap accrued sick time at 80 hours and limit annual sick time to 40 hours for each worker.
Overtime: Employers now have to get written approval from many workers when a job requires more than 55 hours in a week. There’s an outright ban on hourly manufacturing employees working more than 60 hours a week, though employers who hire workers for seasonal work with “perishable” food can get exemptions. In a big win for manufacturing employees, bosses must now pay the higher of hourly and weekly overtime wages.
Minimum wage: In July, the minimum wage will rise again. There are three tiers. The statewide standard, in effect in Deschutes County, will see workers get a 50-cent raise to $10.75 per hour. Workers in “non-urban” counties — including Jefferson and Crook counties — will get a 50 cent increase to $10.50 per hour. Workers in the relatively expensive Portland metropolitan area will receive a 75-cent raise to $12 per hour.
Bingo: In a bid to give local charities a leg up in competition with Indian casinos and the Oregon Lottery, bingo games run by some nonprofits can offer prizes up to $5,000 per game, double the previous limit.
— Reporter: 541-525-5280, email@example.com