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New laws affect boaters, drinkers, hunters, shoppers

Bicyclists can make rolling stops at intersections when it's safe. (Jonathan Maus/
Thursday, January 9, 2020

News laws went into effect this week designed to protect the environment, right some wrongs, and raise money for transportation projects.

Following are the main new rules in Oregon that people may notice.

Plastic bag ban

Grocery stores and restaurants are banned from offering single-use plastic bags at checkout lines.

Oregon joins California, New York and Hawaii in banning single-use plastic bags. Those who forget to bring a reusable bag will be charged 5 cents for each paper bag or other alternative. Plastic bags used for produce, bulk foods and meat are exempt.

Plastic straw ban

Restaurants may not offer customers single-use plastic straws (customers must request one).

There is an exemption for customers in drive-through lanes at food-service windows – employees can offer, but still can’t automatically include straws in take-out bags. Also exempt are those serving patients at residential care homes and nursing facilities, and convenience stores, which are allowed to place straws on the counter in an unattended location, such as a self-serve drink station.

Small cocktail straws are included in the restriction, but plastic straws attached to or packaged with an item, such as juice boxes, are OK.

New bicycling rule

Cyclists have been required by law to abide by the same traffic laws as cars. While bicyclists still must yield to foot and vehicle traffic, they’ll be allowed to roll through clear stop-sign intersections, rather than come to a full stop.

They also can make a right or left turn onto a two-way street or make a turn onto a one-way street in the direction of traffic. The law also applies to red flashing light intersections.

However, cyclists now can be fined $250 for failing to yield for safety reasons.

Gas tax increase

Legislation passed in 2017 includes a 2 cents per gallon increase this year.

It’s the second of four phased increases in the state gas tax. In January 2018, the gas tax increased by four cents; it will be increased by two more cents in January 2022 and January 2024.

The extra money goes to counties, cities and the state to pay for highway maintenance, bridge projects, seismic projects, and preservation and culvert projects.

Pregnancy rights

Employers with six or more employees must reasonably accommodate pregnant employees with benefits such as longer or more frequent breaks, modified work schedules, special equipment or modified job assignments.

The law requires employers to post a notice and provide written notification of the law at the time of hire or for current employees within 180 days of the effective date and when they are notified of a pregnancy.

Workplace harassment

The Workplace Fairness Act, which takes effect Oct. 1, 2020, requires employers to implement a written anti-harassment policy and prohibits the use of nondisclosure agreements to prevent employees or job applicants from revealing harassment or discrimination under any protected category.

Employees may file a complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries for any violation under the WFA, or they may file a private lawsuit in court and recover their attorneys’ fees if they prevail.

Every employer should have a written anti-harassment policy in place that includes language required by the WFA. Employers also are encouraged to provide updated anti-harassment training.

Rent caps

Annual rent increases are capped at 7 percent, plus the change in the consumer price index (about 3 percent this year). The bill also prohibits landlords from evicting month-to-month renters without cause after a year of occupancy.

Revenge porn

It’s now a crime to distribute intimate photos or videos of a person without their consent. Previously, the law only applied to posting such content on a website, but now includes text message, email and apps. It allows victims to sue for up to $5,000 in damages.

Vote without stamps

Ballots will now come with prepaid postage, thanks to Senate Bill 861.

Diabetic meds

Pharmacists can provide 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.

Undocumented drivers

Undocumented immigrants can obtain a driver’s license, but they will not be added to voter rolls.

Bachelor’s degrees

Community colleges can offer four-year degrees if the program is approved by the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Committee. The programs must address a workforce need that’s not being met.

Intimidated by the law

You have a right to sue someone who summons a police officer without justification as a way to harass or embarrass you, such as having you thrown out of a place of business.

Invasive species

To minimize the spread of aquatic invasive species, motorized boaters will be required to “pull the plug” when leaving a waterbody and during transport to allow any water-holding compartments to drain.

Reckless boating

Boat operators can have their boating safety education card – required when operating a boat -- suspended for a year if convicted of reckless boating or up to three years for boating under the influence of intoxicants.

Deer and elk urine

The possession and use of deer and elk urine scent lures are prohibited. The typical scent lure mimics a female during breeding season and can attract a bull or buck to a hunter’s position.

Oregon’s ban is in keeping with a recommendation from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies urging states to ban cervid-based urine products to limit the spread of chronic wasting disease.

The products should be taken for safe disposal to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Astoria Field Office, 2001 Marine Drive, Room 120. For more information, call 503-325-2462 or 503-842-2741.

Mark your buoys

All surface buoys used with recreational crab pots or rings must be marked to identify the owner of the gear.

The identifying information should include first and last name or business name and at least one of the following: permanent address, phone number, ODFW ID number, or vessel identification number.

The rule does not apply to crabbing gear used from piers, jetties or beaches.

Tags are not an acceptable substitute for marking buoys.

Reasonable accommodations must be made for pregnant workers who want to continue working.

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