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2016 laws provide worker protections


The new year signals celebration, but it also marks the effective date of numerous bills passed by the Oregon Legislature in 2015.

Here is a rundown of bills, including those supported by East Multnomah County-based legislators:

- As of Jan. 1, Oregon became the fourth state to require paid sick leave. Senate Bill 454 requires companies with at least 10 workers to provide up to 40 hours of annual paid sick leave. The law is estimated to reach more than 850,000 workers who have never earned sick pay. Accrual is not limited to full-time employees. Part-time, temporary, exempt and nonexempt employees are included.

- House Bill 3025, more commonly known as “Ban the Box,” prevents employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal history. The bill is intended to remove barriers for people attempting to re-enter the workforce after a criminal conviction.

“If you talk to the person and they have a chance to talk about what they did and their qualifications, they can still be a legitimate candidate for that job,” said Rep. Chris Gorsek, D-Troutdale, who voted in favor of HB 3025. “If they have that box, they won’t get that far.”

- Two new laws expand access to birth control in Oregon. House Bill 2879 provides pharmacists with the ability to prescribe birth control medication, eliminating the need for women to visit their doctor to get a contraceptive prescription. House Bill 3343 requires that insurance companies cover a full-year of birth control.

- Known as the “New Motor Voter” law, House Bill 2177 modernizes voter registration. The new law will automatically register voters when they renew their driver’s license. Voter registration cards will no longer be required.

- Senate Bill 411 implements personal injury protection for drivers. The law allows auto insurance consumers to receive up to the full amount of uninsured motorist coverage if they are injured in an accident with an uninsured, at-fault driver. However, the change only applies to policies issued or renewed after Jan. 2. Consumers will need to contact their auto insurance providers to either renew or reissue policies for the change to be effective.

- Senate Bill 525 was passed to align with the federal Violence Against Women Act. The law was sponsored by Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham, and gives local law enforcement the authority to confiscate guns in domestic violence cases.

- House Bill 2007 concerns wage transparency. The law offers protections to employees who ask about, discuss or disclose wage information. It’s designed to encourage wage equity through disclosure.

- House Bill 2832 requires all contracts between public universities and third-party institutions that disperse student-aid funding to comply with federal consumer protection guidelines, with the intent to protect college students from unfair fees. It prohibits transaction and inactivity fees.

- Senate Bill 324 will work to reduce carbon intensity of transportation fuel. The bill will reduce carbon by 10 percent in the next 10 years. Phased in this year, full compliance to have cleaner air and fewer greenhouse gas emissions will be implemented by April 30, 2018.

- Senate Bill 552 will protect domestic workers. The law provides for overtime pay, periods of rest, paid vacation pay and protection from harassment.

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