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New batch of Oregon laws take effect in January

With a new year comes new laws in Oregon.
Jade McDowell

East Oregonian

Published on December 22, 2015 7:19PM


As Oregonians prepare to ring in 2016, they’re also preparing for a slate of new laws that go into effect on Jan. 1.

Here’s a look at how they will affect the lives of Oregonians.

Workplace: Some of the most notable laws are part of the “fair shot” package passed by the legislature this summer in an effort to expand protections and opportunities for workers.

Every business with more than 10 employees will be required to provide sick leave for their workers in 2016 — even those who are part-time or paid by the hour. Sick leave policies can still vary by employer, but each will be required to provide at least one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours a year.

Oregon is also “banning the box” in 2016, making it illegal for employers to ask on a job application whether an applicant has a criminal history. They can still ask during an interview, but the idea is to prevent blanket discrimination of ex-offenders by allowing them to get a foot in the door.

Employers will no longer be allowed to forbid workers to inquire about their co-workers wages, or disclose their own salaries. And employers will be barred from requiring their employees create personal social media accounts, provide the passwords to their accounts or promote the company on their personal profiles.

Domestic workers like nannies and housekeepers will be extended several new protections in 2016, including mandatory breaks, paid vacation time and recourse against harassment.

Law enforcement: The legislature also worked to provide increased protections to crime victims.

The statute of limitations on rape will double in 2016, allowing prosecution up to 12 years after the crime occurred instead of six. If the crime happened to a minor, the victim has until age 30 to come forward.

Secretly filming someone in a place of “presumed privacy” — including bathrooms and locker rooms — will be upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony in 2016. That law complements a slew of other invasion-of-privacy laws that came into effect in 2015, including a ban on “upskirting” (intentionally photographing up a woman’s skirt or down her blouse without permission) and “revenge porn” (posting nude photographs or video of someone online with the intent to humiliate them).

Federal laws banning those convicted of domestic violence or subject to a restraining order from owning firearms were only enforceable by federal agents in the past, but starting in 2016 other law enforcement will also be able to remove guns from convicted abusers.

A new law also protects someone who seeks medical help for the victim of a drug overdose from being arrested or prosecuted based on evidence only obtained because the person sought help.

Police also will be able to break into a vehicle and free an animal if they believe temperatures inside the vehicle are endangering the animal’s life, and calling in a bomb threat or other false report about a hazard in a public building will be a Class A misdemeanor.

Education: Most of the education bills passed in 2015 don’t take effect until the new school year starts next fall, but a “student bill of rights” pertaining to standardized testing will take effect in January.

The law allows parents to opt their child out of standardized test for any reason, and requires schools to send parents information about each test and their right to opt their student out.

Miscellaneous: Starting in January, drivers will be able to pump their own gas from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. in counties with fewer than 40,000 people, which includes Morrow County.

It will be illegal to use unmanned aerial vehicles for hunting or fishing.

Using an electronic cigarette, also known as vaping, will be banned in offices, restaurants and other places where smoking is already banned.

Pharmacists will be allowed to prescribe birth control directly to women, saving them a trip to the doctor’s office, and insurers will be required to cover up to a 12-month supply in one purchase.

And in March, the speed limit will increase to 70 miles per hour on Interstate 84 east of The Dalles.

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Contact Jade McDowell at jmcdowell@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.



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