New Oregon workplace, consumer protection laws in effect as of January 1

Oregon State Capitol. (SBG/File Photo)

SALEM, Ore. - The new year brings new laws in Oregon, including several related to the workplace and consumer protection.

"These new laws enable the department to further protect and advocate for consumers, workers and their families, in Oregon," said Cameron Smith, acting director of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services.

Workplace Laws

Among the changes: Senate Bill 92, which aligns Oregon OSHA's penalties with federal OSHA penalties. The result: higher maximum penalties for employers that violate safety and health laws.

Other workplace laws include:

House Bill 2338: Increases the allowed age of dependents of a worker who died on the job and simplifies eligibility for benefits. "The bill allows a dependent to receive benefits until age 19 and specifies that the benefit level is the same regardless of the child's dependence on the worker's surviving spouse or age at the time of worker's death. Benefits will be paid for up to 48 months when the dependent is in a post-secondary education or training program through age 26," the department said.

Senate Bill 93: Increases the Workers' Memorial Scholarship Account, which awards scholarships to dependents or spouses of workers killed or permanently disabled on the job. The account increases from $250,000 to $1 million.

House Bill 2337: Raises the minimum and maximum benefit for workers receiving a permanent total disability award. "The minimum went from $50 or 90 percent of the worker's weekly wage to 33 percent of the state average weekly wage," the department said. "The maximum is now 133 percent of the state average weekly wage, compared to the previous maximum of 100 percent of the state's average weekly wage."

Consumer Protections

Senate Bill 95 "requires broker-dealers and investment advisors to report suspected cases of elder financial exploitation," the department said. "Broker-dealers and investment advisors may delay account disbursements for up to 15 days if they suspect the disbursement will result in financial exploitation of a vulnerable person."

Other consumer protection laws include:

Senate Bill 96: Requires securities professionals to carry at least $1 million in insurance to cover losses due to bad acts. Securities professionals are required to have this insurance by July 31.

Senate Bill 98: Requires nondepository mortgage servicers to obtain a license from the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services.

House Bill 2356: Creates a licensing system for debt buyers, allowing the state to set standards and take action to protect consumers.

House Bill 2391: Establishes the Oregon Reinsurance Program to stabilize individual health insurance rates.

Still to Come

Effective March 1, House Bill 2339 takes effect banning a practice known as balance billing. The law bars "health care providers from billing consumers for amounts above what health insurance pays for when the consumer is in an in-network facility but is treated by an out-of-network medical provider," the department said.

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