Sine die! The Oregon Legislature’s biennial session has come to a close, providing a perfect opportunity for the Stoel Rives World of Employment to take a look at what passed, what failed, and what flew under the radar.
One helpful new statute fixes a problem for employers who operate music venues. In late 2007, Mississippi Studios, a hip North Portland nightspot and recording studio, got nailed in an Oregon Employment Department audit for not paying unemployment taxes on musicians who played at the venue. Mississippi assumed that the musicians were not employees, but were independent contractors according to the Department’s test. Not so fast. Mississippi was unaware of ORS 657.506, an obscure provision in Oregon statute that presumed musicians are employees unless otherwise stated in an employment agreement.
The new statute, which went into effect immediately on passage, repeals the old rule and treats Oregon musicians just like everybody else. The bill is simply drafted and repairs some bad lawmaking. Way to go, legislature! This time you were up there with the best.