New Oregon Laws Protect Workers And Consumers

Portland, Oregon – Several new laws in Oregon you probably haven’t heard about yet are going to help protect your wallet. Mark Peterson of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, the state’s biggest worker and consumer protection agency, says one of the new laws Senate Bill 95, is really important for protecting vulnerable seniors from being taken advantage of financially. A similar new law, Senate Bill 96 requires securities professionals to carry at least $1 million in insurance to cover losses, due to bad acts.

There are also several new laws that are going to help protect Oregon workers and their families. For example House Bill 2338 will really help families of workers who are killed on the job. It allows death benefits to be paid to dependents up to 19 years old, as long as the dependent is in school or a training program.

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NEW OREGON LAWS HELP PROTECT WORKERS, CONSUMERS

(Salem) — The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) has announced several worker and consumer protection laws that took effect on Jan. 1.

“These new laws enable the department to further protect and advocate for consumers, workers and their families, in Oregon,” said Cameron Smith, acting DCBS director.

Expanding Oregon’s worker protection authority, Senate Bill 92 aligns Oregon OSHA’s penalties with federal OSHA’s, resulting in higher maximum penalties for employers that violate safety and health laws.

Other worker protection 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.

* Senate Bill 93 increased 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 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.

Protecting senior citizens from financial exploitation, Senate Bill 95 requires broker-dealers and investment advisors to report suspected cases of elder financial exploitation. 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 DCBS

* House Bill 2356 creates a licensing system for debt buyers, allowing DCBS to set standards and take action to protect consumers.

* House Bill 2391 establishes the Oregon Reinsurance Program to stabilize individual health insurance rates.

One important consumer protection law that is effective March 1 prohibits a practice known as balance billing. House Bill 2339 bans 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.

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The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.dcbs.oregon.gov. Follow DCBS on Twitter: twitter.com/OregonDCBS. Receive consumer help and information on insurance, mortgages, investments, workplace safety, and more.

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