NewLaws for 2021 in Portland and Oregon
New Laws for Portland and Oregon in 2021
Feb 2, 2021

(source: KGW News)


Cigarette and Tobacco tax increase
Driver licenses without Proof of Legal Presence
Facial recognition ban (Portland only)
Decriminalization of low-level drug possession (Feb 1)
Minimum wage increase (July 1)

Cigarette, tobacco tax increase

There will be an increase in taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products beginning January 1st in Oregon. The increase was voted on through Measure 108, which voters passed during the November 2020 general election. 

Here are the increases that will go into effect, according to the Oregon Department of Revenue:

  • Cigarette tax will increase by $2 per pack of 20 and $2.50 per pack of 25.
  • Little cigars, collectively weighing 3 pounds or less per 1,000, must be sold in sealed packages of at least 20. The packs will be taxed like cigarettes and will require an Oregon cigarette tax stamp.
  • Inhalant delivery systems, such as vaping and e-cigarette products, will be taxed at a rate of 65% of the wholesale purchase price.
  • The cap on the tax on cigars increases from 50 cents to $1.00

Tax Revenue will be used to fund health coverage for low-income families, including mental health services, and to fund public health programs, including prevention and cessation programs, addressing tobacco and nicotine-related illnesses.

No Longer Needing Legal Presence for Oregon Driver’s License

Beginning in the new year, people will no longer have to provide proof of legal presence in the U.S. to get an Oregon standard driver’s license or ID card. The change was part of House Bill 2015, which the Oregon Legislature passed during the 2019 legislative session.  

While people will no longer need to prove legal presence, all other requirements to obtain a standard driver’s license or ID card remain in place. That includes proof of name, identity and Oregon residency.

People who are unable to provide proof of U.S. citizenship will not be automatically registered to vote after getting a driver’s license, according to the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

The standard driver’s license will not be REAL ID compliant, the DMV has stated. When the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) begins enforcing REAL ID, which is set to start on Oct. 1, 2021, people with the standard driver’s licenses will not be able to get on a plane using it. A valid passport, REAL ID or another federally accepted document will be required.

According to the Oregon DMV, 13 states and Washington, D.C., currently, issue driver licenses to people who do not provide proof of lawful status. There will also be a check to see if the applicant has a previous DUI and may be ineligible to a driver’s license if they had not completed their court-ordered requirements to drive after a suspension.

Oregon DMV

Facial recognition ban (Portland only)

Beginning January 1st, private entities, including businesses, in Portland will be banned from using facial recognition technology in places of public accommodation. The ordinance was passed by Portland City Council in September. The city council also passed a similar ban on city bureaus, which are already in effect.

Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who both championed the ordinance, said facial recognition technology disproportionately harms Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Though how they would detect its use is unclear, considering they have no access to camera footage from private businesses.

The City of Portland said places of public accommodation are as follows.

  • Establishments serving food or drink.
  • Sales or retail and service establishments.
  • Places of public recreation, public gathering, exercise or entertainment.

These places are not considered places of public accommodation.

  • Commercial facilities operated by private entities.
  • Private clubs.
  • Religious organizations.
  • Private residence or place of accommodation that in its nature, is distinctly private.

City Bans Facial Recognition in Some Spaces

Low-level Drug Possession Decriminalization (Feb. 1st)

During the November election, Oregon voters passed Measure 110, also called the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act, which decriminalizes small amounts of illegal drugs for personal use. The new law takes effect on February 1st. 

This law does not legalize drugs. A person caught with a small quantity of drugs, including Schedule I drugs like heroin and LSD, will face “no more than a Class E violation.” That person will then face a $100 fine, which may be waived if the person seeks treatment.

People with either a felony criminal conviction or two or more past drug convictions may face more serious penalties. Laws surrounding the sale or possession of large quantities of drugs remain unchanged.

The purpose of the new law is to go with a health-based approach to the state’s drug crisis by making treatment and recovery services available for persons who want access to those kinds of services.

The new penalties go into effect on February 1st.

The Oregon Health Authority must establish a temporary addiction recovery center, which will assess clients’ treatment needs over the phone. Addiction recovery centers will open within coordinated care organizations statewide by October 1st, 2021, and phone services are slated to then be discontinued.

Oregon Minimum Wage Increase (July 1)

The minimum wage in Oregon has risen every year since 2016 on July 1.

Here’s how the minimum wage in Oregon works.

  • Urban Counties: $12 per hour
  • Portland Metro Area: $13.25 per hour
  • Nonurban Counties: $11.50 per hour

The minimum wage will increase July 1st.

  • Urban Counties: $12.75/hour
  • Portland Metro Area: $14/hour
  • Nonurban Counties: $12/hour

The state’s minimum wage will increase again in 2022.