Changes in the law (through December 2022) since the publication of Oregon’s Legal Guide for College Students:

1. Abortion Access

Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision that women have no federal right to abortion, abortion is still legal in Oregon. It may not be legal in other states where you might be headed, so be careful where you go if you might be pregnant. Also, if you have questions about abortion, ask Planned Parenthood what your options are. It will give you the straight scoop. There are many “abortion services” whose purpose is to browbeat you into giving birth.

2. Food Stamps and Health Care Coverage

For low-income students who are in college at least half time, it will continue to be possible to get food stamps (aka SNAP benefits) at least until the end of April 2023 as part of the Covid emergency. And Medicaid (Oregon Health Plan) coverage is available for students under aged 26 whose incomes are low and who have no access to insurance coverage through family.

2. Decriminalization of illegal drug possession

February 1, 2021—On this date, Measure 110, the citizens’ initiative to decriminalize possession of small amounts of many illegal drugs took effect. Those found to have “non-commercial” amounts of heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine will no longer be charged with a crime. Instead, they face a fine of $100 or they must complete a medical assessment by an alcohol and drug counselor at an addiction recovery program within 45 days. “Distributing” (giving or selling to others) is still a crime. Note that possession is still illegal under federal law. See pp. 16 and 96.

3. COVID student loan deferment EXTENDED

Students and former students with outstanding government loans won’t have to pay principal or interest until after June 30, 2023. (In fact, the Department of Education has just sent refunds to people who have been paying during the Covid “pause.”) See Section B-8.

4. Dreamers and DACA

Thanks to a change in administrations, “Dreamers” can once again breathe a little more easily as efforts to have them deported are ended. See Section H-5, pp. 111-112. The situation may change after the 2024 election.

A. Where You Live and the Law

Another important change in the law affects how landlords can screen applicants to become tenants. Landlords cannot consider information on credit reports that shows non-payment of rent, charges, or fees for the period April 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021. Nor can they consider claims for back rent through February 28, 2022. (The law already requires landlords to have written screening criteria.)

B. Your Rights and Duties as a Consumer

Section B-8. Student Loans
People have seen headlines about student loans’ having been forgiven. All of those loans were from fly-by-night “career colleges” that came into existence for the sole purpose of ripping off students and the government in the form of free money from student loans. The law already prohibited these schools from trying to collect, but it wasn’t until this year that the government once again stepped in to stop these fraudulent activities.

The U.S. Department of Education announced in August 2022 that it would forgive up to $10,000 in outstanding federal loans, or up to $20,000 if a student or former student had obtained a Pell grant, if the person’s adjusted gross income for tax purposes is under $125,000 ($250,000 per couple). Several individuals and states sued, saying the Department and the President lack the authority to forgive the loans. The program is now on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court authorizes it–which could be as late as June 2023. In short–don’t spend the money; it may never come.

C. Your Rights in the Workplace

Section C-1. It’s unlawful for an employer to require an applicant to show a driver’s license for a job unless the ability to drive legally is an essential job function (if you’re a bus driver, for instance) or there’s some other legitimate business purpose.

Section C-3. Employers have abused “non-competition” agreements pretty badly. New Oregon law will require employers who want to force you to sign a non-competition agreement to give you written notice after giving you a job offer in writing and letting you know about the non-competition rule at least two weeks before your first workday. When you leave the job, the employer must send a copy of the agreement to you within 30 days after you stop working. If it doesn’t do all these things, it can’t enforce the agreement. Similar restrictions apply to promotions. There are other limitations on employers, too. See a lawyer if your job ends and you want to know about your right to work somewhere else.

Section C-9. New law creates a presumption of employer retaliation, if, after an employee complains to the employer or an enforcement agency about health and safety violations, the employer takes negative action against the employee within 60 days.

G. Crime and Criminal Records
New law will make it possible for low-income people to get appointed counsel to help them clear juvenile records.

Police in Oregon (but not necessarily anywhere else) must tell anyone they’ve stopped that the person has the right to refuse a search (of the person’s body, clothing, or the area close to the person). Police CAN still require drivers to submit to urine/blood/breath testing in connection with suspicion the driver is impaired.

H. Other Topics

H-4: LGBTQ Issues
Medical providers are now on the list of services that can’t discriminate by denying treatment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or disability.

H-7: Voting
The deadline for mailing ballots is now Election Day–so long as the clerk’s office receives them within seven calendar days.

NEW SECTION: H-10 Student Athletes Getting Paid for Sports

The National College Athletic Association has decided that student athletes can be paid for participating in sports and still qualify as amateurs. That means athletes who play high-profile sports can expect to hear from companies that want the students’ endorsements of their products and are willing to pay for them. This is a good news, bad news proposition.

First, the idea that you can make big bucks during your short athletic career can make you forget about your educational goals and career goals with more longevity. Second, most of the people who approach you to “make you famous” make their living negotiating deals in which they hold all the cards. They are NOT going to be looking out for your well-being or your interests.Second, who wants your name and photo for what purpose? Contracting with a local pizza parlor for a few hundred or thousands of dollars is pretty straightforward. But allowing your name or image to be used in sponsored social media or in videos on YouTube and Twitter will involve complexities you can’t even imagine. What are the terms of payment? What are you obligated to do in order to get paid? What happens if you don’t follow through on those duties? (Think in terms of lawsuits that land you in big, big debt.) What if your college wants a piece of the payment? What’s your tax liability for a big paycheck? Can your earnings be structured in a way that makes financial sense? Will your ability to get scholarships or loans go away for a small payday?

Short answer: Don’t sign anything until a lawyer or an agent has read it and explained to you what you are on the hook for. Get advice from a certified public accountant (CPA). And find someone who can negotiate a better deal for you. Women in particular need to be wary of deals that require them to wear certain clothing or look a certain way–sex sells.

Note that anyone who creates jerseys, video games, or trading cards for profit after 30 June 2022 must pay royalties to any student athlete whose name, image, or likeness appears on this swag.