Special coverage of the 2007 Legislative Session

You can also read about the BTA’s legislative efforts on their website.

Amid talk of congestion relief, Salem Dems reboot transportation bill talks

Posted on April 18th, 2016 at 12:44 pm.

Speaker of the Oregon House Tina Kotek
Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The 2017 Oregon legislature hasn’t even been elected yet, but state House and Senate leaders are getting ready for another try at a transportation bill.

Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, and House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-North Portland, told the Salem Statesman Journal that they’re planning another “bipartisan, bicameral legislative committee” to start negotiating a deal that would presumably include a statewide gas tax hike.


As state law passes, the fight for affordable proximity moves to City Hall

Posted on March 4th, 2016 at 12:36 pm.

A rally last fall to better protect Portland tenants from displacement.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

After years of fighting, a “grand bargain” on affordable housing passed Oregon’s legislature this week. But it won’t begin shaping Portland’s bikeable neighborhoods until after the city council takes action of its own.

Representatives for Mayor Charlie Hales and his council colleague, Housing Commissioner Dan Saltzman, say that plans to do so are already underway.

Any city plan seems certain to include some level of “inclusionary zoning,” a measure that could require that up to 20 percent of units in some new buildings be sold and/or rented at discount prices to people who make less than 80 percent of the median income. (As of 2015, that 80 percent figure means that a family of three that makes less than $52,950 would qualify for the reduced-rate units.)


Negligent driving bill won’t pass this session

Posted on March 3rd, 2016 at 1:52 pm.

“Split second motor vehicle responses should not lead to a felony.”
— Eric Deitrick, legislative rep for Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association

A bill that would have increased the consequences for people whose negligent driving resulted in a serious injury of a vulnerable road user has ran out of time.

After sailing through the Senate Judiciary committee on a 4-1 vote, SB 1553-B easily passed the full Oregon Senate on February 26th. The bill was lining up support and was expected to do well in the Oregon House, but then Salem politics got in the way. We confirmed this morning that with just a few days left in the shortened legislative session, the bill is stuck in committee and it won’t move forward.


BTA and environmental groups line up against bill that could boost bus service 42%

Posted on February 10th, 2016 at 2:08 pm.

First snow day of 2014-1
The proposed tax hike would be enough to upgrade
20 bus lines to frequent service.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

A coalition of transportation and environmental groups is opposing a payroll tax that would create a massive boost to TriMet bus service.

As reported Wednesday by The Oregonian, they’re doing so because the tax would fall flatly on both rich and poor workers, like TriMet’s existing payroll tax does.

The main differences: unlike TriMet’s employer-side payroll tax of 0.7337 percent, which is invisible to employees, this tax of 0.185 percent would appear on paychecks alongside Social Security and Medicare; and the revenue could be spent only on bus service, unlike other payroll taxes that have been earmarked for new rail service, bus service or construction projects.


‘Negligence gap’ bill passes committee 4-1, now heads for Senate vote

Posted on February 10th, 2016 at 1:37 pm.

Senator Floyd Prozanski ferried
the bill through committee.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-1 to pass a bill that would revise existing law and create a new crime for negligent motor vehicle operators.

As we reported yesterday, Senate Bill 1553 would add one sentence to the list of behaviors that could result in someone charged with violating ORS 163.165. The sentence reads, “[A person commits the crime of assault in the third degree if the person:] With criminal negligence causes serious physical injury to another who is a vulnerable user of a public way by means of a motor vehicle.”

The Multnomah County District Attorney’s office is pushing for this new law out of frustration over cases where someone causes serious physical injury due to their negligent driving and is able to walk away with only a traffic ticket. The new crime would come with a felony charge punishable by a maximum of 11 months in jail for the most egregious cases. The DA’s office say they anticipate most of the cases will result in probation and a restitution payment plan to the victim overseen by a parole officer. In total the law is estimated to be triggered in about 15-16 annual cases statewide.


Lawmakers hear testimony on bill that would fill driving’s “negligence gap”

Posted on February 9th, 2016 at 11:20 am.

Julia Corkett’s son had his leg severed by a man who
made a dangerous left turn. She testified about it
in Salem yesterday.

A man’s decision to make a dangerous left turn in front of Alistair Corkett back in May led to a horrific outcome. The 22 year-old’s leg was severed from his body. Barry Allen, the man who was at fault for Corkett’s life-changing injury, was only given a traffic ticket.

If Corkett had died in the collision, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office would have pursued criminal charges which would not only have provided some level of justice for the community but would have allowed Corkett’s family to seek restitution from the state. However, because Corkett “only” suffered an injury, the DA did not pursue criminal charges.

Back in October at a BikePortland event that was inspired by Corkett’s case, Multnomah County DA Rod Underhill did not mince words when expressing his frustration. “It pissed me off. I’m angry. It just doesn’t seem right. We need to change the law.”


Rep. Blumenauer unveils ‘Bikeshare Transit Act’ to provide funding certainty

Posted on January 7th, 2016 at 1:30 pm.

Blumenauer at the Summit-2
It’s transit, so let’s fund it as
such says Blumenauer.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Not wanting to be left out of massive bike news in his hometown, U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer has just released details on his latest legislative idea: the Bikeshare Transit Act. The legislation is meant to provide stability and “additional flexibility to use federal funds for bikeshare programs.”

Blumenauer wants to make it easier for bike share systems to operate past their initial start-up funding. In Portland’s case, we received a $2 million federal grant for bike share back in 2011. But that money was only enough to start planning. To actually put a system on the ground would take millions more — not to mention an annual operating and maintenance budget of $1.5 to $2 million. With cities under pressure to not spend any local money on bike share, that means they’ve had to hope and pray for big private sponsors. Portland spent years trying to court a suitor before inking their $10 million deal with Nike.


Republican legislators call for ODOT director to quit over emissions claims

Posted on November 19th, 2015 at 11:55 am.

ODOT Director Matt Garrett
Matt Garrett has led ODOT since 2005.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A few weeks after left-leaning former Metro president David Bragdon all but called for the firing of Oregon’s top transportation official, legislative Republicans are calling for it explicitly.

Oregon Department of Transportation Director Matt Garrett is facing criticism from both sides over the incident, earlier this year, when his office and Gov. Kate Brown’s temporarily claimed that tens of millions of dollars in freeway investments would be part of reducing long-run carbon emissions in Oregon by more than 2 million metric tons.


City engaged in battle against speeding epidemic

Posted on June 12th, 2015 at 11:59 am.

N Willamette Blvd bike lanes-6
PBOT has asked the state for a trial of new speed limit zones they say would reduce collisions.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Of all the ingredients that make up a dangerous roadway environment, most pundits and policymakers agree that speeding is one of the biggest threats. At a meeting of transportation advocates hosted by Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Bureau of Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick earlier this month, the scourge of speed was a constant thread through the discussion.


Oregon House Rep gives up on mandatory reflective clothing bill

Posted on March 26th, 2015 at 12:16 pm.

Rep. John Davis.

Oregon House Representative John Davis has changed his mind about how best to improve the safety of bicycling.

Davis made headlines around the state last month when he introduced H.B. 3255, a bill that would require all Oregonians who ride a bicycle at night to wear refelctive clothing. Davis’ clothing mandate garnered considerable media attention and resulted in an “action alert” from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance who urged their members to help stop the bill.

A hearing for the bill was scheduled for March 30th in Salem.

Now he says he’s changing course and the bill will no longer include any language about reflective clothing.