Fixed gear bill hits unexpected snag

There’s been a surprising turn of events in the fixed-gear brake saga.

Last week I reported that the effort to clarify the bicycle brake requirement so that fixed-gear bicycles don’t need to have an additional brake was on its way to becoming Oregon law.

The bill (S.B. 729) has passed the Senate and the House and only had one step left before being signed into law by the Governor. In accordance to regular procedure, since the bill was amended in the House (to include some language about police bicycles) it was returned to the Senate for final approval of those amendments.

The fixed-gear brake language had already passed the Senate (22-6) and the House (41-15), and since there was zero opposition to the police bicycle equipment amendment, everyone thought the bill would have smooth sailing.

But for some unknown reason, during the Senate concurrence vote yesterday (which was technically only about the police equipment amendment), the bill was voted down. Senators held what is known as a “voice vote” where individual Senators are not identified or put on record individually, they merely say “aye” or “nay”.

Now the bill goes to a six-person conference committee, where three Senators and three House Reps. will decide its fate.

So far, assigned to the committee are Senators Burdick, Atkinson, and Beyer.

It’s still not clear to me why and how a bill that easily passed both chambers has now been held up. I am also not a big fan of “voice votes” because we have no way of knowing who voted up or down on the bill.

I expect more developments on this story in the coming days…

[For full coverage of this story, browse my archives.]

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