The only bicycle-related bill in the abbreviated legislative session in Salem is on life support.
HB 3623, which would allow bereaved families to request (and pay for) the installation of a “roadside memorial sign that commemorates a bicyclist or pedestrian killed in an accident involving a motor vehicle”, flew through the House with no opposition. Now, according to Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) lobbyist Karl Rohde, the bill is stalled in the Senate Transportation Committee.
In a phone call after an “exhausting day” in Salem, Rohde said Committee Chair Rick Metsger is not pushing this bill through due to his concern with “the proliferation of signs on our highways.” On that note, Rohde pointed out that the bill includes a stipulation that signs will be removed after three years.
“I think he’s worried that if we pass this bill,” added Rohde,
“other groups would line up wanting signs too. But the reality is that for the last ten years a similar bill has existed for people killed in drunk driving-related accidents…and out of 250 deaths, only about 40 signs have been erected. From those numbers, this bill would probably only generate 10-15 signs a year statewide.”
Rohde also says Metsger’s lack of support on this bill might not bode well for his run for Secretary of State.
Rohde says the bill is “dead in the water” unless key Senators “get the word” from supporters. Rohde plans to issue an action alert later today urging the BTA’s 4,000-plus members to contact Senator Metsger and Senate President Peter Courtney.
Rohde is back in Salem today meeting with legislators to try and push the bill through. UPDATE: Rohde told me a few minutes ago that he was told by the Senate Majority Leader that if the bill does not get a committee hearing today, it is officially dead.
This is the second attempt by Representative Jerry Krummel (R-Wilsonville) to pass the bill which he dubbed “Eric’s Law” in honor of the late Eric Kautzky. In June of last year, Krummel blamed the bill’s failure on House Democrats.
It was expected to easily pass in part because family members foot the entire cost of the process.
If you’re wondering, this bill would not apply in the recent death of 15 year-old Austin Miller in Beaverton because the bill requires “proof of conviction” of the operator of the motor vehicle. (So far, no citation has been issued in that bus operator in that case.)
I have requested a comment from Senator Metsger and I expect to hear back from him later today (I’ll update the post when I do).
Read the full text of HB 3623.