[Update, 10:50am: According to a comment from Karl Rohde of the BTA, the work session has been delayed for a few weeks.]
The House Transportation Committee has scheduled a work session for the Idaho Stop law proposal (HB 2690).
The work session will take place this Wednesday (3/25) and the BTA’s government affairs director and lobbyist Karl Rohde says it’s very likely a vote will also take place.
Rohde said that scheduling a work session means that committee Chair Terry Beyer feels strongly enough about the bill that she’s willing to discuss it further. Work sessions are closed to public testimony but Rohde will be on hand to answer any questions that might arise from committee members.
“It’s going to be extremely important for folks to contact committee members… they especially need to hear from constituents in their specific districts.”
— Karl Rohde, BTA
Sensing the urgency of what this work session could mean to the fate of his bill, Rohde said he plans to send out a press release and action alert to members encouraging them to contact their state representatives. “It’s going to be extremely important for folks to contact committee members… they especially need to hear from constituents in their specific districts.”
Rohde stressed that anyone who contacts a committee member should be respectful; “Even if they have a different viewpoint, they have right to that opinion… you’re simply sharing your feelings with them.”
Now, let’s take a look at the ten members of the House Transportation Committee and try to guess how they might vote.
Four members of the current committee were in the House when the Idaho Stop law first came up in the state legislature in 2003. They all voted yes (the bill passed the house by a margin of 47-9 but then failed in the Senate).
Here’s a breakdown of current committee members and how I think they might vote:
Chair, Rep. Terry Beyer (D-Springfield)
She voted in favor of Idaho Stops in 2003. During the hearing this week she seemed to have a good grasp on why supporters want the bill. Her advice to Rohde was to work on the PR battle. She is a likely yes vote on Wednesday.
Vice-Chair, Rep. Nick Kahl (D-Portland):
Kahl is a definite yes. His comments during the hearing were very much in support of the bill.
Rep. Jules Bailey (D-Portland)
This is Bailey’s bill. He will vote yes.
Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario)
Bentz was skeptical during the hearing. He’s the one who asked Rohde why bikes should be treated differently than electric cars (since we want to promote those too). Bentz’s predecessor from Ontario (a Democrat), was one of just nine who voted against the bill in 2003. I think Bentz is an unknown but is trending toward a no vote.
Rep. Michael Schaufler (D-Happy Valley)
Schaufler is a co-sponsor of the mandatory bike registration bill, but sources say he’s actually supportive of biking. The only comments he made during the hearing earlier this week were good-natured jokes about how much flack he’s received over the registration bill. Rohde has told me Schaufler loves bikes. He is also one of the House members who voted yes in 2003. I say he’ll vote in support this time around.
Rep. Deborah Boone (D-Cannon Beach)
During this week’s hearing, Boone asked Rohde why he doesn’t just work with Portland Police on this issue. Rohde’s response was that it would be even more confusing if there were different laws in different cities. I have no idea how she’ll vote.
Rep. George Gilman (R-Medford)
Gilman was completely silent during the hearing this week. He voted yes on the bill in 2003, but sources say he is on the fence this time around.
Rep. Vickie Berger (D-Salem)
In the hearing, Berger expressed major concerns that the bill would only cause confusion and she wondered why we need a “whole new set of rules”. However, it seems her concerns can be easily answered and countered by a more in-depth discussion that is likely to happen at the work session. I say she’s on the fence but trending toward a yes.
Rep. David Edwards (D-Hillsboro)
Edwards also brought up concerns about the “uncertainty” he feels this law would cause. I see him similar to Berger; not outright opposed, but perhaps open to being educated about how the law would work. One the fence, trending toward a yes.
Rep. Jim Weidner (R-Yamhill)
Weidner voiced strong opposition to the bill during the hearing. Not only did he have the most pointed criticisms, but he seemed to be smirking whenever Rohde was answering a tough question. I would be shocked if Weidner voted anything but no.
So, given my amateur analysis above; I see four likely yes, one definite no, two on the fence but trending yes, one on the fence trending no, one squarely on the fence, and one unknown. Six votes are needed to get this bill onto the House floor.
It all adds up to a few tense days for Rohde, who admitted this morning that, “I have my work cut out for me.”
— Browse our Idaho Stop Law tag for more coverage of this issue.