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Here are the Oregon Senate bills we’re following this session (Part 1 of 2)

Posted by on February 17th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Legislator bike ride at the Oregon Bike Summit-1

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The 2017 Oregon legislative session is well underway. Votes have already taken place and bills are moving up and dying off as I type this.

I’ve combed through hundreds of bills to find ones that matter to people who care about transportation safety and the culture of our streets. Since there are so many bills I want to bring to your attention, I’ve decided to do this in two parts. First I’ll share a list of the Senate bills I’m following. Then in a separate post, I’ll share the House bills.

Here we go…

Senate Bill 2

Summary: “Defines “mobile electronic device.” Increases penalty for offense. Punishes by maximum of one year’s imprisonment, $6,250 fine, or both. Further increases penalty for multiple violations within 10 years. Punishes by maximum of five years’ imprisonment, $125,000 fine, or both. Prescribes additional minimum fines.” (Official overview)

Commentary: This is the strong anti-distracted driving bill introduced by Senate President Peter Courtney. He wants cell phone use to have the same consequences as drunk driving. Sources say his approach is way too punitive and has very little chance of passing. On the other hand, safety advocates say they appreciate that Courtney has raised awareness of the issue. There’s a chance this bill could be re-written with lower-level consequences; but an even greater chance that the distracted driving bill in the House, HB 2597, is the one that will move forward.

Status: No movement yet.

SB 34

Summary: “Expands “move over law” to include any motor vehicle that is displaying warning or hazard lights or specific indications of distress.” (Official overview)

Commentary: This bill frustrates me and I’ll be sharing why in a separate post. In a nutshell, this bill was drafted by ODOT to make their “move over law” even stronger. It would now apply not just to emergency/police vehicles and first responders, but to anyone in a car. I think the “move over law” should explicitly include vulnerable road users. The current “safe passing law” for bicycles is weak and not understood by the public or law enforcement.

Status: Passed out of Judiciary Committee and awaiting vote from full Senate.


SB 35

Summary: “Increases threshold amount that must be met before person is required to submit motor vehicle accident report.” (Official overview)

“It is a weird and car-centric rule to me.”
— Charley Gee, Lawyer

Commentary: The current threshold for when the Oregon DMV requires someone to submit an “Accident Report” is $1,500. This bill wants to up that amount to $3,000. This is a problem for bicycle users who seek justice after a collision. If you are invovled in a collision with a motor vehicle user while riding your bicycle that doesn’t result in personal injury (which would trigger the reporting requirement), a higher property damage threshold means even fewer bicycle collisions will be officially logged into the DMV database. Why? Because most bicycles are not worth $1,500 — and even fewer are worth over $3,000. In the words of local lawyer Charley Gee, “Why reward a driver who happened to be lucky enough to hit someone but not injure them or cause property damage above a certain threshold? Is a person riding a $750 bike less worthy of a reporting and tally in the states computer system than a person riding a $2,000 bike or a $12,000 bike? It is a weird and car-centric rule to me.”

Status: Work session in Senate Committee on Business and Transportation scheduled for February 20th.

SB 327

Summary: “Extends recreational immunity to employees and agents of owner of land when acting within scope of duties and those with private property interests in land. Eliminates duty of care to maintain land for entry or use by others for certain purposes. Declares emergency, effective on passage.” (Official overview)

Commentary: This is the bill we reported about due to its potential impacts on recreational facilities in parks like Gateway Green. After a 2016 Oregon Supreme Court decision found that government employees (and even volunteers) could be held liable for tort claims, government agencies want to expand the “recreational immunity” concept. If it’s harder to sue the government, they can get cheaper insurance and are more likely to open — and keep open — free recreational facilities for the public. Passage of this bill is a top priority for the City of Portland.

Status: In the Judiciary Committee, no hearing scheduled.

SB 372

Summary: “Requires State Fish and Wildlife Commission to adopt rules for issuance of wildlife salvage permits to salvage deer or elk accidentally killed as result of vehicle collision.” (Official overview)

Commentary: This is just odd. My first reaction to this one was that it would encourage people to “hunt-by-car”. The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife says the law would, “provide a loophole for people to shoot a deer or elk then strike it with a vehicle in an attempt to claim it as road injured and killed for humane purposes.” I’m not a fan of anything that further weaponizes cars.

Status: In Senate Committee On Environment and Natural Resources. Public hearing held (2/8) but no vote yet.

SB 454

Summary: “Directs Department of Transportation to establish Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area highway improvement program.” (Official overview)

Commentary: This bill doesn’t include funding, but it would give a jump-start to improving transportation in The Gorge. Among the things it would set into motion is a Gorge transportation plan and a project to add biking and walking facilities to the Bridge of the Gods!

Status: In Senate Business and Transportation Committee. No hearings scheduled.

SB 493

Summary: “Creates new manner of committing crime of assault in the fourth degree when person with criminal negligence causes serious physical injury to vulnerable user of public way by means of motor vehicle.” (Official overview)

Commentary: Remember this one from last session? This is the Multnomah County District Attorney’s attempt to close a big gap in Oregon law. Right now more severe penalties for driving with criminal negligence are only triggered if you kill the person you hit. If they survive — regardless of how severely they are hurt — the possible punishment does not fit the crime. Last year this stalled after special interests representing truck drivers lobbied against it on the grounds it was too harsh. So this year it has been changed from a felony crime to a misdemeanor. I hope it passes.

Status: Public hearing held yesterday (2/16). No vote yet.

SB 504

Summary: “Eliminates limitation of liability for owner of land used for trail or recreational purposes when owner is public body.” (Official overview)

Commentary: This is the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association’s counterpunch to SB 327. They say government entities and their employees/agents shouldn’t be shielded from liability when they fail to maintain facilities used by the public. A flyer being circulated in Salem by trial lawyer lobbyists says, “An improperly maintained playground should not be treated differently than improperly maintained water pipes.” As you can also see in the flyer, the Trial Lawyers Association also plans to actively oppose SB 327.

Status: In Judiciary Committee. No hearing scheduled.

SB 556

Summary: “Creates offense of driving with dog in driver’s lap. Punishes by maximum fine of $250.” (Official overview)

Commentary: This sounds sort of silly on the surface, but it’s actually a real problem. Remember back in 2011 when a man was very seriously injured when a woman failed to maintain control of her car and hit him after being distracted by her dog? That incident led a State Senator to introduce a similar bill that same year that didn’t go anywhere. Six years later distracted driving and dog ownership are even more common. My problem with this bill is that I’d rather see us focus laws on more broad behaviors instead of specific ones. If we get our distracted driving laws right, we shouldn’t have to make a new law for each specific behavior.

====

Please stay tuned for our list of House bills. We’ll continue to track and report on individual bills as we can. And keep in mind, as a one-man newsroom with very limited capacity, I always welcome more eyes and ears in the State Capitol building. So if you have a tip on a bill, or if I’ve missed an important one below, please get in touch and let me know about it.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

59 Comments
  • Tim February 17, 2017 at 10:30 am

    Do we need a specific law for every kind of distracted driving and would increasing penalties do anything for an offences that aren’t enforced. I have had too close encounters with the following types of distracted drivers:

    Guy reading a spreadsheet held on the steering wheel in a school zone
    Woman petting a dog on her lap
    Teenager using both hands to light a bowl
    Lady using both hands to count on her rosary beads (not kidding)

    Nearly everyday I see someone drifting in their lane (or into mine) because their text message is more important than my life.

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    • paikiala February 17, 2017 at 2:36 pm

      Some animals provide assistance to individuals, like a calming effect, so this might get an ADA challenge without an exemption included. Now, if only there was a certifying agency for companion animals…

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    • Pete February 19, 2017 at 11:46 am

      Top of my list is moms focusing on their kids in the back of the minivan while leaving school grounds after picking them up (I used to have a daily commute at that time). My wife’s friends are just as distracted by dogs in the passenger seat as they are in the lap, so I too feel this is too focused on circumstance and not root cause and outcome.

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    • Kyle Banerjee February 19, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      While everyone is worried all these petty distractions, there’s no law against driving while juggling chain saws. Unbelievable…

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  • Spiffy February 17, 2017 at 10:41 am

    Senate Bill 2: instead of really high fines I think impound and repossession of the motor vehicle would be better… the cost of your vehicle is usually in line with your income and this would be a more equitable solution

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  • Spiffy February 17, 2017 at 10:53 am

    
SB 35: at first it didn’t seem like it would make a difference because it’s only a required level, not an obligatory level… so yes you HAVE to if over a certain amount of damage, but you COULD for less…

    the wording on the DMV web site states a lists of MUST conditions but doesn’t state that they have to be met in order to file a report…

    however, the actual form does state that you should fill out the report ONLY if one of those conditions is met…

    so can we fill it out and have it count if the damage is less and nobody is hurt?

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    • paikiala February 19, 2017 at 9:32 am

      It will be difficult to do Vision Zero correctly without data to evaluate safety of the system. While fatal and serious injuries will still be reported, the lower value crashes help identify issues that, with the addition of speed, could become fatal or serious injury crashes. Such ‘lower value crashes’ are the proverbial ‘canary in the coal mine’.

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  • Spiffy February 17, 2017 at 10:56 am

    SB 327: I think I’m still with the lawyers on this one… there should never be blanket immunity… if there’s negligence and they created a dangerous situation isn’t this giving them a free pass?

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    • B. Carfree February 18, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      I spend a lot of time riding on timber company land. If the employees don’t have blanket immunity for small defects they might create on their gravel roads and plank bridges, the companies who share their land with the public will likely choose to close it off.

      My life would be much poorer without that access, as would the lives of countless others. A bit of immunity for employees is worth the risk, imo. I really don’t foresee people willfully creating hazards in the course of their work. Sure, hazards are created, but dealing with them is life in the real world.

      Also, while riding on public roads is a generally safe activity, riding on fenced timber company roads is safer still, and the views and overall experience is much richer.

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    • Gary B February 20, 2017 at 8:55 am

      I think a version of 327 AND 504 together make sense. The original intent of rec immunity seems to have been to address the “riding on timber road” issue where you’re using property perhaps not specifically provided for your rec use. There probably shouldn’t be owner or personal liability in that situation. But extending to parks and playgrounds doesn’t make much sense–neither does personal liability for the employee or volunteer that worked on that park.

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  • Allan Rudwick February 17, 2017 at 10:58 am

    SB 35 — someone should propose an amendment lowering the $ threshold for impacts to bicycles to $200 but keep the rest of it. Car crashes have become more expensive because of how cars are built these days and the spirit of the law seems OK

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  • Justin M February 17, 2017 at 11:35 am

    Would SB2 mean I cannot hold up my navigation on my phone while driving? What a PTA. I’m willing to bet the people who get in accidents doing these kind of things are just terrible drivers anyway. This law seems very aggressive for no reason. Punish bad driving, but I mean eating an apple or drinking a bottle of water prevents you from having BOTH hands on the wheel. Ridiculous.

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    • Oliver, the other one. February 17, 2017 at 12:31 pm

      It should. I see people wandering around in their lanes, slowing dangerously toward stopping in the traffic lane, overshooting/over correcting their turns, as well as making last minute, unsignalled dashes across ROW while using hand held gps/nav devices.

      If you don’t know where you’re going/where you are, you should stop and figure it out before proceeding. If you’re job depends on you driving in/to unfamiliar areas and addresses, your nav system should be hands-free.

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    • Stephen Keller February 17, 2017 at 5:04 pm

      Distracted by navigation device is still distract. Once distracted a person is no longer navigating. The correct response when lost is to stop safely and reorient oneself. Then proceed.

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      • Justin M February 17, 2017 at 5:43 pm

        Sure. I will just pull over on the freeway next time Waze wants to reroute me. That’s a bunch of nonsense. Should I pull over to switch radio stations too?

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        • Kyle Banerjee February 17, 2017 at 7:12 pm

          Don’t forget to pull over to check your speedometer — your eyes should be exclusively on the road. Otherwise, you should be charged with attempted homicide.

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          • B. Carfree February 18, 2017 at 2:19 pm

            Nice straw man. How much time, attention and brain is used to check the speed? Also, one generally chooses an open moment to make such checks. Checking navigation takes much more attention, particularly if one is so lost one needs to completely orient. Also, the likelihood that the timing will correspond to one of those quiet moments on the road is much lower for a navigation system.

            However did we get from point A to B before smart phones?

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            • Kyle Banerjee February 18, 2017 at 5:06 pm

              Properly used electronic navigation reduces rather than increases distraction. You are never lost — that’s the whole point. It does not take longer than glancing at a speedometer nor do you look except when you have an open moment because you don’t need to.

              You can now know how to traverse intersections — which can be quite complex, traffic conditions, specific hazards, etc long before reaching them rather than having to spot and react to them at the last second.

              As far as how people got around, they got lost — a lot. And a lot more people used CBs.

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              • paikiala February 19, 2017 at 9:34 am

                Citation please for that first sentence.

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              • Kyle Banerjee February 19, 2017 at 10:10 am

                Are you seriously suggesting that knowing in advance what side ramps are on, your distance to turns/curves/hazards that are not yet visible, and other useful information somehow distracts people from the road?

                Since you don’t seem to be familiar with these systems, the point is to know what’s ahead, not to look at what’s around you — that’s what the windshield and windows are for. So you briefly glance at opportune moments the same way you check your mirrors. Oops, I forgot that’s controversial here. Trust me, it’s not for drivers.

                Yes, there are people who use them inappropriately like fooling with them while in motion which is a hazard. But the clueless behavior is not inherent to device use any more than it is for the mirror or gauges.

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              • q February 19, 2017 at 11:00 am

                Speaking of my own experience, I tell my iPhone my destination before I start the car. Then I put it down and never have to look at it again. It tells me (speaking) each step, with plenty of warning for turns. If I miss a turn, it directs me back on course. It’s far safer than using a map or written directions. No more hesitating trying to read street signs, trying to get into another lane to turn at the last second, etc.

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              • Kyle Banerjee February 19, 2017 at 11:50 am

                Which brings up another navigation devices do that is particularly useful in PDX. Street signs here are tiny and virtually invisible at night, particularly in inclement conditions.

                Even if you know the order of the streets and your full route by memory, figuring out where you are is can be tricky. If you want to talk about distractions, how about staring into darkness for signs with miserable legibility (when neighborhood yahoos haven’t pulled them down to try to keep “outsiders” away) — I sometimes have to stop my bike to figure out what street I’m crossing.

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              • q February 19, 2017 at 1:10 pm

                Yes, there are even large intersections where I’ve tried to find the street sign while driving through and never seen one, although that’s not saying one may be there somewhere. They’re also often covered up by trees on smaller streets. And there are lots of large intersections where by the time you can see the street sign, it’s far to late to change lanes that you need to get into to make a turn.

                Street signs are on my mind because I live on a dead end off a major road, and have been noticing lots of cars entering the dead end and making illegal u-turns to get out. Just noticed there’s no “dead end” sign until you’re a block into the dead end. Poor signage creates danger and wasted time and fuel, and adds to driver distraction and anger.

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        • Pete February 19, 2017 at 12:06 pm

          I can switch radio stations without taking my eyes off the road. Maybe you need a safer car? Or turn down the radio to hear Waze’s voice guidance? I’ve never been distracted by nav guidance (which admittedly doesn’t always choose the best route), but I have had too many close calls from drivers juggling smartphones, and a Mexican woman doing lunch deliveries that right-hooked me and then kept pointing to her phone’s map saying “See? See?”. “Si, I see that you don’t know how to use a turn signal.”

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          • Justin M February 19, 2017 at 3:58 pm

            Pretty sure your quip at the end there verged on racism instead of the ¿joke? you intended it to be

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            • Pete February 19, 2017 at 4:01 pm

              Ridiculous.

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              • Justin M February 19, 2017 at 4:31 pm

                No, it’s true. I had a friend read it who agreed. Just an off-topic inquiry here, but by any chance do you think Adele deserved to win album of the year over Beyoncé?

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    • wsbob February 18, 2017 at 11:04 pm

      “Would SB2 mean I cannot hold up my navigation on my phone while driving? …” justin m

      Can you look at your navigation on your phone with no more effort or level of distraction than is involved in looking for a split second in your vehicle’s mirrors, the speedometer, or in snacking on an apple, or taking a sip of water from a water bottle? Probably not.

      You could use a garmin, or similar route finding device that gives navigation by audio. Personally, I don’t use those kinds of devices…last time I rode in a vehicle with someone using one of them, I thought the effect was annoying…but use of that device probably enabled far safer driving than if the person driving were trying to focus on and study routes on a small phone screen while driving down the road.

      It’s maybe an unfortunate reality that in the prevailing traffic conditions existing in urban and suburban areas in Oregon today, much more concentration on the road is necessary, than used to be needed, years ago….50 years ago for sure, maybe less in many situations. Because of increases in traffic volume and people walking and biking, the level of attention required for safe driving seems to become more demanding with each new year.

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  • Spiffy February 17, 2017 at 11:56 am

    SB2: the wording of even the existing law is so vague that even when using a bluetooth headset you’re in violation because you have to press a button on the headset or phone in order to activate it… that means you take a hand off the wheel… thus it’s not completely hands-free… you’d need to start the call before you start driving…

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    • paikiala February 19, 2017 at 9:35 am

      my hands free button is on the steering wheel.

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      • Pete February 19, 2017 at 12:17 pm

        My car is older but has intuitive steering wheel buttons for phone, radio, and cruise control, as well as menu movement through a knob. The newer cars we’ve looked at seem to use soft buttons now, which make you stare at them – especially with ‘older’ eyes that’s a distraction. I can also hold my phone button and the voice asks me which number to call, and uses trained words to either lookup or dial, citing the individual numbers back to me as they’re understood. (Yes, I know that’s a cognitive distraction, so I avoid initiating calls while driving anyway).

        Ironically in reviews of my car, common complaints were “too many buttons”…

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    • Edward February 21, 2017 at 12:37 pm

      The current law is so poorly written that a lot of the newer “internet ready cars” are basically de facto illegal to drive in Oregon. A number of traffic cops I’ve talked to about this have agreed with me (but I’m not aware of any of them actually issuing the tickets, because the law punishes individuals, not corporations).

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    • Edward February 21, 2017 at 12:47 pm

      There’s a very simple and easy way to stop distracted (cell phone) driving: Make the cell phone companies financially responsible for wrecks and damages, in situations where their device was being used when the wreck happened.

      That would solve this problem in a legislative heart-beat.

      It’s almost painful to watch a bunch of people who normally understand how our built infrastructure impacts individual decisions, which as a large group become predictable … traffic. But that same group fails to understand how the “built infrastructure” of the law similarly impacts behavior.

      Addicts won’t stop because of punishment. Cell phone companies know we are addicted and won’t stop. They have the power to disable certain features based on velocity & movement, but they choose not to do it (except for Pokemon Go).

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  • D February 17, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    All of these laws will be worthless without enforcement, just like the current laws regarding distracted driving, drunk driving, reckless driving, speeding, running lights, and running stop signs which are rarely enforced.

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    • soren February 17, 2017 at 5:25 pm

      frittering away countless tens of millions on random enforcement that addresses a fraction of a percent of the law-breaking on our roadways is exactly the wrong approach. we need to lower speed limits, implement automated enforcement, and build infrastructure that forces people to drive safely — we need vision zero.

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      • B. Carfree February 18, 2017 at 2:22 pm

        Does enforcement have to cost anything? Since it is costing us something and we aren’t actually doing much of it, perhaps we should consider making the fines high enough to at least break even. That would take the budget arguments out of the discussion of whether or not we should enforce our traffic laws.

        That said, I totally agree that we need to automate as much of traffic law enforcement as is possible, as long as we stop giving that 10 mph buffer that we have built into our current law.

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  • Paul February 17, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Spiffy
    SB2: the wording of even the existing law is so vague that even when using a bluetooth headset you’re in violation because you have to press a button on the headset or phone in order to activate it… that means you take a hand off the wheel… thus it’s not completely hands-free… you’d need to start the call before you start driving…
    Recommended 0

    Hands-free devices are not much safer than hands-on devices. The main problem is removing some of your attention, not removing your hands. There have been studies showing this. Banning only hands-on devices does not make much sense.

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    • Spiffy February 17, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      I totally agree… I thought the law was a joke when I first heard of it…

      then when I realized they were serious my thought was “they must think amputees are horrible drivers”… they’re essentially saying that if you have only 1 hand then you aren’t fit to drive…

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      • Kyle Banerjee February 18, 2017 at 7:24 am

        Though physical capabilities are relevant when driving — it is simply not possible to exert the same control with one hand as two, perceive threats as effectively with impaired hearing or vision, or when experiencing side effects from certain necessary prescribed medications.

        The role of driving in our society is such that people are discouraged from doing so only in the most extreme cases. I seriously doubt one handed people don’t eat or drink in the car. They probably drive with their knees the same way many two handed people do when distracted by something that takes both hands.

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      • q February 20, 2017 at 2:33 pm

        I knew a guy who had one arm and drove an old MG stickshift. He did OK even with that. His only limitation was he couldn’t make left-hand turns.

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        • Kyle Banerjee February 21, 2017 at 11:39 am

          I’m not saying it can’t be done. I drive stick and three times in the past 30 years have injured my arm or hand to the point it was completely useless for over a month. I’m sure he could turn either way since I certainly was able to.

          Likewise, I know people who have a wide variety of physical impairments including lacking full use of legs, deaf, vision impairments (including having only one eye — some people here might want to consider that possibility when passing a turning vehicle on the right)

          All of these people drive legally — and better than many drivers without any impairments since they factor in their capabilities into their driving style. But there’s no way that it doesn’t limit their ability to respond to situations.

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          • q February 21, 2017 at 8:03 pm

            I agree with everything you’re saying. I was joking about his not being able to make left-hand turns. An off-hand comment if you will.

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  • Matt Meskill February 17, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Typo in SB35 section:

    “Why? Because most bicycles are not work $1,500.” should be worth no?

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  • Caitlin D February 17, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Thanks for this roundup! It’s good to be informed about what’s going on in Salem.

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  • Todd Hudson February 17, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Irritating fact: ~5,000 bills get circulated at a legislative session. A small percentage make it to the guv’s desk. What makes the cut isn’t merit but rather seniority and who controls what committee.

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    • Kyle Banerjee February 17, 2017 at 4:55 pm

      Merit is a slippery concept. And since the people who get to make the decisions are typically chosen for factors that have absolutely nothing to do with knowledge or expertise, you can rest assured that most of the votes for or against a given bill (which are literally written by lobbyists in many cases) are by people who couldn’t discuss the issues intelligently if their life depended on it.

      The real miracle is that the system works as well as it does.

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    • Kyle Banerjee February 18, 2017 at 5:22 am

      Another irritating fact — if there is any substance or real controversy, expect the legislature to defer it to the voters. Consider the last round of elections where we voted on tax policy and how universities can invest funds.

      Having a mob of uninformed people decide complex issues on the basis of sound bites has got to be a great idea…

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    • wsbob February 18, 2017 at 11:29 pm

      “Irritating fact: ~5,000 bills get circulated at a legislative session. A small percentage make it to the guv’s desk. What makes the cut isn’t merit but rather seniority and who controls what committee.” hudson

      Your conclusion sounds cynical at best, and sorry…not well informed. I don’t claim to be an authority on the legislative procedure towards an idea for a law becoming a well written bill that eventually proceeds the entire distance to become a law signed by the governor…but I’m quite certain the procedure is a lot more complex than you describe it.

      Literally anyone can write up an idea for a bill to become a law. It has to be well written though, if it’s going to pass all the checks and balances in place to try and pass only laws that fairly do what they seek to accomplish, and are constitutionally sound, to boot. Likely be some research of existing laws, required. Takes a lot of thinking, time and effort to come up with good bills that people in the legislature can prioritize for work on out of their schedules.

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  • Tom February 17, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    SB 556. Why would it not include other pets such as cats? Are there any pets that would be safe to have in your lap which driving? Why not include mobile display devices like tablets and phones, which seem to be a much more common lap item these days? What about a cup of coffee between your legs, or an overflowing sandwich. Anything in your lap seems like such a terrible idea, I don’t know why they would single out just dogs.

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    • q February 18, 2017 at 12:03 am

      Yes. I also think this law should also make it illegal for dogs to lie under the brake pedal, or on top of the gas pedal. I’m not sure if cats should be included in that, or pet squirrels. Actually, if pet squirrels are included, non-pet squirrels should be also. Also there needs to be a law against birds on shoulders of drivers, if the bird is of a height sufficient to interfere with the driver’s view. However, there should be an exemption if a non-pet bird has flown into the car and landed on the driver’s shoulder, unless the driver has failed to remove the bird within 45 seconds, although I could see 30 seconds max. as being safer. I guess that brings up whether dogs should be allowed to ride on a driver’s shoulder–probably not, and the law should really reflect that.

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      • Pete February 19, 2017 at 12:27 pm

        Polly likes to sit on me right shoulder, but doesn’t affect my vision so much as my eye patch. Braking with me peg leg is as painful as scurvy tho.

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    • wsbob February 18, 2017 at 11:16 pm

      “SB 556. Why would it not include other pets such as cats? Are there any pets that would be safe to have in your lap which driving? …” tom

      If you’re offering this as a suggestion by which to modify the bill, that’s something to consider. I’ve not read the bill…don’t have a pet, and if I did, and were to take it along in the vehicle, it would be strapped to a seat in its pet carrier, just as people riding in personal and work motor vehicles are supposed to being using seat belts when the drive.

      Reason…in addition to the potential for distraction issue? If the vehicle becomes involved in a collision, the unrestrained pet can become like a missile inside the vehicle, resulting in injuries or worse.

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  • In Trump We Trust February 18, 2017 at 3:50 am
  • Pete February 19, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks for pointing out SB 454. As the gorge grows it’s indeed necessary to fund improvements, and in addition to Bridge of the Gods, the Hood River bridge is nearing end of life and I suspect that’s Chuck’s true motivation here (see https://www.billtrack50.com/BillDetail/806874).

    From Hood River News, 2/6/2015: “Sen. Thomsen said he had planned to introduce a bill that would reduce the amount of emissions testing required for cars, which he said should be every ten years instead of four years.”

    Some here may not agree with Chuck on that one, but Thomsen and Johnson are very sensible and proactive leaders in the gorge, and their support of this bill should take it a long way. I encourage others who don’t reside in but use the gorge to reach out to your representatives and urge them to support this bill and to emphasize safety and access for pedestrians and bicyclists.

    More of Chuck’s good work – inserting “bicycles” into this amendment on bridges:
    https://www.billtrack50.com/BillDetail/806776

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    • cam February 20, 2017 at 11:26 am

      The second bill that is linked to, HB2750 (806776), also allows for the bridge to be sold. I imagine someone purchasing the bridge, then jacking up the tolls and cutting the maintenance to provide an attractive rate of return on the investment.

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  • Dan A February 21, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Laws against anything happening inside of a car are pretty meaningless with the amount of window tinting we allow.

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  • Holtz February 23, 2017 at 9:17 am

    How about just slightly amending SB 34… by deleting three words: motor, warning and hazard… so it becomes “Expands “move over law” to include any vehicle that is displaying lights”… which would then include bicycles with lights. If drivers whose cars are broken deserve extra space, so do all other people on the edge of the road.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 23, 2017 at 9:42 am

      I like that idea Holtz… but ODOT and lawmakers I’ve talked to so far seem to think the bicycle “Safe passing law” is sufficient and they don’t see the need to change SB 34. What’s funny though… is that technically SB 34 already applies to bicycles… Because according to ORS precedent/law, if a law says “motor vehicle” it still can apply to bikes unless bikes just simply aren’t applicable (they are in this case), or unless the law explicitly excludes bikes (which it doesn’t).

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      • Holtz February 23, 2017 at 1:44 pm

        Well, I wasn’t entirely serious… except for pointing out how concern about vulnerable road users sometimes seems rather narrow… i.e. thinking a driver sitting encased in a car on the side of the road needs a full lane buffer from traffic.

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