Distracted driving, Vision Zero, speed limits and more: Checking in on the Oregon legislative session
Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on May 5th, 2017 at 2:29 pm
Oregon lawmakers want to make it easier to hunt animals with your car (seriously), but they want to make it harder to use your phone while doing so.
We’re just over half-way through the 2017 legislative session and it’s time to see how the bills we’ve been tracking are holding up.
As you might recall, back in February we flagged nine House bills and nine Senate bills. (We’re also watching the Joint Transportation Preservation and Modernization Committee. They’re set to unveil the big transportation funding package very soon. It could even happen at their meeting this Monday.)
Some are dead, some are on life support, and some are flourishing and are likely to become law. Here’s the full rundown:
House Bills Still Alive
HB 2355 – Anti-profiling bill (Overview)
Summary (written by legislative staff): Requires law enforcement agencies to record specified information related to pedestrian and vehicle stops, including race and gender of person stopped, legal reason for stop and disposition of stop. Phases in recording requirement based on size of agency. Directs Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) to review compiled information to identify patterns or practices of profiling. Requires CJC to provide, beginning July 1, 2020, annual report to legislative committees, Office of Governor and Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST). Authorizes DPSST to provide advice or assistance to law enforcement agencies identified in report and requires summary of advice or assistance provided to be presented at public meeting of local public safety coordinating council. Directs DPSST to establish mandatory educational programs to reduce profiling.
Status: Alive. Passed House Judiciary Committee with a vote of 8-2 on on March 30th. Now in Joint Committee on Ways and Means.
HB 2409 – Speed camera bill (Overview)
Official summary: Authorizes city to operate camera and other technology, mounted on street light or other appropriate place, to record drivers who speed in excess of 11 miles per hour over limit. Requires city to notify community and drivers of use of technology. Requires police officer to review photograph and data before issuing citation. Prohibits issuance of both speeding ticket and ticket for running red light, unless driver exceeds speed limit by more than 21 miles per hour. Provides registered owner of vehicle to whom citation is issued with ability to submit certificate of innocence or certificate of nonliability.
Status: Alive. Passed House 45-15 on May 3rd. Now in Senate Judiciary Committee awaiting hearing and work session.
HB 2597 – Distracted driving bill (Overview)
Official summary: Renames offense of operating a motor vehicle while using mobile communication device and expands it to cover operating a motor vehicle while using mobile electronic device. Defines key terms. Increases penalty for first offense. Increases penalty for subsequent offense or if first offense contributes to an accident. Allows court to suspend fine upon first offense if person completes distracted driving avoidance course. Directs Department of Transportation to create standards for distracted driving avoidance courses.
Status: Alive. Pass the House 46-13 on May 1st. Now in Senate Judiciary Committee.
HB 2682 – PBOT’s speed limit bill (Overview)
Official summary: Authorizes City of Portland to establish designated speed for certain highways without seeking approval of the Department of Transportation. (See our report on this bill here.)
Status: Alive! Passed the House 55-1 and is now in the Senate Committee on Business and Transportation.
House Bills That Are Dead
HB 2440 (Overview)
Official summary: Directs Department of Transportation to remove high occupancy vehicle lane restrictions on Interstate 5 in Portland.
Status: Dead. It never went anywhere. Not sure how someone thought it would make sense to remove the HOV lane on a section of freeway that is bumper-to-bumper every day.
HB 2461 (Overview)
Official summary: Establishes process for issuance of certificate of approval for operating autonomous vehicles.
Status: Dead. Never even received a committee vote. Seems like it would be good for the State of Oregon to get ahead of the coming AV wave in order to support forward-thinking cities like Portland.
HB 2532 (Overview)
Official summary: Directs Department of Transportation to post certain information on its website about selection process for transportation projects and about transportation projects selected for inclusion in Statewide Transportation Improvement Program. Directs department to use least-cost planning and practical design for all projects. Directs department to report to Legislative Assembly and commission on results of using least-cost planning and practical design. Directs department to update highway design manual.
Status: Dead. Didn’t go anywhere.
HB 2667 – Vision Zero Bill (Overview)
Official summary: Establishes Task Force on Vision Zero.
Status: Dead. Despite strong and emotional testimony in favor of this bill back in February, the State feels its current traffic safety efforts are sufficient. There was concern from ODOT staff that this task force would duplicate existing efforts of the Traffic Safety Action Plan. Given what a radical shift in thinking and policymaking Vision Zero requires, it’s not surprising that ODOT isn’t ready to fully embrace it.
HB 2683 (Overview)
Official summary: Directs Department of Transportation to remove directional sign on Southeast Powell Boulevard between Southeast 20th Avenue and Southeast 21st Avenue in Portland.
Status: Dead. This odd bill didn’t go anywhere; but it did generate a story in the Portland Tribune.
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Senate Bills Still Alive
SB 2 (Overview)
Summary: Similar to HB 2597, this is Senate President Peter Courtney’s attempt to get tough – very tough – on people who use cell phones while driving. It does some of the same things as the House bill, but it comes with much stronger penalties. Because of its potential to find someone guilty of a felony and its relatively high fines (up to $2,000 after a third conviction, and $10,000 if there’s a minor in the vehicle), SB 2 doesn’t have as much political momentum as it counterpart in the House.
Status: Alive. Passed Senate Judiciary Committee 3-2 on April 11th. Now in Joint Ways and Means Committee awaiting floor votes.
SB 34 (Overview)
Summary: “Expands “move over law” to include any motor vehicle that is displaying warning or hazard lights or specific indications of distress.”
Status: Alive. Passed the Senate 16-13 on February 23rd. Scheduled for a work session in the House Judiciary Committee on May 10th. I feel like this bill is a major missed opportunity that should have included language that would have specifically included people using bicycles as well as motor vehicles. Bicycle users should benefit from the strength and awareness of the “move over law” because the existing “bicycle safe passing law” is weak and relatively unknown to the public and to law enforcement officials.
SB 35 (Overview)
Summary: “Increases, from $1,500 to $2,500, the property damage threshold amount that must be met before a person is required to submit a motor vehicle accident report.”
Status: Alive and likely to become law. Passed Senate 28-2 on February 28th and passed the House Transportation Committee 9-0 on April 26th. This is a car-centric bill that will make it even harder for bicycle users to receive justice after a collision and it will lead to less reporting of bicycle-involved crashes in general. While the cost of cars has gone up, the price of many bicycles is still well below the existin $1,500 threshold, much less the higher amount. This bill is very likely to pass.
SB 327 (Overview)
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.” For more on the issues behind this bill, read our coverage from back in February.
Status: Alive and likely to become law. Passed Senate 30-0 on April 11th. Work session in House Judiciary Committee scheduled for May 9th.
SB 372 (Overview)
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.”
Status: Alive. Passed Senate 29-1 on April 6th. Now awaiting a work session in House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
SB 454 (Overview)
Summary: “Directs Department of Transportation to establish Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area highway improvement program.” Bill would hasten transportation infrastructure project development in the Gorge, including projects that would make bicycling better.
Status: Alive. Passed Senate Committee on Business and Transportation on April 17th. Now in Joint Ways and Means Committee.
SB 493 (Overview)
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.” Current Oregon law does not have a penalty that triggers unless the vulnerable roadway user is killed in the collision. This bill would fill that “negligence gap” when someone is hit and suffers serious injuries. It came up last session but didn’t pass because it made the crime a felony. Here’s our previous coverage.
Status: Alive. Passed Senate 19-10 on May 2nd. Currently in House Judiciary Committee awaiting hearing and work session.
Senate Bills That Are Dead
SB 504 (Overview)
Summary: “Eliminates limitation of liability for owner of land used for trail or recreational purposes when owner is public body.” This is the response from trial lawyers to the recreational immunity bill (SB 327 above). It would make public agencies liable for tort claims from people who use parks and trails.
Status: Dead. Didn’t go anywhere.
SB 556 (Overview)
Summary: Creates offense of driving with dog in driver’s lap. Punishes by maximum fine of $250.
Status: Dead. Received a public hearing on March 20th but failed to get voted on by a committee. It’s too bad! This is actually something that would be easy to enforce (dogs on laps are very visible) and it would have improved public safety in a tangible way.
The next big deadline in the legislative calendar is May 19th. Bills must have a work session scheduled in the second chamber or else they are dead. The session is constitutionally required to end on July 10th, but sources tell us legislators are aiming for June 23rd.