Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 20th, 2019 at 7:51 am
(NOTE: We are updating this list throughout the session. Please refresh to see latest version.)
We’re about one month into Oregon’s 80th legislative session. And while no blockbuster bike-related bills have emerged yet, there are still a number of things we’re keeping our eyes on.
Here’s our list and a few notes about all the bills we’re tracking this session…
SB 7 – Lower BAC Level – Overview
Senate President Peter Courtney wants to lower the legal level of alcohol a person can have in their blood while operating a vehicle. Currently at .08 percent, this bill would make it .05 percent. I interviewed Senator Courtney about this bill back in December. Status: Referred to Judiciary Committee.
SB 10 – Housing and Transit – Overview
As reported by The Willamette Week, this bill would, “Require metro-area cities to allow 75 housing units per acre within a quarter mile of frequent transit and 45 units within a half mile. That number goes up to 140 units within a quarter mile of a light-rail station.” This could be a game-changer! Status: Hearing in Housing Committee scheduled for February 25th.
SB 421 – “Made Whole Bill” – Overview
Known by advocates as the “Made Whole Bill”, SB 421 would prevent health insurance companies from collecting damages from an at-fault driver in a collision until the victims are fully compensated for their losses (or “made whole”). The bill comes out of the tragedy that claimed the life of a 22-month old boy who was hit and killed by a driver while walking across North Lombard in 2010. The boy’s mom, Michelle DuBarry, is pushing for the new law and has several co-sponsors already signed on. “Accident victims may have crippling out-of-pocket expenses, life-altering injuries, and ongoing healthcare needs,” DuBarry writes on her website about the bill, “But they are only entitled to a settlement after their health insurer is fully compensated for their accident-related expenses. In cases where hospital stays are involved, there is almost never money left over for victims.” Status: Referred to Judiciary Committee. UPDATE, 2/26: Public hearing scheduled for March 8th.
SB 558 – Lower Speed Limits Statewide – Overview
In 2017 the City of Portland earned the right to lower residential speed limits by 5 mph without prior authorization from the State of Oregon. This bill would open up that same authority to any city in Oregon. (Interestingly, this is how the 2017 bill started out, but lawmakers worried that some Oregon cities wouldn’t be ready to assume this authority so it was changed to apply only to Portland.) Status: Public hearing scheduled for 3/6 in Joint Transportation Committee.
SB 559 – Allow fixed speed safety cameras in cities statewide – Overview
The City of Portland passed a law expanding their ability to use speed cameras in 2015. This bill would allow all Oregon cities to do the same. In its current form (with amendment introduced in committee on 3/18), the bill would allow cities to use the cameras only in a school zone and on “high crash corridors” identified by ODOT. Status: In Joint Committee on Transportation awaiting a work session.
SB 560 – Allow mobile speed safety cameras in cities statewide – Overview
A law passed in 2017 gave a select list of cities the authority to operate mobile photo speed radar systems (like in a van). This bill would expand that authority to all cities in Oregon. Status: Public hearing held 3/18. Currently awaiting work session in Joint Committee on Transportation.
SB 561 – Safe Routes Matching Funds – Overview
When the legislature passed the big transportation package in 2017, Safe Routes to School got dedicated funding. To get the money however, non-Title I schools are required to come up with 40 percent of the project funds (known as “local match”). This bill would lower the matching requirement to 20 percent for all projects, bringing it in line with Title I schools. Status: Referred to Transportation Committee.
SB 608 – Tenant Protections – Overview
This bill would prevent landlords from evicting people on month-to-month rental agreements without cause. It has already passed the Senate and there’s a work session in the House scheduled for today (2/20). This legislation is being followed by transportation reformers (it’s a priority bill for The Street Trust) because of how high rents increase sprawl and limit transportation options by forcing people to live further away from jobs and other destinations.
SB 623 – EV Registrations – Overview
This interesting bill would limit the type of vehicles Oregon residents could officially register in 2025. People who live in counties with over 600,000 people (currently just Multnomah and Washington), “may not register a new vehicle in this state unless the vehicle is a new electric vehicle,” says the bill text. Of note is that the bill’s sole sponsor, Senator Fred Girod, is a Republican who represents the small, rural district of Stayton. Status: Referred to Transportation Committee.
SB 746 – Education of Bicycle Laws – Overview
This is an attempt to get more information about cycling laws in front of everyone who takes the driving test in Oregon. It would formally combine the (now separate) Oregon Bicyclist Manual and Oregon Driver Manual and it would require a re-test on new laws when someone seeks renewal of their license. Read more about it here. Status: Referred to Transportation Committee.
SB 747 – TriMet Crash Investigations – Overview
Currently when someone is killed in a collision involving a TriMet vehicle, the agency investigates itself. Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets, an advocacy group, wants more accountability and oversight. This bill would create a TriMet Crash Advisory Committee appointed by the Oregon Transportation Commission. Read more about it in our previous coverage. Status: Referred to Transportation Committee.
[UPDATE, 2/21: TriMet Manager Of Media Relations & Communications Roberta Altstadt just gave us a comment about SB 747:
“TriMet takes very seriously our obligation to our riders, our employees and our community. Every serious incident—especially those involving loss of life—is devastating, including for their loved ones, TriMet operators and the staff and first responders who go to the scene. We hold ourselves to a high standard and insist that our transit system must operate safely.
TriMet has independent oversight by multiple agencies including the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Rail Administration and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Rail and Public Transit Division. TriMet reports all serious collisions to ODOT and the FTA, and both agencies can call for a joint investigation or conduct its own independent investigation of any crash.”]
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HB 2001 – Middle Housing in Single Family Zoning – Overview
This closely-watched bill (sponsored by north Portland Rep. Tina Kotek) would allow “missing middle” (a.k.a. multi-family dwellings) in places currently zoned for only single-family housing. It would have a big and positive impact on cycling because it would enable more people to live in closer proximity to jobs and other destinations. A public hearing was held in the Human Services and Housing Committee on February 11th. Status: Possible work session scheduled for 3/27 in House Committee On Human Services and Housing.
HB 2020 – Clean Energy Jobs Bill – Overview
This is The Big One. Environmental advocates call this “historic climate legislation.” This bill would create a Carbon Policy Office and set up a “cap and invest” fund in Oregon law. Money raised from polluters could go toward cycling infrastructure projects that reduce vehicle miles traveled. There’s already been a ton of action around this bill. See the overview page for more info.
HB 2083 – Oregon Parks/ODOT Project Admin – Overview
This bill is pretty in-the-weeds; but from what I’ve learned it would formalize something passed in HB 2017 (the 2017 transportation bill) where ODOT had the ability to request up to $4 million in Lottery funding (via Connect Oregon program) from the Oregon Parks & Recreation Department. This isn’t new money, the bill would just clarify which of the two agencies would administer the funds. I hope to get a better understanding the bill’s impacts if/when it gets a public hearing. Status: Referred to Transportation with subsequent referral to Ways and Means.
HB 2219 – WES extension to Salem – Overview
This bill would establish a task force to study the idea of extending TriMet’s Westside Express Service commuter train all the way south to Salem. It currently runs between Beaverton and Wilsonville. Status: Public hearing in Joint Transportation Committee scheduled for March 4th.
HB 2314 – Lane-Splitting for Motorcycle Riders – Overview
Our fellow, two-wheeled vulnerable road users want more ability to split lanes under certain conditions. As you can learn at LaneShareOregon.com, motorcycling advocates say the bill would help them stay safer on the roads and would reduce congestion by allowing riders to move up between stopped/slow auto traffic. Status: A public hearing was held on February 20th in the Joint Committee on Transportation.
HB 2671 – Scooter Helmets – Overview
Introduced by newly elected State Rep. Sheri Schouten (D-Beaverton), this bill would make helmets optional for scooter riders over 16 years old.
Currently, all scooter users must wear a helmet. Backers of this bill want to “harmonize” the scooter law with the bicycle law which requires helmets only for children. A public hearing was held on February 13th at the Joint Transportation Committee and legislators lectured and grilled reps from Bird and Lime. I’ll post separately about the hearing (it was a doozy!), but at this point I’d say this bill has very little chance of getting out of committee.
HB 2682 – Bike Lanes Through Intersections – Overview
As we shared back in December, this bill would amending existing statute to clarify that bicycle lanes continue through intersections even when the paint striping doesn’t. The only reason this is happening is because two judges have come to radical conclusion that simply because bike lane striping disappears in intersections, so does their legal status. That makes no sense at all. It would be an absolute embarrassment if this bill failed to pass. Status: Public hearing in Joint Committee on Transportation scheduled for 3/27.
HB 2702 – Speed Limit Authority for Portland – Overview
Fresh off receiving authority to lower residential street speed limits by 5 mph, with this bill (sponsored by Rep. Rob Nosse) the City of Portland would be able to establish speeds on any road under their jurisdiction. Yes, even wide and fast arterials like Burnside, Division, Sandy and others. Status: Referred to Transportation Committee. UPDATE, 2/27: Public hearing scheduled for March 6th.
HB 2864 – Jurisdictional Transfers – Overview
This is the bill we’ve been waiting years for: It would hasten the jurisdictional transfer of ODOT’s “orphan highways” like 82nd Avenue that run through urban neighborhoods. The Portland Mercury covered the issue well a few weeks ago. The bill would direct all ODOT regions statewide to conduct an evaluation of highways for potential transfer from state to city ownership. It would also — and crucially, since the barrier to these transfers has always been the funding needed to bring them up to good condition — establish a “Jurisdictional Transfer Fund.” Status: Referred to Transportation Committee.
HB 2880 – Free Transit for Vets – Overview
Sponsored by Rep Rob Nosse (D-Portland), this bill would make public transit free for disabled veterans. Status: Referred to Transportation Committee.
Are there other important bills we should have on our radar? Please let me know.
In related news, the Oregon Mountain Biking Coalition will host their first-ever legislative day in Salem on February 27th.
Stay tuned for more coverage of the 2019 session.
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