In a mad dash to salvage the session after a 42-day walkout by Senate Republicans, there’s still hope for one bill we’ve tracked very closely since February: House Bill 3014, a.k.a. the “bike bus bill.” Fresh off a strong show of bipartisan support in committee last month and a successful House vote on June 8th, the bill has just been scheduled for its first hearing and possible vote in a Senate committee.
This is the final week of the 2023 legislative session and this committee vote — slated to take place later today — will make or break this important bill.
HB 3014 would give schools more flexibility in how they spend state transportation funds. Currently, these funds are almost exclusively used for school buses which are not always the best option for people or the planet. If the bill passes, schools would be able to use state-issued funding for things like walking school buses, crossing guards, and bike buses. The idea behind this bill has been popular since the start of the session, and thanks in part to major revisions by its lead sponsor House Representative Hoa Nguyen (D-48) to ensure that it has no negative impact on funding of bus service, it now faces no organized opposition.
The bill has already passed the House committees on education and revenue and will get its first public hearing and possible work session in the Senate today (Tuesday, 6/20). at 1:00 pm in the Senate Committee on Rules. HB 3014 was a late addition to the meeting and there are five other bills on the docket. One legislative source said a flurry of emails to members of the committee from people who support this bill could make a difference in whether or not it gets voted out.
This could be the final chance for the bike bus bill, so if you want it to pass, be sure to email the five members of the committee, submit testimony on the bill, and/or sign up to testify at today’s meeting.
Rep. Nguyen plans to be there. “I am grateful for the opportunity to share with the Senators about this important bill to provide equitable access to transportation to students in local school districts,” she shared in a statement to BikePortland this morning.
UPDATE, 2:35 pm: The bill has passed out of committee and is headed to the Senate floor.
In other legislative news:
— House bill 2571, the “E-bike rebate bill,” has not yet been scheduled for a work session in the Senate and remains mired in a budget committee. Advocates are pushing hard to move the bill forward, but without a major breakthrough it could die in committee.
— ODOT and their friends in the highway industrial complex have snuck one billion into an omnibus spending bill to pay for the Interstate Bridge Replacement project. The money would be siphoned from the general fund over the course of four, $250 million payments over four years. Learn more via this story in the Portland Mercury.