On Monday, Oregon Governor Tina Kotek signed House Bill 3014.
Known around here as the “Bike Bus Bill,” this piece of legislation gives schools more flexibility in how they spend state transportation funds and opens up the list of eligible expenses beyond traditional yellow school buses.
Once the bill goes into effect next year, schools will be able to apply for reimbursements from the Oregon Department of Education for activities like walking school buses, crossing guards, and — our favorite — bike buses. Currently, schools could only rely on parent volunteers or unpaid staff members to organize, promote, or lead a bike bus. With the new law, they’ll be able to pay staff to do those things (as long as they submit a plan to Department of Education beforehand for approval).
It’s a significant achievement that this bill passed, given that school bus funding has been something of a sacred cow for many years. It’s also a testament to the power of the viral bike bus phenomenon (started right here in Portland by Alameda Elementary School teacher Sam Balto) and the lead sponsor of this bill, House Representative Hoa Nguyen (D-48), who carefully compromised with lawmakers and lobbyists to get it over the finish line.
The tremendous popularity of the bill was also notable. On its four month journey through committees and the House and Senate chambers, it garnered only one “no” vote. And in a supremely polarized legislative body, HB 3014 had three Republicans who joined with 22 Democrats as bill sponsors.
Huge congratulations to all the advocates and elected officials who worked to make this bill a reality! I can’t wait to report on the people and programs this funding is used for.
We’ve covered this bill at length all session, so if you want to learn more about it I strongly encourage you to browse past coverage.