E-bike laws, net zero emissions declaration, and more: BikePortland’s 2024 Oregon legislative session guide

State Capitol building in Salem in 2009. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Note: If you are aware of a transportation-related bill that’s not on this list, please contact me.


The 2024 session of the Oregon Legislature kicked off Monday and now there’s a 35-day sprint to make new laws before the gavel comes down. It’s a short session (Oregon only has full sessions on odd-numbered years), so pundits like to say the only things that will get attention are major bills from the most powerful players. But you never know, and judging by the hundreds of bills already filed, it appears many lawmakers are willing to roll the dice.

I’ve spent a bit of time wading through the Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS) and have found a bunch of bills that have transportation implications. Note that there are some bills we expect to see that I could not track down. Those include: A funding request for safety upgrades on inner SE Powell Blvd; a change to bike lane law being pushed by trucker advocates, and a bill to clarify Oregon’s recreational immunity law (it just came out 2/9, see below). I’ll update the list below if/when I find those and any other bills that may come to my attention in the coming days.

Check out the list below to see the bills BikePortland will be keeping an eye on this session…

House Bills

HB 4048 (Overview)
Sponsored by Reps Helfrich  and Breese-Iverson (Rs)
Summary: “relaxes housing standards, establishes a housing office to enforce housing laws, allows a new UGB amendment and limits counties’ role in UGB amendments.”

This bill would relax housing regulations in Oregon. It would limit the power of Metro and the State of Oregon enforce development within the Urban Growth Boundary and give more of that power to local counties. Among the housing regulations it would allow local governments to adjust are bicycle parking standards for residential units.


HB 4067 (Overview)
Sponsored by Reps Nguyen D and Nelson (Ds)
Summary: “Creates the Task Force on Electric Micromobility.”

As BP reported last month, this bill would help raise the profile of electric bicycles and all types of non-car e-micromobility vehicles by setting up a statewide task force where new policy ideas could be discussed and vetted.


HB 4103 (Overview)
Sponsored by Rep Levy
Summary: “… kids under 16 years of age may ride Class 1 e-bikes. The Act also states that only those 16 years of age and older may operate Class 2 and Class 3 e-bikes. The Act creates the offense of unsafe e-bike riding. If a person violates the law, the person could face a fine of up to $100. Modifies the definition of electric assisted bicycle for purposes of the Oregon Vehicle Code. Adds definitions of Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 electric assisted bicycles. Provides that children under 16 years of age may operate Class 1 electric assisted bicycles and provides that only persons 16 years of age and older may operate Class 2 and Class 3 electric assisted bicycles. Creates the offense of unsafe electric assisted bicycle riding. Punishes by maximum fine of $100.”

This is the “Trenton’s Law” bill we wrote about back in November. It would be a major change to the legal standing of electric bikes in Oregon.

HB 4110 (Overview)
Sponsored by Joint Committee on Transportation
Summary: Would award $6 million to the Port of Cascade Locks for Bridge of the Gods project

This project aims to bolster funding for the Bridge of the Gods seismic and safety retrofit project that we reported in 2018 could include a new biking and walking path.


HB 4147 (Overview)
Sponsored by Reps Neron, Hudson, Ruiz, Boice (Bipartisan)
Summary: “Permits an education provider to have stop arm cameras on school buses for the purpose of recording persons who fail to stop for bus safety lights.”

Who can possible say no to this law that would allow any educator or school district in the state to install automated cameras to photograph scofflaws?!


HB 4165 (Overview)
Sponsored by Rep Boshart Davis (R)
Summary: “Requires the Department of Transportation to prepare and submit a report on the statutory changes necessary to balance transportation cost responsibility between light and heavy vehicles.” 

This is part of a large debate this session that revolves around who pays their “fair share” of road taxes — especially how much freight truck drivers pay in taxes, versus the damage they have on the system and the benefits they get out of it. Many lawmakers believe trucking companies are paying too much in weight-mile taxes and that ODOT has failed to use the funds to ease freeway congestion. (Expect more from BP about all this soon. And see SB 1519 and SB 1543 below.)

WES from Beaverton to Salem? Lawmakers want to take a closer look at that idea. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Senate Bills

SB 1512 (Overview)
Sponsored by Joint Committee on Transportation
Summary: Would award $6 million to the Port of Cascade Locks for Bridge of the Gods project

This is the Senate version of HB 4110.


SB 1519 (Overview)
Sponsored by Sen Boquist (R)
Summary: “lowers weight-mile taxes. The Act directs ODOT to adopt rules so that ODOT may issue refunds to taxpayers who overpaid weight-mile taxes in recent years.”

One of the legislative attempts to change taxation of freight trucks and alleges that ODOT has overcharged trucking companies.


SB 1543 (Overview)
Sponsored by Sen Findley, Representative Owens (Rs)
Summary: “lowers weight-mile taxes, limits ODOT spending on certain things.

Another attempt to right what some see as unfair taxes on trucking companies and this one goes a bit further by requiring the legislature to establishing budgetary limits for ODOT in specific project categories.

SB 1556 (Overview)
Sponsored by Sen Weber, Representative Javadi, Stout (Rs)
Summary: Requires ODOT to conduct a study conditions on Highway 30 between Rainier and Astoria and determine what it would take to bring the highway up to a state of good repair.

The bill would require lawmakers to share the report with the Joint Committee on Transportation. This might be an opportunity to advocate for safer shoulders and bicycle infrastructure on this very sketchy section of Hwy 30 that could be much more welcoming to many bike tourists.


SB 1559 (Overview)
Sponsored by Senator Dembrow, Representative Gamba, Senator Manning Jr, Representative Andersen, Neron (Ds)
Summary: “… changes the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.

This bill would update existing GHG reduction goals and set a new aspiration for the State of Oregon to achieve “net zero emissions as soon as practicable, but no later than 2050.” It would also change the term “global warming” to “climate change” in existing statutes.

SB 1563 (Overview)
Sponsored by Senator Anderson (R)
Summary: This bill would require ODOT to complete a study of Hwy 101 between Lincoln City and Coos Bay.

Unfortunately it looks like this bill is written in a way that is very car-centric. It says ODOT needs to study the corridor and intersections along it, “to relieve congestion and produce safer driving conditions.” If this passes, ODOT needs to make sure they take a complete streets/safe systems approach to their study.


SB 1572 (Overview)
Sponsored by Senator Woods, Manning Jr, Representative Mannix, Andersen, Evans, Neron (Ds)
Summary: “a study on extending the Westside Express Service commuter line to Salem.”

This exciting bill will be an opportunity for rail advocates to engage with the legislature around a concrete plan to extend existing TriMet WES service to Salem. WES currently runs only between Beaverton and Wilsonville.


SB 1576 -3 (Text)
Sponsored by request of Judiciary Committee

This is a legal omnibus bill that includes language to clarify Oregon’s recreational immunity law after a case in the City of Newport led to confusion among many cities and counties and has resulted in dozens of closed biking and walking trails around the state.


Did I miss anything? Please let me know if you’ve heard of something that should be on our radar.

How a Bill Becomes Law. (Source: State of Oregon)

The next step for these bills is to await committee assignments (see the full process of how a bill becomes law in the graphic above). Then they’ll need to earn a public hearing and a vote in committee. There are deadlines for all these steps and as time goes on we’ll discover which of these — if any — has the momentum and support it takes to reach the finish line. 

Stay tuned!

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Watts
Watts
4 months ago

HB 4048: The last thing we need is to make it easier to expand the UGB. Between Portland and the state, there seems to be a real fever to roll back environmental regulations around where and what you can build. It seems to be one of the few things Democrats and Republicans can agree on.

Fred
Fred
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I don’t often agree with you, but I agree with you on this point.

We need to be convinced that there’s a lack of buildable land WITHIN the UGBs. Of course developers will always want “greenfields” – easiest to build on.

Damien
Damien
4 months ago
Reply to  Fred

I don’t often agree with you, but I agree with you on this point.

Same. Watts is nothing if not dogmatically adherent to the status quo, but in this particular case, the status quo – the UGB – is the sustainable option and well worth maintaining.

We need to be convinced that there’s a lack of buildable land WITHIN the UGBs. Of course developers will always want “greenfields” – easiest to build on.

And as we all know well, the most expensive to maintain even from just a pure tax base, let alone environmental concerns.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Damien

dogmatically adherent to the status quo

I’m not pro-status quo, but I am pro-reality. In the present, the status quo is reality, so future steps necessarily need to derive from the present, not some long lost past or alternative history of what might have been.

It is likely that the short and medium term future will look a lot like the present, because that’s how the world works. It’s not like we’re going to elect some radical new city council and then in 5 years have protected bike lanes on all our major streets, and transit serving everyone, and those other fun fantasies. That radical new city council is still going to have to deal with the reality that PBOT is broke and run by engineers, and most people generally like getting around by car, and that council will probably only have one term to get things done before being replaced, as has generally been the pattern in Portland’s recent history.

“Dogmatic” suggests an unwillingness to consider evidence I’m wrong. Show me some.

Damien
Damien
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

“Dogmatic” suggests an unwillingness to consider evidence I’m wrong. Show me some.

I should’ve/meant the word “dogged”, rather than “dogmatic” – my mistake. That aside, the thing is, you’re rarely inaccurate. But accurate and wrong are not mutually exclusive.

I’m not pro-status quo, but I am pro-reality. In the present, the status quo is reality, so future steps necessarily need to derive from the present, not some long lost past or alternative history of what might have been.

At some point the constant defense of the status quo, while accurate, is neither useful or interesting. It’s like responding to every post with “the sky is blue” or “2+2=4”. It’s very reliable – I know if someone posts something proposing a change, Watts will be there to respond with some variant of “No, status quo.” Even in this discussion about the UGB (it just so happens I agree with you that the UGB in particular is a beneficial status quo)!

Everything is politically impossible until it’s not, and while I can’t give a path to the political changes often dreamed of on BP or even say if such paths exist, I can very confidently say that “No, status quo” defenses/arguments/energy are/is in the wrong direction – they’re not helpful. Hell, I’m almost sure those paths do not, and have an incredibly gloomy and cynical view of the future, but I’m not about to throw that into every discussion because I’m aware that’s neither helpful or useful – if I did, especially anywhere near the output you do for the status quo, people could rightly charge me with being pro-doomerism just based on the time and energy that would entail me injecting that into the conversation. “But I’m not pro-doomerism, I’m just pro-reality.”

(I should note that I live a perfectly happy, positive life. I’m not any more depressed about future collapse than I am about the inevitability of death, as much as I’d like us all to work toward avoiding the former)

9watts
9watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Damien

Everything is politically impossible until it’s not”
This!

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Damien

I replied to this earlier, but it seems to have been swallowed. I’ll try again, in abbreviated form. [Mods: no need to look for the lost message.]

At some point the constant defense of the status quo…responding to every post with “2+2=4”…   “status quo” defenses/arguments/energy are/is in the wrong direction 

I know you won’t believe this, but I mostly agree with that last line. Changing the status quo requires ideas that can be implemented. Most of the typical ideas people like to suggest are predicated on 2+2=5, and we need to get past those if we’re going to move forward. I think you confuse “let’s do something possible” with “everything’s fine the way it is”.

Everything is politically impossible until it’s not

Indeed; politics can shift suddenly and unpredictably, and while it often reverts to the mean, sometimes such a shift will create a window of opportunity. (I believe Measure 110 fit into such an opening.)

But if the first step of your plan is “hope the politics changes”, it’s probably not going to happen. There’s no law of physics telling us we can’t put protected bike lanes on 82nd (which would require closing most of the driveways), and the politics could suddenly make that possible, but it’s still very much a 2+2=5 suggestion that we’d be better off leaving behind so we can focus on things that can actually be done to make 82nd a better place.

Things are going to change. It’s not pro status-quo to believe that to get the outcomes we want, we need good ideas that can actually be implemented, and that start with an understanding that 2+2=4.

Serenity
Serenity
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

“Things are going to change. It’s not pro status-quo to believe that to get the outcomes we want, we need good ideas that can actually be implemented”

Uh huh. Good old Watts. Can always be counted on to say “we can’t implement that!” The thing is, that sounds pretty close to pro status-quo. *Possibly* incremental change.

Tomato, tomahto

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Serenity

*Possibly* incremental change.

Don’t dismiss it. Incremental change, compounded over the years, adds up to a very different future than one where we only play the lottery making no forward progress at all.

Serenity
Serenity
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

 Incremental change, compounded over the years, adds up to a very different future

oh dear. Watts I think you just set the civil movement back at least 40 years. I don’t dismiss the fact that incremental changes can add up. However, I doubt the planet could survive your style of incremental change, and I know that many people would not.

Serenity
Serenity
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

“I’m not pro-status quo, but I am pro-reality.”
Ok, if you say so…

Steven
Steven
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The reality is that the societal costs of personal car use far outweigh any benefits, and the bill is coming due. The sooner we transition away from a car-based transportation system, the less painful the future will be for all of us.

prioritarian
prioritarian
4 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Of course developers will always want…

Giving developers speculators what they want is a core tenet of Urbanism. So it’s very ironic that some prominent Urbanists* are shocked that the politicos they have been lobbied non-stop to “give developers investors what they want” are now doing this.

* the minority who are slightly less libertarian

X
X
4 months ago

HB 4103 (Rep Levy, D, Central Oregon)
This is bill is in response to a tragic event, and a real problem, but instead of identifying the problem it is fear mongering around e bikes.

The problem we have is infrastructure that mixes possibly naive bike riders with motor vehicles operated by people who lack awareness, or perhaps concern, for the presence of vulnerable road users. In the presence of large fast motor vehicles an e bike is little different than the bikes I grew up with. If you do the physics the change is a few percent at most and riders enter the car arena essentially naked.

The proposed rules in this bill won’t protect people. Instead they offer a handle for an officer with preconceived notions about bikes to regulate a class of people who aren’t creating danger, or in particular danger. I compare this to local history of a few officers ticketing fixed gear bike riders just because they were identifiable as technically illegal under Oregon law even while operating in a safe and civil manner.

As e bikes become more common on the street I think we’re going to encounter more instances of treating all bikes in the manner of e bikes. I’m concerned that the class 2 and 3 e bikes are restricted to those over age 16. This seems like the thin edge of a movement toward licensing of bike riders. It also concerns me that an officer can very plausibly say that they could not tell a person’s age or categorize their bike without making a traffic stop.

We’ve all heard that Portland police can’t, or won’t, do enough traffic stops and that’s the problem. They are exercising their discretion. If we give officers a whole new arena of discretion we may find them taking actions that weren’t intended.

Meanwhile we still have streets designed to maximize motor vehicle through put at the cost of human lives. The bill summary did not mention helmets but likely that’s the next thing. Perhaps I should wear some common sort of bike helmet but in the event of a car crash it will not protect my legs, pelvis, ribs, internal organs, shoulders, arms, hands, spine, neck, etc, anymore than all of the ORS will do.

Chris I
Chris I
4 months ago
Reply to  X

This law is probably unnecessary, but children should not be operating class 2/3 e-bikes. But I also believe that 16 is too young to trust anyone to be operating a motor vehicle without adult supervision.

X
X
4 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

Agreed. It’s not likely that any provision of this bill will change my life unless, worst case, a cop follows me to the hospital to give me a ticket. If this bill becomes law it will be enforced capriciously, or not at all.

Bjorn
Bjorn
4 months ago

The only thing that Trenton’s law will do is absolve drivers who kill children like Trenton of any fault simply because of the type of bicycle the child was riding. Possibly the most backward law named after a victim I have ever come across.

dw
dw
4 months ago

Would love WES to Salem but it needs to run big boy schedules and real trains. Something like Stadler FLIRTs running every 30-45 minutes for most of the day.

Chris I
Chris I
4 months ago
Reply to  dw

It terminates in Beaverton, and none of the stations have any development around them. The corridor doesn’t have the population density to support commuter rail that is 100% reliant on park and ride traffic.

dw
dw
4 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

Sounds like a good opportunity to upzone, improve local transit, and build bike infrastructure around stations.

MarkM
MarkM
4 months ago

Thanks, Jonathan. I always appreciate your reporting on transportation-related legislation. BikePortland fills the gap left by our regional MSM publications.