2009 legislative session

New Oregon law makes “aggravated driving while suspended or revoked” a felony

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on June 29th, 2009 at 9:48 am

Sen. Floyd Prozanski.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Recently passed House Bill 3271 — a bill that addresses a number of types of harassment — includes language that establishes the new crime of “Aggravated Driving While Suspended or Revoked”.

The bill passed through the Oregon Legislature late Thursday and the language to address aggravated driving was added as an amendment pushed by Senator Floyd Prozanski at the behest of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA). Sen. Prozanski, an avid bike rider, is also the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The House version of this bill passed with no mention of this new crime, but Prozanski got the crime of vehicular homicide added into the Senate version. The Senate passed it with the Prozanski amendment, but then the House refused to concur with the amendments (7 Republican House members voted no).
[Read more…]

By one vote in the Senate, Oregon finally moves to curtail cell phones while driving

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on June 23rd, 2009 at 2:56 pm

“The use of cell phones is increasing so much that we have to get a handle on it now.”
— Ginny Burdick (D-Portland)

After several years of trying, the Oregon Legislature has passed a law that will make the use of cell phones while operating a motor vehicle illegal. House bill 2377, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Tomei (D-Milwaukie), squeaked by the Senate today by a vote of 16-13 (with one excused).

That’s just one more vote than required for a bill to pass and it came down to the wire, with Senator Margaret Carter changing her vote from no to yes in the final seconds.

The vote went nearly straight down party lines, with only one Democrat, Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson from Gresham crossing over to vote against it.
[Read more…]

Cell phone ban stuck in Senate committee

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on June 9th, 2009 at 11:13 am

Rep. Carolyn Tomei

Last time we checked in on HB 2377, it was on its way to easy passage on the House floor.

It got through the House at the end of April by a vote of 38-22. Since then, it has had one reading in the Senate, bounced around to committees and work sessions and now it rests in the Senate Rules Committee.

The bill is being pushed by Rep. Carolyn Tomei whose district (41) includes Southeast Portland down through Milwaukie.
[Read more…]

$960 million transportation bill passes Senate: Next stop, the Governor

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on May 29th, 2009 at 3:47 pm

“The transportation package passed today is the most environmentally progressive in Oregon’s history.”
— From a statement by the Oregon Senate Democrats

The Oregon State Senate has voted in favor of House Bill 2001 by a margin of 24-6. The bill, which backers say will create 4,600 jobs a year, did not include any changes from the House version that passed on Wednesday.

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) made a last-ditch call to action yesterday hoping that the Senate would strip out the $192 million earmark for the Newberg-Dundee Bypass project and instead add more funding for bike and pedestrian projects.
[Read more…]

BTA action alert: More money for bikes and one less highway in HB 2001

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on May 28th, 2009 at 3:31 pm

The BTA is making a last
ditch effort to fix HB 2001.

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) has sent out an action alert they hope will bring some much-needed change to the Governor’s transportation package that passed the House yesterday.

House Bill 2001, which includes an $840 million list of earmarked highway projects, will be voted on by the Oregon State Senate any day now, so there’s a very short timeframe for further advocacy.

The BTA will urge their members (and anyone else that sees the alert) to “ask for a better transportation package”. They want people to contact their Senate representatives and tell them to:

1. Increase funding for healthy transportation by increasing the minimum funding for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure from 1% to 1.5% of highway and street expenditures and putting money in the new Urban Trails Fund.
[Read more…]

House votes in favor of highway-centric transportation bill

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on May 28th, 2009 at 8:09 am

If HB 2001 passes in its current
form, highways in Oregon would
get a major boost.
(Photo © J. Maus)

House Bill 2001 (text) passed through the Oregon House of Representatives today by a vote of 38-22 — just two votes more than it needed in order to get the required three-fifths majority.

In floor testimony prior to the vote, most lawmakers sang the bill’s praises, touting its green features while calling its $840 million in earmarked highway projects a boon for Oregon’s ailing economy. Meanwhile, environmental advocacy group 1000 Friends of Oregon strengthened their opposition to the bill. In a letter distributed to the House floor prior to the vote, they called HB 2001 an “embarrassment” and said it, “Substitutes pork barrel politics for the public interest.”

The bill began as Governor Kulongoski’s Jobs and Transportation Act of 2009 and it was introduced today by Chair of the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Terry Beyer (D-Springfield). [Read more…]

Advocates still very concerned about Kulongoski’s transportation bill

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on May 26th, 2009 at 11:23 am

It’s the morning after for Governor Kulongoski’s big transportation bill and a coalition of concerned advocates are trying to rally opposition. Last Friday, a special joint committee polished off final amendments and sent House Bill 2001 to the House and Senate Floors for a vote that will likely happen this week.

After seeing those amendments, leaders from statewide advocacy groups including Environment Oregon, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, 1000 Friends of Oregon, the Oregon Environmental Council and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, re-stated their strong opposition to the bill.

The BTA has focused their lobbying efforts on a new Urban Trail Fund. They made some headway in making that fund perform better for bike projects, but that fight pales in importance to the broader implications of the bill. [Read more…]

BTA makes headway in Salem on new “Urban Trail Fund”

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on May 22nd, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Legislator bike ride at the Oregon Bike Summit-1

The Capitol
(Photo © J. Maus)

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance‘s executive director and lobbyist Scott Bricker has helped lawmakers improve a new Urban Trail Fund that is part of the Governor’s transportation package.

House Bill 2001 is still being worked on down in Salem, and amendments published earlier this week were very bad news for bike funding. The BTA was very disappointed in how the bill was shaping up and they signed onto a letter (download PDF copy) with a host of environmental and land use advocacy groups outlining their concerns.[Read more…]

Lawmakers leave bikes out of transportation bill: BTA “disappointed”

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on May 20th, 2009 at 2:26 pm

“This is not a very impressive step forward in terms of recognizing the role of bicycles in addressing our transportation needs.”
— Doug Parrow, head of BTA’s legislative committee

Salem lawmakers have published their much-anticipated amendments to Governor Kulongoski’s transportation package and the news for bikes is bad. Very bad.

When the bill was first introduced back in November, bike advocates saw some positive signs that funding for bike projects might finally get the increase it deserves. There was talk of an increase to Oregon’s Bike Bill to take it from from 1% to 1.5% of highway project funds that would be guaranteed for bike and ped improvements. Advocates also hoped for a new fund specifically dedicated to non-motorized transportation corridors.[Read more…]

Down to the wire for vehicular homicide, funding bills

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on April 27th, 2009 at 1:05 pm

A day in Salem-18

Inside the House Transportation Committee.
(Photos © J. Maus)

As the clock ticks in Salem on the 2009 legislative session, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) and other bike advocates are making last ditch efforts to make Oregon’s laws more friendly to bikes.

Today in Salem, work sessions (different from public hearings in that no testimony is heard) will be held for a bill that could increase funding for bike projects and a bill that would get tougher on people whose dangerous and/or illegal behavior results in the death of another person.[Read more…]