state politics

BikeLoud, Livable Streets Action will ride to Salem July 16 for transportation reform

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on July 1st, 2016 at 9:41 am

The ride will use parts of the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway.
(Photo: Russ Roca/The Path Less Pedaled for Travel Oregon)

Two Portland-based grassroots groups are biking to Salem this month in an echo of the tactics that built pressure for Oregon’s 1971 bike bill.

Organizers for BikeLoudPDX and Livable Streets Action say they’re responding to Oregon’s 42 percent increase in roadway fatalities in the last two years.

“If 700 people died in a crash or collision as a one-time event, the state would prioritize everything that could be done to prevent this kind of tragedy happening,” said Soren Impey, BikeLoudPDX’s direct action coordinator. “But over the past two years, this is what’s happened, and there hasn’t been what we believe is an appropriate type of response.”

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Amid talk of congestion relief, Salem Dems reboot transportation bill talks

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on April 18th, 2016 at 12:44 pm

Speaker of the Oregon House Tina Kotek

Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The 2017 Oregon legislature hasn’t even been elected yet, but state House and Senate leaders are getting ready for another try at a transportation bill.

Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, and House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-North Portland, told the Salem Statesman Journal that they’re planning another “bipartisan, bicameral legislative committee” to start negotiating a deal that would presumably include a statewide gas tax hike.

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As state law passes, the fight for affordable proximity moves to City Hall

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on March 4th, 2016 at 12:36 pm

A rally last fall to better protect Portland tenants from displacement.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

After years of fighting, a “grand bargain” on affordable housing passed Oregon’s legislature this week. But it won’t begin shaping Portland’s bikeable neighborhoods until after the city council takes action of its own.

Representatives for Mayor Charlie Hales and his council colleague, Housing Commissioner Dan Saltzman, say that plans to do so are already underway.

Any city plan seems certain to include some level of “inclusionary zoning,” a measure that could require that up to 20 percent of units in some new buildings be sold and/or rented at discount prices to people who make less than 80 percent of the median income. (As of 2015, that 80 percent figure means that a family of three that makes less than $52,950 would qualify for the reduced-rate units.)

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GOP candidate promises to end gridlock forever by adding a lane to each freeway

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on February 17th, 2016 at 10:37 am

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bud Pierce says he’s hit on an idea for solving the problem of people sitting in traffic on freeways: more travel lanes.

“Our current governor and government has no solution to our current gridlock,” he says in a new ad. “When I am governor, I will make sure we have added freeway lanes on all our major freeways. I’ll ensure that we have a new Columbia River Crossing bridge with added lanes. … Vote for Bud Pierce for governor and end gridlock once and for all.”

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As a big election year looms, Bike Walk Vote PAC is looking for new leaders

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on December 24th, 2015 at 11:54 am

Bike Walk Vote candidate party-11

Future Portland Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick speaks at a 2012 event for Bike Walk Vote-endorsed candidates.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

In 2016, Portlanders will vote on a local gas tax, a new mayor, a transportation commissioner, a regional council and a governor.

If you make between approximately $7,000 and $100,000 a year, you’ve probably got $50 in free money from the State of Oregon to spend in 2015 on a candidate or political committee of your choice.

That’s the fact of Oregon’s unusual but underused political tax credit system.

But for people who believe that Oregon should be reducing its dependence on cars, the odd complication is that no political committee active on those issues seems to be asking for that money — even as Portland heads into an election year that will shape transportation issues for years to come.

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Republican legislators call for ODOT director to quit over emissions claims

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on November 19th, 2015 at 11:55 am

ODOT Director Matt Garrett

Matt Garrett has led ODOT since 2005.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A few weeks after left-leaning former Metro president David Bragdon all but called for the firing of Oregon’s top transportation official, legislative Republicans are calling for it explicitly.

Oregon Department of Transportation Director Matt Garrett is facing criticism from both sides over the incident, earlier this year, when his office and Gov. Kate Brown’s temporarily claimed that tens of millions of dollars in freeway investments would be part of reducing long-run carbon emissions in Oregon by more than 2 million metric tons.

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New transportation bill in Salem includes $78 million to widen Portland-area freeways – UPDATED

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on June 24th, 2015 at 2:59 pm

Legislators held a special hearing today
to hear testimony and learn about
the new proposal.

Despite growing consensus that the main effect of widening roads is not to reduce travel times but rather to lengthen car trips, Oregon’s overwhelmingly Democratic state legislature seems to be preparing to approve a bill that would spend around $78 million to add lanes and widen several freeways in the Portland metro area.

More widening projects are also planned around the state.

HB 2281, the 73-page bill being debated in Salem today, would raise $370 million through a mix of new vehicle registration fees and a two-cent gas tax increase. About $125 million of that would go to the Portland metro region (ODOT Region 1). The bill also includes 25 earmarked projects — most of which would widen freeways to “improve safety and provide congestion relief” and allow for “freight mobility improvements.”

There’s nothing in the new bill set aside specifically for bicycling or walking, though the multimodal Connect Oregon program would continue, presumably still funded by the state lottery.

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Don’t let a state gas tax hike go straight into more freeways, activist warns

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on February 20th, 2015 at 8:09 am

traffic on i-5 -1

If you build it…
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Thursday on the political blog BlueOregon, veteran Portland transportation wonk Ron Buel warned Oregonians eager for a gas tax hike to be careful what they wish for.

Though there’s almost universal consensus among Oregon Democrats that human-caused global warming is a catastrophic threat to the state, Buel writes that

It’s also an article of Democratic Party faith in Oregon that our highway infrastructure needs to be built out at breakneck speed in order to deal with growing congestion on the state’s highways, so that our economy can thrive. The annual Oregon Business Summit, held earlier this year, attended by thousands of businessmen, and capturing our leading politicians of both parties to speak there, recently proclaimed this congestion as the state’s number one issue. The Democratic Party in Oregon seems led by the nose by unions who also love that argument, including particularly the building trades and the AFL-CIO, who are dying for these local union highway construction jobs that used to be so numerous but have virtually disappeared as people drive less and drive vehicles that use less gas per mile.

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With Kitzhaber resignation, bike advocates upbeat about incoming Gov. Kate Brown

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on February 13th, 2015 at 12:16 pm

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown at a
2011 fundraiser for the Portland Society Fund, which
supports “emerging leaders in active transportation.”
(Photo: M.Andersen)

Oregon’s next governor rides a tandem.

While we’ve been hurrying around Southwest Portland this week, we’ve been keeping half an eye on the drama unfolding in Salem. In the wake of Willamette Week’s report Thursday that Gov. John Kitzhaber unsuccessfully tried to get state employees to block release of thousands of his emails amid a criminal investigation of the overlaps between his public role and his fiance’s business, the governor has resigned and Secretary of State Kate Brown will be moving into the job.

According to her 2012 election registration, Brown lives with her husband in a 1914 home in Southeast Portland’s Woodstock neighborhood.

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Car, freight, bike and transit advocates agree to back Oregon gas tax or fee hike in 2015

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on November 10th, 2014 at 7:32 am

The Oregon Trucking Association, AAA and petroleum industry agreed last week not only to back a possible gas tax hike but to support indexing the tax for future automatic increases.
(Photo: C.M. Keiner)

Oregon’s 2015 legislative session is sure to include lots of plot twists for transportation policy. But at least among the key lobbyists, a grand bargain has been struck.

A group of advocates for biking, driving, urban density, public health, the gasoline industry, truck freight, rail fright, cities and public transit agencies — Oregon’s broadest-based organization of transportation interest groups — voted unanimously Thursday on the basic terms of a proposed transportation bill.

The deal brokered by members of the Oregon Transportation Forum would use a gas tax and/or auto fee hike to raise hundreds of millions of dollars over two years for infrastructure around the state.

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