Monday, March 16, 2015

Legislative Update - Week 6, Cheers to Rep. Towne and Sen. Clark

In all the talk about the Kitzhaber-Brown transition and mess, there's a remarkable anniversary that seems to have gone largely unnoticed in the press.

Women gained the vote in 1912, and after winning election in 1914, the first female Representative and Senator served as lawmakers in the session of 1915.

In the run-up to the session, the Capital Journal published a series of caricatures of all or most of the Legislators, and here are the pictures of Representative Marian Towne and Senator Kathryn Clark.

Especially as they are in a series with caricatures of all the men, it's not easy to filter out the general humor directed towards all and to discern anything meaningful specifically about gender and culture. Mostly I see equal opportunity jokes - but maybe you will spot something significant. It is interesting the two come from southern Oregon rather than from the more urban valley. Perhaps the penumbral influence of San Francisco is relevant.

Rep. Marian Towne, looking towards the 1920s
February 1, 1915

Sen. Kathryn Clark, much more Edwardian
February 13, 1915
Seemingly long ago already, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 324, which lifts the sunset on the low-carbon fuel standard first enacted under Governor Kulongowski.

A century ago it was the cowboy archtype;
Our modern "cowboy" as failed superhero
It seems like the law is going to have some cascading unintended side effects, and is not in the end going to turn out to be a sustainable or wise way to tackle the constellation of fuel, transportation, and carbon emissions.

In a better summary than the overheated claims its proponents make, Representative Julie Parrish (R) writes
Fracking, pipelines and coal trains used in conventional fuel production have tangible (and sometimes negative) environmental impacts that are visible and immediately present. But “clean fuels” that rely on high intensity farming can have equally tangible (and negative) environmental impacts. Since the impacts aren’t visible, it’s easier to accept them. Further, there are serious societal impacts associated with biofuels.
The bill isn't so much pork as it is corn. Lots of corn, even GMO corn. It's a corny solution for greenwashing gas instead of just simply using less gas.

See also Rep. Parrish's Oregonian piece a few days later. Her criticism is not merely partisan.

The more reflexively partisan Republicans will use its symbolism to opt out of more serious conversation about raising the gas tax and funding transportation maintenance and expanding multi-modal travel facilities.
If "transportation costs" were really an issue, there's a whole 'nother agenda the opponents of SB 324 might support, an agenda for lower cost household transportation and lower cost government transportation investment. The agenda could be about small-c conservative values for thrift, saving, local small business, and community.

But hey, why save a few thousand dollars a year by going low-car or even car-free when you can make car payments, spend aggravated hours isolated in a car, and spew carbon and other pollution in the air?
SB 324 may well be something of a pyrrhic victory.
Other stuff

So, the bills and commentary. Milestones and movements are highlighted in green. (See more relevant bills or movement? Drop a note in the comments. This session doesn't actually look that interesting for transportation; already interest and attention is flagging.)

Specific bike things:
  • SB 177 Bike licensing and repeal of Bike Bill
  • SB 551 Bike licensing and repeal of Bike Bill 
  • SB 533 making it legal for two-wheelers to go on red when you've waited one complete cycle and the light or controller is broken.  
  • SB 861 making it possible to use a bike beacon, like an RFID tag, as probable cause for a search warrant in recovering stolen bikes
  • HB 3255 Requiring additional reflective clothing at night
Other Bike-relevant and transportation bills:
  • A pod of bills about speed bumps: HB 2281, HB 2282, HB 2283, HB 2293, HB 2730, HB 2736
  • HB 2256 Cleans up language about PIP in auto insurance (not sure if it's a policy change or just housekeeping on language)
  • HB 2274 Changes name of "Connect Oregon Fund"; also HB 2275; and HB 2740
  • HB 2552 fees for studded tires 
  • HB 2553 Creates task force on expanding WES (commuter rail) to Salem
  • HB 2620 would require ODOT to inventory ODOT land and determine if it is really needed transportation
  • HB 2621 for expanded photo speed enforcement pilot project in Portland (hearing last week on the 9th)
  • HB 2819 to require drivers over the age of 75 to take annual license exams (hearing today)
  • HB 3153 Prohibits State from funding municipal sidewalks 
  • HB 3302 on seismic retrofits for bridges 
  • HB 5040 ODOT Biennial Budget 
  • SB 120 expands the definition of ways to meet "mobility standards" and includes "reducing congestion in other modes of travel" - which seems ambiguous, but could as the language is adjusted mean something like "reduce auto congestion by means of improvements in bike lanes and transit (etc)"
  • SB 511 creates a study on DUI and recidivism (many DUI cases are repeat offenders)
A few land use things of note (all of these have had hearings and look too be live bills and active, at least for the moment):
  • SB 565 - Tax credit for rehab of historic properties
  • HB 2564 on inclusionary zoning
  • HB 2633 on improving planning for disasters
  • SB 5502 concerning North State Hospital Campus  
In light of SB 324, the carbon taxes are almost certainly going nowhere this session:

For all notes on the 2015 session, see here.


Anonymous said...

I think the "speed bump" bills are just placeholders for later gut-n-stuff legislation. See proposed amendments to HB 2282, for example.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thank you.

The "overview" page in the OLIS system doesn't flag, or otherwise show, when there are proposed amendments, it turns out, and so I have missed these. Thanks for pointing them out. In the next post I'll review them more thoroughly.

(This is a small way the system retains "secret handshakes" and is not as useful for ordinary citizens as it could be.)

Anonymous said...

I think amendments show up better once a committee has voted on them and the bill becomes engrossed. I guess until then proposed amendments are just ideas floating about.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Here's BikePortland with more on the "probable cause" bill.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

And BikePortland also has news on a hearing for March 30th on several bikey bills. The hearing conflicts with the Active Transportation Summit, interestingly, which is being held again in Portland this year.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

And Portland Transport has a piece on SJR 16, which would green and broaden allowable uses for gas tax revenues.

Anonymous said...

The BTA also announced an action alert on HB 3255.