Monday, May 25, 2009

Legislative Update - Week 19: Gary Numan* Edition

The Oregonian wants it both ways on cars! Their bifurcated sensibility precisely reflects society's desire to have it all without compromise.

On Sunday the Oregonian published an editorial in favor of the current version of HB 2001:
Environmentalists and the bicycle lobby are lining up against the bill because it tilts so heavily -- we would use the word "necessarily" -- toward motor vehicles.
In the same Sunday paper is an essay about the genesis of Blake Nelson's book, Destroy All Cars.
I looked around and was struck by the other cars around me. They were huge. GMC Denalis. Ford Explorers. Every variety of "luxury pickup." Behind the wheels of these enormous vehicles were mostly women (coming out the mall). And except for the drivers, the vehicles were mostly empty.

This happened to be a year or two after Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" was released. Never mind the money these cars were wasting, they were also generating an outrageous amount of pollutants. Did none of these people understand what they were doing? And why was a 40-year-old mother driving a car the size of tank anyway? Did nobody see the absurdity of this situation?

A Special Joint Committee on Transportation convened Thursday and Friday to ratify a series of deals and compromises and to publish the latest version of the bill. Its amendments alone were 42 pages!

The BTA is deeply disappointed in the bill and identifies 4 show-stoppers, without which it will not support the bill:
1. Restore a minimum of $24 million in federal flexible funds for non-highway transportation.
2. Restore the increase in the minimum spending for bike-ped projects to 1.5% or otherwise ensure increased funding for non-motorized transportation.
3. Require the Transportation Commission to apply state transportation planning requirements to the pork projects earmarked in the bill.
4. Restore MPO land use planning aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for at least Eugene-Springfield.
A May 19 letter signed by 1000 Friends of Oregon, Oregon Environmental Council, Environment Oregon, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, and BTA details the concerns.

Bikeportland has coverage from Wednesday and the latest from Friday, on progress with the "urban trail fund." Steve Novick offers witty and incisive commentary on BlueOregon.

The Democratic leadership in the House and Senate released this press release. They acknowledge that it's a roads bill, and not a transportation bill. House Transportation Chair Terry Beyer (D-Springfield) said:
The projects we picked were approved by the Oregon Transportation Commission and are vital to improving our roads system.

Statesman coverage here. Oregonian Coverage here.

1000 Friends is rumored to be planning for Tuesday a 11am protest rally on the Capitol steps.

In other news:

House Bill 2106 - no change
House Bill 2377 - no change
House Bill 2554 - Passed both House & Senate with amended language. Curiously, Rep. Bailey, seems to have switched his vote in the two House votes...

(*Here's a video of "Cars.")

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