Sunday, February 24, 2013

Legislative Update, Week 3 - CRC Tsunami Swamps Opposition

Last Monday the bill for the Columbia River Crossing, Portland's $4 Billion Bridge and Highway proposal, moved out of Committee and will have a vote on the House floor tomorrow, on Monday the 25th.

Standard Oil Monopoly, 1904. Detail:   Library of Congress
This really is going to be the theme image for the session

Clouds and Shadow
There's nothing new to say other than, "wow."  Pick your metaphor and image:  tentatacular, steamrollery, blitzkriegy...Whether it looks like cthulhu or nike, it's the goddess of greenhouse gas, corporate victory and pave, pave, pave.

Here are some links.  (So many of the arguments map directly to our third bridge mess.)  BikePortland on the committee vote and on Monday's floor vote - below check out the awesome animated gif of the bridge from the post!  Willamette Week on the fictions behind the financing "plan." A separate post has a long quote from Senate President Courtney in it.  Former BTA-Director Evan Manvel has a piece on the flip-flops of politicians, including Governor Kitzhaber who once said "It's time we challenged the idea that says we can build our way out of congestion by adding more freeway lanes."  And economist Joe Cortright offers an analysis of the funding plan in HB 2800

More interesting perhaps, at least because it is different, is the Portland BTA update on its legislative agenda.  As for the CRC, they say, "The BTA does not support HB 2800 and we are not working on the bill."  They posted their position paper on it, and while it says
We cannot support a project that will lock up state, federal, and other transportation money for the next two decades, increase congestion, and increase global warming pollution from cars and trucks.
They also don't say they oppose HB 2800. I don't see how they can remain on the sidelines for this.

As for their priorities, they cite SB 247 and HB 2310, and also two bills that don't have a number yet.  The deadline for bills - something of a soft deadline, it's true, since a very small number of "priority" bills can still be introduced - was on Thursday, and it is concerning that they weren't able to line up details to get the bills introduced earlier.  Maybe they'll be able to pull out a rabbit with a gut-and-stuff, but overall it looks like a legislative agenda of diminished expectations and nibbling around the edges.  Not very inspiring.

Two of the bike-relevant bills have Salem-area origins.  As the BTA has cut loose advocates downstate, and retrenched for the Portland area alone, they may have hampered their ability to forge a broader statewide consensus on multi-modal transportation issues.  Portland-area legislators by themselves may not be able to carry out the BTA agenda, even as modest as it is.  A Salem-area legislator, Representative Kevin Cameron, has introduced a bill that would toll people who bike on the bridge.  (BikePortland reaction here and more on co-sponsor and person who bikes Rep. Tobias Read here.)  Senator Winters' bill for a task force on bicycle safety could frame the debate in negative terms.  The BTA's decision to go at things alone with a Portland-centric focus has possibly made it more likely that unexpected and potentially unhelpful developments will arise from legislators and attract significant support outside the Portland area.

The Active Transportation Summit agenda has finally been released, and it will be interesting to see how the lobby day goes in late April at the legislature.  It's looking like the important action will all be wrapped up by then. 

In committee meetings and hearings, the House Committee on Transportation and Economic Development will hold a hearing on HB 2453, which will move road funding towards a mileage tax rather than gas tax. Details and agenda below.

Other bills remain in committee. More detailed updates - and the gif! - after the jump.

New or Newish Bills
  • HB 2310 to fund "ConnectOregon."  The Portland BTA is working to expand "multi-modal" to include bikes.  No action.
  • HB 3047 would double the length of a motor vehicle license suspension from 10 to 20 years.  No action. 
  • HB 3152 "Requires Department of Transportation to collect toll from bicyclists for use of Interstate 5 bridges if department collects toll from motor vehicle operators."  This is Rep. Cameron's bill.  No action.
BikePortland's CRC Bridge Animation - Janzen Beach area
Bridge Mania
  • House Bill 2800 and House Bill 2260.  2800 passed out of committee with amendments.  It is scheduled for a Monday vote on the House floor. At this point, it doesn't even look like 2260 will have any useful purpose.  It is almost certain to die in committee.
  • Representative Greenlick has also sponsored House Bill 2690, which would stop spending on the CRC.  No action, and given the insane velocity behind HB 2800, this will likely die in committee as well.
Paying for the Roads
  •  House Joint Resolution 9 -"Proposes amendment to Oregon Constitution to allow revenue from taxes on motor vehicle fuel and ownership, operation or use of motor vehicles to be used for transportation projects that will prevent or reduce pollution and congestion created by use of motor vehicles." Referred to Transportation and Economic Development committee.
  • House Bill 2276 would increase the gas tax.  No action.   (City Council's Legislative Committee proposes to oppose any increase to the gas tax.)
  • House Bill 2453 - "Requires persons operating certain high-mileage motor vehicles to pay per-mile road usage charge or flat annual road usage charge." Hearing scheduled for 3pm in Hearing Room F on Monday the 25th
  • House Bill 2500 looks to expand the "types of costs that qualify as approved transportation costs for purposes of State School Fund distributions."  These would include "Expenditures made to improve  safety for students traveling to school by means that are not provided by the school district and that:
    (i) Include walking or using a bicycle, scooter, skateboard or similar device..." No action.
  • Senate Bill 247 would use lottery funds and creates an "Alternative Mode Transportation Fund. Requires that nine percent of net proceeds from Oregon State Lottery be deposited in Multimodal Transportation Fund, and that nine percent of net proceeds be deposited in Alternative Mode Transportation Fund. Continuously appropriates moneys in Alternative Mode Transportation Fund to Department of Transportation. Provides that moneys may only be used for capital improvements and operational costs of mass transit, passenger rail, bicycle and pedestrian projects." There was a hearing last week, and at least one person from Salem testified, but no amendments have come out. Somewhere (I can't find it now) I read informed speculation that the bill was not likely to pass this session.  No action this week, anyway.
  • Studded tires.  House Bills 2277, 2278, and 2397 would add fees to offset the damage studded tires cause. No action on any.
Road Safety (and "Safety")
  • Senate Bill 9 filed by Senator Courtney would "increase the penalty [for using a cel phone while driving] from a Class D violation to a Class B violation, which means the maximum fine would increase from $250 to $1,000. The minimum fine would increase from $60 to $130." There was a hearing and "reconsideration" last week, but no amendments or other action have been posted. 
  • Bike Headphone ban and allows mopeds on multi-use paths.  HB 2732 No action.
  • Senate Bill 332 would establish a "Task  Force  on  Bicycle  Safety."  Senator Jackie Winters proposed this, and the bill as introduced is mostly procedural and otherwise content-free at the moment.  No action. 
  • House Bill 2115 would broaden the definition of intoxicating substances for the purposes of DUI citations.   No action.
All of this year's legislative updates are tagged 2013 Legislative Session.

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Link dump:

The SJ is going to feature a story about why mid-valley residents should care about the CRC. HB 2800 makes for an oversized project that will suck transportation funding statewide for years even a decade or two or three. Of course we all should care! But I'm afraid it will be an apologia rather than a critical examination.

Willamette Week cover story -

BikePortland -

Blue Oregon -

If you come across other significant coverage, please drop links!