Monday, March 4, 2013

Legislative Update, Week 4 - CRC Smash!

Clouds and Shadow
The CRC Tsunami continues to inundate and smash, and it will have a Senate vote today.   But there's really nothing new to say on it, so that'll be after the jump.

Instead, let's talk about studded tires! The three bills that look to make a start on recovering some of the costs of road damage created by studded tires will get a hearing. That's something to cheer!

Another thing to boo? A bike registration bill.


On Tuesday, March 5th, at 9am, the Senate Committe on Judiciary will hold a work session on SB 9 on driving distracted with communication devices.

On Wednesday, March 6th, at 3pm, the House Committee on Transportation and Economic Development will hold a public hearing on HB 2277, HB 2278, and HB 2397 on fees for studded tires. It will be in hearing room E.

Next Monday, March 11th, at 1pm, the House Committee on Education will hold a public hearing on HB 2500 on school transportation funding. It will be in hearing room D.

What's new

Senate Bill 741 would require persons "of any age to wear helmet when using bicycle, skateboard, scooter, in-line skates or roller skates when participating in organized exhibition, competition or contest." Senate Bill 742 would require kids "under 18 years of age to wear protective headgear while operating or riding on bicycle, riding on skateboard or scooter or using in-line skates or roller skates, on public or private land."

Senate Bill 756 would allow "Department of Transportation to accept donations to State Parks and Recreation Department Fund for purpose of improving bicycle and pedestrian facilities. Permits registered owner of vehicle to make donation to fund when registration is renewed."

Senate Bill 769 "Requires registration of bicycles. Imposes $10 registration fee. Creates offense of failure to register bicycle. Punishes by presumptive fine of $25. Provides exemptions. Creates offense of failure to ensure bicycle registration. Punishes by presumptive fine of $25. Provides exemptions. Creates offense of failure to report change of ownership or change of address to Department of Transportation. Punishes by presumptive fine of $25. Establishes Bicycle Transportation Improvement Fund. Continuously appropriates moneys in fund to Department of Transportation for bicycle related transportation improvement projects."

House Bill 3320 would create a new residential speed limit of 20 mph.   This might be the BTA bill, but it doesn't have a chief sponsor yet.

House Bill 3348 approaches the matter of the apparently stalled SB 247 and would expand ConnectOregon. "Requires that 18 percent of net proceeds from Oregon State Lottery be deposited in Multimodal Transportation Fund. Expands use of fund. Directs Department of Transportation, after consultation with Oregon Department of Aviation, to administer aeronautic and airport transportation projects selected from projects to be funded with moneys in Multimodal Transportation Fund."

More updates after the jump.

Bridge Mania 

Tomorrow the bill for the Columbia River Crossing, Portland's $4 Billion Bridge and Highway proposal, goes to the Senate floor for a third reading and vote.

Standard Oil Monopoly, 1904. Detail:   Library of Congress
See Willamette Week's version below!
Willamette Week has a cover story on the network of power behind bridge mania.  At the Oregonian, Steve Duin quotes former Governor Vic Atiyeh,
"We're not in good shape and we're going to build another bridge? It's insane," Atiyeh argues. "And it's a fantasy that they think they're going to take care of the traffic."
He's a Republican, you may recall.

Willamette Week's view of some tentacles
More at Willamette Week: Former legislators speak out against it, questions about the CRC purposefully withholding graphics.

BikePortland asks about the silence of the advocacy groups, about the graphics and has a follow-up with Senators (who admit they haven't seen pictures!), about Kitzhaber's flip-flop on road expansion, and a view of House vote.

Transportation advocate, and former BTA Director, Evan Manvel has reaction and analysis here and here.

The Statesman editorialized on it last week, but didn't engage any of the critics of the project.  The SJ also chose not to ask, "is this the right-size bridge?" One of the things that's just amazing about the voting and editorial reactions like this, is that even if you accept the purpose and need, few seem prepared to ask whether this is the right project, the one that best meets the purpose and need and best takes us into the 21st century.  Really, this isn't the only solution!  Jobs, jobs, jobs, the unions say.  But there are other bridge configurations that would also provide lots of jobs.  And if they really want jobs, a massive public works program to pour sidewalks, a manual labor intensive task, would produce many, many more jobs than a giant bridge and highway project.  Other configurations would move more people to the right places. It's like critical thinking is on hold.  1984 and Brave New World, indeed.

There was also a news piece in the paper yesterday, but readers who have followed the matter won't find anything new in it. 

Representative Lew Frederick represents North and Northeast Portland at the State Legislature. The CRC bridge and its connecting highway widening would pass through much of his district. He voted no and explains why.

By comparison, here is some of Senate President Peter Courtney's public comment on the Salem "third bridge":
I am not opposed to necessarily a bridge, but I am asking you to seriously consider the other alternative, particularly where the footprint already exists, to the extent you can minimize it. ... I live in one of the affected neighborhoods here.... We have lived in the home there for 35 years. We raised our children there. We have paid for the house. If you look at the map right next to us is a lot that has been vacant for many, many years. The City in the last four or five years in‐filled it. They have major in‐filling policy, and all of those homes, five or more, are all new. In addition, if you look at River Road ‐‐ North River Road Park, it's been dramatically improved. They have weddings out there, it's just unbelievable what they have done.... It is one of the marquee parks now in the city of Salem. Basketball, soccer, picnics. It's got a fountain in the summer that's just unbelievable. Weddings have been held there, many soccer games are held there. It's a very popular park. The proximity of this bridge, because of noise, debris, and congestion, could seriously harm those ‐‐ that neighborhood and that park. I'm not saying don't, you know, build a bridge in Oregon ‐‐ Salem, excuse me, but I am saying that you have to look at that neighborhood and the proximity of that bridge when you have other alternatives that are closer to downtown where they already have an established footprint and you will not affect businesses or residences the way you will with this Alternative...I am asking you in terms of design, seems to me you probably ‐‐ you can come up with a way to restructure, redesign this bridge so it's closer to where it is now, away from homes, not as impactful on homes and the environment in a way that basically gets the people across the river both ways and also does the least harm to surrounding neighborhoods.
Here are the relevant bills:
  • 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. 
  • 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.
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 last week, but no amendments yet.
  • 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..." Public Hearing.
  • 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." 
  • HB 2310 to fund "ConnectOregon."  The Portland BTA is working to expand "multi-modal" to include bikes.  No action.
  • Studded tires.  House Bills 2277, 2278, and 2397 would add fees to offset the damage studded tires cause. Public hearing.
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." Work session. 
  • 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.
  • HB 3047 would double the length of a motor vehicle license suspension from 10 to 20 years.  No action.  
All of this year's legislative updates are tagged 2013 Legislative Session.

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