Thursday, June 1, 2017

We Have a Bill!

Yesterday afternoon as the 5:30pm deadline approached, Legislative twitter blew up as the first draft of an ominbus transportation bill was dropped, all 298 pages of it.

Writing on deadline for today, the first impressions of HB 2017 had to be pretty holistic and top-level. More will surely come out as people have a chance actually to read the thing in detail rather than skim it.
You know that the proposal includes increases to the gas tax and vehicle registration fees, so those are just details. But some of the other elements are more novel:
  • The dealer excise tax on car sales appears to have dropped to 0.75% and apply to both new and used cars
  • The bicycle excise tax went down a pinch, from 5% to 3% on the sales of new bikes costing more than $500. So far, anyway, Salem bike dealers seem silent on this, and it will be interesting to see if this galvanizes any new engagement in transportation funding and planning by the bike industry generally and statewide. Many have pointed out that the cost to administer this tax is likely to exceed the revenue generated by it!
  • ConnectOregon appears to have a cap of 7% of the total money to be allocated for bike/ped projects 
  • Requires Salem to salt key roads when there is more than 2 inches of snow
  • Establishes our MPO as the "Salem-Keizer Area Congestion Relief District" and allows a petition of 15% of voters to initiate a major project. The District then can levy additional fees and taxes to fund the project. "For the Salem-Keizer Area Congestion Relief District, the River Crossing Project" is specifically called out as eligible. For Albany it also calls out a project for lanes on I-5, and these, I believe extend north near the Salem border. This particular part of the bill will deserve extra attention.
There might be some other Easter Eggs hidden in the bill.

It has already been remarked that the transit tax is a payroll tax paid by employees, not employers, and that there is no tax on studded tires. So there are some political compromises that also compromise equity. It's not a coherent policy document, and it certainly does not adequately respond to climate change. Mostly it's about "congestion relief" and MOAR HIGHWAY. It is not yet a truly balanced approach to transportation statewide. It's more about the need, in a partisan environment, to pick up the necessary votes for a super-majority.

This post may be updated as others comment and more in-depth news articles and analysis are published.



Evan said...

The way I read it, the 3% bike excise tax now applies to
(a) all new large-wheeled bikes; and
(b) all new bikes over $500

So cruddy bikes from Wal-Mart are now included.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Oh, it would be interesting if the inexpensive department store bikes were included!

(Also added links to reaction from the Oregon Environmental Council and Street Trust)

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(Added a few more links of reaction - including the central paper on "induced demand")

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(Added links to four pieces from yesterday and today, including three at BikePortland.)