The 2019 Oregon Legislature adjourned just hours before their constitutional deadline on June 30. This was a highly contentious session that received national news coverage for the partisan gridlock and multiple walkouts that occurred. Like so many others, we were waiting for news on priority bills right up until Sine Die. We had some significant wins this year, including the passage of a bill that phases out dirty diesel, and the death of a bill that would have removed local regulation of TNCs. Below is a brief summary of the transportation, housing and climate measures we engaged with during this remarkable legislative session.
HB 2001 – Statewide Ban on Single-Family Zoning
We were proud to sign on to a letter in support of HB 2001, which requires all cities over 10,000 in population to allow duplexes on all residential lots on which single family homes are allowed, and cities over 25,000 and Metro jurisdictions must also allow triplexes, 4-plexes and townhomes in areas where single family homes are allowed. Oregonians at every income level, age and family size need affordable housing, and this bill will allow more people to afford to live nearer their work or school destinations, therefore cutting down on transportation distance and cost, and allowing for more active transportation and use of transit. HB 2001 passed both chambers and is currently awaiting signature by the Governor. (Note: it has since been signed into law by the Governor.)
HB 2007 – Diesel Bill
This session we were excited to join the Oregon Just Transition Alliance’s Clean Air Workgroup, working to support clean diesel legislation. HB 2007 was originally introduced as a statewide measure that would establish clean diesel standards, equitably allocate VW settlement funds and address idling in high-impacted communities. As part of our efforts, we submitted testimony and signed on to a coalition floor letter in support of the measure. The measure was eventually narrowed to focus only on the Portland metro area, but we believe HB 2007 is a critical starting point for phasing out dirty diesel and bringing cleaner air to Oregon communities. HB 2007 passed both chambers and is currently awaiting signature by the Governor. (Note: it has since been signed into law by the Governor.)
HB 2020 – Cap & Trade
The bill that received by far the most coverage this session, HB 2020 would have placed a cap on greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon and required companies to pay for their emissions. While some felt the bill went too far and would harm rural Oregonians, others insisted that it didn’t go far enough to invest in frontline communities. We are hopeful for an Oregon Green New Deal that will protect and empower communities directly impacted by emissions and climate change. After passing the House, HB 2020 died after the Senate Republican walkouts and not having enough Senate Democrat votes to pass.
We submitted testimony in support of HB 2702 and SB 558, which would have delegated speed setting authority to localities. We supported these bills, because we believe delegating speed setting authority to local communities will allow for speeds to be set more quickly, efficiently and consistently across street types. HB 2702 would have expanded ODOT’s authorization to delegate speed setting authority to cities and counties not just for highways that are low-volume or unpaved, but for any road they own. While HB 2702 did not pass this session, we’ll likely see the issue taken up by ODOT during the interim. SB 558 authorizes all cities and counties to set speeds 5 mph lower than highway statutory speeds. SB 558 passed the Legislature, has been signed by the Governor and will go into effect January 1, 2020.
HB 2770 – Autonomous Vehicles
The result of the Oregon Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Task Force’s first year of work, HB 2770 included a policy framework for allowing the testing of AVs in Oregon. The bill passed the House, but was inexplicably sent to the Senate Committee on Rules just days before adjournment. We monitored HB 2770 closely this session, and although it didn't pass, it’s likely we’ll see another draft in 2020. The Task Force is continuing its work during the interim, to develop a policy framework that addresses AV deployment. Recently, our team presented to two of the Task Force’s subcommittees and made recommendations to address safety and equity for vulnerable road users. We may expect a bill next year that captures both testing and deployment of AVs, but for now HB 2770 did not pass and Oregon still doesn’t have a statewide AV policy.
HB 3023 – TNC Bill
We were successful in opposing HB 3023, which would have stripped localities of their ability to regulate Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft. We opposed the measure because we believe local jurisdictions know local transportation and traffic regulation needs best, and also because of the impact the measure would have had on traffic safety and social equity for people who live and travel in Oregon’s cities. We submitted testimony in opposition to the measure, along with several of our transportation partners. HB 3023 did not receive a floor vote and died in Ways and Means upon adjournment.
SB 561 – SRTS Local Match Reduction
SB 561 would have reduced the match requirement for local jurisdictions applying for ODOT SRTS grants, casting funding opportunities more broadly across the state. The bill offered great potential for rural and disadvantaged communities to access Safe Routes to School funding. Despite our efforts and requests for a public hearing, SB 561 was never heard this session and died in committee upon adjournment.