BEST watches transportation bills before the Oregon Legislature

By Rob Zako
February 1, 2024

Because state transportation funding and policies have a significant effect on what can or can’t be accomplished locally, during the Oregon Legislature’s 2024 short session BEST is watching a few bills related to highways, bridges, commuter rail, transit, electric bicycles and micromobility, trails, aviation, weight-mile taxes, affordable housing, and climate change.

LAST UPDATED 2/18/24: Add Senate Bill 1530, public hearings, work sessions, proposed amendments.

NOTE: To remain alive, a bill — except those before a revenue, rules, or joint committee — must be considered no later than February 19, 2024. See Senate Concurrent Resolution 202.

BEST is watching a few bills related to transportation introduced during the Oregon Legislature’s 2024 short session. Check back here as more information becomes available.

Highways

Senate Bill 1556: Relating to U.S. Highway 30. The Act requires ODOT to study a section of U.S. Highway 30. ODOT must make a report of the study and share its findings with the JCT. ODOT may start work on the study 91 days after sine die. (Flesch Readability Score: 69.9). Requires the Department of Transportation to conduct a review of a specific portion of U.S. Highway 30 and present a report to the Joint Committee on Transportation no later than September 15, 2025. Sunsets on January 2, 2026. Takes effect on the 91st day following adjournment sine die. 

Senate Bill 1563: Relating to U.S. Highway 101. The Act requires ODOT to study a section of U.S. Highway 101. ODOT must make a report of the study and share its findings with the JCT. ODOT may start work on the study as soon as the Act is passed. (Flesch Readability Score: 74.5). Requires the Department of Transportation to conduct a review of a specific portion of U.S. Highway 101 and present a report to the Joint Committee on Transportation no later than September 15, 2024. Sunsets January 2, 2025. Declares an emergency, effective on passage. 

Bridges

Senate Bill 1512: Relating to the Bridge of the Gods. The Act gives money to the Port of Cascade Locks for the Bridge of the Gods. The money will be used for the bridge’s seismic analysis and strengthening project. The Act takes effect as soon as it is passed. (Flesch Readability Score: 83). Appropriates moneys from the General Fund to the Oregon Department of Administrative Services for expenses related to the Bridge of the Gods seismic analysis and strengthening project. Declares an emergency, effective on passage. 

House Bill 4110: Relating to the Bridge of the Gods. The Act gives money to the Port of Cascade Locks for the Bridge of the Gods. 

Commuter Rail

Senate Bill 1572: Relating to a study on extending the Westside Express Service commuter line to Salem. The Act requires ODOT to study extending the WES commuter rail line to Salem. The Act creates an advisory committee to aid ODOT in its study. Requires ODOT to consult with the advisory committee as part of the process of conducting the study. ODOT must submit a report no later than December 1, 2024. Gives money to ODOT to pay for the costs of the study. The Act takes effect as soon as it is passed. (Flesch Readability Score: 60.4). Requires the Department of Transportation, after consulting with the Westside Express Advisory Committee, to study extending the Westside Express Service commuter line to Salem. Directs the department to submit findings to the interim committees of the Legislative Assembly related to transportation not later than December 1, 2024. Appropriates moneys from the General Fund to the Department of Transportation for the study. Declares an emergency, effective on passage. 

Transit

Senate Bill 1553: {placeholder re crime of interfering with public transit} Relating to the addiction crisis in this state. The Act requires the OHA to study the problems in this state caused by drug use and to send a report on its findings to the legislature. The section is repealed on January 2, 2026. (Flesch Readability Score: 63.3). Requires the Oregon Health Authority to study Oregon’s addiction crisis. Directs the authority to submit findings to the interim committees of the Legislative Assembly related to health not later than September 15, 2025. Sunsets January 2, 2026.

Electric Bicycles & Micromobility

House Bill 4067: Relating to electric micromobility vehicles. The Act creates the Task Force on Electric Micromobility. The Act takes effect as soon as it is passed. (Flesch Readability Score: 76.9). Creates the Task Force on Electric Micromobility. Sunsets the task force on December 31, 2024. Declares an emergency, effective on passage. 

House Bill 4103: Relating to electric assisted bicycles. The Act states that kids under 16 years of age may ride Class 1 e-bikes. The Act also states that only those 16 years of age and older may operate Class 2 and Class 3 e-bikes. The Act creates the offense of unsafe e-bike riding. If a person violates the law, the person could face a fine of up to $100. (Flesch Readability Score: 73.4). Modifies the definition of electric assisted bicycle for purposes of the Oregon Vehicle Code. Adds definitions of Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 electric assisted bicycles. Provides that children under 16 years of age may operate Class 1 electric assisted bicycles and provides that only persons 16 years of age and older may operate Class 2 and Class 3 electric assisted bicycles. Creates the offense of unsafe electric assisted bicycle riding. Punishes by maximum fine of $100.

Trails

Senate Bill 1576: {placeholder re recreational immunity} Relating to civil matters. The Act tells the Judicial Department to do a study. (Flesch Readability Score: 69.7). Requires the Judicial Department to study civil law matters. Directs the department to submit findings to the interim committees of the Legislative Assembly related to the judiciary not later than September 15, 2025.

Aviation

House Bill 4109: {placeholder for transportation omnibus} Relating to transportation. The Act states that certain aviation grant funds may be used for matching shares of any FAA grant and the funds are not limited to federal Airport Improvement Program grants. The Act changes photo radar laws. Becomes law 91 days from sine die. (Flesch Readability Score: 68.3). Provides that certain aviation grant funds may be used for matching shares of any Federal Aviation Administration grant available and the funds are not limited to federal Airport Improvement Program grants. Modifies photo radar laws. Takes effect on the 91st day following adjournment sine die. 

Weight-Mile Taxes

Senate Bill 1519: Relating to transportation. The Act lowers weight-mile taxes. The Act directs ODOT to adopt rules so that ODOT may issue refunds to taxpayers who overpaid weight-mile taxes in recent years. The Act limits ODOT spending on certain things. Becomes law 91 days from sine die. (Flesch Readability Score: 67.2). Decreases weight-mile taxes. Directs the Department of Transportation to adopt rules specifying the manner of calculating, applying and issuing refunds to taxpayers who overpaid weight-mile taxes. Limits certain expenditures by the department. Takes effect on the 91st day following adjournment sine die.

Senate Bill 1543: Relating to transportation. The Act lowers weight-mile taxes. The Act limits ODOT spending on certain things. Becomes law 91 days from sine die. (Flesch Readability Score: 77.3). Decreases weight-mile taxes. Limits certain expenditures by the Department of Transportation. Takes effect on the 91st day following adjournment sine die. 

House Bill 4165: Relating to vehicle cost responsibility. Requires ODOT to prepare and submit a report on the changes in the law that are needed to balance costs between light and heavy cars and trucks. (Flesch Readability Score: 100). Requires the Department of Transportation to prepare and submit a report on the statutory changes necessary to balance transportation cost responsibility between light and heavy vehicles. Takes effect on the 91st day following adjournment sine die. 

Affordable Housing

Senate Bill 1530: {placeholder for housing} Relating to state financial administration. Gives money to OHCS, OHA, DHS, DOE and DAS for programs. Goes into effect when the Governor signs it. (Flesch Readability Score: 81.4). Appropriates moneys to the Housing and Community Services Department, Oregon Health Authority, Department of Human Services, State Department of Energy and Oregon Department of Administrative Services for various programs. Declares an emergency, effective on passage.

  • At the request of: (at the request of Senate Interim Committee on Housing and Development)
  • Regular Sponsors: Printed pursuant to Senate Interim Rule 213.28 by order of the President of the Senate in conformance with presession filing rules, indicating neither advocacy nor opposition on the part of the President.
  • 2-5 (S): Referred to Housing and Development, then Ways and Means.
  • 2-12 (S): -3 amendments.
  • 2-13 (S): Public Hearing and Work Session.
  • 2-14 (S): Recommendation: Do pass with -3 amendments and be referred to Ways and Means by prior reference. (Printed A-Eng.)

Senate Bill 1537: Relating to housing. The Act establishes HAPO to support and enforce housing laws; lets home builders use updated local rules; awards additional lawyer fees for housing appeals; gives grants and loans to encourage home building; creates a fund for grants to developers of affordable housing; makes cities approve changes to housing rules; makes cities expedite applications to build housing; lets cities change their growth boundaries; and gives money to DLCD, BO and OHCS for this Act. (Flesch Readability Score: 63.0). Requires the Department of Land Conservation and Development and the Department of Consumer and Business Services to jointly establish and administer the Housing Accountability and Production Office. Requires the office to assist local governments and housing developers with housing laws. Authorizes the office to take certain actions to enforce housing laws. Becomes operative on July 1, 2025. Allows a housing developer with a pending application to opt in to amended local land use regulations. Expands eligibility for attorney fees for the appeal of a residential development proposal to include local governments and all needed housing. Establishes grant and loan programs within the Oregon Infrastructure Finance Authority, Oregon Business Development Department and Housing and Community Services Department to support housing development. Authorizes cities and counties to adopt a program for awarding grants to developers of affordable housing and moderate income housing projects to finance certain costs associated with such housing projects. Directs the Housing and Community Services Department to develop a revolving loan program to make interest-free loans to participating cities and counties to fund the grants. Imposes an annual fee on each grantee developer in repayment of the loans. Provides for the distribution of the fee moneys first to fire districts for ad valorem property taxes and then to the department in repayment of the loan that funded the grant awarded to the developer. Requires local governments to approve certain adjustments to land use regulations for housing development within an urban growth boundary. Establishes alternate appellate procedures for the adjustments. Establishes an exemption process. Requires reporting to the Department of Land Conservation and Development on the use of adjustments. Requires the department to report biennially to an interim committee of the Legislative Assembly. Sunsets on January 2, 2032. Requires local governments to process certain applications relating to housing development as limited land use decisions. Sunsets on January 2, 2032. Develops alternative processes to amend urban growth boundaries to include up to 150 net residential acres per city. Provides for limitations and review by counties, Metro and the Department of Land Conservation and Development and the courts. Sunsets on January 2, 2033. Appropriates moneys to the Oregon Business Development Department, Housing and Community Services Department and Department of Land Conservation and Development for purposes of the Act. Takes effect on the 91st day following adjournment sine die.

Climate Change

Senate Bill 1559: Relating to climate change. This Act changes the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. The Act changes the term “global warming” to “climate change” in some laws. The Act declares an emergency and takes effect when it passes. (Flesch Readability Score: 68.4). Modifies state greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. Replaces the term “global warming” with “climate change” in provisions related to the Oregon Climate Action Commission. Declares an emergency, effective on passage. 

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