The 2021 Oregon State Regular Legislative Session came to a close on Saturday, June 26, 2021, at around 5:30 PM. It was, by all measures, one of the most unique sessions conducted during an unprecedented time—held virtually, during a worldwide pandemic, and with hyper-partisan politics.

The reality of a virtual session coupled with the gravity of policy discussions related to COVID-19, wildfire, police reform, public health, budget issues, and other critical decisions created obstacles in advocacy. In spite of the challenges, the Association of Oregon Counties’ (AOC) staff and members were an effective voice in almost every key policy discussion and took advantage of opportunities to highlight the importance of the county road system, the critical county emergency response, and the role counties play as a direct service provider for many programs that support Oregonians.

With the remaining House Bill 2017 (2017), Keep Oregon Moving, $0.02 per gallon gas tax increases scheduled for 2022 and 2024, many more comprehensive transportation funding and policy issues were tabled for the 2021 Session. Some brief highlights of the top Oregon Association of County Engineers and Surveyors (OACES) legislation of interest that passed, included: 

  • HB 2174, creating an option for counties to increase their federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) allocation by electing another eligible local government or road district to receive their designated credit forest reserve moneys that would otherwise be credited to the county road fund; 
  • HB 3040, a systems development charge study; and, 
  • HB 3055, the transportation omnibus bill, which typically makes comprehensive technical fixes to statewide transportation policy, also included the final passage of a new local speed setting authority designation to all cities, and Multnomah and Clackamas counties.

Legislators on the Joint Transportation Committee were also focused on discussing long-term transportation funding challenges, including four bills that ultimately did not pass:

  • HB 3049, OACES and AOC priority bill allowing a county to charge fee for permit to utility construction in right of way;
  • SB 395, mandating five percent of the State Highway Fund to pedestrian and bicycle trails; 
  • HB 2342, a mandatory per-mile road usage charge; and,
  • HB 3065, metro region tolling, congestion pricing, and major projects.

A full OACES legislative summary produced by the AOC County Road Program will be available in the coming weeks. You can read more on 2021 end-of-session highlights from OBP “Oregon lawmakers conclude 2021 session in a crush of bills” HERE.