Legislative Update: HB 2101 Fund Exchange Passes
The 82nd Legislative Assembly adjourned sine die on Sunday June 25 after a whirlwind of productivity during the initial four months followed by an historic six week stalemate.
The Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) and Oregon Association of County Engineers and Surveyors (OACES) achieved significant policy goals in Salem this session and worked to ensure that concerning proposals did not move forward.
AOC and OACES priority bills related to transportation and public works included:
- HB 2101: Codifying the STBG Fund Exchange Program (passed)
- SB 635: County Right of Way Permit Cost Recovery (referred to Joint Committee on Transportation interim work group)
- HB 3556: Abandoned Recreational Vehicle Disposal Program (Interim work group is anticipated)
AOC and OACES actively pursued these legislative priorities, while also monitoring and advocating for other bills and important issues impacting county road departments — public contracting, environmental regulations, traffic safety, bridges, and road operations and maintenance funding. Below are more details on OACES’ top policy priorities.
HB 2101: Codifying the STBG Fund Exchange Program
The Oregon Senate passed HB 2101, sending the bill to the governor’s desk for final passage. The bill would codify the STBG Fund Exchange Program and create flexibility within ODOT’s State Highway Fund allocations to realize the long-term sustainability of the program.
OACES and AOC reached a compromise with ODOT for a – 4 amendment to HB 2101. The amendment would fund a flat $35 million local program for cities, counties, and small MPOs, and only revert to federal funds if no state funds are available. $35 million is the approximate average annual amount that cities and counties are expected to receive in STBG funding for the next five years. Although this program will not increase with federal funds and inflation, it represents a significantly better and more sustainable program than ODOT’s previous 50% reduction plans.
You can find OACES and AOC and county-submitted testimony [HERE] and view the hearing recording [HERE]. Thank you to all who made the time to speak on this issue and inform the legislature on OACES’s top priority.
HB 2101 has an emergency provision allowing it to go into effect immediately upon passage. ODOT will need time to implement the bill, but has been supportive of the bill and is expected to prepare a new Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA). AOC and OACES will continue to engage ODOT until an IGA is signed.
SB 635: County Right of Way Utility Permit Cost Recovery
Senator Lew Frederick pre-session filed SB 635. The bill would allow counties to charge reasonable cost recovery fees for utility work in the county right of way. This is a reintroduction of HB 3049 (2021). Senator Bill Hansell’s Office hosted a weekly workgroup with counties and utilities to discuss utility concerns. Although progress was made in the workgroup, no amendment agreement was reached. AOC and OACES secured a Joint Committee on Transportation led interim workgroup to continue discussions and prepare to reintroduce the bill in the 2024 short session. The interim workgroup will host five lobbyists from utilities and five representatives from counties.
HB 3556: Abandoned Recreational Vehicle Disposal Program
HB 3556 would create an Abandoned Recreational Vehicle Disposal Revolving Account within the General Fund. The bill is a reintroduction of SB 466 (2021) formerly supported by AOC. An industry and agency partner workgroup led by the Oregon Tow Truck Association has worked through the 2021-22 interim, introducing the most current draft of the bill. HB 3556 was not scheduled for a work session and voted out of committee by the May 19 deadline for continued consideration this session. As a growing issue and a top priority for many stakeholders, AOC and OACES will look to support this effort and a future program in future sessions by providing accurate cost estimates for RV removal and disposal and are preparing a county survey.
How to Get Involved!
AOC and OACES will continue to post opportunities to participate in workgroups and advocate for public works priorities during the interim before the next legislative session. You can access the AOC Transportation and Community Development Steering Committee bill tracker [HERE]. Click the “2023 Bill Tracker” button to access the weekly updates on AOC legislative priorities.
If your county road department or your board of county commissioners would like to engage on these or any other transportation-related bills or issues before the 2023 Legislative Assembly, please do not hesitate to reach out to AOC County Road Program Director Brian Worley or AOC Policy Analyst Jordan Cole for more information.
Contributed by: Jordan Cole | Transportation Policy Analyst