Legislative Update: First Chamber Work Session Posted Deadline
The Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) and Oregon Association of County Engineers and Surveyors (OACES) have been busy providing testimony and participating in workgroups to inform the legislature and build consensus for county road department priorities at the Capitol in Salem.
The first chamber work session posted deadline was reached on March 17. Any bills not scheduled for a work session by the deadline were effectively defeated. With the first chamber committee passage deadline looming on April 4, things have been evolving at a breakneck pace as lawmakers struggle to negotiate priorities, policy fixes, and reach compromise. The Joint Committee on Transportation, where most OACES priority bills are assigned, only needs to schedule bills by the second chamber work session posting and passage deadlines on May 5 and 19.
The Joint Committee on Transportation released a proposal to borrow $1 billion for I-5 bridge. Legislators are considering issuing bonds backed by the state’s general fund and highway user taxes. They’re also considering capping the total cost of the bridge at $6.3 billion. More details will be released in the next few weeks to meet U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) funding deadlines.
The Joint Committee on Ways & Means released their budget framework, previewing their expectations and priorities for the biennial 2023-25 budget.
Below are more details on AOC and OACES transportation priority bills and how you can get involved to help advocate for your county priorities:
- (+) HB 2101: Codifying the Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) Fund Exchange Program
The Joint Committee on Transportation (JCT) filed HB 2101 as a committee bill. The bill would codify the STBG Fund Exchange program and create flexibility within ODOT’s State Highway Fund allocations to realize long-term sustainability. HB 2101 had its first public hearing on January 31, 2023. You can find OACES and AOC and county-submitted testimony [HERE] and view the hearing recording [HERE]. AOC is currently working with ODOT on amendment agreement language. ODOT has not given official notice of the cancellation of the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) that governs the fund exchange program. However, ODOT has released the 2023 STBG Program funds, but has done so only as federal-aid dollars with no state fund exchange option. AOC and OACES will continue to engage ODOT and the legislature until an agreement is reached.
- (+) 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 is currently hosting a weekly workgroup with counties and utilities to discuss utility concerns and possible fee-clarifying compromise amendments. AOC and OACES members have served a critical role in building consensus with utility providers. We expect a public hearing is likely to be scheduled in April.
- (+) HB 3556: Abandoned Recreational Vehicle Disposal Program
HB 3556 requires the Department of Transportation to study issues related to abandoned recreational vehicles. HB 3556 was introduced as a placeholder while negotiations with stakeholders continue for creating 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.
County road department and public works bills will not be moving forward this session. AOC and OACES opposed SB 850: Prevailing Wage, Apprenticeship ,and Project Labor Agreement Requirements; was neutral on HB 2396: Indirect Source of Air Pollution Review Program; and took no position on HB 3158: Clean Diesel Engine Fund.
- (–) SB 850: Prevailing Wage and Apprenticeship Requirements
Senator Kathleen Taylor filed SB 850. The bill proposed additional requirements for public improvement projects costing over $1 million and financed with public funds exceeding $750,000 or American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Projects would be required to have a labor agreement, including payment at the prevailing wage rate and apprenticeships for 15% of the work. The bill also expanded outreach requirements for worker recruitment and retention, and eliminated rural area exemptions. AOC and OACES members have provided testimony in opposition to the bill. The chair of the Senate Committee on Labor and Business announced that no hearing would be scheduled for SB 850, effectively defeating it for this session.
- HB 3158: Clean Diesel Engine Fund
Representative Rob Nosse filed HB 3158. The bill would have imposed an excise tax on the retail sale of tires, a privilege tax for engaging in the business of providing nonroad diesel equipment, and a tax on the use in Oregon of nonroad diesel equipment purchased out of state at retail. Additionally, it introduced a heavy equipment rental tax on rentals of nonroad diesel equipment and a privilege tax on heavy-duty vehicles, as well as a license tax on dyed diesel for transfer to the Clean Diesel Engine Fund. AOC and OACES took no position on this bill. The chair of the House Committee on Climate, Energy and Environment did not schedule the bill for a work session before the 1st Chamber Posting Deadline on March 17, effectively defeating it for this session.
- HB 2396: Indirect Sources of Air Pollution
Representative Maxine Dexter filed HB 2396. The bill directed the Environmental Quality Commission to establish and implement an indirect source review program. The commission was required to mandate that the owner or operator of an indirect source that created or was likely to create significant air quality concern notify affected residents and businesses. AOC and OACES took a neutral position on this bill. The chair of the House Committee on Climate, Energy and Environment did not schedule the bill for a work session before the 1st Chamber Posting Deadline on March 17, effectively defeating it for this session.
How to Get Involved
AOC and OACES will continue to post opportunities to submit testimony and advocate for public works priorities as our bills advance through the legislative process. 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 and Brian Worley | County Roads Program Director