July 2015 Print

2015 Oregon Legislature - How Transit Fared

The 2015 Oregon Legislative Assembly adjourned on July 6th at 6:04 p.m.  In a session marked by the historic resignation of the state’s longest serving governor and bitter partisanship, the Oregon Transit Association managed to achieve some key outcomes for transit agencies throughout the state.  Highlights of these outcomes are as follows:

  • Senior & Disabled Transportation: Legislators approved $9.27 million for senior and disabled transit services to be distributed statewide through the special transportation fund.

  • Connect Oregon:  Notwithstanding the legislature’s failure to approve a multimodal transportation package, the assembly did approve $45 million in Connect Oregon grants, a portion of which will be allocated for transit capital projects. As originally drafted, the bill arguably prohibited the purchase of transit vehicles.  OTA worked with other stakeholders to amend the bill and clarify that the grants would be available for the purchase transit vehicles as in the past.
  • Policy Bills:  As the attached bill track list suggests, OTA worked with stakeholders to defeat multiple detrimental bills while winning approval for Senate Bill 142, the motor carrier deregulation legislation.

Finally, as the media widely reported, a late session push for a $343.5 million multimodal transportation package failed to win legislative approval after it became clear the House would not approve a bipartisan Senate plan.  Of significance, that plan included, for mass transit districts, an employee-based payroll tax to compliment the employer payroll tax generating 80.68 million for eligible agencies.  OTA testified concerning the proposal making clear that all transit agencies, not just mass transit districts, needed similar support.  Nevertheless, the inclusion of transit as a major feature of the transportation package sets the stage for transportation conversations in subsequent sessions and is a clear indication that transit is a rising priority among policymakers.

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