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    Oregon Transportation Forum

    Members of the Oregon Transportation Forum, a group of leaders who represent the freight, transit, port, bicycle, and environmental communities, met earlier this week. They discussed next steps for improving Oregon’s transportation system. I was pleased to sit in on the conversation.

    Gregg Kantor, CEO of NW Natural, provided an update on the Governor’s Transportation Vision Panel. He noted that community members expressed strong interest in transportation improvements that could deal with safety, alleviating congestion, and emergency resiliency. Senators Lee Beyer and Betsy Johnson shared their thoughts on how Oregon can move forward productively in the coming legislative session: “people need to come to the table with their ‘get-to-yes’ face on. People need to be ready to compromise.”

    In the coming weeks the Legislature’s two presiding officers will name a joint committee to support transportation investments. Whether or not I end up on that committee, I look forward to supporting efforts to improve Oregon’s transportation system in the next session.

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    Barbur Boulevard Road Safety Improvements

    The Oregon Department of Transportation has identified steps to improve road safety for drivers and cyclists on parts of SW Barbur Boulevard. One component of this proposal, outlined in the image below, would add new buffered bike lanes and improve traffic patterns on Barbur near SW Capitol Highway, a notoriously dangerous stretch of road. This proposal is the result of community outreach and strategic thinking, and it represents an affordable, pragmatic approach that will keep people safe and help them get where they need to go.

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    Transportation: Getting Where We Need to Go

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    Today I attended the Oregon Transportation Forum Annual meeting. A key theme from the meeting was that we need to begin working to address our state’s transportation challenges right now if we want to be able to pass significant transportation legislation in the future.

    I am familiar with this kind of hard work and forward-thinking. As a Clackamas County Commissioner, I was pleased to build a bipartisan coalition to improve transportation access in the Clackamas Industrial Area. Working with colleagues from across the political spectrum, we secured funding from regional and state partners to get the job done.

    We also delivered on our commitment to build the Orange Line, our region’s newest light rail line. With broad teamwork, the line is built, it’s carrying lots of passengers, and it’s spurring positive development in Clackamas County. Both projects created good jobs and are helping people get where they need to go.

    Now we need to pass a state transportation package. We need funding to improve crumbling roads and bridges and improve safety. I grew up in a family business that built roads, and I know a transportation package could create good local jobs around Oregon. I also know it takes courage to move transportation bills forward.

    As we head into the new year and the new biennium, I plan to work hard to pass a transportation package for Oregon that’s good for families, our economy, and our environment.

    lininger004Lininger cousins in a truck from the family business, Ashland 4th of July parade circa 1976

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    Session Highlights

    The 2015 legislative session just ended, and we made good progress on our priorities. Here are some of the highlights, plus links to key bills we passed:

    Strengthening Education

    We took important steps to improve Oregon’s education system by

    • Making historically large investments in early learning, our K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities (HB 5016, HB 5017, HB 5024, SB 5507)
    • Supporting career and technical training and science and math education (CTE-STEM) so students can prepare for good jobs (HB 3072, HB 5016, SB 81)
    • Helping students who learn at an accelerated pace access appropriate challenges and earn college credit (SB 418)
    • Ensuring that students can afford lunch so they can focus on learning at school (HB 2545)
    • Protecting the confidentiality of student data so companies do not buy and sell it (HB 2715, SB 187)
    • Helping school districts identify students with dyslexia so schools can ensure these students’ success (SB 612)

    Helping Workers and Businesses Thrive

    We all want Oregonians to be able to provide for their families and enjoy the dignity of having a job. This session the Legislature advanced these goals by

    • Helping low-income people access child care so they can work, and by easing the financial cliff that hurts some people when they get a job (HB 2015, HB 2171)
    • Enabling workers to take time off to care for a sick child or recover from illness (SB 454)
    • Helping Oregonians save for retirement (HB 2960)
    • Adopting targeted incentives to spur job growth in the clean energy, food production equipment, and film sectors (HB 2941 and HB 3125)
    • Clarifying tax policy so Oregon can attract and retain technology jobs (SB 611)
    • Supporting transportation investments – this is a good step, but we need a robust transportation package (HB 5030, HB 5040)
    • Creating clear rules for the cannabis sector to help create good jobs, protect safety, and appropriately regulate this $1 billion/year market (HB 3400, HB 2041, SB 460, SB 844, and SJR 12)

    Protecting our Environment

    We took steps to protect Oregon’s environment this session by

    • Requiring a phase-out of toxic chemicals from children’s products (SB 478)
    • Improving Oregon’s pesticide spray laws to better protect people and drinking water – we have more work to do here, but this is progress (HB 3549)
    • Supporting expansion of our clean energy economy and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (SB 324)
    • Encouraging cleanup and re-use of brownfield properties (HB 2734)

    Helping Vulnerable People

    We are helping keep vulnerable Oregonians safe and secure by

      • Supporting creation of affordable apartments and preserving the ones we have (HB 2629, SB 5506, HB 2198)
      • Enabling survivors of sexual assault, stalking, and domestic violence to obtain confidential help and protective orders (HB 3476 and HB 2628)
      • Keeping guns away from domestic violence perpetrators and other dangerous people (SB 525, SB 941)
      • Enabling women to obtain a year’s supply of birth control so they can avoid unintended pregnancy (HB 3343)

    Strengthening our Justice System

    After tragic events around the country, we worked to ensure our justice system is fair for all Oregonians by

    • Preventing unfair profiling by police of people of color (HB 2002)
    • Creating a framework for communities to require on-duty law enforcement officials to wear body cameras (HB 2571)
    • Allowing community members to record the conduct of on-duty police officers (HB 2704)
    • Reclassifying marijuana offenses and helping people expunge offenses for conduct that is no longer illegal (HB 3400, SB 844)

    Improving Government Effectiveness

    We are helping our government operate more fairly and efficiently by

    • Improving information that lawmakers and the public receive about tax credits before creating or expanding tax credits so we can use credits wisely (HB 3542).
    • Streamlining the process to access social services to improve efficiency and reduce costs (HB 2219)
    • Requiring the Legislature to hold hearings around Oregon to ensure the redistricting process is conducted in a fair and reasonable manner (HB 2974)
    • Helping Oregonians register to vote so they can help shape a strong future for our state (HB 2177)

    We accomplished a lot this legislative session, but there is more left to do. Please reach out to our office over the interim about issues that are important to you so we can work together to address them. Thanks.

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    Members of the Committee to Implement Measure 91 (Rep. Peter Buckley, Rep. Carl Wilson, Rep. Andy Olsen, and Rep. Ken Helm) marking the close of our 2015 Legislative Session, with photo bomb by Rep. John Davis

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    Road Safety

    This week brought good news for transportation safety in our community. On Wednesday, I had the privilege of carrying a bill that will help prevent high speed cross-over crashes on I-5 by helping close gaps between opposing lanes. This bill is dedicated to the memories of two public servants, Dr. Steve Fritz and Carly Fairchild, who were tragically killed in the type of crash this bill seeks to prevent. Senate Bill 921 is something positive coming out of this devastating event.

    Many community members have raised concerns about the danger pedestrians and bike traffic face in trying to navigate Barbur Boulevard and Capitol Highway, two major transportation corridors in our district. This week, ODOT issued a press release stating that the City of Portland plans to conduct a Road Safety Audit for SW Barbur Boulevard. ODOT Region 1 Manager Rian Windsheimer says it is his goal “for the RSA to identify improvements that will benefit all modes and help us prioritize where to spend our limited funds.” This is great news for our community, as many residents of the area surrounding these roadways stand to benefit directly from the identified improvements.
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    Section of Barbur Blvd designated for RSA (Image: PSU)

    Here at the Capitol, I have been working throughout the session to explore legislative pathways to improve traffic safety in district for my constituents who rely on these transportation corridors. I have teamed up with Representative Doherty, Representative Williamson, Senator Devlin, Mayor Hales of Portland, and Congressman Blumenauer’s office to see what we can collectively accomplish for our constituents. Right now we are taking steps to try and bring bike and pedestrian safety improvements to Capitol Highway as well as continuing to support ODOT’s efforts on Barbur Blvd. Click here to read Bikeportland.org’s coverage of my work on this issue.

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    Share the Road

    Had a great conversation with Portland Mayor Charlie Hales about steps we can take together to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists in Southwest Portland. Lots of people in the Multnomah Village area and near Barbur Boulevard express concern about being hit by cars as they try to get around the neighborhood on foot or by bike. We are working with a team of community members, elected officials, and state agency leaders to take steps to address this important issue.
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