Gov. Brown signs clean fuels bill

STATE GOVERNMENT ROUNDUP: Despite protests from Republicans, the Clean Fuels Program was signed into law; Senate approves bill to allow cyclists to run some red lights; motor voter law explained.

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Despite protests from Republicans, the Clean Fuels Program was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Kate Brown.

Democratic legislators and oil industry experts disagree on the bill’s cost impacts, the Statesman Journal reports.

The bill continues a program begun in 2009, as well as alters some aspects of how it works. It creates a market for carbon credits in Oregon’s transportation fuel industry, regulated by the state Department of Environmental Quality, and it requires the industry to reduce the carbon in diesel and gas by 10 percent by 2025.

Fossil fuel companies can achieve that goal by, for example, mixing gas with ethanol or by buying credits from other, greener companies. The state has estimated it could raise the cost of gas between 4 cents and 19 cents per gallon over the next 10 years, but the bill contains a provision that allows the DEQ to shut down the carbon market if prices increase too much.

Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn) believes the measure will cause food and fuel prices to soar — placing an additional hardship on families in the state.

But while Republicans bemoaned passage of the bill, the Portland Business Journal reported on some business owners who lauded the decision.

 Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program will provide the regulatory certainty Oregon businesses need to invest, helping our economy and expanding family-wage jobs across the state. We applaud the Governor for signing this important bill into law.”

— Jim Houser, co-owner Hawthorne Auto Clinic and co-chair, The Main Street Alliance of Oregon.

“Shifting to cleaner fuels is good for Oregon’s economy and environment.

“The West continues to lead the country on smart policies that are fueling a revolution in our transportation system – creating jobs, driving innovation and transforming our economy along the way. Next, we need Washington state to follow its neighbors by moving forward with its own clean fuels standard.”

— Bob Keefe, executive director, E2

 Senate approves bill to allow cyclists to run some red lights

Under a bill recently passed by the Oregon Senate, bicyclists and motorcyclists could proceed through a red light “under certain conditions.”

The proposal aims to help cyclists who find themselves at lights that aren’t changing, reports.

The bill would allow bikers to proceed at a red light if the signal “fails” to turn green after a “one full cycle.” Under the proposal, the discretion to go is in the hands of the motorcyclist or bicyclist. Edwards said the goal is to make sure riders don’t get stuck in perpetuity at intersections because their rides aren’t big or heavy enough to trigger sub-pavement sensors that tell red lights when to turn green.

“Last spring, a bunch of motorcyclists approached me with the concept,” Edwards said. “They told me how they would get stuck at lights that kept cycling through without turning green for them.”

Edwards said the Bicycle Transportation Alliance lobbied to be included in the bill after his original proposal.

Explaining the state’s new ‘motor voter’ system

Gov. Kate Brown signed a sweeping reform package to voter registration Monday.

Under the new system, voters are automatically registered using their driving records. explained what that means exactly:

It builds on the existing federal “motor voter” law requiring states to offer people an opportunity to register to vote when they get or update a driver’s license. Oregon’s measure, House Bill 2177, goes much further. The secretary of state’s office will regularly collect drivers’ license data and “provisionally” register people who aren’t already signed up to vote.

These prospective voters will be sent a notice giving them 21 days to let elections officials know if they don’t want to be registered. As a result, Oregon will become the first voter registration system that is “opt out” instead of “opt in.” Newly registered voters will also be given information on how to register with one of the state’s political parties. If they don’t, they will be listed as non-affiliated.

The story answers many frequently asked questions about the new law.