Yesterday afternoon, the Oregon Senate Interim Committee On Guidelines and Govt Appointments heard from the greater than 60 of Governor Kate Brown’s nominees to numerous state boards and commissions. Amongst these nominees was outgoing state Senator Lee Beyer, who Brown has nominated to one of many 5 spots on the Oregon Transportation Fee a lot to the chagrin of many involved Oregonians.
The OTC is a robust physique that oversees the Oregon Division of Transportation and their $5 billion finances.
Some leaders from outstanding transportation and environmental teams see Beyer’s appointment as a step within the improper course, with some opponents saying Beyer’s appointment will “double down on the previous” as an alternative of seeking to the longer term with “extra inclusive, consultant transportation decision-making.”
Beyer will change Alando Simpson, a a lot youthful, Black member of the fee. Within the Portland Mercury yesterday, Beyer disregarded these considerations. “Transportation is transportation,” Beyer advised the Mercury. He additionally mentioned opposition to the I-5 Rose Quarter freeway growth is “baffling” and “famous he’s ‘not an entire believer’ in induced demand.”
Regardless of this surge of opposition, no senators on the Guidelines Committee took up considerations with Beyer’s appointment, and no person spoke up in opposition to him on the assembly’s public remark interval. After Beyer had an opportunity to introduce himself to the committee, they moved ahead together with his nomination as commonplace process.
One group did present help for Beyer in response to neighborhood backlash over his nomination: the Portland Enterprise Alliance (a corporation activists have deemed considered one of Portland’s ‘local weather villains’). President and CEO Andrew Hoan submitted a letter of help for Beyer’s nomination, stating the senator is “maybe probably the most ready Oregonian to serve on the OTC,” having “confirmed to own a deep information of the transportation wants of the whole state and can collaborate together with his colleagues and stakeholders to advance the balanced transportation options we’ll want within the twenty first century.”
“Senator Beyer has unquestionably been considered one of Oregon’s only leaders advancing multi-modal transportation infrastructure, and modernization coverage and funding proposals in Oregon. He has efficiently labored to search out the appropriate steadiness between increasing transportation entry, supporting the motion of products, sustaining our infrastructure, and decreasing carbon emissions,” Hoan writes. “In these divisive instances, it’s crucial that we proceed to help and have a good time leaders like Senator Beyer.”
Advocates say Beyer’s “steadiness” between transportation targets has been closely weighted towards driving-centric infrastructure. Over his time within the Oregon senate, Beyer supported tasks just like the Interstate Bridge Alternative Program plan to develop I-5 from Portland to Vancouver and its failed predecessor, the Columbia River Crossing. He additionally shot down a invoice to extend state funding for biking and strolling infrastructure.
When talking at yesterday’s Guidelines Committee assembly, Beyer addressed neighborhood apprehensions that he’s “solely involved about roads,” saying that declare isn’t true.
“I might draw folks’s consideration again to what we did in 2017,” Beyer mentioned, referring to the transportation legislature Home Invoice 2017, which he was a main champion of. Beyer mentioned this invoice included the “largest infusion within the state’s historical past in increasing transit,” a “stable dedication” to Secure Routes to Faculties infrastructure and “devoted funding to off-road bicycle paths.”
Although HB 2017 was a landmark transportation invoice in Oregon that gave an unprecedented quantity of funding to public transit and lively transportation infrastructure ( a really low bar), it was overwhelmingly targeted on freeway expansions and freeway tasks.
In his remarks (learn them in full under), Beyer mentioned he thinks roads are essential for the state’s financial system.
“One level that I might make – I’m involved concerning the roads and I’m involved concerning the roads for Oregon’s financial system. Oregon is an exporting state. A variety of the merchandise that we use and discover in our shops get there on a truck,” he mentioned. “I prefer to say that Oregon’s financial system strikes on wheels and people wheels want one thing to roll on.”
Beyer is the second OTC decide from Governor Brown since November 2021 that doesn’t meet the calls for of Dawn PDX and the Youth vs. ODOT motion. The governor additionally didn’t heed the calls for of over thirty organizations statewide that requested her to carry off on this choice.
That push was led by The Road Belief Govt Director Sarah Iannarone who posted her response to Twitter this morning. “Governor Brown dismissing out-of-hand considerations from 30+ main advocacy orgs and coalitions on this matter is de facto disheartening,” she wrote. “If she’s not listening to us, who’s she listening to?”
Beyer’s full feedback to the committee are under: