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State Sen. Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro) is hoping for relatively swift action on two bills he is focusing on in the current short session of the Legislature, which ends the second week of March.

by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: DOUG BURKHARDT - State Sen. Bruce Starr (left) was on the Senate floor last Friday, working to see two of his key priorities passed in the current session of the Oregon Legislature.If approved, Starr’s bills could serve to make Washington County, and Oregon, a bit safer and a bit greener.

Starr said he is “passionate” about a plan to transfer the jurisdiction of Cornelius Pass Road, part of which is under Washington County’s control and part in Multnomah County’s jurisdiction, to state control.

The portion of Cornelius Pass Road that would be transferred if Starr’s plan gains approval is the stretch between Highway 26 and Highway 30.

Starr believes Cornelius Pass Road would be taken care of more effectively and more consistently as a state road rather than a county road.

“That particular road is dangerous,” Starr said. “It’s a freight route, and a hazmat (hazardous materials) route. I’m interested in having the state take that road over. The road hasn’t been that high a priority for the counties.”

Starr pointed out that Cornelius Pass Road is not only a busy truck route, but is increasingly used by those driving to Hillsboro to go to work.

“It’s more and more a commuter route,” Starr said. “This should be a priority for Washington County and for business interests. I’m pretty passionate about getting this done this session.”

The transfer in the jurisdiction of the road would be included as part of Senate Bill 1502, which is being sponsored by state Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose).

The proposed legislation covers a variety of transportation-related issues, such as a requirement to study development of uniform speed bump height and markings; making modifications to the Department of Transportation’s authority to issue variance permits to operate self-loading log trucks; and reallocation of funds among transportation projects listed in the Jobs & Transportation Act of 2009.

“It’s a catch-all bill,” Starr said. “We need to add the (Cornelius Pass Road) transfer language on the House side.”

Starr said he thinks the legislation can gain approval before the end of the session.

“There is no real opposition to the concept,” he said, “just concern about the words used.”

Starr is also working on SB 1520, a bill he sponsored. The legislation would make it easier for those interested in setting up solar panels to do so at lower costs.

“It would allow those interested in small-scale renewable energy projects to form a co-op to bypass some regulations,” Starr explained. “If you have a home and want to participate with solar but can’t afford that, you could invest in a co-op to create resources to put these projects on the roof of your house or put them on community buildings, or a church.”

The language of the bill calls for exempting from registration securities “renewable energy cooperative corporations issue to cooperative corporation members as evidence of membership in cooperative corporation or to show members’ respective interests in assets, reserves or patronage dividends.”

The bill was given a unanimous vote of support in the Senate last week, and Starr said he is optimistic it will soon pass in the House. He believes it could have a positive impact on promoting renewable energy.

“It’s a small step, but meaningful,” he said. “Energy renewal groups support it.”

Starr’s proposed legislation is scheduled for a public hearing Feb. 21, and is awaiting a hearing in the House Business & Labor Committee.

“This bill is perfect for a short session,” Starr said. “It’s a simple bill with no opposition.”

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