ONTARIO — As the 2015 Oregon Legislature moves toward a close, Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, is pleased that two of his bills made it through the whole legislative process.

Both are waiting to be signed by the governor.

Both Houses will meet again Monday, as they were not able to finish their work last week.

The last Bentz bill passed was House Bill 3402, which will boost the speed limit on most Oregon highways east of the Cascades. It received final passage in the Senate Friday morning.

House Bill 3402 amended sets the speed limit on Interstate 84 from the Oregon/Idaho border to The Dalles at 70 miles per hour for most vehicles and 65 miles per hour for trucks, school buses and similar vehicles.

The speed limit will be the same on U.S. Highway 95 between Idaho and Nevada.

On U.S. 20, through Malheur County to Bend and U.S. 26 from Vale to John Day, the speed limit will be 65 miles per hour for most drivers and 60 miles per hour for trucks and school buses. Similar limits will be posted on other highways throughout eastern and central Oregon.

Those routes include U.S. 395, Burns to John Day and Riley to the California state line; and Highway 78, Burns Junction to Burns.

Bentz’s said his original speed limit bill was merged into a bill introduced by Rep. Greg Barreto, who is named as the chief sponsor of House Bill 3402.

Sen. Alan Bates said he regretted that the speed limit changes did not happen July 1. According to the bill the changes will not happen until March 1, 2016.

“Oregon currently has the slowest highway and interstate speed limits in the western United States,” Bentz said in statement.

“I hope that this bill, by allowing people to travel more quickly, will bring the eastern and western parts of Oregon closer together. Transportation, at its most basic, is communication. Perhaps being able to travel back and forth faster will allow people from remote parts of Oregon to better access the features and benefits of this state,” he said.

His other bill passed this week requires a study of mineral resources in Malheur County and other areas in eastern Oregon.

House Bill 3089, co-sponsored by Rep. Brad Witt, also directs the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries to post the report online to make the information widely available, Bentz said.

Although there had been some opposition during one committee hearing, the bill was passed out of the Joint Ways and Means Committee without opposition, and was approved unanimously first in the House and then in the Senate.

“I’m pretty happy,” Bentz said.

With the House having already adjourned until 10 a.m. Monday, Senate President Peter Courtney said the Senate was also stopped and would reconvene at 10 a.m. Monday.

Budget bills are still being worked through by the Joint Ways and Means Committee. Two bills sent out to the floors during its evening session Friday had to do with funding career and technical education and programs and funding the Oregon Main Street Revitalization Program, but at only half of the $5 million originally proposed.

The budget bills are pending further action by the House.


Larry Meyer is a reporter for the Argus Observer.

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