March 13, 2017 Newsletter

Rich Vial

March 13, 2017 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Here is an update on my work as your State Representative.

Bill Report

HB 3231, which I introduced, has been assigned to the House Committee on Transportation Policy.  The bill allows cities and counties to form special districts that can plan, design, finance, construct, and operate limited-access highways.  I first heard about this concept when travelling in Colorado, where a limited-access highway called E-470 bypasses Denver to the east.  This highway was built and is maintained by the local government jurisdictions it passes through and was completed using almost no public money.  I recently spoke with Colorado’s former Governor, Bill Owens, who introduced the legislation that made E-470 possible.  He shared with me the success that project has had in helping to relieve Denver’s traffic congestion.

My constituents regularly share their concerns about traffic congestion in the Portland area with me, and ask for solutions.  HB 3231 makes it possible for cities and counties to decide at the local level whether they want to build a limited-access highway, similar to Colorado’s E-470, to help relieve our region’s traffic congestion.  This bill would allow local governments—not the state government—to decide where a highway might be built and how they want to pay for it.

The Joint Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization is currently working to develop a transportation package this session.  Projects under consideration include maintenance of our existing roads, widening of I-5 and I-205 in some areas, and upgrading the Abernethy Bridge.  I fully support these projects and specifically designed HB 3231 to not compete with them for funding.  Still, given the rate at which Portland is growing, our local communities deserve more options to plan for their future transportation needs.  To read more about what this bill does, please click here.  I am hopeful that HB 3231 will receive a public hearing in the next few weeks.

HB 2597 Public Hearing

HB 2597, relating to the use of mobile electronic devices while driving, received a public hearing on February 27th in the House Committee on Judiciary.  While I support improvements to public safety on our roadways, as a member of this committee, I have some reservations about the bill as it is currently written.  The bill is unclear as to which electronic devices are considered unlawful to use while driving and creates questions about its enforceability.  You may listen to the robust discussion that took place during the public hearing by clicking hereI look forward to more conversations about clarifying these ambiguities as the bill moves through the process.

YMCA Youth & Government Program


Last month, Oregon high school students came to Salem for the 71st Session of the Oregon YMCA Youth & Government Program.  This 3-day educational program, which first started in 1947, allows students to participate in a mock legislative process in the Oregon State Capitol.  Since the 1960s, this program has had delegations from over 35 high schools across the State.  I am proud to report that Sherwood High School brought the largest delegation, 30 students, who were enthusiastically involved in this hands-on learning experience.  I also want to extend a special thanks to the group’s teacher-advisors, Tim King and Sarah McCusker.  Way to go, Sherwood!

Scholls Country Auction

Last Saturday, Representative Ron Noble and I volunteered to serve as auctioneers for this year’s Scholls Country Auction at Oregon Heritage Farms.  The auction was put together by community volunteers through the local Parent Teacher Organization, and proceeds from it primarily went towards replacing the two-decade-old playground structure at the Groner K-8 School.

Scholls Country Auction 1

Aside from being a lot of fun, this event is meaningful for Paula and I because we have had dozens of children and grandchildren go through Groner.  I even had the privilege of serving as Chair of the Groner School Board before it merged with the Hillsboro School District in 1996.  Thanks to all those who volunteered, contributed, and came out to make sure that Groner stays an amazing school!

Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce

On February 28th, I met with representatives of the Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce at the Al Kader Shrine Center.  Nearly a dozen members of Wilsonville’s business community took time out of their early morning to share their concerns regarding the impacts that predictive scheduling, no fault evictions, and rent control will have on small businesses.  As a business owner myself, I admire and appreciate the dedication, passion, and investment our business community provides and the innovation they inspire to keep our economy moving forward.  Thank you to each of you who came and shared your thoughts with me!

Social Media

My office has set up social media accounts so you can follow my work in the legislature.  Please “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram, using the handle @reprichvial.

Personal Reflections

Duck Boat

Although Spring is just around the corner, we all know how rough this winter has been.  Not long ago, several fields near our farm in Scholls flooded—a fairly regular occurrence during the rainy months.  When this happens, a road separating my grandchildren’s home from their school becomes unpassable, covered by up to nine feet of water in some places.  To get the children to school, their parents must help them put on their boots and life vests and row them across the water in a boat, where it falls to Paula and I to drive them the rest of the way to school.  We love the time that mornings like these allow us to spend with our grandchildren.  As you can see from this photo, the grandkids think it is pretty fun, too!

As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve as your State Representative.  I value your thoughts and your ideas.  Please feel free to call my office if we can ever be of assistance.




Capitol Phone: 503-986-1426
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-484, Salem, Oregon 97301