Oregon Ports are among the public and private landowners whose employees are now protected under Oregon’s recreational immunity laws.
The 2017 Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 327 which extends that immunity in response to a Portland case where a citizen successfully sued an employee of the City of Portland (Johnson v. Gibson) for injuries sustained in a city park. The case had big significance for any public or private land owner allowing public recreational use on their land.
The bill modifies the definition of owner for the purpose of civil liability related to land used for public recreational purposes. Owners now encompass not only title holders, but officers, employees, volunteers or agents acting within the scope of assigned duties. also protected are the director, partner, general partner, shareholder, limited liability company member, limited liability partner or limited partner of possessors of any interest in land.
Other 2017 bills affecting Ports include:
HB 2902, which permits Ports to operate shipyards. Despite a supporting opinion from Legislative Counsel and Ports’ general belief in their authority to operate shipyards, this bill saw opposition. The bill offers the flexibility Ports need to meet their local fleet needs and eliminates the potential cost and burden of litigating the matter.
HB 2899 clarifies the authority of Ports to enter into intergovernmental agreements as authorized under ORS 190. That law permits all types of governments to enter into agreements with each other for a broad array of reasons. However, ORS 777.112, part of Oregon Ports’ enacting legislation could be construed to limit that right.
HB 2900 expands the purposes for which Ports can advertise. ORS 777.240 limits Port advertising to only facilities and the commerce taking place at the Port. This bill expands the ability of ports to advertise activities of the Port or activities of those using the Port. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2018.
HB 2901 changes the valuation in ORS 777.240 that triggers the requirement for a second certified appraisal from $500,000 to $2 million. The provision had been a particular burden for Ports located in rural settings. The bill takes effect Jan. 1, 2018.
The new $5.3 billion Transportation Funding Package, HB 2017, offers several benefits to ports including $25 million each dedicated to trans-load facilities in far Eastern Oregon and the central Willamette Valley. In addition, about $250,000 per year will be dedicated to upkeep and maintenance of the dredge, decreasing costs to Ports. This was done by sequestering some of the new gas tax money that is dedicated to the Oregon State Marine Board.