By editorial board • 

Bag of big-ticket items not what voters were promised

In 2010, we supported Measure 71, which created a new 25-day legislative session in even-numbered years. At the time we believed the additional session would “allow approximately one month the following year to re-balance the budget, if necessary, and to more efficiently address other emergency issues.”

In February, we may well learn the error of our optimism. We say that because Oregon’s elected leaders, particularly the Democrats who control the governor’s office and Legislature, appear to be entering the session with an eye on complex and contested legislation that could greatly alter the makeup of the Beaver State.

At  the top of the agenda is raising the minimum wage, as legislators are hoping to get in front of a ballot measure promoted by activists.

With myriad proposals from both parties, this issue alone could dominate a short session. But there is so much more being discussed as well, including cap-and-trade carbon emissions, gun control, affordable housing and a possible lodging tax increase designed to help fund the 2021 Track and Field Championships promised to Eugene.

The Legislature’s ambitious agenda also includes the kind of bills we’d expect to surface for a short session to address — ones to help fund Umpqua Community College recover from a mass shooting and Harney County to recover from a Sagebrush Rebellion takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Measure 71 does not, in itself, limit what the Legislature can take up during its new even-year sessions, as Oregon Democrats are quick to point out. But the rhetoric they offered in support at the time certainly did.

They hope to pass legislation to preclude a drastic ballot measure because they think they can do a better job than voters.

We aren’t necessarily convinced of that. Besides, haste makes waste. Hurrying legislation through in short order will almost inevitably create the need for corrective lawmaking in the future. 

Echoing our words from 2010, state Sen. Brian Boquist recently said, “The ‘short’ session of the Legislature begins this coming Monday — Feb. 1, 2016 — and we will be in session for 30 days. The constitutional amendment passed by the people intended for this session to take up necessary budget emergencies, rebalance spending and to make needed technical fixes to bills passed in the last legislative session.”

Unfortunately, it’s not the first time Oregonians have felt deceived by their leaders, and isn’t likely to be the last. Here’s hoping common sense prevails and the Legislature sticks to the basics. There we go with the optimism again.


Don Dix

Back in 2010 the Ds were clamoring to have sessions every year ... the Rs were skeptical of the plan ... here is what they said ...

The Ds promised that the sessions would be limited to budget adjustments and housekeeping items that would not include controversial items or items that needed to be thoroughly vetted with public input.

"Oregon is no longer a horse-and-buggy state," said Senate Majority Leader Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin. "It's time we stop running the Legislature like it was."

Annual sessions would give lawmakers a chance to respond to increasingly complex challenges of the state budget, federal rules and constituent concerns, Devlin said. They also would eliminate some of the disadvantage legislators have compared with members of the executive branch, such as the governor and his staff, who work full-time year-round.

Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli said recent sessions have been marked by heavy-handed tactics of majority Democrats, backroom dealing and "a hurry-up mentality."

Meeting every year, Ferrioli said, is "nothing more than an opportunity to do great evil more often."

Based on these statements for and against annual sessions back in 2010, and with knowledge of what is proposed for the 2016 session, it does appear that the Ds lied to the voters about the intentions of annual sessions.

If one cannot (or refuses to) see the carefully planned, underhanded deceit, then one suffers from total partisan blindness or one is in line to benefit from the 'new legislation' proposed ... or both! Apparently candor is just another word and not a desired quality of some!

Annette Madrid

"Annual sessions would give lawmakers a chance to respond to increasingly complex challenges of the state budget, federal rules and constituent concerns, Devlin said."

Five years ago, the world was a different place than today. Now, who pays? (see below)
Us?(Oregonians)or the Feds? It's still OUR tax dollars. $100,000 per week puts quite a hole in any budget. Then again, just my two cents.

WASHINGTON -- Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Portland) introduced a bill on Wednesday that would prevent taxpayers from paying the high cost of the month-long Oregon refuge occupation and place the burden on the armed group of protesters.

The occupation has cost state and local law enforcement an estimated $100,000 per week, Blumenauer’s spokeswoman said in a news release.

The bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice to quickly reimburse law enforcement for the costs, and then allow the U.S. Attorney General to bring a civil suit against the occupiers to recover the government’s cost.

“When we talk in trillions here in Washington D.C., maybe talk of $100,000 here or a million dollars there doesn’t sound like very much, but to the state of Oregon, it matters, Blumenauer said on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. “For this small community, a few hundred thousand dollars has a significant impact on the local taxpayer. They shouldn’t be made to pay the bill.”

“We should recover damages from law breakers who tear up the landscape, degrade wildlife habitat and destroy property,” Blumenauer said. “This legislation would allow the federal government to go back to recover its cost from people who willfully inflict this damage.”

The refuge occupation has been going on since the armed group took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2. Bundy and other leaders were arrested, but four protesters remain.

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