Pseudo-reform idea has 'Gobbler' status
For decades, there was an entertaining ritual that awarded “Golden Gobbler” status to bills considered the biggest turkeys of Oregon legislative sessions. There’s no word on continuation of that tradition in 2013, but just in case, I have a nomination for the gold.
Past honorees often have been silly little bills that landed with a thud and never saw the light of day. I found one old newspaper clipping, for example, reporting that in 1977, a Portland representative won the prize for his proposal to “send Kelpie the coyote back to a Spray, Ore., family.” (Yes, in 1977, the abbreviation for Oregon was Ore.)
This year’s top nominee — not so amusing but clearly deserving of the award — is Senate Bill 822, the Democratic leadership’s proposal to “fix PERS” in great measure by delaying $350 million in payments from Oregon governmental bodies.
The idea raises lots of possibilities. Maybe we could solve the health care crisis by letting people ignore half of any medical bills for the next two years instead of bothering to reduce the costs of that medical care. With IOUs, of course.
You can add your own absurd comparison to the concept of delay versus actual reform.
There have been calls to bestow 2013 Gobbler standing upon bills involving marijuana and the Columbia River Crossing, gun control and gay rights, drones and increased taxes. As with the PERS plan, those often are serious bills being trashed by passionate opponents, but there are more traditional nominees as well.
House Bill 2077 would make it a Class A misdemeanor to distribute nicotine without a medical prescription. Senate Bill 473 would change the Oregon state flag to include a gold beaver. Those and other proposals will languish in committee and disappear in the heap of legislative history.
One Gobbler candidate would prevent law enforcement from publishing arrest photos on the Internet and set limits on public access to those images. A possible motivation comes from some despicable websites that post photographs of arrestees and remove them only for a fee. Still, it deserves Gobbler consideration, since legislation should address the actual problem instead of creating a new one.
All the contenders for this year’s honors will be known only to those who read the entire mountain of bills submitted. Those legislative wonks, however, will have a hard time topping the idea that the Public Employees Retirement System financial crisis should be solved by telling debtor local governments they simply can pay later.
Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@news register.com or 503-687-1223.