By editorial board • 

Short session short on what was promised

Imagine the whole thing as a boxing match.

Fighters come out from their corners swinging on odd-numbered years, having at each other for a full 12 rounds. Then, just for the heck of it, they get together every other year just to beat each other’s brains out for an extra five minutes.

As they have evolved, Oregon’s short sessions makes about as much sense.

Voters never intended for Oregon’s even-year, 35-day sessions to become full-fledged slugfests when they approved the concept in 2010. Lawmakers were supposed to meet in the center of the ring, shake hands and very politely balance their checkbooks. That’s it.

The short session was created to work out any remaining kinks in the budget and maybe pass a few bipartisan housekeeping bills.

Yet when the 2020 short session begins Monday, we’re looking at a political donnybrook. The headliner is the cap-and-trade bill that had Republicans storming out in June to deny Democrats the necessary quorum.

Partisans on both sides seem to have learned nothing from that experience. They’re determined to stage grudge matches on wedge issues like this one.

State Rep. Ron Noble, who represents McMinnville’s District 24, deserves points for being one of the few grown-ups in the room. He appears to remember why the short session was created, as his own agenda is refreshingly modest.

Noble’s House Bill 4133 seeks to provide money to the Department of Human Services to fund child welfare services. House Bill 4112, which he co-sponsored, would create a grant program for children’s advocacy centers, including Juliette’s House.

Such bills are simple, straight-forward and worthy of bipartisan consideration. They may also be DOA, though.

Cap-and-trade threatens to cast a huge shadow over all else. Limiting carbon emissions in some form or fashion is certainly worth discussion, but it promises more discord than discussion.

Among the other proposals before lawmakers next week is Senate Joint Resolution 202, which would do away with the short session altogether, while retaining the 160-day limit on regular, odd-year sessions.

While that may seem like a good idea, it would be nice if lawmakers could discipline themselves without imposing discipline.

Short sessions could still fulfill their original purpose if legislators recognized the difference between principled positions and pointless bickering. Then bills like Noble’s, along with touch-ups, housekeeping measures and minor policy shifts, could get fair hearings.

It would be unfortunate to deprive the state of a potentially useful tool just because our honorable solons can’t get in touch with their inner grown-ups.


Don Dix

From the article -- The short session was created to work out any remaining kinks in the budget and maybe pass a few bipartisan housekeeping bills.

That's the lie told to convince voters to pass the short session. Wouldn't it be interesting if there was a way for voters to invalidate their decision if the lawmakers ignore such promises? It's time the Oregon government stood for something other than being effective at deceiving the public.

Web Design and Web Development by Buildable