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Jeb Bladine: Legislature showing 'tyranny of majority'

Oregon Democrats hold 18 seats in the Senate and 38 in the House; thus the supermajorities needed to raise taxes on their own. But that’s just the beginning.

At least with taxes, uncertainties cross party lines because people of all political persuasions can oppose excess taxation. But Democrats don’t seem willing to abide negotiation and compromise even on issues only requiring a simple majority.

Whatchamacolumn

Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

Consider SB 608, a controversial proposal that would make Oregon a pioneer in imposing statewide rent control. Like so much legislation, it threatens to produce unintended and unwanted consequences.

Sen. Kim Thatcher of Keizer, whose district includes Newberg, Sherwood and Wilsonville, complained the measure would “force property providers to navigate a long, onerous process that makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to protect innocent good neighbors.” She said, “Those good neighbors could be forced to suffer pitting them between being held hostage or experience housing insecurity.”

Sen. Tim Knopp of Bend said, “The likely outcome from this legislation is fewer affordable housing units and increased rent throughout the state.”

It’s a debate ripe for fruitful negotiations. But not this time around.

The unfettered progress of SB 608 should warn Oregonians of what’s to follow.

Rental property owner organizations know this train is rolling full-speed, but they sought negotiations in hopes of avoiding rental marketplace disruptions. Democratic leaders made it clear they would not allow any substantive amendments to their high-priority bill, and would not eliminate the emergency clause permitting immediate activation upon approval.

Testimony this week identified serious problems in the bill. As promised, the committee gave SB 608 a do-pass recommendation and moved it to the Senate floor and supermajority No. 1.

In other words, we have the votes. Don’t bother us with your opinions.

One participant in this legislative charade called it the most opaque and corrupted process he had witnessed in decades of law-making experience. Oregonians, he said, have much to fear if this is a sign of things to come in the 2019 legislative session.

The Democrats hold total control in Salem, and they are clearly in a hurry. They have a litany of controversial issues on the table, and it appears they are prepared to sweep aside opposition with a wave of their supermajority flag.

Hark this simple quote, attributed to 1800s British historian John Dalberg-Acton: “The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority.”

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com of 503-687-1223.

Comments

Don Dix

Rent control by the state? -- Since when does the state have the right to dictate rental prices to the private sector (or any other business)? This is a big state, and prices in the Portland area would never compare to those in say, Burns, so how would that discrepancy be managed?

One final question -- Is this country a constitutional republic or an oligarchy?

gophergrabber

This is Oregon. In Oregon about 48% of the population is unrepresented. Anyone not with Brown/Kotek/etc you have no voice.

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