by Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg)
Thursday I gave a short speech in the Senate basically talking about how we are violating the very essence of the legislative process this Session.
Agreements reached over weeks of negotiations are now being thrown out. Last week we had a presentation in our caucus by the Ways and Means chair on what was in the budget and now a whole lot of other things are showing up.
Admittedly, because the Democrats have a super majority in the Senate, they can pass anything they want without Republican support – but they should at least be honest about it.
I could talk about how the major issues we are dealing with have no business being considered in such a short time frame, but instead I think I will focus on two small issues to point out the “games” being played.
One of the issues we dealt with last Session was the Statute of Limitations on Rape. A workgroup was created and a resolution was reached and it became a committee bill. Meanwhile, after the shooting at UCC, it was suggested we do something to protect the information of the victims and we created legislation to do that. So what we had at this point was two very good bills that could stand on their own merits.
Here is where it turns bad simply because committee chairs have a great deal of power and with the super majority can get away with almost anything.
The chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee is Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene). Among his passions is the fact he is an avid bike rider. Based on that he decided to add a provision to the rape bill making it a felony in some cases when there is an accident involving a bike and a car. I could go into the merits of this legislation or the fact so many bike riders tend to ignore the rules of the road, but that is not the point here. The issue is the chair of the committee using a very good bill to add something totally unrelated to the bill because the “relating clause” allows him to for a personal agenda.
But that is not the end of the story. There was enough objection to the addition of this to the rape bill to cause them to remove it from that bill, but then they added it to the victim’s protection bill, once again something totally unrelated to the bill. The bill was on the Senate floor for a vote yesterday. It put me in an interesting position because to support victims I would have had to vote for a bill that has a provision now in it I don’t support.
I have always advocated for keeping issues separate, but that is not what we are seeing this Session.
I do want to say that Senator Prozanski and I have worked very well together on a lot of issues over the years, but when he added the bike issue to the victim’s bill and challenged me to vote against it, that was almost a step too far.
This has been a Session driven by special interest groups and their potential campaign contributions both in legislative races as well as the Governor’s race. In the 20 years I have served here, this is by far the worst Session I have been a part of. The winners here are the special interests groups, many of them from outside our state, and the losers are the people of Oregon.
My hope is the people will wake up and start to realize that the agenda of the majority party, which is basically more government control over most aspects of our lives, is not in their best interest, and start saying no.
It is time for a change in the direction we are going.