Representative Greg Smith on Special Session

Press release from State Representative Greg Smith 1-30-08:

(Heppner) Next week 90 lawmakers representing citizens all across our great state will reconvene at the State Capitol for a special month-long session. While I did not vote for the plan to schedule an “emergency” session 13 months in advance, I will do my constitutional duty, attend the proceedings in Salem, and continue to represent the wishes of the people of Northeastern Oregon.

I hope this session will be short and sweet with good policy outcomes and as few politics as possible. Some issues critical to my legislative district will be on the agenda, including funding for State Police, water for agriculture, and support for timber dependent counties.

Last year we came very close to bringing up the number of State Police Troopers so there would be 24/7 coverage on Oregon’s major highways. This is especially important in our neck of the woods. We now have great opportunity to add a few dozen more positions to the State Police force enabling us to get to that round-the-clock level.

As you may remember I helped spearhead the OASIS project in the House last year to allow more water from the Columbia River to support our rural economic base. A “watered down” proposal has now surfaced which would study using underground aquifers to store water during the winter for use later in the summer. There may also be grant funding available for communities to explore new sources of water.

We all know hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake with the loss of federal forest payments. I’m optimistic that the February Legislative Session will send Congress a message urging continuation of those payments and that state officials will work on creative ways to help our counties in need so they won’t have to close libraries and lay off sheriff’s deputies.

Other important issues include limiting drivers’ licenses those who are here legally, protecting in-home care for seniors, ensuring government accountability with additional audits, and cracking down on scams in the mortgage lending industry.

While I look forward to having a productive session, I worry about election year campaigning. Let’s not use this session for political gain.

Please know I will be hard at work for you in Salem and if you have a question or concern, don’t hesitate to contact me at 503.986.1457 or [email protected]

Sincerely,

Representative Greg Smith

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  • Jerry

    How can it be your constitutional duty to attend something that was scheduled without regard to the constitution??
    Please answer this question – I am certain I am not the who wants to know the answer to it.

    • RinoWatch

      I would love to know the answer to your perfectly reasonable question.

      Greg Smith is just like the other 89 who will show up and in my eyes break Oregon constitutional law.

      Smith won’t answer, none of ’em will. Can you see the yellow streak?

  • Steve Plunk

    At a recent town hall meeting held by Rep. Esquival, Rep. Buckley, and Sen. Bates they all admitted there was no emergency and this was a “test drive”. It seems even admitting the session is unconstitutional is not enough to shame our legislature into doing the right thing.

    They all had different agendas yet had hope it would be a short productive session. Balderdash! There are already useless bills being introduced and partisan bickering that will surely slow down any real progress on legislation.

    This is a poke in the eye to all Oregonians who believe in the rule of law.

  • Response

    The Oregon Legislature is poised to meet in shorter yearly sessions instead of meeting every two years. Having the ability to address such items as over-estimating how much revenue the state will receive from the Federal government or having the ability to more quickly address issues makes for a common sense approach for good governance. It’s time.

    • Steve Plunk

      It may be time but the constitution should first be amended. I may think it’s time to raise the speed limit to 75 mph but I must first change the law before I decide to “test drive” that new speed limit. The legislature chose arrogance over the constitutional mandate. That is arrogance, flouting the law and knowing there is little the people can do.

      The thing they have lost is what small amount of respect they had. The legislature has become a self indulgent body with no concern for the people who let them govern. This is how we will lose our constitutional protections, one small step at a time with somewhat innocuous decisions.

    • RinoWatch

      If it’s time, why are you afraid to let us, Oregon’s Citizens, vote on annual sessions.
      Here’s hoping the “test drive” is a miserably failure and we will actually be spared the time and expense to say “HELL NO” to annual sessions.

  • CRAWDUDE

    When a representative of a goverment sees a constitutional violation, it is their duty to stop it at all cost. The GOP members should boycott this session en masse and end the majorities vision of granduer.

    • dean

      CD and Steve…isn’t it up to the courts to decide what is constitutional and what is not? Individual legislators are not constitution experts, and I expect neither of you are either. Why not let this play out as it is doing in the courts. Or…assuming the court eventually rules in favor of the special session being consitutional, will you simply shift to a different argument, or substitute your greater wisdom for theirs?

      And Steve…rule of law? Didn’t you just argue elsewhere that the telecoms should be granted post facto immunity for violating the privacy rights of Americans under the law ? Aren’t you being a bit selectivly outraged here?

      • Steve Plunk

        Dean,

        Why not let the voters amend the constitution rather than “test drive” for annual sessions? It is clear annual sessions will need such an amendment and the three legislators all stated such a referral was eminent. A clear admission that there was no emergency and that eventually they would need an amendment is pretty clear evidence they are ignoring the constitution as it is.

        I don’t understand your logic on the second point. If I argue for a law to be passed to accomplish something that is respect for the rule of law. If I just said “ignore it” that is not respectful of the rule of law. That’s far from selective outrage and I’m a bit shocked you can’t see the difference. I would also appreciate your speculative thoughts concerning shifting arguments be withheld. A mind reader you are not and neither am I.

        The important issue here is the constitution being the people’s tool to manage it’s government. When the government chooses to blatantly ignore it as our legislature has admitted where do we go for redress? If they bend the rules just for their own convenience can we expect them to continue bending? It’s the small time politicians that are a threat to our liberties since it is they who are embodiments of the Peter Principle.

      • CRAWDUDE

        Bi-Annual sessions were found unconstitutional last week by a very liberal judge. The Majority did an end round on the constitution be declaing this an emergency session instead. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck….

        They could of course call an Emergency Session every year if they wanted I guess.

        I’m not sure where your comment came from , you’re probably just being your presumptuous self today. You had to have read a lot into my comment to come up with your response. Perhaps its microbrew time 😉 Go Pats!

      • Anonymous

        I know you love your government and the bigger the better. I hope you are as happy when they take it all away from you.

        They do not need any more time to screw us.

        • dean

          Steve…if the test driving itself is constitutional, which we will find out soon enough, then it is by definition legal correct? And as a practical matter, isn’ it fiscally prudent of our legislators to test out a limited annual session to see how well it accomplishes its goals BEFORE going to the time, expense (our tax money), and hassle factor of amending the constitution? I’m neither for nor against annual sessions or this particular session, but I just don’t see the harm in trying it out. Experimentation does require ‘bending,” or at least testing the limits of laws and rules. Its not like they are testing kidnapping laws by holding kids hostage. Cut them some slack.

          On the one hand, you are expressing shock over violation of a rule of law that may or may not have been violated on the principle that it might. On the other you supported a post facto amnesty for the telecom companies who may or may not have violated privacy laws, saying you think the law in question is inconsequential. Maybe you do not see an inconsistency here but I do, minus the power or interest to read your mind.

          Do “the people” really give a rip if our legislators spread their work out over 2 sessions? Who speaks for “the people” in this case? Larry George? We have elections. If “the people” really think this is a big issue they need only wait a few more months to exchange these bums for new bums.

          And by distrusting the “small time” politicians, aren’t you violating a core conservative principle that the best government is that which is closest to the people? I’m not reading your mind…just asking.

          CD…the liberal judge also chose to allow this session to go forward, with an expedited review by the Supremes. I would say the jury is still out on this one, and I for one won’t predict what the decision will be.

          Was I being presumptious? I will now have to go and look that up.

  • Bill Sizemore

    The court just ruled (on Saturday) that the special session can go forward, because there doesn’t have to be an emergency to have an emergency session. The court said all you need is for a majority of legislators in each chamber to say there is an emergency and the court will not second guess them, even if they are violating the constitution by using a fake emergency as an excuse to test drive annual sessions.

    Let’s stop pretending, folks. The Constitution only limits government when the left in Oregon wants it to. Otherwise they can simply make up the rules as they go along.

    Justice Gillette wrote the decision and essentiallysaid the legislature can more or less do whatever they want. It is time to either define what an emergency is, so we can hold them to it, or better yet, pass the measure Larry George and I are putting on the 2008 ballot, the one that requires a three-fourths vote of the House and Senate to declare an emergency. That would effectively put an end to this nonsense.

    • CRAWDUDE

      I’ll vote for that Amendment , then we won’t have to address this issue again.

      • dean

        Thanks to Mr Sizemore for the update. I disagree that the legislature declared a “fake emergency.” It sems to me what they did was use the lattitude provided in the emergency clause to spread their work out for reasons of their own. Can we ask Larry George for our wasted money back now? How many college scholarships could it have provided? How many sick kids could have been sent to se a doctor? How many state trooper salaries could have been paid?

        Since the Supremes have now said that the special session is indeed constitutional, and assuming they are the last word, then what is the point of putting the taxpayers through the expense of a ballot measure to change the constitution to limit the legislature from doing what it is legally entitled to do? Why not elect a legislature that is favorable to whatever odd, obtuse cause you all seem to be making out of this, so that in the meantime our elected representatives can focus on actual issues of substance.

        It is all getting a bit ridiculous. You lost. Have a beer and move on to something useful. Or not. Waste your time beating your collective heads against the wall if you like.

  • Anonymous

    “You lost. Have a beer and move on to something useful”

    We all lost. You’re just too foolish and dogmatically partisan to see it.

  • Anonymous #2

    As a conservative, I think the court got this one right.

    The legislature must have the authority to declare an emergency, and their decision should be a political question that is not reviewable by the courts. To do otherwise is to make it difficult and in some cases impossible for the legislature to actually deal with real emergencies (e.g. natural disasters, unexpected court interpretations etc.).

    We all know that the “emergency” declared by this legislature is a joke, but the solution isn’t to have some judge get involved – are we going to have fact finding and lawsuits every time the legislature declares an emergency? This conservative doesn’t want the Oregon Supreme Court deciding what constitutes an emergency – the last time I checked, the Oregon Supreme Court was second only to Bill Bradbury in making partisan hack decisions, and they aren’t accountable to anyone.

    To me, the answer is simple – I will not vote for any legislator who voted for this “emergency” session.

  • Dean is a a big fat liberal idiot

    “You lost. Have a beer and move on to something useful”

    We all lost. You’re just too foolish and dogmatically partisan to see it.
    ————-

    dean is a liberal troll. He might also be a big fat idiot.

    He is also a hypocrite. The Constitution is made to be bent and warped to fit the liberal agenda.

    And he is a big fat wrong idiot. The Supremes did declare the Special “Test Run” Session unconstitutional that was promulgated back in February. But since the legislature also sent out a letter in December declaring an emergency to discuss fiscal policy, that letter is grounds for the legislature to hold an emergency session. Just because they can hold the session this year, does not mean that the means that they used in the first place were unconstitutional. The second attempt was within the constitution, but still deceptive. We will see what the real vote by the people does to annual sessions.

    • dean

      Dean protests. A consultation with the morning mirror and bathroom scale suggests I am only a very slightly paunchy idiot, troll & hypoctrite.

      Get your facts straight!

  • Jerry

    I notice this politico who posted this nonsense has never been back to defend.
    Why am I not surprised?
    Is he hiding under his little desk in Salem???