Editorial hits it home on Legislature failure

This is a must-read editorial from the Albany Democrat Herald

Albany Democrat Herald, Editorial,April 29, 2009

Oregon employment officials estimate that a quarter million people in this state were unemployed last month. The official jobless rate is 12.9 percent, a little less if you adjust it seasonally. From last March to last month, more than 90,000 payroll jobs in Oregon went poof. You would think such numbers would galvanize the legislature into a crash program to encourage employment. Aside from borrowing money to launch the series of public works projects, with a goal of 3,000 jobs, it has done no such thing. Instead, it continues with business as usual.

The Ways and Means Committee is traveling around the state seeking input on budget decisions. The House tax committee wants to cancel tax breaks enacted over the years to spur business and economic growth. The two chambers and their committees still consider various ways to add to the regulations that oppress Oregon life.

The legislature could at least look as though it realized that there is trouble, and not just in the state budget.

The governor and legislators could support federal plans to step up forest management and logging. Instead they oppose it.

The legislature could rescind its 2007 ban on near-shore oil exploration and offer a prize to any driller who found some.

Such actions would not show immediate results, but they would show that Oregon is interested in creating jobs.

They could vote to cut through the red tape and authorize private construction of the Bradwood Landing LNG terminal.

Lawmakers might also suspend a whole slew of employment laws with the eye toward making it easier to hire people in an uncertain economy.

What we get instead are bills adding to the penal laws and outlawing abuses as gross as using a cell phone in your car. And if employers happen to run afoul of an environmental law, the attorney general wants to put them in jail.