Dems fail in attempted political payoff to trial lawyers


Oregon Senate Republican Office

Democrats turn closing days of session into chaos and partisanship

Salem, OR – Senate Democrat leaders forced a polarizing and controversial bill to the Senate floor on Thursday morning, despite bipartisan opposition and numerous compromise proposals. The action of Senate Democrat leaders has jeopardized the cooperative spirit and bipartisan reputation of Oregon’s upper chamber.

“This is clearly political positioning,” said Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day). “Over the past eighteen months Republicans and Democrats have worked hard to reach consensus-based solutions to some of the most difficult issues our state faces. But in one day, Democrat leadership has done significant damage to those months of careful bipartisanship and hard work.”

Senate Republicans warned President Courtney (D-Salem) that if his caucus insists on making the last few days of session about political posturing, Republicans can and will respond with procedural motions that bring good legislation abandoned by Democrats to the Senate floor.

“Republicans want to close out the 2014 session in the same spirit of cooperation that brought such success in 2013,” said Ferrioli. “But Democrats want to make this a game of ‘who can embarrass the other party more.'”

Despite repeated warnings that it would fail on the Senate floor and numerous Republican offers to reach a compromise, Senate Democrat leaders insisted on forcing a vote on House Bill 4143 on Thursday. After a bitter floor fight, the bill failed with a bipartisan coalition of Senators opposing the legislation.

The bill, which purported to fund Legal Aid, would do little to fix the four years of cuts to Legal Aid enacted by a Democrat majority. Republicans proposed a $2 million general fund appropriation to help provide legal services for the poor, but Democrats refused.

House Bill 4143 would also have given trial lawyers, major Democrat campaign supporters, a substantial pay day thanks to increased attorney fees.

  • Jack Lord God

    You know, I think legal aid should be funded at vastly higher levels than is current. I actually have two friends who are judges, and I was shocked when I found that legal aid requires fairly strong evidence of poverty in order to qualify.

    This is wrong. If some poor schlub is sued or brought in on a criminal charge, I see no reason why he should have to sell his house and all he owns to pay legal fees when someone who rents has it all paid for. Where is the justice in that?

    What is the moral argument that someone who makes minimum wage and has no real assets gets free legal representation to sue, but someone with moderate assets, say $10k in home equity, has to be reduced to selling his house in order to get legal representation and thus render himself as impoverished as the first case?

    It makes no sense, and it especially makes no sense in the case of the state bringing a civil action against someone.

    The state can sue the person of little means, and they will get legal aid. The person with moderate means gets no such privilege, has to sell everything he owns to pay lawyers.

    That’s not right. Personally I would dedicate all legal aid to criminal cases as the first priority. I would rather that a person not have to sell their house to defend against a criminal charge, than the person with no assets have access to legal aid to sue in a civil action.

  • My2Bits

    So I went thru the vote-smart website, with a list of Oregon State senators on my Excel spreadsheet, looking to see who the lawyer lobbyists donated to. Results?

    Democratic Senate: $197,562
    Republican Senate: $21,564

    No wonder the democrats were so anxious to get this bill passed!

  • Myke

    It would also help that in the cases of criminal complaint, that the state should have to pay for the defense should an acquittal result. In civil suits, loser should pay. Might defer unfair or excessive court actions.

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