Legislature Earns Flunking Grade”¦But There Is Hope
By Rep. Vic Gilliam,
Last week the 2010 “test” session of the Oregon Legislature ended with a debate on a resolution to approve annual sessions. Incredibly, this is a quote from that discussion:
Legislator: Mr. Speaker I will be a yes on the resolution but we are going entirely in the wrong direction.
We just finished the 2nd of two tests (the other was held in 2008) as an “experiment” that was triggered by a 2006 citizen commission urging Oregon to try on annual sessions for size. This one ended in a bitter dispute over the number of days in each session that we should recommend via constitutional referral to voters. With few notable exceptions it was as embarrassing as it was expensive to taxpayers. The final floor fight was not between Republicans and Democrats but rather it turned into an ugly battle of wills between House Speaker Hunt and Senate President Courtney. These two powerhouses are both members of the same party now ruling the legislature and the governorship”¦ and the White House, and the Congress”¦but I digress.
In this recession our legislative appetite was again insatiable as we passed nearly 100 bills, increased state spending by 30 million dollars while creating 200 government jobs to implement our penchant for policy over common sense. This was done while jobs in the private sector vanished and businesses made plans to move out of Oregon.
I question the legality of these meetings in the first place but even if you agree with the 2006 commission that we should be experimenting in even numbered years, who should be evaluating the success of these 2 “tests” and when should the analysis come?
We apparently answered these questions yesterday by declaring that the legislature evaluates itself, congratulates itself on a job well done and even before the final gavel is pounded, seemingly proclaim itself victors over inefficiency, joblessness and all that ails Oregon.
Good grief! Where is the analysis? Where is the independent thinking and the perspective that comes with a reasonable passage of time and careful examination of facts by qualified non-partisan observers?
I give this so called test a flunking grade. But there is hope — under the constitution we’re required to refer our puffed up evaluation of ourselves to the people for a vote. For if we are to expand legislators reach to annual legislative sessions it takes a constitutional change. And that is up to you. I hope you will read the ballot title carefully and study the issue this November. Unlike the legislator that I quoted earlier, you can count on my NO vote when I know we are “going entirely in the wrong direction.”
Vic Gilliam State Representative