by Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg)
The “Short Session” of the Legislature began Monday, and I thought I would start out with a little history.
Several years ago there was a general feeling the Legislature should meet every year and for limited time frames. This came about after two Sessions which lasted until the middle or end of August. The original thought was to have the odd year Session last 160 days and the even year Session 60 days. The thought was the long Session would be for the big policy issues and the short Session for more technical adjustments.
The problem with that plan was it pushed the short Session into the primary election cycle. The best solution would have been to move the primary further out, which would have had other benefits because having 6 months between the primary and general elections is way too much of a time gap. Unfortunately the decision was made to limit the Short Session to 35 days. There was also a general agreement that no big issues would be dealt with in such a short time frame. That is actually how it worked two years ago.
For the 2016 Session that agreement is being totally ignored. There are several major issues, which I will get into in subsequent newsletters, that are being brought forward this Session that we have no business dealing with in this time frame. Everything from cap and trade to minimum wage. I think the reason this is happening is because the Democrats have a super majority in the Senate, are one short of that number in the House and have a willing Governor.
In reality there is not much that can be done to stop them from passing whatever they want.
What makes this even worse is that the time frame limits the public’s access to the system. In the normal course of legislative events there is a 48 hour notice requirement for hearing on bills. During the long Session that ends when the Senate president declares that we are “Sine Die Eminent.” At that point hearings are held with only a one hour notice. During the long Session that is usually about two weeks from the end. This year it will be the 15th day of the Session. In addition all bills have to be out of the committee of origin by the 11th day, which means there will be very limited opportunities for input. Another thing that will happen in this scenario is that a lot of policy issues will be decided in the Ways and Means Committees, which is also a violation of the rules.
No matter which side of any issues you are on, you should be very upset that this is happening. To not allow adequate time and opportunity for public input on major issues is a violation of everything we are supposed to stand for.
I have been serving in the minority for a long time, but I have never seen it this bad.
I have disagreed with a lot of what has happened over the years, but at least most of it was done it the light of day. I hope you are as upset at this blatant violation on not just the rules but the public trust we are about to see happen this month.