Standing On Principle

By Rep. E. Werner Reschke

To say the political divide in Salem is deep and wide would be the understatement of the new decade. Democrat leaders in Oregon share a common worldview with Sen. Bernie Sanders and his fellow socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, where the Green New Deal, Medicare For All, and Sweeping Gun Control Reforms must become law or the world will soon end as we know it. Republicans not only reject these ideas — as they will put in jeopardy our freedoms, our future and our prosperity — State Republicans object to the unfair process being used to try and pass such legislation in Salem.

This past week, I chose to leave a committee early, before a vote, in a strong gesture of protest along with two of my House Republican colleagues. We were being forced to vote on one of three versions of Cap and Trade bills introduced just two weeks ago. This 69 page bill had never been discussed, debated, or received any public input. This by itself is an abuse of the process. It is using majority power to get a pre-determined outcome, obfuscating Oregon’s deliberative (slow, methodical) and transparent (public input) committee process to get the best outcome. As most know, I am not afraid to take a stand and vote no. In addition, I will not stand for the Oregon’s legislative process being run over. This specific process is in place to ensure robust debate, amendments and scrutiny — protecting all Oregonians.

Oregon’s legislative short session ends in less than three weeks. That said, I believe we are in the midst of an epic political crisis. Tensions are high at the Capitol. According to Oregon’s Constitution, there is nothing the legislature is required to accomplish during this session. New bills and major legislation are meant for long session. However, the leading Democrat party is cramming major new legislation into short session, something it was never intended for. Collaboration, finding common ground, and working  together has become an extremely rare commodity. Much of this political crisis has to do with the super majority status of Democrats. They act as if their 60% majority gives them control to do anything they want, at any time, for any reason. That is incorrect. The Constitution requires 67% — two-thirds of members in both chambers — before any legislative business can move forward. It’s important to note that Democrats are two members short of that number in both the Oregon House and Oregon Senate. That means they need Republicans to join them to move any legislative business forward. Unfortunately, there has been little effort by Democrats to engage Republicans in any meaningful conversation on key issues — nothing genuine, nothing substantive.

Republican legislators refuse to be run over by bullying tactics of Democrats in an abuse of the legislative process. Republicans will do what it takes — within the constraints of the constitution — to ensure the values that made Oregon great are protected, as well as the future for all Oregonians.

My social media pages have seen a surge of activity expressing support for my exit from the Energy and Environment Committee, and to continue standing firm. I encourage all Oregonians to educate themselves on the key issues of our time (beyond bumper sticker slogans) and to become involved in the political process. 

In 1775 Samuel Adams wrote about the very dangers of an uninformed people, who did not pay attention to their elected officials and strayed from the moral path. “When people are universally ignorant, and debauched in their manners, they will sink under their own weight without the aid of foreign invaders.” I encourage us to do everything we can to avoid this pitfall.

It is an honor to serve as the State Representative for the people of southern Klamath & Lake Counties. I pledge to do my best to protect our life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, rural values and livelihood.

E. Werner Reschke is a State Representative representing House District 56, Southern Klamath and Lake counties.