The most wild day ever seen on the House Floor

“I have never seen anything like it” was the phrase everyone at the Capitol kept repeating after yesterday’s wild floor session. I was in the balcony as it all exploded. During the cigarette tax discussion, there were several debates over parliamentary procedure. At several junctures you had Rep. Krummel and Rep. Richardson yelling across the floor trying to be heard over the House Speaker’s motions. Both lawmakers demanding explanations for violations or explanations on the rules before things proceeded as they proceeded. Rep. Jenson grew frustrated over being ignored over his repeated signaling to be heard. When Jenson’s moment to speak came he said he “had no idea what was going on”, as Jenson continued the Speaker then tried to cut him off. As the senior member of the House and as a man who is measured in his words, Jenson deserved better treatment.

To cap off the bizarre incident, the final vote on the controversial bill had Rep. Lim NOT voting. Rep. Lim said he was denied a chance to be heard, and refused to vote until he was. The rules specially demand lawmakers to vote with no allowance for either non-voting or abstentions (rumor has it that this law was put into place in the 90’s when then Rep. Thompson tried to do the same thing). The floor was caught frozen in time in the middle of a vote where no other motions or actions could be taken. This caused the lawmakers to be stuck for nearly two-hours in limbo, as they could not leave the floor. Some played cards while Rep. Tom Butler rolled out a sleeping bag and slept on the House floor (picture here).

After a marathon wait, the House Speaker Merkley did the right thing by calling again upon Rep. Lim to give his vote. Rep. Lim said he WAS going to vote, just not “YET”. The Speaker finished the vote count without him. In protest, Rep. Lim said he was going to remain in his seat for the next 72 hours. As of 7:00 that night when I left the Capitol, Rep. Lim was still at his desk. I don’t fully understand what happened with Lim on the floor, but not voting is a serious matter! Rep. Lim needs to issue a clear statement on what occurred. You just cannot not vote.

If all this seems confusing, well so am I. I can sympathize with Rep. Merkley at times for trying to move the process forward, while at other times he seemed to over-reach. More details can be seen here. It was truly a day like no one has seen before at the Capitol.

  • beleveitornot

    Sounds like a frat party instead of good government. Republicans voted for big tobacco over Oregon’s 100,000 uninsured children’s health. Every Republican who voted to protect the profits of big tobacco will live with their vote come election time. Media ads stating something like, “R-Representative Sal Esquivel (HD6) voted NO to providing health care to Oregon’s uninsured children. He supported big tobacco profits instead.” Cue picture of a cancer filled lung with smoke rings.

    • Senatortom

      Mark Nelson is a powerful lobbyist for the tobacco companies. Let’s face it, he gets results. The voters in this state continue to select people who they have absolutely no idea as to what that person stands for. They select based on name, looks, or, perish the thought, some of the nice things they say about themselves in the voters’ pamphlet statement. Amazing this so-called democracy has lasted this long.

      Whether we fund childrens’ health programs or not, I’m always surprised Republicans can rationalize making marijuana illegal, while knowing tobacco kills countless thousands of people a year, yet can blindly follow behind those tobacco companies begging for campaign contributions. I received money from tobacco companies when I was running for office, but it came mostly unrequested. They just liked my libertarian philosophy so they sent me money. I still told Nelson if there were a cigarette tax increase I would vote for it. I did support their stand on allowing restaurants to decide whether or not they should have a total ban on smoking, or allow designated smoking areas. I hate having government decide that for us. And yes, my total consumption of tobacco in my life is about 3 puffs when I was 10, and I determined smoking was the dumbest thing humans could do.

    • Anonymous

      And every Democrat who voted for this will be hit with something like”Rep. Clem voted to raise your taxes and kill children.”

      It’s a two way street, and the Dems lost out on this one.

    • Steve Plunk

      Big tabacco, uninsured children, profits, I’m crying so hard I can hardly type.

      How about fiscal discipline and understanding that it is possible to decrease revenues if you tax too high.

      The taxing of cigarettes impacts the poor disproportionately. Politicians should either make them illegal or quit taxing them. Dealing with devil the way they do cheapens every thing they say about smoking.

    • Chris McMullen

      How about the concept of parents providing insurance for their children? Didja ever think about that one, Nancy?

      You nanny-staters are such hypocrites. You want government out of a woman’s right to kill their unborn child, but want government to provide a child’s healthcare. You claim Bush has violated our 1st amendment rights, but you want government to ban smoking.

      You should go visit Cuba or Venezuela and see how happy their people are.

  • Discusted

    I am so glad there isn’t a single american on welfare sucking up the money. Honey, Look around you. Nothing so wrong with a tobacco tax, but there is a lot wrong with our legislature, democrats and republicans and the governor

  • Jason W.

    Of 40 states that raised their cigarette taxes, only 8 came within projection. Taxing a diminsihing product is bad policy, especially when you tie to a long-term project like children’s health care. Over-taxing tobacco puts the entire tax revenue at risk. We need more people in Salem who are willing to balance a solid budget versus play taxaholic politics.

  • anonymous

    I say ban tobacco instead of taxing it. Tobacco is the single most significant contributor to poor health, poor children are more likely to be in homes where they are exposed to high levels of second hand smoke, poor parents are more likely to be spending a large percentage of their income on tobacco instead of children’s health care, and this is all PREVENTABLE if people just couldn’t buy smokes. Treat smokes like meth. Take kids away from parents who smoke illegally.

    If there is still an ongoing need for more children’s health care after this, then look at general fund money and budget accordingly.

    • Oh Oh Oh

      If our politicians were any where near as hard on meth as they are on tobacco, I’d agree with you. But then they can’t be that hard on drugs, it would interfere with their supply

  • believeitornot

    I am certain there will be a second look at the Healthy Kids Plan.This will force the Republicans to put their money where their mouth is as far as identifying new funding sources besides the tobacco tax.

  • Jerry

    The point is you don’t need a “healthy” kids plan. Period. How did society survive for 1000’s of years without one if it is so needed?
    What a bunch of total fools and morons.
    If it is for the children it must be good, right?
    Oh, whatever shall we do?
    The sky is falling!
    Help us someone, help us!!!

  • Anonymous

    The Legislature wouldn’t behave this badly if it wasn’t for our ugly experience with term limits that cleared out our best lawmakers. This group just needs a little more time in office, they’ll figure it out.


    Term limis had nothing to do with our current crop of morons, inbreeding apparently did… 😉

  • anonymous

    I think the big concern is that the cigarette tax will not cover health care for all children. Because it wont…It’s going to require additional funding. And before you know it we’ll be right back where we started like the Oregon Health Plan. And I agree we should all take responsibility for our kids NOT JUST SMOKERS!!! How about a gas tax???? A fast food tax??? No I have it…A public bathroom tax!!! 🙂