Short Session illusions: What you didn’t see

By Taxpayers Association of Oregon

The Oregon Short Legislative Session had some good bills pass and much bipartisanship.  The Oregonian heralded “landmark changes drew support from most Democrats and most Republicans – a big change from recent sessions”.

Yet, however refreshing and helpful this was — it may prove to be fleeting and an illusion.

Here is why:

• The Oregon House Speaker Dan Rayfield was on his best behavior, because he is running for Attorney General and ballots get mailed out next month.   His top Republican challenger, Will Lathrop, has already raised nearly a half million.

• The Senate President, Rob Wagner, was on his best behavior because he blew up the Senate last year when 10 Oregon Senate Republican Senators walked out of the building in protest.   Those Senators believed so strongly that the bills at stake were so extreme, so rushed and that the whole Legislative process had become grossly unfair and undemocratic, that they were willing to risk being disqualified again for running for office.   Those 2023 actions shaped the 2024 Legislature.

• Governor Tina Kotek was on her best behavior because she was kinda absent.  Governor Tina Kotek started the year with a press release touting that she was proud to have submitted only one major agenda item for the entire Session.  Kotek is very hands off.  That is why last year she waited until 300 bills piled on her desk before making a public statement asking the public to help her decide if she should vote yes or no on each bill.   We did a cartoon on that.

• Finally, the Capitol was flush with cash.  Lawmakers get along when record breaking revenues come in and exceed projections.  Kotek started the year with a surprise $600 million surplus.  The lawmakers spent the surplus.  What will happen when the Legislature doesn’t receive record-breaking revenue as they are accustomed to for the past 10 years?

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