Oregon Special Session: A bolder set of priorities

The Oregon Senate Republicans issued a statement of their priorities for the “special” session. It is a laudable, but unremarkable, list given the fact that the Senate Democrats outnumber them by a two-to-one margin. What that means in “political fact” is that none of their proposals will be given a hearing. Even those proposals with which the Democrats cannot find fault will either be consigned to Senate President Peter Courtney’s bottom drawer, or re-crafted and introduced by a Democrat. That’s the nature of politics in today’s Oregon legislature. The legislators are more concerned with “advantage” than solutions.

The problem with their proposals is that there is nothing bold in them — nothing that excites the passions of voters or addresses one of the critical problems of the state. For instance, there is no tax reform — nothing that addresses Oregon’s repressive capital gains tax or burdensome inheritance tax. There is nothing to change the status quo on Oregon’s failing K-12 education system. Nothing innovative to shift the resources of the state back to improving and expanding the traffic capacity of our roads and bridges — say by scaling back or eliminating completely Portland’s obsession with the continuing heavily subsidized and growing light rail system.

But most importantly, there is nothing to address the continuing problem of illegal aliens. Yes, I know that the Senate Republicans intend to deal with the problem of issuing driver’s licenses to illegals but even Gov. Kulongoski has come to the realization that that needs to be addressed — albeit more because Oregon is in danger of losing federal money than that it is simply wrong for the government to reward criminal behavior by issuing licenses. And while eliminating the ability of illegals to obtain driver’s licenses will assist in mitigating voter fraud and increase national security, it will do little in deterring illegals from continuing to enter.

It the Republicans want to retake control of Oregon’s legislature they need to do more than offer laudable but unremarkable programs. They need to forcefully identify the problems of the state and move boldly to secure a solution.

And the best place to begin is addressing the continuing and growing problem of illegal aliens in Oregon. There are several things that can be done. First, they can force the state to accurately account for the cost imposed by the growing presence of illegals. The people of Oregon are entitled to an accurate accounting of how much of their tax dollars are being diverted to support illegals, at least in the big three areas: the cost of education for illegal and the children of illegals, the welfare costs of illegals and the healthcare costs of illegals. That will set the stage and provide the justification for eliminating extension of those benefits to illegals in the 2009 regular session.

Second, they can begin addressing the real cause of the growing migration of illegals — employment by unscrupulous businesses that routinely prey on those who cannot protest for fear of being deported. The solution here is not difficult. The legislature can simply require that all employers verify the status of its employees. The easiest method is to utilize the Social Security Administration (SSA) to ensure that an employees Social Security Number and name match — the SSA provides this service free and can review up to 250,000 employees on an overnight basis.

The fine should be significant for violating this requirement the first time — say $10,000 per employee not verified. The second offense should be terminal — the business loses its license. In addition, employers should be barred from deducting the wages of any employee who is not verified for determining its income tax liability each year.

I’m usually not a fan of blaming someone other than the criminal for his/her action. But in this case, the raison d’être for the presence of illegals is their ability to gain employment in the United States. Until we shut off that opportunity, all of the other remedies will be Band-Aids for what amounts to arterial bleeding.

So, to our Republican friends in the House and Senate, be bold. Attack the big problems with workable solutions. Remember that this is a default Democrat state and unless you give voters a reason to vote Republican, they will default to the Democrats.

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Posted by at 06:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 18 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Rick Hickey

    Excellent article. I hope Republican leadership is reading this.

    Our Ballot #112-Respect for Law Act, may help in that many registered D’s are going to contact their D representative and ask him/her to make it happen in the capitol and may help R’s get some where on this.

    The fact the that the U.S. Senate has failed to get Amnesty several times this year and with NY & Licenses to Illegals stopped, should be enough proof of what the people want.

  • Alan

    Only bold ideas will get people excited and begin to start word-of-mouth action. I fathom that the status quo fears such boldness. Even talking about it.


    This special session is just a way for the pols to pick up a little extra cash in their pay checks. It sounds like the liberals are going to introduce a bunch of pansy bills that ty to dilute various initiatve movements.

    Here’s a couple things to tackle: Get rid of our sanctuary for illegal aliens status( the majority of American want the sent home), reduce the waste in government!

  • Richard Brown

    With the mess the state is in immigration is hardly a problem. I guarantee you if we concentrate on the immigration issue we will lose the business, vote, the Hispanic vote the evangelical vote. Instead of a two to one, we will have tree to one disadvantage. Bashing Mexicans does not work. Look at California starting with the assembly and Pete Wilson. Republicans need get back principles that gave us Reagan: limited government and strong defense. On the state level we should be limiting welfare, state, which the underlining cost, of immigration. Mexican workers are not the problem it is state giveaway programs to all workers legal or otherwise. Other than that, get the hell out of the consumer and business face. The person whom the farmer hires is none of government business.
    You do not have a right to a job because you are American. If you think you do, start your own business or farm.


      No where in my comment did I say illegals were soley Mexican; of the estimated 12-20 million illegals in the country 30% are from non-hispanic countries. As we pour our resorces into these illegal aliens and their offspring it’s that much less we have for our own needy.

      Say only 10% (I believe it’s much higher) of our state and local budget goes to illegals in way of benefits, crime, school resources, emergency room visits and unpaid user fees etc… That’s enough to re-pave many roads repair bridges, insure more kids and take care of our less advantaged people and then some.

      Illegals are the cause of all our problems but until they are removed from the equation it is almost impossible to start solving them. Sending them home should be our first priority.

      • Crawdude

        I meant to say ” Illegals aren’t the cause of all our problems” sorry for the typo.

      • Richard Brown Not affrad to use my real name.

        The government should have only a very limited role in helping the needy . Disaster relief should be the only government role. Besides I thing the money spend on illegals is small compared to the rest of America. The only 12 million and I can tell you only a very small percent would get government assistance.

        Our goal should not be getting rid of Mexicans but ending the welfare state for all.

    • Anonymous

      As a business person, I understand very much what you said. The law is so tough for an alien to achieve work status in the US, they do come illegally. I’m not excusing American business. Please understand that.

      Because I have had first hand experience trying to help an alien legally cross the border, I can tell you, it is impossible. The only way available to a national with no or little education to come into our country legally is to
      1. Marry an american citizen, this can take from 2 to 4 years. 2.Have a parent or sibling that is an americal citizen apply to have you come in.
      3 Be a rocket scientist and be able to do something no american can do.
      4.Come in on a work permit.

      A work permit is only available to work in the fields for a short time, or if the individual wants to work and stay and possible become a citizen is to have the employer request him or her. There comes the next impossible task. Going through a bunch of hoops that are intended to cause your application to be turned down, the individual requesting entry must be able to do what nobody else can do. This includes even being a dishwasher, which I can assure you is beneath most americans.
      5. Assylum

      I strongly agree illegal entry needs to be stopped, but unless we can offer some kind of an alternative, that will fail. The guest worker program was introduced, I’m very much for that. Not amnesty.

      I dare anybody to try to get an alien in to work for you.

      • CRAWDUDE

        I’ve never heard anyone give me a good reason why we’d want someone with no or little education to immigrate into our country , which is why it’s probably harder for them to immigrate legally.

        Our laws are set up to allow a good portion of legal immigrants on a yearly basis, they are screened for disease and criminal backgrounds for the safety of our citizens. That’s how it should be, without that control we risk gaining more bad than good, such as the mass amounts of gang members here illegally, stealing, robbing and killing legal citizens. Here is just one example:


        • Anonymous

          Are you aware that probably 75 percent of people coming into this country illegally, come because of the vast amounts of money they can make off American drug addicts and yes even casual users.

          My experience has been that alien workers run circles around Americans, in desire, quality of work and dependability. I am talking about the ones that actually are looking for a better life. American workers as a group have developed a lazy, you owe it to me attitude. I see a really good reason for a guest worker program, legally.

          Now for the drug dealers,
          1.I believe if there was an avenue for unskilled aliens to achieve skills in our country, it would reduce the amount of manpower needed to work the border, because the pressure would be lessened and there would be control as to the ones coming in.

          2.Our country very badly needs to do something about the drug problem in our country. If the market isn’t as prolific, guess who will go some where else to market their drugs.

          3.I have always been against legalizing drugs, but if, just if, it were legal, there would be more control. That would give the libs something to go after. If they were as adament about drugs as they are about smoking, a lot could be done to control drugs. Besides it would give the government something to tax and maybe leave the rest of us alone, unless they’re afraid they’ll lose their own supplies.

          • CRAWDUDE

            We’ll have to agree to disagree 🙂

  • Ashland
  • Anonymous

    November 13, 2007
    GOP armed with long schedule
    By Chris Rizo
    Ashland Daily Tidings

    SALEM — When the state Legislature reconvenes on Feb. 4, Republicans hope to tackle a range of issues, including tying driver’s license eligibility to drivers’ status and devoting more money to looking at the state’s land use laws.

    The House and Senate Republicans’ policy agenda also includes plans to restore funding for senior home care, give Eastern Oregon farmers more Columbia River irrigation water and create a new office to audit government spending and state agency performance.

    State Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, questioned why his caucus is proposing such a long list of proposals that have little chance of passing the Democrat-controlled Legislature given the short special session.

    “The only thing that we should be doing in my opinion is taking care of any financial crisis we have or any real pending crises,” Esquivel said in an interview last week. “Most of this stuff is going to have to wait until the ’09 session when we have time to get some good input from the public and get the wrinkles ironed out.”

    The Democratic leadership has no plans to delve into deep policy initiatives during the 2008 Supplemental Legislative Session, but instead will focus on a “short and specific” policy agenda, said House Majority Whip Peter Buckley of Ashland.

    Buckley, a senior member of the House Democratic leadership team, said his caucus has not yet released its official to-do list, but noted that it is unlikely that “earth-shattering” legislation would emerge. In addition to pressing budget adjustments, bills that have bipartisan support would likely be considered during the micro-session, Buckley said.

    Like Esquivel, he said there is no time in the 26-day session to address the state’s land-use laws in any meaningful way, but said Democrats share the Republicans’ desire to have the Land Use Task Force, also known as the “Big Look Commission,” reinvigorated.

    According to Buckley, among issues likely to be considered during the one-month session: measures aimed at easing counties’ cash crunch in the absence of federal timber subsidies, aid to homeowners affected by the subprime mortgage crisis and increasing funding for the Oregon State Police, which both parties agree are a priority.

    The State Police, which lacks funding to provide 24/7 coverage of the state’s highways, has seen its ranks eroded by years of budget cuts. In 1976, the last year Oregon’s gasoline tax directly funded the state police, there were 660 troopers, 40 of whom patrolled Jackson County. Today, only 11 state troopers patrol Jackson County, and the agency has a local presence of 20 hours a day.

    During the 2007 Legislature, Esquivel introduced a bill that would have imposed a nickel-a-beer tax to give the Oregon State Police a dedicated funding source so the agency can resume around-the-clock patrols but the proposal foundered amid a lack of interest among Democrats and GOP objections to approving any tax increases.

    This time, Esquivel said he has a better idea: one that his fellow Republicans could support. He wants to funnel to the State Police Patrol Division the $140 million in fees that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission collects each two-year budget cycle so the department can hire more troopers.

    “The good part about this is that if we set this up correctly, for legislators to take the money from the State Police, which they have been doing for 35 years, what they’ll have to do is pass a bill through the House, through the Senate and have it signed by the governor before they can touch their money,” Esquivel said.

    Buckley, meanwhile, has said that Democrats will likely push to take $4.5 million from the two-year budget cycle’s ending balance to pay for the additional 39 troopers that the department needs in order to provide 24-hour service throughout the state until lawmakers meet for their regular 2009 session.

    Also like Republicans, Buckley, chairman of the House Education Committee, said he would like to see the Legislature reconsider a proposal brought forth by the Chalkboard Project that would have funded ongoing professional development for public school K-12 teachers and administrators.

    The proposal, which stalled in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, would have created so-called “centers of excellence” aimed at giving every school district in the state access to the latest and cutting-edge teacher trainings, Buckley said.

    “The price tag is what raised eyebrows on the Senate side,” Buckley said. “We’re going to look at new ways to get this through. We just need to make sure that this is a sustainable program.”

    Chris Rizo covers the state Legislature for the Daily Tidings. He can be reached at [email protected].

  • Anon

    House and Senate agenda = GOOD

    Esquivel = NO SO MUCH

    It sounds strange to say this but the Tidings make the Republican agenda sounds pretty smart, well reasoned, and like the Democrats have no answer for their ideas.

    As for Esquivel, what is that guys smoking?

  • Steven

    The payback for political (demoflap) corruption in the legislature will be that the voters will kick your ass out of office and put a worthless republican’t) in your place. Wopi we still loose, don’t you feel better now? Less government is the best government.

  • Ted Kennedy’s Liver

    What a bunch of dum****s.

    The House and Senate Republicans mut be the only ones who don’t see the obvious trap being laid.

    Let’s see if I can spell it out in terms a three year old, or most of our elected Republicans, can understand:

    1. The Democrats control the house and senate

    2. With control of the legislature, the D’s control what is brought to the floor for vote.

    3. The D’s need a quorum to pass legislation

    4. If stupid R’s show up for the “emergency” session the will give the D’s the quorum they need.

    5. When stupid R’s show up, the D’s will pass a blizzard of taxes, fees, regulations and restrictions on freedom that will be the wet dream of socialists everywhere.

    If our R’s had any balls or brains they’d boycott the “emergency” session.

    • Liver Transplany


      if the D’s apss their blizard o taxes, fees, regulations, and restrictions on freedoms how exactly will that be a trap lad for R’s. That sounds like a trap laid for D’s.

      am i wrong?


      This isn’t about having a 2nd session, it’s about making the Oregon a full time legislature so the members can be paid more. It’s a self-serving idea propagated by the DNC’ers and supported by the GOP’ers.

      The GOP will show up cuz they wanna get paid and don’t really care what happens to the rest of us.

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