2017 Legistlative Session Half Way Point
Oregon State Legislature sent this bulletin at 04/21/2017 03:10 PM PDT
News From Oregon State Representative Bill Post
Tuesday April 18 was an important date in this session. That was the “deadline day” for bills to be passed out of the originating chamber committee in either the House or the Senate. That means there was much wailing and crying and “gnashing of teeth” as hundreds of bills died or were sent to a certain death in either Rules Committee or Ways and Means. For me personally, most of my bills were already dead but I had hope for a couple of them (specifically some pro-gun bills including one that would have repealed SB 941!) and that was dashed on Tuesday as well. However, thanks to a couple of very kind and generous fellow Representatives, I as allowed to “co-chief” sponsor 4 bills that are still alive! So even though they are not “my bills” as in I was the writer or originator of these bills, I was allowed to sign onto them as “co-chief” so that I could champion them as if they were my own! I wanted to take a bit of this newsletter to tell you about them. (Click on bill number highlighted for a link to each bill)
HB 2598 – Expands offense of vehicular assault to include contact with motorcycle, motorcycle operator or motorcycle passenger. As a biker, I was no aware that there was no law concerning “reckless endangerment” of motorcyclists! So I thank Rep. Olson and Barker for letting me be a “co-chief” sponsor and I have the honor of “carrying” the bill on the House floor sometime next week.
HB 2570 – Directs Oregon Housing and Community Services to establish the Affordable Home Ownership Grant Program (read the summary HERE) This time I thank Rep. Witt for allowing me to “co-chief” sponsor this possible solution to the affordable housing situation in Oregon. The bill is in Ways and Means currently.
HB 2961 – Establishes Homeownership Repair and Rehabilitation Program within Housing and Community Services Department to provide grants to eligible nonprofit organizations to provide financial assistance to persons in low income households for repair and rehabilitation of residences. (Read the summary HERE)
Again I thank Rep. Witt for allowing me to “co-chief” sponsor this possible solution to the affordable housing situation in Oregon. The bill is in Ways and Means currently.
HB 3428 – Enrolls specified public employees in coordinated care organizations. (Read the summary HERE) I thank Rep. Parrish for allowing me to sign on as “co-chief” sponsor. This bill is now in Rules Committee.
So those are what I’m working on currently and now in the House we prepare to face the Senate bills that are on their way over to us in our Committees (again I serve on Judiciary, Economic Development and Trade and the Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committees).
Often I’m asked “what has surprised you the most about going from “radio guy” to legislator?” I have to tell a story about what happened in my Judiciary Committee on “deadline day” that really illustrates how those of you OUTSIDE of the Capitol really aren’t aware of all that goes on here.
During that committee meeting on the deadline day, the committee hearing was interrupted multiple times. The door would crack open and a hand would poke through, beckoning to the Chair/Vice Chair. They would stop the committee, go out into the hall and meet with the staff of the majority party caucus. They would then come back in and either kill the bill, group of bills or work it, depending on how they were instructed. This is only my third session so I don’t have a lot to compare to, but I’ve asked some of the senior members and they’ve never seen anything quite like this. It was very annoying, very “un-democracy” and downright rude!
This is the kind of thing that the average voter has no idea actually happens. Instead of the 11 people on that committee discussing the issue, listening to testimony and coming to a decision, the House Speaker in a backroom makes the decision and runs the proceedings.
I don’t want to sound like I am blaming a particular party here – either party is capable of bending the rules and hijacking the true deliberative process we were sent to the Capitol to conduct. In the Oregon House, 60 representatives are each elected by about the same number of Oregonians. Should ONE of those representatives squelch the voice of the other 59? This is why elections are so important – again, not to elect a specific party, but to elect people who have solid principles and are committed to letting every voice be heard in the democratic process. Here is my agenda sheet for that day where you can see just how confusing it got….marked out, then circled cause it was back, then checked off, then scratched out again…it was crazy.