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Q&A: Legislators Ready To Call It A Day

OPB | March 7, 2014 5:06 p.m. | Updated: March 10, 2014 9:26 a.m. | Salem, Oregon

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The Oregon Legislature is just about to wrap up its 2014 session. The final gavel could fall any minute now after 33 days of work.

Lawmakers largely steered clear of hot-button social issues and instead focused on minor policy changes and adjusting state agency budgets. Joining us now from the state capitol building is Chris Lehman.

Q:  Where do things stand at the moment?

A: They’re dotting the final I’s and crossing the final T’s right now… the final moments of a legislative session seem to drag on forever. But it looks as though the session will wrap up in the next 15 minutes or so. Interestingly, one of the reasons they’re still in session this afternoon is that so many members of the house, 13 altogether, are leaving after this session. So that led to more than an hour of farewell speeches from state lawmakers, including the dean of the House, Pendleton Republican Bob Jenson, who’s stepping down after 18 years in the legislature.

Q: What were some of the highlights on the final day?

After a week of political tensions, today was surprisingly quiet. Few of the final bills spurred any real debate. Lawmakers approved budget adjustments for a handful of state agencies. They’re also moments away from giving final approval to $200 million in bonding for OHSU. The money will go towards building cancer research labs and help it meet a half-billion dollar matching challenge from Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife. It was approved by a wide margin in the Senate and it’s expected to get a similar margin when the House votes on it shortly.

Q: A month ago the talk in Salem was about recreational marijuana, gun control, and the Columbia River Crossing. What happened to those proposals?

A: They went bye- bye.

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