The Oregon legislature is one of only a handful in the country that don’t meet every year. That might change. The state Senate passed joint resolution that would bring lawmakers to Salem every year, without having to declare an emergency or hold a special session. The resolution now goes to the House and, if it passes, the proposal will go directly to voters since it would require a change in the state constitution.
The Senate resolution was carried by one Republican and one Democrat, both of whom argued that its passage would help bring Oregon into the 21st century. They also advocated for limits on both sessions, keeping one to 45 days and the other to 135 days, making the claim that this will in fact shorten the average amount of time the legislature meets overall. One senator who opposed the resolution says the limitations are not as cut and dried as he would like them to be and there is room for the legislature to drag out their time in Salem, at the taxpayers’ expense.
What questions do you have about the benefits and drawbacks of a legislature that meets every year? Have you lived in a state that did things differently? How would you vote on annual sessions?
- Jason Atkinson: Oregon state senator (R-Central Point)
- Brian Boquist: Oregon state senator (R-Dallas)
- Angela Andrews: Policy associate at the National Conference of State Legislatures