Think Out Loud is heading to Salem to talk to lawmakers and lobbyists at the start of the legislative session. On Monday, John Kitzhaber was sworn in as the state’s next governor and legislators voted on House and Senate leadership as well as many committees in both chambers. For the first time in history, the Oregon House elected co-speakers.
Lawmakers included quite a few football references in their public remarks. Peter Courtney quoted Oregon Ducks coach Chip Kelly as he officially began his fifth term as Senate president and Governor Kitzhaber started off his inauguration speech with a joke about not being able to get tickets to the big game. There were also quite a few references to bi-partisanship in the legislature, which is much more evenly split between Democrats and Republicans than it has been in previous sessions.
As he began his third term as Oregon’s governor, Kitzhaber struck a tone of confident determination in the face of economic challenges statewide and a $3.5 billion budget deficit. He called for a long-term vision in order to achieve changes to the state’s approach to the budgeting process and the structure of government, comparing Oregon to an old house that no longer fits the need of the family that lives in it.
What are you hoping to see in this first annual session? What are you worried about? Are there any issues that will bring you to Salem this year?