In Canada, where I am from, politics is a full time job ? even on the provincial level. So when I learned about the citizen politicians who keep Oregon running I was, to put it simply, quite surprised. I?m amazed that the state?s business can be organized by businesspeople, farmers, philanthropists and other civic-minded individuals who also have full-time lives outside of the legislature.
This year?s special legislative session opens the door for us to talk about citizen politicians and the fact that right now our state capitol is usually in business only every other year.
Of course this year was an exception, with a “special session” this month to test the idea of yearly lawmaking. It lasted for 19 days (about seven less than expected), during which lawmakers passed 73 bills and rejected 36.
Among the things that passed: permission for schools to charge for full-day kindergarten; a measure on the November ballot recommending longer prison sentences for certain criminals; more money for state police troopers; a stamp of approval for the University of Oregon to fund its new basketball arena with state-backed bonds; and a new law making it illegal for Oregon retailers to sell toys that have been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
But with limited resources, and even less time, did Oregon?s politicians do enough to justify meeting every year? Or should they continue on the bi-annual basis that they?re working with now? What do you think about how the session went? Should our state legislators meet more regularly? What happened that was particularly important to you? Should they have met for longer? Or not at all?
- Chris Lehman: Salem correspondent for Oregon Public Broadcasting
- Peter Courtney: President of the Oregon Senate
- Jackie Winters: Deputy Senate Rupublican leader
- Dana Haynes: Former Capital Bureau Chief for The Statesman Journal and now Public Affairs Manager for Portland Community College