Idea: Fix Leadership Elections

Editor's Note: On February 6, we asked BlueOregon readers to suggest progressive ideas that the next Oregon Legislature should enact. Over the next several weeks, we'll post some of these ideas here - and ask you to discuss them. Good idea? Bad idea? Any suggestions?

From JHL:

Require the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate to be elected by a 2/3 consensus... or by secret ballot, like Nebraska.

The best way to lock gears is to have someone like Minnis in the speaker's seat... and although more than half of the House members are Republicans, I am certain that not half of the House members are Minnis supporters.

Coalitions would have to be built around ideas, policy, and the majority party would be forced to throw at least some meat to the minority to begin the session... policy, a committee chairmanship here or there... etc.


[If you have your own original progressive idea to propose, do it here: "There oughta be a law."]

  • LT (unverified)

    Obviously, the system we currently have is broken. That is why some want open caucuses or a nonpartisan legislature.

    In this last session, no Republicans in the House spoke out against the excesses of Minnis, Scott, Richardson. What hold do those 3 have on their membership?

    There should be public debate on who the leadership is, not retreating behind closed doors. This last session shows that didn't work. Too many members seemed to think pleasing the caucus was more important than listening to constituents.

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    I think the idea of a secret ballot makes sense. Sort of like the voting that happens inside the party at the national level. Remember when all three GOP candidates for majority leader claimed to have a winning majority? In the end, only one was right. A secret ballot, in addition to creating suspense, serves to reduce the power of deal-making.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)

    A secret ballot, in addition to creating suspense, serves to reduce the power of deal-making.

    And eliminates any accountability to the voters who elected the people voting. These are public officials and their decisions need to be on the public record. The real problem in the legislature is that representatives are able to individually duck responsibility for most of what goes on, so the voters fume about "Salem" instead of voting out their own rascal who helped create the mess.

    Is creating suspense really even an issue, is the entertainment value of the process now a criteria even for how we select our government's leaders?

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    Is the reason this is being proposed is because members are being strong armed into voting for someone they don't want to necessarly vote for?

    I'm curious...

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    Ross -- of course it's not about creating suspense. I'm just pointing out that that's a side effect.

    The point is, well, David's. If folks are being strong armed by the caucus, then that doesn't serve anyone well. I'm not suggesting that all votes should be secret ballot -- just the leadership ones. I think it's a pretty compelling idea.

  • Ron Ledbury (unverified)

    Two-thirds versus one-half-plus-one is like having a board of directors of exactly two. It is a guarantee of stalemate.

    A minority of one-third-plus-one could stall the session from the start to the end. One day on two days off, all session long.

    A small government advocate might favor complete inaction, inclusive of appropriations of zero.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)

    If folks are being strong armed by the caucus, then that doesn't serve anyone well.

    Are you suggesting electing the speaker by secret ballot or the caucuses choosing their leadership? Where is the evidence Minnis or any other leader was elected because they strong-armed their colleagues?

    If its the speaker, I can't think of a better way to make gridlock worse. How would a speaker from the opposite party of the majority function when the people who elected them are unwilling to be accountable publically for their votes. What would your reaction be if people elected as Democrats voted for a Republican speaker?

    The speculation about who stabbed who in the back certainly would have entertainment value. But it would hardly make it easier for legislators to work together.

    There is not structural, process fix to the legisaltures problems. The state elected officals are starkly divided between those who believe in government and those who don't. You don't end that division by hiding important decisions from the public.

    If you want to end gridlock, slash state taxes and force back onto local communities responsibility for schools, roads, social services, fire suppression, highway patrol, vehicle registraton, economic development, etc. The folks who keep electing anti-government Republicans in rural Oregon will suddenly discover the importance of state services. And Portland and the other urban school districts can use the moeny saved to fund their schools.

    It is the substance of government decisions, not how they are made, that is broken.

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    Ever notice this wasn't a problem untill the Republicans came to power.

  • David (unverified)
    <h2>I'm not saying whether this is a good idea or not but I don't think its even legal under Oregon's public records law. Since leadership votes for chamber leadership (such as Speaker or Senate Pres.) obviously are public offices, under Oregon law all of the records related to that have to be public.</h2>
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