Idea: Legislative Reform

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 Jenni Simonis:

I'd like to see them make changes in the legislature. I'd like to see them have yearly sessions-- one for the budget and one for other items. I'd like to see an increase in pay. I'd like to see more professional staff who can help constituents with the problems they might have.

And, from Paul:

What Jenni said. Better pay and annual sessions. Sell it by telling voters that managing the state budget is too important to leave to the bureaucrats, the people's voice must be heard! And scare them with bipartisan tales of woe...

Discuss.

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

Comments

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    Washington state holds a short session on the budget and a longer session on legislative issues yearly. Approximately 75% of the Oregon budget goes to Corrections, Human Services and K-12 education. During the 18 months/two years between sessions interum work groups gather from time to time to work on issues. One of the effects of the current structure is to silence the People's input, frustrate first term legislators struggling with the complex budget process while Oregon tries to project its budget 24 months out; which is probably why the 'Kicker' law got in..... due to inaccurate projections. Business's and some households annually reflect upon their expenses/costs and adjust accordingly. No doubt many Oregonians would be better served with limited annual sessions.

  • LT (unverified)
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    I'd like to see them make changes in the legislature. I'd like to see them have yearly sessions-- one for the budget and one for other items. I'd like to see an increase in pay. I'd like to see more professional staff who can help constituents with the problems they might have. And, from Paul:

    What Jenni said. Better pay and annual sessions. Sell it by telling voters that managing the state budget is too important to leave to the bureaucrats, the people's voice must be heard! And scare them with bipartisan tales of woe...

    Check into what the Public Comm. on the Legislature is doing. One of the Committees (Process? the one where Ginny Lang is chair) discussed this at a recent meeting, and there was someone there from Wash. Co. Democrats--if she reads this, perhaps she can provide more information. One of the things they discussed is the question of which is more important--getting out in a certain number of days, or being open to the public. Seems to me lots of people screamed last year about hearings held with little notice and little opportunity for public comment. The remark was made at that PCOL comm. meeting that "beat the clock" was the prime directive in Washington, even if it meant meetings at odd hours with little notice, but would Oregonians stand for that or do they want public access?

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    I think the focus should be on public access, not beat the clock.

    Obviously if something extremely important comes up and is needed right away, you're not going to have as much time for public input (although you should still try).

    But this suff of cancelling hearings at the last moment, moving them, giving very little notice, etc. is just plain ridiculous.

    The lobbyists whose job it is to be there and attend the hearings have no problem with is, as they're paid to be there. But the rest of us have other jobs that we must work around in order to go all the way to Salem-- especially for those who come from east of the Cascades, the NE, SE, and NW corners of the state, etc.

    What we have now is a system where it is extremely easy for hearings to be packed with lobbyists and not average citizens.

    I don't think we have to do a carbon copy of Washington's set up, and I don't think anyone is advocating for that. I think we should look at what other states are doing and incorporate some of the best practices into our legislature.

  • KARIa PROGRESSIVE??? (unverified)
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    I guess since Kari, Ted Kulongoski's employee, has completly ignored Pete Sorenson wiping the floor with his guy Kulo at the OEA, since it isnt big enough news to deserve a post, ill put it in here.

    [Remainder of this off-topic comment deleted. -editor.]

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    [off-topic comment deleted.]

  • Anonymous Democrat (unverified)
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    [Long, interesting, but off-topic reply to off-topic comment above moved to appropriate post.]

  • paul (unverified)
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    <h2>I spoke to a number of current and potential legislators at the City Club (Thanks Jeff) and they all said that higher pay is less important than a predictable schedule. They argued that the current system of compensation works out OK, but it is the unpredictable session time and length that makes it very difficult for anyone but a retiree, self-employed, or independently wealthy individual to serve.</h2>
open discussion

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