Elections matter. Democrats get it done.

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Elections matter.

Think back to last year. It was nearly inconceivable that the Democrats were going to take control of the Legislature in 2006. After all, Democrats hadn't won a single legislative seat in a non-presidential election since 1982 - and we hadn't won four seats in any one election since 1974. It was next-to-impossible that the Democrats would take control in 2006. And yet, they did.

I don't bring this up to relive the victory. Rather, it's important to remember that the "tough work" of legislation often happens between legislative sessions; when task forces meet, coalitions are built, research is done, and competing interests bargain.

Frankly, when you're in the minority, you just focus on stopping the really bad stuff - not moving the progressive stuff. Prior to the 2007 session, not many Democrats were planning on moving much of an ambitious agenda.

But, holy cow, did this Legislature accomplish a lot. To be sure, there's much left to be done - health care, tax reform, continued investments in K-12 and higher ed - but take a look at what they did accomplish.

In no particular order (and I'm sure I missed a few things):

So much of this stuff seems like common sense, and yet so much of it was blocked by Karen Minnis, Wayne Scott, and the GOP House leadership over the last sixteen years (including stuff you'd think they'd support, like the 100 new troopers.)

Led by Speaker Jeff Merkley, President Peter Courtney, and Majority Leaders Dave Hunt and Kate Brown - not to mention a rejuvenated Governor Ted Kulongoski - the Oregon Democrats pulled together an extraordinary session.

And they did it all while ending the session earlier than any time since 1995.

Elections matter. You bet they do.

Let's defend and build the majority in 2008.

I can't wait for 2009.

Comments

  • BlueNote (unverified)
    (Show?)

    The legislature has spoken. Now its time for big business / developer / right wing / "Christian" groups to gear up for the ballot measure process. Like George Bush and Gordon Smith, these groups don't give a damn what the majority wants, or what the elected legislature wants. They know that with enough money, lies and ranting talk-show hosts on their side they can pretty much get what they want regardless of the legislature.

    The work of the progressive community is not over.

  • RinoWatch (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I didn't see on your list any mention of the reforms to illegal immigration, ODL's specifically, that a lot of the D's campaigned on.

    Wah happened? ;-)

  • (Show?)

    The work of the progressive community is not over.

    Damn straight.

  • PO'D Democrat (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Interesting how you superficially you view the world Kari. Particularly your apparent predilection for quantity over quality. A responsible and detailed examination of the list of actions on the whole, combined with analysis of what didn't get done and why, presents a much more ambiguous picture of the action of term.

    BlueNote offers another measure by which we can judge the term: Did the legislative majority (which includes some Republicans for several of the actions you mention), including the governor, do the proper job of building consensus --- both inside the legislature and amongst the people of our state --- for their vision of Oregon in this session that any voter challenges to them will fail? You and BlueNote seem very concerned, which at least suggests that both of you feel the legislature may not have done very well on that very important score.

  • (Show?)

    Two other pieces of context. Many of the items Kari cites above won with bipartisan majorities. This is in stark contrast to the previous sessions where Karen Minnis resorted to procedural trickery to bury popular legislation, force bad compromises, and otherwise thwart the obvious will of the people. The GOP are crowing about their accomplishments this session, and two they cite are about ed funding. Funny, they weren't so hot on it in '05. But of course, they knew they were acting on behalf of a radical minority, and now that they don't have the cover to kill popular legislation, they're all of a sudden pro-ed funding. Funny how that works.

    Second, and this is partly a response to PO'D and partly a general comment, the Dems used this session very wisely as a "set up" session for the future. They took care of a lot of held-up legislation, picked their battles very carefully, and in the main governed from a bipartisan place. This created comity, drove out some of the problem people, and creates a situation where the legislature can go further and deeper into more contentious work in '08 (if they meet) and '09. You have to look at the body of work and understand that it's in process.

    So often, liberals like a good fight over a grand gesture far more than an incremental move in the right direction. Yet over time, the increments, if skilfully pursued, amount to landmark change, while the grand gestures tend to create disharmony and ultimately work against progressive change. Look at Oregon's history; the periods in which we accomplished the most, we accomplished them in a bipartisan manner. The GOP is coming off a period of hardcore ideological purity, and it seems to have ennervated voters and decimated the party. I give Merkley et. al. high marks in not following them down that road.

  • (Show?)

    Incidentally, PO'D, what's up with you? Why the vitriol in every comment? It's unnecessary and borders on trollishness.

  • zen (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Why the vitriol in every comment?

    It's not surprising. Many of the regular contributors here have their snide guns set on nuke. Hell, Kari is the Queen of Snark!

  • BlueNote (unverified)
    (Show?)

    My original comment was intended to address what is for me the unfortunate fact that the ballot measure has become the 4th branch of Oregon government and from my perspective over the past 20 years the "ballot measure branch" has been at least as powerful as any of the other three branches (with the possible exception of the unpredictable Supreme Court). Whatever good things the legislature just accomplished, we will need to wait until November of 2009 to see how much of it remains the law of Oregon.

    I can't tell if PO Dem is a quasi-troll or just angry that the Dems worked from the center of the political spectrum this session. To use a radio station analogy, some people in the "progressive" community (including me most of the time) would like to live in a far-left KBOO world, others (including most of the Dems in the legislature) seem to live in the mostly-moderate KPAM world, but either one is a heck of a lot better than living in a KXL world, which is where Oregon was until recently.

  • anonymous staffer (unverified)
    (Show?)

    See, this list of achievements is EXACTLY why people like Jeff Merkley and Dr. Bates need to be SERIOUSLY considered as candidates to run against El Gordo. We need a candidate with a proven legislative record of success in order to be taken seriously by mainstream voters.

  • LiberalIncarnate (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I applaud the Leg for its actions this session. Quantity over Quality? I guess that depends on one's point of view. Frankly, many of these newly enacted or soon to be enacted laws are Quality to me. Yes, there is still work to be done. A decade and a half of Conservative rule cannot be outdone in one session.

    The ballot measure process is a 4th branch of government and one that is used highly be the Reich to get their voices enacted into law. This is unfortunate.

    As to PO'd Dem and TJ and the like, Democrats, Liberals and Progressions LOVE... did I saw LOVE, to attack one another. We attack one another far more than we attack the Right sometimes, which is truly sad. While some call this diversity of views,but when it turns into personal attacks backed by no sense of consensus or collaborative action, it risks damaging everyone.

  • (Show?)

    Hell, Kari is the Queen of Snark!

    The queen?!

  • (Show?)

    p.s. I'm living in a KPOJ world!

  • BlueNote (unverified)
    (Show?)

    oops, I meant mostly moderate KPOJ, not KPAM! The day I start considering Dr. Pamplin's station moderate is the day they need to take me out and shoot me.

  • Rick Hickey (unverified)
    (Show?)

    4th Branch of Gov't? So when the Citizens of Oregon say NO to Gay marriage and YES to Measure 37 and a handful of Democrats decide WE the Voters don't know any better and WE decide to Vote AGAIN to overturn the Kings & Queens, that is wrong?

    Del Monte foods Illegal Aliens raid proves that there is Identity Theft going on here and Democrats did not (AZ. did, OK. did, GA. did, PA. did) force Employers to check whether Employees Social Security# matches? And that is good?

    Your list of "accomplishments" includes HUGE spending increases, so YOU support Income Re-Distribution as does COMMUNISM!

    My/Your/Our Children will have to pay for this gigantic financial burden.

    Democrats also did NOT stop Failed Bi-Lingual Education as AZ. CA. & MA. are PROOF that Immersion is BESt for Students/Teachers/Taxpayers/Parents.

    Your COMMUNIST preferences should be a Warning to all that love Independence from Government and Freedom.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I've said it before, and i'll say it again...

    We're better at beating each other up than organizing in order to beat the Right. I've been as guilty as the next guy/gal, but Jeff's observation is well taken. I'll own the mean "queen" comment too. I apologize. What is it about chat rooms and message boards that makes us believe we can get away with virtual sex and violent speech?

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
    (Show?)

    "Your list of "accomplishments" includes HUGE spending increases, so YOU support Income Re-Distribution as does COMMUNISM!"

    "Your COMMUNIST preferences should be a Warning to all that love Independence from Government and Freedom."

    Now there's some astute political thinking. No wonder conservatives are often dismissed as a bunch of weak-brained ignoramuses.

  • (Show?)

    some people need to look at Kari's picture and realize that he's not a really ugly woman but instead is a somewhat ugly man with a slightly odd name (when i was growing up, my first name was pretty rare, and my last name somehow rhymed with an hilarious bodily function; i more than feel his pain).

    oh, and Kari earns his right to snark.

  • (Show?)

    Rick Hickey:

    How many times does it have to be said?

    Gay marriage: During the campaigning on this ballot measure, they specifically said this did not bar civil unions from being enacted by the legislature. They specifically told gays and lesbians to go to their state legislature to get the rights and that they would have no problem with that. This can be proven with text from them, audio, and video, so please quit spreading this falsehood. That measure did nothing to stop civil unions or domestic partnerships. And the majority of Oregonians say they are in support of them.

    Measure 37: People obviously didn't realize the implications of M37 when they passed it. I kept trying to tell people, and they wouldn't listen. And what do you know, the exact examples I gave are coming true. Now people are asking the legislature for a fix. Polls show the majority of Oregonians want a fix. Not an overturn, but a fix. And the legislature gave it to them- in the form of a ballot measure. If Oregonians don't want it, they'll vote it down. So how is that overturning M37, since the voters are the ones deciding?

  • (Show?)

    Jenni,

    Don't feed the troll.

    Now back to your regularly scheduled program...

  • ellie (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I too am impressed with the Legislature's accomplishments this session. I agree with Jeff that much of the work done could be considered laying a foundation for future endeavors. The Rs have been in charge for a long time -- the expectation that the Ds can fix everything overnight goes against what we know the legislative process to be (e.g. slow, methodical, and - uh - frustrating at times).

    I've also voiced my concern in the past over what I see as infighting among Dems/progressives/whatever. I do think much of this behavior can be attributed to the cloak of anonymity that the internet provides, which seems to allow all kinds of false bravado to seep into what would probably be more civil conversations had they taken place in person. Sometimes it's amusing ("Kari is the queen of snark") but mostly it's just embarrassing and disappointing.

  • (Show?)
    See, this list of achievements is EXACTLY why people like Jeff Merkley and Dr. Bates need to be SERIOUSLY considered as candidates to run against El Gordo. We need a candidate with a proven legislative record of success in order to be taken seriously by mainstream voters.

    Poppycock. Pure poppycock.

  • (Show?)

    Rick - "My/Your/Our Children will have to pay for this gigantic financial burden." Are you referring to Bush's war in Iraq, which by and large has been financed by the national credit card (the good folks in China, Saudi Arabia, etc) while Shrub cuts taxes to billionairs and asks no sacrifice of the population other than the lives of 3580 kids and half a trillion debt our surviving kids and grandkids will have to pay? I would rather be stuck with the tab for productive investments in the State and Nation, than hundreds of billions spent on death, death, and more death. In the interest of civility, I will avoid calling you a jerk. Or a bonehead. Cuz that's not my style.

  • James X. (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Would there be any interest in referring to voters a constitutional amendment that toughens the requirements for getting measures on the ballot?

  • anonymous (unverified)
    (Show?)

    A very impressive list of accomplishments. A very expensive impressive list of accomplishments.

    Who is going to fund your socialist paradise when the only jobs left in Oregon are for unionized, public employees?

    Just wondering.

  • (Show?)

    was it a socialist paradise the last time there was that much revenue to spend, and Republicans controlled the legislature?

    And you are aware that Oregon is easily in the top half for job growth the last couple years, right?

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I'd be in favor of raising the bar for ballot measures, James. I honestly have soured on the whole initiative process. It has been perverted by big money and so i no longer sign any petitions. Isn't it bizarre that it took a simple majority to amend the law such that it now requires a super-majority in order to raise taxes? I'd like to see a constitutional convention and get a basic bill of rights back.

  • (Show?)

    Senator Bates and Senator Westlund deserve major credit for the passage of the ground breaking Healthy Oregon Act (SB 329) it is law. Since the efforts begun several years ago on Governor Kitzhaber's task force on health care and culminating in a two year effort to put this reform in place we can look forward to moving a completely revamped health care system through the legislature in 2009.

    Where ever we are on the "I'm a Democrat" continum it is clear that coalition building and bipartisan support is a must when Democrats focus on the next steps to universal health care.

    I look forward to an interesting Democratic primary to determine which candidate will take on Senator Gordon Smith.

    Yes Smith, the Senator who has voted 20 times from 2002 through 2007 to fund and authorize the Iraq War. Smith is still trying to convince Oregonians he is oppossed the Iraq War. Smith's consistent voting for the war while telling the public he opposes it, is no longer working. Who is going to believe Smith now?

    One of a number of potential candidates will also point out Smith's staunch support of U.S. Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign. McCain still believes we can win in Iraq.

    The current legislative session is a clear example of setting the table carefully for the next steps in the legislative process.

    If we pursue the lines of sniveling distrust, of dividing rather than uniting, we will render ourselves dysfunctional and therefore useless. Every time one of us pulls that stunt we are setting our own bear trap. Picture bloody flesh ripped from the body of a fellow Democrat and maybe you'll think twice before pounding the keyboard.

  • (Show?)

    right on for making it tougher to get initiatives on the ballot. right now they only require money. they are supposed to represent a broad-based will of the people. when's the last time anyone saw that? we vote on the wishes of some narrow group of individuals, and the result is usually dependent on who has the most effective tv ads (go read "The Assault on Reason"). the whole process needs to be redone to become democratic again.

  • (Show?)

    t.a.: Actually, it should only be harder to get on the ballot if you 1) Use paid signature gatherers, and 2) Are not accustomed to following the law and running a reputable business. For volunteer campaigns--and for some paid operations--there won't be many new requirements because they already do basic stuff like keep payroll records.

  • James X. (unverified)
    (Show?)

    How about a requirement that initiative campaigns must collect $5 from a certain number of citizens before qualifying?

  • ro330ck (unverified)
    (Show?)

    m364k

  • ro361ck (unverified)
    (Show?)

    m40k

  • yamhill county (unverified)
    (Show?)

    What’s very cool is that every Democrat that I know and I know a lot of them are going to vote NO on the legislatures M37 fix in November. I met with an attorney and his legal assistant this week, both long time Dems and both are very upset with the Governor and how he has dealt with the M37 issue. People are very unhappy with the legislature and how it has dealt with the issue, all the people I talk to do not want the government telling them what they can or can’t do with there land. I look for the NO votes to come out in force on this one and send a message to the legislature, the people in Oregon are not stupid like you think they are.

  • LT (unverified)
    (Show?)

    First of all, there is a spelling mistake here:

    all the people I talk to do not want the government telling them what they can or can’t do with there land.

    Second, and most importantly, as someone who remembers Tom McCall and the origins of Oregon's land use system, anyone who says the above is saying they wouldn't mind a gravel pit, an all night drive through, or a moto-cross opening up next door to them.

    Either everyone has the right to do what they want with their land, neighbors be damned, or else Oregon is a community where we care about neighbors, about maintaining farmland, and about not being just another state where developers run rampant.

    No one has convinced me I shouldn't vote yes on the Measure 37 re-write. But then, it sounds reasonable to me.

  • (Show?)

    The M37 rewrite basically does this: It allows people to build a home or two on their property, but it stops Wal-Mart and other big developments.

  • djk (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I absolutely support initiative reform. I think it should be harder to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot, AND that masures to amend the constitution should require a 3/5ths majority vote to pass. (Constitutional revisions, which need to come from the legislature with 2/3rds majorities in both houses, should be passed with a simple majority of voters).

    I'd also like to see more restrictions on paid signature gatherers; maybe require extensive training and licensing, and set up a rigorous code of conduct, and make sure that every person paid to collect signatures has a detailed knowledge of what they're asking people to put on the ballot. And statutory restrictions on terms of employment to make sure that they can't be fired for not reaching signature targets. If we have to allowed paid signature collectors, it should be really, REALLY expensive and difficult to use them. Given the danger of corruption and misrepresentation inherent in signature bounty-hunting, I think there's a strong public interest in tight regulation of the profession. (Who hasn't run into signature collectors who either (a) don't understand what they're collecting signatures for or (b) flat-out lie about the measure to get your signature? Personally, I've lost count.)

    Volunteers, on the other hand, could work with no licensing or regulatory constraints at all. If they're volunteering their time, that's a pure free-speech issue. Yeah, they might still lie or be misinformed -- but they won't have a financial stake in doing so.

  • LT (unverified)
    (Show?)

    djk, sounds like you are a fan of House Bill 2082.

    I should add that in some cases the only route is constitutional amendment. For instance, our neighborhood was a quiet neighborhood which was invaded by a strip club when a restaurant went out of business. City council sympathized but didn't have much power to change anything. Those who don't think strip clubs should fall under the "free speech" provision are running a ballot measure campaign and it needs to change the free speech provision so needs to be a constitutional amendment.

  • Robert G. Gourley (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I was disappointed that the legislature turned aside from passing meaningful reform of our miserable health care system, but we're not giving up on that. And that they had to put the Healthy Kids matter in the Constitution, which is already junked up enough.

    But other than than it was a pretty good session.

  • Robert G. Gourley (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Oh yeah, as to the initiative system, Oregon was the first to use it - although I think it originated someplace like North or South Dakota. Anyway somewhere around 1910 it was known as the "Oregon Plan."

    My big fault with it is when it deals with money matters, or more accurately, doesn't. Voters get to vote in pie in the sky, with no notion of how to pay for it.

    Plus it can get clunky. I remember when California passed Prop. 13, and Oregon voters changed a few lines in it and got it on the Oregon ballot - I think it was Measure 6 back then. Parts of it amended articles which were not even on the same subject as California's rules. I suspect they have rules against this now.

connect with blueoregon