Stupidest bill of the 2017 legislative session?

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

So, to Sen. Frank Girod and Reps. Bill Post, Carl Wilson, and Gene Whisnant, I have just one question: Why do you hate democracy?

Every year, the race is on to find the stupidest, wackiest, most ridiculous bill of the legislative session. There are always plenty of nominees -- and most of them never come anywhere close to becoming law. (There was that state waltz business a few years back, though...)

This one isn't really very funny, unless you think idiocy is hilarious. This year's frontrunners for Dumb, Dumber, and Dumberest goes to Senator Frank Girod and Reps. Bill Post, Carl Wilson, and Gene Whisnant.

You see, they've sponsored SJR 25 and HJR 6, a pair of nearly identical bills that would propose a state constitutional amendment that would guarantee that every county in Oregon becomes a single State Senate district.

I can hear you already, my friends with at least half a brain. The 1358 people of Wheeler County would get their own state senator? Yup, same for the 1680 people in Sherman County. And all those Democrats over there in Multnomah County? That's right -- all 790,670 people -- just one state senator, too.

Now, I can appreciate the audacity of the partisan angle here. That would make for one seriously Republican state senate. But there's just one little teeny, tiny problem. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled on this. Exactly this.

In 1964, in Reynolds v. Sims, the Court held that the provision in the Alabama Constitution that mandated one state senator per county would be unconstitutional. As Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote in the 8-1 decision:

Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests.

It's that whole "one person, one vote" thing that underpins all of American democracy. Again, Warren:

It is inconceivable that a state law to the effect that, in counting votes for legislators, the votes of citizens in one part of the State would be multiplied by two, five, or 10, while the votes of persons in another area would be counted only at face value, could be constitutionally sustainable.

And in Alabama the biggest-to-smallest ratio was 41 to 1.

In Oregon, it's 582 to 1. Talk about un-American.

So, to Girod, Post, Wilson, and Whisnant, I have just one question: Why do you hate democracy?

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