Annual Sessions?

Last week, the Oregon Senate voted 23-7 to experiment with annual sessions. The House is expected to vote this week on the resolution -- which would bring the legislature back into session next year from February 4-29. Technically it's a special session, but if it's successful, expect to see advocates make the case for permanent annual sessions.

Buzz poll on the jump...


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    Oregon's tax system is both volatile and error prone. Moving to annual budget sessions can help reduce the magnitude of forecasting errors since the time frame is cut in half -- one year at a time instead of two. This is good. But there is lots more to do to reform the tax system.

    By meeting only every two years, I believe that the current legislative system encouragaes "overuse" of the ballot system -- as soon as it becomes clear that nothing will happen for an issue in a given session, it means that the next legislative opportunity is two years away but bringing out a ballot measure is much sooner.

    Ballot measures are one-way affairs, written by the proponent of the measure without the compromise of the give-and-take of legislation, meaning that there are often many unforseen (or intentionally hidden) consequences. I think they end up making the issues even more divisive, if not outright partisan -- because the only choices are "Yes" or "No", and not "Yes, but ..." or "No, unless ...".

    Good governance says we should have annual legislative sessions.

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    Yeah, and Maui every year, not every other year, dammit.

  • you are killing pdx (unverified)


    Why all the constant sniping, the screed, the empty rhetoric? For such a (seemingly) smart man, it is people like you who are killing Portland and Oregon. You are killing us. You add nothing but hot air and ego checks in your vanity mirror. Your snide comments and cynicism, that echo chamber you call a all might help your self esteem, but it isn't helping to make things better. What happened to your generation? What happened to your ability to fight for what is right while at the same time remaining optimistic about the future? What I want to know is when the boomers decided to sell us out, who was there and why a group of cranky old white guys think they can set the tone. We're tired of your hollow pontifiation, your empty rhetoric, tired jokes and self importance. Get off your damn ego trips, take a look at the city, state and country you have made and either get with it or get out and leave room for another generation to try and clean up your mess.

  • JTT (unverified)

    I didn't like any of the options, so I couldn't vote. You need an option that reflects the current proposal being considered in Salem. 6 months in odd years, 1 month in even years (no limit on subject).

    William brings up an extremely important point. An even year session should be short, but not limited to budget (just like the current bill or "test run"- SCR 1)

    We also need annual session to bring Oregon into the 20th/21st century. Plus, apparently Treasurer Randall Edwards says that annual sessions will increase the state's bond rating with the bankds...meaning lower debt service (lower interest rates)...meaning more general fund available for schools, health care, seniors, cops, etc.

    I've heard lots of good/rational reasons for annual sessions and only knee-jerk, irrational, anti-good-government, throw-away lines against.

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    JTT -- Excellent point. I suppose we could change "budget-only" to "limited".

  • LT (unverified)

    One reason for annual sessions might be to see a ballot measure coming and put an alternative on the ballot (or maybe even convince people the legislature is addressing the problem and there is no need to sign the petitions).

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    What I want to know is when the boomers decided to sell us out, who was there...

    You mean THE meeting? When we hatched the plot, assigned roles and responsibilities? If we told you, we'd have to kill ya'...

    "You are killing PDX" there's a coward's nom de guerre! What a whiner!

    Jack's joke about Maui hit too close to home? The lobbyist money rolling in AFTER the election; the "ban" on gifts, and free lunches, wink, wink, nod, nod. Just who are the cynics here?

    Anyway...I voted earlier for annual sessions. What's missing, though, is if we're to professionalize our politicians, and accept the reality of "legislator" being an occupation, we need to substantially increase the pay. Make it a REAL job, so we're saved the continuing embarassment of legislators arguing they can't afford to put food on the table and pay their rent without someone, somehow, providing for their sustenance on the side.

    Annual sessions won't work if we don't pay our legislators enough so that they focus on doing the people's work.

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    Another anonymous, off-topic post ripping me? Guess I hit a nerve. Or maybe not. It's probably one of the handful of haters who assume a new name and spew the same old hate on a regular basis.

    Our legislators have proven themselves to be inept and corrupt. Including the ones you "progressive" youngsters keep giving us. When they prove that they can get something done and stop stealing, maybe we should double their workload and their pay. Until then, they should make it one session every five years.

  • Justin (unverified)

    Make it a REAL job, so we're saved the continuing embarassment of legislators arguing they can't afford to put food on the table and pay their rent without someone, somehow, providing for their sustenance on the side.

    This is the key to annual sessions. But it won't happen. Oregon gets the government it deserves.

  • Steve (unverified)

    Keep them limited the min possible to do a budget. The legislature always waits until the last minute whether it is six month or two-year full-time sessions anyways.

    Taking the same people and making them sit down longer won't chnge their attitudes or performance. Or are you suggesting we only get lousy legislators and all of a sudden superstars will pop-up when the job is full-time?

    Plus with less time, they have less time to angle for their "special" projects and maybe foucs on the necessities. Forget about a "rainy-day" fund - the 20% upside is already spent.

    "take a look at the city, state and country you have made and either get with it or get out"

    I think enough corporations have taken that hint about leaving Oregon. And if you look at gowth in downtown Portland (especially with the development $ dump trucks being poured in) that businesses/families are moving to LakeO, Tualatin and Vancouver already.

    Sorry, about the only thing we have is the blogs. When you would think the state would realize fixing roads, jails, police protection are maybe a little higher on the priority list than trolleys and benefits and they don't, one gets frustrated.

  • Eric (unverified)

    Every year is a good thing. It will have our leaders actually WORK for the money they give themselves.

  • Phen (unverified)

    I don't see my preference, which would be annual sessions with at least 60 days in the "short" year. One legislator suggested that the "short" year be the one right after the election, where you'd organize committees and work on bills that need more than a couple of months to develop, then have the "long" session in even years.

    One point that needs clarification: the short session wouldn't solve the kicker problem, which is hard-wired to use the odd-year forecast for the whole biennium. Changing that would involve a constitutional amendment. Darn.

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    William, the first poster on this thread, wrote about the volatile and error prone Oregon tax system relying on forecasting that has not served State budget planning well at all. Pity the school superindents and school boards waiting and waiting on the legislature to finalize it's last minute numbers so they can modify their district's budget. Last minute cuts or adds are not the best way decisions affecting Oregon students could be made. Jack Bog, with his own "cut to the chase" writing style reminded us how much harder the lobbyists will have to work planning trips to Maui for legislators if the legislature increases sessions. Many sides to this legislative's hoping citizens benefit.

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    Oh, the irony of Jack calling someone a hater after his drive-by, trolling hater comment. "Stop stealing?"

    Lawyers have proven themselves to be inept and corrupt. Is this Bog's way of announcing he'll step down so as not to steal from the rest of us anymore?

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    OK, this is definitely not the space for another TJ vs. Jack pissing match. If you must whip it out, do it on your own blog(s).

    Jack, I think the point the earlier commenter was making - and going overboard doing it - was that your Maui snipe wasn't particularly informative, educational, interesting, funny, or otherwise meaningful. Then again, that's hardly unique around these parts.

    One more note - there was a reference to you "progressive" youngsters. According to the 2006 reader survey, BlueOregon's readership breaks down as follows: 24% under thirty, 41% between 31-55, 35% over 56. Hardly youngsters.

    I just heard Joe Trippi on NPR describing the average age of an online donor to Howard Dean: 47 years old.

    The progressive netroots are NOT based in young voters. Not even if "young voters" includes people up to age 35.

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    All baby boomers are negative and useless and all Oregon legislators are corrupt? There are some "great minds" here who think more alike than they want to admit.

    I'm with Frank. It's time for real salaries for Oregon's legislators as well as for annual sessions.

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    What's particularly surprising to me is the number of people who want a full-time legislature meeting half the year. Unlike pumping your own gas or sales tax, this does not appear to be a cherished Oregon tradition.

    Of course, if you demand your legislators to be in session for half the year, every year, you're going to have to pay them for it. It has been a fiction for decades that they are "citizen legislators," but you could no longer support the fiction with that kind of schedule.

    I do think there's a risk of blowback, no matter how much an improvement in governance annual sessions would bring (and William notes many of these major benefits)--love of the legislature is not uniform across our fair state.

    <h2>As to the Jack spat, may it blow through like that snowy January storm....</h2>
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