More on the prospects for bipartisan power-sharing

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

A few hours ago, I told you about a bipartisan group of legislators that's working outside the formal negotiation process to put together a power-sharing agreement. Read about that here.

I want to put a bit of a sharper point on the story.

In follow-up conversations with a number of legislators, a couple of things have become clear. First, the formal negotations process is proceeding apace - and certainly hasn't broken down. There was a negotiation session just this morning. Parties to the process continue to be optimistic that the formal process will yield a power-sharing agreement that large numbers of Democrats and Republicans will ultimately support.

Second, not everyone is happy with this group of folks working outside the process. To be sure, anytime you've got an official process underway, the folks inside that room will be skeptical (annoyed? even, angry?) about efforts to go around (circumvent? undermine?) that process.

Now, I'm being a little vague here; I certainly know that. I've named no names. As you can imagine, no one is willing to go on the record and talk about details - either about the formal negotiations or the outside group. After all, negotiations work best when there's plenty of candid give and take.

I do know that we need a bipartisan power-sharing arrangement that puts the House on track to start working on finding common ground on the budget, putting people back to work, and keeping kids in school.

I'll be keeping my eye on these questions: What will the House rules be? How will legislation move through committees? If a bill can't get a committee vote, under what circumstances will it be brought to the floor? How will we decide which committees are organized for the 2011 session - and who will lead them? The answers to these questions may be less sexy, but may be even more important than who the Speaker or co-Speakers may be. After all, an agreement may tightly constrain the discretionary power available to the Speaker(s).

It's critical that the Democratic caucus needs to find a way to work together - not just in this phase, but going forward during the session and beyond. They've got their caucus retreat this weekend, and sorting much of this out will be critical. Whatever happens, Democrats will achieve more of their goals if they find a way to move beyond the power struggles of November.

Whether the best way to accomplish those goals and answer these questions is through the formal negotiations, or through an outside rump group, well, I'm open.

Stay tuned.

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    I was gonna add this comment under the previous post, but figured I would move it here instead...

    I hope this effort continues to move forward in a constructive way. Oregonians are really hurting and we need some real leadership from Salem. If the leaders (and other members) of each party can work together in a productive way to move our state forward and start growing our economy, it'll be in the best interests of all Oregonians. And people will remember who was putting Oregon's future first.

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    Just a reminder to Kari and all the commenters. The Oregon Constitution does NOT require the Speaker to be a member of the House. In other words a majority of the 60 legislators could name an outsider -- not a member of either party -- to preside over the House this session. I have no idea who such a Solomon might be, but it is surely a better choice than a partisan deal.

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