Today at the Leg

T.A. Barnhart

Today at the Leg

We could (and possibly should) run this as a daily feature during the 2011 Session of the Leg. It takes about 10 minutes to go through the daily agenda for the Leg, and the schedule is set 1-2 weeks in advance (although there are no guarantees of changes). Here's 3 items that caught my notice for today.

Senate General Government, Consumer and Small Business Protection Committee SB 14: Allows State Treasurer to authorize exceptions to requirements for deposit of public funds to permit state agencies to conduct business through use of electronic commerce.

At the same time —

House Education Committee HB 2581: FIRST PUBLIC HEARING - Clarifies and expands duties of Oregon Virtual School District.

What's interesting is, in two different areas, the Leg is dealing with the realities of the virtual world. In the case of SB14, banks are required to have a certain amount of cash on-hand in order to do business; hence the existence of a Federal Reserve and the promotion of an Oregon State Bank. But cash is simply an object; is it not possible to achieve the desired goal of a bank having the necessary funds to do business safely without having to fuss with the actual money? I'm guessing that's what this bill is about; I'm going to try to watch that hearing online to learn more.

HB 2581 and the issue of virtual schools: While the benefits of having a teacher present in real life are beyond question, so, too, is the impracticality in too many cases. This is an area of contention in the education field (not too dissimilar, I'm sure, from the battles over home schooling).

Finally, Rep Kim Thatcher has decided a bill that is unconstitutional on its face is still worth the time and effort in the face of our $3.5 billion budget gap. HB 2781 will be before the House Judiciary today at 1:00pm. What does 2781 do? It "authorizes state to condemn property possessed by federal government unless property was acquired with consent of Legislative Assembly and in accordance with Article I, section 8, clause 17 of United States Constitution." That little bit of the Constitution reads thus:

8.17 To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings. (emphasis added)

A little googling shows that Rep Thatcher's efforts are not unique; Utah passed a similar bill last year. States, of course, have no power under the Constitution to carry out such efforts (the "supremacy" clause). But that doesn't stop grandstanding and wingnuttery like this. (Rep Thatcher also wants to repeal M66/67.) Fortunately this bill is DOA, but to waste the time of the Judiciary Committee with unconstitutional actions is shameful.

Kids, this is what happens when we have a 53% like we did in November.

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    A correction: the Oregon Virtual School District ( does not have much to do (at least in the current form) with virtual schools. If I am not mistaken, it is an online resource for online curricula for public school teachers statewide, with the goal of promoting the use of technology in the classroom.

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    The legislative schedule is only available "1-2 weeks in advance" early in the session. The actual required notice is 24 hours, and that is only in effect for the first half of the session. In the second half of the session required notice is only 1 hour, and at the end of the session, even this requirement is waived and people start following committee chairs around the building.

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    Speaking of the Senate General Government, Consumer and Small Business Protection Committee, they are having hearings on Wednesday on the rising cost of health care with testimony from various health and insurance providers.

    Why costs are rising and what can be done about it are the $64,000 questions in health insurance reform, and I'd encourage anyone interested to listen to the podcast once it's posted (or go a step further and send suggested questions to your preferred committee member)

    There were two prior hearings dealing with Oregon’s insurance regulation framework and a review of how other states regulate health insurance, also very informative.

    T.A., I second the idea of more discussion of legislative actions, but I'm not sure if BO is the best forum? It's almost a big enough topic to be its own project.

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      BJ, i agree, and i'm in the process of launching a project to do exactly that. waiting for their ok to start raising the money.

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      I'm obviously biased here, but I think that BlueOregon is exactly the right forum for these discussions - and thrilled that TA is seeking funding for such a project.

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    There were public hearings on the 14th (yesterday) on another bill that I saw being discussed in another forum and that was HB 2256 which apparently had some verbage slid into it by Secretary of State Brown which would change our election laws to allow for the suggestions and appearance of election impropiety that made no sense to me at all is a quick cut and paste of a letter directed to dave hunt that appeared on his facebook page.

    "Tucked into this bill is language that would change te current law on the booksn that requires the elections department in every county to destroy all of the blank and unused ballots the minute the polls close on election day. The current law adds some integrity to the process by eliminating the temptation or even the suggestion that blank ballots could be filled out and stuffed after the results are starting to be made known and allow someone to be elected who shouldn't be.

    The reasoning behind this change makes no sense at all? Why go to the effort of changing a law that makes perfect sense and provides an additional safeguard to our process in favor of one that doesn't? It reminds me of that famous quote from Josef Stalin that said:

    “It isn’t who votes that decide an election election is decided by who counts the votes”

    I would like to ask you to check into this change that has been toe-nailed into the bottom of a healthcare bill and keep even the suggestion of impropiety out of Oregon's election process by making sure this proposed change gets taken out of this bill or the bill never sees the light of day. The reasoning behind it is more than suspect and the way it is being secretly proposed does not reflect the transparency both parties have assurrd us they intend to bring to doing the people's business now and in the future"

    Anybody have any idea why Kate Brown would want to pass a law to change the existing law so blank and unused ballots would still be floating around after the polls closed instead of ordering that they be destroyed which makes sense and is already the law?

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