"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

Do-nothing no longer

Oregon statehouse

Oregon statehouse

What you think of the actions of the soon-to-be history 2007 Oregon Legislature will vary according to perspective. What’s becoming clearer, almost indisputable, is that it was highly productive – the most productive session in Oregon in many years, somewhere in the ballpark of the unusually strong 2005 Washington session.

In both cases that was allowed for by the arrival of unified (one-party) government, both chambers and the governor’s office. Unified control doesn’t always equate to productivity, but it did in both of these cases. And in Oregon’s case, this really ought to be noted, since the top criticism of legislators in Oregon for this decade and more has been that they’re the gang that could get nothing done. (Probably an over-stated complaint, but one with some validity.)

The Oregonian has up, online, a summary of the session’s doings. Among the items noted there: A rainy day fund, massive increases in public school funding, major increases for higher education and a string of new capital (building) expenses, an increase (by 100) in the number of state troopers on the roads, a batch of consumer bills, a slash at junk food in schools, major cutbacks on indoor smoking, domestic partnerships for gays and seniors and a cigarette tax/child health ballot issue. They didn’t even get to the item we think could be the most significant of all, a first step toward universal health coverage, or to the batch of environmental legislation passed (the failure of the Metolius River bill notwithstanding). And you could easily add more items of significance to the list.

You can take some of this in various ways. Critics (not all of them Republicans) took due note of the high level of spending in this session; warnings, for example, that ongoing state spending will almost inevitably crash into the next economic downturn are well founded. (The rainy day fund was a sound move but unlikely to fully plug the dike.) Depending on your perspective, you may see the actions as good or bad.

What you can’t, any longer, is diss the Oregon Legislature as inconsequential.

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