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Posts published in “Day: February 4, 2008”

Measuring expectations

Oregon SenateIn Idaho, where - as in Oregon - the legislature is launching its activities under strained physical circumstances - expectations for this 2008 session are slight. Ask legislative leaders what they hope this session will accomplish and, once you get past dealing with the budget and money matters, they run dry quickly. And that's not the criticism it may seem. In most specific sessions of any state legislature, the only thing that has to be done is the updating of the state's ledger. When that's done, as legislators almost everywhere know, their obligatory work is done, and they can adjourn.

In the runup to today's launch of the special - with hopes of becoming regular - even-yeared session of the Oregon Legislative Assembly, there's been a lot of harrumphing from many quarters about what bar the legislature must meet to justify its annual appearance. That subject will doubtless return in discussion over the rest of the year, whatever lawmaker do or don't. (Vic Gilliam: "Is it a historic event or a sneaky play for a full-time Legislature?" The Oregonian's David Reinhard, who supports annual sessions: 'As The Oregonian's Harry Esteve wrote in last Sunday's Opinion section, it's being called the 'Seinfeld session' - the session about nothing - and legislators 'desperately want to show the public they can act like grown-ups.' That's a political strategy, not a governing strategy.")

Our take is that this attempt to establish an annual legislative session shouldn't be held to a standard higher than any other (or lower either). Minimally, it should get the state properly updated financially. To do better than the minimum, it also ought to address other important developing situations (the housing finance collapse comes to mind, among others) and review progress since the last session.

A good session (and the last one was pretty good) would be worth aspiring to. But it doesn't seem essential to make the point. (more…)

Quite the coincidence

Jim Ellick

Jim Ellick

Was just three weeks or so ago, around January 11, when the new director of the Idaho Department of Commerce, Jim Ellick, had a blunt suggestion delivered to some Idaho legislators, and also to reporters.

It concerned the real-world possibility that Micron Technology's future in Idaho is not an absolute lock. In suggesting that the state consider how it would plan for the alternate possibilities of Micron staying as is or scaling back in Idaho, as he put it to the Idaho Statesman, Micron is "either going to stay and everything's great or they're going to leave and everything's bad."

Sounds utterly sensible. The only problem was that Ellick's boss, Governor C.L. ."Butch" Otter, has declined to include in any of his (public, at least) budget, revenue or economic projections any indication of what would happen if, say, Micron moved a substantial portion of its Idaho manufacturing offshore. That appears to be The Subject Which May Not Be Spoken.

Today comes word from the governor's office that Ellick has taken a leave "for personal reasons" and that his return, if at all, is "open ended."

Purely coincidental, of course.