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Posts published in “Day: February 23, 2008”

OR 24: Worth watching, again

Al Hanson

Al Hanson

In mid-2006 we suggested some attention be paid to Oregon House District 24, a Republican-leaning area where the seat was held by apparently entrenched Republican Donna Nelson. Turned out she wasn't quite so entrenched: In November she won, but only barely, her usual margin trimmed to a sliver.

Next cycle on, we'll suggest again that attention be paid to this district: It looks to be up for grabs, though for reasons somewhat different. This time, Nelson apparently is not running for re-election. (She's been less that completely conclusive on that, but her own caucus is presuming she's out.) Instead, two little-known candidates have emerged on the Republican side: Ed Glad, a carpenter who has done some statehouse lobbying, and Jim Weidner, a restauranteur and software developer. Both come from the small community of Yamhill; neither is a local household name. Since their announcements of plan to run, neither has been especially visible. But either, presumably, would have a significant boost from their party's nomination, since this central Yamhill County district is more Republican than Democratic.

However, the just-announced Democratic candidate could have the assets to counter that. He is Al Hanson, an attorney and an eight-year member of the city council at McMinnville, which is the district's population center; people in about half of the district, in other words, have been voting for him. He also has a long list of civic activities, and in this tightly-connected community Hanson has the local establishment (including at least some of the local Republican business establishment) behind him. (more…)

A run that wasn’t dry

Oregon statehouse Reading yesterday a few hours before the Oregon Legislature adjourned - late on Friday night - about what the session did and didn't accomplish, a blunt assessment jumped out: "As the February session winds down, there is an emerging consensus that a month-long supplemental session doesn't work."

That showed up at the Conkling Fiskum & McCormick Insider blog, and carried the weight of opinions from some skeptical legislators about their experimental session. The second paragraph added, "To the relief of Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, and others who championed the experiment with annual sessions, the February session hasn't been a disaster. But virtually no one thinks it has been very productive, either."

Hmm. That would depend on your perspective, and if the perspective lies in comparing a session that ran 19 days - just two-thirds of the shortest month in the year - with the traditional half-year model, then no, it wasn't very productive. But that's not much of a comparison.

The suggestion in the Insider piece, and in blogging by the Oregonian's Jeff Mapes, is not so much that the annual session idea is bad but that the experimental session may have been too short. There's something to that. Washington state has a regular truncated election-year session but gives it about two months to do its work, and a tight series of deadlines are imposed through the process to help guide lawmakers to getting things done. Part of the problem with the one-month - pardons, three-week - Oregon session is that the time frame wasn't institutionalized, so lawmakers and others probably weren't well set up to handle the specific requirements of it. But two months, or maybe three, might be a better option. Mapes reports that he's heard just this sort of things from legislators and others: "But I have been struck by how out-of-sorts many legislators and lobbyists feel. They're used to certain rhythms and it's hard for them to figure out something that is neither fish nor fowl. This is not a one- or two-day special session with a rigid agenda, nor is it a wide-open regular session where you have months to develop ideas."

So some tinkering probably would be helpful. But before calling the experimental session a failure, it might be helpful to look at what Oregonians did get out of it. (more…)