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Posts published in “Day: November 5, 2010”

Resolving the Oregon House

A time of many phone calls (no point leaving unfortunate text messages lying around) as the members of the Oregon House, apparently split 30-30 for the next cycle, trying to figure out how to organize themselves. (The Senate appears to have narrowly averted a tie, with Democrats barely controlling 16-14.)

The most logical approach, and the one you might think would win out, is to mirror what the Oregon Senate did after the 2002 election when it was tied 15-15. In that case, leadership was sort of split between two veteran legislators who each were respected in the opposition's caucus as well as their own, Democrat Peter Courtney and Republican Len Hannon, who were chosen senate president and president pro tem, respectively. The two were good friends, and the leadership of the chamber was divided between the parties. From all external appearances at least, it seemed to work pretty well. Of course, getting it to work that way depends on finding just the right combination of people for the key jobs.

When the Washington House was evenly split a few years back, Republicans and Democrats each elected a speaker and other top leaders who would take turns in the chair. It was an ungainly system with many flaws, though it ultimately did get the job done.

There are other possibilities too. But the one that should make people most queasy is one being talking up at present among some Oregon House members: persuading one member of one of the caucuses (names on both sides are under discussion, and apparently at least one person has come forward with the prospect) to switch sides, and maybe be given a key spot in return - maybe the speakership.

Doesn't sound like a good way to build trust; more of less the opposite of the model the Senate worked out a few years back. But we should be hearing more about this next week.