Writings and observations

The finish line

On the TV series Lost, one of the key lines was this: “It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress.”

So at a legislative session. Lots of discussion and, in news accounts, ink were devoted to discussions of how, especially in the last couple of weeks, the Oregon legislative session had gotten testy. Bills were being held hostage. The Republicans (last weekend) bolted for Dorchester. One legislator told another to shut her mouth. Key legislation that actually had widespread support might not clear. The budget wasn’t getting done.

The session closed out last night, and the end result was something else.

Governor John Kitzhaber wound up with everything he had asked for: Two major health bills and two major education bills, what was needed to keep sweeping initiatives in those areas on track. Republicans got bills on expanding enterprise zones (a good idea) and denying public access to concealed weapons records (not so good). Democrats got a bill through to help homeowners facing foreclosure. There was a bill to help with recovery of troubled stretches of the ocean off the Oregon coast. And more besides.

A month from now, the squabbles and the hostage-taking will be forgotten (other than by a few participants). The results will be remembered, and the results were substantial – more substantial, it appears now, than in the other state legislatures meeting at present. (Sessions in Washington and Idaho are ongoing.)

And it marks another productive legislative session in a state where, over the last decade, highly productive sessions (last year’s was another) have become the norm.

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