"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.

The core thought about this year’s regular legislative session – the month-long “short” session – is that aspirations for it should be kept modest.

The idea behind it, originally, was that it would allow legislators time to make course corrections in between the odd-numbered longer sessions. Budget and revenue adjustments would be part of that. If other external emergencies or new conditions arise, those might be considered too. But in general: Let’s not try to do anything too sweeping.

A segment of legislation more or less falls in between, though: Dealing with matters that might land on the November 2014 ballot, whether by legislative intent or by outside activism. And those subjects may provide some of the most interesting action in the session.

If, for example, the state is going to take a crack at carefully and professionally crafting statutes to cover a legalized marijuana regime, this would be the time to do it. The subject surely will be coming up in November, one way or another. The drafting is likely to be better coming out of the legislature than out of an activist group, a number of legislators realize that, so the subject of pot legalization may get legislative action of a sort it has not yet gotten in any other state, even Washington and Oregon. In a short session.

We may see action related guns, gay marriage, liquor privatization and other topics, with similar thoughts in mind: They’re going to be out there for voter consideration, there’s a good chance a number of these proposals will actually pass, and the legislature might be better off dealing with the structure and details up front, rather than chasing glitches after the election.

Not all legislators are going to be anxious to do this, and on some (guns, maybe gay marriage) there may not be as much point in getting ahead of whatever the voters do.

But the initiative process seems fairly likely to provide some of the more memorable scenes from this session not many people seem to have high expectations for.

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Oregon Oregon column


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Auditor criticizes treasurer transfers (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, Lewiston Tribune)
Syringa Bank closed, taken over (Boise Statesman)
Balukoff and Fulcher self-fund campaigns (Boise Statesman)
Dry times in Washington (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow city tree maintenance (Moscow News)
Liquor privatization, who profits (Moscow News)
Rice proposes militia bill (Nampa Press Tribune)
Vapor shops, e-cigarettes, young smokers (Nampa Press Tribune)
Low stock of guns and ammo (Pocatello Journal)
Water to thousands of users may shut off (TF Times News)
Water project funds approved (TF Times News)
Jerome savings on wastewater bond (TF Times News)

Coos Bay Oyster recalls more oysters (Coos Bay World)
Bay Area Hospital growing (Coos Bsy World)
Mercury in McKenzie River? (Eugene Register Guard)
Hermiston committees reshuffled (Hermiston Herald)
Klamath County keeps out of basin deal (KF Herald & News)
Klamath sheriff prepares for budget loss (KF Herald & News)
Snowpack low and staying so (Portland Oregonian, Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Ashland council considers gun limits (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Legislature ahead on culture debates (Ashland Tidings)
Medford teacher mediation (Medford Tribune)
Bill might let cities ban pot shops (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Pendleton Grain Growers may partner (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Pendleton urban district not growing fast (Pendleton East Oregonian)
State kindergarten tests not good (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)

Puget air agency said to make false statements (Everett Herald)
Lake Ketchum toxicity to be treated (Everett Herald)
Low snowpack portending drought? (Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald)
Senate approves immigrant aid (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Longview News)
Bertha blocked again in Seattle (Seattle Times)
Might Gates leave as Microsoft chair? (Seattle Times)
More shakeups in Spokane police (Spokane Spokesman)
More liquor buyers cross to Idaho (Spokane Spokesman)
Council applicants won’t get much privacy (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take