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What is Happening in the Legislature and What to Know About the Process

Written by Promise King on Feb. 8th, 2024
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Business & Political Roundtable 

It seems “bipartisanship” long suppressed by zealous partisan hacks, is on the agenda in this short legislative session. 

Senate Minority and Majority leaders Tim Knopp and Rob Wagner seem locked in a unison dance about the prospect of a session buffeted by bipartisan considerations.  I’d hold my applause and wait for the harmonious outcomes of the session. The task for these leaders is to learn a new language of bipartisanship, empathy, and a renewed spirit of collaboration.

Traditionally, short legislative sessions provide the government in power with the leverage to refine their messaging and pile up appropriations for their constituents before the primaries. Hopefully, these bipartisan homilies morphed into actions with less political postulations. 

Too much is at stake as we unravel the state drug epidemic. Our publisher wrote extensively about its impact. Peeling off extreme provisions in Measure 110 that call for tougher penalties and surplus substance abuse treatment could scuttle smooth transitions. Senator Wagner told Salem Business Journal exclusively, that the current spirit is finding consensus on solutions around enforcement and treatment. 

It’d be a remarkable departure from past squabbles if this new altitude fester for long.  Our citizens and our taxpayers deserve a house that works for them.

For those of you who are not too familiar with the inner workings of the legislative assembly. Here is what you should know.

The  Assembly plays a significant role in shaping and enacting legislation that impacts the lives of Oregonians. As the assembly convenes its session, it is important to understand its functions and its context. 

The Oregon Legislative Assembly, established in 1859, consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The assembly convenes for regular sessions in odd-numbered years, with the duration typically lasting for a maximum of 160 days. The short sessions meet for 35 days. The primary function of the assembly is to enact laws, allocate state funds, and provide oversight of the executive branch. Over the years, the assembly has addressed a wide range of issues, including education, healthcare, transportation, environmental conservation, and social welfare. This year’s session will confront the Housing Crisis, drug epidemic, and childcare issues.

Legislative Process

The legislative process in Oregon follows a prescribed sequence. It includes bill introduction, committee review, floor debate, and ultimately, enactment into law.  As the assembly convenes hearings, legislators will introduce new bills, discuss proposed legislation in committee hearings, and engage in deliberations on the floor of the Senate and House of Representatives.

The process of enacting legislation involves collaboration between the two chambers, as well as coordination with the governor’s office. Bills must pass through multiple readings, committee votes, and amendments before being presented for final passage. The assembly operates within a framework of rules and procedures designed to ensure transparency, accountability, and thorough examination of proposed laws.

 The decisions made by the Oregon Legislative Assembly on February 5th and throughout its session will have far-reaching implications for the state and its residents. The allocation of funds, enactment of new laws, and policy reforms will directly impact the lives of Oregonians in various ways.

Moreover, legislative actions on housing and on fentanyl can shape the state’s business climate, employment prospects, and public safety. 

We are going into this session with 35 House Democrats and 25 House Republicans. On the Senate side, we have 17 Democrats, 12 Republicans and one Independent.   

The issues on the agenda, the legislative process, and the potential impact of the assembly’s decisions underscore the significance of participation. As the assembly deliberates and takes action, citizens need to get engaged. We face a burgeoning deficit in the politics of consensus and adaptation without your involvement. Get involved. It is your house too. 

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