SALEM — The Legislature’s “short session” is going to be extra short this year.
In a surprising development, leaders in both parties and in both chambers indicated that the 2018 session of the Legislature will most likely end Saturday. That is eight days before the constitutionally mandated adjournment March 11. At just 27 days, it would be the shortest since the even-numbered-year sessions began in 2012.
The $39 million in funding for Oregon State University-Cascades that was requested by Gov. Kate Brown will come up for a vote in a key House committee Friday and, if approved, would be confirmed by the House and Senate on Saturday.
The move to an early exit is contained in House Concurrent Resolution 214, calling for the Legislature to adjourn “sine die” — Latin for “without date.” The resolution had its first reading in the House on Thursday, meaning it could soon be called to the floor of each chamber for the final adjournment.
Republicans said they were fine with the decision by the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate to wrap things up early.
“With it being a short session, and having many big policy issues rammed through in a short time, Senate Republicans see this early sine die as a good thing,” said Tayleranne Gillespie, communications director for the Senate Republican caucus.
Faced with the short deadline, lawmakers went into legislative overdrive, hammering out a compromise on Cleaner Air Oregon standards that would require the reporting of 600 chemicals. The deal needs the approval of both chambers.
Legislation requiring internet service providers doing business with the state to observe net neutrality was also speeding through the Legislature, on its way to the governor’s desk. Various bills intended to aid wounded veterans and renters and to clarify sexual abuse standards were still in play late Thursday.
Lawmakers in both chambers and in both parties indicated the game plan was for the Legislature to meet Friday, then meet and adjourn Saturday. Among the issues that look like they will survive the cutoff is a vote on funding for OSU-Cascades. The key vote in the Joint Ways & Means Subcommittee on Capital Construction is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday.
Since both House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, and Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, sit on the subcommittee, it’s unlikely the vote will be reversed by the full committee or either chamber.
Among the bills most likely left behind: legislation to ban a bridge over the Deschutes River near the southern border of the Bend city limits.
Still unknown is whether the House and Senate will follow tradition and simultaneously adjourn, with members walking out the center doors and meeting in the Capitol rotunda. In 2017, the Senate adjourned a few hours before the House.
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